Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Jos 3:1,2
"Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out
from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over.
After three days..." (Jos 3:1,2).
And so they camped before the Jordan, that impassable
obstacle, for three full days (v 2).
"Those three days before that unfordable river were the
necessary preparation for what followed -- the background from which the
following miracle might be the more evident to and the more appreciated by
Israel. Man's extremity furnishes the most suitable opportunity for God to
display His power. And it is not until man is made painfully aware of his
extremity that he turns unto the Lord and seeks His intervention. That truth is
writ large across the 107th Psalm, which forcible illustrates and exemplifies
what we have been seeking to express. 'Hungry and thirsty their souls fainted in
them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble' (Psa 107:5,6). 'There was
none to help: then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them'
(Psa 107:12,13). 'They draw near unto the gates of death: then they cry unto the
Lord' (Psa 107:18,19). They 'are at their wits' end: then they cry unto the
Lord' (Psa 107:27,28). They are brought into a desperate situation, to the end
of their own resources, and then it is that they -- not merely utter a few cold
and formal petitions, but -- 'cry unto the Lord', and such a cry is ever
responded to by His deliverance.
"Do not close your eyes to the Jordan -- the problem, the
difficulty, the obstacle -- that confronts you, but face it. Do not attempt to
minimize it, but take its full measure. Continue contemplating it until you
plainly realize your own helplessness to cope with the same, and then trustfully
turn unto Him who is capable of dealing with it" (AW Pink).
Reading 2 - Isa 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the
government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isa 9:6).
THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ON HIS SHOULDERS: The government of
Israel is here symbolized by one of its emblems: the royal robe fastened at the
shoulder. In Jdg 16:3,4: Samson possesses the gate of his enemy Dagon, carrying
it on his shoulders to Hebron. (The gate, especially of one's enemies, also
symbolizes governmental power (Rth 4:1, and other refs).
When we come to the New Testament, reference to the royal
shoulder suggests the shoulder of Jesus, that bore the cross (John 19:17). THAT
was HIS emblem of office!
WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF
PEACE: This is probably intended to be all one name, like Maher-shalal-hash-baz
(Isa 8:1). Following the Soncino Bible, this could be read:
"Pele-joez-gibbor-el-abi-ad-sar-shalom" = (perhaps) "The wonderful counselor,
the mighty God, IS the everlasting father of the prince of peace". (Some of
these same "names" are combined elsewhere: in Isa 28:29; 25:1, for examples,
about God Himself.)
COUNSELOR: Used by Micah in Virgin Birth prophecy (Mic 4:9).
"Counsel" refers to the personal fellowship between God and His Son: Psa 16:7;
Mar 1:35; Joh 6:15; 5:19,20; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10. True counsel, wisdom, only from
God: Jer 10:23; Job 12:13; Isa 40:12-14; 11:2-4. Christ brought God's counsel
(Deu 18:15-18), as "one having authority" (Mat 7:29). See also 1Co 1:30; Col
2:3; Zec 6:12.
MIGHTY GOD: "El Gibbor" = "mighty hero" (Moffatt). The Father
has given His own Name to His Son as well (Phi 2:9; cp Psa 45:3,6; Heb 1:8). In
general Scriptural terminology, one who acts on behalf of God may be called
"God": (a) angels: Gen 16:13; 18:13; Exo 23:20,21; Hos 12:3,5; (b) men: Exo
22:28; 22:6; 21:8 (elohim); Psa 138:1; Joh 10:34 (cit Psa 82:1,6); (c) the
Messiah: Isa 8:13,14; 61:1,6; 64:4; 65:16; Zec 12:10; Mal 3:1; Joh 20:28; Heb
EVERLASTING FATHER: In Hebrew idiom, "father" may signify
"master, leader, teacher" (ie, Isa 22:21; Gen 45:8; 2Ki 5:13; Jdg 18:19; Gen
4:20,21). So, literally, this phrase may mean "father of the age to come"
PRINCE OF PEACE: As was Melchizedek (Gen 14; Heb 7). "The
peace" -- or the "prince who brings peace" -- "when the Assyrian comes into the
Land" (Mic 5:5). Compare the angels' testimony at the announcement of Jesus'
birth: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom his favor
rests" (Luk 2:14).
Reading 3 - 1Th 5:4
"But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day
should surprise you like a thief" (1Th 5:4).
The "thief-like" advent is not so much to the unheeding world
as to the "brothers", that is, the saints, who are unprepared. The coming of
Christ SHOULD not surprise any believers, but it WILL surprise some: Rev 3:3;
16:15; 2Pe 3:9,10.
What IS the point of Paul's simile "as a thief" in regard to
believers at the return of Christ? When a burglar has broken into a house and
slipped away with all the money and the choicest items of wealth it contains,
the householder suddenly awakes to the fact that what he deemed to be his most
treasured possessions are gone forever. For those who are not prepared to meet
their Master, his coming will be most unexpected and most unwelcome. It will
bring a day of acute self-awareness, as though they awake from a dream. Things
will have been turned upside-down, and nothing can be "put right" again!
Everything that once seemed so important will be suddenly both useless and
meaningless, as though it had been stolen by a thief: cars, clothes, homes, bank
accounts, hobbies, entertainments -- all vanished! And he who was perhaps put
second, or even ignored at times, will be all-important.
"But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My Lord
delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and
drink with the drunken; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he
looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him
asunder and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping
and gnashing of teeth" (Mat 24:28-51).
Those who speak (or, even more to the point, those who act) as
though they are indifferent to the Lord's coming (cp 2Pe 3:4 -- "Where is the
promise of his coming?") are within the church, and not its critics on the
outside! Of course, no "responsible" believer ever denies the second coming in
so many words; not a few deny faith in it, sadly, by their actions (or