Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®

God the Only Cause and Creator

from the Golden Text

Proverbs 16:4

The Lord hath made all things for himself.

Translators see varied meanings in the phrase “for himself,” some interpreting it, “for its purpose.” And one scriptural authority explains that “all things” can be viewed as “everyone.” Each combination of words shows God’s creative activity to be purposeful and all-encompassing.

from the Responsive Reading

Isaiah 45:13

I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways. 

In Hebrew history, Yahweh’s supremacy is sometimes made clear in the lives of those who are not believers in the one God. In this declaration, “him” refers to the Persian king Cyrus, who was considered divinely ordained to free the Hebrews from Babylonian exile and bring about the rebuilding of their temple in Jerusalem (see v. 1; Ezra, chap. 1). 

Another pagan worshiper who responds to God’s direction is King Artaxerxes, provider of materials for restoring Jerusalem’s wall (see Nehemiah 2:1–9). Both cases illustrate that even foreign monarchs are instruments of God’s plan.

Psalms 105:8

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. 

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, covenant describes God’s special relationship with Israel—His care and protection for those who obey and honor Him. The continuity and reach of God’s promise are emphasized by the words “a thousand generations.”

from Section 1

1 | Exodus 20:3

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

In the ancient Near East, polytheism (the worship of many gods) and henotheism (the worship of a single god without denying the existence of other gods) were widespread. While the Israelites initially saw Yahweh as merely superior to other deities, they grew to embrace the worship of Yahweh as the only God.

The Commandment to “have no other gods” is established in the wilderness—before the Hebrews’ entry into Canaan, where the prevailing belief system was polytheistic. Now, remarks a Bible authority, “Yahweh . . . claims full attention and full devotion from Israel."

2 | Isaiah 43:11, 12  

I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.

Translation

“I, yes I, am the LORD, 
     and there is no other Savior.
First I predicted your rescue,
     then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world. No foreign god has ever done this. 
     You are witnesses that I am the only God,” 
     says the LORD.

—New Living Translation

3 | Isaiah 44:6, 8

I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. . . . Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.

Translation

I am the first, and I am the last, 
     and besides me there are no gods. . . .
Don’t tremble; have no fear! 
     Didn’t I proclaim it? 
     Didn’t I inform you long ago? 
You are my witnesses! 
     Is there a God besides me? 
     There is no other rock; I know of none.

—Common English Bible

“The first . . . and the last” appears again in Revelation, as a refrain denoting God’s eternity and sovereignty (see 1:8, 1121:622:13).

In the phrase “there is no God,” God is translated from the Hebrew sûr, signifying rock—and most translations have “there is no Rock.” This familiar image of God as Israel’s stronghold of trust and confidence, notes a commentary, “is taken from the fact that a lofty rock or fastness was inaccessible by an enemy, and that those who fled there were safe.”

4 | I Kings 8:22, 23

Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven: and he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart.

King Solomon’s prayer is offered at the installation of the ark of the covenant in the newly completed Temple. It is a momentous occasion, the first time the ark is no longer housed in a temporary tabernacle or tent. Fittingly, Solomon honors God for fulfilling His covenant promise that David’s son “shall build a house for my name” (II Samuel 7:13).

5 | Isaiah 40:28

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Verse 27 records this complaint against God: “My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God.” Now the writer reproves this protest with questions—reminders that God’s people have “known” and “heard” of His dominion and wisdom for centuries.

“The ends of the earth” is a common biblical expression for God’s far-reaching presence and might. Psalms 72:8 says, for instance, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”

from Section 2

6 | Psalms 115:1-3 

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

heathen: people who don’t worship God

7 | Habakkuk 2:18, 19

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

Translation

“What benefit is there in a carved idol
when its maker has carved it?
What benefit is there in a molded statue, a teacher of lies,
when its maker has molded it?
The one who formed it trusts himself
to make worthless idols that cannot speak.
‘How horrible it will be for the one
who says to a piece of wood, “Wake up!”
and to a stone that cannot talk, “Get up!” ’
Can that thing teach anyone?
Just look at it!
It’s covered with gold and silver,
but there’s absolutely no life in it.”

—GOD’S WORD Translation

One of 12 books of the Bible collectively known as Minor Prophets, Habakkuk was written largely by a prophet of this name who lived during the same period as Jeremiah. Like other scriptural authors (see examples in Psalms 135:15–18Isaiah 44:9–11), he spells out the futility of idol worship. “Teacher of lies” is seen as a reference to the idol itself—a lifeless object that is devoid of knowledge or influence.

molten: made of melted metal
dumb: unable to speak
woe: great sadness or trouble

9 | Proverbs 23:5

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?

Like other scriptural counsel (see Jeremiah 17:11Ecclesiastes 2:1–11), this rhetorical question warns against dependence on material riches and pleasures. Christ Jesus presents a similar caution (see Luke 12:16–21), and I Timothy 6:17 urges trust “in the living God” rather than in “uncertain riches.” Spiritual treasure—the knowledge of God—is to be desired above all else: “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

from Section 3

10 | Psalms 104:1, 24, 28, 30, 31 

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. . . . O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: . . . Thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. . . . Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

Translation

Let my whole being bless the LORD! 
     LORD my God, how fantastic you are! 
     You are clothed in glory and grandeur! . . .
LORD, you have done so many things! 
     You made them all so wisely! . . .
     when you open your hand, they are filled completely full! . . .
When you let loose your breath, they are created, 
    and you make the surface of the ground brand-new again.
Let the LORD’s glory last forever! 
    Let the LORD rejoice in all he has made!

—Common English Bible

11 | Psalms 143:1, 8, 10 

Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. . . . Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. . . . Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Translation

Hear my prayer, O LORD; 
     listen to my plea! 
     Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. . . .
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, 
     for I am trusting you. 
Show me where to walk, 
     for I give myself to you. . . .
Teach me to do your will, 
     for you are my God. 
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward 
     on a firm footing.

—New Living Translation

from Section 4

12 | Psalms 55:16, 17

As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.

Translation

As for me, I call to God,
     and the LORD saves me.
Evening, morning and noon
     I cry out in distress,
     and he hears my voice.

—New International Version

Prayer to God three times a day was and is customary for Jews. And because tradition designated sunset as the beginning of the day, evening prayer was considered the first prayer of the day. 

Though one psalm mentions seven daily prayers (see 119:164), other biblical references support three daily devotions. Daniel, for instance, “kneeled upon his knees three times a day” (Daniel 6:10). The deeper message of this psalm is encouragement of regular or continual prayer.

13 Mark 5:21–34

When Jesus was passed over again by ship unto the other side, much people gathered unto him: and he was nigh unto the sea. And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, and besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him. And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, when she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.

Scriptural authorities find the embedding of this account in the story of Jairus thought-provoking. While details indicate great differences in their age and social status, the common focus is on two females. The age of the young girl corresponds with the woman’s 12 years of hemorrhaging, and faith is key to both healings. Finally, the cure of the woman Jesus called “daughter” may have served to strengthen Jairus’ trust in Jesus’ ability to heal his own daughter.

Faith and wholeness are often linked in the Gospels—for example, in Jesus’ healing of Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:52) and of a leper (see Luke 17:19). Here two distinct words are rendered whole. The first—in “Thy faith hath made thee whole”—is translated from the Greek verb sōzō. This term relates to salvation or deliverance, and is the word in Jairus’ request, “Come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed [sōzō].” The second—in “Be whole of thy plague”—is from the adjective hygiēs, depicting soundness and health.

thronged: pressed against on all sides
press: crowd of people
whole: healthy; restored
straightway: immediately
virtue: strength; power

13 | Mark 5:35–42

While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe. And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James. And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly. And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked.

While the healing of the unnamed woman could have been viewed as an interruption that kept Jesus from healing Jairus’ daughter, the Master presents it as an opportunity for faith: “Be not afraid, only believe.” 

At the ruler’s house, Jesus decisively removes all the mourners and onlookers—an action conveyed by a Greek verb (ekballō) that can imply vehemence. It occurs in descriptions of the Master’s casting out of devils (see example in Mark 1:39) and in the charge to “cast out [ekballō] the beam out of thine own eye” (Matthew 7:5).

Arise and rise are frequent Christly commands. In this instance, arise is translated from the Greek verb egeirō, to rouse or raise up—the term also employed to connote resurrection from death (see examples in Matthew 10:8Mark 14:28Luke 24:6).

tumult: disturbance; alarm
ado: noise; confusion

14 | Isaiah 40:31 

They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Translation

. . . those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

—Amplified® Bible Classic

from Section 5

18 Revelation 10:1, 5, 6

I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire: . . . And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.

Sources identify this passage with Daniel 12:5–7. In that account, Daniel sees in a vision a man “clothed in linen” who, like the Revelator’s angel, utters an oath about a time of completion. One commentator suggests, “Beyond all the strangeness of the picture stands the truth that history is moving towards the inevitable triumph of God and that, though evil may flourish, it cannot in the end be triumphant.”


Read a related article, “God’s help in solving problems” by Margaret Campbell, at
jsh.christianscience.com/god-s-help-in-solving-problems.

The Bible Lessons serve as weekly study guides as well as the sermon in every Christian Science Sunday church service. Learn more at BibleLesson.com

Resources quoted in this issue

GT: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 3, Introduction to Hebrew Poetry, Job, Psalms, Introduction to Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 1: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 1, Introduction to the Pentateuch, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015.

Cit. 3: Barnes, Albert. Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. New York, 1834–85. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.

Cit. 18: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: Revelation of John, Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: Revelation of John, Vol. 2. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.

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