The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 8

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

Reading 1 - Deu 25:5,6

"If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel" (Deu 25:5,6).

The next of kin (Heb "gaal" or "kinsman-redeemer") had the duty of preserving the family by marrying the widow of a deceased brother if he had died childless. Under such a law, the continuity of the family was maintained, even though its continuance may have been threatened by folly or disaster. The duty of Preserver of the Family is clearly linked with the duty to redeem the land inheritance.

In the Book of Ruth, the wealthy Boaz, acting as the "gaal", made it possible for Ruth -- the Moabite widow of a Jew -- to have fellowship with Israel, and a covenant relationship with God.

The Lord Jesus, as our "gaal", has done likewise for us who are Gentiles: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ" (Eph 2:11-13). "This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (Eph 3:6).

Reading 2 - Song 5:16

"He is altogether lovely" (Song 5:16).

The power and beauty of Christ is this: that there is nothing out of harmony with the whole, that there is nothing to detract from the beauty of the whole. No danger of flaws discovered later, to cause disillusionment. Nothing to fear from the unsparing microscope of intimate familiarity: the more minutely we examine him, the more beautiful he is revealed to be -- this is an unfailing characteristic of all of God's creation, but never of man's inventions. This is the pattern God has set before us -- the ideal to which He wishes us to strive -- and the ultimate to which He will finally elevate His children.

Paul therefore prays that the ecclesia, collectively and as a single unit, may "all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ... speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together... grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Eph 4:13-16).


"This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem" (Song 5:16).

Here is a further deepening and enlarging of the picture. "My friend" is perhaps the fullest, richest, and most inclusive term by which the Bride may describe her Husband... and he is her "friend", even as he himself said:

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you" (John 15:13-15).

Reading 3 - Acts 20:35

"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive' " (Act 20:35).

"Be big. Most people are small: small-minded; small-hearted; small-thoughted. The children of God are called on to make the supreme effort to grow up from mankind's natural, infantile, self-centered smallness. Think eternity, not peanuts. Devote your life to giving, not getting. The getting will come in God's good time -- eternally: 'heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, running over' -- divine good measure. Relax into goodness and largeness of heart. Let the little minds burn themselves out in anxious seeking and fear of being shortchanged. Have no fear that you are going to lose something unless you constantly consider your self-interest and fret about your fair share. You cannot possibly lose if you are in track with God. He gives abundantly to all. He will see you do not lose -- eventually and eternally -- if you have the faith and the patience to wait" (GV Growcott).

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