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Vol. 9, No. 1
Jan., 2000


by Glenn Conjurske

The first thing which we know of this man is that “his father had not displeased him at any time in saying, Why hast thou done so?” (I Kings 1:6). The verse continues, “He also was a very goodly man,” and we suppose he must have been a very goodly child also, the sort of child who will take the heart by the first glance of the eye, by his very outward appearance. David's heart was no doubt taken by this beautiful child, and he was therefore soft on him. He “had not displeased him at any time.” He never called him to account for his actions, saying, “Why hast thou done so.” His father gave him his own way, and the result was that the child was wayward, and as was the child, so was the man.

We suppose his mother must have been as soft on him as his father was, for one parent who requires a child to do as he ought will usually be sufficient to secure his character. We know that mothers are much more apt to be soft on children than fathers are. I vividly recall the many bitter reproaches which my father laid upon my mother, when I was a child, for pampering us. Mothers have a natural weakness in that direction, and when a child is pampered by both parents, what chance is there of finding any character in him?

We can hardly doubt that most of the training of Adonijah fell upon his mother. This is usually the case, even in ordinary households, but must certainly have been so in the household of David, who had many wives besides the mother of Adonijah, and an army to lead and a kingdom to rule besides. And David had evidently sought only his own pleasure in the taking of his wives, and exercised no care to take a woman who would train up his children in the way they should go. He took beautiful women, and had beautiful children. It was hard to displease such darlings, and if hard for a father, how much more for a mother? Adonijah therefore had his own way, and came to his manhood entirely destitute of character.

We may pity such a man, but we must blame him also. God will surely do so, and this though “God is love.” None but the overcomers shall have his approval, and among those things which we must overcome are the evil influences of our environment. God did not excuse Eve because she was deceived by the devil. She had no right to be deceived by the devil, and surely could have resisted his advances. And Adonijah could have overcome the deficiencies of his parental training. Many others have done so. Adonijah did not.

He was accustomed to having his own way. He was accustomed to doing his own will, to getting his own wishes. He had no habit of self-denial. Unchecked by either self-denial or parental chidings, his wayward desires grew large, and what he desired, he took. What would it, then, but he must desire the kingdom also? And desiring it, what else but he must have it? “Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king.”

Observe, “he exalted himself.” He knew nothing of faith and patience, nothing of waiting upon the Lord. Faith takes the low place, and waits patiently upon the Lord, till he exalts it in his own way and time. And we may add, worth takes the low place, and waits till God and man give it a higher. Little worth exalts itself. Little worth must seize the moment, and secure the place which it desires, while true worth bides its time, expecting surely to receive the exaltation which it deserves. Solomon therefore sat still, while Adonijah “prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. ... And he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest, and they, following Adonijah, helped him.” Why this restless scheming, preparing, conferring, running? If he is worthy of the position, will it not be given him? Does not all this restless seeking and conferring proclaim the little worth of the man who does it? What need of all this, if he is worthy of the place which he seeks? Will no man discover his worth? Will the stone which is fit for the wall be left in the field? Is there no God in heaven to exalt the worthy? What can the man be worth, who must exalt himself?

Nor is it the fact alone of Adonijah's exalting of himself which condemns him, but the manner of it. Such men know instinctively where to turn for their help, and it is never to the men of the highest honor or character. They resort to the shady, the compromised, the selfish, the unworthy. They carefully avoid the men of high worth and character. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was none of Adonijah's train. No, “he conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah.” We have seen enough of this in the church. Bypassed by men of solid worth and honor, and bypassed precisely because he is unworthy of the honors he seeks, the ambitious man in turn bypasses the men who overlook him, and resorts to men of whom he ought to be ashamed. But this nothing concerns him. He has an ambition, and these men “help” him. All other considerations are subjected to this one.

“Zadok and Abiathar were the priests,” the Scriptures tell us, equal in office, but men of different sorts, and Adonijah knew which one of them he could count on. “He conferred with Joab the son of Zeruiah, and with Abiathar the priest, and they, following Adonijah, helped him. But Zadok the priest, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and Nathan the prophet, and Shimei, and Rei, and the mighty men which belonged to David, were not with Adonijah.” We know not what precisely was the difference between Zadok and Abiathar, but Adonijah knew which of the priests he could secure for his help, and with him he conferred. The other he left alone. All this marks itself as the proceedings of an unworthy man.

But there is more, and worse. “Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not.” The secrecy of his operations condemns them as nothing else could do. Men who have nothing to hide, men who have the approbation of their own consciences, men who have faith in God, can work in the broad light of day, and more especially, under the eye of their superiors. Supplanters and thieves must do their deeds in secret. They may enlist the support of others such as themselves, but the eye of the Lord's anointed they will avoid. I have known a man to undertake some project of his own, and endeavor to enlist the help and support of almost everyone in the congregation under my care, and never speak one word of it to me. Such secrecy is always the sign of something amiss. He knew quite well that I would not approve his operations, but he was determined to go through with them regardless of that. The worthy man would go directly to the authorities above him, and say, This I wish to do; will you help me? But the unworthy are doubtless too well aware that they can expect no help from that quarter. They must seek it therefore from lesser men, by baser means.

Adonijah knew well enough that David would not make him king. But what did he care for David? His whole course is proof that he despised David in his heart. Such was his pride that he supposed himself worthy of the place which he sought, though he well knew that David judged otherwise. He must therefore, of necessity, despise the opinion of the Lord's chosen and anointed king, and act independently of him, in secrecy. He would court the help of all the unworthy, and the approbation of all the people, but the chosen of the Lord he must leave out of his plans, his confidence, his operations. He “called all his brethren the king's sons, and all the men of Judah the king's servants, but Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, and the mighty men, and Solomon his brother, he called not.” Such is the folly of those who pursue an unworthy course. Being unable to gain the approbation of the great and the worthy, they seek support from the base and the ignorant, and content themselves with that, whereas the very quarters from which they are obliged to receive their support ought to teach them the error of their way.

Such was the course of Adonijah, a course of pride, lust, unbelief, and base ingratitude----common yoke-fellows, which will usually be found walking hand in hand.

And all this Adonijah did in the wake of Absalom's unsuccessful rebellion, and ignominious end. “His mother bare him after Absalom.” He had the example of Absalom before him, but what did he learn from it? Precious little, indeed. He learned nothing of the evil of pride and ambition. He learned nothing of the evil of acting in secret, without the king whom God had set on the throne. He learned nothing of the evil of exalting himself, or of usurping his father's place. He only learned to do all this more cautiously than Absalom had done, with less appearance of evil. He would not act against David, as Absalom had done, but only for himself----as though he could do one without the other. Yea, he will act for the Lord and all Israel. He fails not to secure a priest in his train, and the captain of the host also. This was excellent policy, but he would appear to do nothing against David. He would wait therefore until David lay impotent on his death bed. What harm to David, if he took the kingdom then, when David could no longer retain it, and when the throne must bear a new king of course? He thus doubtless persuaded himself that he did David no wrong, as Absalom had done. He did good to himself----yea, to the kingdom also----but no harm to David. So soon as David lay in his grave----and this was soon expected----his mouth could be all praise for David, and every word of it would turn to his own advantage, for he was David's son. Meanwhile, he is careful not to traduce his father, as Absalom had done. He only acts for Adonijah, and says nothing yea or nay of David.

Adonijah thus took a better course than Absalom had, but showed himself to be little or nothing above him in character.

David is soon apprised of the matter, and Adonijah is soon told, “Verily our lord King David hath made Solomon king.”

What consternation now takes hold of the heart of Adonijah, while all the guests who were lately banqueting with him “were afraid, and rose up, and went every man his way,” slinking away as thieves do when the policemen enter the premises. Not one man remains to stand by him now, for the name of “our lord King David” is yet feared, though he lies on the bed of death. And now what an abject coward is the erstwhile king of Israel. “And Adonijah feared because of Solomon, and arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. And it was told Solomon, saying, Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon, for lo, he hath caught hold on the horns of the altar, saying, Let king Solomon swear unto me to-day that he will not slay his servant with the sword.” Here are the workings of an uneasy conscience. “The righteous are as bold as a lion, but the wicked flee when no man pursueth.” Was the sword of Solomon unsheathed against him, that he should flee to the temple, and lay hold of the horns of the altar? Why should he flee, when no man pursued? If he was righteous, why was he not bold as a lion? A righteous man, conscious that he had done nothing amiss, would have gone boldly to Solomon himself, to adjust any matter which might call for explanation. Not so Adonijah. He cannot face Solomon, and he who exalted himself to be king yesterday must now beg of his servants to face Solomon in his stead, and secure a word from him to spare his life. Thus are those who exalt themselves humbled by God, and Adonijah clinging to the horns of the altar is a fine picture of the end of pride and ambition.

Yet the caution and restraint with which he had acted towards David left Solomon no handle by which to lay hold of him to condemn him----not, at any rate, without condemning himself before the people, for Adonijah had had a large following, and that but yesterday. To have executed him today, and as the first public act of his reign, would likely have made Solomon odious in the eyes of the people. Yet Solomon certainly understood the state of the case better than the people did. He certainly knew that he could not trust Adonijah, and therefore put him on probation. “If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth; but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die.”

What more reasonable than this? But then how could such a one as Adonijah “shew himself a worthy man”? He soon shows himself as destitute of discretion and honor as he was of humility and loyalty. Any man who had been so signally defeated and humiliated as he had been----any man who held the tenure of his life only by the grace of him whom he had so lately endeavored to supplant----any such man ought by all means to have walked softly and lain low. Mere discretion would prescribe this, to speak nothing of humility. Mere policy, to say nothing of shame. But Adonijah has learned nothing by his fall. He knows nothing of the place which becomes him. He has no sense of the fact that he deserves nothing. He is proud enough to think himself always deserving of what he desires. He knows nothing of self-denial. What he desires he must have. He now therefore lays eyes upon Abishag the Shunamite, the fair young damsel who had been sought out through all the coasts of Israel, to be the concubine of David in his last sickness. None could be found so fair as she in all the land of Israel, and she was doubtless desired by a thousand other men besides Adonijah, but a thousand other men did not ask her hand. This was left to the audacity of Adonijah, and there is something singularly impudent in this brazen request of a man who ought by all means to have walked softly, and hid his face for shame. Why should he have what a thousand worthier men desired? But pride never knows its place, always over-estimates its worth, never supposes that it may not deserve what it desires, and is always therefore presumptuous. His asking for the fair young damsel was exactly of a piece with his taking the kingdom.

And if his request was presumptuous, the manner in which he made it was cowardly and shameful. Till now he had doubtless kept his distance from Solomon, doing nothing at all to establish confidence, and now he goes to his mother. Women are soft. They are apt to pity where they ought to blame, and to sympathize where they ought to rebuke. They feel the man's misfortune, but not his guilt----feel his need, but not his fault. And who can soften a man as a woman can? Who could secure the consent of the young king better than his mother? Adonijah knew all this, and therefore determined to use the mother of Solomon to gain his desire. Only enlist her in his cause, he thinks, and his success is sure.

He comes, therefore, to Bath-sheba, but she no more trusts him than Solomon does, “and she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.” He then proceeds to enlist her sympathy. “Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign. Howbeit, the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's, for it was his from the Lord.” All he means now is to ask one small favor, a little consolation in his disappointment and defeat. “And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. ... Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunamite to wife.”

He has evidently thoroughly enlisted the sympathies of this woman, and he doubtless leaves her presence in an elated frame, his heart full of fond dreams of his possession of the fair Shunamite, almost tasting the sweet fruits which he promised to himself. But alas for a proud and sinful heart. He had but tasted of the throne of Israel when it was dashed from his lips. Of Abishag he shall never taste at all, but shall taste of death instead. We cannot help but feel most deeply for the disappointments and humiliations of this man, and for his bitter end, but it was all his own doing. It was all his own inveterate pride and presumption. His life was secure enough, if he could but show himself a worthy man, but this was simply not in him.

Meanwhile he leaves the presence of Bath-sheba as confident as he was presumptuous, and as happy as a good hope could make him, almost tasting the delights of Abishag the Shunamite. Bath-sheba goes directly to the king, full of sympathy for this disappointed man, and presents his petition as though it were her own: “I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay.” Solomon trusts his mother, and replies, “Ask on, my mother, for I will not say thee nay.”

“And she said, Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife,” but she must be fairly stunned by his peremptory and determined response. “And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunamite for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also, for he is mine elder brother, even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah. Then king Solomon sware by the Lord, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.”

But what sort of judgement is this? He had stolen the kingdom, without the knowledge of the king, and Solomon spared him. Now he but asks a wife from the hand of the king, and Solomon will put him to death. Is this righteous judgement, to put a man to death for so small an offence, for so innocent a request? Undoubtedly it was, for Adonijah's offence was not small. If it appeared small, it was only as the tip of the iceberg. Neither was his request innocent. It might have been innocent enough coming from another man, but from one in Adonijah's position it was criminal. So Solomon saw it, however innocent it may have appeared to Bath-sheba.

And in this we see most plainly the difference between men and women. She is all sympathy. She suspects no evil, sees no evil, sees only a disappointed and disheartened man, and desires only to assuage his grief. What harm in granting him a little consolation in his disappointment? She is taken in by his pious talk, and thinks him humbled and penitent. He acknowledges that the kingdom was Solomon's from the Lord, and he only desires a little solace in his loss. The eye of Solomon penetrates through all of this, and sees plainly that there was not a whit of difference between his asking for Abishag, and his taking the kingdom. He has not changed an iota. His defeat has taught him nothing. He is as proud and presumptuous as ever. He knows nothing of his place. He knows nothing of what becomes a man in his position. He cannot be trusted, therefore. It will be Abishag the Shunamite today, and the kingdom of Israel tomorrow. By this audacity he has violated the terms of his probation. He has proved himself an unworthy man, and he must die.

While Adonijah, therefore, awaits the sweet fruit of his presumptuous petition, expecting momentarily to hear the approach of the king's messenger, and to feel the embrace of the fair damsel of his dreams, he must feel instead of the sword of vengeance. He hears the approaching footsteps. He looks out at the window, and his heart leaps with expectation at the approach of the well known face of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada----surely coming directly from the king, surely with the news that his petition is granted. But no, nothing of this, for “king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and he fell upon him that he died.” Oh, this is hard! but it is the legitimate end of a long course of pride and presumption, impatience and ambition, grasping unbelief and base ingratitude----a long course of unrestrained selfishness and presumptuous self-seeking. Adonijah could not be cured of this by the awful example of Absalom, nor by the humiliating defeat of his own. He remains just the same as he was, and judgement must overtake him at the last.

The Ministry of Christ

by Glenn Conjurske

Ministry is service. It is work. In these days of pride and selfishness and self-seeking, therefore, we should expect that ministry would not be much sought after. We find, however, just the contrary. Ministry is much prized, and many are willing to scour the earth in search of “a place of ministry.” But there is an explanation. That explanation lies in the fundamentally false notion which folks have of the nature of ministry. That false notion might be corrected by a glance at the ministry of Christ.

The sons of Zebedee wished to be great, to have a place of importance. The ten were moved with indignation. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:25-28).

We fear that a great deal of modern “ministry” consists of nothing more than a desire “to be great.” But a minister is a servant. His aim is to serve others, “not to be ministered unto”----not to receive, but to give----even to “give his life a ransom for many.” This was the ministry of Christ, “who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation”----emptied himself----”and took upon him the form of a servant.” (Phil. 2:6-7).

I fear that much of modern “ministry” is directly the reverse of this. Men “enter the ministry” in a fashion directly the reverse of Christ's. They “will be great.” They will be something. They will be somebody. They are looking for something for themselves----looking in fact “to be ministered unto”----and this they call “ministry.” I spoke with one of these souls not long ago, and suggested a hard and humble place, such as the inquirer was fit for, and which might be a place of service, but was told in reply, “Oh, that could never give me the fulfillment which I seek in a place of ministry.” Ah, yes. “Fulfillment”----”give me”----”I seek.” And yet all this will be called “a place of ministry.” This is selfish, and directly contrary to the spirit of true ministry.

Others are evidently much more intent upon the glory of the ministry than they are on the work of the ministry. Some of them are, frankly, too lazy to be servants, yet they want the glory of the ministry. One of these lazy fellows called me once from another state, and wanted me to send him my notes on a certain subject, so he could write a magazine article on it. I refused to send them, and told him why. He wanted somebody else to do the work of the ministry, while he took the glory of it. The Bible likens a servant of Christ to “the ox that treadeth out the corn” (I Cor. 9:9), but this fellow wanted to be the host that served up the corn after the ox had trodden it out. At a later date the same man published a list of recommended books which I had compiled. It was my list, just as I had given it to him, he only adding half a dozen titles to it, and yet he published it under his own name, without a word of acknowledgement as to its source. This of course gave the impression to his readers that he had read all these books, whereas in fact he had never even seen many of them. All this is shameful, yet we suppose men would be secure from such shameful deeds if they had any proper notion of the ministry----if they entered it to work and to serve, rather than to reap fulfillment or glory.

But another thing comes to mind, which had not so much as occurred to me when I began to write this article. When I look at the folks I have known who seem to be more intent upon the glory or the fulfillment of “the ministry,” than they are to work and to serve, it plainly appears that they are not only selfish, but proud----always thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to think, always supposing their ignorance to be superior knowledge, always ready to teach their teachers. I have sometimes been inclined to advise such souls to advertize in the Christian papers, saying, “First-grader desires teaching position on the college level. Must have good benefits.” This is their idea of ministry.

When Christ entered the ministry, he stepped down, not up. He left a high place, and took a low one. So did Paul. His ministry was hard work, and hard fare too. How many enter the ministry after this fashion today? “Made himself of no reputation” is a paraphrase, the Greek saying “he emptied himself,” but the paraphrase is very apt. How many enter the ministry today to make themselves of no reputation? This was the way of Christ. He not only emptied himself, but “humbled himself” also. He stepped down from a high place to a low one, and this not to get, but to give----even to give his life. Of course he found fulfillment in his ministry, but this was not in standing on a platform before a crowd. We think that was rather a trial to him. He sought no glory. He straitly charged those whom he healed to tell no man. He found fulfillment indeed, but it was in speaking alone to a loose and low-class Samaritan woman, in whom he could see an uncut gem. What glory was there in this? What salary? What benefits? Yet it was there that he said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” Here was fulfillment indeed, but found in the lowest place, in the most humble activity. This was the ministry of Christ.

And for what purpose does Paul introduce his description of Christ's emptying and humbling of himself? “Let this mind be in you,” he says, “which was also in Christ Jesus.” Let those who seek a place of ministry enter it here----at the bottom, not the top. Let them step down, not up. Let them humble themselves, not exalt themselves. Let them forget about the glory of authorship and the glory of the pulpit, let them forget about their selfish desires for fulfillment, and seek where they might work and serve and give----to benefit others, not themselves. Let them seek a low place, to give, not to receive, to serve, not to be served. This is ministry.

Loyalty & Faithfulness

Abstract of a Sermon Preached on Ocober 23, 1999

by Glenn Conjurske

For years I regarded loyalty as a very questionable virtue. I have seen too much of loyalty at the expense of faithfulness. Loyalty seems to be regarded as the chief virtue by some, and everything else is sacrificed to it. Loyalty to the Convention, for example, is the leading principle of many of the Southern Baptists, and that loyalty of course extends to supporting the programs and schools of the Convention, many of which are modernistic in doctrine, and practically wicked. Loyalty to the schools which people have attended is also very common, long after those schools have become compromised, or apostate. Seeing such an application of loyalty has not recommended the thing to me, and I have regarded loyalty as such with a good deal of suspicion. It seems often to be nothing more than an excuse for unfaithfulness.

Further meditation, however, and I may add, further experience, have taught me better, and I have come to see that loyalty is a virtue indeed. Like most other virtues, it may be abused, or put to a wrong use, but still, loyalty is a virtue. I believe loyalty to be a virtue because it is the natural fruit of another virtue, namely, gratitude. Gratitude I suppose to be the rarest of virtues in these days of pride and self-seeking, and indeed I suppose gratitude to be much more rare than loyalty. This, because loyalty may flow from other things besides gratitude. Loyalty may be the fruit of pride or bigotry, or stubborn belligerence, as well as gratitude. In that case it is no virtue at all.

But here I aim to speak of loyalty as a virtue. And first it behooves us to define what loyalty is. I suppose it to be an affectionate attachment to a person, or group of people, which is characterized by a commitment to their persons and a devotion to their interests. This is loyalty, and this is the natural fruit of gratitude. We are loyal to our parents because we are their debtors. We owe them most all we have, in the natural realm. We are loyal to our church because it has blessed us and nurtured our souls. We are loyal to our employer because he has provided us with our bread and butter, or to our employees because they have faithfully served us and our interests. Gratitude requires this of us, and naturally moves us to it.

Yet I see but little of loyalty today, in either the church or the world. A man of business will take up some nobody who needs a job, and carefully train him in the business, bearing with all his blunders, and paying him a good wage besides, till he has made him proficient and profitable. At this point his employer's competitor offers him ten cents an hour more, and he is off in a moment, for a dime an hour. This is the common way of the world, and generally accepted by everybody, but still we think there is something shameful in it. It seems that gratitude would say, I owe all my proficiency in this business to my employer, and I would be worth nothing to his competitor but for his pains and patience with me, and do I not owe something to the man that has made me what I am? Shall I leave him in the lurch for a dime an hour? Thus would gratitude inspire loyalty, and who can doubt that this is a virtue?

But in the place of such loyalty, we see every man seeking his own personal advancement. This is the American way----the American dream----and where personal advancement calls, the voice of loyalty cannot be heard. Worse yet, where loyalty falls before the call of personal advancement, gratitude is dried up from the roots, and the man who ought to be praising his old employer, who has taught him all that he knows, begins rather to find fault. He is compelled to this, in order to justify his course in leaving him.

Worse still, a man is taken on as an employee, and taught the whole trade by his employer, and as soon as he becomes proficient at it, he leaves to set up business for himself, often taking many of his employer's customers with him. We would not pretend that loyalty requires us always to occupy the low place, and never to advance, but it will certainly require us never to injure our benefactors. A man might go into business for himself with his old employer's blessing, and with the determination not to injure him, but who thinks of that in this self-seeking day of ours? Personal advancement is the only principle which most people have, and gratitude and loyalty have no existence in their thoughts.

The same thing appears in the church. A church, or a pastor, takes up an ignorant and carnal young man, and labors with him year after year, leading him by the hand, bearing with all his pride and all his faults, faithfully admonishing him and carefully teaching him the truth, so that it is a simple matter of fact that the young man owes all that he is to that church, or that pastor. But he thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think. He thinks he is entitled to a higher place than he is given there. Personal advancement calls, and loyalty is forgotten. He finds another church, which does not know him so well, and which will therefore make more of him than those who do know him, and he is off in a moment. Loyalty is nothing where personal advancement calls, and where loyalty is cast away, gratitude withers and dies. He must find fault with the pastor who has made him what he is, in order to justify his course in leaving him. He blames his old benefactor very cautiously at first, but he will become more and more bold in it as time progresses. All this I have seen.

And do those who receive such ungrateful souls, who come to them only for personal advancement, do they think they will be any more loyal to them than they were to their former friends? Oh, no. When personal advancement calls again, loyalty will once more be cast away, and gratitude will wither and die. We suppose the real difficulty is that there never was much gratitude in the first place, but whatever there was of it will wither away.

Others are taken up by a good man and a good church, and nurtured and cherished by them, and entrusted with a place of leadership or ministry, and after a while they go off to set up for themselves, usually taking as many of the flock with them as they can. A number of John Wesley's preachers did this, and of course, in the process, found as much fault with John Wesley as they could. This happened often enough that it moved Charles Wesley to remark that his brother always set the wolf to keep the sheep. We suppose that John was not careful enough in the matter. The men he trusted were not so fit as he thought they were. Yet if this were so, they ought to have been so much the more grateful to him, but when is this ever the case? Those who deserve the least are the least grateful when they are given the more. We do not believe it was faithfulness which moved them to leave Wesley, but pride and self-seeking. Wesley is admired and revered today by all but hopeless bigots, and yet these men who owed him all that they had could see only his faults and deficiencies.

Now it must be understood that all of our loyalty must always be to those who are less than perfect. No man is perfect. No church is perfect. Some of course come much closer to it than others, but there is no perfection under the sun, and we have no right to expect it of anyone. A number of years ago a number of the people of this church turned against me, and left us. And though they of course would not say so in express terms, it became quite evident to me that it was their way to relentlessly require perfection of me. One of them took up the text, “a bishop must be blameless,” and interpreted this in the most rigorous fashion, such as would have excluded Peter and Paul from the ministry.

No man is without his faults. No man is without deficiencies. No man has all the gifts of God. No man has mastered every spiritual emotion. No man understands every spiritual experience. If he is strong in one place, he may be weak in another. God knows this, of course, as well as we do, and yet for all that requires his people “to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.” (I Thes. 5:12-13). This is gratitude, and its fruit is loyalty.

Loyalty may stem also from simple admiration for the worthy, though they have been no benefactors to ourselves at all, and such loyalty may outshine even that which flows from gratitude. This is a virtue indeed.

And what virtue can shine so bright as this? What virtue can vibrate all the truest emotions of our souls like loyalty? Loyalty to the unworthy man, loyalty to the unworthy cause, may be an unworthy thing, but loyalty to the worthy----especially when they are traduced and forsaken, especially when they are afflicted and down-trodden, and especially when that loyalty costs us something----this is one of the grandest and most noble things on earth. What could be more noble, when Paul must write in II Timothy 1:15, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me,” than to hear him saying in the next verse, “The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain”?

What more noble picture can we find in all the history of the church than of those four noble souls----some of them women----who stood by John Wesley all the hours that he was in the hands of a lawless and murderous mob, sometimes shielding him from the blows of the mob, at other times merely being with him, identifying themselves with the hated man of God, before the eyes of all the world? This is loyalty, and this is grand. They had nothing to gain by this----nothing on earth, at any rate----and plenty to lose, but they shall have a great reward in heaven for it.

Such loyalty is a testimony to the worth of the man, or the cause, for which we stand, for true and noble loyalty is no more than devotion and commitment to true and noble worth. Somewhere I read a story of a woman in the confederate states, during the Civil War. When the Union army came marching through her village, she came out on her porch with her broom in her hands, and began to swing away at the whole Union army. The men naturally found cause for great mirth in this, and asked her what she expected to do with that broom. She told them she meant to show what side she was on. Those who have had the good fortune to be born north of the Mason-Dixon Line may look askance at such loyalty, for to be a noble thing, loyalty must be enlisted in a good cause. But the fact is, both sides in the Civil War believed their cause right, while I believe they were both largely in the wrong. But such an example of loyalty, even in a questionable cause, can hardly fail to stir the heart. This is loyalty, and this is noble.

We find another most beautiful example of loyalty in the person of Ruth. Her profession of loyalty to Naomi is certainly one of the most beautiful things in the Bible. “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17). Here we see a devotion and a commitment which is most rare, and which really needs no defence. To read this is to approve it----to admire it. And all this is the more beautiful because Naomi cannot be supposed to have had any very strong claims of gratitude upon Ruth. She was not a mother, but only a mother-in-law.

And observe, Ruth's loyalty was not for the sake of any personal advancement, but precisely at the expense of it. Her loyalty cost her something. Naomi is most careful to spell out the cost to her. “And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will ye go with me? are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have an husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have an husband also to night, and should also bear sons, would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye stay for them from having husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” (Ruth 1:11-13).

Yet Ruth's devotion and loyalty were determined, and she could not be turned from them by Naomi herself, nor by any personal cost to herself. And it is beautiful to observe the end of all this. Ruth's loyalty was precisely at the expense of her personal advancement, yet she was no loser by it, for there is yet a God in heaven. That loyalty which she maintained at the expense of her personal advancement became in fact the very means of her advancement.

“Then she fell on her face, and bowed herself to the ground, and said unto him, Why have I found grace in thine eyes, that thou shouldest take knowledge of me, seeing I am a stranger? And Boaz answered and said unto her, It hath fully been shewed me, all that thou hast done unto thy mother in law since the death of thine husband, and how thou hast left thy father and thy mother, and the land of thy nativity, and art come unto a people which thou knewest not heretofore. The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust.” (Ruth 2:10-12). God took notice of her loyalty, and Boaz did also.

But we see another kind of loyalty in Joab. None were so loyal to David as he, but why should he not be? He knew who buttered his bread, and so long as David was the king of Israel, it was in Joab's best interest to be as intensely loyal to him as he could. But when David was about to die, and his worthless son Adonijah had proclaimed himself king, and gained a large and powerful following besides, Joab's loyalty all evaporated, and he showed his true colors, “for Joab had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not after Absalom.” (I Kings 2:28). It was personal interest which kept him loyal to David through all of David's life, and personal interest which turned him from David in the end.

Such loyalty was no virtue while it lasted. The loyalty which is worth the name is that which will be maintained at personal cost. This was the loyalty of the disciples of Christ while he walked this earth. The Lord says to them in Luke 22:28, “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” “Continued with me.” This is loyalty. “In my temptations.” That is, when I was poor and despised and rejected, when I had not where to lay my head, when you gained nothing by your loyalty, but had rather to share my hard lot.

Well, but loyalty to Christ is one matter, and loyalty to his servants another. Christ has no fault, no deficiency. His servants have many of them. And though loyalty to imperfect men and imperfect churches is a noble and virtuous thing, loyalty may be stretched too far. Loyalty at personal cost is a most noble thing. Loyalty at the expense of personal advancement is a most noble thing. But loyalty at the expense of truth, of principle, of conscience, or of faithfulness to God, is no virtue. There are times, therefore, when loyalty must be sacrificed to faithfulness.

But let it be understood, when such a sacrifice must be made, it ought to be deeply felt to be a sacrifice. The language of the soul ought then to be, “How gladly would I abide here, if I could, but I cannot do so and retain a clear conscience. I love these tabernacles in which I have been blessed. I love these men who have blessed me. How gladly would I stand with them as in times past, but faithfulness to God and truth and conscience requires me to depart. Yet I will not depart cursing them, but blessing them and honoring them as far as I can.” We think it was generally with such a spirit that George Whitefield parted company with John Wesley. He believed truth and conscience called him to it. I believe he was mistaken in that----believe that he was wrong, and Wesley right----believe further that even if he had been right, and Wesley wrong, there was no occasion to separate----but Whitefield was young and zealous, and young zealots generally much magnify the importance of their opinions. He believed, therefore, that truth and conscience called him to part company with John Wesley, but he never ceased to love him, and to honor him also. It was a painful thing for him to leave Wesley. It was cutting off his right hand, or plucking out his right eye.

But how rarely do we see loyalty thus sacrificed to the higher call of faithfulness. We usually see it cast away, at the baser call of personal advancement, though the higher call of faithfulness is almost sure to be professed as the reason. I have seen enough of this. The disaffected man comes to his pastor and says, You have taught me most of what I know, and made me what I am, but I disagree with you about whether women should wear jewelry----or whether faith comes before repentance----or some other comparative trifle----and therefore we must part company. Now if these disaffected folks were to tell the simple truth, they would rather say, I am tired of your authority, and believe you do not give me so high a place as I deserve, and therefore I am off to find it where I can. They can hardly sacrifice their loyalty to faithfulness, for they have none to sacrifice. Loyalty does not exist in such hearts, nor gratitude either, and they will usually be found to have as little of faithfulness to God as they have of loyalty to man.

Yet loyalty can be stretched too far. This it was which for years gave me a prejudice against loyalty as such. It appeared to be generally nothing more than an excuse for unfaithfulness, and such loyalty can hardly be too strongly condemned. We must love Christ more than father and mother, more than wife or child, and certainly more than church or pastor. Where the word of God calls, loyalty to every other cause must be sacrificed. We know that bigots and zealots, we know that the proud and the selfish, often suppose that the word of God calls, when they are called by nothing more than their own inflated ego. We know this. But we know also that in some cases it is the word of God, it is the voice of Christ which calls, and to plead loyalty at such a time is only unfaithfulness. We must first render to God what is God's.

And neither would I wish to leave the impression that that loyalty must be sacrificed only where conscience demands it. There are certain things which we might contrive to do without defiling our conscience, which are nevertheless unfaithfulness to our charge. We might perhaps, without defiling our conscience, remain in a church where our children will be corrupted by bad teaching or a bad example. We really have no right to do this. We must render to God what is God's, and our children are God's.

Neither would I pretend that it is always easy to draw the line between loyalty and faithfulness. It may be very difficult. Yet a true heart may certainly do it.

But to conclude. Loyalty at the expense of faithfulness is no virtue. Loyalty at the expense of personal interest is a very great virtue, and as we see in the case of Ruth, is in fact one of the best ways under heaven to secure our personal interest. God may allow the loyal to feel the personal sacrifice involved in their loyalty, for a time, that their loyalty may shine the brighter, but he will reward it also.


n Book Review n

by Glenn Conjurske


Joshua's Long Day and the Dial of Ahaz,
by Charles A. L. Totten

Haverhill, Massachusetts, Destiny Publishers, 1941, 225 pp.

This book was originally published in 1890, as appears on the cover of this edition, and also in various places in the content of the book. The edition in my hands is a reprint, the publisher's preface being dated 1941. The publisher of this edition calls the book (pg. xii) a “scientific demonstration of the miracle of Joshua's Long Day,” but alas for science, if this is a scientific demonstration.

The book treats of some very technical matters, but my readers may trust me to present them in a form which is both understandable and interesting.

Since I was a young boy, in a then-Fundamental Baptist church, I have heard that astronomers have proved that there is a day missing in the history of the world, and this was presented as proof of the truth of the Bible's account of the stopping of the sun and the moon in Joshua's day. Not only so: it was further affirmed that the missing day was not quite a day, that it lacked forty minutes of being a full day, and that the other forty minutes were to be found in the reversal of the sun dial in the days of Hezekiah.

Now I have never had the least sympathy with modernism, not even in my most ungodly days. I have always believed the Bible. Still, I never cared for this supposed scientific proof. I have never been one to grasp at anything which seemed to strengthen my own position. Much less have I been one to accept the unproved as proof. Mere assertion goes for nothing with me. Since I first heard of this supposed proof, therefore, I have always had enough independence of mind to regard it with suspicion. It has always seemed to me that such a thing was incapable of scientific proof. I always left this supposed proof alone, therefore, neither believing nor disbelieving it, but waiting for such time as I might see the evidence to support the assertion, and so judge for myself.

Having continued in this state of equilibrium for somewhere about forty years, I was quite thrilled to find, on my last trip to Grand Rapids, the very book which sets forth that proof, by the very man who discovered “the missing day.” I bought it, of course, and have managed in the past hectic and unsettled year to read the pertinent portion of it. The result has been to fully confirm my suspicions as to the worthlessness of this proof. To that I shall come shortly, but first a word about the author.

This man has no sympathy with modernism or unbelief, but reproves and rebukes it. So far, so good. He is not afraid of the dicta of the “scholars,” but treats all this with merited contempt. This also is good. He even appeals upon occasion to common sense, over the rule of technicalities. This we highly approve also. But alas, he stands almost everywhere upon technical tomfoolery himself, and common sense is left to shift for itself.

This we observe to be a common thing with those whose minds are much occupied with technical matters, whether linguistic or scientific. They lose the ability to think the common thoughts of men, and become what I can only call hair-brained. Common language they must take in a technical sense. A day must mean twenty-four hours, though the Bible commonly uses the term for a lengthy period of time. A year must be exactly a year, though common speech rarely uses it that way. If I say, “It was twelve years ago that my eyes began to weaken,” who would dream that I meant twelve years to the day? So uncommon, indeed, is it to apply the term “year” to an exact year, that when we mean an exact year, we usually say, “exactly a year,” or “a year to the day”----and even then we never mean a year to the minute. But certain minds can think only in technical terms, and these minds actually disqualify themselves even for scientific inquiry, for to take common speech in a technical sense always sends them barking up the wrong tree.

Such is the case with the author before us. When he reads, in Joshua 10:12, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon,” he finds in this a technical description of their astronomical positions. “We are thus confined,” he says, “within very narrow chronological limits even before we undertake the crucial test of pure astronomy in order to find out the exact date which satisfies the rigid conditions directly imposed upon it by the record itself.” (Pg. 30, bold type mine, and so always in this review.) Now any man who finds rigid conditions imposed by “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ajalon” betrays a hopelessly technical mind. He continues, to define those “rigid conditions.” “These conditions are as explicitly fixed by the account, as if it were committed, in so many words, to a 'transit of Venus,' upon the Beth Horon high-noon in question. Thus: in the account given in the Xth chapter of Joshua, we find the sun (;) placed upon the meridian of Gibeon (35° 10' ± E. of Greenwich), which latter place (Gibeon) lies east of Beth Horon by some 6' ± of arc; while, at the same time, the moon (”) is located upon the meridian of Ajalon (35° 2' ± E. of Greenwich), at about an equal distance of arc (6' ±), to the west of Beth Horon.” (pg. 30.)

This is just technical tomfoolery. Can any man of common sense suppose that Joshua meant any such stuff as this, when he said, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ajalon,” or that the sacred record means any such technicalities as this, when it records the words of Joshua? We will not say, Much learning hath made thee mad, but we surely must say, Much learning hath made thee incompetent. This is often the case.

But Mr. Totten takes these rigid conditions which he, not Scripture, has fixed, as the veritable state of the case, and assures us that the same exact relative position of sun, moon, and earth could not recur again in “much more than 23½ quintillion years,” assuring us meanwhile (pg. 36) that he is “ignoring a numerous group of perpetually recurring approximations.” Thus he forces upon the sacred record the most rigid and absolute technicality, such as is ludicrous in itself, and such as is certainly foreign to anything Joshua could have thought or meant when he said, “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Ajalon.”

But there is more behind. Any right-headed man reading the Bible account would see plainly enough that when Joshua stood looking up to the heavens above him, he saw both the sun and the moon, and commanded them both to stand still. Not so, says Mr. Totten. The moon, he tells us, was invisible at that time. She was “within but fifteen minutes of the sun”----”at that portion of her orbit,” therefore, “where she is always invisible even at night.” “Bathed in such a meridian sun-glare she would have been invisible even to the Lick Telescope.” (pg. 31).

Why then did Joshua command her, though he saw her not? Ah, for weighty reasons indeed! For “being there, and being, moreover, an essential and ruling element of Hebrew Calendric methods, the whole system of Sacred Terrestrial Chronology demanded that she should be involved in the same mandate of 'silence' imposed upon the sun, under penalty, if not, of throwing all the writings of Moses into unutterable confusion! For these writings are strung together, historically, in terms of a Lunar calendar, pure and simple, while at the same time their Chronology is consummately intercalated in order to keep solar time also. Hence to have held the sun, which did not rule the Hebrew 'working' calendar, and to have suffered the orb that did so to pursue her 'lost' way, would have necessitated an entire re-editing of the Pentateuch, or else have required all future generations to correct its chronology by the use of a 'constant' of the most complex mathematical character.” (pg. 32).

Dire consequences, truly, but we believe no such thing. This is all just learned tomfoolery. We deny that there is any such technical chronological accuracy as this in the Pentateuch----none required, none intended, and none existent. If the book of Genesis tells us that “all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years, and he died,” this certainly does not mean exactly nine hundred and twelve years, and if the sun were stopped while the moon went her way for “about a whole day,” this would have no effect whatever on the Chronology of the Pentateuch. And least of all are we to suppose that this was any concern of Joshua's when he commanded the heavenly bodies to cease. But to Mr. Totten's mind, Joshua was a scientific chronologist, determined to keep the calendar exactly in order, and an extraordinary astronomer also, who knew the exact position of the moon at any given hour of the day, to the very degree and minute, though he could not see her. This is absurd.

But more. Not only did Joshua command a moon which he could not see, but this he did “at mid-day”----nay, at eleven o'clock in the morning. And why, in the name of common sense, would Joshua trouble himself about the sun and the moon at all at such an hour of the day? It has been supposed as universally as rightly that Joshua's concern arose from the fact that the day was drawing to a close, that the enemy would escape him under the coming darkness of the night, and so the battle prove indecisive, and the victory elude him. Could this have been any concern of his while the day was yet fresh, at eleven o'clock in the morning? Does the Bible stand in need of any such hair-brained proofs as this?

But more. Mr. Totten, as we have seen, assumes that Joshua's commands to the sun and the moon rigidly describe their exact positions in the heavens, but this is based upon a previous assumption of the exact position of Joshua upon the earth. The apparent positions of the sun and the moon over the earth depend entirely upon our own position on the earth. Joshua is therefore placed precisely at Beth Horon. But here another difficulty naturally arises. The positions of Beth Horon, of Gibeon, and of Ajalon must all be taken (pg. 40) “so closely as modern Geography locates them”!!----and all this is made the basis for the positions of the heavenly bodies, rigidly defined to the minute! A very precarious basis, to say no more. We may add besides that where Mr. Totten constantly and confidently speaks of the position of the moon over “Ajalon,” Joshua's words are “in the valley of Ajalon”----two different things, we may suppose.

But more. The author grants us that astronomy, pure and simple, can prove nothing in this matter. “If,” he says on page 33, “the power of Jehovah had enforced this 'silence' on the spheres for a whole year instead of for a single day, the cycles themselves would bear no evidence thereof to-day.” So exactly we have always supposed ourselves, and concluded therefore that no astronomical proof of such a phenomenon lay anywhere within the realm of possibility. If the relative positions of all the heavenly bodies had been previously recorded, and were afterwards found to be at variance with the previously recorded facts, we might prove something from this, but in the absence of human records, astronomy can prove nothing. So the author continues, “The cycles themselves would bear no evidence thereof to-day, save only to mark, as now they do, the fact and date of the conjunction at which it was recorded to have occurred.”

So then, he is not dependent upon astronomy, but upon recorded history, and as a plain matter of fact, this “conjunction” of which he continually speaks was not recorded at all. This is all technical assumption, and professedly derived from a record which has nothing technical in it. This “conjunction” of which he speaks----and which means in the terminology of astronomy, “the meeting or passing of two heavenly bodies”----he uses to establish the exact date of the stoppage of the sun. This is necessary for his calculations. The supposed “conjunction” he derives from the supposed rigid technical description which he finds in Joshua's commands to the sun and the moon. In other words, the ground which he stands upon consists of nothing but airy imaginations.

On this ground----if such airy stuff can be called ground----he proceeds, “I maintain therefore both logically, and astronomically, and also as a chronologist, that the sole question which modern astronomy has to ask of 'the three bodies' as now moving ... is whether such a Conjunction, as [Mr. Totten's rigidly technical interpretation of] the record demands, is also demonstrated to have taken place at Beth Horon within the limits which are equally set forth by the account.

“Beyond this, the yea or nay of astronomy cannot go one single element of 'arc,' which is ITS only measure of 'time'!” (pp. 34-35).

Astronomy, then, is impotent of itself to either prove or disprove “Joshua's Long Day,” for “as to these intervening 23Ä hours, Astronomy is dumb, and will be dumb FOREVER.” (pg. 39). A large acknowledgement, truly.

Ah, “But right here accurate Chronology steps in, and her testimony has the casting and deciding vote, for if it shall be shown that, while the ecliptical points reached by 'the bodies that rule the times and seasons' are the ones duly demanded by astronomically recorded time, while nevertheless the points reached in the Septenary sequence of the week days (i.e., in the Calendar, which is the sole province of Chronology) are ahead of the astronomic ones by an amount just equal to the alleged duration of the stoppage as recorded by history, then the demonstration of the problem is complete and mathematical, and cannot be gainsaid in the least by sound reason.”

Well, yes, IF any such “accurate Chronology” existed. But where is this to be found? It will be remembered that the author has established the date and time of Joshua's battle by “pure astronomy,” not by any recorded history or chronology----and based his astronomical calculations upon a foolishly technical interpretation of Joshua's commands to the sun and the moon. This is no “accurate Chronology.” The author contends for the use of the Biblical chronology, and we have nothing to say against that, but the plain fact is, the Biblical chronology is general and approximate, of use, it may be, in establishing the approximate year of an event, but of no use at all to establish the day or the hour. But this man obviously expects from the Biblical chronology the same sort of technical precision as he finds in the commands of Joshua, for he can point with confidence to the very day of Adam's creation, speaking of “the soli-lunar conjunction at the instant of that autumnal equinox which marks the very first day of Adam's mundane chronology.” (pg. 37).

This is news to me, but methinks it is of the same sort as the news which I recently saw proclaimed on the cover of a tabloid journal on a news-stand, declaring the existence of an ancient photograph of Christ. But knowing, as he thinks, the date of the first day of the world, and the date likewise of Joshua's long day, he may now proceed with his calculations, and conduct us to the grand proof. “To be scientifically correct,” he says, “it may therefore be stated that the Sun and Moon were going into accurate conjunction, in the mid-heavens over Beth Horon, (as recorded in Joshua), for the 31,604th time (since their primeval conjunction on the first day of Adam's first week of time), on the 24th day of the 4th Civil, or 10th Sacred month of the Hebrew calendric year 2555 A. M., which day was a Tuesday at 11.13 A. M., it being the 933,285th day of the world reckoning from Creation inclusive. Whereas, if we reverse the cycles from the latest solar-eclipsing conjunction of history, to wit, that of Tuesday, June 17, 1890, they pass unerringly backward to that same conjunction, and make it 1,217,530 days 'ago,' but upon a Wednesday at about 10.33 A. M.! i.e., there is inevitably 'ABOUT A WHOLE DAY' between the two results!” (pp. 38-39).

Here then is the grand proof. And all this might be very impressive, if we knew nothing of the numerous foolish assumptions which of necessity lie beneath it----assumptions that Joshua commanded a moon which he could not see, so as not to throw the calendar, or the Pentateuch, into confusion, that he did this at eleven o'clock in the morning, that his commands to the heavenly bodies determine their exact astronomical positions, and that we know the exact day of Adam's creation. Jonah's whale might swallow all this, but my gullet is a little smaller, and I am therefore not so gullible.

But I find another flaw in Mr. Totten's proof, and this a fatal one. According to his assumptions, the sun stood still at 11:13 in the morning. He is therefore obliged to conclude (pg. 49), “The Battle was now over, and it is likely that, as the incidents described in verses 22-27 were begun, the sun and moon took up their accustomed motions. There were about 7¼ hours remaining to the day.” But this stands directly at variance with Joshua's account. The Bible does not say, “So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to resume its motion about a whole day”----no, but “hasted not to go down about a whole day.” We do not speak of the sun going down at eleven o'clock in the morning, for in fact it is then still going up. If the sun resumed its motion when there yet remained seven hours in the day, then to square this fact with the Biblical record we must suppose that its motion was arrested for only about 16 hours, and not 23. That is, the 16 hours during which its motion was stopped, and the seven hours of its normal and accustomed motion, after that motion was resumed, would together make up the approximate “whole day” before the sun went down.

But we suppose that some whose minds are immured in technicalities will wish to alter the translation of the text, and cause it to read, “the sun hasted not to go for about a whole day,” for it is true that the word “down” is rather implied than expressed in the Hebrew. But we cannot allow such a shift. The going down of the sun is the setting of the sun, and this is commonly expressed in the Hebrew Bible by the same term which is used in Joshua 10:14. Thus:

Genesis 15:12----”And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram.”

Exodus 17:12----”and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”

Deuteronomy 16:6----”There thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun.”

I Kings 22:36----”And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun.”

It would be simply preposterous to attempt to apply these texts to the motion of the sun. They refer to its setting.

So also in Genesis 28:11, where Jacob “tarried there all night, because the sun was set,” and in Leviticus 22:7, “And when the sun is down, he shall be clean.” In Deuteronomy 24:13, “In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down.” In II Samuel 3:35, “David sware, saying, So do God to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or ought else, till the sun be down.” In all these, and numerous other examples, the same Hebrew term is used to express the setting of the sun.

There is evidence closer to hand also, for the 27th verse of the same chapter which records Joshua's long day employs the same Hebrew term to inform us that “it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid.”

The going down of the sun, then, is the setting of the sun, and the plain meaning of Joshua 10:14 is that the sun “hasted not to set about a whole day.” Mr. Totten's dictum that there yet remained 7¼ hours before sunset, after the sun resumed its motion, involves him in the fatal difficulty that the sun must then have been stopped for only about 16 hours, and not the 23Ä hours which his minute calculations require. This single fact surely discredits his whole system.

But he is as sure of himself about the dial of Ahaz as he is concerning Joshua's long day, and with as little reason. He says (pg. 61), “It is the firm conviction of the writer...that the actual duration of the stoppage of relative motion, in Joshua's day, was exactly 23Ä rd hours, and that, to avoid calendric confusion, the High Priest, or official time-keeper naturally authorized the intercalation of a full day (24 hours) at the time of the Beth Horon occurrence: that, nevertheless, it was always thereafter a matter of the most careful record that this intercalation was 40 minutes in excess of the truth.

“This knowledge must have descended to the days of Hezekiah and Isaiah, the latter of whom, probably fully informed thereon, made double purpose in his later and equally extraordinary request that this remaining part of the missing hour might be, then and there, made up, and the Calendar thus made absolutely correct.”

This is assumption all over, and foolish assumption too. If such careful records were always kept, let Mr. Totten produce them. But no: this is only “probably.” And what makes Mr. Totten think that anybody who was then present had any means of knowing that the sun was stopped for exactly 23 hours and 20 minutes? Their only means of measuring time was then standing still, of no more worth to them than a stopped clock. They might easily enough have determined that the time of the stoppage was “about a whole day,” by inquiring of one another, comparing experiences, considering how far one man had walked during that time, how much another had plowed or reaped, and so forth. These men were not stupid merely because they were not scientists, and though we deny that they had any means to know the exact length of the stoppage, to the hour and minute, we do suppose they could establish that it was “about a whole day.” This they knew, and no more. To think, then, of Isaiah being concerned to add the missing 40 minutes to the calendar is a mere pipe dream. And if this was his concern, why did he give the king his choice, whether the shadow should move forward or backward? If the king had said, Let the shadow move forward ten degrees, this would have compounded the problem which Isaiah was supposedly seeking to resolve. Neither do we know that the shadow jumped backward ten degrees in an instant, as Mr. Totten's system requires. It may have moved backward by slow degrees, before the eyes of a gathering crowd. It might have jumped backward ten degrees in an instant, and no one have so much as known it. He takes care of that exigency by informing us that the dial moved backward at the very instant of the autumn equinox, when the High Priest was of course minutely watching the sun dial. All this we think to be no more than clever fiction.

And we utterly deny that God has any such concern about the Calendar as Mr. Totten supposes. The God who could with perfect ease have made the solar and lunar years exactly to correspond, has in fact made them hopelessly at variance. The God who could have made the rotation of the earth on its axis exactly to correspond with its revolutions around the sun, so as to give us an exact number of days in a solar year, has in fact made them hopelessly at variance, so that, as Mr. Totten informs us on page 60, a solar year actually consists of 365d 5h 48m 50s 53”' and 60iv. And does a God who so created the solar system concern himself to keep the calendar in perfect order?

The author informs us that there are heathen records among the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese of the existence of a “long day,” and this, if true, must certainly be of extreme interest. Are these records clear and explicit? Mr. Totten might have done more by quoting these records than he has with all his calculations, but he gives us not a word of it.

There is much more in this book----130 pages of Appendices and Chronological tables----besides a “midnight cry,” in which we are informed that “There is barely enough time to trim your lamps!” He is as much occupied with prophecy as with chronology, and ties the two together with his usual confidence, but we follow him no further. The only thing which we proposed to ourselves in this review was to deal with his supposed proof of the missing day, and our job is done.


Ancient Proverbs Explained & Illustrated

by the Editor


Falling is easier than rising.

A great deal easier, and this is surely true in the moral and spiritual realms as well as the physical. It is always easier to fall into sin than it is to get up again.

Gravity is a very strong force, and in constant operation, always to be reckoned with, never to be ignored. Yet God might have created the earth with no more gravitational pull than the moon, making it much less easy to fall, and much more easy to get up again. He might have created it with no gravity at all, making a fall impossible, and making it effortless to rise. But we suppose that God has designed the law of gravity as it is to teach us that down is always a great deal easier than up.

It is easy to take a false step, but what deep searchings of heart, what bitter tears, what humbling confessions, what embarrassing restitutions, what soul-wrenching retracing of our steps, may be required of us to get right again. It was easy for the prodigal son to leave home. It was all pleasure to go his merry way, with a spring in his step, fond dreams in his heart, glib songs on his lips, and a plentitude of money in his pockets. But what another matter it was to return home, stomach and pockets empty, clothes ragged, discouraged and friendless, dragging his weary feet. He went out expecting a higher place than his father's house had given him. He comes back hoping for a lower place than he had left, and with no certainty that he would be given even that. Surely falling was easy, rising hard.

So it is with every departure from God. The steps which we take away from him are easy, while those by which we must return to him are hard. Yet men fail to consider that every step which they take with pleasure away from God they must one day retrace with pain and sorrow, precisely as the prodigal son did. We must one day struggle up-hill over every inch of the ground which we have so lightly traversed down-hill.

It is easy to yield to every lust of the flesh, down hill all the way, and full of pleasure, but unless we are to be lost in the far country, we must one day retrace our steps, and this will be with great difficulty. It is easy to fall into sin, easy to yield to the lusts of the flesh, and most of us have been so foolish as to suppose that it would be as easy to rise again as it was to fall, and the one-sided grace theology of our pastors and teachers may have confirmed us in that foolish belief. We find it otherwise, however, when we think to rise. The man who walks the down-grade of drinking or gambling will claim that he can quit any time he pleases, but he soon finds that he cannot please to quit, and if the inner man desires it, still the flesh will serve the law of sin. He finds himself fast bound in the chains of his own making. It was all ease and all pleasure to forge those chains, but it is all pain and labor to break them.

But there is yet more. Many find it easy to fall, who find it quite impossible to rise again. Adam could lose Paradise in one easy moment of pleasurable indulgence, but he could not regain it in a life-time of trying. It was easy for Joshua to make a league with the Gibeonites, but he could not extricate himself from it when it was made. It is all pleasure for foolish young people to go to the marriage altar, but they cannot undo the knot which they have tied. It was all pleasure for Leah to supplant her sister in the marriage bed, but what a life of sorrow she must endure for it. It is easy for the fox to put his foot in the trap, but impossible to get it out.

Falling is easy. Rising is hard. It is God who has made it so, for God will not be mocked. Let men consider these things well, and be careful how they fall.

But there is yet more. If falling is easier than rising, it is also easier than standing. It is easier to fall into sin than to stand against it. Indeed, it may be very easy to fall, and very hard to stand. Temptations are strong. Sin is pleasurable. Curiosity invites. It is hard to stand, easy to fall. We all, therefore, have a strong propensity to fall. We ought to bear in mind, therefore, that however difficult it may be to stand, and not fall, it is much more difficult to rise, after we have fallen, and many who fall will never rise again at all. “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Standing is harder than falling, but surely easier than rising. “Stand therefore.”


The Value of Clock-Watching

by Glenn Conjurske

I hope that my readers all have better things to do than to watch the clock, yet we all have many occasions to consult the clock, and the observant and thoughtful may find profit anywhere. When they have occasion to consult the clock, let them but look a little longer, and think while they look, and they may find a solemn lesson brought home to their souls.

There are two kinds of clocks in the world, but the value which I have discovered in watching them can apply to but one of them. I refer to those clocks which have second hands. Those clocks which have no second hand do verily make time appear to stand still, for we perceive no movement in the hands. The less we watch such clocks, the better.

But the clocks with second hands are always in motion, and such motion as may suggest very solemn thoughts to the observant. I refer to the old-time clocks on which the second hand is in perpetual motion, for the effect is somewhat diminished by the modern quartz clocks, in which the second hand jumps and stops every second. An old electric clock, such as that which hangs on the wall before me, presents a ceaseless sweeping motion, the very fittest representation on earth of the ceaseless flow of time. To watch such a second hand for a minute or two has a very solemn effect upon my mind. If I spend my time diligently and wisely for eternity, still it sweeps on. If I use it to lay up for myself treasures on the earth, still it sweeps on. If I labor, still it sweeps on. If I trifle, still it sweeps on. If I sleep, still it sweeps on. It is altogether unaffected by anything which I do, or wish to do, or intend to do, or plan to do. If I think upon it, still it sweeps on. If I think nothing of it, still it sweeps on. If I watch it, still it sweeps on. If I look away, still it sweeps on.

I may stop the hands on the clock, but I cannot stop the time which they represent. Still it flows, as unceasing as a river, to which it has often, and most aptly, been likened.

I suggest a simple remedy for those who are inclined to waste their precious time. Find an old clock with a sweeping second hand, and watch it a while. If this does not leave the mind solemn, it is hard to tell what would.


Editorial Policies

OP&AL is a testimony, not a forum. Old articles are printed without alteration (except for correction of misprints) unless stated otherwise, and are inserted if the editor judges them profitable for instruction or historical information, without endorsing everything in them. The editor's own position is to be learned from his own writings.