The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 5

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

Reading 1 - Deu 22

"As Yahweh's holy nation, Israel is to be governed by His laws, which will give them a unique character as a people, within the world of Gentiles. This chapter legislates for the following: consideration for the property of others (vv 1-4); the sexes to be clearly distinguished by dress (v 5); care to be given to the natural fauna (vv 6,7); building construction to provide protection for others (v 8); Yahweh's distinction in nature to be respected (vv 9-11); Israelites to be distinguished in dress (v 12); protective care to be afforded the unloved bride (vv 13-19); adultery punishable with death (vv 20-22); rapists to be stoned (vv 23-27); fornicators to be suppressed (vv 28,29); and incest strictly forbidden (v 30).

"The legislation in this chapter relates to failings that are increasingly plaguing the modern world. It is interesting, therefore, to compare its requirements with the attitude of current society; for it relates to areas of deep concern. In an age of ruthless indifference to the wellbeing and consideration of others, it is refreshing to consider the Law's demands requiring the observance of mutual assistance as here laid down (vv 1-4). In an environment that is exploiting natural resources with terrifying thoroughness and flouting long established distinctions, it speaks of the Divine order in nature which can be ignored only at humanity's peril (vv 5-12). In a social order which increasingly condones the exploitation of human beings as pawns in the game of sex, it emphasises the Divine order among men, and requires recognition of the sanctity of marriage (vv 13-20). People are not simply bodies to be played with. In an era of anarchy that is intent upon throwing off all restraint, it sets forth the basis of an orderly world. That basis is not law itself; but respect for law. To defy law, as modern society does, is to court both licence and anarchy. Divine law cannot be broken without hurt to those who do so. Yahweh's purpose will prevail. If the world persists in throwing itself against His principles, it will destroy itself. It is rapidly nearing that state, so that only the return of the Lord will save it (Rev 11:18)" (HP Mansfield, "Christadelphian Expositor").

Reading 2 - Song 2:11

"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone" (Song 2:11).

"We sometimes experience periods of spring-like weather very early, and we think that winter is over, only to find that bad weather is still to come before the eagerly awaited spring. So we are, sometimes, disappointed when the signs which we think herald the return of the Lord do not unfold in the way we expected. What a joy it is, and how our spirits lift, when after a period of dark and gloomy weather we awake one morning to a bright, fresh, and clear day; when the sun is high in the heavens and sheds light over all the earth; when the birds seem to sing twice as loud and everyone is cheerful. Perhaps it was a morning such as this when David was caused to give expression to his prophetic words concerning the coming of the Lord: 'He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain' (2Sa 23:4). May God grant that we shall be there" (DM Matthews, "Testimony" 48:111).

Spring was, and is, the perfect symbol of the renewal of life after death, and of light after darkness. And so the coming of spring may symbolize the coming of Christ, a light into a dark world, offering renewal and regeneration and life to a cold, dormant, insensible world: "The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. [Isa 9:1,2] From that time on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near' " (Mat 4:16,17). Cp also Isa 61:11: "For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

Reading 3 - Acts 14:21,22

"They [Paul and Barnabas] preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 'We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,' they said" (Acts 14:21,22).

Paul had been the perfect example, demonstrating in his own trials the truth of these words! Note also Christ's words of warning and encouragement: "Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Mat 10:21,22,38; cp Mat 16:24). "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me" (John 12:25,26). "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God... I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:1,2,33).

Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them. Consider the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the "father of the faithful" (Rom 4:11-16). Study the lives of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the early brethren, and you shall discover that there were none of those whom God made vessels for His mercy, who were not -- like fine pottery in the hands of the Potter -- made to pass through the furnace of affliction.

It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King's vessels of honor are distinguished. But although tribulation is the path marked out for God's children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has walked that path before them; they have his presence and sympathy to encourage them, his grace to support them, and his example to teach them how to endure. And when they reach the kingdom, it will more than make up for the tribulations through which they passed on their way!

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