The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 23

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

Reading 1 - Exo 36:1-5

"So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded. Then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work" (Exo 36:1,2).

Those who have received ability from the Lord are at the same time being called to the building of the LORD's "tabernacle" -- which is the house in which he dwells, the community of believers. Ability and willingness, along with resolution, are the tools to be desired in the call of builders in God's house. The talents we are entrusted with must not be tucked away in a napkin, but put to use. Why do we have our gifts, if not to do good with them?


"They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses, 'The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be done' " (vv 3-5).

The materials which the people had contributed were delivered by Moses to the workmen. They could not "create" a tabernacle -- they could not make it out of nothing -- they could not work, unless they had something to work with and upon. And so the people therefore brought the materials and Moses put them into the hands of the builders.

Morning after morning the people brought more freewill offerings, until there was more than enough. What a testimonial to their loving service, and to their desire to forward the building of God's house! Like the Macedonians at a much later date, "their overflowing joy... welled up in rich generosity... [and] they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will" (2Co 8:2-5).

Reading 2 - Psa 95:3,4

"For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods" (Psa 95:3).

Yahweh is above all the "gods" ("elohim") of Egypt. Here is an allusion back to the first Passover (Exo 12:12). The ten plagues seem to have been designed by God as direct attacks upon the specific "gods" of the Egyptians, to show that their "power" was no match for His.

Perhaps there is a double meaning here: God is above both all human rulers ("elohim", as in Psa 82:1,6) and above all man-made "gods" (Isa 40:18-20; 45:21,22; etc).


"In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him" (Psa 95:4).

To God belong both the "depths" and the "heights" (RSV) -- and so we should rejoice in both trials and blessings. And if the greatest extremes (both of the physical creation and of the lives of His children) belong to God, then of course everything else between those extremes likewise belongs to Him.

Reading 3 - 1Co 6:19

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own" (1Co 6:19).

Temple worship in Israel was an awesome prospect, especially when the glory of God's presence filled the most holy place! Imagine your fear, your sense of frailty, your concern for personal purity, if you were called to serve inside the Temple of God. As the law prescribed, the priest who entered the holy place was to make offering for his own sins before standing before God to offer sacrifice for the people's sins. And sins committed outside the Temple would have to be covered before worship could take place. Imagine then the calamity that would occur if a worshiper actually committed sin inside the Temple. It would be an atrocity of the worst kind. To commit sin in the Temple would be unthinkable -- and possibly fatal! With this picture in mind, Paul addressed believers who were immersed in the immoral and sexually-oriented culture of Corinth. To them the picture of committing immorality inside a place of worship would hit home, since temple prostitution was common in Corinth's pagan religions.

What must have had the greatest impact on Paul's readers, though, was not simply the distasteful idea of a person sinning inside a place of worship. It was the fact that their very bodies were now the temple of the Holy Spirit! This meant that for a believer to commit any kind of immorality would be the same as a worshiper committing sin in the most solemn place of worship. The rationale is clear: if our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then we must not profane that temple with any sort of sexual immorality. The alternative is to "honor God with your body," in the same way that a place of worship would be put to its proper use.

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