Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Exo 37:1
"Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood" (Exo 37:1...).
"[The] first and most characteristic feature [of the ark] is
its capacity as a container. It was constructed to receive the tables of the
law, inscribed by the finger of God: and afterwards were placed in it Aaron's
rod that budded, and a golden pot containing a sample of the manna with which
God fed Israel in the wilderness for forty years. On the basis of which things
concealed in the ark, rested the blood-sprinkled cover lid or mercy-seat,
overshadowed by the cherubic figures bearing the glory of God.
"Taking these items separately, we shall see the most perfect
correspondence between shadow and substance. The Christ-body [meaning 'all of
those believers joined together in Christ'] in the largest sense is a container
and not a mere utensil of beauty. It is not a mere society of beautiful men and
women ignorant of God and interested only in themselves. It is a society with
internal contents to make it precious to God and advantageous to man.
"First of all, the law of God, as represented by the tables of
stone, is enshrined in every heart. It is this that distinguishes them from the
ordinary run of human beings. The ordinary run of human beings is fitly
described in the words of Paul: 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God. They are foolishness unto him' (1Co 2:14). Also, 'The carnal mind
is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can
be' (Rom 8:7). What a dreadful picture. It is ugly and true. A man that is not
subject to the law of God is an abortion even now: how much more if such a one
were immortal. Such a one cannot become immortal. The ark with its tables of
stone inside is a prophecy that excludes it. It is obedience to divine law that
makes a man beautiful to man and well-pleasing to God, and fit for divine use in
the age to come. The purpose is to give the earth into the hands of an order of
men who have learnt obedience as the first law. Paul testifies that even Christ
'learnt obedience by the things which he suffered' (Heb 5:8), and Peter
describes the accepted members of his body as 'obedient children, not fashioning
themselves according to the former lusts in their ignorance' (1Pe 1:14). The
Psalms are full of the enunciation of this principle: indeed we may say it
shines everywhere in the Scriptures: 'The mouth of the righteous speaketh
wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart:
none of his steps shall slide' (Psa 37:30). Christ affirmed of himself that it
was his meat and his drink to do the will of Him that sent him" (LM
Reading 2 - Psa 96:8
"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering
and come into his courts" (Psa 96:8).
"To divest ourselves of all pride of achievement and to humble
ourselves before the Father is a prerequisite to worshipping Him; for this ought
to be our first reason for praying to Him. The scientists who unravel some of
the secrets of the molecule and the genes; the astronomer who peers out into
frighteningly vast space; and the astronauts who photograph the beauties of
nature's colours on earth, all proclaim the wondrous and mighty works of God.
They unfold for us a multitude of reasons for our humble worship of the Father,
and the Psalms must often put into words for us what we feel about His Majesty"
(John Marshall, "The New Life" 94).
Reading 3 - 1Co 7:12,13
"If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is
willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband
who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce
him" (1Co 7:12,13).
In this section, Paul is answering questions from the ecclesia
(1Co 7:1). The believers had probably asked something like: "What is the
position of a man or woman already 'married' under Gentile law at the time of
his or her baptism? Is he or she to be considered by the ecclesia as a married
person? Or should the 'marriage' entered into before learning the Truth be
considered no marriage at all? If this is the case, can such a new brother or
sister take steps to end the legal union and leave the unbelieving partner?"
In a situation like that described in Acts, where "many of the
Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (Act 18:8), there would
inevitably be a number of cases where one mate accepted the Truth but the other
did not. How were they to react in this difficult situation? In answer, the
apostle Paul describes the unbelieving partner as "a wife" or "a husband" who
believes not. That is to say, he regards the brother or sister concerned as
being truly and properly married to his/her partner, no matter under what
situation or what law the ceremony had been performed. This ought therefore to
be the attitude of the ecclesia in the matter. If two people are regarded as
married by generally accepted law, then the ecclesia should also recognize them
as married -- with all the Scriptural implications that such recognition carries
with it. Thus the apostle lays upon the one believing partner in such a case
exactly the same obligations to maintain the union (vv 12,13) as he has
previously laid upon two believing partners (vv 10,11). The baptism of one
partner in an existing marriage does not give that one any authority or right to
seek to terminate the marriage -- in fact, the apostle Paul teaches the very
opposite: the believing partner should use the marriage relationship (and the
practical application of the spiritual lessons of marriage), even in trying
circumstances, in such a way as to seek to bring the other to salvation (v