Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - Ezr 4:24
"Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a
standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia" (Ezr
Through the opposition of the adversaries the wonderful work
that had commenced with the returning exiles stopped. The work was stopped for
abut 16 years. It was this stopping of the work which caused some to say, "The
time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built" (Hag 1:2). Opposition
should not cause us to slack the work and make excuses for our
Reading 2 - Hos 6:6
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God
rather than burnt offerings" (Hos 6:6).
"God is not setting up mercy and sacrifice as opposites. He is
not condemning the offering of sacrifices, but He is exposing their attitude of
mind in the offering thereof. Their worship was hollow, without heart. They
were, as Malachi so clearly stated, guilty of robbing God whilst in the very act
of offering sacrifices to him (Mal 3:7-12). They were going through the motions
of seeking forgiveness, for God had given them the blood of animals 'upon the
altar to make an atonement for your souls' (Lev 17:11), but there was no
appreciation of His mercy and consequently no spilling over of that mercy from
their own lives. There was no knowledge of God, no fear of His presence; their
lives were filled with self.
"This is a searching exhortation: to be exposed to the
possibility of incurring condemnation whilst in the act of performing that which
was designed to save. Is this not the Old Testament counterpart of, 'Wherefore
whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily,
shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine
himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that
eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body' (1Co 11:27-29). How important it is, then, that we
should have a 'knowledge' of God, a knowledge of His redeeming mercy and of His
searching truth, and that these should be discerned along with the Lord's body
in the emblems given for that purpose" (Cyril Tennant, "Hosea" 47,48).
Reading 3 - Acts 24:25
"As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the
judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may
leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you' " (Acts 24:25).
"Felix was a naturally violent and headstrong man, used to
exercising power, and getting his own way. If men revolted against his
authority, he destroyed them. If the High Priest remonstrated with him, he had
him put to death. If he fancied another man's wife, he took her. But if he
wanted to be a Christian, he would have to get down off his high horse and learn
to control his passions. 'Except a man be converted, and become as a little
child', the founder of Christianity had laid down, 'he cannot see the Kingdom of
Heaven.' And neither Felix or anybody else is exempted. There is no place for
people on hand-made pedestals in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God" (Len
"The bloated slave sitting on the seat of judgment and power,
representing all the worst vices of Roman degeneracy; the heads of the sinking
Jewish commonwealth, blinded by history and mad with hate, forgetting for the
moment their abhorrence of their Roman masters and their deeper detestation of
the apostle Paul; the hired advocate with his fulsome praise and false charges.
And the great apostle with his inimitable skill in debate, pure-minded, upright,
fearless, pleading his own cause with consummate force and dignity, and
overawing his heathen judge by the majesty of his character. A graphic
description of a noble scene" (AC Hervey, cited in "Story of the Bible"