The Prayers of J.Calvin (3)

Back on November 23 I started to post the prayers of the great Reformer John Calvin, as these are found first of all in his lectures on Jeremiah. Last week I jumped ahead a week as we did a special post to mark the installation of our new pastor.

JCalvin1So tonight I post this third prayer of Calvin, but from his second lecture on Jeremiah, which covers vss.8-12. Along with that, I include part of his lecture, in which he speaks of our duty to obey God’s call in spite of whatever weakness and insufficiency we see in ourselves.

Good thoughts with which to begin our week in His service, whatever our calling and station may be.

And it is especially necessary to know this doctrine (in connection with the call of Jeremiah): for as we ought to undertake nothing without considering what our strength is, so when God enjoins anything, we ought immediately to obey his word as it were with closed eyes. …For whence is it that many have so much audacity and boldness, except that they hurry on through extreme self-confidence?

Hence in all undertakings, this should be the first thing, that every one should weigh well his own strength, and take in hand what comports with the measure of his capacity. Then no one would foolishly obtrude himself, and arrogate to himself more than what is right. But when God calls us, we ought to obey, however deficient we may in all things be….

And then this prayer at the end:

Grant, Almighty God, that since thou art pleased kindly to invite us to thyself, and hast consecrated thy word for our salvation, — O grant that we may willingly, and from the heart, obey thee, and become so teachable, that what thou hast designed for our salvation may not turn to our perdition; but may that incorruptible seed by which thou dost regenerate us into a hope of the celestial life so drive its root into our hearts, and bring forth fruit, that thy name may be glorified; and may we be so planted in the courts of thine house, that we may grow and flourish, and that fruit may appear through the whole course of our life, until we shall at length enjoy that blessed life which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. — Amen.

Advent: God’s Great and Glorious Star

Today we begin a December series of Advent devotionals as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ on December 25. I noted from our Sunday bulletin that our pastor will be doing an Advent series and this gave me the idea to follow his sermon texts.

star out of jacobThis evening Rev.Spronk plans to preach on the amazing prophecy of Balaam concerning the coming of Christ as the “Star out of Jacob” from this passage: Number 24:17 – “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.”

With that in mind, I did a search in the Standard Bearer and found this wonderful word study by Rev.W.Langerak on the word “star” in the Bible (Dec.15, 2007). You will see it is appropriately tied to the coming of Christ (and to our worship!) and makes use of this text.

A Star shall come. Not from Hollywood or Wall St., Harvard or Princeton, the NBA or NFL, Republicans or Democrats, not the USA. A Star shall come out of Jacob (Num. 24:17). He does not come to boost ratings with song and dance routines, to sell tickets with RBIs or dunks, to create fortunes, lower taxes, bring social justice, institute affordable health care, or even put a chicken in every pot. He comes to save—from sin. He comes to save the world. Jesus is that bright and morning Star (Rev. 22:16). He has come, and as wise men from afar, we must worship (Matt. 2:2).

When we lift our eyes to observe the stars, God intends we worship. Not the stars themselves— always a temptation for fallen mankind (Deut. 4:19)—but, humbled by their beauty, majesty, and multitude, to worship the Creator. The appropriate response is not, “All Hail, Great Bang, Hubble, or Hawking,” but, “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Ps. 8:3). God made the stars. Not simply massive spheres of fiery plasma, they are His creatures. Their home is the heavens (Gen. 1:16). He formed them, the sun to rule the day and stars like those of Pleiades and Orion for night; He set the sun in its course and gave ordinances for the stars (Amos 5:8Jer. 31:35). They are divine artistry—with the fingers used to measure His canvas, He paints with glorious light (Ps. 8:4Is. 40:12). How appropriate to remember our Creator in youth, while the stars be not darkened (Eccl. 12:2). God who dwells above the stars, before whom the stars are not pure, who even seals and makes them dark—this God we must worship (Job. 25:5, 9:7, 22:12).

The stars are among the Lord’s hosts, which He directs to serve His purpose with man. He ordained that they divide day from night, and be for seasons (Gen. 1:14). They mark the onset of evening, remind us day will dawn, and are beacons for travelers (Neh. 4:21Job 3:9Acts 27:20). He even enlists them at times to destroy the enemy (Judges 5:20). They remind us of His mercy (Ps. 136:9). They praise their Maker too (Ps. 148:3). Fitting, then, that stars are also signs representing other of the Lord’s hosts, the rational-moral ministers that do His good pleasure (Ps. 103:21). They represent angels, that excel in strength, hearken unto His Word, and from their heavenly home sing together and shout for joy (Ps. 103:21Job 38:7). They represent ministers who preach the glorious gospel in Jesus’ church (Rev. 1:20). They represent the elect, who, believing on Jesus, radiate His perfection, obey Him, and in the resurrection will differ from one another in glory like stars (I Cor. 15:41). They are the innumerable host that sprang from Abraham, and him as good as dead (Heb. 11:12). Yet our Lord calls each by name and counts these stars above (Ps. 147:4).

The wicked stargaze (Is. 47:13). Rejecting the Creator, they scour the galaxies for the origin of the universe. Superstitious, they use the course of the stars to chart their fortunes. Ignorant of the Lord of glory, they scan TV, stage, university, and arenas for stars radiating the lust of flesh and pride of life— and worship (Amos 5:26). They are children of their father, Lucifer, who would be like God and exalt his throne above the stars (Is. 14:13). He is fallen, cast into the earth, and taking a third part of the stars with him. Black holes they are, who now toil to pull the world with them into the black abyss of darkness forever (Rev. 12:4Jude 1:13).

How appropriate that the Lord of glory will punish this evil using of His obedient stars (Is. 13:10-11)! Even as the stars announced His birth, signs among the stars will mark His return (Matt. 2:2Luke 21:25). One shall poison the waters; others shall not give their light (Rev. 8:10Joel 2:10). And in that notable day, when these signs are no longer needed because the reality—the Angel, Minister, and Elect of God—has come, the Lord shall shake the powers of heaven so the stars fall, and then roll up His canvas as a scroll (Acts 2:20Rev. 6:12-14Matt. 24:29).

But the church shall not fall. When the new day dawns and that Daystar arise in our hearts, they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the stars forever (II Pet. 1:19Dan. 12:3). Glorious in the image of God through Jesus Christ, she is clothed with the sun, has the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1). And she worships—that bright and morning Star (Rev. 22:16).

Behold the Star out of Jacob! Though the world be troubled, rejoice with exceeding great joy.

*Note: If you are interested in more of these word studies, check out this special section of the PRC website.