The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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August 23

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

Reading 1 - 1Ki 18:45

"Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel" (1Ki 18:45).

This is the final embarrassment for Baal [the god of storm and rain!] and his worshipers. Who brings the rains back? Do they come back because Baal has escaped from the underworld, and finally has things under control? If the rains had come back without a demonstration of WHY they had come back, then the prophets of Baal could have passed off the three years as part of the natural cycle -- in which Baal[the god of rain] is periodically captured and controlled by Mott [the god of death]. But no... the prophets of Baal are given their opportunity to bring back the rain... and fail!

Elijah on the other hand prays to the God of Israel, and not only does fire come from heaven (an event often associated with Baal, the thunderer), but rain comes back! So in a public way the people of Israel were shown that the one who REALLY controlled the weather was Yahweh, rather than Baal, and the people were given something: a solid foundation of evidence upon which to base their faith.

Reading 2 - Jer 44:4

"Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, 'Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!' " (Jer 44:4).

The particular sin, of which the prophet was speaking, was that of idolatry. These Jews would make gods in some form or other, and then they would bow down before them, and neglect the worship of the one invisible Yahweh. The Almighty calls their idolatry a detestable, or abominable, thing -- and rightly so, for it is detestable ingratitude. That a man should not worship his Maker, that he should refuse obedience to his Creator, that he should say to Him who made the heavens and the earth, and who also made him, and sustains his being, 'I will not worship you; I refuse to bow down before you. I choose to adore another god -- Baal, Ashtaroth, Venus, Bacchus, anything but the one true God -- and I will not worship you'... this is the most shameful ingratitude.

It is also an abominable thing, because it is so degrading and debasing. Everybody ought to be able to see that, for a man with intellect and mind to bow himself down before a carved image, is most degrading. That he should worship that which is made of wood, or stone, or metal, is practically to make himself inferior to the dead thing which he worships. There is practically no act in which a man seems to bring himself lower than when he prostrates himself before any material object, and says, 'This is my god!' This is indeed loathsome; it is insulting to God, and provoking Him to the last degree.

Reading 3 - 1Co 3:16

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1Co 3:16).

"Every true son and daughter of the Lord God Almighty is a miniature tabernacle or temple, as saith Paul. Our minds should be a holy place lined with the gold of a tried faith, in which the one Christ-sacrifice for sins is continually offered, and the smoke of grateful incense, kindled by the fire of the altar, continually ascending, while deeply secreted in the innermost ark of the heart is the law of God in its remembrance, the scriptures in their affectionate study, the institutions of divine appointment in continual reverence, and the bread of God in its continual eating. Thus shall we be the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, misunderstood by all, hated by many, despised and rejected of men, persevering in a bitter probation that will end at last in life and light and joy everlasting" (Robert Roberts, "Law of Moses" 98).

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