Archive for the ‘Lord’ Category

“The Rock of Ages:” The Being Behind the Belief

August 12th, 2007

“Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD God is an everlasting rock”

(Isaiah 26:4)

Augustus Montague Toplady (1740-1778) wrote that most popular of English hymns, Rock of Ages. It was this great hymn that echoed through Westminster Abbey during the funeral of Prime Minister William E. Gladstone. The history behind it is quite fascinating. The Christian lyrics arose from a theological debate. Especially important, in this regard, is the second stanza:

Could my tears forever flow, could my zeal no languor know,

these for sin could not atone-Thou must save and Thou alone.

It seems that Toplady was involved in a contention with John Wesley. Wesley was urging a seeking of salvation, while Toplady was denying the human role in salvation.

The being behind the rock, in the text of Isaiah 26:4 is the LORD God. He is traceable to Deuteronomy 32:4, depicted as his people’s strength; refuge (Ps. 31:2-33); and, salvation Deut. 32:15; Ps. 89:26). In the New Testament, the Rock is identified with Christ (1 Cor. 10:4) from whom the Spirit flows (John 4:13-14); the foundation of the church (Matt. 16:18) and it’s corner-stone (Eph. 2:20).

Next time that you sing, Rock of Age, realize that there is indeed a being behind the belief.

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: Bible, God, Isaiah, Jesus Christ, Lord, Old Testament, rock Tags:

Hold On

December 17th, 2006

(Hebrews Chapter 1: Regarding Jesus Christ)

“…let us hold fast our confession”

(Hebrews 3:6, 14; 4:14; 10:23)

A number of years ago, I was in a public library when I overheard a gentleman going on and on about the first chapter of Herman Melville’s, Moby Dick. He bestowed on this particular chapter the ranking of— “best chapter in all of literature.” As I listened, I determined to go read this chapter from Melville. Although, we need not prefer one chapter in the Bible over any other, the first chapter of Hebrews does call our attention to Jesus in a classical style that is absolutely riveting. The Hebrew writer urges his readers to hold on to their faith in the face of difficulties (3:1;4:14). Then, he tells with certain and superior pride in his Lord just exactly who it is that occupies the substance of the Christian confession—

1. God’s prophet son (1:1,2)
2. the heir of all things (1:2)
3. the co-creator of the world (1:2)
4. the radiance of the glory of God (1:3)
5. the exact imprint of his nature (1:3)
6. [who] upholds the universe by the word of his power (1:3)
7. [who] making purification for sins, sat down (1:3)
8. [who] is greater than angels

What a dynamic foundation for Christians! The Hebrew writer opens in he most powerful way possible— clarification of Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

– Robert M. Housby

Opinion Limpers

November 19th, 2006

“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, How
long will you go limping between two different opinions?”

(1 Kings 18:21, ESV)

The Bible teaches clearly that man is highly opinionated, even when those
personal opinions are not immediately forthcoming (see Job 32:6,10,17). We appreciate this aspect of the human experience, as given by God to man, which is sometimes referred to as free-will. A classic example of such free-will may be viewed in Joshua 24:15—“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

When Elijah asked, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21), he was tapping into man’s ability to choose for himself. Surely, it was exasperating for Elijah to have to confront these religious wobblers, to say nothing about God’s own feelings on the matter. Of course, Elijah would be called a troublemaker for his efforts (1 Kings 18:17). But, his reply stands as a resilient model for all time: “I have not troubled Israel…but you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:18). He proceeded: “If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

Jesus, himself, said, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him” (John 12:26). If you’re not serving, you’re not following; and, if you’re not following…you’re limping theologically.

– Robert M. Housby

Categories: 1 Kings, Bible, Lord, Old Testament, opinion, service Tags:

The Valley of Baca

August 8th, 2004

“Beyond the dim unknown, /
Standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own.”

James Russell Lowell,
The Present Crisis (1844), 8.


There is but one reference in the whole Bible to the term, “Baca.” It is found in Psalm 84:6: “As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a valley of springs…” (ESV). The New English Bible translates this, “…as they pass through the thirsty valley”. The Revised Standard Version has, “the valley of weeping.” The expression, “the Valley of Baca” seems to admit of some kind of troublesome human experience. It does not exactly reveal the specific nature of this human experience though. Could it possibly be an experience of personal loss, danger, loneliness, or sin? Whatever the Psalmist had in mind, perhaps a broad-based idea, he leaves no room to doubt that one can emerge from this “Valley of Baca.” But, to emerge will mean that certain things are in place:

1. (Ps. 84:1) – The LORD must be perceived [“your dwelling place”].
2. (Ps. 84:2) – The LORD must be pursued [“My soul longs… for”].
3. (Ps. 84:3) – The LORD must be personalized [“my King and my God”].
4. (Ps. 84:4) – The LORD must be praised [“ever singing your praise”].
5. (Ps. 84:5) – The LORD must be our power [“whose strength is in you”].
6. (Ps. 84:8) – The LORD must be in our prayers [“hear my prayer”].
7. (Ps. 84:10) -The LORD must be preferred [“I would rather be”].

The German of Psalm 84:6 is Jammertal, “vale of sorrow” (Luther’s translation). Leupold sees in 84:6 a “parched valley,” which serves to bless others and brings springs into their lives through the exemplary life lived (Exposition of the Psalms, p. 606). A Balsam tree was also called a “weeper” (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 94). If this valley was indeed a valley of balsams, they exuded, as it were, “tears of gum.” May our tears, similarly, be turned into springs and pools of joy to the living God (Ps. 84:2).

–Robert M. Housby

Categories: Lord, Psalms Tags: