The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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August 11

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

Reading 1 - 1Ki 6:7

"In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built" (1Ki 6:7).

All was brought perfectly ready for the exact spot it was to occupy -- and so is it with the "temple" which Jesus is building today; the making ready is all being done now: we are the living stones being made ready now (1Pe 2:5-9), and after the return of Christ, and the judgment, we will be brought to our proper places in God's "temple".

When we reach the Kingdom, there will be no more need to sanctify us there, no more need to square our corners with affliction, no more "smoothing" of our surfaces with suffering. No, we must be made ready HERE AND NOW -- Christ must do this work beforehand, even if it is painful (and it will be, in one way or another!).

But when he has finished that work, then we shall be brought by the angels to the heavenly Jerusalem, to abide as eternal pillars in the temple of our Lord.

"Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name" (Rev 3:12).

As regards Jesus: an iron (Roman) hammer was instrumental in the final shaping, outside the city, of "the stone which the builders rejected" into "the headstone of the corner". As a foundation cornerstone it was laid then, and as the head cornerstone it will, at his return, crown and complete the "living temple".

Reading 2 - Jer 32:17

"Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you" (Jer 32:17).

"At the very time when the Chaldeans surrounded Jerusalem, and when the sword, famine and pestilence had desolated the land, Jeremiah was commanded by God to purchase a field, and have the deed of transfer legally sealed and witnessed. This was a strange purchase for a rational man to make. Prudence could not justify it, for it was buying with scarcely a probability that the person purchasing could ever enjoy the possession. But it was enough for Jeremiah that his God had bidden him, for well he knew that God will be justified of all His children... This gave a majesty to the early saints, that they dared to do at God's command things which carnal reason would condemn. Whether it be a Noah who is to build a ship on dry land, an Abraham who is to offer up his only son, or a Moses who is to despise the treasures of Egypt, or a Joshua who is to besiege Jericho seven days, using no weapons but the blasts of rams' horns, they all act upon God's command, contrary to the dictates of carnal reason; and the Lord gives them a rich reward as the result of their obedient faith. Would to God we had in the religion of these modern times a more potent infusion of this heroic faith in God. If we would venture more upon the naked promise of God, we should enter a world of wonders to which as yet we are strangers. Let Jeremiah's place of confidence be ours -- nothing is too hard for the God that created the heavens and the earth" (CH Spurgeon).

Reading 3 - Mar 6:23

"And he [Herod] promised her [Salome, the daughter of Herodias] with an oath, 'Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom' " (Mar 6:23).

Compare this with Est 5:3; 5:6; 7:2 -- the same offer Ahasuerus made to Esther (but Herod's was hollow; he did not have the power!).

Similarities between the two incidents: feasting and drinking, plotting the death of others (Salome asking for the head of John the Baptist; Esther asking for the "head" of Haman!).

  1. Esther -- an orphan become queen; Salome -- daughter of a queen;
  2. Esther -- asking a favor in order to deliver God's people; Salome -- asking a favor in order to destroy God's prophet;
  3. Esther -- asking on behalf of Mordecai; Salome -- asking on behalf of Herodias;
  4. Esther -- had her opportunity because of the king's drunken pride; Salome -- ditto;
  5. Ahasuerus -- offered the half of the kingdom because he loved her; Herod -- offered the half of his kingdom because, drunk, he wanted to show off.
  6. Esther -- took the good advice of her uncle; Salome -- took the bad advice of her mother.
Thanks to Herodias, Herod later lost all his kingdom and was banished to Gaul.

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