Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Num 13:31--14:4
"But the men who had gone up with him said, 'We can't attack
those people; they are stronger than we are.' And they spread among the
Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, 'The land
we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great
size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the
Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same
to them.' That night all the people of the community raised their voices and
wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole
assembly said to them, 'If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!' " (Num
Spiritually, they did "die in Egypt", for they never
completely left. Physically, they died in the wilderness, short of the Promised
Land (Num 14:28,29) -- all that generation, except for Joshua and Caleb,
perished before reaching the land God had promised to them.
" 'Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us
fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it
be better for us to go back to Egypt?' And they said to each other, 'We should
choose a leader and go back to Egypt' " (Num 14:3,4).
Egypt was the symbol of sin and bondage (Joh 8:34; Rom 6:16;
Tit 3:3; 2Pe 2:19). It had held their fathers in bondage, until death, and now
although this generation was "free" of Egypt -- physically -- it still held
their souls, their minds, and their hearts in bondage; and they would never
"One bold push forward, and their feet would tread on their
inheritance. But, as is so often the case, courage oozed out at the decisive
moment, and cowardice, disguised as prudence, called for 'further information,'
that cuckoo-cry of the fainthearted" (J Sidlow Baxter, "Explore the Book"
Reading 2 - Pro 10:22
"The blessing of the LORD brings wealth, and he adds no
trouble to it" (Pro 10:22).
Does this mean that there will be no trouble in life for those
who are blessed by God? Of course not! It means that -- while there will
inevitably be troubles in life for EVERYONE -- the special spiritual blessings
that come from God will never add more troubles to those which must come.
"Material blessings, however real and desirable they may be,
always bring an accompaniment of sorrow. It is a blessing to live as a human
being, but 'man is born to trouble'. It is a blessing to have good parents, but
the better they are the sadder it is to lose them, and go they must. It is a
blessing to have health and strength, some say the greatest of personal
blessings, but the strong man who has never ailed feels most keenly the loss of
strength when his time comes. It is sad for a man to be cut off in his prime
while still he had seemed capable of doing good work, but it is still sadder for
him to live on until all powers have failed. Yet in merely human life it is one
end or the other for all of us. It is a great blessing for a man to find a
'help' 'meet for him'. The Proverbs express this thought more than once. 'Whoso
findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.' Yet from
this blessing arises the most poignant sorrow that a human being can experience,
for the years pass by like the turning of the pages of a book, and the time of
inevitable parting is only a few leaves further on.
"It is a great blessing to have children, yet all parents
experience the addition of sorrow, for even if the children all live, even if
they are strong, virtuous and fortunate, they have nevertheless entered an evil
world, the way cannot be all smooth for them and parents must share their
troubles and anxieties as long as life may last. So even at the best there is an
addition of sorrow and too often we do not experience the best. Disease and
death or folly and misfortune so often add to the sorrows of parents.
"If we wanted to imagine a human being who should be free from
all such pain, we should have to think of one without blessings, without friends
or companions; one leading an animal life and finding it hard work to live at
all. He would have no real sorrow because he had no real joys, and death would
not be an enemy, because life had never been a friend.
"Sometimes we have seen the close of an unusually serene and
happy life. It seems that nearly all possible blessings have attended. Husband
and wife have spent an ideal married life and have grown old together without
any serious failing of their mental powers or any of that hardening angularity
which so often mars the last chapter. They have grown mellow with the advance of
years, and when nearly all of their generation have passed away, they have lived
feebly on, commanding the love and respect of all who knew them. Then one day
the messenger of death has arrived, hastening as if to make up for delay. One of
the lives is taken by disease and the other nickers out through the shock of
parting. 'They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death were not
divided', as we heard quoted over the grave of such a pair. A sympathetic
observer remarks on the sadness of the end. The one spared by disease could not
survive the shock of separation after so many years of close companionship, and
so quickly followed to darkness and silence. It is rightly described as sad, and
yet it is the best that human life has to offer. It is far more sad to be torn
in two while there is still sufficient strength to survive the shock and so live
on. Saddest of all perhaps for life to become so painful that death is a
"It is so with all ordinary blessings of life, but not with
the special blessing offered by God to all who will hear His call. Spiritual
riches which can be ours even now, bring no conclusions of disgust or sadness,
nor any fear of being robbed. They will not save us from the sorrows of human
life, but they will help us to bear the pain. They do not arrest the process of
decay in the dark streets of a Gentile city, but they give us hope of a better
city to come" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs" 191-194).
Reading 3 - Luk 23:11
"Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.
Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate" (Luk
The KJV calls these soldiers "men of war" -- a phrase which is
true enough to the original text, but is especially apt, as an example of
supreme irony! What "men of war" they were! Courageous and unrelenting in their
mockery of a man who could not -- or, more precisely, would not -- defend
We cannot help but remember that an earlier Herod -- father of
this one -- had sent his "men of war" out to the village of Bethlehem, where
they seized the babies from their mothers, and butchered them (Mat 2:16)!
The world has such "men of war" today -- they may be seen
executing innocents and raping young women, stealing from the poor, and
polluting themselves with every vice, in the "third-world" backwaters of the
world... whose sole claims to legitimacy are cheap uniforms and deadly weapons,
who serve men every bit as vile as the Herods.
May the true "Man of war" return soon, riding on a white
horse, and leading the armies of heaven, to destroy once and for all such
would-be "men of war" (Rev 19:11-14)!