The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 22

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

Reading 1 - Exo 35:20-22

"Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses' presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD" (Exo 35:20-22).

Idolatry and immorality are often linked to such items of jewelry in the ancient Near East. The gold ornaments obtained from the Egyptians (Exo 3:22; 11:2; 12:35) were actually plunder (Exo 12:36). Possibly the gold ornaments had a direct association with the false worship of the Egyptians (cp Amo 5:26). And so the putting off of Israel's ornaments and jewelry was an appropriate act of repentance, because these ornaments were similar to those which had been contributed to make the golden calf (Exo 32:2-4). These images seem to have had an idolatrous association with the past, with pagan gods. Thus, to put off these ornaments was to show Israel's repentance over the golden calf incident.

It looks as though the Israelites never again put on these ornaments: "So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb" (Exo 33:6). Probably these ornaments, which the Israelites put off here, were later offered to God to be used for the furnishings of the Tabernacle (Exo 35:21,22). As implements of idolatry, these golden ornaments were fit only for destruction. But as tokens of Israel's repentance, these ornaments were fit for use in the Tabernacle furnishings, in the very presence of God. In this way the "idols" of Egypt were still made to serve the One true God!

Reading 2 - Psa 93:5

"Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD" (Psa 93:5).

"We must be solid and consistent from outer surface to inner core. If we relax into foolishness or fleshiness in our non-ecclesial activities, our 'holiness' is a sham and a delusion. True saints are saints at all times, under all circumstances, or they are not saints at all. Holiness cannot be donned or shed at whim or convenience" (GVG).

Thus Isa 6:3 is brought to fruition: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory."

When Yahweh truly reigns (v 1), then all will be holiness to Him (v 5; Zec 14:20,21; cp Psa 97:12; 99:9). But it is also true that, even now, God's spiritual House is -- or should be -- holy (1Co 3:17).

Reading 3 - 1Co 4:7

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" (1Co 4:7).

"The prideful individual nullifies Divine grace because he or she does not see the need for it. By whatever measure they have falsely valued themselves -- be it works or knowledge or wealth or whatever -- they have greatly overestimated themselves in the face of their Creator. The Pharisee, despite all of his knowledge of the Scriptures, did not understand who and what he was, but prayed instead saying, 'God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are...' [Luk 18:11]. The Pharisee did not see himself as a sinner -- which was absurd. It is only when we see our utter worthlessness that we attain value in the eyes of God. As James puts it, 'Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up' (Jam 4:10)" (Kyle Tucker).

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