Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Num 16
"One of the most serious threats to the unity of the nation...
was the affair of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. It arose directly because a purely
fleshly reasoning caused the men concerned to press their personal importance to
the detriment of the good of the nation as a whole. They fell into the error of
'not holding fast the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit
together through the joints and bands, increaseth with the increase of God' (Col
2:19). Their action was based upon premises that seemed sound enough: 'All the
congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them' (Num 16:3).
These were the words on the lips of the '250 princes of the assembly, famous in
the congregation, men of renown', men who according to the record, Korah,
Dathan, and Abiram 'took'. Much lies concealed behind those words! One can
imagine the secret meetings, the passing on of information from mouth to mouth,
the fomenting of trouble, the sowing of discord, and all because Korah, being a
son of Levi, desired to play the part assigned to others of his tribe, and
Dathan and Abiram thought their tribe, the tribe of Reuben, deserving of greater
pre-eminence than that to which God had called them!
"What is the relation of all this to ourselves as a
community?... Our heritage is no less [than that of Israel], for the same God is
working towards unity in Christ in the Ecclesia, which is both a body and a
commonwealth....The people of Israel had a history of fragmentation and division
which began in the wilderness and for which there are two principal reasons:
Firstly, they had no sense of devotion to the Lord, whose Name was revealed in
His mighty acts of power and compassion on their behalf....Their loss of the
vision of the Divine glory caused them to yearn for Egypt, and ultimately to
refuse to believe that they were the people whom God would bring into the land
of His promise. They fragmented because they had no faith in the purpose of
"The other reason for their disunity was their failure to keep
in mind, much less to comprehend the concept of the unity of their people, or to
realize that the purpose of God was not with individuals or with tribes as such,
but with 'all Israel', to whose wellbeing individuals and tribes contributed by
playing each their several and necessary parts. Any fellowship other than that
which acknowledges that one is our Head and all we are brethren is still, as it
has always proved to be, a fellowship of opposition which leads to further
fragmentation within the dissident group itself. As far as we can tell from a
survey of our own history and that of Israel, there is no exception to this
principle" (AH Nicholls, "The Christadelphian" 115:42,43).
Reading 2 - Pro 12:10
"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the
kindest acts of the wicked are cruel" (Pro 12:10).
This is a good verse, and an insightful one. The plain fact
is... the animal can almost never do anything to hurt the owner, and will -- one
way or another -- probably be as devoted to the master whether it is hurt or
not. (The devotion, or even "love", of some horses, or dogs, for their masters
has become legend -- the stuff of great novels.) So to care for one's animals --
whether it's a farmer with work and farm animals, or the pet owner -- is to
demonstrate, to some degree, that we are conscious of a God in Heaven, who takes
notice of what we do to others.
There can always be a measure of self-interest in our "doing
good" to others: perhaps we invite others to dinner, knowing full well that they
will invite us in turn. Perhaps we give to charities, knowing that others will
think better of us for doing so. Perhaps we are courteous and "kind", knowing
that little acts like this will "oil" the wheels of commerce and business... and
help us materially. Perhaps we "feel the pain" of others, in some kind of
pseudo-sympathy, merely to "get on" in the world. Perhaps we act friendly merely
to "pick the pockets" of the beguiled buyer.
Somewhere in this list of "small kindnesses" there is really
"cruelty"... because we may have stopped caring for others, and are only caring
for ourselves, advancing our interests, making more money, whatever... It is
then that "the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel", as the proverb
So if you want to know if a man is really kind -- deep-down,
honestly "kind", and not just "self-interested" -- you might want to see how he
treats dumb animals, or even how he treats people who can't do anything to
hurt... or help... him.
Reading 3 - Gal 2:21
"I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness
could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" (Gal 2:21).
"This may be one of those verses that you casually glide by in
reading, but it is a concept that has tremendous implications for the person who
will but study its meaning.
"The initial implication for the verse is simple. The
Judaizers, believers in Jesus who taught that salvation still came through
following the Law of Moses, had put themselves in an untenable position. They
had, in effect by their teaching, made Christ's death on the cross meaningless.
Paul states the logic as follows: (1) If salvation comes by the Law of Moses,
and (2) we already have the Law of Moses, then (3) Jesus did not have to come
into the world to save us, and thus (4) his death was meaningless. The Judaizers
had made the Law of Moses the thing that needed to fill the 'salvation gap' --
the gap between baptism and salvation in the Kingdom. In other words, it was
fine to believe in Jesus and become baptized as taught by Jesus and the
apostles. However, the Judaizers inserted a step between baptism and the kingdom
that enabled salvation. Their stopgap was the Law.
"We readily see the logic and validity of the argument when we
apply it to the Law of Moses, but do we see it when we apply it to other things?
Do we see that we commit the same error when we take that verse and subtract
'the law' and put something in its place? For example, let's take out 'the law'
and put in 'works' and see if the logic still holds? 'I do not frustrate the
grace of God: for if righteousness come by works, then Christ is dead in vain.'
The logic again is irrefutable. Isn't this the logic of Eph 2:8,9?: 'For by
grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of
God: not of works, lest any man should boast.'
"The fact is that everything -- EVERYTHING -- that can be done
for us in the way of salvation... was done for us on the cross by Jesus Christ.
We might be able to take ourselves out of the way of salvation by refusing to
act on our 'faith', but we cannot do anything more to save ourselves than we did
when we believed and were baptized into the saving name of Jesus. When we appear
before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is not to see if WE have saved ourselves,
but to see if we have keep the precious gift of salvation that we were given in
an appropriate manner... or have we buried our talent in the 'earth' of our
"All human-created fillers for the 'salvation gap' -- works,
Bible study, being nice to our neighbors, etc -- as important as they may be,
will not save us because that work has already been finished. When we do those
things (and rest assured we MUST do those things), it is not to save ourselves,
but because we have been saved. These acts of faith must be done or we do not
possess the faith that saved us in the first place.
"We fear this position because it hurts our human pride. We
have nothing to brag about (which is the point in the first place). We also
fear, like Paul's Judaizing opponents are quoted as saying, 'Shall we continue
in sin, that grace may abound?' This too is a complete misapplication of
Scripture. Having our names written in the Book of Life is not about license to
sin, but about understanding the process of salvation. The last thing we want to
do is be guilty of teaching that 'Christ is dead in vain' " (Kyle