The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 13

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

Reading 1 - Deu 30:19

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live" (Deu 30:19).

"Keep in direct contact with God at all times. Keep the communication line open. This is our lifeline. When this is broken or neglected, we are dead. Reading the Word, meditating on the Word -- these strengthen the line, tighten all the connections, clear away the impediment, keep the channel clear, and the power flowing. Pray without ceasing: it has limitless, measureless power. These divine things are real and actual: more so than what we can handle and see" (GV Growcott).

Reading 2 - Isa 2:1

"This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem" (Isa 2:1).

"We do not know anything of Isaiah's family or of the details of his upbringing. He was a member of some family of Jerusalem, and in intimate relations with the Court. It has been believed that he was of royal blood, but it matters little whether this be true or not. A spirit so wise and masterful as his did not need social rank to fit it for that intimacy with princes which has doubtless suggested the legend of his royal descent. What does matter is Isaiah's citizenship in Jerusalem, for this colours all his prophecy. More than Athens to Demosthenes, Rome to Juvenal, Florence to Dante, is Jerusalem to Isaiah. She is his immediate and ultimate regard, the centre and return of all his thoughts, the hinge of the history of his time, the one thing worth preserving amidst its disasters, the summit of those brilliant hopes with which he fills the future. He has traced for us the main features of her position and some of the lines of her construction, many of the great figures of her streets, the fashions of her women, the arrival of embassies, the effect of rumours. He has painted her aspect in triumph, in siege, in famine, and in earthquake; war filling her valleys with chariots, and again nature rolling tides of fruitfulness up to her gates; her moods of worship and panic and profligacy -- till we see them all as clearly as the shadow following the sunshine, and the breeze the breeze, across the cornfields of our own summers.

"If he takes wider observation of mankind, Jerusalem is his watch-tower. It is for her defence he battles through fifty years of statesmanship, and all his prophecy may be said to travail in anguish for her new birth. He was never away from her walls, but not even the psalms of the captives by the rivers of Babylon, with the desire of exile upon them, exhibit more beauty and pathos than the lamentations which Isaiah poured upon Jerusalem's sufferings or the visions in which he described her future solemnity and peace.

"It is not with surprise, therefore, that we find the first prophecies of Isaiah directed upon his mother city" (GA Smith, "Isaiah").

Reading 3 - Acts 28:30

"For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him" (Acts 28:30).

Or "at his own expense" (RSV) welcoming all visitors, to whom he spoke of the Kingdom of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ "quite openly and unhindered" (RSV). Here (vv 30,31) is a clear testimony to the legality of Christianity: Paul, even while a prisoner, is allowed to preach it even in Rome!

"During this period he also wrote to the believers at Ephesus, Philippi and Colosse, and sent the letter to Philemon. Luke thus establishes that Paul bore witness in Rome to the resurrected Christ as the Lord had foretold, but there is no reference in Acts to Paul appearing before Caesar as the angel had foretold (Act 27:23,24); an event which Luke would surely have recorded if it had taken place when he wrote. It can be assumed then that Paul remained a prisoner chained to a Roman guard during the two years" ("Testimony" 50:71,72).

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