The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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April 16

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

Reading 1 - Num 35:6-34

Six of the 48 Levitical cities -- three east and three west of the Jordan -- were set apart as "cities of refuge," for the unintentional manslayer. These cities were for the protection of the accidental manslayer, but it must not be imagined that the simple plea of unintentional homicide afforded safety. The law specified that the roads to these cities were always to be kept in good repair. But, according to v 25 (cp Jos 20:4), a seeker for sanctuary would, on arriving at the gates of a city of refuge, first have to plead his cause before the elders of that city. If they accepted his case, they would give him provisional protection. If, however, afterwards, the "avenger of blood" claimed his extradition, the accused person would be sent back under proper protection to his own city, where the whole case would be thoroughly investigated. If the homicide was then proved to have been unintentional, the accused would be restored to the "city of refuge," and enjoy its protection, till the death of the high priest set him free to return to his own city.

As for the duty of "avenging blood," its principle is deeply rooted in the Old Testament, and traced up to the relation in which God stands to our world. For, the blood of man, who is made in God's image, when shed upon earth, which is God's property, "cries out" to God (Gen 4:10) -- it claims payment like an unredeemed debt. Hence the expression "avenger of blood," which should be literally rendered "redeemer of blood."

Symbolically, the cities of refuge are the place of God's merciful protection. There, the manslayer was to find a refuge, sheltered, as it were, under the wings of the grace of God, till the complete remission of the punishment at the death of the high priest. This death foreshadows the death of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who has made a perfect covering for all sins.

Reading 2 - Pro 26:17

"Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own" (Pro 26:17).

"Adults often reveal less capacity for learning than children. They have the advantage of books containing all the accumulated wisdom of mankind, and beyond all this and permeating a great deal of it, there is the instruction that has come direct from God, yet the knowledge is very little used. Life is full of avoidable evils through men ignoring principles or rules of conduct which are perfectly well known, and which have had their wisdom demonstrated in every generation.

"Sometimes the individual failure is so obvious that almost all observers smile at it. I recall... instances of this kind in which the facts were related by the victim when sufficient time had passed for him to join in the amusement... a young man, when returning home one night, chanced to pass a low part of the city where there was a quarrel between man and wife. The young fellow, perceiving that the woman was being ill-treated, gallantly went to her assistance. He was, as he expressed it, 'getting on very nicely' in his contest with the man when the ungrateful woman came up behind and hit her champion on the head with a saucepan. According to his own account, the young man spent a carefree hour in the gutter before he came back to consciousness of this painful life. Then, as he limped slowly homeward, he began dimly to recall to memory certain maxims regarding the unwisdom of meddling with strife that does not belong to us" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").

Reading 3 - John 8:29

"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him" (John 8:29).

"Have only one motive in life: to please God. Get all your pleasure and satisfaction from that. It will, at one stroke, eliminate 90% of your 'problems,' and ALL your inner 'unhappiness.' Don't seek praise. Don't seek status with others. Don't seek advancement. Don't seek THINGS. All these pursuits are happiness-robbers. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor pride with praise, nor lust with possession. All these are ashes in the mouth at last. Even of themselves they are stupid, but as set against and displacing spiritual motives and pursuits, they are pure suicide. Check every thought and word, and ask: 'Will this please God? Could I at this moment be pleasing Him better?' This wonderfully pacifies and harmonizes and unifies life, and gives it purpose. Set the goal of your life to bring every thought into harmony with this, and to eliminate everything out of harmony with it. This is success" (GVG).

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