Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Lev 25:23-27
"The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is
mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold
as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land. If one of your
countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is
to come and redeem what his countryman has sold. If, however, a man has no one
to redeem it for him but he himself prospers and acquires sufficient means to
redeem it, he is to determine the value for the years since he sold it and
refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own
property" (Lev 25:23-27).
The Land belongs to God, and individual Israelites never
really owned it, though God Himself gave them the exclusive right to it so long
as they kept the law. If a man fell into debt, and had to mortgage the land
which he had inherited, it became the duty of the nearest of kin to purchase it,
so as to retain possession of it in the family. On the year of Jubilee, however,
the land which had passed out of the hands of the inheritor was, by divine
decree, caused to revert back to him. In that sense the property was treated as
being redeemed by God Himself (Lev 25:9,10). In the interim, it was the
responsibility of the kinsman (Heb "gaal") to act on behalf of God.
How will this portion of the Law of Moses be fulfilled? In the
broadest sense, the Land of Promise may be seen to have passed into the hands of
strangers when Israel was taken into captivity. But this same Land will be
redeemed by Christ the true "Gaal" (near-kinsman and redeemer) -- the Son in
whom the Father has been manifested (Psa 74:2; Isa 52:9) -- when he returns to
this earth to claim his inheritance.
Reading 2 - Psa 136
"For his mercy endureth for ever" (Psa 136:1, KJV).
"His love endures forever" (NIV).
This refrain was probably intended to be sung or spoken as an
echo by a chorus. And in our modern congregational reading the same pattern
might be followed with profit.
To the modern ear the KJV phrase, uttered verse after verse,
is ponderous and wearisome. Then why was it not so to Israel in ancient days?
For one thing, the phrase is much briefer in the Hebrew ("ki leolam chasdo")
than in the KJV ("for his mercy endureth for ever") -- only six syllables
compared to ten. An English equivalent might be: "For his love has no end"; see
how much more easily this phrase flows, verse after verse, than does "For his
mercy endureth for ever".
Secondly, such a refrain -- whether short or long -- was
surely not tedious when the psalm was first composed, because of the intense
relief and thankfulness which the latest mighty deliverance inspired in the
minds of its singers. Only the tremendous experience of disaster and divine
salvation is adequate to account for this repetitious yet unquenchably exuberant
Reading 3 - Luk 8:21
My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put
it into practice" (Luk 8:21).
"Are we doing the will of the Father in heaven? That is the
real test. It is not a question of doing what we assume ought to be His will. It
is not enough to find in our hearts general desires and aspirations in the right
direction. Is the work we are doing now in accordance with the revealed will of
God? Are we engaged in the works of love, dispensing the bread and water of
life, doing good to all men, especially those of the household of faith? Are we
crucifying the flesh by enduring evil treatment without retaliation, leaving
vengeance of all degrees to the Lord?" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and