Here’s Your Sign

January 30, 2019 at 4:25 pm | Posted in John | 3 Comments
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Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

John 2:18

The temple leaders almost sound reasonable (rather than the responsive anger we might expect from them) as they ask Jesus, in effect, “What gives you the right to regulate Temple practices?” Their criteria for someone who exercised authority without a history of being a priest or even a known and respected rabbi was that He would perform a “sign” – give them a display of miraculous power that would demonstrate He had Heavenly authority. Of course, He had recently given such a “sign” at the wedding in Cana, so we (the readers of John Chapter 2) know He has the ability, and the apparent willingness to demonstrate it, but Jesus would not be provoked into showing off when such signs, though miraculous, would not engender true saving faith in Him, nor serve to heal or help someone who was in distress.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

John 2:19-20

This is a somewhat common occurrence in the Gospel of John, where Jesus reveals a spiritual truth, and the listeners misunderstand and think He is talking crazy or at least expressing earthly and material, rather than spiritual, ideas. Plus, we have, in this instance, the benefit of an editorial comment from the Holy Spirit through John:

But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

John 2:21-22

This makes for a good segue into how Jesus thought about those who believed in Him merely because He could do miracles, rather than because of His teaching and divine revelation.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

John 2:23-25

These verses look forward to issues that are about to be addressed in John Chapter 3. First, Jesus had divine omniscient knowledge of what other people thought and what was in their hearts. He could read minds, and He knew people better than they knew themselves. He did not “entrust” Himself or “commit Himself” to superficial “believers” the way He did to His true disciples. This helps to understand a little more about Jesus’s famous encounter with Nicodemus which begins Chapter 3.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

John 3:1

The idea is that Nicodemus was a chief teacher.

The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

John 3:2

There are various theories as to why Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, other than the possibility that it might just be noted for us as an instance of accurate reporting. Perhaps he was embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid to be seen consorting with this non-Pharasaical rabbi – or with the dangerous loose cannon who caused a scene in the Temple. On the other hand, perhaps Nicodemus merely wanted to speak to Jesus without the interruption that was more likely to occur during a daytime visit. In either case, the darkness of night is most likely a metaphor for Nicodemus’s spiritual darkness, located here in close proximity to passages of Scripture which highlight Jesus as the Light of the World. Nicodemus can probably be classified (because of his statement about teachers who are truly from God being able to do miracles) as one of those who “believed” only because of those miracles.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:3

Why does Jesus basically ignore Nicodemus’s initial statement? Because He “knew what was in” Nicodemus. Nicodemus’s real need wasn’t to find out whether Jesus was a true prophet, or truly sent by God to do miracles, or even to learn from His teaching. His real need was a new hearta new birth – some basis on which He could enter – or even see! – the God of the Kingdom of Whom the Pharisees and their chief leaders thought they were the closest and the best representatives!

Or in Which a Christian May S.W.I.M.

January 25, 2019 at 11:04 am | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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Scripture is a brook from which a lamb may drink and an ocean in which an elephant can drown.

Wilhelmus á Brakel

But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

John 4:14

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

Jeremiah 23:29

When Things Get Real

January 23, 2019 at 5:07 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah had placed himself in a collective position with the people: not just speaking on their behalf, but speaking as one of them. Perhaps we should pray this way when praying for our children and our spouses, when praying for our church, when praying for our nation.

The Lord answered Jeremiah in Chapter 15. We say that He always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.

Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.

Jeremiah 15:1

This was not an insult to Jeremiah. Actually, it was something of a compliment, but even the most influential of God’s servants and prayer intercessors would not be able to dissuade Him from what must be done. The Lord told him to “let them go,” as if He would allow them to choose their own form of judgment – although any of the four choices would be terrible: death by disease, death in battle, death by starvation, or humiliation and slavery.

And it shall come to pass, if they say unto thee, Whither shall we go forth? then thou shalt tell them, Thus saith the LORD; Such as are for death, to death; and such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are for the captivity, to the captivity.

Jeremiah 15:2

God made it clear to Jeremiah that He had no delight or joy in this. He does not rejoice in the death of the “wicked,” much less His own people.

For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?

Jeremiah 15:5

He recognized that, without Him, they would be utterly alone and defenseless in a hostile-to-God world.

Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

Jeremiah 15:6

They had done this to themselves. They had “forced” God to do it. How heartbreaking that God’s right hand, which longs to stretch out in deliverance and comfort and protection and provision, would now be stretched out – heart-wrenchingly – in destruction. We see the use of anthropopathism and anthropomorphism in the description of God being weary. Time and again He had “repented” – reconsidered venting His wrath, and relented in mercy to allow more opportunity for the people’s repentance – and now He was sick of it. He had only been taken advantage of time and time again. Oh, never let us say that our God is some cruel impersonal force! Let us never say that He is not merciful and longsuffering, nor that He dispositionally “wants” anything for us other than the absolute best – which is repentance, faith, and obedience to Himself.

The Lord’s lamentation provoked Jeremiah’s lamentation, but it was a confused lamentation, because it was a real, human lamentation. As “great” as Jeremiah was, Jeremiah was a man. When his emotions took control – when they eclipsed his faithfully rational mind – He expressed bad theology, but at least He sought God while doing so, rather than trying to consult some worldly philosophy, false idol, or his own imagination.

Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me.

Jeremiah 15:10

Jeremiah’s “woe is me” was a curse upon himself, as he was able to see himself only as cursed because He was hated like a bill collector, forgetting that, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”

The Lord did not coddle Jeremiah in response. Instead, He let him know that, if he thought he had it tough now, he would soon have reason enough to reevaluate how tough it could really get.

Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and that for all thy sins, even in all thy borders. And I will make thee to pass with thine enemies into a land which thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger, which shall burn upon you.

Jeremiah 15:13-14

Jeremiah pleaded for God to help him, based on what he had done for God.

O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation.

Jeremiah 15:15-17

But then he blamed God, and dared to question God’s method and honesty!

Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?

Jeremiah 15:18

God’s response to this was to give Jeremiah an opportunity that He would not give again to the nation as a whole who had squandered it: Repent.

Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them. And I will make thee unto this people a fenced brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee, saith the LORD. And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

What do we stand to lose if we fail to follow God? Our freedom? Our health? Our prosperity? Our lives?! We can’t always control how God will treat our countrymen, or even our kinsmen, but we can make sure that we are surrendered to Him, that we are trusting Him, and that we consider it an honor, rather than a betrayal, to suffer for Him.

How to Explain the Afterlife?

January 21, 2019 at 11:52 am | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: What is the best way to explain “the afterlife” to a very confused eight year old boy?

Answer: It depends on what he means by “the afterlife.” If he is talking about what happens when you die, then you can explain to him that those who have trusted in Christ will go to be with the Lord in Heaven (Hebrews 9:27; II Corinthians 5:8). I don’t have a ton of experience with boys, but I know that when I was helping in children’s ministry, they sometimes had trouble grasping the concept of having a soul or a spirit apart from your body. Boys tend to be more “physical” and girls tend to be more about “feelings.” So for the boys, they would think of someone dying and being buried, and they would think that the body was still the person. So, I would try to explain how, when a person dies, the thing that really makes him who he is – his thoughts, his consciousness, his “mind” – leaves the body behind. You can illustrate this by going up to a mannequin in a department store and slapping it in the face: no reaction. That’s how a person’s body will be when he dies. But the part that would have gotten mad or sad or hurt about the slap is now with Jesus, where there is no “mad, sad, or hurt.” Then, after Jesus comes back, the body that we left here on earth will be resurrected and made “super-powerful” (aka “glorified”) and rejoined with our spirit in Heaven.

Just Sayin’s

January 17, 2019 at 4:10 pm | Posted in I'm Just Sayin' | Leave a comment
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When I started The Deep End, I wanted it to be about what the Bible says, not, for the most part, my personal opinions, and, over the years, I have mainly stuck to that premise. One of the few exceptions is the category called “I’m Just Sayin’,” which is where from time to time I “vent” or talk about a subject that has gotten under my skin, whether or not it is, strictly speaking, related to a Biblical principle. The idea for the title came from a comedian I once heard talking about the way people will try to escape blame for some controversial opinion or statement: “I’m not saying that Bob is lazy because he sits around the house all day and won’t look for a job, but I’m JUST sayin’…” Or, “I’m not sayin’ this soup tastes awful, but I’m JUST sayin’…” As though the word “just” somehow negated, or at least softened the harshness of, what was previously stated. So, if you want to read about some of my pet peeves, unasked-for opinions, and generally unpopular views, I have placed the links to the posts in this category below:

I’m Just Sayin’ (coffee and cigarettes)
I’m Just Sayin’ 2 (unprepared inquiry calls)
I’m Just Sayin’ 3 (dark circles)
I’m Just Sayin’ 4 (tee-ball)
I’m Just Sayin’ 5 (the altar call, the sinner’s prayer, and J. Noble Daggett)
I’m Just Sayin’ 6 (flan)
I’m Just Sayin’ 7 (complaining about the weather)
I’m Just Sayin’ 8 (help meet) *
I’m Just Sayin’ 9 (go ahead and judge me)
I’m Just Sayin’ 10 (talking to your problems)
I’m Just Sayin’ 11 (I feel like)
I’m Just Sayin’ 12 (soccer)

*most-viewed post in category

The Certains: a Lawyer, a Man, a Priest, a Samaritan, and a Savior

January 11, 2019 at 11:08 am | Posted in Luke, parables | 2 Comments
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And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

Luke 10:25

The “lawyer” in this verse is not the same type of lawyer that we think of when we talk about lawyers today, but, even back then, they had a tendency to try to trip people up with tricky questions.

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

Luke 10:26-27

The lawyer’s answer to Jesus was both correct and incorrect. It was correct in the sense that this was what the Law required: moral perfection from the moment of birth to the moment of death, and complete devotion to God. But it was incorrect in the sense that it failed to acknowledge that nobody can accomplish this feat, or even come close.

And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

Luke 10:28-29

The statement that the lawyer was “willing to justify himself” is a figure of speech, but it is important to remember that in reality such a thing as a person objectively making himself “just” is not possible. He tried the old “define your terms” tactic on Jesus.

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

Luke 10:30

The phrase “a certain man” may indicate that Jesus was starting a parable, but we can not be certain. It is possible that this was something that had actually happened. The locations were real, and the behaviors described are certainly within the realm of known human experience.

And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

Luke 10:31-33

Luke, writing with a gentile audience foremost in mind, highlights the significance of Jesus’s identification of the compassionate man as a Samaritan, rather than a Jewish man.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

Luke 10:34-37

Jesus corrected the lawyer’s question, which should not have been, “Who is my neighbor?” but rather, “To whom can I be a neighbor?” This man had fallen among thieves. We have “fallen” in sin. He was left “half dead,” and we come into this world alive physically, but dead spiritually. The identification of one of the callous passersby as a “priest” may have been intended to highlight the inadequacy of the Old Testament sacrificial system, and the statement that the other was a Levite may have been a way of addressing the lack of saving power in the Old Testament Law. These systems could only pass judgment, not save. If this is accurate, then the Samaritan would be an allegorical representation of Jesus. He pours in oil and wine, symbols of the Holy Spirit, and brings the rescued man to an “inn,” representing a local church, which was the agency whereby the injured man received care (one of the responsibilities of the local church). This man’s physical salvation was free to him, but paid for by another, just as our spiritual salvation is free to us, but paid for by Christ. Part of our mission as believers today is to care for others – to be good neighbors and “good Samaritans.”

Power Foretold and Prophecy Fulfilled

January 9, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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Before the Word revealed Himself in the flesh, God sent a forerunner – a witness – to illustrate, explain, and testify as to the significance and importance of the Light.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

John 1:6-7

The goal of John the Baptist’s mission was to bring about belief, but without supernatural intervention darkness lacks the ability to believe in light.

There is a certain poignant tragedy that the Creator would enter His creation, and that the creation would fail to recognize Him.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

John 1:10-11

Those who did not receive Him were His “own” in both senses: (1) the Jewish people; and (2) the people who would eventually believe, but did not at first believe. These people COULD NOT receive Him until He Himself gave them the POWER (the “right,” the “authority,” and the “privilege”) to do so.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

John 1:12

This power that was needed was the power to become His “sons” (“sons of the Son”) or His children. How do “sons” happen? They are born. Plenty of children existed who were born of the flesh and of the will of their parents, but the Word, the Light, and the Life was believed on, and received, only by those who were born of the will of God Himself.

Up until this point, the reasoning used in John 1 had been oriented toward a gentile (or “Western”) way of thinking. Now John began to appeal to the Jewish people, who were supposed to have an understanding that Old Testament history contained not only specific prophecies, but also TYPES, of a coming Messiah.

The following is a list of “types” from the Old Testament which Christ fulfilled in a greater way:

1. The Tabernacle:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

2. The preference of the second-born:

John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

John 1:15

3. The Old Testament Law:

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 1:16-17

4. Moses’s wish to see God (Exodus 33):

No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:18

5. The prophecy of Malachi 4:5:

And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

John 1:21

6. The prophecy of Isaiah 40:1-3:

He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

John 1:23

7. The “Prophet” of whom Moses was the type (Deuteronomy 18:15):

And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

John 1:25

8. The lambs from the account of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22), the Passover:

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

John 1:29-36

The Disciples understood – at least partially – these connections and revelations.

One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.

John 1:40-41

10 Years an Outcast

January 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Outcasts of Ministry | 3 Comments
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Happy 10th Anniversary to The Deep End! I want to thank the Lord for allowing me to continue blogging with some measure of consistency and perseverance for 10 straight years. Thanks to my wife, who originally set up the format and got me started. And thanks to everyone who has subscribed, followed, shared, commented, and read over the years.

The Deep End has never really gained much influence popularity-wise among the big-name Christian blogs on the internet. Although it has gained a little attention (and even notoriety!) here and there, it doesn’t really fit into a particular pre-set niche, and is something of an outcast, I suppose. Therefore, in honor of the occasion, I am sharing the links to an old category started way back in 2012 called:

Outcasts of Ministry: the Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell out of Church

The Addict (His Characteristics) (I Corinthians 16:15-18)
The Addict (Signs of Addiction) (I Corinthians 16:15)

The Slave (His Owner and Overseer) (Philemon)
The Slave (His Obligations) (Philemon vv.18-19)

The Man Who Fell out of Church (Narrative) (Acts 20:7-9) *
The Man Who Fell out of Church (Application) (Acts 20:9-12)

* most-viewed post in category

When God’s Patience Dries Up

January 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 5 Comments
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In Jeremiah Chapter 13 the prophet preached a series of short parables on the punishment of Judah, describing its citizens as: people who wanted wine, but ended up being helpless drunks; people who wanted to be fruitful, but had such pain in childbirth that they would bring forth death instead of life; people who wanted the pleasure of promiscuity, but would end up like a disgraced harlot; people who wanted a plentiful harvest of wheat, but would end up blown away like chaff.

The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah concerning the dearth.

Jeremiah 14:1

“Dearth” describes not only drought – lack of water in a land not irrigated by a river but by seasonal rains – but numerous droughts over the years. In keeping with God’s promises, if His people violated His Covenant they would experience drought in the city.

Judah mourneth, and the gates thereof languish; they are black unto the ground; and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up.

Jeremiah 14:2

They would experience drought on the farms.

And their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.

Jeremiah 14:3-4

They would experience drought in the open fields.

Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass.

Jeremiah 14:5

Jeremiah hated to see this particular kind of suffering, but the Lord would not be dissuaded.

Then said the Lord unto me, Pray not for this people for their good.

Jeremiah 14:11

Forbidden to pray for the people as a mediator, he identified himself with the people and then prayed for himself.

We acknowledge, O Lord, our wickedness, and the iniquity of our fathers: for we have sinned against thee. Do not abhor us, for thy name’s sake, do not disgrace the throne of thy glory: remember, break not thy covenant with us.

Jeremiah 14:20-21

We should pray this way to begin with, since we should see ourselves as the people rather than as Jeremiah, but it was actually begging the question and only proving God’s righteousness with a greater emphasis, for He was not the one breaking the Covenant.

Reminiscent of his response to his original prophetic call (“Ah, Lord God!”), Jeremiah’s heart was broken over the behavior of the false prophets who lied to the people and led them astray.

Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; but I will give you assured peace in this place.

Jeremiah 14:13

He asked God to hold them, rather than the people, accountable, and God WOULD hold them to a higher standard of judgment: death and eternal punishment, rather than captivity and temporal chastening.

Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.

Jeremiah 14:14

God knew that they were prophesying falsely and deceiving the people not through error or simple disobedience, but because of their deceitful HEARTS. If someone you loved was physically harmed, you would very likely want to seek retribution against the perpetrators, but it is also very likely that you would want to go after the bystanders who did nothing – out of self-interest or apathy – to prevent the harm to your loved one during the attack.

HOWEVER, the actions of the false prophets did not excuse the people. God had given them the leaders they deserved.

And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; and they shall have none to bury them, them, their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters: for I will pour their wickedness upon them.

Jeremiah 14:16


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