Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Deu 26
"This important law concerning tithes is brought before the
ecclesia of Moses. It reinforced the wisdom of the Deity that He requires a
return from that with which He blesses His people. It is only right that this be
so. And the liberality of Yahweh is revealed in the fact that the tithe was only
a tenth of the whole, as representative of all the divine blessings.
Significantly, this chapter concludes the Mosaic Code, and completes the
instruction. The tithe thus summarizes the believer's attitude towards his God.
"Moses speaks concerning (1) confession of dependence to be
made when presenting the firstfruits: vv 1-11; (2) confession made when
presenting tithes by the third year: vv 12-15; and (3) Moses' solemn admonition
to observe these laws and statues: vv 16-19.
"The section shows Yahweh as the Giver of Good (Jam 1:17). The
memorial Name of 'Yahweh thy Elohim' is used 299 times in Deuteronomy. It
expresses a personal and exclusive relationship between Yahweh and Israel. This
was expressed by the ritual of the tithing. Every Israelite had to individually
avow that the inheritance he enjoyed was from Yahweh and not by personal merit.
It thus proclaimed the doctrine of grace and gratitude, the offering in return
thus being one of understanding and reason (Rom 12:1). In presenting his 'basket
of firstfruits,' the worshipper pledged his life and service to Yahweh. And in
presenting the tithes every three years, he had to publicly declare that he had
withheld nothing that was Yahweh's due (v 14); and Yahweh, on the basis of that,
invoked a blessing upon the people and the land" (Grahame Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Song 6:12
"Before I realized it, my desire set me among the royal
chariots of my people [Or, among the chariots of the people of the prince]"
These phrases have been repointed and retranslated and
reinterpreted in many ways; the meaning is uncertain. As it stands, it appears
the bride of the shepherd is swept off her feet... to find herself riding in one
of the King/General's war-chariots.
One interpretation of the whole is this: she who had been
seeking her lover, the simple shepherd, suddenly and surprisingly finds herself
in the company of a great king and leader of the army -- who IS her
shepherd-lover! He has had, in effect, a dual identity! Perhaps this whole Song
is intended to emphasize this point, among others: that the Good Shepherd with
whom we fell in love, who loved us and laid down his life for us, will be found
-- at the last -- to be as well the great King and Ruler of the World. The
loving "husband" will also be the victorious "general" and all-powerful monarch:
'Here, my Beloved, is the wedding present I bring to you: all the nations of the
earth! Our inheritance!"
Notice also the conjoining of these two disparate figures in
the last book of the Bible: the bride/marriage/love figure and the
general/war/battle/victory figure (Rev 19-21). Our Lord is both the "lamb" slain
from the foundation of the world -- and the great "lion of the tribe of Judah"!
Surely this is intended to evoke an echo of the surprise of the young woman in
the Song of Songs!
Reading 3 - Acts 21:17
"When we arrived at Jerusalem, the brothers received us
warmly. The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the
elders were present. Paul greeted them and reported in detail what God had done
among the Gentiles through his ministry" (Acts 21:17-19).
Since he had last "greeted the ecclesia" at Jerusalem (Act
18:22), Paul had:
consolidated his labors in Galatia and Phrygia;
flourishing center for the Truth in Ephesus;
strengthened the brethren in
Asia, Macedonia, and Achaia;
vigorously corrected heresy and wrong conduct;
taken up alms for Jewish brethren; and
helped the ecclesias at
Miletus, Tyre, Acre, and Caesarea --
all in the face of bitter opposition and violence!