The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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January 17

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - Gen 30:29,30

"Jacob said to him [Laban]... 'The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I have been' " (Gen 30:29,30).

Quite often in Scripture God blesses one person or group because of their attachment to the initial righteous person. God had been prepared to spare Sodom for the sake of ten righteous men; He blessed Potiphar and then the whole land of Egypt for Joseph's sake; the widow for Elijah; the shipload of men for Paul.

And -- wonder of wonders! -- for the sake of one man Jesus, God has gladly forgiven the sins of multitudes who have joined themselves to him.

Reading 2 - Psa 34:7

"The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them" (Psa 34:7).

This is parallel to Exo 12:23: the angel of Yahweh hovering over or encamping around those who fear him is Passover language. What God did for His people -- in delivering them out of Egypt -- was to be remembered, throughout all their generations, by all their descendants -- natural and spiritual! This was so they might never forget that what He had done once He could do again!

The phrase "angel of Yahweh" is used only twice in the Psalms. The other reference is Psa 35:5, an example of judgment to contrast with the mercy shown here. Compare Act 12, where an angel of Yahweh appears twice: once in mercy (vv 7-11: delivering Peter out of prison) and once in judgment (v 23: smiting the vile Herod). Angelic agency is often unseen, yet it is recognized by the eye of faith!

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD: As in Luk 22:43, and Mat 26:53, this is an allusion to the 12 legions of angels who guarded Israelite homes in Egypt on Passover night.

ENCAMPS: The Hebrew is "hanah", a military encampment, and is the root word of the place name Mahanaim (which signifies two camps). This was the site of Jacob's protection by the unseen hosts of angels (Gen 32:1,2). As the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day, so the angel of the Lord -- a "ministering spirit" -- remains with and protects those that fear him: Mat 18:10; Heb 1:14; Psa 91:11; 103:20.

AROUND: Suggests that here angel is used as a collective noun, or that the angel signified here is the captain of a great host or company. How else could ONE angel encamp AROUND...?

"Some Psalms have hearts -- in fact, most of them have -- but in some they are quite obvious. You can almost see them steadily beating in some deeply embosomed word or in some central, power-motivated sentence. They are places to which we repair when, weary and footsore at the end of the day's pilgrimage, we seek rest and repose. Such is the seventh verse of Psalm 34, and the powerful word is 'encampeth'. It is essentially an eventide word; whether we are on a pilgrimage or on the battlefield of life, at sundown we must pitch tent... For the time being we must give in and let someone else take up the struggle. But who? After we have crept into our little tent at eventide, do we ever think of drawing back the flap and looking out again? We ought to, for there, in the far-stretching realm of the Eternal's unseen things, we should see the Angel of the Lord encamping with us. There he stands erect, sword drawn, his shining never-sleeping eyes watching" (NP Holt).

Reading 3 - Mat 19:22

"When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth" (Mat 19:22).

No matter how much wealth the young man had, he could not ride in a car, have any surgery, turn on a light, buy penicillin, hear a pipe organ, watch TV, use a computer, wash dishes in running water, type a letter, mow a lawn, fly in an airplane, sleep on an innerspring mattress, or talk on the telephone. If he was rich, then what am I?

And how do I react to the words of Jesus?

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