Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Exo 4:2-4
"Then the LORD said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' 'A
staff,' he replied" (Exo 4:2).
God can use even the most ordinary items to further His
"The LORD said, 'Throw it on the ground.' Moses threw it on
the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him,
'Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.' So Moses reached out and took
hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand" (Exo
"Moses looked down. He had forgotten his sheep and had been
fingering nervously or gripping tightly the shepherd's rod in his hand. He cast
it to the ground and ran from the serpent to which it was transformed, until at
God's behest he took it by the tail and it lay still in his hand with its
familiar feel. Yes, God can change the ordinary things, the things we use every
day, to purposes beyond our imagination: if we trust Him. Have we learned the
lesson? It is oft repeated. 'How many loaves have ye?' Even man himself can be
changed. The leprous hand which Moses drew from his bosom depicted not only his
own inner weakness and need of healing, but the power that lies around us and
within if we trust the Lord. We may have but a rod, the everyday token of our
normal life, but the Lord can work wonders with it. Nothing is ordinary when the
Lord is around, neither the thorn bush in the wilderness, nor the shepherd's
staff, nor the shepherd's hand" (Harry Tennant, "Moses My Servant" 31).
Reading 2 - Psa 56:8
"Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll [Or 'put my
tears in your wineskin'] -- are they not in your record?" (Psa 56:8).
RECORD MY LAMENT: "Thou tellest my wanderings" (AV).
"Wanderings" (Hebrew "nodh": Gen 4:16) and "bottle" (Hebrew "n'odh") are a play
on words. Likewise, "record" or "tellest" ("saphar") and "record" or "book"
("sepher"). When the complete list of David's wanderings is compiled from 1Sa
21-30 it makes an impressive catalogue.
Thinking of Christ, this verse suggests his almost ceaseless 3
1/2 years of preaching, whilst going from place to place, up and down the land
of Israel, with nowhere to lay his head (Mat 8:20; Luk 9:58).
MY TEARS: As for Jesus, consider Joh 11:35; Luk 19:41; Heb
5:7. Other Psalms references to tears: Psa 6:6; 39:12; 42:3; 69:10; 116:8. All
of David's (and Christ's) travels, even if relatively insignificant, are
assuredly noted and remembered by God. For the same general idea, see Mat
LIST MY TEARS ON YOUR SCROLL: "Put thou my tears into thy
bottle" (AV). According to some authorities, "lachrymatories" (or tear bottles)
are still found in large numbers in ancient tombs. They were apparently used to
collect the tears of the mourners at the graveside, and then stored away with
the body. Others, however, suggest that the allusion here is to the custom of
putting into bags, or small leather flasks, articles of value for safekeeping
(cp Luk 12:33). Thus, 'O Lord, treasure up my tears as something of great
Tears and bottle come together again, quite interestingly, in
the account of Mary Magdalene's anointing of the feet of Jesus (Luk 7:37,38).
From the bottle came precious ointment, but from the repentant sinner came even
more precious tears. And so it is with us: the greatest gifts we can bring to
our Savior are our faith, our repentance, our devotion, our love, and even our
"Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul
began to pray the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying
soul. Oftentimes a poor broken-hearted one bends his knee, but can only utter
his wailing in the language of sighs and tears; yet that groan has made all the
harps of heaven thrill with music; that tear has been caught by God and
treasured in the lachrymatory of heaven. 'Thou puttest my tears into thy
bottle,' implies that they are caught as they flow. The suppliant, whose tears
prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up
with misty eye; but 'prayer is the falling of a tear.' Tears are the diamonds of
heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Yahweh's court, and are numbered with
'the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high.'
"Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will
be unregarded. Jacob's ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the
Angel of the covenant and so climb its starry rounds. Our God not only hears
prayer but also loves to hear it. 'He forgetteth not the cry of the humble.'
True, He regards not high looks and lofty words; He cares not for the pomp and
pageantry of kings; He listens not to the swell of martial music; He regards not
the triumph and pride of man; but wherever there is a heart big with sorrow, or
a lip quivering with agony, or a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the heart of
Yahweh is open; He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our
prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and
when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing
up therefrom" (CHS).
ARE THEY NOT IN YOUR RECORD?: God's "book of remembrance", or
"book of life": Psa 69:28: 87:6; 139:16; Mal 3:16; Exo 32:32; Dan 12:1; Isa 4:3;
Eze 13:9; Phi 4:3; Luk 10:20; Heb 12:23; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 21:27; 22:19. The
figure of this divine recording is related to the practice of earthly monarchs.
In the court of the Hebrew kings was a "recorder", and "the chronicles of the
kings" was the daily record of the events of each king's reign. Those who served
the king in a special capacity or in an extraordinary manner would receive an
adequate reward. But they were not necessarily rewarded at once; sometimes they
seem to have waited years before their special service was finally compensated
Reading 3 - Rom 9:11
"...in order that God's purpose in election might stand" (Rom
Being humans, our "logic" will always have trouble with these
concepts because we cannot work on two levels at once. We are conditioned -- by
all our lives and all our experiences -- to see and understand and make choices
in a universe where our freewill is King. We see, we process in our minds, and
we choose, and then we act. Free, sovereign creatures... making free choices.
But God lives in another dimension as well... maybe, we should
say: several different "dimensions" where we cannot really go! We can barely
understand what those dimensions mean. Maybe we DON'T understand, and the brain
starts hurting trying to reconcile His absolute omniscience (or foreknowledge)
and our freewill. How can we be choosing, really choosing, when God must already
know how we will choose?
But the Bible, it seems to me, says we CAN! So I have to think
that -- even if a part of my mind rebels at the juxtaposition of two ideas which
seem practically exclusive of one another -- then the fault (shortcoming,
weakness?) is with my own mind.
Put another way, I'd say we should be grateful that God has
given us minds that can even ASK such a question, about time and eternity and
the essential character and power of our Creator, while we -- when all is said
and done -- are nothing but a fragile combination of mud and blood and brain
synapses, sometimes firing and sometimes misfiring.
God has created us out of the dust, or clay, and given us a
mind which can dimly comprehend the Great Other, beyond ourselves and our eyes
and ears and smell and touch. In the words of Ecclesiastes, He has put
"eternity" into our hearts (Ecc 3:11). But like the clam on the seashore, our
little "hearts" and minds can't really fathom the depths of the sea, although it
lays there, right next to us. But what we know of the love of God tells us that
what we can only vaguely grasp now will surely be explained to us more fully
later, WHEN we are capable of receiving it.
At least, that's how I "make sense" of predestination,
foreknowledge, freewill, God, and man.