The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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April 21

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

Reading 1 - Deu 4:10

"Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, 'Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children' " (Deu 4:10).

" 'The fear of Yahweh' is the beginning of wisdom (Deu 6:2), and this reverential awe is induced by hearing (Deu 4:2), doing (Deu 5:29), keeping (Deu 6:2), serving (Deu 6:13), and walking (Deu 8:6). Thus it is no inarticulate, superstitious awe of the unknown, but a respectful, reverential love for One who has revealed Himself in His Word, and whose goodness has been experienced in our lives" (GE Mansfield).

Reading 2 - Pro 31:10-31

Pro 31 [vv 10-31] describes the character of the ideal wife or mother. So wonderful are the characteristics of this woman, that sisters despair of ever being able to attain unto her standard, whilst brethren live in hope that they may find a wife that comes somewhere near the character described.

There is no doubt that the Virtuous Woman was no single personality, but the wise man's estimation of the ideal woman, on account of which he elucidates the positive virtues of such a woman. It is also equally true that the woman in question was not as the ordinary housewife of today, but more the supervisor of a large household wherein she exercised control over her "maidens" (v 15), who would assist in the daily tasks of such an house, making possible her achievements as described.

Sisters in today's society must learn to cope almost single-handed in the daily round of household chores and need not despair if they cannot reach unto the ideal spoken of here. Even so, ideals are set that we may aspire to be like them. If sisters give up in their attempts to emulate the virtues of this woman, there is little hope that they will ever aspire to be "like him" who is our heavenly Bridegroom.

In order then that sisters may better understand the virtues set out in Proverbs 31, we list them under various headings, and couch them in language more familiar to our generation.

As A Wife

As A Mother

Her Home Management

Her Economic Sense

Her Personal Character

Where among these virtues is there room for the demands of so called Women's liberation? Where indeed? All the virtues here listed are opposed to that degrading spectacle of women trying to ape the opposite sex, and achieving nothing more or less than that which John Thomas said would be the tragic result: "In proportion as they rise in assurance they sink in all that really adorns a Woman" ("Elpis Israel" 122).

Sisters who pattern their lives on the God-given ideal of Pro 31 will in no way feel degraded by their loving submission to their husbands, but will find in that subjection is the crowning fulfilment of God's purpose with them. Indeed by their submission they will share the dominion allotted to the man in whom they lovingly and willingly lose their own identity. Again to quote JT: "They will then rule in the hearts of their rulers, and so ameliorate their own subjection, as to convert it into a desirable sovereign obedience" ("Elpis Israel" 122).

"A sovereign obedience." What a wonderful expression. Queens by their very submission, and so to be enthroned by their influence in the practise of humility. May the ideal set forth in Pro 31 have its fruit in the lives of sisters, by being translated into actions, so that it may be said of them: "Let her own works praise her in the gates" (Pro 31:31). (John Martin)

Reading 3 - John 15:4

The central exhortation of Christ's parable in John 15 is found in John 15:4: "Abide in me." Each branch must abide in the vine in order to bring forth fruit. If for any reason it is severed, the branch may continue in existence for a time -- but in the day of reckoning the "husbandman" will gather it together with the other lifeless sticks and cast them into the fire of eternal destruction (John 15:6).

All of the emphasis here is upon our duty, our necessity, to attach ourselves solidly to the true vine, and never to relinquish our grasp. A dog with a bone was crossing a bridge one day, when he chanced to glance down and spy his reflection in the water. Thinking this to be another dog, and a rival claimant for his bone, he bared his teeth and let out a growl and a ferocious bark. Unfortunately, in the process he dropped his bone, which sank irretrievably to the bottom of the stream.

Like that dog, we sometimes forget who our real enemy is, and in giving our attention to fighting a supposed enemy we may lose our grip on the prize. Christ has wisely advised us to hold firm to our hope, and not to worry too much whether someone else should have a right to that same hope. Unlike the dog's bone, there is food enough for all in Christ; the "branches" need not squabble among themselves.

This teaching, of what should be our proper attitude toward our fellow "branches", is emphasized further in v 16. Christ says, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." The one who chooses is the one who holds the right subsequently to refuse!

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