Martha and the resurrection

Martha and the resurrection

Martha and the resurrection
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

The sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, sent for Jesus urgently when their brother was ill. But by the time Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus was dead and buried. What was Jesus doing? In the heart of Martha, grief and faith were in turmoil. She was sorrowing and questioning and at the same time reaching for and clinging desperately to Jesus. As Jesus spoke to her, He interacted with her so very tenderly and led her on gently to see more and more of the comfort which God has so richly stored up in Him for His needy people. Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life,” is both a foundational bedrock of support for all believers, and also something that applies personal, individual comfort in each believer’s unique circumstances. The resurrection is not a far-distant abstraction, when we realise that Christ Jesus is “the resurrection” and that He continually maintains His people in life. In the following updated extract, George Hutcheson points out the striking features of the dialogue between Jesus and Martha.

Grief is complex, even in believers

Martha was a good woman, and conscious of her loss as much as Mary was. She gets first word of Christ’s approach, and goes to meet Him, while Mary knew nothing of this, and stayed indoors.

Among those who are truly gracious, some are more tender and spiritual then others. Some are more affected with griefs, and more broken under them, than others. This may teach the godly, and especially weak and tender hearted ones, not to measure every one by themselves, for those who have real good, may have really different dispositions.

Whatever comfort or sympathy people meet with from friends in their trouble, yet comfort from Christ is also needed. Martha and Mary had comforters, yet Martha went and met Jesus, when she heard of His coming, to welcome Him as a needed guest.

However, when Martha meets Jesus, she challenges Him with her regrets that He had not come sooner and prevented her brother from dying. This weakness and infirmity broke out of her, and got a headstart of her better side. When we are in straits, we should treat with suspicion the emotions which burst out of us first of all (Psalm 116:11 & 31:22). So though we cannot justify the impassioned outbursts of the saints, yet we ought not to examine them too narrowly or censure them, because they are really only a violent temptation which tramples on grace only temporarily. After her first outburst, Martha settles a little, and corrects it with a profession of her faith that Christ, if He wished, could yet put everything right.

So, alongside her faith, Martha had her own dissatisfaction with how Christ had acted. Yet her faith prevails to the extent that she does not stay away from Him, but goes to Him. Unbelief is never deadly, as long as it does not keep you from coming to Christ. Whatever complaints you may have about Christ’s dealings, yet faith is still the conqueror, as long as you pour out all these complaints into Christ’s own bosom.

Jesus brings comfort gently

“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again” (verse 23). He replies to her meekly. Passing over her infirmity, He comforts her with the promise that her brother would rise again.

Great are the consolations which God has laid up for His afflicted people, and He will do great things for them. It is a satisfactory and proper consolation against the death of these we love, to believe in a resurrection, in which they shall rise again. This is what Christ uses to comfort her.

Christ puts this promise only in general terms, “Thy brother shall rise again,” not mentioning the time when it would be. Even though He was going to raise her brother presently, yet simply the promise of a general resurrection is itself full of comfort (1 Thess. 4:13–14, etc.). We have no reason to stumble when we have no warrant to expect the same particular favour as Martha received, because Christ propounds this comfort in these general terms.

In Martha’s own case, Christ put it this way, partly to exercise her faith, and to let her and us see, in practice, how far short our expectations may be of what Christ will actually do for His people. She looked for the resurrection at the last day, but He was going to raise her brother almost the next minute. Partly also, He let her consolation come in bit by bit into her narrow-mouthed vessel. As the Lord’s people are allowed to believe and expect a mercy even when they cannot resolve every particular detail of how, or when, or by what means it will come to pass, so their hearts are often so shallow that they can take in mercies only in little instalments here and there.

Grief can puzzle faith

When Martha is given this promise and offer of comfort, she seems to take exception against it. Although she confesses that she believes in the resurrection and judgement of the last day, yet she seems to look on it as insufficient for her own encouragement, seeing it is something that refers to everyone, and it is a long way off (verse 24).

Because of our weakness, and our fondness for getting unique satisfaction for our own personal situations, we are ready to slight all the mercies and consolations of God, unless we get exactly what we ourselves regard as a mercy. The general resurrection is not a small comfort, and the resurrection of the just is a far better comfort than to be restored again to the toils of this life, yet Martha undervalues all that, in comparison of getting her brother back again now.

It is however not unusual to see people believing great things that are far off, yet their faith proving weak in the matter of their current trial, even though that is less difficult than what they profess to believe. Martha can believe in the resurrection of all, and of Lazarus among the rest, at the last day, yet at the same time she staggers at the possibility that he may be raised shortly. Yet the one is as difficult as the other, if not indeed more difficult.

What faith needs, faith finds in Jesus

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die” (verses 25–26).

Although Martha believes in the resurrection, yet Christ finds it needful to instruct her better in many things about it. Believers need daily instruction from Christ, so that they will know and understand better those things which they already believe in part. Also, it is not enough that we believe in great benefits and mercies, unless we believe that they are in Christ, and seek them in Him. It is not enough that Martha believes in the resurrection, unless she believes that Christ is the resurrection and the life.

Also, we are to think of Christ, not as merely the instrument of life and resurrection to any, but as the one who principally authors it by His own power. Although many prophets and apostles raised the dead, yet it can be said by none but Christ, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Those who unite with and enjoy Christ will find in Him, and to hand, all things which they would otherwise seek far off, and possibly not find. Martha looked afar off, to a better day, for the accomplishment of Christ’s promise, but He challenges her to see it in Him, at hand, that He is the resurrection and the life, who can raise up her brother even now.

Believers walk and grow in new life

By regeneration, the children of God are put in a state of life, and this they demonstrate by their subsequent walk – by exercising the functions of spiritual life, and being living in their way. Anyone to whom Christ is “the resurrection,” is someone who lives.

Seeing that spiritual life flows only from Christ embraced by faith, it must be maintained by the same means – faith in Christ. As the dead, by believing, live, so, “he that liveth,” must “believe in me,” Jesus says. Keeping our spiritual life going is a continual resurrection, and as the same power (God’s) is employed in both begetting and maintaining this life, so the same means (faith) must continually be exercised. Clearly, if someone slips up in their walk or becomes spiritually weak, they are taking an exceedingly wrong course of action if they cast away their confidence.

The power of Christ is continually forthcoming to preserve those who believe in Him from utter decay in their spiritual life. Although they may be overtaken with some degrees of death, yet on renewing their faith, they shall be recovered. He will also preserve them from eternal death, and bodily death itself shall not extinguish the life that is begotten and maintained by faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus encourages detailed faith

Jesus poses Martha the question, “Believest thou this?” (verse 26). We should daily pose the same thing to our own hearts.

In particular, it is necessary both that we are well grounded in the faith of getting life through Christ, and that we make special application to ourselves of the general promise He makes about this. Then we won’t have to scrabble around looking for our faith when Christ calls for it.

In Martha’s answer, she assents to what Christ requires her to believe, and adds a confession of her faith about His person and offices. “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of God, which should come into the world” (verse 27). Perhaps she felt her faith was too weak to expressly grasp all that He was saying, though she assents to it, and so she deals with all that in a word, and simply professes her faith in Him, acknowledging Him to be the promised Messiah, the Son of God, and consequently, professing that she believes whatever may flow from this fact.

When our faith is weak, it will grow up to more clarity and assurance by conversing with Christ, laying open our weaknesses to Him, and receiving instructions from Him.

Some things (such as the truths about Christ’s person and offices) are fundamentals, and the rest are only the particular application of these general truths to particular cases. So, here, Martha falls back on the fact that “thou art the Christ, etc,” as her chief and all-inclusive ground of comfort.

In fact, the consequences which flow from these fundamental encouragements and promises are so many, and so full, that someone who believes the fundamentals may not even see the consequences very clearly, nor very firmly believe all that flows from them. But we can see from Martha that if you believe the general encouragements, you have much more to be refreshed and comforted with than you have so far realised. In God’s rich love, accommodating to our weakness, He draws out these general promises into particular ones, relating to our particular necessities.

Therefore, when our faith staggers in any particular moment of need, or proves weak in believing a particular promise, we should fall back on these general grounds of faith and encouragement, and hold them tight till we get more, and study the fullness that is in them, so that we may be led on to more particular confidence. That is what Martha did.

Studying Christ’s person and offices is a notable means of confirming our faith in all the promises about all the benefits to be had in Him. Martha lays hold on this, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God which should come into the world,” for just that reason. Carefully examining who Christ is and what He does, will make us sure both of His good will, as Mediator, and His power, as God, to do what He promises.



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Feeding the sheep means loving the sheep

Feeding the sheep means loving the sheep

Feeding the sheep means loving the sheep
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

Pastors are commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to care for the spiritual welfare of the flock. Yet pastors are themselves fallen and frail sinners, with many disappointing missteps in their past. When they have themselves slipped up so badly so many times, can Jesus really have any more use for them in His ministry? Looking at the case of Peter, George Hutcheson says that restoration after a terrible fall is difficult, yet certainly possible. In the following updated exposition of John 21, Hutcheson shows how Christ’s prime requirement in His ministers is that they love His flock, the little lambs and older sheep who He loves and wants fed. The love of a restored believer for Christ does not erase the memory of their painful falls, but the memory of what they have been rescued from gives shape and depth to their love for Christ and His people as they move forward in humble service.

In John 21:15–17, on profession of his love to Christ, Peter is restored to and confirmed in his apostolic office which he had forfeited by his foul and gross fall. Christ’s threefold question about Peter’s love is only intended to draw out a threefold answer from Peter, so that his professed repentance would be as frequent as his denial. Consequently, we are not to look on Christ’s threefold injunction to Peter as three distinct commands requiring diverse things, but only as one command three times repeated.

Restoration to ministry is difficult

In general, this teaches that apostacy and denial of Christ, though even out of weakness in a time of strait, is full of hazard. It brings disciples to a loss not easily recovered. Peter, by reason of his fall, needs a kind of restitution, and a confirmation anew in his office and dignity.

At the same time, when Christ puts His people on service, and calls for evidences of their love to him, He first goes before them with proofs of Himself – His power, love and care – in order to engage them to their duty. His enquiry about Peter’s love, and His engaging him to service, was not till after He had given proof of Himself by the miracle, “when they had dined,” and after their bodies were refreshed by Him.

Love is essential in the servants of Christ

Christ’s question to Peter, and the triple way of propounding it, teaches that love to Christ is the Christian’s badge. Anyone who deserts that standard is a runaway. This is what Christ tests Peter by: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”

Ministers who are called to take charge of Christ’s children and flock need much love to Him. No service they may offer can be approved, if instead of flowing from love to Christ, it is undertaken for some hidden agenda. Nor, without this love, is there any possibility of enduring the many blasts they will meet with in their calling, or the much toil they will have, even with and from the flock itself. The inquiry, “Lovest thou me?” is premised as a needful qualification for discharging the trust committed to the minister.

Yet whatever love for Christ people may warrantably claim to have, it does not allow them to swell in their own eyes because of it, or because of any dignity conferred on them as those who love Christ. Saints, in their repenting for their failings, should look back to the low estate from which Christ has raised them, so that they will see all the more clearly their ingratitude, in back-sliding or forsaking Him. That is why He guards all these questions with this designation, “Simon” (not “Peter,” the name He gave him; John 1:42), and “son of Jonas,” a poor fisherman. It is so that Peter, as he professes his repentance and renewed love, will let his heart be affected with thoughts of the low estate from where he was exalted, and to which Christ might justly debase him again, and leave him as He found him, “Simon, son of Jonas.” In professing his love, and embracing this charge, he should still remember his origins.

Our love should not exclude but be enhanced by the memory of what we have done

The sense of the Lord’s people’s backslidings should be a whet-stone to sharpen their love to Christ, and to make them not content to return to a formal way of profession after their foul slips, but to move forward with a new edge on them, to recover their losses, and prevent falling again in a similar way in the future. This is why Christ enquires particularly at Peter, “Lovest thou me?” because if he has been truly recovered, he ought to be eminent in love, and have it more deeply rooted in his heart, partly so that he will not slide again, and partly in testimony of his sense of Christ’s kindness, who looked on him after his fall.

True repentance should, and will, not only be sincere and real, but just as eminent in its effects as the sinner’s fall was. Peter’s threefold profession of love to Christ corresponds to his threefold denial of Christ.

Those who have fallen grossly in the time of temptation, and have through mercy been recovered again, should still be suspicious of themselves, as having grossly given the lie to their former professions. Christ wants for Peter not to easily trust himself, considering what big claims he had made before, when he gone and fallen so badly.

Christ initially puts the question in comparative terms. “Lovest thou me more than these?” That is, “more than any of the rest love me?” He is not so much saying that someone who has fallen and been restored should strive to out-strip the next one in the grace of love. Rather He wants Peter to reflect on his former conceit of himself, and his unique undertaking (Matt. 26:33), and maybe also his recent forwardness in coming out of the ship (John 21:7) and testing whether, because of that, he would boast of any unique love to Him. And so, with the offer of accepting his sincere love, and calling for it, He rips up Peter’s former conceit of himself.

This teaches us, partly, that the evil of a saint’s apostasies and defections will never be thoroughly cured by any returning out of one particular evil course, unless the fountain, cause and root of their evils is cured, and continually abhorred and watched over. Christ presents Peter with what had occasioned his former fall, to see what he thinks of it, and if it continued with him. Partly too it teaches us that Christ allows His people to season their bitter thoughts of their own evils with the offer of His love and acceptance of what is good and sincere in them. He propounds this indirect challenge in such a way that He also guards it with an offer of His present acceptance of Peter’s love.

Peter modestly declines in his answer to make any comparisons. So in the second and third questions, Christ omits the comparison, and puts the question simply, “Lovest thou me?” He covers and passes by infirmities when He sees us convinced of them.

The connection between restoration, humility and love

We need not curiously distinguish between the different Greek words that Peter uses in his answers to Christ’s questions, signifying greater and lesser degrees of love. If any distinction should be made between these expressions, the fact that Christ uses both shows us that He takes notice of, and is willing to accept of, lesser degrees of sincere love as well as greater. He interrogates concerning both, implying (a) that He will accept either, and also (b) that those who are sober and dare not profess an eminent measure of love to Christ still need to examine if they are sincere and real even in the weaker degree they profess.

Whatever the exact signification of these words, yet there are several things we may learn from Peter’s answers.

  1. It is very possible for fallen saints to recover their feet, and attain to love again.
  2. Someone who truly loves Christ may humbly avow his love before Him as often as He enquires about it. “Yea, Lord, I love thee.”
  3. If we sincerely love Christ, our falls will teach us sobriety, and not to boast of ourselves above others. Peter makes no comparisons in answer to Christ’s first question, but simply ranks himself among those who do love Him.
  4. Those who want to prove themselves to truly love Christ must not only satisfy themselves in the matter, but should appeal to His knowledge, and be sure that He knows and approves of them as such. “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.”
  5. Those who want to approve themselves to Christ should think of Him as knowing all things, and remember that therefore He will not be deceived with performances. “Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.”
  6. Our sight of the grace of God in us, after our back-slidings, should be joined with the sense of our falling. When Peter was grieved, Christ puts him in mind of how his former sliding had justly rendered him suspect, so that the awareness of this would accompany his profession of love.

Service includes the memory of what we have done

Christ commissions Peter, repeating it three times. Christ is able to make good use of saints who fell foully in a time of temptation, and can raise them up again, to do Him eminent service in their generation. Fallen Peter is again entrusted with the charge of Christ’s sheep and lambs.

The moment a saint loves Christ, Christ extends that love to all His people, so that anyone who truly loves Him will show kindness to them. As soon as Peter professes love to Christ, He directs him, “Feed my lambs.” A great evidence of reality of love to Christ is to have a care of Christ’s lambs.

Ministers ought to think of Christ’s people as very seriously recommended to them, and therefore they should very seriously mind their work for them. The threefold charge signalled this for Peter.

Those who want to be faithful in a ministerial charge ought to look on the people of their charge as really Christ’s people, and people who Christ is in a close relationship with. Christ calls them “My lambs, my sheep.” These people are loved by Christ, committed to the minister’s charge by Christ, and Christ wants the minister to win them to Christ.

Ministers ought to keep in mind the variety of personalities, and degrees of strength, which are in the people committed to their charge, so they may interact with them and care for them accordingly. There are both weaker lambs, and stronger sheep. Remember Isaiah 40:10–11, “Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand …. he shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.”

Feeding is a major part of the minister’s work. Ministers are to feed Christ’s people with sound and wholesome doctrine, and to dispense it in such a way that reaches the capacity of the weakest. Christ’s first command is to give food, and specifically to the lambs.

Yet it is not sufficient that ministers be able to feed the people in their charge unless they also govern and rule them, and do every other duty of a good shepherd unto them. And even the strongest ought to subject themselves to this government. In Christ’s second repetition of the charge the word is different from the previous one, “Feed, or govern, and play the shepherd, and that even for the sheep.”

Not even the strongest believers will ever come to a time when they have reached such a height of perfection and sanctity that they have out-grown Christ’s ordinances, which include the ministry. Ministers are obliged to deal with them accordingly. In the third repetition of the charge, Christ goes back to the word He first used, “Feed, or provide food,” and that even to “my sheep,” as well as to lambs.




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What makes the Bible special?

What makes the Bible special?

What makes the Bible special?
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

According to a recent survey of the state of theology, among US adults there is a growing distrust of the Bible, with a majority of US adults now rejecting the divine authorship of the Bible, relegating it to the same category as other religious writings. One bad consequence of this, as the survey authors point out, is that abandoning the authoritative Word of God makes it easy and acceptable for people to ignore any biblical teaching that is out of step with their personal views or broader cultural values.

When Jesus was on earth, He confronted the opposite problem – the majority of adults placed a very high value on the Scriptures and prided themselves on how much respect they had for it.

Yet open disrespect and fulsome lip-service can sometimes converge on the same practical outcome – dismissing Jesus Christ and the salvation He provides. Both can be symptoms of spiritual death, when spiritual life is available only in Jesus Christ, and only as He is revealed in the Bible.

As Jesus interacted with people who had a very high regard for the Scriptures, He urged them to search the Scriptures better to obtain life, “for they testify of me.” His advice to those whose have much less respect for the Bible would likewise be to search the Scriptures. The Scriptures are special because they testify of Him. In the following updated extract, George Hutcheson looks at how we should engage with the Bible and with Jesus Christ in order to find “eternal life.

Jesus saw that the people who were arguing with Him (John 5) had a high view of the Scriptures. The Scriptures do deserve our high estimation, because they witness to Jesus.

The Bible comes from God’s wisdom and love

In fact, the Lord, in deep wisdom and love has taken away the need for anyone to be deluded, and has made His people’s way clear and sure, by setting down what He wants us to know in Holy Writ. The Bible is his infallible Word, and the yardstick for finding out truth, and deciding all controversies in religion. That is why Christ sends these people to the Scriptures, or the written Word, so that they would have God’s rule in this controversy.

The Bible reveals salvation fully

The way of salvation, and all things we need to attain it, are fully revealed in Scripture. These things were revealed even in the Old Testament, and much more now both in Old and New. Jesus says, “In them ye think ye have eternal life” (John 5:39) and this was a true thought. Truly the Scriptures do point out the way of salvation, even if people might be deluded in how they made use of it, or in thinking they could be saved simply by having it or reading it (see 2 Tim. 3:16–17).

The Bible reveals salvation clearly

The Scriptures are also plain and clear in all things necessary to salvation. “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130). Yet they are a depth not soon comprehended, or by superficial search. Instead they are a treasure in a mine, to be found out by digging and painstaking pondering of every word and sentence (none of which are expressed in vain, or at random, but all divine) by considering their context and purpose and how they relate to each other, and comparing Scripture with Scripture – all with humble and single-minded dependence on God. This is why Jesus recommends the Scriptures to be “searched”.

This treasure will be discovered by the careful searcher. It is the duty of all the visible church to read and search into the Scriptures, so that they may find this treasure. This is why Jesus encourages this search, as a thing possible, including to the Jews who were his hearers at this time (see Acts 17:11).

The Bible can correct our misuse of it

It is entirely possible for people, and indeed a visible church, to be very defective, and yet claim to hold the Scriptures in high esteem, and allow people to make use of them. They may even be opposing Christ, and yet imagining they will have salvation by the Scriptures. Both these things are true of the Jews here. Well, if you profess to have the hope of salvation by the Scriptures, you ought to demonstrate the reality of it, by being much in the study of the Scripture, so that you will be not deluded in your hope, and so that you may feed on the Scripture, and find the comfort of what they solidly gather from it.

We should use the Bible to get to know Jesus

The purpose of the Scriptures, and particularly of the Old Testament, is to point out and bear witness of Jesus Christ – His person, natures, and offices, His birth, life, death, sufferings, and the glory that should follow, and the benefits that come through Him. So it should be our aim in searching the Scriptures, to find Christ in them, and what they witness of Him. Without this, our study is to little purpose. “They are they which testify of me,” He said (John 3:39; see also Acts 3:22–24).

The Bible shows us Christ who is the way to life

In verse 40 of John 5, Christ challenges the people to abandon their wilful unbelief. John, and Christ’s own works, and the Father, and the Scriptures which they claimed to highly esteem, all proved what He was, and pointed Him out as the source of the “eternal life” which they professed to seek. Yet such was their obstinacy that they would not come to Him, nor believe in Him.

We are to search the Scriptures for “life,” and come to Christ for “life”. What God offers in Christ to lost sinners – in grace here, and glory hereafter – is the only thing that truly deserves the name of “life.” This is the true remedy for our spiritual death, and without it our life on earth is scarce worthy the name.

We cannot have life without Christ

People may be so far deluded as to imagine they will get life, when yet they neglect the means of life. These Jews “thought to have eternal life,” yet they did not take the right way to life.

The life of lost sinners is only to be found in Christ, who is the purchaser, storehouse, keeper and dispenser of life, the Mediator of the covenant, and the one who stands between God and sinners. This is how He is held out to us here – they must “come to me,” He says, if they are to live.

The way how sinners come to partake of this life is by coming to Christ by faith. Anyone who has a pressing need of Christ, and cannot stay away from Him whatever discouragements they encounter – and anyone who, whatever distance they are at, are yet moving toward Him, even with slow progress – and anyone who is still seeking closer communion with Him, whatever they already have – these are true believers, and they will not miss out on life. Their soul shall be kept in life, till they come to live with Him for ever. To “come to Christ,” is in effect to believe (see John 6:33), and upon this they shall “have life.”

We must abandon our neglect of Jesus

Although life is to be found only in Jesus Christ, yet not everyone makes use of Him for obtaining life. Instead, so many are ignorant of themselves, and ignorant of Him, overestimating their own wellbeing without Him, or imagining they can get life some other way, being taken up with earthly things, given up to their own stubbornness as a judgment, or displeased with the terms of getting life by renouncing their own righteousness and pleasures. Many therefore neglect this offered salvation: “Ye will not come to me.”

We must abandon our obstinacy against Jesus

The great obstruction to faith, and the great aggravation of unbelief, is our wilfulness in not coming to Christ.

Some will not come and believe in him, out of their malice and obstinacy, however clearly He proves who and what He is. Others are plagued with brutish sensuality [simply preferring their sins to eternal life].

Then there are some who think they would be willing to come, but think they have reasons why they dare not. These will find that ultimately, “will not” is their great impediment. They do not believe, because they are not willing to be stripped of themselves, as faith in Christ requires they should be (Rom. 10:3).

Otherwise there is no impediment lying in the way of anyone coming to Christ, but love removes it. Jesus will welcome those who have refused many invitations, those who have wandered far, those who have fallen into gross sins, those who have played the harlot with many lovers, etc. – provided they will come to Him, to seek grace to repent for things like this, and amend. Even the dead may come to Him to get life, if they do not resolve that they will not. Those who have some weak desire, may come to Him to get willingness. (See Psalm 81:11; Rev. 22:17.)

We must abandon our unbelief about Jesus

Christ will challenge us for not embracing His offer and invitation to come and get life, especially when there is much of our willfulness in it. Treating His offer with contempt is a great indignity, and will condemn us. He is really offended at the pride (masked as it is with a show of humility) which makes the self-condemned sinner not to embrace Him on gospel terms. So it is greatly to our advantage to mourn for the unbelief we find in us, and when our unbelief is our burden.




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How one woman met Jesus

How one woman met Jesus

How one woman met Jesus
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

Most Christians want to share their faith with their non-Christians friends. Yet for a variety of reasons this is often easier said than done. We have a case study in how Jesus spoke to the woman he met at Jacob’s well. In the following updated extract, George Hutcheson picks out several striking aspects of how Jesus interacted with her to win her soul to Himself for salvation. As we observe His heart and His words we should be able to find guidance for how we can and should introduce Him to the people we meet too.

In John 4, John records what Christ did and the success He had on His way to Galilee, in bringing a soul to Himself. While He was sitting by the well, a woman of Samaria came to draw water. They had a conversation, in which He led her from one thing to another, till she came to know Him to be the Messiah.

Jesus comes close to sinners

Providence may be intending much mercy to those who are unworthy of it, and who have little thought of it. This woman, who was guilty of vile sins, came to fetch water, and no thought of anything else. Yet providence brought her to meet the Saviour of sinners, and at a time when He was actually feeling weary and thirsty. In this way He was an appropriate Lord to deal with such an unfeeling woman.

Christ is a Lord who will not be stopped by any impediment, but will overcome everything, to reconcile sinners to Himself. He doesn’t even keep a distance from Samaritans, not even a lewd woman among them. He counts it His glory to win someone so unlikely to Himself.

Jesus introduces Himself to those who do not know Him

When Christ spoke to her, He lets her see how much she mistook her own mercy (verse 10). If she had known Him, she would not only not have refused His request, but would have instead requested something from Him, and He would have given her better and living water (by which we are to understand the Spirit of God, and the graces of the Spirit acted by Him, John 7:38-39). Christ’s meekness passes over a lot of frowardness, which He finds in His own in the time of their conversion. By His goodness He overcomes their badness.

Ignorance of Christ, and what He has (and is ready) to give, is a major reason why sinners treat Him so badly. “If only you knew!” Christ says. He is known rightly and savingly when He and all He has are looked on as freely gifted to the world by the Father (as well as by Himself) and made theirs by offer to be embraced. This is why He is named “the gift of God.”

It greatly adds to Christ’s reputation that He is the one who makes the effort to come to sinners, and He pre-empts them by making offers of Himself. And when Christ is rightly known, as offered to the world for the salvation of lost sinners, it will beget a thirst for Him. It gets souls seeking for Him by prayer to supply their thirst, and they cannot stay away from Him. They see Him seeking sinners, to give something – salvation! – to them, more than to receive anything from them.

This woman, rather than refusing Him a drink of water, should have asked for water from Him! Christ has better things to give sinners, then anything He can ask from them, or anything they can offer Him. The well of life is in Christ’s hand, to dispense it as He wishes. Instead of her water, He has living water to give her.

Christ, who makes offer of grace before we seek it, will not refuse it to those who ask it. Nor do our past sins hinder us from being accepted by Him when we come to seek grace from Him. Even to this wicked woman He says, “If you had asked, He would have given you living water.”

Jesus persists against misunderstandings and disbelief

When the woman replies, she argues against Christ’s offer, alleging that this water either had to come out of the well – which was impossible, seeing the well was deep, and he had nothing to draw with – or this water had to come out of a better well, which would mean Christ was making Himself out to be better than Jacob (verse 11).

When we are unconverted we can’t help taking up spiritual things in a carnal way. People are not able to discern grace till they have it. This woman understood Christ as if he were speaking of elementary water.

We are also naturally enemies to our own good. Far from preparing ourselves for conversion, we are prone to dispute against our own happiness, and deceive ourselves, just like this woman reasoning against this living water because, in her judgement, it was impossible to be had or given.

We are also naturally so addicted to our own carnal sense, that we will believe nothing revealed by Christ further then we can see a reason or outward appearance for it. This woman decided it was impossible that Christ could have living water, seeing He could not draw it out of that well, nor could He show her a better well.

Jesus highlights the excellence of what He gives

But Christ does not carp at her contradicting and carnal spirit (verses 13-14). Instead He points out the excellency of his offer, so far above what she gloried in. The water she spoke so much of could not give any abiding satisfaction, even to the body, but His living water would have enduring and enlivening effects and satisfaction until it is completed in glory.

The water of life is something which Christ purchased, yet it comes to us, who cannot buy it, as His free gift. His offer includes a promise of giving it to everyone who will receive it in the due order, without respect of persons.

And the Spirit of Christ and His grace in believers is not a stream or a pond that may run dry, but a well, and a springing well, of inexhaustible fullness, virtue and refreshment. Nor is it the kind of well which may rot and make water taste bad. Instead it is a springing well, always fresh, always watering all around. The Spirit and grace of Christ flows out in all the behaviour of those who receive it, making them fruitful. They never stop doing good things (the more they do, there is still more coming to hand to do) and they are active and vigorous in what they do. Their graces flow out also on others, for their good and edification, according to the place and the calling God has given them.

Jesus exposes what is wrong in her life

When the woman next responds, she expresses a desire to have this water, but for her own ends (verse 15). The barriers of ignorance and wickedness even in the elect, hindering them from Christ, are not easily overcome. Whether she spoke by way of derision, or whether instead Christ’s spiritual preaching had shown her something desirable in these things (as may happen even in natural minds) yet she took them up but in a natural way, and accordingly her desire is only carnal.

So Christ, having prevailed so little by his offer and commendation of free grace, now exposes her misery to her. By this she is at length, and by degrees, brought to know Him. He tells her to call her husband, and when she denied she had a husband, He commends her frankness, and lets her see that He knew her the wickedness of her life (verses 16-18).

We know little and care little about grace as long as we do not know our misery. So where the offer of mercy does not persuade, Christ will expose their misery to His own people. When His first offers had no success, He pierces into this woman’s heart.

Still, Christ is very meek and tender, even in exposing people’s misery and need of salvation, as long as they are not incorrigible. He prefers they should judge and accuse themselves, so that He may deal tenderly with them. He so mildly tells her to fetch her husband, in order to draw a confession out of her own mouth.

Jesus is sensitive in convicting of sin

It is not every sin which the unconverted are guilty of which they are at first capable of being convicted about. Not every sin is odious to everyone in every condition. There are some sins which only grace, and much grace, and grace in exercise, will see to be sinful. Although this woman was guilty of many other sins, yet Christ picks out only this sin of gross immorality, as something which would be seen best by her.

Additionally, it is not every sight of sin that will convict the sinner, but Christ must drive it home on the conscience, and reveal it as marked by His all-searching eye, before it will have any effect. The woman knew her own situation, but without any sense of why it mattered – not until Christ pierced through to her heart, and let her see that He knew her.

Yet Christ will commend a small good under a lot of dross. He treats a true acknowledgement, even of a heinous crime, as something commendable. That is why He makes so much of her confession, “Thou hast well said! Thou saidest truly.”

Jesus often takes things slowly

Now the woman comes to think He may be a prophet. So when Christ exposes sin, and makes the sinner to be touched with it, this breeds more respect and higher estimation of Him.

Yet the work of illumination in the elect may have weak beginnings at the first, and what appear to be very high thoughts of Christ may come far short of His worth. For her to perceive Him a prophet was a huge step for her, yet it was far beneath what He was (and what she realised about Him later).

The Lord may see it fit to awaken and convert a great sinner very gently at first. In this way He shows His abundant tender mercy, so that they will not be deterred from coming to put their trust in Him, Especially, He does not want those who live at a great distance from ordinances and the society of God’s people to be overcharged with difficulties which they cannot get through alone.

Jesus reveals Himself to those who want to know Him

As they continue speaking, the woman is reminded that she has heard that the Messiah is coming. Christ then assures her that He is that same person!

Some knowledge of the mysteries of religion may be found among those who otherwise are very far lost.

Christ is not far off from any who have a high estimation of Him, and a desire for Him, however great the distance seems to be to themselves. To this woman, He says, “I am he!”

Christ not only came into the world, but was pleased to converse with the vilest of sinners to do them good. “I am he that speaketh unto thee, a lewd woman, and a scoffer.”

This shows us also His great compassion towards needy sinners. He will reveal Himself to them, when He lets others lie in darkness. He forbade His disciples to make Him known, and refused to answer many captious and tempting questions from the Jews about who He was, yet He did not conceal himself from this Samaritan, now convinced of her need of Him.


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Hoping against hope

Hoping against hope

Hoping against hope
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

We can become so familiar with the truth that God is merciful to sinners that we become numb to its significance. Then perhaps we are taken by surprise when something lifts the lid on the shocking wickedness in our own hearts – or the awfulness of what lies in store in eternity as a punishment for sin. This happened in one sinful city, where God announced that they were going to be destroyed in a matter of weeks. The warning struck a chord – the people recognised the validity of the punishment looming ahead of them. But what could they do? Despair? Could God possibly do anything different from what He had said? In this updated extract from his commentary on the Prophecy of Jonah, George Hutcheson takes us through the different aspects of the response from Nineveh to the prophet’s warning message.

The people of Nineveh were confronted with a very blunt message from God. ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ The Lord sometimes sees it fit in His great wisdom to conceal any thoughts of love toward us, and hold out only threatenings and severity – to induce them more seriously to repent. The statement is put in absolute terms – simply that they will be overthrown – without any mention of anything conditional, for example, that on their repentance they would be spared. Only the fact that He granted them 40 days implies that there is an invitation to repentance, hidden inside the very starkly threatening message.

The response from Nineveh included fasting and prayer and cessation of their evil doings. As a way of reinforcing their determination to amend their ways they said, ‘Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?’

In their words there is some hope, although very beleaguered, that if they did instantly seek to the Lord, He would be reconciled with them, and in His mercy avert His judgment.

Can you catch a sight of the mercy hidden in the warning?

Even when God is issuing such an abrupt and imperative warning, some glimpse of His mercy may be caught by those who are conscious of their sin, and acknowledge the justice of His correction. Notwithstanding Jonah’s declaration of destruction, the people see a possibility that God may turn and repent – even these very people who apprehend his fierce anger. The mere fact that He has gone to the lengths of giving them 40 days notice gives a basis for the hope that there was some purpose of love kept up, till he saw their repentance.

Can you look at God as your source of hope?

Awakened sinners under fears of judgments, think that the fountain of their happiness would be that God was reconciled with them. Only from reconciliation can they expect any comfortable outcome from their calamities. This is why their eye is chiefly on God turning, repenting, and turning away from his fierce anger. Only this will allow them to gather hope that they shall not perish.

Can you recognise His grace behind anything good you get?

Those who are most earnest with God, under the sense of sin and judgments, will be ready to see most of his grace and free love in showing favour toward them. Therefore all their hope, when they cry mightily, is built on God turning and repenting, and God quitting the controversy. They realise that God’s grace and compassion must be eminently active, if peace be made between them at all.

Faint hope is still real hope

This way of speaking, ‘Who can tell if God will turn …?’ is also used by His believing people in similar extremities (e.g., Joel 2:14). It shows various things.

Those who are conscious of their sin may be sadly tossed to and fro between the expectation of God’s mercy, and the sense of what they really deserve. They can neither speak the pure language of faith, nor yet wholly the language of unbelief, but what they say is mixed and made up of both. Therefore although it is beyond all controversy that God will be reconciled with a penitent (and no doubt Jonah had at least preached this fact about God), yet they can attain no further than, ‘Who can tell if …?’

Faint hope has very basic priorities

It is no small difficulty to get free from trouble when your provocations have been great, and when God has begun to take steps against you, and issued severe warnings. Even when there is repentance, God does not always keep off temporal afflictions, when iniquity has come to a height. Therefore, the penitent can only expect these troubles to be lifted with very great submission, considering his guilt. Our happiness is not to be placed in liberation from trouble, if God is otherwise reconciled. The suspended hope of the people of Nineveh is focused chiefly (not so much on remission, as) temporal preservation, ‘if God may turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not.’

Faint hope still makes earnest appeals to God

When our minds are kept in suspense between hope and discouragement, the Lord intends for us to be stirred up to more diligence. Even this very doubtful hope is given as a reason why they should ‘cry mightily to God,’ and reform their ways.

Faint hope acts more in hope than in despair

Those who are convinced of sin should not be deterred from duty, though it seems never so hopeless. Rather they should resolve to follow their duty, whatever they get from it. This is why they will cry to God, even though they are not certain that He will deliver them.

God’s grace is behind His threatenings

What happened when God saw the response from Nineveh? ‘God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them, and he did it not.’ (verse 10)

God was graciously pleased to accept their repentance, and recalled the sentence of destruction (expressed in terms familiar from human interactions, ‘repenting of what he said he would do’).

So, however peremptory and absolute the Lord’s threatenings are, we must always understand them as meaning that anyone who repents may look for God to accept them. He had threatened flatly that they would be destroyed, yet notwithstanding, he saw their works, and repented.

God notices the reality of our hearts

God chiefly takes notice of and rewards how people behave, and their real endeavours towards reformation, and not their external performances of religious exercises. He ‘saw their works, that they turned from their evil way,’ rather than their fasting and sackcloth.

God rewards weak attempts

Although the Lord will not be a debtor to anyone, and although no one can merit anything from Him, yet free grace will reward weak endeavours in such a way that as everyone may be encouraged to seek Him. Supposing this was only a temporary repentance, yet He will even reward that with temporal favours, as a picture of true repentance, to show how He loves. Of grace He will reward true repentance. ‘He saw their works,’ both the works of those who were truly converted, and of those who did not come to that length, ‘and repented of the evil he said he would do.’

God remains the same

When God is said in Scripture to ‘repent,’ we are not to conceptualise any change in God, or any change of His eternal purposes, but only the fact that He did not carry out the threatening He had announced. The threatening includes the condition or exception of repentance, which God decrees to give those whom He spares. When it says ‘God repented of the evil,’ it explains itself as, ‘He did not do it.’ It is not a changing of His purpose, but a not executing of what He had said (i.e., conditionally).



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How Can We Stop Discernment Turning into Sinful Suspicion?

How Can We Stop Discernment Turning into Sinful Suspicion?

How Can We Stop Discernment Turning into Sinful Suspicion?
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

We need discernment and to be on our guard against what is spiritually harmful to ourselves and others. This may be in areas of truth or of living and the effects of what is spiritually damaging can be truly dangerous. But we also need to discern what is good and commend that (Hebrews 5:14). If we are not careful discernment can develop into superior condemnation rather than something that is used to edify and patiently reclaim others from the danger. It can go further and develop such a constant suspicion of almost everything that it makes unwarranted assumptions and misrepresent what people are saying. Being suspicious of individuals (rightly or wrongly), their words are automatically assumed to have ulterior motives or tendencies. When this happens, discernment has become so exaggerated it has turned into sinful suspicion. We need to discern how this happens and prevent it.

It is true that we may sometimes need to highlight things that are wrong; there may be legitimate suspicion based on reasonable evidence. This is different from readily jumping to hasty conclusions about things that could be charitably explained with the benefit of the doubt simply because we are ready to think badly of someone. There is, as Thomas Boston points out, a happy medium between complete gullibility and the evil groundless suspicion that Scripture condemns (1 Timothy 6:4). Such suspicions do not arise from any basis in reality but rather people’s own uncharitable spirits. It is uncharitably judging and condemning others in our hearts (Matthew 7:1). It moves swiftly and rashly to harsh condemnation contrary to the grace of Christian love (1 Corinthians 13:7).

As Boston notes, there is a danger of making ourselves the rule of everything, so that anything that does not meet our standard is automatically and absolutely condemned. It can also be done all too hastily because we trust our own instincts for faithfully distinguishing what is right from what is questionable. We then easily misrepresent others, their intentions, words, and actions and are ready to put the worst construction on them. It is all contrary to what is fair and just as well as love for our neighbour and the ninth commandment. Yet how easily it is done in relation to spiritual matters.

We might think that godly men will not fall into this temptation, but Scripture shows us otherwise. Indeed, the book of Job is full of this. Job must constantly resist the way that they rashly discern the punishment of secret sins and hypocrisy in the afflictions he experiences. His friends begin to charge him with all kinds of things merely on the basis of assumption. Rather than accept the limits of their discernment and understanding they start to dive deeply into hidden things with all sorts of conclusions. It is ultimately clear that they are utterly wrong in their unjust suspicions. This is why George Hutcheson says we must “not make the opinions of the best of men the rule of our consciences”.

Hutcheson shows how much we can learn from the book of Job on this point.
The Lord condemns this explicitly in Eliphaz and his two friends. He even says that in speaking against God’s people we may well be speaking against God Himself (Job 43:7). Their words and principles had wronged God (Job 13:7-8) by misrepresenting Him. It seemed as if they were valiantly defending God and His holiness and justice but what they said was not right but condemned by God (Job 43:7). He vindicates Job because the principles he maintained concerning God were right even though he was not perfect in what he said but sometimes spoke rashly himself. Wrong principles are worse than rash expressions in the heat of trials. God may be very displeased and angry against godly people who maintain such errors and attack other godly men in their trials.

In Job 32-37 Elihu avoids such false charges and seeks to respond to what Job is actually saying. Although he is not perfect. it shows us an example of how to respond to people in a just rather than unfair way. He promises that he will deal sincerely in speaking to him, without annoyance or partiality; and that he will speak truth clearly. It will be sincere and pure, without any dross or chaff (as the original word implies) like purified metal or winnowed corn. He will deal plainly and clearly with him, without evading or beating about the bush. He will not speak upon conjectures and surmises, but will speak demonstrably clear truths and things of which he has certain knowledge. He seems to contrast himself with the three friends who had dealt with Job in prejudice in speaking of him in an ambiguous way. They took surmises and false reports from others and charged him with them as if he had been guilty of them. Does this mean we should avoid lovingly and graciously pointing out what is wrong in the conduct of others? No, it is a biblical duty (Leviticus 19:17). In Job 35:16 Elihu makes his case and does not draw back from pointing out Job’s faults, but he does it in a more restrained way. How much wisdom we need to do likewise. Hutcheson’s comments on Job 33:3 and 35:16 in the following updated extract us help us learn how to stop faithful discernment turn into sinful suspicion.

1. We Must Deal with Others Uprightly

It is our duty to deal sincerely and uprightly with others, especially in speaking of matters which concern their soul. It is great cruelty not to speak truly and uprightly to them in that matter. Elihu says, “My words” (upon this subject) “shall be of the uprightness of my heart” or shall be the uprightness. That is, I shall speak sincerely my very heart in this business.

2. We Must Deal with Others Without Prejudice

We need an upright heart if we would speak sincerely and rightly to the condition of the souls of others. We should be careful that we are not biased with prejudices, or with fear to offend those with whom we have to do. Elihu professes uprightness of heart, as the principle of his speaking right to Job. If many examined themselves, they would find that their hearts do not go along with what they say. They do not believe and then speak (2 Corinthians 4:13). If they speak truth, it is from a false heart, or coldly, and not from the heart. Their biases and prejudices, rather than their solid convictions, make them speak what they speak.

3. We Must Deal with Others Using Sound Doctrine

It is not sufficient that we are those of upright hearts in what we say, unless there is sound doctrine and knowledge in what we say. Elihu says, “My lips shall utter knowledge” (see 2 Timothy 4:2).

4. We Must Deal with Others Clearly

Men should also speak clearly in what they say, and make the truth plain and clear, not leaving people in the dark, or proclaiming surmises instead of verities. Elihu says, “My lips shall utter knowledge clearly”.

5. We Must Deal with Others Carefully

We ought to examine well what we are going to speak and refine it in our own minds (without taking everything on trust without trial). This will ensure our teaching is pure and free of mistakes. Elihu says he will utter pure and refined knowledge (as the metaphor implies).

6. We Must Deal with Others Patiently

Those who speak truth freely, clearly and uprightly, ought to be heard and listened to. This is an argument urged on Job for his attention. If even good men consider that they may err and need admonition, they will allow people to speak to them faithfully. They will esteem it an act of love and kindness not to let them go away with their faults. Those who cannot endure to be dealt with faithfully are cruel to themselves, especially if they still prescribe to others how they should teach and admonish them.

7. We Must Deal with Others About their Faults

Telling others their faults (when we have the calling and opportunity for it) is a proof and evidence of faithfulness. Elihu here freely points at Job’s misconduct. Even godly men may need to hear about their faults (especially during troubles) over and over again, before they own up to them with a felt sense of their guilt as they ought. Elihu tells Job all over again, what he had told him before (Job 34:35).

8. We Must Deal with Others Fairly

It is required, both in justice and prudence, that we charge people only with their true and real faults. We must forbear either unjust surmises and aspersions or unjust aggravations of their real faults. Otherwise, it may tempt them to reject all admonitions. Elihu tells Job his faults as they were and does not charge him with wickedness or blasphemy in relation to his complaints as Eliphaz did, (Job 22:13-14).

When people charge their friends with faults and misconduct they should do so on a solid basis and then they may be faithful in their censures and those who are reproved will be more easily convinced. Thus, Elihu concludes this from reviewing Job’s expressions and conduct, evidencing how Job had opened his mouth.


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Why We Can Expect Cascading Crises

Why We Can Expect Cascading Crises

Why We Can Expect Cascading Crises
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

Shortage of labour and goods, supply chain disruption, inflation, rising energy costs as well as public health concerns. On both sides of the Atlantic and around the world there are multiple crises, one difficulty following another and frequently colliding. After decades of comparatively smooth globalisation and prosperity it may be that we are entering a period where disruption is the new normal. The political mantra of building back better is proving still more challenging. Others will have their views on geopolitics and other issues, but we need to take a spiritual perspective. Why are we in the midst of this? What can we learn?

Scripture tells us that when nations abuse their prosperity to exclude the voice of God, He will gain their attention in ways they cannot avoid. And when they refuse to seek Him in their troubles, they can only expect more. It is clear that as nations we have not been humbled by the events of God’s providence of the past two years, we have not heeded God’s voice but continued to reject Him yet further. We are only deepening our rebellion against Him. This is how it was with Israel and other nations. In Amos 5:18-20 we have such a context. Israel would not be allured by gracious offers nor would they be terrified with threatenings to seek the Lord. They were secure, trusting in various false pretences and presuming all would be well. The Lord shows these false confidences would not provide security for them and warns them so that they might be moved to repent.

He speaks to those who desire the day of the Lord, in other words they were scornful of God’s threatened punishments. They were such atheists that they did not acknowledge God or a providence, nor would they believe anything of approaching judgment. They were in effect saying scoffingly of divine judgment, “bring it on.” Some perhaps were also presumptuously thinking that God had not finished with them yet, He still had a purpose for them and favour towards them. They could not therefore believe that any such day would come as the prophet threatened, or that if it did it would be as dreadful for them as the prophets warned. They therefore with scorn desired to see that day they were so often threatened with (see Isaiah 5:19; Jeremiah 17:15; Ezekiel 12:22; 2 Peter 3:3-4). The Lord declares that this very attitude was an evidence of them being punished and that more would yet come. They were giving little consideration to what they were doing, that day would not only come but it would be full of perplexities and miseries, without any light or comfort (verse 18).

Many calamities would follow one after another, so that any who escaped one would fall in another (verse 19). It would be like someone running from a lion who then encountered a bear and finding refuge in a house recovering his breath leaned his hand on the wall and a serpent bit him. When God would deal with the nation in His justice it would certainly be a time of great misery, without any light of counsel or comfort (verse 20). We do not need to be apocalyptic and make rash predictions to learn from the way that God deals with nations so that we may watch and pray with faith and repentance. Indeed, it is for the church to show the example of humble and penitent response to the Lord’s providence. How can we expect the world to do what we ourselves are unwilling to do? In the following updated extract, George Hutcheson helps us to draw many such lessons from Amos 5:18-20.

1. Cascading Crises Come When We Ignore God’s Word

When the word is most clearly preached and threatenings are most terrible, there will still some be found so atheistic as not to credit them at all, and so presumptuous, as not to submit to the verdict of the word, but they will comfort themselves, expecting that God will do otherwise then it faith; for, so is here imported.

2. Cascading Crises Come When We Scorn God’s Warnings

It is no wonder to see such atheists and presumptuous sinners go so far as not only to harbour such thoughts but also to sit down in the seat of the scornful and openly deride the word. Here they desire the day of the Lord (or the day of vengeance in which He will prove Himself to be the Lord) with insolent and godless scorn. They desire to see that day and that the prophets would make their words good, which they expect will never happen. Although many who harbour such thoughts may be unwilling to make them known, God is provoked to expose them. And where the word effectually preached, does not prevail, corruption will be irritated by it to vent itself more openly.

Such atheistic and presumptuous attitudes are in themselves a heavy judgment and portend further judgments; there is a woe in all the calamities that come on them. Hedonistic and presumptuous atheists little consider what they are doing or their danger, when they scorn threatenings and desire to see them accomplished. And if their consciences were seriously pressed they would tell them it is so. Therefore He asks them in effect what can you expect in such a day? What do you gain by such a scornful attitude that you should be so bent on it? Their consciences (if awake) could tell them that such a day was rather to be avoided then desired and that they could reap nothing by such atheistic scorn. It produced no true good in them nor would it prevent that day, rather it would hasten it and make it more bitter and grievous. And therefore, they ought to consider better and avoid it.

3. Cascading Crises Should Arouse Deep Concern

Even the trials of God’s people may produce much humbling through lack of light or felt comfort so that they may purge dross. Judgments inflicted on a people for sin will be full of perplexity and discomfort being accompanied with real sense of God’s withdrawing, guilt of conscience and other spiritual judgments. Presumptuous and secure atheists may especially expect a strong warning and that calamities will be made dreadful to them. It is especially to them as well as all others that the day of the Lord is darkness and not light, that is, full of misery and perplexity, leaving them void of counsel and comfort.

4. Cascading Crises Cannot Be Avoided When God is Rejected

When God appears in anger against an atheistic and incorrigible people, they may expect to be involved in a heap of miseries on all sides. It will not be just one, but many evils, either together or following one after another, or both. Therefore, the comparison is used of a man surrounded on all hands with lions, bears and serpents (v19).

There is not evading judgments when God sends them. The sinner that avoids one may expect to meet with another and he may expect a judgment where he thinks himself most secure. It is as if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him, or went into the house, and leant his hand on the wall (expecting to be upheld) and a serpent bit him, or, an unexpected affliction came on him (see Isaiah 24:17-18).

5. Cascading Crises Point to God’s Ultimate Judgment

The solemnity of a day of judgments and calamities is not soon seen nor laid to heart. People should seriously consider it beforehand so that they may be stirred up to prevent it and not experience it. It is therefore taught and repeated again that the day of the Lord will be darkness and not light (v20).

6. Cascading Crises Should Awaken Conscience

The Lord needs to do no more than prove the truth of what His word says so that men’s own consciences become a witness against their atheism and presumption. It will happen however much for the present they lull them asleep and sear them with a hot iron. Therefore, He presses the matter on their own consciences (shall not the day of the Lord be darkness?) since they might and in due time would speak for him.

7. Cascading Crises Are Not Without Comfort for God’s People

The truly godly will still have a measure of some light in trouble (though sometimes trials hide it from them, see Isaiah 50:10) and may sometimes experience some measure of what is promised to them (Psalm 112:4). They may certainly expect that there will be a clear and comfortable release from their troubles (Micah 7:8). Yet it is terrible to think how dreadful a day of vengeance will be to the wicked, how grievous and perplexing their miseries will be, and how destitute they will be either of present comfort, or of any hope of it for the future: Therefore is it added for explanation, “even very dark and no brightness in it.”



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Why Has the West Been Humiliated?

Why Has the West Been Humiliated?

Why Has the West Been Humiliated?
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

There is one word that the whole world seems agreed on in relation to the western withdrawal from Afghanistan – humiliation. Whether we are truly humbled or only temporarily disgraced depends on how our nations respond. We ought in all humility, to ask why this has happened. To do so does not minimise the heart-rending distress experienced by those abandoned in Afghanistan. Nor does it reduce the courageous sacrifice of our troops. Asking why this has happened gives us a window into our real state as nations. This is not just a military and strategic defeat but a failure of the mission to remake Afghanistan in the image of the West and its values. The decline of the West is due to its moral decay.

As western nations we thought we could export to Afghanistan the benefits inherited from the Christian heritage we have rejected, without also giving them the framework of belief and morality that produced them. The US army were so afraid of doing that they even burned Afghan language Bibles sent to them.  It appears that British involvement commissioned fatwas calling for converts from Islam to be killed.  As one writer has observed, the West in its decadence has lost its virtue, it has squandered the moral capital bequeathed by a living faith.

The emptiness of our pride as nations and the fatal complacency it produces have been exposed for all to see. The Old Testament prophets frequently show us such decadent pride in nations, with the implication that we are to learn from it. The small book of Obadiah is largely taken up with the nation of Edom who manifested proud contempt towards Judah. They were proud of their prosperity, resources and wealth (v3-6); allies (v7); wisdom (v8) and military might (v9). But judgement is threatened against the, ultimately their pride would be brought low and every one of these things in which they put their confidence pulled down. They would then be exposed to misery and contempt. As George Hutcheson observes the prophet shows how “the Lord would diminish their number, power, wealth, and reputation, and put them beneath all other nations and load them with contempt and ignominy.” In the following updated extract Hutcheson draws out the meaning of Obadiah 2-4 in teaching us the fearful danger of pride, the sin that God hates so much.

1. Pride Can Bring the Greatest Down

The Lord in pursuing for sin, can bring down the greatest person and people in the world, lay them in the dust, and pour contempt upon the most honourable. The Lord says He has made them small, and greatly despised.

The Lord’s showing mercy to any makes way for others also to show mercy towards them for their good (Jeremiah 42:12). In the same way, when the Lord becomes an adversary in anger, the affections and respect of others will dry up towards them. For however Edom was esteemed before by others, when God deals with him he is greatly despised.

2. Pride in Outward Advantages

A natural heart together with outward advantages and benefits usually produces pride, self-confidence and insolence. Edom is proud of their high and secure location and says in his heart, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” But though a renewed heart has all these benefits, they are poor and depend on God.

3. Pride of Heart is Known to God

The Lord does not judge people’s pride by their outward conduct (which may be masked over with an appearance of humility) so much as by looking at their heart and discerning the conceit and lofty imaginations that reign there. He sees the pride of Edom’s heart.

4. Pride is Self-Deceit

Self-deceit is one of the greatest of all deceits. In this they are given up to delude themselves with vain imaginations and confidences so that their heart deceives them. However much pride and conceit musters up people’s excellences, it merely deludes them and makes a pretence of what will prove nothing. Either it is an evidence of what is nothing in reality or that what they are conceited about becomes blasted and withered. However much presumption may promise great things to make sinners secure and despise God’s threatenings, it only deceives them and feeds them with vain hopes. It will prove a deceiver in the end when they have greatest need of what they seemed to promise.

5. Pride is God’s Enemy

God looks on pride in the creature as an enemy against Himself. It strikes pre-eminently at His glory in failing to depend on Him and seeking to usurp His throne. It therefore provokes God, though there were no other aggravation or enemy, it engages Him to prove His power in abasing it. Therefore, that general defiance, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” is answered by God as being His special concern. He says that He will bring them down.

The Lord is able to reach man and bring him down in even though he has the maximum imaginable strength and greatness. He can make strong holds a vain refuge in a day of vengeance and is even able to overturn more confidences then man can build up for his own security. To dwell in the clefts of the rock was but a small thing for God’s power to reach, and yet that was the utmost of what Edom could boast of.


It is easy to be proud of many things, even spiritual privileges. We need to take this to heart ourselves, how can we see this in our national life without living more humbly before others in our personal life? Perhaps the West is as it is because the Church has not been what it should be. We also need to make it clear to others why the West has lost its virtue. The more moral decay we see, the more we need to shine as lights in the darkness and the more we need to plead with and intercede on behalf of our rulers and nations. We need to be a clear voice for the truth as well as salt and light that has a restraining influence.



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Reading the Headlines with Habakkuk

Reading the Headlines with Habakkuk

Reading the Headlines with Habakkuk
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

Each day almost seems to bring further news of ways in which biblical values are being subverted. In society, government and education we witness the advance of an agenda bulldozing remaining Christian values and silencing opposition. The headlines are a source of great grief and perhaps weary silent questioning. What are the prospects for the future? Why is rebellion against God prevailing? It seems only to be increasing at an ever-rapid rate. Others have been in similar circumstances, and we find similar concerns in the book of Habakkuk. God’s people were suffering under the oppressive rule of pagan conquerors. Habakkuk wants to know how this is consistent with God’s purpose and promises. He discovers that things will in fact get worse but that he must also take the long view and understand this in a much bigger context of God’s holy and wise purpose. In reading the headlines with Habakkuk we find that there are answers to the troubling questions we are reluctant to voice.

In chapter 1 of his prophecy Habakkuk pours out his distressed prayer concerning the degree to which sin was prevailing around him while the Lord seemed distant. God’s forbearance was only being used to increase in sin. The Lord would use the Babylonians to work out His purposes and to punish sin. He would chastise but not destroy His Church. The Lord is everlasting (Habakkuk 1:12) and this means His purposes are unchangeable towards His people (Psalm 102:27-28). Habbakkuk shows us what it is to be concerned for God’s glory and the future of the Church in a time of trouble. He shows us how to take refuge in God’s glorious attributes in bringing our burdens to Him. Since God is the holy one, He must show His disapproval of it in His people as well as His enemies (Habakkuk 1:12). Yet Habakkuk is still troubled by the very holiness of God. How can He who is so pure then tolerate the enemies of the Church and allow them to prosper (Habakkuk 1:13)? Ultimately the prophet is answered that though there is a delay in working out the full purpose of God he must wait humbly and live by faith (Habakkuk 2:3-4). The just must live a life of grace and walk by faith not by sight. They look to the promises rather than headlines and events. They seek to live out and contend for the just requirements of God’s Word no matter how hard the times may be. George Hutcheson draws some helpful reflections for us from Habakkuk 1:13 in this updated extract.

1. God’s People Often Question Events

Such is the weakness and instability of the spirits of the Lord’s people, and such is the great variety of things that exercise their graces, that there are few things in time their hearts do not take issue with. We read of the prophet previously complaining in his zeal, that God did not take action against the sins of his people but when he gets an answer, he is not satisfied. Rather his compassion finds new reasons to be troubled and complain.

2. God’s People Often Struggle to Understand His Role in Events

The clearest sighted saints may be so bewildered as not to be able to reconcile God’s dealings with His nature and attributes. They are rather ready to think they are opposed to one another. The prophet here cannot reconcile God’s holiness with His toleration of the Chaldeans (Babylonians).

We are so weak and selfish, that when providence does not work according to our mind and understanding, we are ready to succumb to temptations of atheism and question Providence. The prophet looks at God, as though He were only looking on and holding his tongue like a spectator when He tolerated the Chaldeans.

3. God’s People Seek to Justify His Role in Events

It is the duty and concern of all the godly to justify God and clear Him from any charge. Even though their weakness cannot see through all the deep mysteries of His Providence concerning His Church and her enemies. To this end they should prevent the arguments of unbelief and temptations with those of faith. The prophet, in the midst of his dark mists, therefore begins with this as an unshakeable foundation (whatever his heart said) that God is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look upon iniquity (see Jeremiah 12:1).

4. God’s People Pray About How to Understand Events

The only best way to refute temptations and dispel mists is not to debate difficult and unclear situations when our own hearts are overcome with weakness and fears. Rather we should vent the matter and our situation to God and seek His resolution of it. The prophet experiencing this temptation therefore cries out to God.

5. God’s People Will Be Chastised for Their Sin

However much the Lord has just indignation against the gross iniquities of those outside the Church and will in due time punish them, He will also chastise His people. This is necessary considering the many factors that increase the guilt of lesser sins within the Church, God’s jealousy over His people, and His concern to have them reclaimed from every evil course. It is no wonder then to see the Church’s sins punished (although they may be less in their own nature) even when more gross sins committed by those outside the Church escape for a time unpunished. The prophet complains that God holds His tongue when the wicked devours those more righteous than they. This indicates that God does indeed do so and that it proves to be a righteous act, however, much we may quarrel with it.

The Lord makes use of wicked instruments to punish His people so that in the very foulness of the rod He uses He may show to them the vileness of their sin. This is the reason the Jews are devoured by the wicked and those more vile than themselves (see Ezekiel 7:24). The prophet complains that they deal treacherously and devour, yet are permitted to prosper.

6. God’s People Know He Will Deal with His Enemies

Although God is righteous in punishing His Church by wicked instruments, yet the holiness of God compared with their wickedness, gives grounds of hope that He will at last reckon with them. This remonstration of the prophets indicates this truth, that while the holiness of God may not always seem to fit with this in the end it will be seen to do what is right (Psalm 50:21).



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Trusting God’s Promise When It Seems Impossible

Trusting God’s Promise When It Seems Impossible

Trusting God’s Promise When It Seems Impossible
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

It is not difficult to trust God when we can see how the promises can be fulfilled. We have outlined the future in our minds and think we know what God will do and when. But when all this changes and circumstances seem to make it impossible our minds are thrown into confusion and despair. Our fears take over and because we cannot see how God can glorify Himself in such circumstances we almost conclude it cannot happen. We wonder why He does not choose what seems to us the quickest, simplest way. It is because He is choosing the wisest way to bring most glory to Him and our faith is being tested and refined in the process. We are reminded that God’s glory, and not our personal preference, matters most.

Mary and Martha were in this situation. It seemed clear that if Christ came in good time Lazarus could be healed. They cannot understand why He would delay until after their brother had died and the situation was now impossible. Christ fully sympathised with them, but He intended to show them and others a greater view of His glory. His purpose was to strengthen and draw forth their faith (John 11:40). George Hutcheson explains more of this in the following updated extract.

1. God’s Glory is His Ultimate Aim

God so orders the affairs and conditions of his people that His glory may be manifested in and about them. This is His chief aim and end in all He does. Therefore, He describes the miracle as a manifestation of the glory of God, because this was His ultimate aim.

2. God’s Glory Should Matter Most to Us

It is the duty of the Lord’s people, to be more affected with the glory of God shining in His works, than with any particular advantage that they may receive from them. He declares, therefore, that the glory of God is more to be seen and to be taken notice of by her in this miracle than the raising up of her brother.

3. God’s Glory is Greater in the Greatest Difficulties

God’s people may be encouraged to expect His promise to be fulfilled, however impossible it may seem. They are encouraged by the fact that in doing so, He will not only do them good, but will get an occasion to show His own glory. His glory is, therefore, engaged to do them good. Since His glory is thus engaged, Martha does not need to be so anxious. The miracle is therefore, described as a manifestation of the glory of God.

4. God’s Glory is Anticipated by Faith

The way prescribed by God for saints to experience the manifestation of His glory for their good and comfort, is, first to give Him glory by believing Him and His Word. Where this is lacking it justly provokes Him not to display Himself. Martha is told that if she would believe she would see the glory of God (see Mark 6:6; Matthew 13:58; Luke 1:20, 45; John 1:50).

5. God’s Glory is Anticipated by Trusting His Word

Although faith may have many difficulties for the present to grapple with, the sweet fruits that follow from believing encourage us to believe so that we may partake of them. Although the stinking body of her brother now mars Martha’s faith, yet the outcome of faith pleads strongly for it. If in that situation she will venture to believe, her believing shall lead her to see the glory of God. God’s Word not carnal reason is the basis on which faith may thus venture itself and expect this lovely fruit. Martha is reminded that Christ had previously said to her and therefore she should believe to see.

6. God’s Glory is Denied by Unbelief

There are just grounds for sharp rebuke and conviction where God has given His word and it is not believed. Christ rebukes her by reminding her that she had been told that if she would believe she would see God’s glory (see Numbers 23:19).

Unbelief may often go under the disguise of a fair show of humility or a similarly commendable disposition. Yet, in Christ’s esteem it is an evil not to be tolerated but sharply reproved. It is an evil that should be removed quickly so that it does not get chance to take root. This is why He rebukes it so sharply and speedily.



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Why Reformation in Africa is a Key Priority

Why Reformation in Africa is a Key Priority

Why Reformation in Africa is a Key Priority
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

Africa’s population growth is exponential, it is doubling every thirty years and expected to surpass 2 billion by 2038. By 2060, six of the world’s ten largest Christian countries will be in Africa. Of course, the question is, what sort of Christian will that be? In 1910 there were 2 million identifying as Christians in Africa, today there are 650 million but 200 million of these are evangelicals. There are many opportunities for biblical truth but there are also many challenges. Scripture indeed holds out specific hope and promise for those labouring to bring greater reformation to Africa.

We are well aware of many challenges such as extreme poverty, conflict, corruption and disease among other challenges. There is also great spiritual poverty. Less than 20 percent of evangelical pastors have received seminary training and biblical illiteracy and heresy wreak havoc. In some places Christians face persecution from Islamist extremist groups. These challenges are also opportunities and Scripture offers great encouragement in seeking to meet them with the truth of God’s Word. One particular passage is Zephaniah 3:9-10. This speaks of how God will make pure doctrine, worship and profession spread to many people both Jews and Gentiles in New Testament times. They will combine together in serving Him and helping one another in His obedience (v9). This unity and common profession is described as “a pure language” (see Isaiah 19:18). The Lord promises that He will gather them from the furthest parts of the world to seek Him and offer service to Him (v10). This promise is accomplished, partly in His gathering together in Christ His people dispersed throughout the world and its remotest corners (see John 11:52). The regions beyond Ethiopia are especially mentioned. These peoples will be included among the rest in a time of great blessing. George Hutcheson comments further on these verses in a way that is helpful for us.

1. The Lord Will Gather His Church in Africa

It is cause for praise to God and of encouragement to the godly that however it goes with nations, God will not lack a Church. He may gather it from among pagan Gentiles and those of whom there is little apparent hope. He will get many people, even from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.

2. The Lord Will Reform His Church in Africa

Purity of doctrine, worship and profession is the glory of a gospel Church. It is a glorious work of God to make it so and keep it so. The Lord says, “I will turn to the people a pure language” or pure doctrine and profession instead of their idolatrous and blasphemous imaginations and ways.

3. The Lord Will Reform His Church in Africa Thoroughly

Purity of doctrine, worship and profession do not consist in a lawless liberty or a toleration to think or say whatever people want to. Rather it is conjoined with and carried on by a united uniformity. This is the rich fruit and recompense of much trouble, so it is to be expected in the Lord’s time and measure. After much trouble (v8) they shall have a pure language, they will serve Him with one consent (literally shoulder) even in that pure language (see Jeremiah 32:39; Zechariah 14:9).

Unanimity in the matters of God and the free access of Jew and Gentile to serve God is a great mercy of the kingdom of Christ. When those who seek God are of one heart and all put their hands to help one another without obstructing or lying idle it is a sign of thriving in serving God. This is also included in the promise as a great blessing and a means of much good, “they shall serve him with one consent.”

The true marks of a converted and spiritual people are being much in calling on God, making use of Him in all things, and giving up themselves entirely to be His servants. To testify their subjection and thankfulness they put their hands to His service as far as they are called to do so. They will do everything as service to Him and bring their worship, themselves, or others, as they are able to offer them up to Him. They described here in this way “they all call on the name of the Lord”, when they get the pure language, they are suppliants, they serve Him, and bring His offering.

4. The Lord Will Reform His Church in Africa in His Time

The Lord will not lose any of His elect, however far they are scattered throughout the world. He will recover His own, when their condition shows they are afar off and driven into exile, without hope or probability of return. The Lord will in due time seek after and recover His ancient people, now for a scattered long time. This will lead to a reviving of His service in the world. For “from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia, he will seek the daughter of his dispersed, and cause them to come”. At this time there will be suppliants and offerings brought and serving Him with one consent.


Reformation in Africa should be a key priority for our prayers and endeavours. There are many church and mission endeavours that can be prayerfully supported, among them Reforming Africa Ministries, The Liberia Project and The Gambia Partnership.



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Build Back Better for Whom?

Build Back Better for Whom?

Build Back Better for Whom?
George Hutcheson (1615-1674) ministered in Ayrshire and Edinburgh and was a noted bible expositor. Like many other ministers he was removed from his congregation in 1662 for refusing to conform to the rule of bishops.

The slogan “build back better” has been commandeered on both sides of the Atlantic to describe the aspirations for post-Covid recovery. Others have used it to advocate for the changes they want to see. So they ask who are we building back better for? Who will benefit? What will change for everyone? The church has also been hit by the recent crisis and surely it too must consider how to build back up again. Is there a better way? Should we simply reset to where we were before? And if we are going to build back better (in other words reformation), who will that be for?

The prophet Haggai ministered to a people who were having to build things up again after wholescale disaster had visited them. Homes, economy, infrastructure all had to be restored after the seventy years exile. The temple too had been destroyed and while they had laid the foundation for it, political interference had brought further work to a standstill. Through the prophet Haggai, the Lord reproves their comfortable negligence (1:2-4). He exhorts them to consider their condition seriously and God’s chastisements (1: 5-6 and 9-11), This is so that they will be stirred up to set about the work of the temple, in which God would show Himself gracious towards them (1:7-8). This results in ready obedience and great encouragement from the Lord (1:12-15).

In Haggai 1:7–8 they are particularly exhorted to consider their ways as the first aspect of obedience. They must examine and confess their negligence and preferring their own interests to God’s. Having done this, they are to engage in the work of building the temple. He gives them the encouragement that the Lord would take pleasure in it be glorified in it. They were building for Him and His glory, that is the great purpose of the church and its activity. George Hutcheson reflects on these verses in the following updated extract.

1. Reformation begins with self-examination

Self-examination is a duty to which we are naturally averse. It is a duty which is not often done with any good outcome unless through conviction of conscience we own ourselves guilty of what the Word of God convicts us of. This is necessary for a right reformation of what has been misused. Therefore, it is pressed again and again: “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5 and 7).

2. Reformation begins with conviction

The Lord does not approve of amending faults without seriously laying to heart our former disorderly conduct. Tender convictions will not die out nor let the convicted sinner alone until this results in fruits of outward obedience. For these two are joined together: “Consider your ways” and “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood” (Haggai 1:7–8).

3. Reformation is everyone’s concern

It is the will of God that His people should be especially careful as they are careful to have to have their own souls and everyone within their charge in a right way, so especially the public work and service of God which concerns set on foot and kept up. For this was in part the meaning and use of this ceremonial temple, to be a place for God’s public worship, concerning which all are commanded: “Go up to the mountain, bring wood and build the house” (Haggai 1:8).

4. Reformation brings God’s blessing

God evidences His presence among a people by setting up His tabernacle and public worship among them and making them active in advancing it. Where this is the case, it is a pledge that He will not loathe them but make His presence known by gracious acts. He will manifest evidences of His glory there, accept their service as glory given to Him, and give them frequent reasons for glorifying Him. For, “Build the house, and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified” (Haggai 1:8).

5. Reformation delights the Lord

It may be a great encouragement to the Church to do service, that the all-sufficient Lord should condescend to accept any service they can do or own. He will take pleasure in them and it, for so the Lord encourages them. “Build the house, and I will take pleasure in it.” That is, your service shall be owned; I will dwell in that which you build (1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Kings 8:27)


We have an opportunity to stop and to consider. Are we doing the right things in the right way according to what God requires? Are we doing them for His glory or do we have a more man-centred perspective? We need to build on the solid foundation of God’s Word and be ready to do all that He requires however much it may cut across our own interests.


George Hutcheson’s exposition of the prophecy of Haggai has recently been republished. Exhortations, promises and encouragements graciously abound in this small book and are specially directed to a weary and complacent remnant. George Hutcheson helps us to meditate on and apply the rich spiritual instruction of this part of God’s Word to our profit.

It is warmly commended and available for £5.70.



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