Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Ki 17
In 2Ki 17, "Hoshea conspired against Pekah, and ascended the
throne with the connivance of Assyria (2Ki 15:30). Thus he had to pay homage and
tribute to the Assyrian Power. Having successfully conspired against Pekah, he
also tried to doublecross Assyria, ignoring the warnings of the prophet (2Ki
17:4; Hos 10:14), and brought destruction on himself and the nation. He was
attacked by Shalmaneser V, who died unexpectedly during the siege. Sargon (Isa
20:1), his successor, continued the attack. 'In the first year of my reign,'
boasted Sargon in his annals, 'I besieged and conquered Samaria.' He claims to
have led away into captivity 27,290 people. Sargon settled foreigners in Israel,
and recorded: 'People of the lands, prisoners my hand had captured, I settled
there. My officials I placed over them as governors. I imposed tribute and tax
upon them as Assyrians.' Thus, by ruthless dictators, the Israelites were rooted
out of their land and transported elsewhere. It was a grave time of apostasy in
Judah as well as in the northern kingdom. So 2Ki 17:20 records that Judah
followed the wicked example of Israel. Baal-worship under Jehoram, Ahab and
Athaliah, were also the sin of Ahaz, Manasseh and Amon. Not only so, but there
was a twisting of teaching and doctrine, instituted by those who deliberately
misquoted and misapplied the Word (see v 32). There was a terrible perversion,
in which the true religious was tainted by worldliness and tardiness in
spiritual issues. Consequently 'the nations feared Yahweh, and served their
graven images' (v 41). There is a great need to remain constant and true to our
high and holy calling today" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Eze 7:23
"Prepare chains, because the land is full of bloodshed and the
city is full of violence" (Eze 7:23).
The chains suggest restraint, slavery, bonds, and yokes (Jer
27). It was the practice of the victorious invader to chain the captives
together, so as to transport them away to their places of slavery: "Lots were
cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains" (Nah 3:10). In
making chains, Ezekiel would be reminding his countrymen that this would be the
fate of those in the land of Judah who had ignored Yahweh.
Reading 3 - Luk 3:19,20
"But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias,
his brother's wife, and all the other evil things he had done, Herod added this
to them all: He locked John up in prison" (Luk 3:19,20).
"From a certain point of view, it is saddening to think of
such a man as John the Baptist in the hands of such creatures as Herod and his
paramour; and sadder to think that his life should be sacrificed to the feminine
malice created by John's upright attitude as a preacher of righteousness. But
the sadness is only for a moment. It is the lot of divine things and divine men
to be under the heel of wickedness in the day of sin's ascendancy. We can
comfort ourselves with the thought that they do not come under the heel by
chance, or before the appointed time. It is part of the process by which they
are prepared for, and ultimately introduced to 'an eternal weight of glory'. And
there is the further consolation that to the victims of the oppression, the
triumph of the enemy is 'but for a moment'. Death is the best thing that can
happen to them. Their trials and distresses are annihilated at a stroke: and in
a moment, they are face to face with the glory for which their distresses
prepare them, for the simple reason that in death there is no knowledge of time,
and therefore no conscious interval to the resurrection" (Robert Roberts,
"Nazareth Revisited" 25,26).