The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 10

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

Reading 1 - Deu 27

"On entering the land the nation is to gather great stones, and -- whitening them with lime -- they are to write thereon the words of the Law. In addition, an altar is to be erected upon Ebal the Mount of Cursing: a wonderful type of the purpose of Yahweh in Christ as expressed in the Gospel. The nation is to assemble at the place selected to hearken to and endorse the cursings and blessings of the Law. These principles set forth the terms of the impending reign of Yahweh in the Land. It shows that submission to His rule is the secret of success on the part of His people (vv 1-8); that those who attempt to obey will enjoy His grave or favour (vv 9,10); and that the responsibility of doing so rests upon each individual (vv 11-26). To sum up these requirements: if Yahweh is Lord of the heart, He will be Lord of everything else! His influence will motivate action and establish a character fitted for eternity" (HP Mansfield, "Christadelphian Expositor").

Reading 2 - Song 7:10

"I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me" (Song 7:10).

This is the third in a series of similar expressions to be found in the Song of Songs:

"Desire" is "teshuwqah", found in the OT only here and in Gen 3:16; 4:7. In these words there is a primeval Edenic purity, as the Shulammite echoes God's words: "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" (Gen 3:16). In this case, however, it is not just her desire to be subordinated to the will of her husband; it is his desire to serve her needs. This expresses a desire to return, a desire for oneness, a desire that the individual will (even HIS will!) should be subordinated to the needs of the unit which is the couple: "And the two will become one flesh" (Eph 5:31; cp Joh 17:21; Act 4:32; 27:23; 1Co 6:19,20). It obviously is a very strong, almost overpowering, urge. His desire for her easily equals hers for him (cp Psa 45:11; Job 14:15). She is at no disadvantage. She relishes the security of her relationship to her husband.

It may be that, in the sentence of Gen 3:16, "your desire will be for your husband" expressed the incompleteness of the marriage bond: the man, under sentence to earn a living by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3:17-19), could not -- and would not -- give all his attentions to satisfying his wife's desires. Her "desire" for him would, sadly, be greater than his "desire" for her. But in the relationship described here, pointing forward to the perfect spiritual "marriage" between Christ and the church, his "desire" for her would equal -- and even exceed -- hers for him. (This was the sort of desire expressed by Christ in Luk 22:15: "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.") And she thinks of his "desire" toward her not as his will to dominate her, but rather his commitment to do whatever he can so as to share his joy with her. In this setting, her submission to him is no burden, but a surpassing gratitude and an intense pleasure.

"It is her greatest desire to belong to him, who on the mountain of myrrh [Song 4:6] has redeemed her unto himself, and it is understandable even to our finite minds that, in that beauty of holiness, the perfections of which the beloved has been singing, she indeed will be desirable to him, now fully attuned in heart and mind unto the Divine, she having set her mind upon him" (Atwell).

"Had he not proved [that his desire was for her] all along in their association together? Had he not revealed himself to her? Had he not taught her? protected her? provided for her? healed her? forgiven her? restored her? made her? Had he not presented her faultless before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy [cp Rom 8:28-39; Jud 1:24]?" (Hall).

All this is expressed most succinctly in Psa 119:94: "Save me, for I am yours." Our attempts to explain this may falter, in the multiplying of phrases and descriptions -- but these six simple words may come as close as anything to the heart of our faith. Here there is the confession that we are lost, that we cannot save ourselves. Here there is the absolute abandonment of self, which is the essence of sacrifice: "I am yours!" In this there is the profoundest relief: 'I don't have to carry this burden alone... he... who carried the cross will carry it with me!' And here there is the most complete confession of faith -- not bound up in creeds nor dependent upon the precision of our own formulation, but a faith that has dug down deep enough to find bedrock... "Save me!" "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

Reading 3 - Acts 24:15

"I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked" (Acts 24:15).

The word translated "unjust" (KJV) or "wicked" (NIV) is the Greek "adikos"; other uses of the same original word plainly include the unbaptized:

Again in the immediate context of Acts 24:15, the Gentile ruler Felix, who heard these words of Paul about a "resurrection of the wicked", grew fearful when -- only a few days later -- Paul spoke to him again of "the judgment to come" (Acts 24:25). If a resurrection of the "wicked" or the "unjust" (v 15) plainly held no threat at all for any unbaptized Gentile, why did Felix tremble when told of the judgment?

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