The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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October 20

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

Reading 1 - 2Ch 12

2Ch 12: "What ominous words are spoken against Jerusalem: 'they had transgressed against Yahweh' (v 2). Yet the people imagined they were doing the work of God, upholding his temple and honouring the throne of David. But the divine judgment was that both king and people 'forsook the law of Yahweh' (v 1). The power of the reign of David and the glory of that of Solomon had now become the shadow of disaster in the reign of Rehoboam. This gave rise to the assault by Egypt. When the law of Yahweh is ignored, the power of Sin (Egypt) is first experienced. Shishak had given an asylum to Jeroboam when he fled from Solomon (1Ki 11:40). His policy was to weaken Israel, and therefore he now took opportunity to invade the land.

"The record in 2Ch reveals the play of events:

[1] Rehoboam forsakes the law of Yahweh, and is punished: vv 1-4.
[2] The rebuke of Shemaiah: vv 5-9.
[3] Jerusalem falls to Shishak: vv 9,10.
[4] Rehoboam's policy: vv 11-16" (GEM).

Reading 2 - Eze 46:9

"When the people of the land come before the LORD at the appointed feasts, whoever enters by the north gate to worship is to go out the south gate; and whoever enters by the south gate is to go out the north gate. No one is to return through the gate by which he entered, but each is to go out the opposite gate" (Eze 46:9).

"A man may enter either by the north door or the south. There is perfect liberty here. But there is no liberty as to what he shall do after that. He shall go right through. He shall make for the [opposite side]. Has not this a very plain meaning for us -- that we should not sit still at that side of religion which first attracted us, not keep going back over the old ground, but strive to go through the whole breadth of religion. There is a north and a south in religion. There is a bright, sunny side. It is always warm and genial there. And there is a cold, dark side, which only gets the sun on the longest days. Some come in by the one side, and some by the other. Some come with grief and tears, driven by bitter cold or wild beasts. Others come in by the door of hope and joy, drawn by bright promises. They come calm, easy, and radiant, as to an old home which they had never lost. Religion has many opposites, though no contradictions. The Bible is continually speaking of the importance of joining opposites together, such as prayer and praise, working and waiting... resting and running, weeping and rejoicing, past and future, time and eternity... We should go on to the opposite good of that which we possess, not simply further than where we are, but that we should strive to reach and embrace the directly opposite attainment, not leaving or undervaluing what is possessed, but uniting to it that which may seem contrary or which may possibly have been considered by us as wholly antagonistic and incompatible. We shall find that it is these opposites which not only preserve from exaggeration and caricature, but that they are needful even for proper rooting and strength. When one finds out how opposites coalesce and help each other, need each other, claim each other, and are only themselves when they find each other, he is fortified against moral skepticism and against religious unrest. What I contend for is not a compromise, but a junction in which each remains to strengthen and develop the other" ("Biblical Illustrator").

Reading 3 - John 14:6

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

A missionary lost his way in an African jungle. He could find no landmarks and the trail vanished. Eventually, stumbling on a small hut, he asked the native living there if he could lead him out. The native nodded. Rising to his feet, he walked directly into the bush. The missionary followed on his heels. For more than an hour they hacked their way through a dense wall of vines and grasses. The missionary became worried: "Are you sure this is the way? I don't see any path." The African chuckled and said over his shoulder, "Sir, in this place there is no path. I AM the path."

And so it can be for us with our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the "path". We have been lost in a trackless wilderness. For us there is no way out except death. Thus there is no salvation for us except to follow, implicitly and obediently, the one man who knows the way -- the one man who, in fact, IS the "way" -- no matter how hard that way might seem, or how uninviting. There is NO other way!

And the way IS hard and uninviting. It is the way of the cross!

How can this be said? Whereas most versions render John 14:6 as though there were three distinct "things" -- "way" and "truth" and "life" -- there may be good reason to see the three as fused or blended together: the NET suggests: "the way -- even the truth and the life", that is, the true way of life. "The way to the TREE of life" has been known since the garden of Eden (Gen 3:24). It is the way of obedience and sacrifice. The (true) way to the (true) tree of life -- that is, the REAL and SUBSTANTIAL way to the REAL and SUBSTANTIAL tree of life -- of which the one in Genesis was a symbol and a shadow -- is the cross of Christ. The cross of Christ is called a "tree" in Gal 3:13; 1Pe 2:4; Rev 2:7; 22:2,14,19). This corresponds to Heb 10:19-22, which speaks of the most holy, the blood of Jesus, the new and living way (the way of life!), the priest, and the house of God.

The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, or "tree" of life, has opened the way into the presence of the Heavenly Father, who will confer life on those who approach Him in the proper way. There is no comfortable, and easy, and smooth road that conveys us there, without effort or pain. It is only by taking up the cross of our crucified Lord, and following him, through the trackless wilderness, that we may gain access to the Father.

But it is a journey well worth the taking.

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