The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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March 14

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

Reading 1 - Lev 22:20,21

"Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf" (Lev 22:20).

This prohibition is elaborated upon in Deu 15:21; 17:1: any would-be offering which is lame or blind or has any obvious flaw must not be brought. Likewise, the prophet Malachi warns, "When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong?" (Mal 1:8,13,14).

Of course, in the fulfillment of the "type" or "prophecy" of the Law of Moses, the only sacrifice that was absolutely perfect and without defect was the Lord Jesus Christ, who "offered himself unblemished to God" (Heb 9:14; cp 1Pe 1:19).

"When anyone brings from the herd or flock a fellowship offering... it must be without defect or blemish to be acceptable" (Lev 22:21).

And as the offering should be, so also the OFFERER should be! The one who comes into the presence of the LORD to offer sacrifice must also be above reproach, even as regards interpersonal relationships: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift" (Mat 5:23,24).

Of course, in the ultimate sense, such verses as these are reminders to us that -- no matter how well we may prepare ourselves -- we are NOT perfect: we have many defects and blemishes, and were it not for the one perfect, all-encompassing sacrifice of Christ, for all people and all time, we would be utterly without hope. Flesh cannot boast of itself in the presence of God; it must humbly and thankfully take hold of the One who is truly without blemish, seeking through him for the forgiveness which it so desperately needs.

Reading 2 - Psa 126:5,6

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Psa 126:5,6).

"Blessed are they that mourn (now), for they shall be comforted" (Mat 5:4). No one but the Master can so touch the heart and spirit of man, and convince us that our consolation shall be infinitely sweeter than any bitter affliction. Our thoughts are transported from the days of the Psalmist to those of the Roman occupation, when God's people wept in the long night of Zion's captivity. In their bondage they cried to God for a deliverer, and He heard them. But God's timetable again called for a sowing in tears before there could be a reaping in joy: "Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

From the hill of death, as the shadows lengthened, a little group trudged their forlorn way to a new tomb carved out of a hillside. There they deposited their precious burden; the hungry earth reclaimed its own. The "seed" was planted and watered with their tears, and they returned in sorrow to their homes. Daylight came, and night, and day again, and behold... a stirring! The annual miracle of sowing and reaping found its counterpart in a "harvest" of the highest order. God gave the increase, the "seed" sprouted and grew, though man knew not how.

"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. Ye now therefore have sorrow," he had told them. "But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" (John 16:21,22).

Into the city they ran, with a song of joy on their lips and in their hearts. It is a "harvest song" of thanksgiving which has never ceased from that day to this, no, nor ever shall. It is a song passed from one to another, sung by each new generation with a wonder that is always fresh. It is a song of joy to gladden the heart of the weariest disciple with the prospect of a day when all tears shall cease (Rev 21:4), and the sorrowful sowing of the "night" will be only a memory.

Reading 3 - Luk 5:12,13

"When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, 'Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.' Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' And immediately the leprosy left him" (Luk 5:12,13).

The man was "filled" with leprosy (v 12); but Jesus was "filled" with compassion (Mar 1:41)! He reached out his hand: the heart of compassion moves the hand of power!

And he touched the leprous man: "Whatever touches any of the flesh [of the sin offering] will become holy" (Lev 6:27). But both Elijah and Elisha contracted "defilement" by touching the dead (1Ki 17:21; 2Ki 4:34). Jesus, however, was a High Priest "touched" with the feelings of our infirmities (Heb 4:15), yet he was not defiled in the least.

Moreover, by his touch he REMOVED the defilement from others!
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