The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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October 31

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

Reading 1 - 2Ch 29:3

"In the first month of the first year of his reign, he [Hezekiah] opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them" (2Ch 29:3).

Open doors:

  1. for restored communion (2Ch 29:3);
  2. deliverance from prison (Act 5:19);
  3. surrender (Rev 3:20);
  4. service (1Co 16:9); and
  5. opportunity (Rev 3:8).
Shut doors:

  1. for safety (Gen 7:16);
  2. privacy and communion (Mat 6:6);
  3. faith and prayer (2Ki 4:5,21,33);
  4. self-sufficiency (Rev 3:20); and separation and
  5. rejection (Mat 25:10).

Reading 2 - Dan 9:2,3

"In the first year of his [Darius', or Cyrus'] reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:2,3).

Daniel's attention was fixed on the period of 70 years which was coming to an end with the recent overthrow of the Babylonian empire. Surely, he must have thought, this would be the beginning of the reestablishment of the Kingdom of God, and perhaps even the time for the appearance of Israel's Messiah.

But, in response to his prayer, Gabriel speaks not of these 70 years but of 70 "sevens" (vv 24-27). Would Daniel and others think that, when the 70 years were finished, the kingdom would come very quickly, if not immediately? If so, then the answer was a loud "No!" The kingdom would not come after 70 years, but only after (at least!) 490 years. And if 490 years must pass before some of the promises pertaining to the kingdom were fulfilled, then no one should confuse Israel's soon return to their land with the commencement of the kingdom. (At best, it was only a typical, and very imperfect, fulfillment.)

The timing of the kingdom needed clarification, but so did the nature of the kingdom. The kingdom of God would indeed begin, but not with the return to the land of the people of Israel, nor with the rebuilding of the temple. It would not even begin with the repentance of the nation of Israel. Before the kingdom of God could come to the earth, there must be first a solution to the great human dilemma of sin. This was the subject of the prophecy of vv 24-27. And even that fulfillment (the atoning work of the Messiah), great though it would be, would be merely the "first step" on the road to the true Kingdom of God -- which was in fact to be considerably AFTER even the 490 years. All this is implied in Gabriel's answer to Daniel's prayer.

No wonder that, as Daniel began to comprehend the great period of time in front of him, before the fulfillment of all his hopes, he experienced distress and depression and agitation.

However, God reminded Daniel that he would miss none of the glories of that Kingdom -- even though it would commence long after he died. The very last words of the prophecy of Daniel contain God's final reassurance to His faithful servant: "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance" (Dan 12:13). Like a loving father to an eager child, anxious for a special day to come, God speaks to Daniel: 'Don't worry. Go to sleep. I'll wake you up in plenty of time. You won't miss anything.'

Reading 3 - Acts 9:23-25

"After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall" (Acts 9:23-25).

The basket here is a "spuris" -- a large basket -- obviously large enough for a man to hide in. This was the same sort of basket which was filled, seven times over, with the bread miraculously multiplied by Jesus (Mat 15:37; 16:10). And here, on a spiritual level, was part of the "bread" of Christ -- his "body"! -- being miraculously multiplied again! For this man Paul, escaping from Damascus in the basket (2Co 11:32,33), would live to see a miraculous multiplying of the "bread" or "body" of Christ -- through his labors in traveling and preaching the gospel.

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