“On the dark bottom of the great salt lake
Imprisoned lay the giant snake,
With naught his sullen sleep to break.”
Poets of the North, Oelenschlaeger.
THAT frank writer, Montaigne, says:—
“Yet on the other side it is a sottish presumption to disdain and condemn that for false, which unto us seemeth to bear no show of likelihood or truth: which is an ordinary fault in those who persuade themselves to be of more sufficiency than the vulgar sort.
IT IS CERTAINLY REMARKABLE TO CONSIDER THAT PREACHING was expressly prohibited among blacks during the first 25 years of Reverend Jasper’s ministry, and yet the Southern gentleman preached. For more than fifty years of his life, John J. Jasper was a slave. Regardless, in the decades leading up to the Civil War, the electrifying sermons which derived from the man who labored in tobacco factories and iron mills engaged both the black and white population of Richmond, the very city which would soon serve as the capitol of the Confederacy. None of his sermons however drew larger or more eager audiences than what you are about to read. First given to his Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church in 1878, “De Sun Do Move” was received to a packed audience, including members of the Richmond press. It is said that the remarkable sermon resulted from a question Jasper received from a church parishioner regarding Joshua 10. Jasper responded the following Sunday. Word immediately spread, and further requests began pouring in. Jasper would repeat his celebrated sermon another 250 times to packed audiences. The Virginia House of Representatives was among them.
“For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5)
LAZARUS WAS NOT WELL. BUT THAT’S SOMEWHAT of an understatement. Fact is, Lazarus was dying, and everybody knew it. His sisters Mary and Martha sent a currier from their town of Bethany east across the Jordan to find Jesus. How long he sought for the Savior is unknown, but the return trip would prove a two days journey. Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick, the sisters had said, and their message was clear. If He wanted to say goodbye to His dear friend, let alone save him from his ills, it had better be now. But it was too late. By the time Jesus received the news, Lazarus was already dead. At that very hour he had likely been ceremoniously washed and anointed with myrrh, aloes, and nard, before being elaborately wrapped in a shroud, and then paraded to his tomb among the wails of both loved ones and paid professionals, all of whom threw dust in their hair as a demonstration of their sorrow, and flutists played doleful arrangements. Within eight hours of his death, all of this would have been accomplished. And Jesus knew it.
THE KILLING OF THE PHILISTINE GIANT GOLIATH by the shepherd boy David did not go over nearly as well as one might expect. The initial twist to the plot is that the King of Israel wanted the child whom the Prophet Samuel had anointed dead. There were of course other complications, but the short of it is that David soon found himself on the run for his life. We pick up years thereafter. David has now fled beyond the borders of Israel. While in pursuit, Saul and his soldiers have fallen into a deep sleep. During the cloak of night, David has snatched the spear which Saul had stuck into the ground near his head, and stands now on the opposite ridge.
THE EDENIC VISION HAD FAILED, AND THAT IS PUTTING IT lightly. Yahweh’s created image and the sons of God who had copulated with the daughters of men had failed so miserably in their commissioned tasks that “it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.” We also know what became of His sorrow. God destroyed the world with a deluge of water. Afterwards, the family He spared was given the same Edenic responsibility that Adam and Eve had first been tasked with. Noah and his descendants were expected to participate in Yahweh’s administrative affairs. They were to make His name known, not only among their own generation, but those to come. But the children of Noah did not wish to spread the commonwealth of Gods kingdom over the face of the earth. Rather, they inverted the very purpose by which they were created. Nimrod and the people of his dominion wanted “heaven as it is on earth,” but never “earth as it is in heaven.” Like most human movements which advertise God as having endorsed them, the generation of Nimrod jointly declared: “Come, let us make a name for ourselves.”
MY READER IS LIKELY WELL INFORMED REGARDING my desire to honor the Textus Receptus, the Greek New Testament by which both the King James Bible stands upon and the Reformation took flight—though I am not beholden to it. The bad blood pitted against the Codex Sinaiticus and the Codex Vaticanus by those indebted to the TR is indeed a divisive one. There is however another sort of fraternal spat between those divided over the scholarship of the Masoretic Text of the Old Testament, which the King James is also based upon, and the Greek Septuagint, or LXX. The beautifully preserved Dead Sea Scrolls are a contributor of further historical and textual complications—if one wishes to see it in such light. The wealth of scholarly knowledge available to us, often pitted against each other, will not be discussed at any length here. We have however reached a fork in the road. Therefore a pause is in order. This might get messy.
A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO KING SAUL took his own life and now the wicked King Ahab of Israel has asked Jehoshaphat king of Judah if he would agree to join him at Ramoth-gilead for battle. Jehoshaphat is legally related through the marriage of his son to Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, which makes Israeli business a Judean family affair. Their alliance seems unorthodox, considering elsewhere we read of Jehoshaphat: “The LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baal; But sought to the LORD God of his father, and walked in his commandments, and not after the doings of Israel (2 Chronicles 17:3-4).” Regardless he agrees, so long as they first acquire of Yahweh. Ahab promptly gathers four hundred of his finest prophets, and together they prophesy.