Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Deu 30:19
"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you
that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose
life, so that you and your children may live" (Deu 30:19).
"Keep in direct contact with God at all times. Keep the
communication line open. This is our lifeline. When this is broken or neglected,
we are dead. Reading the Word, meditating on the Word -- these strengthen the
line, tighten all the connections, clear away the impediment, keep the channel
clear, and the power flowing. Pray without ceasing: it has limitless,
measureless power. These divine things are real and actual: more so than what we
can handle and see" (GV Growcott).
Reading 2 - Isa 2:1
"This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and
Jerusalem" (Isa 2:1).
"We do not know anything of Isaiah's family or of the details
of his upbringing. He was a member of some family of Jerusalem, and in intimate
relations with the Court. It has been believed that he was of royal blood, but
it matters little whether this be true or not. A spirit so wise and masterful as
his did not need social rank to fit it for that intimacy with princes which has
doubtless suggested the legend of his royal descent. What does matter is
Isaiah's citizenship in Jerusalem, for this colours all his prophecy. More than
Athens to Demosthenes, Rome to Juvenal, Florence to Dante, is Jerusalem to
Isaiah. She is his immediate and ultimate regard, the centre and return of all
his thoughts, the hinge of the history of his time, the one thing worth
preserving amidst its disasters, the summit of those brilliant hopes with which
he fills the future. He has traced for us the main features of her position and
some of the lines of her construction, many of the great figures of her streets,
the fashions of her women, the arrival of embassies, the effect of rumours. He
has painted her aspect in triumph, in siege, in famine, and in earthquake; war
filling her valleys with chariots, and again nature rolling tides of
fruitfulness up to her gates; her moods of worship and panic and profligacy --
till we see them all as clearly as the shadow following the sunshine, and the
breeze the breeze, across the cornfields of our own summers.
"If he takes wider observation of mankind, Jerusalem is his
watch-tower. It is for her defence he battles through fifty years of
statesmanship, and all his prophecy may be said to travail in anguish for her
new birth. He was never away from her walls, but not even the psalms of the
captives by the rivers of Babylon, with the desire of exile upon them, exhibit
more beauty and pathos than the lamentations which Isaiah poured upon
Jerusalem's sufferings or the visions in which he described her future solemnity
"It is not with surprise, therefore, that we find the first
prophecies of Isaiah directed upon his mother city" (GA Smith,
Reading 3 - Acts 28:30
"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house
and welcomed all who came to see him" (Acts 28:30).
Or "at his own expense" (RSV) welcoming all visitors, to whom
he spoke of the Kingdom of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ "quite openly and
unhindered" (RSV). Here (vv 30,31) is a clear testimony to the legality of
Christianity: Paul, even while a prisoner, is allowed to preach it even in Rome!
"During this period he also wrote to the believers at Ephesus,
Philippi and Colosse, and sent the letter to Philemon. Luke thus establishes
that Paul bore witness in Rome to the resurrected Christ as the Lord had
foretold, but there is no reference in Acts to Paul appearing before Caesar as
the angel had foretold (Act 27:23,24); an event which Luke would surely have
recorded if it had taken place when he wrote. It can be assumed then that Paul
remained a prisoner chained to a Roman guard during the two years" ("Testimony"