The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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March 16

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

Reading 1 - Lev 24:4

"The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually" (Lev 24:4).

As "priests" of God, we tend our "lamps" by daily study and meditation on the word of God, which is OUR lamp and light: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Psa 119:105).

"Is it not the essential condition of even human friendship that enlightenment should be a thing of normal habit? But enlightenment is not native: darkness is. Enlightenment to be attained or retained must be kindled by external appliance, and there must be renewal. Light the lamp and leave it, and it will become dark again. It is so on all subjects, especially the knowledge of God, for which the mind has the least affinity. Dress the lamps every morning. Read the Bible every day. This will keep you supplied with oil that will cause light. 'Thy word is light': it is the light. 'Thy word is truth': it is the truth. Any other truth is darkness for the highest purpose of life, as all men will feel when suddenly confronted with the glory of God at the coming of Christ. Knowledge of mines: knowledge of metals: knowledge of countries: knowledge of languages or of physical elements -- is all very well in its place: it is the knowledge of God and His ways and His intentions and His will that constitutes the true light of life" (Robert Roberts, "Law of Moses" 192).

In Christ's parable, the foolish virgins did not tend their individual lamps as they should, so that they ran out of oil. When the Bridegroom arrived, they were not prepared to go forth and meet him; sadly, they found the door shut in their faces (Mat 25:3,8,9).

Reading 2 - Psa 131

"My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore" (Psa 131:1-3).

It requires little imagination to see in this short and touching psalm a cameo of our Savior's life. From an out-of-the-way stable in Bethlehem to a criminal's cross outside the walls of Jerusalem, his every moment was a living testament to meekness and humility. The child born to kingship obediently submitted himself to poor parents and grew to maturity in the most lowly of surroundings. The tools of a common tradesman were his, this young man who listened to the voice of God. And afterward, when God in His own good time called His Son to service, his ears like the Father's were attuned to the cries of the weak and the suffering: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Mat 11:28,29).

Childlike faith was his sure possession; he often found pleasant respite in the eager enthusiasm and simple trust of children (Mat 18:1-4). They came to him and he taught them; his word was simple and pure. The lilies of the field, the beasts and fowls, the seed and the sower, the fishermen at their toil, were all arrayed as exhortations to childlike faith and dependence upon the Heavenly Father, and the "children" (whether six or sixty) understood. They gathered round him and found a new purpose in life. Surely the words of Jeremiah were written for this man: "The Lord is my portion... therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth" (Lam 3:24-27).

Reading 3 - Luk 7:14,15

"Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, 'Young man, I say to you, get up!' The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother" (Luk 7:14,15).

"So it was that among the hills of Galilee overlooking the plain that has been and is yet to be so typical of man's conflict and death, the apostles learned the highest ministry of their Lord. Multitudes would continue to stream forth from the city gate bearing their dead. But the Redeemer had come to say to those that mourned, 'Weep not', and to follow his words of love with power so great that death itself could not prevail against it. A wave of awe swept the people. God was glorified: His prophet was acknowledged and his fame spread abroad.

"The great tragedy is that the beneficent effect faded with the passing years, and the Lord of Life was to take a lonely road to the garden grave. The tragedy continues despite the final triumph of the empty tomb. The multitudes pass by unheeding, or pause to watch and wonder and forget. Only the disciples remain. But to them he gives power to become the sons of God. Though death may step in to rob them of their promise now, he who is alive for evermore and has the keys of the grave and of death, will one day stand at the graveside to crown their mortal strivings with eternal blessings" (Melva Purkis, "The Life of Jesus" 152,153).

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