The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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May 22

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

Reading 1 - Jos 8:29

"He hung the king of Ai on a tree and left him there until evening" (Jos 8:29).

Considering the parallels with Acts 5:30; 10:39... how could the hanging of the king of Ai on a tree typify the Lord Jesus Christ hung on a cross? One was a wicked Gentile; the other was the preeminently righteous Jew. One died eternally; the other lives eternally.

The answer: the death of Jesus was not "merely" the death of a righteous man -- he was handed over to death by God's set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23): God's purpose was that -- in the obedient death of His own Son -- the "righteousness" of God would be declared as a basis for the forgiveness of sins for all who have faith in him (Rom 3:21-31). How? Because Jesus in his death "condemned sin" (Rom 8:3), putting to death the flesh in which the sin-principle resided (Heb 2:14,15) -- this is what made him the perfect sacrifice.

So... Jesus "hanging on a tree" is not just the death of a perfectly righteous man, but also the death of "King Sin" (Rom 6:12-14) and the lifting up of the serpent on the stake (Num 21:8,9; Joh 3:14) and the destruction of the works of the "devil" (1Jo 3:5,8). Given this sense of the matter, the hanging of Ai's king on a tree -- despite being superficially dissimilar -- is in fact a wonderful type of the crucifixion of Christ!

Reading 2 - Isa 12:3

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Isa 12:3).

"In Hezekiah's day there was only one 'well of salvation' -- the Gihon spring which was led underground by Hezekiah's conduit (2Ch 32:3,4) to Siloam (Isa 8:6) inside the city's defences. The intensive plural -- 'wells' -- is used here for emphasis. Here is the beginning (it could hardly have been introduced earlier) of the lovely figure of speech, in psalms and prophets, of the Lord as a life-giving spring of water (Jer 2:13; cp Psa 42:1,2). [This verse] suggests that it was in thanksgiving for the Assyrian deliverance that the procedure was instituted at the Feast of Tabernacles [cp also Zec 14:16] of drawing water from Siloam and taking it in solemn processional to the temple, there to be poured out in praise and thanksgiving at the base of the altar. It was, of course, this to which Jesus referred in his great appeal on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37,38). He appropriated the meaning of the entire procedure to himself, and thus underlined (what needs no underlining) that Isa 12 is about himself and his salvation" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 192).

Reading 3 - 1Ti 2:9

"In like manner also, (I command) that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with restraint and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array..." (1Ti 2:9).

This word "apparel" includes more than dress. It may be translated "deportment" or "bearing". Actions are very much a part of this "apparel"! This reminds us of so many Biblical passages showing clothing as a symbol of our life in the Truth (Job 29:14; Psa 132:9; 1Pe 5:5; Isa 11:5; Rev 19:7,8). Paul is looking for modesty that is firmly rooted in the character -- not the "modesty" of a showy affectation. "Sobriety" denotes soundness of mind and judgment. It is a habitual, inner self-government, which puts a constant rein upon the natural desires and passions. Sobriety puts into action what the "modesty" recognizes to be proper.

With such qualities of modesty and restraint the sister must adorn herself, so as to be pleasing in God's sight.

"The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1Sa 16:7).

God sees the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb 4:12), and our "adornments" must be those characteristics in which He finds delight. These verses are especially for the women, but the ultimate application is for all: "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1Pe 3:3,4).

Paul is commending the virtue of self-restraint: the refusal to conform to the foolish fashions of a vain and changing world. How closely should a brother or sister conform to the fashions of the world, as to dress, makeup, and so forth? Men and women are born, make changes while they live, grow old and die; and others come to take their places. This world's fashions come and go, and the only sure thing about them is that nothing will remain the same for long. But the Almighty God of heaven never changes. In this is sufficient reason to shun (as much as is practical and reasonable) the passing fancies of a godless world.

By slavishly following the fashions of this world, we are showing our misplaced dependence upon it. We are showing that we regard the favor of the world as of greater value than the favor of God. We think more of the world's fellowship than we do of God's fellowship.

Furthermore, stylish dress, elaborate hairstyles and excessive makeup, which imitate the changing fashions of today, give the impression to others of a similarity of thought and behavior. This is not something that a believer in Christ should wish to imply. As much as is practical we must show our separateness from the world. Thus we should be modest, neat, and tasteful -- not skimpy on the clothes, not excessive in our spending, not elaborate and time-consuming in our personal grooming. The overall key -- and especially is this true for the sisters -- is modesty (not seductiveness) in apparel, and in conduct.

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