DAY 33: Jesus Incognito

Jesus often wished to remain incognito. He passed through Galilee with His disciples “and He did not want anyone to know it” (Mark 9:30). Might some people have Jesus near them even now, without knowing that it is He?
Angels too like to walk among men unrecognized. It is written: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Jesus is the Lord of angels—He might have taught them to pass incognito. Like all who wish to remain hidden, Jesus uses pseudonyms. Even “Jesus” is a pseudonym. Isaiah foretold that a virgin would bear a Son “and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). How can someone who does not bear this name be the person who fulfills the prophecy? If Mr. Smith is announced, the arrival of Mr. Taylor is not what you were entitled to expect. But before the birth of this child from a virgin, an angel tells Joseph, “She will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus…Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: . . . they shall call His name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:21–23). Strange.
Nor is the name “Jesus” the last name He will bear. Jesus appears to His apostle John saying that he who overcomes in the fight of faith will be made a pillar in the temple of God, adding, “I will write on him My new name” (Revelation 3:12). In eternity Jesus will have another name. Jesus (Yeshuah in Hebrew) means “Salvation.” In eternity there will be no one to be saved. Apart from the name inscribed on those who overcome, “He had a name written that no one knew except Himself ” (Revelation 19:12). We say “Jesus,” but this is only the name under which He made Himself known to us. It is not His only name.
Even during His earthly life, Jesus did not always bear this name. “When eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus” (Luke 2:21). Until that time He
had no earthly name. He was simply the Son of God incarnate, the divine Child. He could have been called by any name. Scripture states, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My
judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). It is not written “which an Israelite” or “which a believer in Christ” does, but “a man,” any man. Scripture also says, “This is
the law of man” (2 Samuel 7:19 in Hebrew). This is not the law of those who believe in the right name, but in the law of man, correct for all men. Although no man can be saved without knowledge of
Jesus, there might be people who know Him and love Him as He walks among them incognito, under another name. There are people in all denominations who belong to Him.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 32: Humility

One of the main characteristics of a great man is his humility. Abraham is considered the founder of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. What was his opinion of himself? “I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). David was a king, a poet, a man after God’s heart. His opinion of himself? “I am a worm, and no man” (Psalm 22:6).
We arrive nowhere without a humble acknowledgment of our unworthiness. A politician once asked a bishop, “What can I do to obtain wisdom for ruling this country?” It was raining. The bishop
told him, “Go outside in the rain for half an hour and stand with your head up in an unprotected place.” The politician did this. When he returned, the bishop said, “Did God grant you some wise
instruction?” The man answered angrily, “The only thing I could think about was that I am a fool.” The bishop nodded, “Quite a discovery for a first try.”
Start like Paul with the recognition, “I am an abortive” (1 Corinthians15:8, in the original). Only then will you be able to take upon yourself the burden of being famous. Sir Thomas Moore, martyred under Henry VIII of England, said, “We must stand fast at the risk of being heroes.” Heroism is not something to be sought, but to be accepted though it endangers the more precious virtue of humility.

Remain humble, knowing that whatever your aims and however many skills you employ, you will not attain your earthly aims. Engels was right when he wrote to the Russian revolutionist Vera Zasulitch on April 23, 1885, “Men who bragged about having made a revolution, always realized next day that they did not know what they were doing, that the revolution performed had no resemblance
to the one they intended. This is what Hegel called the irony of history, an irony only few historic personalities avoided.”
This applies not just to social revolutions. Not only have men like Lenin and Hitler died disappointed. Certainly the Church is not what the Church fathers intended. How unlike it is to the first church full of love in Jerusalem. Luther intended a reformation within the Catholic Church and died very unhappy about the chaos that resulted from his efforts. Wesley too was disappointed. Mission founders have similar experiences. Do not be proud. We are not made for successes, at least not for lasting ones. We are all shaped as vessels for the use of the Master. His purposes are fulfilled in our lives: “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Be humble and remember that even your humility does not come through your own merit. Then you will be a chosen vessel.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 31: Dove Like Israel

Israel and the Holy Spirit are both likened to a dove, as if to say that they belong to the same species. The Holy Spirit is God. We too are partakers of the dove-like divine nature (2 Peter1:4).
The Bridegroom says to the bride who is a symbol of His nation, “You have dove’s eyes” (Song 1:15). Why is Israel called a dove? “Song of Songs Rabbah,” a Jewish book of wisdom, explains:
“The dove is faithful. Israel was likewise faithful to the Holy One, praised be He, at Sinai. For they did not say that ten commandments, or twenty or thirty were enough for them, but they said, ‘All
that the Lord has spoken we will do and be obedient’ (Exodus 24:7). The dove is distinguishable among all other birds. Israel is likewise distinguished by deeds. The dove is modest. Israel is likewise
modest . . .The dove does not leave its nest even if someone has taken its brood. Israel likewise continues to visit the temple site even though the Temple has been destroyed. The dove journeys
and returns to its nest. Israel likewise ‘shall come eagerly like birds from Egypt and like doves from Assyria’ (Hosea 11:11). Others are attracted to the dove; likewise, converts are attracted to Israel. The
dove, unlike other birds, offers its neck for slaughter without struggling; children of Israel likewise give their lives for the Holy One, praised be He. The dove does not leave its mate; Israel likewise
does not leave the Holy One, praised be He.” Belong to the dove, like Israel of God!

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 30: The Name of God

Jesus says to God, “I have manifested Your name” (John 17:6). But which name did He manifest? Was it Jehovah, Elohim, El Shaddai, Lord of hosts? There can be different explanations.
May I suggest one.
When my wife was in Communist prisons, she brought one of her guards, let us call her Nina, to Christ. Sabina taught her the creed and the Lord’s Prayer. One day this new Christian said to my wife, “I cannot just repeat the Lord’s Prayer like a parrot. I must understand it. I say, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ not knowing what His name is. Could you please tell me?” My wife answered, “God has all names. In the Bible He is called God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is also God of Nina. He is your personal God. Nina is His name. Now sanctify it.”
The biblical revelation goes even further. In both Hebrew and Greek the Bible text speaks not about a God of Abraham, of Isaac, and so on, but simply God Abraham, God Isaac, God Jacob. He
identifies Himself with His friends and believers. It is not enough to believe that God is one. The Jews sing in the synagogue, Huhechad veein sheni. (“He is one and there is no second.”) Each believer
who comes to the One does not stop at being a second who obeys and adores the first, but becomes one with the One. God is God Abraham, and Abraham is Abraham God.
The notion of oneness in Hebrew differs from that in the European languages. Man and wife shall be “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
The unity between husband and wife is not a perfect one. Spouses clash with each other, but deep underneath there is a unity that cannot be separated. Such is our unity with God. He is God Abraham, God Isaac, God Nina, God Richard, and God you. These are His names.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 29: Should a Christian Defend His Country?

Generally, it is dangerous to try to establish general rules by which a Christian should be guided. God has said, “Let it be . . . that you do as the occasion demands” (1 Samuel 10:7), or as St. Augustine said, “Love and do what you like.”
Jesus said to the first generation of disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, . . . flee” (Luke 21:20,21). Many of us would have said, “Then enlist in the army.” But a treasure of divine knowledge had been entrusted to the disciples which must not be lost. It was more important for the little band to defend this knowledge than defend a fatherland which advanced toward destruction by God’s decree.

Jeremiah, when the Jewish state was threatened by the Babylonians, delivered speeches which would today be considered high treason. He counseled surrender to the enemy without any resistance.
Since the Jews were the chosen people, their mere survival was more important than the nobility of a heroic fight. The occasions when such choices are necessary are rare. No Christian would defend a Nazi Germany or a Communist Russia. Otherwise the commandment of God stands, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). If your government has decided that a war is in the interest of the nation, you obey. It is not wrong to kill in a just war. After the return of Abraham from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, Melchizedek, king of Salem (a type of Jesus), blessed him (Genesis 14:17–19). Just this time had been chosen by Melchizedek to bless Abraham!

Those who have fought against tyrannies are also blessed. The Christian can do much. Abraham with a small group of what we would today call “freedom fighters” conquered world powers.
It is essential for children of God to participate in the fight against evil, even when this fight takes the form of war. Their role is “to sanctify the war. “This is the expression used in the Hebrew of Joel 3:19. They should bring into the war the notions of righteousness and love. But foremost, the Christian’s role is to prevent war, bringing the rulers of nations to living faith in Christ and teaching those who believe that the best guarantee of peace is strength.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 28: Qualified Almightiness

If God is almighty, why does He not free us?
The Bible calls God “Almighty” (Genesis 17:1, etc.). The Greek word for it is pantocrator, which means “having power over all things.” Jerome translated the word into Latin as omnipotens, which can be interpreted as meaning “able to do anything.” The two concepts are not identical. There are things that God cannot do. The Bible says, “It is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Since He is eternal, He
cannot cease to exist. Because of these things, He has limited His sovereignty, and has given a Scripture which “cannot be broken” (John 10:35). He cannot act contrary to His own character, or
change His mind in essential things and say, “I will not have love anymore,” or, “There will be no righteousness and wrath in Me.” There is therefore a “must” even in God and in His providence.
As with God, so with man—we also “must” pass through tribulations.
Jesus says, “The Son of Man must suffer many things” (Luke 9:22), and again, “You will hear of wars and rumors of war. . . These things must come to pass” (Matthew 24:6). Prayer is important, but its scope is limited. Speaking about the coming destruction of Jerusalem and Judea, Jesus teaches His disciples, “Pray that your flight may not be in the winter or on the Sabbath” (Matthew 24:20), when it would be more difficult to find means of transportation. He does not say, “Pray that the calamity itself should not come.” One could as well pray that 2 + 2 not equal 4.
There exists a “must.” When sins arrive at their peak, they bring with them unavoidable catastrophe, because it is in the unchangeable nature of God to punish sins. You can only ask for an alleviation
of it.

God must have a certain character. What has no characteristics cannot exist. How could we arrive at union with God if we could not be certain that He is on the peak toward which we advance? If there were no “must” with God, we would strive to be holy and He might have changed to unholiness. He might even have changed His desire to be united with us.
God has power over all things. He is as the Bible calls Him, pantocrator, but He has no power over His loving heart to make it cease beating for us. Our eye must be “single” (Luke 11:34, KJV),
which means it must be the single eye. His eye and my eye are one. The eye with which He sees me and my own eye are the same. The heavenly Bridegroom says to His bride, “You have ravished my
heart with one look of your eyes” (Song 4:9), with the eye which is one and the same as His own.
God wished, wishes, and will wish unity with us. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

A Poem Penned in Prison

A Poem Penned in Prison

Zhang, a Chinese woman was arrested in 2015 by police officers and framed for embezzling money, all because of her Christian faith. She was then sentenced to five years in prison, yet she writes this upbeat poem reflecting on the price she has paid for her freedom and the joy and peace she has received due to her relationship with Jesus. Read and be inspired to pray for her.

This year
I didn’t hear the sweet voice of my baby,
I didn’t embrace the wanderer come back from afar,
I didn’t see my loved one’s thin and weak figure,
I didn’t have heart-to-heart talks with my sister,
I didn’t taste the delicious food prepared by my mother-in-law,
I didn’t bask in the rays of the morning sunlight,
Or take a stroll as the sun sets.
Or ride on a high-speed train to go somewhere.
This year, the sound I often heard,
Was the slam of metal doors, sharp and piercing,
This year, the sight I often saw was hopeless eyes,
This year, the food I had every day was the unchanging “three dishes and a soup,”
This year, the farthest I went was less than 1,000 meters [approximately 3,281 feet] away,
This year, I received a staggering fine,
This year, I saw the judge of my case twice, not at the court, but where I’m being detained.

Was this a tough year for me? Painful? Lonely? Living each day like a year? Absolutely not!
This year, I was never in a dark place while waiting; the sun above the clouds shined upon me and nourished me;
This year, I was never homesick;
This year, I enjoyed the bounty of grace because my trust in the Lord who called me brought me unspeakable glory and joy;
This year, the world drifted farther away from me;
This year, my Lord drew ever closer to me;
This year, I received the fruits of the Lord’s Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control;
This year, I bathed in His love;
This year, my soul broke free from the metal bars of prison and soared in the Kingdom of God;
This year, I lived in hope and divine promises….

Your sister in Christ,
Zhang Xiuhong

Prisoners need to know they are not forgotten: your support makes a world of difference.

DAY 27: Commanded Love

One of God’s strangest commandments is that we should love him (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Can love be commanded? Can a young man command a girl, “Love me and not somebody else”? Could she do this through her own effort?
The imperative “love” can be expressed in Hebrew in two forms. Ohev can mean only the order to love; ahavta has a double sense, both the imperative “love” and the perfect tense of the verb: “You have loved.” Ahavta is used by the Bible in this text, not olev. Thus God reminds you, “You come from Me; I shaped your soul; you loved Me once; I was your great passion. This was your first
sentiment although you may have forgotten it; but now remember, ahavta, you loved Me once. Return to this first love!” This is the deep sense of the biblical commandment. It is the only perspective
from which God can be loved with the entire heart.
From the earthly point of view, love of God contains a dose of foolishness. I owe Him gratitude for many blessings, and I admire many of His creations. But why did He create the deadly scorpions
and the viruses of so many illnesses? Why are there earthquakes and floods and bereavements? Why so much poverty and injustice in a world in which He is almighty? Why is Christianity such a
small light? Why do hundreds of millions live and die in darkness? Could the punishment of sinners not be less than an eternal hell?

The fact that my thoughts are not conjoined with His shows that I have no imaginary God. If I had decided how God should be, I would have chosen Him to create a universe without suffering,
age, and death. But I know I have the real God because my heart, the heart of a fallen sinner, is in disagreement with Him. God said to Adam, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:17). Man has to choose between good and evil, one or the other—he cannot have them both. God is otherwise, as are those in the heavenly spheres. They know both
good and evil (Genesis 3:22). This is the separation between us.
The ultimate good is unintelligible for us, so we cannot be commanded, “Love God.” Instead we must be reminded that we come from the sphere where things are known otherwise. The Lord says, “Return.” Remember, ahavta, you have loved. Return to your first love. Seated in heavenly spheres, the veil will be lifted and you will receive new understanding.
There you will understand an ancient teaching which has never been written, but is expressed in a Japanese dance. Once there was a prince of such beauty that all who beheld him could do nothing
else. All activity ceased in his presence. So the prince donned an ugly mask in order for men to live. Perhaps you can understand from this the existence of a beneficent God and yet of so much suffering.
Let us love God as He is known in heaven to deserve. Bernard of Clairvaux said, “The measure of loving God is to love Him without measure.” Do not love Him for His special gifts—at a certain
moment He may withhold them. Love Him without reason. Sometimes He may afflict you. When Israel was young, he loved God and followed Him in the wilderness (Jeremiah 2:2). Love Him like
this again.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 26: Our Attitude Toward Rulers

Every Christian could take as his motto Shakespeare’s words, “May that thought when I imagine ill against my king and brethren be my last breathing in this mortal world.”
Such loyalty from a citizen puts an obligation on the ruler. Among the Jews, the chosen people, “the king’s upper house [palace] was by the court of the prison” (Nehemiah 3:25). This is the
right place for a king to dwell—where he can always have in view how much his sovereignty costs those over whom he rules.
In order for the king to have the majesty and the power of a ruler, others must die in wars under his command. Orphans remain behind. Driven by poverty and lack of education, they end in
prison. The king may have neglected to spread morality among his people. His life should remain close to the lowliest of the rejected so he will perceive his kingdom truly.
In biblical Greek, “to rule” and “to feed” are the same word, poimaino—as a shepherd both tends and feeds his flock. What matters is not how many state banquets the king attends, but how
much care he has taken that the hungry be fed.
In Aramean, “Lamb of God,” a name for Jesus, is talya Aeloha, which also means “servant of God.” The king can be the first servant of a country only if he has the character of a lamb.
Unfortunately, not all Jewish kings had this character. Solomon, although his might as a religious poet is undenied, as king is remembered for two things: his many wives and concubines, and
his love of luxury. The heathen king Hammurabi is known in history for his righteous laws; likewise the Indian king Asoka. But not Solomon.
How did he administrate his country? What was his economic policy? What were the relationships between the different classes of the population? Did he provide for charity? Were his judgments
righteous or abusive?
His son Rehoboam said to the people that his father loaded them with a heavy “yoke” and chastised them with “whips” (1 Kings 12:14). When you read about the Roman Caesars, some French
and English kings, Hitler, or Stalin, a shudder passes through you. Good rulers have always been the rare exception. If the ruler does not fulfill his duty, the believing citizen must review his attitude. Every nation has a ruler. The ruler must be subject to God. Then the believer must obey the highest authority. Let us remember that Elijah resisted arrest (2 Kings 1:10), bringing death upon the officers of an unrighteous king.
The Christian is a loyal citizen of a country, but not a bootlicker of tyrants.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 25: The Truth is Only in the Whole

There is no single Bible verse on which one can rely absolutely. Only the whole Bible gives the truth. A kidney removed from the body is no longer a kidney, but a piece of meat. Even the commandments given directly by God have meaning only when connected with other parts of Scripture, and augmented by common sense.
Considered alone, the commandment given on Mount Sinai, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13), is unpractical. Taken literally it forbids all killing, including the killing of animals. It must be modified by the idea contained in Genesis 9:3: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you,” for God has given to some animals other animals as food. The prohibition “Do not kill” does not forbid hunting for livelihood, which can be considered, as Aristotle put it, “a just war.”
The commandment also does not forbid killing in just wars for the defence of the motherland, or in defending an innocent person from attack.
Killing is not forbidden absolutely. Augustine taught that God forbids men to kill without renouncing that right Himself. God says, “I kill and I make alive” (Deuteronomy 32:29), and indeed, the sixth commandment is given by the same God who orders the death sentence many times. On earth the state authority represents God in this: “[The ruler] is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).
Suicide is killing, even though the murderer is the person killed, and is considered unlawful. But even here there are exceptions. Samson killed himself in order to kill a multitude of God’s enemies with him. Christian virgins, preferring purity to life, killed themselves when compelled to become prostitutes under the Roman emperors. Many believers, when they were unable to bear any more torture, committed suicide in Communist and Nazi prisons to avoid becoming traitors.
On the other hand, the prohibition also includes the propagation of hatred. Streicher, the editor of a powerful anti-Jewish magazine in Nazi Germany, defended himself at the trial of war criminals in Nuremberg saying that he never even slapped a Jew. Nonetheless he was justly sentenced to death because his publications portrayed the Jews as so disgusting and dangerous that those who read them became possessed by the desire to kill Jews. Never stop at the letter of isolated verses, but draw all the conclusions they imply.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 24: Before We Call, He Answers

God says that He will create new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17). One of the characteristics of life in these is that before their inhabitants call, He will answer (verse 24). Modern physicists have considered the possibility of an antitelephone, a device by which the inquirer of the future will get his reply before calling to ask the question. What is a theoretical technical development of the future was promised in its fullness to God’s children in an age when such technology was not yet dreamed of.
Einstein’s special theory of relativity showed that anything traveling at a speed greater than light—which he considered impossible— would go backward in time. Scientists now hypothesize that
tachyons, faster-than-light particles, exist although they have not yet been detected. Once man is able to handle them, mankind will be caught in a paradox. It will technically be possible to communicate
so that answers precede questions, which could mean the cessation of communication.
Perceiving all solutions in advance, problems will stop arising in my mind.
The child who said that Mona Lisa smiled so beautifully because she had an intuition that da Vinci would paint her, and that da Vinci painted her because she smiled exactly as he wished a model to do, was not mistaken. The spirit passes light in speed. In exceptional circumstances, a man can perceive in the unconscious of a fellow man questions that have not yet arisen to a conscious level, and reply to them. The one who receives the answer does not even know that it is an answer. Some believers are sad that they do not feel any fellowship with God. But it is not necessary. The communion is established on a
faster-than-light level, and consists in God’s granting you things for which you never felt any desire. Many believers testify that they have received gifts of God for which they have not sought. The
wish was in the depth of the soul and was fulfilled before they became aware of it.
Such will be the rule in the new heavens and on the new earth. Communion with God as between two beings who need to communicate will be replaced by union in love. We will be in God. Eternity will be an embrace in love. No wind will blow anymore. We will no longer cry out for fear of the tempests, and the tempests will no longer need be stilled. Answers will precede requests, which therefore will not be made. All will be calm, serene. This is eternity.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 23: What is Abraham’s Greatness?

Why does Abraham play such a prominent role throughout the Bible? Why are all nations blessed in his seed? Why can no one be saved except through becoming an heir of Abraham and entering into the covenant God made with him? He was far from always being a good man. Why did God choose him?

God does not choose the best, but those whom He intends to make best. God’s first lesson for Abraham was to be ready, for his faith, to reject his civilisation and form a minority of one. The Midrash (a
Rabbinical commentary of the Old Testament) tells a story of Abraham’s father, Terah, who was a builder of idols. As a boy Abraham wished to test them. He prepared food, put it before the
biggest idol and waited to see if it would eat. When it did not, he chopped up all the idols with an axe and put the axe in the hand of the largest. When his father returned home, he found the havoc
and asked for an explanation. Abraham said, “I brought food to the gods. They quarrelled over who should have the most, and the big one smashed the heads of the others.” The father replied, “Don’t be
silly. These gods cannot move. Tell me what really happened. . .” Then Abraham said, “Well, if they cannot move, they are not gods,” and he chopped off the head of the last idol and ran away
from home.

At first he worshipped the moon, but when he realised it faded before the sun, he adored the sun. But the sun too was transitory, so he came to believe in the one unseen God who had made sun, moon, and all other things. When this faith of Abraham’s was rejected by all his people, he left them, preferring to be with God, even if alone. Next God taught Abraham obedience. Although Abraham had
treated Hagar and Ishmael harshly, he could also be softhearted. When God told him He would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he pleaded for them.
When he was commanded to bring his only beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice, he did not pray for the son to be spared. We do not know why God asked for Isaac’s sacrifice. In Romania, an officer was suspected of treason during wartime. His father, a general, asked the king for permission to preside over the military tribunal which would sentence his son to death.
Abraham might have had to show that he was willing to sacrifice affection for the sake of obedience. In any case, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, He seemed to contradict His own law forbidding killing, as well as His promise to establish an everlasting covenant with Isaac and his descendants (Genesis 17:19). Of course, at that time Isaac had no children. With his death, everything would be finished. But Abraham, by fulfilling a commandment that contradicted the law and the promise, revealed that he loved God more than his own son, and for that, God richly blessed him.

Although Abraham might not always have been good, there was surely greatness in him.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 22: The Lord of Hosts

Theologians speak about the attributes of God. The Bible never mentions such a thing. The very word “attributes” implies qualities that are assigned to Him by men.
Touch the wing of a butterfly and you destroy the splendor of its colors. The holy contents of the notion “Godhead” are desecrated through investigation. The biblical names of God must be accepted
with caution. Divine, mysterious existence is encased in the words of a fallen race whose language cannot possibly express the reality of God.
“Lord of hosts,” one of God’s names, is how some men thought of Him during a certain period. Once they called Him Lord of hosts, certain conclusions followed. He ordered Joshua to set an
ambush for the enemy (Joshua 8:1,2). “[Joshua] utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded” (10:40). By the same command, he “set the city on fire” (8:8).
Joshua offered burnt offerings to the Lord (8:31) after having killed all the inhabitants of Ai because of such an order. Calvin believed all these things literally. He wrote, “The literal sense of Scripture is the whole essence of faith and Christian theology. It is better to confess ignorance than to play with frivolous guesses. Allegories are the scum of the Holy Spirit, they are harlots seducing me.”

I am a disciple of what is called the typological school. I believe that the accounts of the wars in the Bible can also be symbols of our own spiritual battles. The assembling of armies is always a bad sign. Even victorious armies have no real splendor, and to find them glorious implies delight in the slaughter of men. It is said that victories should be treated as funeral rites. A man of God exercises quiet restraint and
avoids using weapons whenever possible. The many accounts of war in the Bible are of great value to us in a negative sense.
Indries Shah tells a Sufite story of a man who got lost in a forest. He wandered for several days unable to find a way out. Then he met a wild, unkempt-looking man whom he assumed to be an
inhabitant of the wood. He asked the man for directions. “I myself have been lost in this forest for 10 years,” replied the man. “Then you cannot help me,” the first said. “On the contrary,” said the
other. “I can show you hundreds of paths that do not lead out of the wood.” Negative experiences have exceptional value. The many histories of war in the Bible teach that little lasting good is achieved
by war.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Seek the ways of peace.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 21: Bible Monologues

Being in a lonely cell, for many years the only talks I had were monologues. The Bible contains several monologues of God, such as, “Let Us make man in Our image” (Genesis 1:26), and, “They will respect my son” (Matthew 21:37).
Let us learn from God! Speaking with oneself has a healing value. God put some of His revelations to us in the form of monologue, not because of His need for healing, but in order to teach us how to find it.
None of us is a unitary being. We are all to some degree split between conflicting tendencies in our personalities. Everyone has his ideal self or “I,” what the psychologist Jung calls the “animus,” and
everyone has an evil urge which attracts him as well. An ancient Christian writing asserts that every man has a personal devil just as he has a guardian angel. We are torn by many influences coming
from opposing directions.
As often as we say “yes,” there is also something in us saying “no.” This is our inner counterpart with whom it is very important to clarify matters. I have known men with powerful criminal instincts who overcame them by using the method of the monologue. First they proclaimed aloud to themselves their desire to commit the wrong action; then they pleaded the victim’s defense, loudly crying his cry
when attacked; they spoke out the reproaches of their wives and children for what they had done, the prosecutor’s condemnation, and their own possible defense. At last they determined not to do
the deed.
A man was greatly troubled because he had killed an enemy in a bayonet fight during World War I. He discussed the matter with the victim within himself. He convinced his counterpart that it had
been a fair fight in which both had obeyed orders and had been dedicated to the good of their respective fatherlands. He expressed his regret and promised to make restitution by adopting a child
from the former enemy nation. Whenever conscience nags or doubts haunt, it is best not to repress these voices, but to weigh the pros and cons aloud to oneself. The blood of Christ will always be sufficient for past sins. The light of the Holy Spirit will be enough to dissipate doubts. The purpose of God’s monologues differs from ours, but we can learn from Him of their value.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

2 Christians detained for attempting to pray for China’s National People’s Congress

2 Christians detained for attempting to pray for China’s National People’s Congress

As China commenced a meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 5, Beijing police detained two Christians who had travelled to pray for the proceedings.

Officers patrolling the Great Hall of the People in Beijing detained Zhou Jinxia from Dalian, Liaoning, and Shi Xinhong from Bengbu, Anhui, after they attempted to enter the Hall with evangelism pamphlets. Shortly after 10 a.m. on March 5, an hour after the conference began, Zhou and Shi arrived to pray for the event.

Zhou spoke with the reporter later and explained the situation: “Today is the opening of a conference between the NPC and the CPPCC, and we wished to pray for our compatriots, the attendees of the conference, and the country itself with the hope that our nation will be blessed with peace and freedom. Sister Shi Xinhong was stopped on the way to the Great Hall. I left her and continued on. I called her later in the day and realized that she had been seized by the police, who questioned Sister Shi about my whereabouts from the other side of the phone. With Sister Shi in their hands, [the police] searched for half an hour and failed to locate me. I proceeded, but the Hall was heavily guarded and there was no way for me to get in. I abandoned the prayer I prepared earlier on the street.”

Shi said police cornered her in an alley, demanded to see her ID, and took her to the police station.

Likewise, police seized Zhou as she prayed facing the Great Hall of the People and demanded to see her ID. The women reunited at the police station and officers transferred them to a department that handles petitions. The two were deported home.

DAY 20: Why Such a Strange Book?

It is strange that for the purpose of our salvation we were given a book that is so difficult to understand, with whole chapters of boring and seemingly useless genealogies or enumerations of persons without importance. Ezra 10, for example, contains a long list of priests conspicuous only for the fact that they had taken foreign wives. The book is also repetitive with some episodes recounted three or four times. Religious writers with the clarity of John Chrysostom or Charles Spurgeon could surely have written better literature than some of the biblical authors.

The Bible is written so as not to be understood at first glance. In Acts 22:11 Paul writes about being unable to see because of the glory of the heavenly light. I have lived in dark prison cells. When
I saw the light again it blinded me, and I had to readjust myself slowly. Only those who grow accustomed to dwelling in glory can understand the secrets of the Bible.
The carnal mind longs after limitation, accuracy, precise definitions, and well-established borders. It shuns eternity where these things disappear. God sometimes refers to commune with us in silence. The thirty years in which Jesus spent in silence reveal more about God than what He spoke in three years. Words express only part of reality; the best part of wisdom is that which words cannot contain. The moment a soul speaks, its inner nature is sullied by its transitory passions, interests, prejudices, surmises, or theatricality. The true nature of the soul is desecrated by expression.

The Bible is not a great work of art. Rhetoric begins when the last reality has been drowned. Eloquent style is a sign of degeneration. The lives of many great poets were unhappy because they spoke too much. Romeo and Juliet spent their first night together declaiming poetry to each other. Could their marriage have been a happy one?
The Bible is a strange, silent caress of the bride by the Beloved. It contains words and whole chapters whose value no one can see. But this is their value. If a bride is reading a passionately interesting
novel, filled with exciting detail and embellished with beautiful style, the bridegroom remains uncaressed. But in the Bible there are whole chapters of endless genealogies and lists of names. One
grows bored and puts the book aside. This was the purpose: to put the book down sometimes and entrust yourself to the inebriating silent embrace where the problems of the text cease to exist. You have
His kiss. To prepare you to receive it is the purpose of the Holy Book.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

Day 19: Identification with Christ

David sang, “You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life” (Psalm 16:10,11). Peter explains in Acts 2:27–31 that the prophet was speaking these words about Christ—that is, about someone other than himself, someone who would appear on earth many centuries in the future. Why then did David use the first person, not the third, speaking about the Messiah as if He were David himself?
This is because believers and the Messiah are not two persons, but one. We are His body, we are “of His flesh and of His bones” (Ephesians 5:30). The unity between ourselves and Christ could
not have been expressed more realistically. It can be understood figuratively that we are His flesh, but how can one explain symbolically that we are also “His bones”? It is a common expression that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, but it is not biblical. The words “symbolic” and “mystic” never occur in Scripture.
We are called His body, period. My body is myself. My legs do not walk: I walk. My lungs do not breathe: I breathe. It is not Christ’s members who suffer or rejoice: it is always Christ Himself.
The identification is complete. David speaks about the Savior using the first person, exactly as the Savior uses the first person when He speaks about me, the sinner for whom He dies. Psalm 69 is also Messianic. It is Christ Himself who speaks through the pen of David: “For my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink” (verse 21), and “zeal for Your house has eaten me up” (verse 9).
In the same psalm, we also read the words, “O God, You know my foolishness; and my sins are not hidden from You” (verse 5).

Christ does not say that He will suffer ignominy for someone else’s foolishness and wrongs, but for His own. He has identified with the sinner. Luther writes in his commentary on Galatians, “the Christian
is Christ.” By the same token, we could say, “Christ is the Christian.”
Identified with Him, we must share His fate. “In the day of trouble He shall hide me in His tent” (Psalm 27:5, according to the Hebrew). The rule established by the Jewish teachers called Masoretes
for writing the “s” in the Hebrew word sukkah, “tent,” is that it be exceptionally small, half the size of the other letters. This is to show that one who wishes to be protected by Him must accept
confinement and constraint in a small place just as He Himself found solace with only a little flock. (I was in a small cell with space only for two steps to and fro.)
But the letter “m” in iom, “day,” in “day of trouble,” is also written unusually small. For believers, days of trouble are small in comparison with the eternity of glory. We are identified with Him on
His cross, but also in His victory.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 18: Oneness

For many years I was one person alone in a cell. God is also One, and man was created in the image of God, the image of His oneness (Genesis 1:26). It is written, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The chosen people of God are one. We read, “Who is like Your people Israel, a nation that is one in the earth?” (1 Chronicles 17:21, according to the original). Except for God and His people, oneness is nowhere to be found; yet without it, there is no Godhead, nor can the real church exist.
Oneness creates a special state of spirit. The Jews sing, Huh echad veein sheni: “He is one and there is no second.” This applies to the oneness of the children of God, too. The believer being one, without
division in knower, known, and act of knowledge, becomes a deep mystery for himself. Moses and Aaron said, “What are we?” (Exodus 16:8). They did not know. Likewise, David asks, “Who
am I, and what is my life?” (1 Samuel 18:18).

Live in oneness, without self-contemplation, self-admiration, self-contempt, or self-pity. No one exists apart from this one self, no one to admire or despise you or recognize in you that your self
is being despised or praised. It is a simple, serene existence. No winds blow, no tempests arise. Strive to be like Christ and you will be one in the spirit with all who do likewise. It is written, “You shall take for yourselves on the first day [of the feast of tabernacles] the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook” (Leviticus 23:40).
All of these references to boughs and branches refer to Israel. Just as the citron has both taste and fragrance, so does Israel have men who are both learned and righteous in actions. Just as the fig has a taste but no fragrance, so Israel has men who have learning, but no good deeds. As the myrtle has fragrance but no flavor, so Israel has men who do good works but are not learned. And just as
the willow has neither taste nor fragrance, so Israel has men who are neither learned nor righteous. Oneness in the Church is achieved through mutual forbearance and mutual compensation.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 17: The Crime of Fear

It is fear that made some Christians around us become Judases.

Revelation 21:8 enumerates eight categories of men who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. First on the list are not the unbelievers or murderers as would be
expected, but the cowardly. Fear is so human. Peter feared in Gethsemane. We all do, but it is more abhorred by God than many gross offenses. A Christian never flies except to the devil’s throat. He can say of himself what King Charles of France says in Shakespeare’s Henry VI: “Him I forgive my death that kills me when he sees me go back one foot or fly. My army, rather with their teeth the walls they’ll
tear down than forsake the siege.”

We are Jesus’ sheep. Sheep do not run from the wolf. They cannot defend themselves, but they witness for their Creator by enduring their deaths patiently, without turning their backs to the enemy.
Children of God can be burned at the stake, but they cannot be made to give in. We are assigned to be the scourge of demons. When Henry VI said, “Of all base passions, fear is the most accursed,” he expressed a biblical thought.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 16: How to Read the Bible

In prison we repented of many sins. We repented also of the manner in which we had read the Bible.

Remember the Bible is only a summary. Adam lived 930 years, but the Bible has only one chapter and a half, 40 verses, to devote  to so long a life.

Just as Cuvier reconstructed the skeleton of a prehistoric animal from a single bone, we are called upon to re-create everything from just a few words. Remember that much of the Bible is poetry. Although Hebrew poetry does not rhyme, one of its characteristics is an alphabetical structure; for example, in Job 13:7–11, every line starts with an “H.” The whole Psalm 119 is arranged alphabetically, beginning with verses that have “a” as the first letter, others that have “b,” and so on. Poetry can reveal truth, but not necessarily accuracy of detail.

The Bible is meant to be read very slowly with special pauses  for respiration and meditation. In the Hebrew text there is the ath- nach, a sign that divides a verse into main clauses. Another sign for pausing is the segholta, which subdivides the clause before athnach. First  Kings 13:18, read according to Hebrew punctuation, would   be as follows: “He said to him, ‘I too am a prophet as you are [segoltha—a pause: breathe and reflect] and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord [the angel would not speak to you,  reader, unless you pause as prescribed for meditating and evoking him], saying, “Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water [athnach—deep respiration, meditation].” ’ But he lied to him.” [Pause. Here there is a sign called silluq, which separates this verse from the following.] Zaqeph-qaton stands for a slight pause. Isaiah 43:1 reads: “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob [zaqeph-qaton,   a slight pause], and He who formed you, O Israel [athnach, big pause]: Fear not, for I have redeemed you [slight pause]; I have called you by your name; You are Mine” [stop before passing to the next verse]. The zaqeph-gadol plays the role of the zaqeph-qaton where no conjunctive accent precedes.

It is good to know all this. The accents can reveal the interpre- tation of doubtful passages, as in Isaiah 40:3: “The voice of one crying [zaqeph-qaton, pause] in the wilderness [zaqeph-gadol, pause]: Prepare the way of the Lord.” Wherever two zaqephs occur in the same clause, that which comes first is stronger. We must therefore read, “The voice of one crying: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord” and not, as it is usually punctuated, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord.” Learn to read the Bible slowly, breathing rhythmically, with pauses to put in the correct accents. In this way you can immerse yourself in the spirit in which the Bible was written, and thus be able to participate in the Oneness which is its essence.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 15: About Eternity

Eternity is not endless time. Such a  thing does not exist, as there are no spaces without dimension. Eternity is a state   in which time no longer exists. The philosopher Boethius has given the definition generally accepted by the Christian church. Eternity is “the total, simultaneous, and perfect possession of an endless life.” As the Greek thinker Parmenides put it: eternity is whole, unique. In eternity nothing has been or will be. “All is at once, one, continuous.”

Imagine a motion picture. When we view it through the project or we see the events recorded on the film successively, and each one seems to be the effect of those preceding. Once in a cinema I found myself praying for an innocent man suffering terribly on the screen. I implored God to save him. But what was to happen was already recorded on the film. My business was only to behold.

We should live with the perspective of eternity in the present, in perfect serenity. Everything has been foreknown, predestined (Romans 8:29). Omar Khayyam expressed it so well:

With earth’s first clay, they did the last man knead And then of the last harvest sow’d the seed. Yea, the first morning of creation wrote What the last dawn of reckoning shall read.

Therefore the ideal attitude for a believer is the contemplative one. Jesus says, not just to Martha, but to all men: “You are wor- ried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part” (Luke 10:41,42). Almost every Christian today would say Mary had made the wrong choice: she had chosen not to prepare a dinner for a dozen hungry men, but quietly to behold the beauty of the guests.

Nowhere does the Bible enjoin us to “Be active,” but on countless occasions we are told, “Behold,” behold without interfering. “Behold, a leper came and worshiped Him” (Matthew 8:2). At that time, men knew no cure for leprosy. Do not interfere unless you are sure of being able to help. Just behold; the Lord will do the rest. “Behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea” (Matthew 8:24, KJV). One of two things will happen: either you will drown and go to the Father, or you will escape and live for the Father. So, do not panic but simply behold. In all things, the bigger the fuss, the more discordant the results. We are not yet in eternity, but we can catch a glimpse of it by passing as much time as possible in quiet contemplation.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 14: The Quest for God

The quest for God is old. An Ugaritic poem, “Ludlul bel nemequi” (“I’ll praise the Lord of wisdom”), dating from 2500 B.C., contains the moving verse: Oh, that I only knew that these things are well pleasing to a god. What is good in one’s sight is evil for a god. What is bad in one’s mind is good for his god. Who can understand the counsel of the gods in the midst of heaven? The plan of God is deep waters. Who can comprehend it?

In Isaiah 55:9, God tells us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Men seek the right relationship with God but because His will, His predilections, and His thoughts are unknown to us, we tremble at every step that it might sever the loving relationship. Such fear disappears only when we pass from relationship with God to possession of God. In Jesus, the Son of God became man. A marriage feast between the divine and the human natures took place.

I can now say, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song 6:3). He is my possession. He disposes of me, but I also dis- pose of Him. It is no longer a relationship between two entities   who can at any moment become separate. The barrier is broken by Christ. God is no longer alone, and the tormented heart of man is no longer single. The heart now responds to God in Shakespeare’s words: “No more can I be severed from your side, than can yourself in two divide” (Henry VI).

The difficulty of not understanding God’s way disappears. “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have You made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20). The soul which possesses God knows that His control of the world cannot be judged by man’s myopic view. “The deceived and the deceiver are His” (Job 12:16). He who possesses God is satisfied with this and asks no questions. On the last day, the Lord will say to some, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). The Creator longs to know His  creation. He created us, but not as creatures who would remain apart from Himself; He created us that we might live and move and have our being in Him (Acts 17:28). He desires union with us in eternal embrace and not as a knower/known duality. Those rejected in the end will be those who have not realized this and have remained knowers about God, but who do not know Him intimately through communion with His Son.

They have had a relationship with a distant God, perhaps even a good relationship, prophesying in His name and casting out dev- ils and doing many wonderful works (Matthew 7:22), but they remained separate from God, unpossessed of Him. They did not belong to their Beloved, and their Beloved was not theirs. In our quest to know God, we find eternal life. “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 13: Why Did Jesus Not Allow Himself to Be Made a King?

When Jesus perceived that the  Jews  would make Him a king, He departed (John 6:15). Surely He would have been a better king than Herod and He must have known it. Why, then, did He not accept?

We can only postulate His motives.

One reason would be that the choice would not be His. Nations are fickle: today they elect a king; tomorrow they overthrow him. Christ does not accept the roles we choose for Him. The choices must be His. His decision was to be a Savior for eternal life rather than a king in this life. On the other hand, the fact that He was a good Savior does not prove that He would have been a good king over Judea, just as a good Sunday school teacher might not necessarily be a good prime minister. As man, He sometimes showed utter indifference toward hu- man suffering, just as He could also show compassion. None of these  attitudes  dominated Him. He chose among them. He was told about innocent Galileans killed by Pilate. A kingly person in the earthly sense would have shown indignation and would have organized the tyrant’s over- throw. Jesus said simply, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2,3).

He is told about a catastrophe, a tower that has collapsed killing eighteen people. Jesus does not give instructions about building more safely in the future, nor does He organize relief for families of the victims. He repeats the above words and makes this another occasion for teaching repentance. He acknowledges only one real motive for grief: that of not being a saint.

This is the correct attitude for a Savior, but not for an earthly king. When Jesus heals a man inhabited by demons, He causes a large herd of swine to drown (Luke 8:33). Jesus shows callousness toward this destruction of property. But it was acceptable for a Savior to destroy a herd and leave someone impoverished in order to heal   His fellow man, and therefore Jesus does not justify Himself.

He achieves the objective to be expected from a Savior. For an earthly king such behavior would not be right. Jesus predicts a national tragedy: the destruction of the Jewish state. He does not call upon men to risk their lives in defense of their fatherland as a secular king would have to do. He tells His disciples instead to flee (Luke 21:21). The abandonment of their countrymen at such a tragic time forced the final break between Christianity and Judaism. The Savior had entrusted the disciples with a deposit of eternal truth which had to be kept intact. This was more important than the defense of their land.

So thinks a Savior. An earthly king has another calling. These two purposes do not mix. Jesus could not be an earthly king, and those who try to make Him the Solver of earthly problems are mistaken.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 12: Why Did Jesus Choose a Devil as an Apostle?

Under Communist pressure, some pastors became renegades. Does this annul the value of their messages of times before? John records Jesus as saying, “‘Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?’ He spoke of Judas Iscariot” (John 6:70,71). If Jesus knew Judas was a devil, why did He choose him to be an apostle? We learn the Word of God from the psalms of David, a murderer
and adulterer, who normally should have spent his life in prison; from Solomon, never satiated with women and in the end an idolater; from Peter who turned coward when courage was required.
God chose these men to teach us to distinguish between the message and the sins of the messengers, to accept our teachers in spite of their weaknesses and their great sins. If we were to reject
works of art produced by immoral men, there would remain almost no great works of art.

We are all strengthened by the hymns: “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins,” and “God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform.” These and other familiar evangelical songs were composed by William Cowper, who later became a national poet of Britain, but never again used his gift in the service of God.
Cowper wrote in his hymn that sinners plunged beneath the blood of Christ lose all their guilty stains. But about himself he wrote, “There is no encouragement in the Scripture so comprehensive
as to include my case, nor any consolation so effectual as to reach it.” He admitted the free forgiveness of God’s love to every case except his own: “I believe myself the only instance of a man to
whom God will promise everything and perform nothing.”

Does this tragic change of attitude, which Cowper kept until his death, diminish his value as a hymnist? We have to distinguish between the song and the composer. In the West, the lives of political leaders, high-ranking officials, and even church leaders are probed with such thoroughness that even the archangels might not be found faultless if submitted to such examination. It may be better to simply say, Does this man perform his political, economical, and religious duties well?” The rest belongs to God. No one is without sin and even men who have committed grave offenses have been useful in the kingdom of God. Perhaps it was to teach us this that Jesus went to the extreme of appointing a devil as an apostle. He could not have chosen worse than that.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS

DAY 11: The Bible’s Imprecise Time

I lost the notion of time. I didn’t know what hour or what day it was, since my solitary cell was subterranean. I didn’t even know if it was spring or summer. The authors of the Bible knew their lives are eternal. Time did not matter for them and so they were quite imprecise in dating events.
In John 21:1 we read, meta tauta—“After these things Jesus showed Himself again.” How long was it “after these things”? You search in vain.
Chapter 3 of Matthew starts with the words, “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea.” In the preceding verse, John and Jesus could not have been more than two
or three years old, so nearly three decades must have elapsed before John began his public ministry. For Matthew it was still “in those days.”
Both John and Matthew were speaking about events between which much time passed as if they took place simultaneously. Before Einstein this would have been considered inaccurate. Now we
know that a statement about the simultaneity of two events acquires meaning only in relation to the place where an observer is situated. It belongs to the subjective part of our observation, not to
the objective part which constitutes history.
The Spirit blows wherever it wishes, says Scripture (John 3:8). Wind and Spirit are the same word in Greek. I can place myself spiritually in a position such that events distant from each other in
time appear to occur simultaneously. It is like some Americans who like to watch two or three TV programs at the same time. Can the preaching of John the Baptist occur “in those days,” that is, at the time of his childhood? This is how Matthew saw the events. Who am I to accuse him of inaccuracy?
We have a promise, “Ask and it will be given you” (Matthew 7:7). This verse seems to contradict much of our experience. Every believer knows of answered prayers, but also of seemingly unanswered
ones. We have asked and were not given. But how much time has passed since we asked?
Moses asked God, “Let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan.” The Lord answered, “Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter” (Deuteronomy 3:25,26). Here is an
instance not of an unanswered prayer, but of a prayer clearly refused. How does this fit with, “Ask and it will be given you”? Well, a little later, some 3,500 years (or, to use the biblical expression, “in
those days”), Jesus was on Mount Tabor with His disciples and “Moses and Elijah appeared to them” (Matthew 17:3). Mount Tabor is in Canaan, beyond Jordan, in the Promised Land. So Moses’
request was finally granted, only with a few thousand years’ delay. Not much for one whose life is eternal. The Hebrew has no singular for life. Most Hebrew nouns that end with “im” are plural, and the biblical word for life is haiim. We will have a multitude of opportunities to invest our life in the lives of others. I believe that all prayers will be answered. Eternal life is more than infinite. Kantor, a Jewish disciple of
Einstein, conceived the notion of “transfinite.” When you draw an endless line in one direction from a given point, its mathematical value is ∞, infinite. But when you draw from the same point two
or more endless lines in different directions, you have something beyond the infinite. Kantor calls it “the transfinite,” and uses the Hebrew letter aleph for its mathematical symbol. The possibilities
of eternity are inexhaustible. “Ask and it will be given you.” Do not ask when. Heaven is outside of time. Periods of time in general are not objective physical facts, but are dependent upon the observer. Time and space are by their very nature confused representations of the only real thing: the interval in the space-time continuum. Let us think biblically, outside of time.

– BY RICHARD WURMBRAND, TAKEN FROM THE BOOK 100 PRISON MEDITATIONS