Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Neh 5:14,17
"Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I
[Nehemiah] was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his
thirty-second year -- twelve years -- neither I nor my brothers ate the food
allotted to the governor" (Neh 5:14).
This provision would have been Nehemiah's by right and law,
since he was the royally-appointed governor of the land. Note the comparison
between Nehemiah and Paul (1Co 9): both had the right to be supported by their
brethren, but neither exercised that right. It was Paul who wrote, "And when I
was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the
brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from
being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so" (2Co 11:9). Notice
that Paul, like Nehemiah, had personal enemies who sought to harm him.
"Furthermore, a hundred and fifty Jews and officials ate at my
table, as well as those who came to us from the surrounding nations" (v
Nehemiah kept an "open house", at his own personal expense. In
all his work, and his generosity, and his support of others, Nehemiah showed
beforehand the work and attitude of the apostle Paul. Consider the following
"Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality" (Rom
"Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern
for all the churches" (2Co 11:28).
"I have not coveted anyone's silver or
gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my
own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that
by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord
Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Acts
"Nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the
contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be
a burden to any of you" (2Th 3:8).
Reading 2 - Joel 1:3
"Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to
their children, and their children to the next generation" (Joel 1:3).
"In this simple way, by God's grace, a living testimony for
truth is always to be kept alive in the land -- the beloved of the Lord are to
hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and
these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin
at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at
home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are
to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the
order of the Lord's arrangements. To teach our children is a personal duty; we
cannot delegate it to Sunday School teachers, or other friendly aids; these can
assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and
sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like
Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their
offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High. Parental teaching is a
natural duty -- who so fit to look to the child's well-being as those who are
the authors of his actual being?" (CH Spurgeon).
"The remembering of the outstanding acts of God on behalf of
His people, or in furthering their discipline, must be carried on faithfully
from generation to generation. From earliest days Moses had striven to establish
this tradition: 'Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest
thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen and lest they depart from thy
heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;
specially the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb' (Deu
4:9,10). If these exhortations of Joel and Moses had been heeded, would the day
of Babylonian invasion some five generations later have ever
"You are to establish a tradition in your families, urges the
prophet. From father to son to grandson this cherished message must be
faithfully handed on. How many generations are involved here? Is it five or six?
And how many generations of the Truth faithfully preserved are there in these
Last Days, all of them scanning the horizon eagerly for the dawn yet to be seen
rising over the Mount of Olives?
"In modern times the five generations of the New Israel,
having such a Word, as others do not know and with its fulfilment so nigh unto
them are yet content to set their children and their grandchildren a mediocre
characterless example of diluted enthusiasm.
"Remember! Remember! Teach! Teach! These should be welcome
duties. Yet Moses had learned that neglect might overtake them. Specially
pointed and valuable is this precept: 'Teach them thy sons AND THY SONS' SONS!'
"Yet how often it happens that grandparents treat 'their sons'
sons' as though they were a box of chocolates -- a luxury to be enjoyed now and
then -- and not at all as a holy commission entrusted to their care; [vessels]
to be filled with precious jewels of Truth.
"Alas, it is so much more comfortable to write Joel off as
out-of-date and incomprehensible, and to bequeath THAT tradition to those whose
future is one's own special responsibility!" (Harry Whittaker,
This is true, in general, but here the special emphasis is --
not upon the goodness of God's arrangements -- but upon the judgments that Joel
is about to describe. So terrible are these that four or five generations cannot
remember anything that compares.
Reading 3 - 1Th 5:5
"You are all sons of the light" (1Th 5:5).
The "all" gives reassurance that none need be excluded from
the blessings implied; even those with uncertainties about the details of
Christ's coming (1Th 4:11,12) or those who are "weak" (1Th 5:14) may take heart.
In Hebrew idiom, to be the "child" or "son" of a certain
characteristic or quality means to exemplify it. A "child of light" is one who
has experienced a complete transformation through the "light." In this way is
the phrase used elsewhere: "While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye
may be the children of light" (John 12:36); "for the children of this world are
in their generation wiser than the children of light" (Luke 16:8); "For ye were
sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light"
The condition of being in Christ is continually associated
with light (Mat 5:14,16; John 3:21; 8:12; Acts 26:18; Col 1:12; 1Pe 2:9, 1Jo
The true followers of Christ are "sons of the day" -- even
though the "day" has not officially arrived! That "day of the Lord" has cast its
radiance ahead with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and especially with
his sacrificial work. We must remember, and endeavor, to live in that "day", and
to exemplify all its qualities, EVEN NOW. In no other way may a people ever
become prepared to enter into the glories of that future inheritance, when it
does indeed arrive!