Treasures found in Israel’s National Library | Book Patrol

Kafka’s notebook, the first written evidence of Yiddish and more as Israel’s National Library opens up | Book Patrol.

israel-national-library-mossad-bibleThis digital library news headline came in my daily “Book Patrol” email today and I found it amazingly interesting!

Below is the introductory note from the “BP” people (posted Oct.9, 2014), which is followed by a series of fascinating images, including pictures of a 13th century German prayer book containing Yiddish, Franz Kafka’s Hebrew vocabulary notebook, a page of Sir Isaac Newton’s theological writings, and an early copy of the Hebrew Bible (image posted here).

What a wonder the digital world has become! There is plenty more to explore here at the Israel National Library website, so take your time and marvel at what is now public.

The goal is daunting: Undertake “a worldwide initiative to digitize every Hebrew manuscript in existence.”

To celebrate the project, the National Library of Israel is opening its vaults to give the world a peek and some of the jewels of their collection.  The Associated Press was offered “a rare glimpse at its most prized treasures,” some never before seen and others that has been locked away for years. 

The jewels include manuscripts by Sir Issac Newton and Nobel laureate S.Y. Agnon and a Hebrew vocabuary notebook by Kafka, who took Hebrew lessons with an 18-year-old Jerusalem native who was in Prague in the 1920s studying math.

Enjoy!

Blessing and Cursing – T.D. Alexander

Blessing and Cursing by T. Desmond Alexander | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Oct 2014Last week we began to introduce the October issue of Tabletalk and its theme of “Biblical Dichotomies”. Today we can continue by considering the next feature article, “Blessing and Cursing”, by Dr.T.D. Alexander (Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Union Theological College in Belfast, N.Ireland).

Alexander explains well these two dichotomies found throughout the Scriptures, tying it especially to Jesus Christ, in Whom alone fallen sinners are blessed.

I leave you with his starting point and encourage you to follow through and read the rest at the Ligonier link above.

 Although it is rarely noted, the concept of blessing lies at the very heart of the gospel. The Apostle Paul highlights this in his letter to the Christian believers in Galatia. In vigorously defending the inclusion of Gentiles within the people of God, he writes, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed’ ” (Gal. 3:8). As Paul goes on to emphasize, the blessing given to Abraham comes to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ (v. 14).

Paul’s observations recall how the concepts of blessing and cursing are highly significant within the book of Genesis. At creation, God blesses humanity when He instructs them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). Unfortunately, Adam and Eve’s subsequent disobedience of God brings them under His condemnation. Blessing gives way to cursing, as God pronounces the punishments that will blight the lives of Adam and Eve and their descendants (3:16-19). God’s curses upon humanity bring hardship for both man and woman, affecting the whole of creation.

Against this background, God summons Abraham to initiate a process by which blessing may be restored to people everywhere.

Prayer is “lovers’ talk” – H.Hanko

When-You-Pray -HHankoFrom the first chapter (“The Idea of Prayer”) of Herman Hanko’s book When You Pray: Scripture’s Teaching on Prayer (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2006), which our discussion groups at Faith PRC begin studying tonight:

Prayer is to the Christian what breathing is to a healthy person. Without breathing a person cannot live. Without prayer a Christian dies. Breathing is spontaneous; in many ways so is prayer.

Prayer is like a river that returns to its source, for prayer has its power in the Spirit of Christ working life in the heart of God’s child; that life returns again in prayer to God who gave it. It is the expression of the thirst for God that makes a stag panting after water brooks an apt simile (Ps.42:1).

Prayer is lovers’ talk, for it is a holy conversation between the living and eternal God and the redeemd child of God in which both speak to each other in the most intimate relationship of love.

Prayer is a child coming to his Father, knowing that his Father loves him and will provide for him in every need. We must begin our prayers, the Lord says, with ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ (p.1).

At the heading to this chapter Hanko also has this wonderful quotation from Charles H. Spurgeon:

Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Historian Tracks Down The World’s Oldest Book Doodles

Historian Tracks Down The World’s Oldest Book Doodles.

Since I am going to be gone for the rest of the week, I will give you a little “Friday Fun” item early this week. This caught my eye last weekend in one of my book emailings (posted Oct.2, 2014). A fascinating book discovery has been made! Medieval doodling in books included the smiley face! See for yourself by visiting the link above.

Historian Erik Kwakkel has spent years at Leiden University in the Netherlands examining some of the world’s oldest books and manuscripts. He’s fascinated with “pen trials”—small sketches drawn by medieval scribes testing the ink flow of their quills. Among his discoveries: the smiley face goes back centuries.

Medieval book doodling

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Husbands, Hold Your Wife’s Hand by R.C. Sproul Jr. | Ligonier Ministries Blog.

holding handsMen, this is for you (Wives, you may read this and pray that we take this to heart.) – from one man to another. From a fellow husband (R.C. Sproul, Jr.) who lost his beloved two years ago.

If this doesn’t move (convict!) you to think about one small but significant way to show our wives we love them, then something’s wrong – with us. And let’s admit, we don’t do this enough. But we can learn. Before it’s too late. So, be brave and manly – and take her hand from time to time.

Read on, but here’s how it starts:

That is likely my deepest regret, that I did not hold her hand more.

It’s not, of course, that I never held her hand. It is likely, however, that I didn’t as often as she would have liked. Holding her hand communicates to her in a simple yet profound way that we are connected. Taking her hand tells her, “I am grateful that we are one flesh.” Taking her hand tells me, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” It is a liturgy, an ordinary habit of remembrance to see more clearly the extraordinary reality of two being made one. It would have, even in the midst of a disagreement, or moments of struggle, communicated, “We’re going to go through this together. I will not let go.”

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 8:03 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Our Covenantal Holy War – Rev.B.Huizinga

RomanStandardbearerRev.Brian Huizinga has some great thoughts for us Christian soldiers (young and old!) in his latest installment for the rubric “Strength of Youth”, under which he is writing a series on teaching young people to wage godly warfare in the kingdom of God in this world.

We find these thoughts under a sub-heading describing our “holy war” as covenantal:

To emphasize the positive of the foregoing assertion, our warfare is covenantal. ‘Our holy war’ is the war we wage as members of God’s covenant joined together in the Spirit (I Cor.12). In catechism class one is not taught to identify himself as the individual militant, but part of the church militant. We war as those eternally chosen and made members of one body that from the beginning to the end of the world is gathered, defended, and preserved by Christ’s Word and Spirit. To fight in this war against every appearance of the kingdom of darkness led by Satan is to join with the church of all ages from Adam and Abel to you and me.

A necessary and significant implication of this covenantal aspect of our warfare is the necessity of membership in the church institute, the visible manifestation of that universal, invisible body. A soldier might claim he has enlisted in and fights on behalf of his national army. He may even wear a uniform. But if he has never joined the visible manifestation of that army at camp and on the battlefield, his speech betrays him. In our holy war. young people make church membership a priority in their life, joining the covenantal assembly.

October 1, 2014 issue of The Standard Bearer (Vol.91, No.1), 20.

Over 150 Free eBooks | Monergism

Over 150 Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author | Monergism.

MonergismLogoSince Monergism has updated its list of free, high quality, classic Christian ebooks, I will make you aware once again of these fine resources.

Visit the link above to browse the list alphabetically by author and add some good digital reading material to your elibrary.

And, by the way, there are also plenty of other good reading and listening materials on the Monergism site. Browse around while you are there for more good food for the soul.

Biblical Dichotomies – October “Tabletalk”

Every Jot and Tittle by Burk Parsons | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

TT-Oct 2014Though I have been using the daily devotions for a few days already (still on Romans), yesterday I began digging into the other articles of the October issue of Tabletalk. This issue has the intriguing theme of “Biblical Dichotomies”, which editor Burk Parsons explains in his introduction (see below).

The concern of this issue is that we as God’s people learn to study not simply the themes of the Bible but every word, every “jot and tittle”, as Parsons’ title indicates. And learning to see the Bible’s dichotomies helps us understand it better. All the feature articles touch on these dichotomies (“Creator and Creature”, Blessing and Cursing”, Clean and Unclean”, etc.), and I look forward to delving into them, so that I might grow in my understanding of God’s Word too.

Here is an important paragraph from Parsons’ introduction; find all of it at the link above.

Some words we come across in the Bible require that we not only examine their meaning, but also the meanings of related words. This is because a word itself is often just one part of a two-part concept—a dichotomy—in Scripture. For instance, when we come across the word blessing, we must also know the biblical and theological distinction between blessing and its opposite, cursing. Similarly, in order to fully grasp the meaning of wisdom, we must examine the meaning of foolishness. If we study one without the other, we do ourselves a great disservice in our understanding and application of the theology of God’s Word. God’s Word is truth—it not only contains the truth, it defines the truth, and it is by that truth we are sanctified. Consequently, the more we know God’s truth, the more we will grow in the grace, knowledge, and holiness of Jesus Christ, by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Let us therefore study not only the major stories and theological themes of the Bible, but also every word, every jot and tittle, that we might know and love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, coram Deo, before the face of the God who has revealed Himself to us for our eternal good and His eternal glory.

And here is the link to the first feature article on the theme – a fine one by Dr.Douglas Kelly on “Creator and Creature”. I must give you a little slice of that one too – be sure to read it all!

There are many advantages to an intelligent grasp of the biblical doctrine of the Creator and of His creation. It shows that God alone is God, and that the Eternal One has an eternal and all-inclusive plan for everything that happens in His creation. It restores meaning and hope to life. It has the massive advantage of refusing to grant divine attributes to anything that is less than God, whether the material world, humanity, or, especially relevant these days, the would-be omnicompetent state or world order. Creation by God is always the basis of resistance to statist (or ecclesiastical) tyranny.

The biblical doctrine of creation also benefits us by showing that the God of order made a creation with orderly components, proper sequence, overall regularity, and intelligibility; these assumptions are the basis of all true science (as even non-Christian historians such as Alfred North Whitehead have argued). Genesis 1 and 2 also show us that God created all things “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This means that the material creation, including the human mind and body, are positive goods, not evils that we should seek to escape (as is taught in Hinduism, Buddhism, and New Age religions).

Psalm 84 – Psalter 227 Delight in Church Ordinances

Psalm 84 – Psalter 227 Delight in Church Ordinances – YouTube.

And for our music meditation today, we feature this beautiful arrangement of Psalm 84 found in the Psalter used in the PRC. This is #227 with the title “Delight in Church Ordinances” and it is sung by the PR Psalm-singing Choir.

The video produced by Josh Hoekstra, director of the Psalm Choir,  is posted below. You may also find this and many other videos on the Psalm Choir channel on YouTube. Follow the link above.

Here are the words to this versification:

1. O Lord of Hosts, how lovely
Thy tabernacles are;
For them my heart is yearning
In banishment afar.
My soul is longing, fainting.
Thy sacred courts to see;
My heart and flesh are crying,
O living God, for Thee.

2. Beneath Thy care the sparrow
Finds place for peaceful rest;
To keep her young in safety
The swallow finds a nest;
Then, Lord, my King Almighty,
Thy love will shelter me;
Beside Thy holy altar
My dwelling place shall be.

3. Blest they who dwell in Zion,
Whose joy and strength Thou art;
Forever they will praise Thee,
Thy ways are in their heart.
Though tried, their tears like showers
Shall fill the springs of peace,
And all the way to Zion
Their strength shall still increase.

Published in: on October 5, 2014 at 7:36 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Jehovah Our Sun and Shield – H.Hoeksema

All-Glory-HHoeksema-2013Our meditation on this first Lord’s Day of October is taken from the latest collection of devotional meditations by Herman Hoeksema (series: “Reformed Spirituality”, edited by David J. Engelsma) published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association (rfpa.org) titled All Glory to the Only Good God (2013).

The fourth meditation in this book, “Jehovah Our Sun and Shield”, is based on Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” Today we pull a quotation from the middle of this meditation originally published in The Standard Bearer.

May it be used to renew our faith in the God Who is both our Light and our Protector in this world of sin and suffering.

A sun is Jehovah God. The God of our salvation is also a shield.

At first there seems to be an irreconcilable contrast and antithesis between these two figures.

…How could the psalmist think of his God under the images of a sun and a shield?

What need has he who walks in the light of the protection of a shield?

Yet how real to experience is the figure.

Scarcely have you begun to meditate upon the rich beauties and blessedness of the Lord God, and to rejoice in the privilege of his communion, but you look about for a shield to protect you. For the Lord gives grace and glory. When he does so, he makes you partaker of his light. His light is reflected in your life. With the reflection of his light in your life and walk, you stand for his name and glory in the world. It is true that in the world you are in danger as soon as you bid farewell to the darkness of sin and walk in the light of God, for the world is in darkness and loves the darkness. Because it loves darkness, it hates light, since its works are evil. As it loves darkness and hates light, so it loves and protects its own children and hates and persecutes the children of God’s light. The world battles those who dwell in the tabernacle of God’s light and reflect his grace and glory. It attacks you. It fights with the deceitful weapons of flattery and vain philosophy, offering you all the glory and riches of the world. It shoots the poisoned arrows of reproach and shame or openly threatens its death-bringing sword.

And all the while it aims at the light in us. All the while its purpose is to extinguish the light poured into our hearts and lives from Jehovah God, who is a sun.

But Jehovah is a shield!

A most perfect shield is he. …Jehovah’s protection is perfect. If he covers us, we are safe. If he watches over us, the enemy cannot reach us. For he is the Almighty, mightier than all the mightiest together, supreme in power. There is no sword that he cannot break; there is no hostile attack that he cannot repel. He never fails to watch, for he neither slumbers nor sleeps. Always his eyes are over the righteous. Constantly he watches to protect the children who dwell in his light and whom he made partakers of his own grace and glory.

…How safe, then, are they who trust in him! (24-25)

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