Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Neh 7
"Nehemiah not only directed the rebuilding of the wall of
Jerusalem; he also set out to rebuild the nation and to strengthen its morality.
His work does not cease with the building, but he was careful to follow up with
regulations that were calculated to help the development of the nation. How
important that example!
Nehemiah set out security regulations: vv 1-4.
The population problem
considered: vv 5-73.
"Nehemiah undertook his labours on behalf of Yahweh. He
recognised the importance of determining who were the true seed of Israel, for
it was to this end that careful genealogies were kept. How otherwise would it be
established that Jesus was of the lineage of David? So he set out the register
of those who had come from Babylon with Zerubbabel. Nehemiah used it as a basis
of comparison for the census he plans to undertake. We might spend less time
reading such a chapter, or avoid the difficult names, but we should remember
that if our name were included, how delighted we would be to have everyone read
the chapter!" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Joel 2:12-14
" 'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your
heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your
garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who
knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing -- grain offerings
and drink offerings for the LORD your God" (Joel 2:12-14).
"Here... is the only solution to Israel's woes and troubles:
Repentance! It is doubtful whether any exhortation to a new life is to be found
in the Bible to compare with this sustained and detailed pleading. But for long
centuries God's people have been impervious to these appeals of heaven. Yet
repentance -- note the piling up of phrases -- is the only thing that can save
Israel from the unparalleled disaster which today appears threateningly on the
"It is an aspect of the teaching of God's Word concerning
Israel, which the New Israel just as stubbornly refuses to recognize, that
except there be repentance first, even the omnipotence of an Almighty God cannot
save the people of His choice. It is not possible to print out in full the
entire list of Scriptures about this. Instead, the bald references are given. If
any reader doubts the Bible's intensity of emphasis is really as strong as all
that, let him work his way patiently through the subjoined catalogue. He will
then ask himself, and his fellows, in amazement why such a vital theme has gone
so much ignored for so long a time. Is it because earlier teachers left it
alone, and if they didn't see it, it can't have been there? Or is it because,
even for those who are spiritually streets ahead of natural Israel, repentance
is an unpopular topic?
"Zec 6:15; 12:10-14; 13;9; Isa 17:6-8; 19:20; 59:20; Eze
20:42-44; 36:24-28; 37:11,23; Psa 81:13,14; Rom 11:15,26; Jer 3:14-18; 4:1,2;
29:12-14; Deu 4:27-31; 30:1-3; Mat 23:39; Amos 5:15; Lev 26:40ff; 1Ki 8:47-49;
Gen 18:19; Zep 2:1-3; Acts 3:19,20.
"In the face of this sustained remonstration, is it possible
to believe that the Second Coming of the Lord will/can take place except the
people of God demand it by their holy way of life and godliness? (2Pe 3:11,12).
"The character of the repentance called for by the prophet
Joel is spelled out very precisely, both as to disposition and the practical
godliness summed up in the religious routine appropriate to his own day: 'meal
offering and drink offering unto the Lord.' In practice, in this 20th century,
what sort of repentance does Jehovah demand from His Israelis? One thing, for
certain: an avowal of faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Let a Jew of today make
that initial big step, and Messiah Jesus will see to the rest in due course. The
guarantee for this, says Joel, is the character of the God of Israel which he
quotes with gusto from Jehovah's own declaration to Moses: 'gracious and
merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness' (Exo 34:6). This character of
God had been exhibited in His longsuffering extended to brutal grasping
Assyrians in the days of Jonah (Jon 3: 5-10; 4:11); and, thanks to the godly
zeal of Hezekiah, was exhibited by the chosen people, undeserving, in Joel's own
day (see, by all means, 2Ch 30:6-9)...
"Happily, neither Joel nor any other inspired writer goes so
far as to assert that Messiah will come to the rescue of his nation only when
all Israel is repentant. If Jehovah treasured seven thousand in the days of
Elijah, is He not likely to be content with even fewer in the 3 1/2 year
ministry of Elijah's great successor (Mal 4:6)?" (Harry Whittaker,
Reading 3 - 2Th 1:3
"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly
so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you
has for each other is increasing" (2Th 1:3).
It is sobering (and challenging) to consider all those for
whom Paul constantly prayed:
Believers in Rome, regarding their mutual faith and Paul's desire to return
to them (Rom 1:9-12).
Believers in Corinth, regarding the "grace" (gifts?)
given them, and that they may be blameless when Christ returns (1Co
Believers in Ephesus, regarding their growth in knowledge and wisdom
(Eph 1:15-18), and that they might be filled with Christ and his love
Believers in Philippi, regarding their fellowship in the gospel,
and that their love may abound (Phi 1:3-9).
Believers in Colosse, that they
might be filled with knowledge and walk worthy of the Lord (Col 1:3-6,9,10).
(Epaphras, "who is one of you", likewise prayed -- 4:12.)
Thessalonica, giving thanks for their faith (1Th 1:3-8), that it was growing
(2Th 1:3); that they might glorify Christ (v 11), and that they might be
comforted and established (2:16,17).
Timothy, that he might see him and be
filled with joy (2Ti 1:3,4).
Philemon, giving thanks for his love and faith
And these are merely the prayers that the apostle saw fit to