Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Josh 20:2,3
"Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I
instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and
unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood"
These six cities of refuge could guarantee one's life for a
time, but not for eternity. This only the seventh city of refuge (that is, Zion:
Exo 21:13,14) can do. "We have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for
walls and bulwarks" (Isa 26:1).
With three cities west of Jordan, and three east, spaced out
from north to south, and the seventh city of refuge being Jerusalem, in the
approximate center of the land, the whole seven cities of refuge may be
compared, roughly, to the seven-branched lampstand, or menorah.
In the land of Canaan, cities of refuge were so arranged, that
any man might reach one of them within half a day at the most. The main roads
leading to each of the cities were strictly preserved, every river was bridged,
and every obstruction removed, so that the man who fled might find an unimpeded
path to the refuge. Once a year the city elders went along the roads and
inspected them -- nothing must cause the fugitive, through delay, to be
overtaken and slain. How wonderfully do the promises of the gospel remove
stumbling blocks from the way! Wherever there were side-roads and forks, there
were erected signposts, with the inscription upon them -- "This way to the city
Likewise, every ecclesia -- and every member of every ecclesia
-- ought to stand ready to direct every "fugitive" to the ultimate place of
safety. Signs should be erected, and nothing should be allowed to stand in the
way: "This is the way to the cross of Christ, and to the gospel of saving truth.
'Come unto Christ, and you will find rest!' "
Reading 2 - Isa 26:20
"Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind
you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by" (Isa
This verse alludes to both the ark of Noah (Gen 7:16) and the
passover of Moses (Exo 12:22,23) -- the doors shut, the protecting presence of
the angel of Yahweh, while all outside was hopelessness and death. But the most
direct historical context is the action of Hezekiah who, when he received the
threatening message from Sennacherib, promptly went to the house of God,
secluding himself there to pray (Isa 37:1,14,15). Thus was Jerusalem made a
strong city, the walls thereof appointed to salvation (Isa 26:1); and the people
who fled to the city were protected from the Assyrian host by the Divine Hand.
But the "chambers" of protection can be anywhere that a believer turns to God
for help. So Jesus can exhort his followers: "But when you pray, go into your
room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father,
who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Mat 6:6).
Jewish men wore a garment called a "talith", "talis", or
"prayer shawl", all the time, not just at prayer. "Talith" consists of two
Hebrew words; "tal" (tent) and "ith" (little). Thus, each man had his own little
tent. (The apostle Paul was a Jewish Pharisee, but also a tentmaker. Some
believe that he made prayer shawls, not tents to live in.) Since all Jews could
not worship in the Tent of Meeting at one time, God gave to each Jew his own
private sanctuary where he could meet with God. In prayer, the man would pull it
up over his head, forming a tent, where he could retreat to call upon Yahweh. It
was intimate, private, and set apart from anyone else -- enabling him to totally
focus upon God. It was his prayer closet.
Reading 3 - Heb 10:25
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit
of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day
approaching" (Heb 10:25).
Only two "rites" are absolutely commanded to the believer:
baptism, and the Breaking of Bread. By the first we join God's family, and by
the second we regularly reaffirm our membership in this family.
It is surprising that there are any with full opportunity to
attend regularly who are content to be at the Breaking of Bread just now and
then. For this most important service is essentially a thanksgiving. A casual
attitude toward it, with irregular attendance, in effect declares, "I am
thankful to God for the Lord Jesus Christ and what he has done for me, but not
much! And there are other things which I regard as being more
Put down in black and white, this looks horrible. But is there
really anything unfair about such a diagnosis?
Would there be such a careless attitude to the Table of the
Lord if it were properly appreciated what this meeting can mean? Consider the
familiar words, "My blood of the new covenant... shed... for the remission of
sins" (Mat 26:28).
Here is the identical phrase which is used about our baptism
into Christ. These two holy rites are designed to supplement one another.
Baptism washes away every sin committed up to that moment. But -- such is human
frailty and human thinking -- spotless robes of righteousness invariably begin
to become drab and soiled. However, the disciple who lives by faith in Christ
knows that with the Memorial Service comes remission (forgiveness) of sins.
There the robe of righteousness resumes its original brightness.
Yet faced with such startling but delightful truths as these,
there are some who are indifferent to this most important thing in life, and do
not mind openly asserting, by their lack of enthusiasm, that this is how they
From time to time, believers find themselves away from their
homes, and their home ecclesias, on a Sunday. Such times are fine opportunities
to get to know other Christadelphians, by attending memorial meetings of other
ecclesias. A little foresight and planning before weekend trips or vacations can
be spiritually rewarding, in experiencing at first hand the true worldwide
family fellowship of our brotherhood. A week or two spent on business in a
strange city far from home, rather than being a desolate and lonely time, can be
a wonderful time of sharing with people who are truly "family" -- family in a
more meaningful sense, quite often, than one's own natural family. As Jesus
"Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? Pointing to his
disciples, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the
will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" (Mat
There will be times, of course, when it will be clearly
impossible -- or extremely difficult -- to attend a Sunday meeting of
Christadelphians. What should be done then? The partaking of the bread and wine,
accompanied by suitable Bible readings and prayers, can be a tremendously fresh
and rewarding experience -- even for an individual or a couple temporarily
isolated from all other spiritual companionship.