The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 1

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

Reading 1 - Exo 6:3

"I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty [Hebrew El-Shaddai], but by my name the LORD [Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them" (Exo 6:3).

The name "Yahweh" (sometimes imperfectly written or pronounced as "Jehovah") HAD been known before: it had in fact occurred 162 times in Genesis, many times used by the writer in the narrative itself, but 34 times actually spoken there. Significantly, (1) men "began to call on [or call themselves by: AV margin] the name of the LORD [Yahweh]" as early as Gen 4:26; (2) the place, where he almost sacrificed Isaac, Abraham named "The LORD [Yahweh] will provide" (Gen 22:14).

So this verse here MAY mean that the purpose embedded in the Name had previously been uncertain (Gen 15:7). Now, especially as Yahweh, God was going to redeem the people of Israel (v 6), adopt them as his people (v 7), and bring them into the promised Land (v 8) -- thus making quite plain what His Name meant.

Or perhaps this verse should be read -- like the NIV margin puts it -- as a question: 'But did I not make myself known to them by my name Yahweh?' -- a rhetorical question anticipating a positive answer. That is, 'Of course I was called Yahweh, but they did not truly and completely understand what that Name would mean! And how I would work out My purpose in generations to come!'

We know the name of God, and we know (more or less) what it means. "Yahweh" is the Great Self-Existent and Eternal God (the One who was, and is, and will be). He is the "Becoming One": the God who reveals Himself to mankind, the God of Israel, and the One who WILL BE finally manifested in a multitude of holy ones, who will become His family.

But -- like Moses -- we may spend a lifetime learning what that Name REALLY means, in feeling the hand of Yahweh in the practical outworking of our lives.

Reading 2 - Psa 58

"Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?" (Psa 58:1, KJV).

"Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge uprightly among men?" (NIV).

The Hebrew "elem" has been translated as "congregation" (KJV); "ye mighty ones" (RV mg); "gods" (RSV); and "rulers" (NEB, NIV). Whether v 1 should be "congregation" or "mighty ones", this whole psalm is highly appropriate to the Sanhedrin, which successively condemned Jesus and the apostles and Stephen and Paul. And the psalm as a whole bears out this interpretation.

"The imagery that the Psalmist uses [to describe the wicked rulers] is apt and highly descriptive. It is taken from nature mainly, from widely diverse creatures which we fear and dislike such as snakes, lions, and snails, and from the calamities of mankind such as the miscarrying womb, water in uncontrollable spate, and the savage vortex of the whirlwind" (NPH).

Reading 3 - Rom 11:36

"To him be the glory forever" (Rom 11:36).

"This should be the single desire of the Christian. All other wishes must be subservient and tributary to this one. The Christian may wish for prosperity in his business, but only so far as it may help him to promote this: 'To Him be glory for ever.' He may desire to attain more gifts and more graces, but it should only be that: 'To Him may be glory for ever.' You are not acting as you ought to do when you are moved by any other motive than a single eye to your Lord's glory.

"As a Christian, you are 'of God, and through God'; then live 'to God.' Let nothing ever set your heart beating so mightily as love to Him. Let this ambition fire your soul; be this the foundation of every enterprise upon which you enter, and this your sustaining motive whenever your zeal would grow chill; make God your only object. Depend upon it, where self begins sorrow begins; but if God be my supreme delight and only object, 'To me 'tis equal whether love ordain my life or death -- appoint me ease or pain.'

"Let your desire for God's glory be a growing desire. You blessed Him in your youth, do not be content with such praises as you gave Him then. Has God prospered you in business? Give Him more as He has given you more. Has God given you experience? Praise Him by stronger faith than you exercised at first. Does your knowledge grow? Then sing more sweetly. Do you enjoy happier times than you once had? Have you been restored from sickness, and has your sorrow been turned into peace and joy? Then give Him more music; put more coals and more sweet frankincense into the censer of your praise. Practically in your life give Him honour, putting the 'Amen' to this doxology to your great and gracious Lord, by your own individual service and increasing holiness" (CHS).

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