The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 14

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

Reading 1 - Deu 31:19

"Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them" (Deu 31:19).

"It is interesting to see, as we read through the Bible, how many parts of scripture we instantly recognize as having learnt because we have heard them in song. It is not that we have purposely gone out to memorize parts of the word of God, yet because so much of it has been set to music, we remember what it says. It was for this reason, I believe, that Moses gave Israel this message in a song. God told him, 'Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and make them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them' (Deu 31:19). So Moses sung the song to all Israel. The music, the rhythm, the rhyme and the words all help us to remember it. And so this was a song that would have been remembered by the Israelites for a long time to come.

"This particular song was much more than just a nice piece of music. It warned Israel of the choice they would make about serving God in the future. So Moses said, 'Take to heart all the words that I have solemnly declared to you today... they are not just idle words for you -- they are your life.'

"The lesson is for us to do the same. Let's get the word of God into our minds and hearts by music or whatever means we can. Let's take its message to heart and live by what we have learned" (Robert Prins).

Reading 2 - Isa 3:16-24

"The LORD says, 'The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles' " (Isa 3:16).

These words (vv 16-24) were spoken against the women of Israel, who made a vain and wanton display of the wealth (beauty, culture, fashion, display, ostentation) their husbands had wickedly acquired. (Luxury had greatly increased in the days of Uzziah: 2Ch 26:5,15.) Their dressiness was not necessarily wicked in itself, but it was wrong when unaccompanied by the inner adorning, of which the apostles wrote (1Ti 2:9; 1Pe 3:3).

"That superb Bible scholar William Kay catalogues seven separate items mentioned here as having direct connection with the garments of the High Priest, the best-dressed man in Israel. Now women of the temple, who originally had been glad to forego their personal vanities (Exo 38:8), sought to outdo in appearance the most exalted man in the nation. Accordingly, Isaiah applies to these 'haughty' (v 16) women the very word which he has already used three times about the 'loftiness of man' (Isa 2:11,15,17)" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 114).

For a time, these women in Israel continued on their way completely indifferent to the requirements of the law or the appeal of the prophets. They preferred to please themselves. They stood before their mirrors and admired the beauty that they saw reflected therein, but they did not see the hidden ugliness of the heart: the spirit of rebellion that made Yahweh sad and angry.

The day came, however, when they learned to regret the folly of their actions. It was the day of judgment, and they were held accountable for the manner in which they had defied the requirements of Yahweh, and had influenced others to do likewise.

Reading 3 - Col 1:10

"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Col 1:10).

A LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD: "You have your limits. You have more mental capacity than some, and less than others. You have more physical capacity than some, and less than others. This is true of everyone except the single one at the top and at the bottom. Much can be done in both categories by exercise, but still there are limits -- and all are different. It is not important. At his very best and highest, man is still nothing. At worst and lowest, he is still something. What counts eternally is how you use what you have been given, in mental, physical, and circumstantial opportunity. This is your personal stewardship, be it great or small. You will be judged upon it. God requires your most and best, within your limits. This is what love will be eager and anxious to give and still wish it could give more. Do you have this love and zeal for divine service that makes the difference between life and death? It comes with long study and meditation, and prayer. It's not a secret or special gift that some just happen to have. It's something all are commanded to develop, and freely shown how. It is spiritual-mindedness, which is life and peace; and there can be neither life nor peace without it. It is not a matter of sudden and shallow emotional excitement, like orthodox 'conversion.' It is a deep, steady, consistent learning and growing and transforming, and becoming closer and closer to the Divine Perfection" (GV Growcott).

BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK: "Don't drift. Don't play. Make all your time sensible and constructive and useful. Play is for children. It is essential for them. Your childhood is over. Grow up. There is plenty of exercise and enjoyment and relaxation in practical and effective work. Eschew the fleshly illusion that time must be wasted to be enjoyed. That's stupid. We have no justification or excuse for wasting God's valuable time in childplay -- for ALL our time is His, for His purpose. We have solemnly agreed to this. So be honest. Live up to it. You know there is no satisfying peace or joy in slipping back into the vacuous and juvenile play of infancy. Grow up! Press on! Keep your eye on the glorious goal. You have a brief, once-only opportunity to secure eternity. Don't bungle it. Disneyland is for immature and empty minds. It's a dressed up skeleton: a grinning corpse. Look beyond the glitter and tinsel to the cold and dead bones beneath. It's the whole mad world in microcosm: shun it as the plague" (GV Growcott).

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