The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 18

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

Reading 1 - Exo 29:20

"Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then sprinkle blood against the altar on all sides" (Exo 29:20).

The full consecration of the High Priest and his sons involved four aspects, and in all of them Christ is prefigured:

(1) Firstly, the right ear, which of course includes the head, was sprinkled or purified with the blood of the sacrifice. This purifying plainly touches hearing, and thus the intellect -- and stresses that the cleansing of the great priest who would represent all the people was a mental one, in which he knowingly and willingly participated.

In like manner, Christ himself, the greater High Priest of a more perfect Law, voluntarily participated in the shedding of his own blood, and was consecrated a High Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Heb 7). This aspect of his cleansing -- for his obedience in sacrifice was surely for himself as well as others -- found its fulfillment when the crown of thorns was brutally crushed down upon his head and his ears.

(2) Secondly, Aaron and his sons were cleansed when the blood of the sacrifice was placed on the thumbs of their right hands. This would signify that their hands, and the works of those hands, would be consecrated, or dedicated, to Yahweh.

Likewise, Christ's hands, being pierced with the Roman spikes, were consecrated to the work of his Father. And those hands had always done the work that his Father called him to do; this work was finalized on the cross at Golgotha.

(3) Thirdly, Aaron and his sons received the blood of the big toes of their right feet; the feet would signify their "walk", or general conduct.

This portion of the picture as regarding Christ was completed when the nails pierced his feet also. As his walk, his life, all his conduct, had glorified God... so did his final steps which brought him to the cross, to lay down his life, his perfect life, for others.

(4) Finally, the remaining blood was sprinkled against the altar on all sides: thus signifying that all who stood with Aaron and his sons around the altar on which they would offer sacrifice -- that is, all the nation of Israel -- were participants in this consecration.

This final aspect of the High Priest's consecration has great meaning for all of us; we stand round about the "altar" (which is Christ: Heb 13:10), and thus we are touched, indirectly, by the blood of Christ, in our belief and baptism into his death (Rom 6). Figuratively speaking, when his side was pierced and the blood flowed forth to stain the soil round about the cross, we were there, and we were touched by that sprinkled blood, and our sins were forgiven.

Let us stand, or rather kneel, with awe and reverence and the deepest gratitude, at the foot of the cross. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

Reading 2 - Psa 85:10,11

"Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other" (Psa 85:10).

This was the age-old question: how could a pure God, who could not even look upon sin, save a world of sinners?

But in God's work of salvation through His Son, two disparate (one might almost say, two mutually exclusive elements) are at work together. God's righteousness is declared and vindicated in the sacrifice of His Son (Rom 3:21-31), and on that basis -- the recognition of His righteousness, or holiness -- God is pleased also to show His mercy, in the forgiveness of sins.

Thus it is a wonderful miracle that, in and through Jesus, the truth of God and the mercy and grace of God are met together in one. This mercy (grace) and truth have been manifested in the Word made flesh (Joh 1:14-18). These divine attributes parted company at the fall of the first Adam, when God's holiness decreed an exile from the "garden" of His presence. But now they have been joined together again with the coming of the last Adam! The irreproachable righteousness of God may save sinners, and bring them "peace" (joy, fellowship, and reconciliation with Himself), without any diminishing of His absolutely righteous character, because of the mediatorship of His Son.

And thus v 10 makes possible v 11... "Faithfulness springs forth from the earth" -- the Son of God comes forth from the grave, because it was not possible that the grave could hold a perfectly righteous man -- "and righteousness looks down from heaven" -- the Father smiles upon this deliverance of His Son, and upon all those sinners who in faith grasp and hold onto the feet of the resurrected Christ. Thanks be to God!

Reading 3 - Mark 14:36

" 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will' " (Mar 14:36).

"At every step in that last week at Jerusalem we see Jesus master of the situation and not its victim, controlling events even when men think they have him in their power, making the hour for preparation for the disciples and himself, choosing the time for his rendezvous with his enemies. Master at every moment, shall we say, but one -- the mystery of the agony in the garden of the Olive Press when he prays that the cup may pass, yet submits his own will to his Father's. During this week and up to his breathing out his life upon the Cross he more completely than ever lives out the things that were written. Thus it must be -- the Son of Man must suffer. Yet he is not merely acting a preordained role; he is meeting his enemies with all the power of his mind and the depth of his own knowledge of 'the scriptures, and the power of God'. It is they who are fulfilling the prophecy; he knows the course it will take, and he lives it through as the Lamb of God, but he grieves as he sees them going in all assurance the way to their own forewritten doom, judging themselves while they think they are judging him" (LG Sargent, "Mark" 212).

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