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1992 Issue 3

We are pleased to announce a new contributing writer for The Counsel of Chalcedon. He is Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, (1818-1902), one of the three most important Presbyterian ministers of the Nineteenth Century, along with Dr. James H. Thornwell and Dr. Robert L. Dabney. He was one of the greatest preachers of the first twenty centuries of the Christian era. For a third of his life he was the devoted and dearly beloved pastor of First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans, Louisiana. Studying his life and his sermons has been one of the two or three most important times in my life. As one has written: "His outstanding work was that of a preacher speaking with an eloquence that has been rarely equaled the glorious gospel of the blessed God" It will be an honor to meet him someday in heaven.

Rev. Palmer's sermons will appear frequently in the pages of our magazine, with only minor editing. Thousands, from all over the nation, flocked to hear this man preach. The common man, from all walks of life, loved him. The entire nation mourned at his death. Because we are not as literate as his generation, it will take time and effort to read his sermons; but it will be well worth it. I earnestly pray the Rev. Palmer's life and preaching will affect you as it has me. "He being dead yet speaketh." (JCM III)

Each month the "Cross-Examination" column presents a summary statement of a Reformed and Reconstructionist conviction in theology or ethics, and then offers brief answers to common questions, objections or confusions which people have about that belief. Send issues or questions you would like addressed by Dr. Bahnsen to the editor.

As he was originally created by God, man was able to do good or evil; he had a free will (morally, as well as metaphysically, speaking). However, since mankind's fall into sin at the rebellion of our first parents, men are now enslaved to sin and have lost this (moral) free will. We read in Ecclesiastes 7:29, "God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes." Speaking of man's nature prior to conversion, the Apostle Paul wrote: "when you were slaves of sin, you were carefree regarding righteousness" (Romans 6:20).

In Old Testament Israel there were seven great ceremonial festivals which were to be observed annually. Four of these (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost) were held in the spring and summer of the year, and three (Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Booths or Tabernacles) were held in the fall. The Jewish liturgical and/or religious year began in the first month of the Hebrew calendar year with Passover. The civil year began with Trumpets in the seventh month. The spring festivals symbolized the beginning or revival of religious life, and the fall, the cutting off of the religious year.

On several of these festive occasions Israel was to observe Sabbaths which were in addition to the regular weekly Sabbath (cf. Lev. 23:3,37,38; cp. vv. 4-36,39-44; Col. 2:16). Likewise, sacrifice and the giving of tithes and offerings was stressed. Thus, the idea of rest and worship was prevalent.

In this message we come to the vision of the golden lampstand. This is a vision that in a sense forms part two of the preceding vision. You will remember that in Zechariah 3, the prophet saw a vision regarding Joshua the high priest (Zech. 3:1). Joshua was the high priest during the era in which the newly returned Jewish exiles kept delaying the rebuilding of the temple. That vision was essential for laying the groundwork for forgiveness through God's restoration of the priestly line through Joshua.

The present vision advances the thought begun in Zechariah 3. Zechariah 4 is a vision regarding Zerubbabel (Zech.4:6). But who was Zerubbabel? And how is he related to Joshua? To answer this we must recall that the book of Ezra is essential for understanding Zechariah's prophecies. It contains the explanatory historical background to the prophetic ministries of both Haggai and Zechariah.

Bill Strevel was wounded during the Vietnam War, in March, 1969. He and his wife, Susan had been married 11 months. She was living in their home in East Point, Georgia, and was pregnant with their first child. A two-page telegram was delivered to Susan describing all the places the shrapnel had hit Bill and the severe damage that the bullets had done to his liver. That was the beginning of what Susan calls "Bill's struggle to know God." Susan, who has been a widow now for six years, was looking back during his birthday recently and remembering Bill and his walk with the Lord. Bill died in April, 1986, due to the complications of liver damage. Their son Chris was 16 and their daughter Deanna was 14 years old.

The Strevel family joined Chalcedon Presbyterian Church eight years ago. Today, Chris and Deanna are students at Georgia State University. Chris is a newlywed; Chalcedon's Youth Pastor and is studying under Rev. Morecraft for the ministry. Deanna holds a full time job and also has worked with the church's youth.