The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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January 22

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

Reading 1 - Gen 37

"Joseph was innocent and excellent, but Joseph was young and untried, and God had a great purpose with him that required that he should be matured and perfected in character as men only can be perfected -- in the school of adversity. Joseph had to be fitted for exaltation and the exercise of power, and therefore Joseph had to suffer for Joseph's own good and for the bringing about of a great result to the whole house of Israel. Joseph was allowed to become the object of his brethren's successful hatred. Therefore, if sympathy sheds a tear, the understanding admires, while Joseph is bound by unfeeling brethren, and in spite of his frantic entreaties, lowered into a pit where death appears inevitable, both in his own estimation and that of his brothers. No greater evil short of death could befall a human being than that which thus came to Joseph. A spectator on the spot would have said it was evil in which it was not possible to imagine any good purpose. There was no explanation of it. Joseph was not permitted the know the meaning. He could not have understood if told. It would have frustrated the object for him to know. Let us recollect this when in any matter similarly situated. Circumstances may be dark; calamity unmixed; the situation such that enemies may say, 'There is no help for him in God'; yet God may be at the bottom of all the trouble for purposes of goodness which the future alone will reveal. The only policy is, in all circumstances, to commit ourselves to the keeping of our Creator in faith and well-doing: 'Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday' " (Robert Roberts, "Ways of Providence" 87).

Reading 2 - Psa 40:8

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart" (Psa 40:8).

This psalm is quoted in Heb 10 about the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, who did the will of God... perfectly -- and thus essentially fulfilled all the shadows and prophecies and sacrifices and expectations of the Old Testament.

The very words of Psa 40:8 are quoted by Paul in Rom 7:22, and echoed in idea by Jesus himself in Joh 4:34: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work."

YOUR LAW IS WITHIN MY HEART: The Hebrew is "my bowels", emphasizing either that the law of God has been eagerly devoured (Eze 3:3; Rev 10:9; cp Joh 4:34), or else that the teaching of God's law has captured his emotions. The Septuagint reads "heart" (ie, mind, of course), as in v 10. This prepares the way for Heb 10:16: In the New Covenant, men are made like Jesus, the one who makes the New Covenant possible, by having his law put into their hearts (Jer 31:33).

To what extent was this really true of Jesus, that God's law was within his heart? In him was certainly the true and perfect realization of the law of Deu 17:18-20, commanding the king of Israel to write his own copy of the law. The ones who observed this law could probably be counted on the fingers of one hand (perhaps David, Hezekiah, Josiah?), but no doubt Jesus fulfilled this law in the best possible way. It is reasonable to infer that at some time during the days of his flesh (perhaps in the hidden years, from twelve to thirty: Luk 2:47) Jesus wrote out his own copy of the law, and probably memorized it as well! Everything about the spontaneous suitability of all he had to say in his handling of the Word of God suggests this. And so for Jesus the law was written not upon cold tables of stone or upon perishable parchments, but in the warm and living table of the human heart (Deu 6:6; Pro 3:3; 7:3; 2Co 3:3). Written there, it colored and affected every aspect of his life, and -- through him -- that same law touches the hearts of all of us!

Reading 3 - Mat 24:7

"There will be... earthquakes in various places" (Mat 24:7).

The May 1984 National Geographic shows through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in AD 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gases. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day. The saddest part is that these people did not have to die.

Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record -- weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!

There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming Day of Judgment. People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings.

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