The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 7

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

Reading 1 - Deu 24:19

"When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands" (Deu 24:19).

"What a delightful peek at the right way of life is prescribed by God's beautiful law. Here are no 'thrifty' scrapings to the last straw, but an open-handed liberality that leaves handfuls for the poor. No one could starve under such a system: no one sink to the despairing depths we see yawning around us in modern times. Of course it cannot be -- now. But it ought to be, and it will be, when we have God's Kingdom back among us, to 'judge for the poor and the needy, and break in pieces the oppressors.' We wait God's hand in the matter; and He says, 'They shall not be ashamed that wait for me' " (Robert Roberts).

"Boaz ordered handfuls of corn to be left on purpose for Ruth [Rth 2:16], and God blessed him. All that is left is not lost" (Matthew Henry).

Reading 2 - Song 4:7

"All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you" (Song 4:7).

This is cited by Paul as the description of the Bride of Christ: "Not having spot or wrinkle" (Eph 5:27). Now all fair, she has -- like Esther -- completed her time of purification (Est 2:12). It is the work of Christ the husband to cleanse (Eph 5:26) the "bride" by giving himself for her (Eph 5:25; Tit 2:13,14). Thus the Bride is made "like him" (1Jo 3:2) -- this is the greatest "wedding present"!

"Are we part of the Bride? Is it our utmost and constant effort to be WORTHY to be so, to the exclusion of everything else? If not, why not? Where is wisdom? Where is plain ordinary common sense? There IS a Bride, and she IS ever spotless. She was made white and pure in the blood of the Lamb, and she is kept spotless by dedicated, loving obedience; and striving, and repentance, and prayer. The wise will give their whole lives and energies to becoming and being part of this glorious and joyous community. That is what manifests that they are the wise. All who do not are the foolish. 'He sanctifieth and cleanseth it by the washing of water by the Word, that he might present it to himself a glorious Ecclesia, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:26,27). 'Keep yourselves in the love of God... Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy' (Jud 1:21-24)" (GVG).

"As if the thought occurred to the Bridegroom that the carping world would insinuate that he had only mentioned her comely parts, and had purposely omitted those features which were deformed or defiled, he sums up all by declaring her universally and entirely fair, and utterly devoid of stain. A spot may soon be removed, and is the very least thing that can disfigure beauty, but even from this little blemish the believer is delivered in his Lord's sight. If he had said there is no hideous scar, no horrible deformity, no deadly ulcer, we might even then have marvelled; but when he testifies that she is free from the slightest spot, all these other forms of defilement are included, and the depth of wonder is increased. If he had but promised to remove all spots by-and-by, we should have had eternal reason for joy; but when he speaks of it as already done, who can restrain the most intense emotions of satisfaction and delight?" (CH Spurgeon).

Reading 3 - Acts 18:2,3

"Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them" (Acts 18:2,3).


So many of God's faithful servants have been shepherds: Abel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David, to name but a few. In NT times, the vocation of fisherman was prominent among the Lord's followers. Both these secular occupations well fitted such men for the spiritual work they would do -- as "shepherds" of the flock of God, and "fishers of men". The connections in Scripture between the literal and the typical in these cases are plentiful indeed, and rich in spiritual instruction.

Taking our lead from such obvious patterns, what then should we make of the livelihoods of God's two most prominent servants: Jesus the carpenter (Mat 13:55; Mar 6:3) and Paul the tentmaker (Act 18:3)?

The thread starts in Exodus, where the LORD God commanded Moses to build Him a tabernacle, "according to the pattern showed you in the mount" (Exo 25:40; Heb 8:5). For this work, the LORD called and inspired Bezaleel and his assistant Aholiab to be "cunning" workmen in metal and timber and fabric.

"Bezaleel" signifies "in the shadow (under the protection) of El". He was of the tribe of Judah; the son of Uri ("light"; the plural is "Urim"); the grandson of Hur ("whiteness", "splendor"). He was definitely the "artisan-in-charge": Aholiab was "given with him" (Exo 31:6; cp Exo 38:23), "to help him" (NIV).

Apparently Bezaleel was especially skilled in metal and stone and wood, whereas his assistant Aholiab (the name itself signifies "the tent of his father") was more adept in the working of fabrics and skins. The distinction is borne out by a careful reading of Exo 35:30-35; 38:23. Together, they carried forward the word of building the tabernacle.

A bit more about Bezaleel: Clearly, he stands in the narrative as a type of Christ:


The Mosaic tabernacle, with all that pertained to it, was a "figure" (Greek "parable") of the "greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands" (Heb 9:9,11). This spiritual "tabernacle", or temple, is of course the ecclesia, built upon Jesus Christ the "foundation" (Eph 2:20-22; 1Co 3:16; 1Pe 2:5-7) and chief corner-stone (Psa 118:22,23). As Bezaleel labored to build the literal tabernacle, so Jesus labored to build the spiritual. As Aholiab assisted the "master builder", so Paul assisted Christ (cp 1Co 3:9-15; 2Co 6:1).

The secular occupations of Jesus and Paul beautifully fill out this picture: Jesus, like Bezaleel, the "artisan" in wood and stone and metal, built the framework and foundation of the spiritual tabernacle -- the "center pole" of his work being the cross of wood erected at Golgotha. He also "worked" in metal -- the spikes with which he was nailed to the cross.

Afterward, Paul -- the New Testament "Aholiab" -- was chiefly responsible for the "stitching together" of the skins and fabrics (the individual ecclesias?) into whole coverings, to overlay the wooden framework. Building up and binding together individuals into ecclesias, and ecclesias into the One Body of Christ.

The "carpenter" and the "tentmaker" working together, according to the pattern of the more perfect tabernacle!

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