The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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February 8

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

Reading 1 - Exo 16

"Israel gathered a double portion [of the Manna] on Friday; so that when they went out on Saturday to look for it, 'they did not find it in the field,' as Moses said...

"So when they gathered the bread of heaven, and laid him in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, those who might go out to look [on Saturday], could find the Son of Man no longer sowing the words of eternal life in the field.

"But some of the manna was incorruptible for a longer period than the sixth and seventh days. It was made to last for generations. Moses was commanded to put an omer, or tenth part of an ephah, of manna into a pot, and to lay it up before the Testimony, to be kept [vv 33-36]. Every day this was preserved, and it was kept for centuries, and it evidenced the presence of the Spirit in the Most Holy; for ordinarily it would not keep. It was deposited in the chest, called the Ark of the Testimony, which was overlaid with gold; whose lid was termed the... Mercy Seat; and upon which the Cherubim were based. This Ark of the Covenant contained the Tables of the Law, the pot of Manna, and Aaron's Rod which budded; things all representative of the Logos [the Word] in his incarnate manifestation.

"Now as Aaron laid up an omer full in a pot, and concealed it from view within the Ark of the Testimony, there to remain for centuries; so the Eternal Spirit concealed in Jesus, the antitypical Ark of his Testimony, that deposit of Manna, from which it shall be given to those who overcome to eat. We feed upon this manna from day to day in feeding upon the truth. But what we eat to-day will not suffice for the morrow. We must keep it in memory. But though we thus feed, and rejoice in 'the right to life, yet it is life-manna concealed; for 'we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory': Col 3:3,4" (John Thomas, "Eureka" 1:313).

Reading 2 - Psa 71:9,18

"Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone" (Psa 71:9).

It needed considerable faith, when all his affairs seemed to be in ruin, to believe that God was yet on his side. See Psa 37:25. The same man, David, who was once -- only a few short years before -- "with a fine appearance and handsome features" (1Sa 16:12) has now grown old and gray (v 18), yet still his God is with him. From each reader of the Psalms this must evoke real praise of God, and more so with each passing year!

DO NOT CAST ME AWAY WHEN I AM OLD: Employers do this to employees who have lost some of their usefulness; husbands to wives who are no longer young; friends to other friends when they can no longer be of help to them. But God never casts off those who trust in Him.

These words are not inappropriate to Christ's physical condition at the end of his ministry -- when the hard years and dangerous situations and cares of others and lack of rest had taken their toll, and he appeared to be a man nearer 50 than 30 (John 8:57).


"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come" (v 18).

"The demeanor of the 'old and grayheaded' may be expected to reflect to some degree the accumulated results of years of spiritual growth and thereby to witness to the working of God and His Truth in their lives. No greater witness to the preciousness and eternal value of the Truth can be made than that of older brethren and sisters who in physical weakness, and sometimes great infirmity, manifest, even without expressing them, a mature love for the Truth and a cheerfulness engendered by an ever-increasing faith and trust in God. The Psalmist's prayer for his old age reminds us of the considerable responsibility resting on us as we grow old and grayheaded and, incidentally, it also points out to the younger among us what the truth should be doing for them. 'They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus' " (BS Snelling).

Reading 3 - Mark 4:37-41

"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, 'Teacher, don't you care if we drown?' He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Quiet! Be still!' Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?' " (Mar 4:37-40).

"Jesus of Nazareth invested the tiny band that he called apart to testify to him and all he stood for with a staggering responsibility. Into all the world they were to go. Not with the hope of converting the world, but with the aim of creating and forming a redemptive society that would be as the savour of salt in a world of corruption. In parable, metaphor and allegory, the Gospels illuminate the Master's teaching as embodying the one element of performance and true selfhood in a world of doubt, changeableness and transience. To build on it was to build on a rock; by it one entered the light and joy of the bridal festivities while outside was the darkness; to bear witness to it was to be bearing lamps which shone with divine illumination; it was enduring bread and living water. In the wild darkness of the stormy night human guidance was in vain, and all their rowing brought no aid to a boat sinking with water. They were unable to discern any ethical landmarks; in all their doubts and fears they were in jeopardy. It was the voice of the Lord which stilled their storm" (Alan Eyre, "The Protestors" 192).


"He said to his disciples, 'Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?' " (v 41).

A seagoing captain commanded a passenger ship that was sailing from Liverpool, England, to New York. His family was on board with him. One night when everyone was asleep, a squall unexpectedly swept over the waters and tossed the ship violently, awakening the passengers. They were all terribly afraid because of the storm. The captain's little 8-year-old girl was also awakened. "What's the matter?" cried the frightened child. Her mother told her that a sudden storm had struck the ship. "Is Father on deck?" she asked. "Yes, Father's on deck," came the encouraging answer. Hearing this, the little girl snuggled back into her bed and in a few moments was sound asleep. The winds still blew and the waves still rolled, but her fears were calmed because her father was at the helm.

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