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
This is the third in a series of similar expressions to be
found in the Song of Songs:
Firstly, in Song 2:16, the girl exclaims, "My lover is mine and I am his."
In this passage her initial thought of her lover was of HER claim upon him,
while his claim upon her was secondary.
But later, with more maturity, she
says, "I am my lover's and my lover is mine" (Song 6:3). At this point she is
thinking first of HIS claim, and only afterwards mentions her own. Now she sees
that the true primacy is his!
And there is yet a still further development
of character in her similar words here in Song 7:10. Finally, she has at last
lost sight of her claim altogether, in the rapture of belonging, solely and
exclusively, to him: "I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me." Here is
the fullest attainment of faith, indicated in joy and peace: her lover is now
her "all in all"!
"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
"When one of you has a grievance against a brother, does he dare go to law
before the unrighteous (adikos) instead of the saints?" (1Co 6:1) -- the
"unrighteous" are directly contrasted with the "saints";
"For Christ also
hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust (adikos), that he might
bring us to God" (1Pe 3:18) -- the "unjust" are those who are in the process of
being brought to God, a perfect definition of the as-yet-unbaptized!; and
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to
reserve the unjust (adikos) unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2Pe 2:9)
-- the immediate context here equates the godly with Lot (v 7), and the unjust
with the men of Sodom and Gomorrah (v 6), and plainly says that they -- being
"unjust" -- will be punished on the day of judgment.
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?