The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

Previous Index Next

August 21

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

Reading 1 - 1Ki 16

"Next [in the line of Israel's kings] came Elah, a drunkard, who in turn was a murderer (1Ki 16:8,9). His successor, Zimri, was guilty of 'treason' (1Ki 16:20). He was followed by a military adventurer of the name of Omri, and of him we are told, 'but Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger with their vanities' (1Ki 16:25,26).

"The evil cycle was completed by Omri's son, for he was even more vile than those who had preceded him. 'And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him' (1Ki 16:30,31).

"This marriage of Ahab to a heathen princess was, as might fully be expected (for we cannot trample God's Law beneath our feet with impunity), fraught with the most frightful consequences. In a short time all trace of the pure worship of [Yahweh] vanished from the land and gross idolatry became rampant. The golden calves were worshipped at Dan and Bethel, a temple had been erected to Baal in Samaria, the 'groves' of Baal appeared on every side, and the priests of Baal took full charge of the religious life of Israel.

"It was openly declared that Baal lived and that [Yahweh] ceased to be. What a shocking state of things had come to pass is clear from, 'And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him' (1Ki 16:33).

"Defiance of the Lord God and blatant wickedness had now reached their culminating point. This is made still further evident by this: 'in his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho' (v 34). Awful effrontery was this, for of old it had been recorded, 'Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn and in his youngest son shall be set up the gates of it' (Josh 6:26). The rebuilding of the accursed Jericho was open defiance of God.

"Now it was in the midst of this spiritual darkness and degradation that there appeared on the stage of public action, with dramatic suddenness, a solitary but striking witness to and for the living God" (AW Pink, "The Life of Elijah").

Reading 2 - Jer 42

In Jer 42, the remnant of Judah posed the question to Jeremiah: "Should we go down into Egypt?" Despite an apparent profession of faith, we may detect in the people's inquiry of God through Jeremiah the signs of neglect of God and His laws. First of all, we see that they "approached" (v 1) Jeremiah -- which suggests a habitual distance from Yahweh. Secondly, they appear to be "buttering up" the prophet, as though this might gain them a better message from Yahweh. Thirdly, they make no confession of sin. (Notice also the revealing phrase: "the Lord YOUR God": v 2.)

Their subsequent behavior showed also that they were hypocritical in their whole attitude: whatever God might tell them, they had already decided to go to Egypt. They had made up their mind as to what was best for them to do, as their previous flight to this point had already proved. With one foot in Canaan, as it were, and another out of it, they now pretended -- at this late date -- to inquire of God. This is a very common practice, but it is one which not only robs prayer of its meaning and power, but also brings upon the head of those who are guilty of it a grievous curse. And so it happened again.

Reading 3 - Mar 16:15

"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mar 16:15).

"The two great challenges which face the body of Christ today are not from rationalism, science, orthodox religion or ecumenism -- even though all these have brought problems to us as they have to previous generations. They are materialism and the unfinished work of witness which lies upon us. Materialism implies that the present span of mortal existence is the supreme goal of human effort. In this connection, perhaps the Bible School movement may be viewed as one of the most important in our generation -- offering a reminder that man does not live by bread alone, and providing an all too rare haven from a world seeking wealth, status, power and fame. And in relation to the second challenge, of worldwide witness, in the formation of the several Bible Mission committees and the work of those who voluntarily assist them, we may hopefully see a new determination to discharge our present responsibilities to a world adrift" (Alan Eyre, "Protestors" 189).

Previous Index Next