Tag Archives: sacrifices

Sermon Review of the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: Outside the Camp

Our religion involves a lot of ritual foods, including the ceremony that Christians refer to as the Eucharist, but the writer of the book of Hebrews warns his readers to steer away from sacramental interpretations of ceremonial foods. This discussion of Hebrews 13:9-14 brings the central conflict behind the epistle into sharp focus.

-D. Thomas Lancaster
Sermon Forty-five: Outside the Camp
Originally presented on March 8, 2014
from the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews sermon series

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

Hebrews 13:9-14 (NASB)

I have no idea what happened to sermon forty-four. It’s not in the list at the Beth Immanuel website. We seem to be missing the previous week’s sermon which probably covered Hebrews 13:1-8. I guess we’ll have to live without it.

But Lancaster says something compelling about today’s sermon. He says that the whole summation of the entire epistle can be found in these verses. Really?

However, we have to be willing to accept some speculation on his part about the meaning of the “varied and strange teachings”. There’s no way to know for sure what they really were, but Lancaster has a theory. The thinks that these strange teachings were some odd, mystical interpretation about the meaning of the sacrifices, particularly the peace and sin offerings, which are the only ones that were eaten.

Lancaster guesses that some teachings were being circulated, probably by the Sadducees who were in control of the Temple, stating that unless the priest actually eats of the sacrificial portion in the presence of the person making the offering, the offering was ineffective. Or unless the sin offering were completely burned, the sins were not forgiven.

Again, this is pure guesswork on Lancaster’s part, but I thought it sounded sort of like the following:

“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”

Matthew 23:16-22

PriestsSwearing by the Temple vs. swearing by the gold in the Temple; yeah, that sounds like a strange and diverse teaching, too. Lancaster believes the writer of the Hebrews letter was saying that the priesthood was circulating strange teachings about the animal sacrifices indicating they meant far more than they actually did. This was an attempt to pile on more pressure, since the readers of the letter, the Greek-speaking believing Jews, had been exiled from the Temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifices. If these Jews thought that not offering sacrifices meant, on some mystic level, that they were exiled from God, they might actually abandon faith in Messiah for the sake of offering korban.

Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.

Hebrews 13:9

But God’s grace and favor doesn’t come from “mystic food”, it comes from faith.

Lancaster offered the example of the Catholic Church from the Middle Ages to the present. Even in the present-day Catholic Church, the Church can refuse to offer the sacrament of the eucharist, Holy Communion, to a Catholic who has gone against church teaching, perhaps by supporting abortion rights for example. It is a terrible shame to be excommunicated and many Catholics are successfully manipulated by the pressure to at least publicly change their beliefs so they can regain access to Communion.

This is sort of how Lancaster sees what the Jewish letter readers were going through.

Except, like the eucharist, the sacrifices are not “magic food”. Simply offering and eating doesn’t impart or remove God’s grace and blessing apart from the believer’s faith and devotion to God. Verse 9 says the heart is strengthened by grace, not food. It also says that if eating the “magic food” was so effective, how come the corrupt priesthood of Sadducees was still so wicked?

We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

Hebrews 13:10

This verse could be one of the proof texts used by the early Catholic Church to justify the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion as a sacrament that replaced the Temple sacrifices (and no doubt more than a few Protestants also believe this). The people who have no right to eat of the sacrament, in this scenario, are the Jews, unless they convert to Christianity.

The Death of the MasterLancaster’s take is different from the traditional Christian interpretation, and follows along with what he’s taught about the rest of the epistle. He’s saying that the earthly Temple is a reflection of the Heavenly Temple, and that the Heavenly altar has “food” that those who serve in the tabernacle, that is, the earthly priesthood, have no right to eat, not because they’re priests or Jews, but because of their wicked hearts and actions.

The next several verses metaphorically compare the national sin offering to the Messiah’s death.

For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. herefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

Hebrews 13:11-13

The blood of the sin offering was to be taken outside the camp which in those days was outside the walls of Jerusalem. This is where the Master was executed, outside the city walls. The letter writer says that we too should be willing to share in the Master’s reproach, for just like he was, they also have been rejected from the larger community, like lepers, ostracized, seemingly abandoned. But if they are worthy of the Messiah, then they would be willing to suffer, even to the death, for the sake of their faith and the promise of the Messianic Age to come.

What Did I Learn?

I would have missed most of those details, but by now, I’ve stopped reading the parts of Hebrews not covered by the sermons I’ve heard and I’ve been willing to listen to Lancaster’s explanation first. That’s probably a fault of mine, and in retrospect, I should have read ahead to see if what I’ve learned so far could help me in anticipating what comes next.

Be that as it may, I wouldn’t have gotten the comparison of “magic” sacrificial food to the eucharist and the artificial manufacture of a sacramental system created to replace the Temple practices. The sacrament of Holy Communion also requires a priesthood, so you can see how the earliest foundations of the Church were predicated on replacement theology or supersessionism. And even though the Protestant church doesn’t emphasize the necessity of frequent taking of the eucharist, they haven’t done away with it either, accepting the fundamental underpinning the Catholics established, that the wine and the wafer mean something, and that a Christian cannot be complete without accepting Communion.

Lancaster made another point, a big one, that really spoke to me. He compared Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles to those put “outside the camp”. He compared us to the readers of the Hebrews epistle. Those of us who identify with the Messianic Movement are largely to completely rejected by both mainstream religious Judaism and mainstream Christianity in all its denominations.

Judaism not only rejects those Jews who accept the revelation of Yeshua as Messiah, but absolutely rejects the Gentiles who have come alongside Israel through faith in Messiah. Of course this is also true of the Church. I know what it’s like to maintain a Messianic theological and doctrinal framework within a local church environment. Everyone was nice and friendly and accepting of me but not of most of what I had to say. And for the Messianic Jew, the Church has no problems with that person as long as they convert to Christianity and surrender any form of Jewish practice beyond a token Passover seder or maybe building the occasional sukkah.

Lancaster states that Messianic Judaism is based on a completely different set of theological assumptions than Christianity. But it’s a set of foundations that he believes are correct, and in fact, represent a major “course correction” in the deviated trajectory Christianity has charted over the past nearly two-thousand years.

If the foundation of Christianity is “out of whack,” the only recourse is to tear down the structure and rebuild it from the ground up. That’s pretty radical talk, and I can’t imagine too many Christians who would quietly accept such words.

Lancaster was quick to point out that he feels brotherhood with all Christians as fellow disciples of Messiah, but on an institutional level, he has little in common with them.

So if we are reviled and rejected by Jews or Christians for our beliefs, perhaps we are partaking in the Master’s suffering in some small way, and bearing his reproach.

For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.

Hebrews 13:14

TempleThis is why we’re willing to suffer. Our hope isn’t in this world or the present institutional state of the Church. We are waiting for the city to come, “New Jerusalem,” if you will, the Messianic Age.

I should note that Lancaster believes the Hebrews letter writer didn’t know that Jerusalem would be leveled a few short years in the future, but the Holy Spirit knew, so portions of this letter, including the above-quoted verse, are prophetic. Once there was no Temple, the believing Jews could only turn to the Heavenly Temple and the Heavenly High Priest, Yeshua.

This is where our faith lies, not in Heaven but in the future Messianic Kingdom come to earth. The price we pay is to share in the trials, the reproach, and the rejection of the world around us including many or most religious institutions. But in that rejection, we must not give up our faith in our Master, lest we lose our reward in the world to come. Too many Messianic Gentiles have lost their faith in the Master and converted to Judaism as their “true love.”

Like Abraham, God sent us out from the accepted and the familiar into an unknown territory and requires that we accept a promise of what we can’t see or touch or hear (see Genesis 12:1-4). We endure difficulties today for the sake of the fulfillment of the future. It’s as if we are approaching the end of a Passover seder and we say symbolically, “Next Year in (Messianic) Jerusalem.”

I must say that listening to this particular sermon brought up some of the same issues I discussed in yesterday’s morning meditation. It’s difficult to discuss the theological and doctrinal differences between traditional Christians, Messianic Judaism, and Hebrew Roots without at least potentially stepping on someone’s toes. How do you say that you love your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith and yet also acknowledge some of the extreme differences in viewpoint?

Next week, I’ll write my review of the final sermon in Lancaster’s Holy Epistle to the Hebrews” series.

Sermon Review of the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews: The Blood of Bulls and Goats

The writer of the book of Hebrews maintains that the animal sacrifices offered in the Temple cannot grant forgiveness for the world to come or the reward of eternal life. If so, why did God command the Israelites to offer sacrifices? What were the sacrifices supposed to accomplish?

This sermon marks one year in Beth Immanuel’s study of the epistle to the Hebrews, so it features a brief review of the first eight chapters of the book.

-D. Thomas Lancaster
Sermon Thirty-Five: The Blood of Bulls and Goats
Originally presented on December 21, 2013
from the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews sermon series

Since Lancaster delivered this sermon on the one year anniversary of starting this series on Hebrews, he spent the first fifteen minutes giving a summary of what he’d taught over the course of the past twelve months. I wish I could have taken notes fast enough to capture the review because it would have been a nice “in-a-nutshell” presentation to offer. You’ll just have to click the link I posted above and listen for yourself.

The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time.

Hebrews 9:8-9 (NASB)

According to Lancaster, most Christians take away from the above-quoted verses the idea that the only way to get into the Holy Place, that is, the life in the world to come, is for the Temple (although the NASB translates the Greek as “tabernacle”) to be destroyed. This fits pretty well with traditional Church doctrine about the Temple in Jerusalem needing to be destroyed because the bodies of Christians are now the “Temple,” but Lancaster disagrees. Within the overall context, that interpretation makes no sense.

The way he sees it, what the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews is saying is that the Tabernacle or Temple, the outer holy place simply stands as a symbol for the present age, the Old Covenant age, since the New Covenant while inaugurated, has not actually come into our world yet. You’ll have to go over what last week’s sermon said about the symbolism involved in comparing the Holy Place with the Holy of Holies, that is, the present age and the age to come (or read my review to get the gist of Lancaster’s points) in order to make sense of what’s being communicated.

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation… (emph. mine)

Hebrews 9:11 (NASB)

The NASB translates the words I emphasized in the above-quoted verse fairly accurately, but the NIV says “are now already here”, and the NLT and ESV (and a number of other translations) say “that have come,” seemingly indicating that when Christ appeared, the better promises of the New Covenant age arrived in their fullness. That’s not what the Greek actually says, and both the NASB and the KJV render that phrase correctly. They haven’t arrived yet.

As I’ve said before, interpretation begins at translation, and more than a few Bible translators have read their own theology and doctrine back into the Bible rather than letting the Bible in its original languages speak to them about how that theology is supposed to look.

What I Learned

The Sacrifice - detailThis next part was news to me but it makes a great deal of sense now, especially when compared to what Lancaster has previously taught in this series of lessons. He described the following scriptures as a Kal Vachomer or lighter to heavier argument. In this argument, you say something like, “if you think version 1 was fabulous, version 2 is even better”. The first statement about version 1 (or whatever) must be true in order for the statement about version 2 to be true.

…and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:12-15

Christians don’t understand the meaning behind the sacrificial system initiated with the Tabernacle and continued with Solomon’s and Herod’s Temples. We’ve been taught that the Israelites had to make sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins and so they could get into Heaven when they died. Once Jesus came and made a single sacrifice on the cross once and for all, then there was no further need for the animal sacrifices or the Temple, since all we have to do is believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

But what Lancaster said next is no less than revolutionary.

The sacrifices in the Tabernacle and the Temple were never designed to take away sins at all. They were designed to provide purification for an Israelite (actually, anyone since even the sacrifices of Gentiles were accepted) so that he or she could physically draw nearer to the specific, Holy precinct where the physical manifestation of the Divine Presence dwelt. The mikvah, the ashes of the Red Heifer and so on, were to provide the body of a person with ritual purification so that their physical, material self could enter a physical structure considered Holy ground because it contained the manifestation of the Divine Presence of the Almighty. This is an effect of the Sinai (Old) Covenant.

Compare and contrast that to the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) who made total atonement for the sins of all humanity by bringing his blood, not to the Holy of Holies in the Earthly Temple, but to the Heavenly Holy of Holies, so our sins really could be permanently forgiven and that our spiritual selves could approach God in a realm outside the physical universe, and we can serve Him. This is an effect of the New Covenant.

There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him.

Revelation 22:3

These two systems, two structures, two forms of sacrifice were made to operate like two sides of a coin, not for the latter to wholly replace the former, at least not until the end of the Messianic Era which will see us pass on through eternity when we’ll no longer need a Temple:

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.

Revelation 21:22-24

But none of that will happen while the current Heaven and Earth exist, which they will throughout the present age and the age of the Messiah.

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (emph. mine)

Hebrews 9:13-14

PriestsYou can see the lighter and heavier ends of the argument on either side of the text I emphasized above. If the blood of goats and bulls and ashes of a heifer can purify your bodies to come within proximity of the physical manifestation of the Divine Presence in our material world, how much more will the blood of Messiah purify your eternal Spirit to cleanse you of dead works (that is, sin) so that you can serve the living God. Purifying your body vs. purifying your spirit. The Earthly sacrifices did one and the one Heavenly sacrifice did the other. The blood of Jesus didn’t replace the blood of animals. To believe it did would be like comparing proverbial apples and oranges.

Wow.

What comes next is the letter writer’s conclusion of the current argument:

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 9:15

So all that was written before is the reason why Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, because as you may recall, the New Covenant is all about replacing our stony hearts with hearts of flesh, and giving us a new Spirit, writing the Torah of God on our hearts, permanently atoning for all sins, and allowing us to know God in an unparalleled manner greater than the greatest prophets of old.

We committed sins that were defined and identified by the Sinai covenant and that covenant condemns unrepented sin. We will die if our sins are not atoned for because the wages of sin is death. But the New Covenant offers something the Old did not, a way to permanently atone for and be forgiven of all sins, so where the Old Covenant condemns, the New Covenant, which is already beginning to enter our world, sets free. They work together in the present age. We have access to this forgiveness through our faith in the work of the Messiah. This is how we receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Questions That Would Cross a Rabbi’s Eyes

Hashem, your God, shall you follow and Him shall you fear; His commandments shall you observe and to His voice shall you hearken; Him shall you serve and to Him shall you cleave.

Deuteronomy 13:5 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Yeshua said to him, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one will come to the Father except through me.

John 14:6 (DHE Gospels)

The most important men in town will come to fawn on me
They will ask me to advise them,
Like a Solomon the Wise
“If you please, Reb Tevye?”
“Pardon me, Reb Tevye?”
Posing problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes

from the song, “If I Were a Rich Man”
by Sheldon Hamick and Jerry Bock
Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

I ponder this mystery off and on but it’s a profound one, at least to me. The church often asks the question, “Were the Israelites saved?” Opinions vary. A very literalist interpretation of John 14:6 says, “no,” since Jesus wasn’t there at Sinai. But then I’ve heard that the salvation of Jesus spans across all time forward and back, so that anyone who has faith in God is saved by Jesus.

OK, wait. Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?

And he trusted in Hashem, and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. –Genesis 15:6 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Abraham trusted in God and God alone and it was counted to him (by God) as righteousness. A Christian would say that Abraham’s faith in God saved him, just as our faith in Jesus saves us. See what I mean about “posing problems that would cross a rabbi’s eyes?” Are we talking about two paths of salvation, one through God and another through Jesus?

I don’t think that’s a sustainable viewpoint given the overarching message of the Bible to love and trust God and God only. On the other hand, if we invoke the deity of Jesus, then I suppose the problem is solved. If you have faith in Jesus then you have faith in God and vice versa. End of story.

Or is it?

For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. –Hebrews 10:4 (ESV)

So what exactly were the ancient Israelites doing, then? Why did God command them to perform animal sacrifices if they didn’t do any good?

Why do I need your numerous sacrifices? says Hashem. I am sated with elevation-offerings of rams and the fat of fatlings; the blood of bulls, sheep and goats I do not desire…Bring your worthless meal-offerings no longer, it is incense of abomination to Me. –Isaiah 1:11,13 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Obviously that didn’t work. I mean, God doesn’t seem to want the sacrifices that He previously said He wanted. Seems kind of fickle of God, doesn’t it.

Except it’s impossible for God to be fickle or inconsistent. So what’s the answer?

What does God want and who does He want us to have faith and trust in? If no one comes to the Father except through the Son, why didn’t He teach the ancient Israelites to worship the future Jesus instead of the God of Heaven? Why didn’t God teach Abraham to have trust in Jesus instead of Him, thus counting trust in Jesus as righteousness? Why did God bother teaching the ancient Israelites the sacrificial system in the first place?

Maybe I’m being too literal. Maybe I’m not being “mystic” enough. But it does seem like a head scratcher.

I keep thinking I’m on the cusp of an answer but somehow it always eludes me. I keep thinking that the key is “faith and trust in God.” Of course the blood of bulls and goats doesn’t save. It never did. What saved was that the ancient Israelites trusted in God and agreed to do everything He told them to.

Moses came and summoned the elders of the people, and put before them all these words that Hashem had commanded him. The entire people responded together and said, “Everything that Hashem has spoken we shall do!” –Exodus 19:7-8 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Faith and trust, and then obedience. It’s not so much that what we do has the power to save, it’s that what we do is a reflection of our faith and trust. If God tells us to sacrifice animals at such-and-thus a place in such-and-thus a manner, the sacrifices aren’t as important as our obedience to Him. If we perform the same sort of sacrifice in the same place and in the same manner as before, but not because of faith and trust, the sacrifices are meaningless. It’s always about faith and trust. So that takes care of the salvation of the ancient Israelites and Abraham before them.

But how to we deal with Jesus and “no one comes to the Father except through me?” It would seem as if all one has to do is have faith and trust in God the Father to be saved. What does Jesus have to do with it?

OK, I know I said before that Jesus does matter. After all, neither we people among the nations nor our distant ancestors stood at Sinai with the Israelites (mixed multitude notwithstanding), and so we do not possess the ancient covenant relationship with God. It is completely understandable that we Gentiles cannot “come to the Father except through the Son.” But what about the Jews?

I’m not so sure I can answer that one. To say that they are “saved” through Sinai means that there is two salvational paths, one for the Jews (Moses) and one for the Gentiles (Jesus). To say that only Jesus saves deconstructs the Sinai covenant and renders Judaism invalid post-Jesus. To say that only Moses saves means we have to throw out the New Testament, and salvation for the Gentiles only comes from conversion to Judaism or obedience to the Noahide Laws.

Traditional Christians would say that salvation through Jesus replaced the Law of Moses and they solve the question that way. Traditional Jews would say that the New Testament is invalid and Gentiles must either convert to Judaism or become Noahides and they solve the question that way. There is a group who tries to split the difference and says that everyone must comply to the terms of both the Mosaic and Davidic covenants and essentially behave both like Jews and like Christians, but as you’ve seen on this and other blogs in the Messianic blogosphere, that becomes hopelessly confusing relative to retaining any sense of Jewish vs. non-Jewish identity.

So what is the answer? I don’t know. I know that’s rather disappointing, but I’ve said numerous times before that I’m not a Bible scholar or historian. I’m a reasonably intelligent human being (depending on the day of the week, how much sleep I’ve had, and whether or not my wife is upset with some dumb thing I did), but the niggling little details of how to interpret the scriptures and the nuances of theology, doctrine, dogma, and so on escapes me.

But does that mean it’s forbidden for “ordinary Christians” to ask questions and pose problems about our faith? Gee, I hope not.

So am I stuck? No. By faith, I worship the One God of Israel. I know that my salvation hinges upon the truth of the Jewish Messiah. He is the vine and I am the branch. I will follow him in search of my answers and believe that ultimately, all truth of God is in him and through him. How it all works behind the scenes, I don’t know. Maybe someone out there does. I know I’m asking for another “punishing” debate and people will question my convictions, my intelligence, and maybe even my sanity.

But I can’t stop asking questions just because people are going to give me a hard time about them.

In the end, there’s God. In the beginning, too.

A prayer of Moses, the man of God. O Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born, and You brought forth the earth and the inhabited world, and from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You bring man to the crushing point, and You say, “Return, O sons of men.” For a thousand years are in Your eyes like yesterday, which passed, and a watch in the night. You carry them away as a flood; they are like a sleep; in the morning, like grass it passes away. In the morning, it blossoms and passes away; in the evening, it is cut off and withers. For we perish from Your wrath, and from Your anger we are dismayed. You have placed our iniquities before You, [the sins of] our youth before the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your anger; we have consumed our years as a murmur. The days of our years because of them are seventy years, and if with increase, eighty years; but their pride is toil and pain, for it passes quickly and we fly away. Who knows the might of Your wrath, and according to Your fear is Your anger. So teach the number of our days, so that we shall acquire a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long? And repent about Your servants. Satiate us in the morning with Your loving-kindness, and let us sing praises and rejoice with all our days. Cause us to rejoice according to the days that You afflicted us, the years that we saw evil. May Your works appear to Your servants, and Your beauty to their sons. And may the pleasantness of the Lord our God be upon us, and the work of our hands establish for us, and the work of our hands establish it. –Psalm 90

Just a small note: this is my 500th meditation if anyone is intereseted.