The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 9

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

Reading 1 - Exo 17:12

"When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady till sunset" (Exo 17:12).

"It is far easier to fight with sin in public, than to pray against it in private. It is remarked that Joshua never grew weary in the fighting, but Moses did grow weary in the praying; the more spiritual an exercise, the more difficult it is for flesh and blood to maintain it. Let us cry, then, for special strength, and may the Spirit of God, which helps our infirmities, as He allowed help to Moses, enable us like Moses to continue with our hands steady 'until the going down of the sun'; till the evening of life is over; till we shall come to the rising of a better sun in the land where prayer is swallowed up in praise" (CHS).

Reading 2 - Psa 72:10

"The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts" (Psa 72:10).

Kings from many and distant places will pay tribute the great King when he is enthroned in Jerusalem, and ruling over God's Kingdom. That view is evident and straightforward.

Not so obvious, but profound nonetheless, is the thought that this verse found its initial fulfillment shortly after the birth of our Lord, when "wise men" from the east brought tribute and gifts to his home in Bethlehem.

"Kings of Sheba" here -- together with Isa 60:6,7 (about the Arabian peoples, bringing gifts the enthroned Messiah) -- suggests that the "wise men" of the east who brought presents to the child Jesus (Mat 2:1-12) were not from Babylon or Persia, but from Edom and Arabia. Popular opinion has generally favored those regions further east, where "magi" or wise men were well-known; but the Scriptural evidence all points in another direction. One cannot refrain from musing that wise men from the same areas today would bring the precious gift (at least to the industrialized world) of oil. On further reflection, such a thought might not be so far-fetched after all. History could well repeat itself in the twenty-first century, when the King of the Jews returns to Israel.

Both Psa 72 and Isa 60 mention that the Gentiles were kings. In this case, the common Christmas tradition ("we three kings") has some basis in Scripture.

Reading 3 - Mark 5:13

"He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned" (Mar 5:13).

Consider the parallel between the man Legion and the whole nation of Israel at the time of the Exodus: Legion, like Israel of old, was "naked", destitute, and miserable, dwelling among the tombs (the pyramids -- monumental "tombs" -- in Egypt!), but now he sees the bodies of his enemies (the pigs corresponding to Pharaoh's army), perished and floating in the sea.

The evident madness of the man was transferred to the swine, but this does not prove the existence of literal demons, any more than the fact that the leprosy of Naaman cleaved to Gehazi implies that leprosy is caused by demons (2Ki 5:27).

Notice also: the unchosen uncleanness of the madman evoked mercy from Jesus, but the willful uncleanness of the swinekeeper called forth wrath.

AND WENT INTO THE PIGS: Possibly, this means that "the unclean spirits attacked the swine." What could have happened was this: the man himself rushed into the herd, stampeding them over the cliff, while at that very moment being healed himself of his illness. This seems to be the most natural explanation of the event.

The pigs rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. Thus is illustrated what might be called the Gadarene Swine Law: "Merely because the group is moving together in formation does not mean that the group is on the right course!"

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