The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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November 10

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

Reading 1 - Ezr 5; 6

"The unexpected opposition to the work of God discouraged the people. If any of the wall had been set up (Ezr 4:2), it had now been broken down (Ezr 2:17; Nah 2:17). The foundations of the temple if built (Ezr 3:10) had to be again restored for building (Hag 2:18). The people had dispersed to the cities (Ezr 2:70), claiming the time had not come for building (Hag 1:4). A spirit of gross materialism set in. Houses were built and glamorised (Hag 1:4), and every effort was made to build up personal wealth (Hag 1:6), but there was no true prosperity (Zec 8:9-18). A succession of bad seasons left the people impoverished (Hag 1:10,11) and completely dispirited. Haggai's message was 'Consider your ways!' But in Ezr 5, the work is resumed. The two chapters in Ezra combine the faithful actions of the people (Ezr 5), and the authoritative commands of the Persian monarch (Ezr 6).

"It is a type of the latter-day restoration of Israel and the government of the multitudinous Christ. The conclusion of Ezr 6 is a most delightful report of the nation in harmony with their God. Ezr 6:22 concludes the first portion of the book, with the temple built and the people rejoicing in the accomplishment of their hands. A great passover was held, as it will again be conducted in the millennial temple. The priests and the people were ceremonially purified (Ezr 6:20), typical of the saints, and through whom all the 'children of the captivity' were separated from the 'filthiness' of the nations (Ezr 6:21). It was a wonderful time, only to be eclipsed by the glory of the Age to come" (GE Mansfield).

Reading 2 - Hos 7:8

"Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over" (Hos 7:8).

"In the East it is the custom to heat the hearth, then sweep carefully the portion heated, put the cake upon it, and cover it with ashes and embers. In a little time the cake is turned. It is then covered again, and this process is continued several times, until the cake is found to be sufficiently baked. Ephraim has many representatives at this hour:

Reading 3 - Acts 26:14

In this chapter Paul reveals details of his conversion experience on the road to Damascus which were not mentioned in the historical account of Acts 9:

"We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads' " (Acts 26:14).

This last statement of the Lord is very interesting; its meaning turns on the precise definitions of two words:

Thus, taken together, the statement might be translated: "It is hard for you to lift up your heel against the sting of the serpent!" Now this may be seen as an obvious allusion to Gen 3:15. The Pharisee Saul of Tarsus, zealous for the Law, had sought to conquer the sin-power through personal effort, but inevitably he failed -- as all men must! Only the Lord Jesus Christ could successfully destroy the serpent-power of sin (Gen 3:15), either for himself or for others!

Such an allusion, from Christ, implies that the young man Saul must have felt, for some time, an uneasiness in attacking Christianity -- having realized that he had not been able to, nor could he ever by his own strength, resist the power of sin successfully... but that this man Jesus had done what he could not.

'How long, Saul, will you resist my appeal to repent of your own pride and self-righteousness, and find true peace in me?'

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