The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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December 28

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

Reading 1 - Job 38:4-7

"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels [Hebrew 'the sons of God'] shouted for joy?" (Job 38:4-7).

"If there weren't enthusiasm in creation, it would soon run down. Everything is made of atoms, protons, neutrons and electrons, things you can't keep still -- not for a second! They dash in all directions at tremendous speeds, and the heavenly bodies move the same way. The old Greeks called the movement they made as they passed through space 'the music of the spheres.' I don't think they've missed it by very much at all. I believe that God sang when He created things. The motion and speed of the heavenly bodies, the working of little creatures in the earth to make the soil soft, the working of the sun on the earth -- all this is God joyously working in His creation.

"Enthusiasm is seen in creation; it's seen in light. Did you ever stop to think what it would be like if there were no light? If God Almighty were to put a lead sack around all the heavenly bodies and suddenly shut out all the light there is, I wouldn't want to be alive... Some people are afraid of color. They think that spirituality consists in being drab. But God made color! He made all shades of colors. Look at the sunset -- what is it, just something scientific? Do you think that God splashed the lovely, beautiful sky with rose, cerise, blue and white and wasn't smiling when He did that? Is that just an accident of nature, scientifically explained? Then you've got too much learning for your own good! Go empty your head and get your heart filled and you'll be better off. The Holy Spirit wrote 150 psalms and in those psalms God celebrates the wonders of His creation.

"In my state of Pennsylvania the money-greedy scoundrels have bought the coal rights in certain sections of the state. There were beautiful hills there that I grew up to see and love, beautiful sun-kissed hills sometimes mystic blue in the setting of the sun. And the creeks ran below out to the rivers and down to the sea. It was all very beautiful. But I went back to my old place years later, and I found that these money-hungry fellows didn't dig a hole to get the coal; they took bulldozers and dragged the top off the earth -- trees, grass, everything -- to get down to the coal. The result was that thousands and thousands of acres -- whole hills that used to go up with their green to meet heaven's blue -- lay gashed like one vast, gaping grave. The state of Pennsylvania said, 'You've got to fill them all in or we'll fine you $3,000.' And the mining people looked at each other and grinned and paid the $3,000. They left it as it was, and I went away grief-stricken to see my beautiful hills now great ugly sand pits. I went back in a few more years, and do you know what nature had done? Dear old busy, enthusiastic, fun-loving, joyous Mother Nature began to draw a green veil over that ugly gash. And now if you go back you will see it has cured itself. It's God Almighty in that!

"We ought to stop thinking like scientists and think like psalmists. This infinite God is enjoying Himself. Somebody is having a good time in heaven and earth and sea and sky. Somebody is painting the sky. Somebody is making trees to grow where only gashes were a year ago. Somebody is causing the ice to melt out of the river and the fish to swim and the birds to sing and lay their blue eggs and build their nests and hatch their young. Somebody's running the universe... And I believe I know who it is" (AW Tozer).

Reading 2 - Zec 14:8

"On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter" (Zec 14:8).

"Living water" is a metaphor that pictures water as a living thing flowing quickly and sparkling in its constant movement and shifting course (cp Lev 14:5,6,50-52; 15:13; Num 19:17). This life-giving water would flow rapidly out of Jerusalem half of it flowing east into the Dead Sea and half west into the Mediterranean Sea.

This water would flow all year round, "in summer and in winter", even in the summer when most streams in Palestine dry up (cp Psa 46:4; Joel 3:18). The Israelites divided their year into two seasons instead of four: summer and winter (cp Gen 8:22; Psa 74:17; Isa 18:6).

"The streams of living water which flow from Jerusalem are not dried up by the parching heats of sultry midsummer any more than they are frozen by the cold winds of blustering winter. The seasons change and thou changest, but thy Lord abides evermore the same, and the streams of His love are as deep, as broad and as full as ever. The heats of business cares and scorching trials make me need the cooling influences of the river of His grace; I may go at once and drink to the full from the inexhaustible fountain, for in summer and in winter it pours forth its flood. Elijah found Cherith dry up, but Jehovah was still the same God of providence. Job said his brethren were like deceitful brooks, but he found his God an overflowing river of consolation. The Nile is the great confidence of Egypt, but its floods are variable; our Lord is evermore the same. By turning the course of the Euphrates, Cyrus took the city of Babylon, but no power, human or infernal, can divert the current of divine grace. The tracks of ancient rivers have been found all dry and desolate, but the streams which take their rise on the mountains of divine sovereignty and infinite love shall ever be full to the brim. Generations melt away, but the course of grace is unaltered. The river of God may sing with greater truth than the brook in the poem --
'Men may come, and men may go,
But I go on for ever' " (CH Spurgeon).

Probably the water will be literal, but it certainly has symbolic significance as well (cp Psa 46:4; 65:9; Isa 8:6; 30:25; 33:21; 41:18; 43:19,20; Jer 2:13; Eze 47:1-12; John 4:10-14; 7:38; Rev 22:1-2).

Reading 3 - Rev 16:16

"Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon" (Rev 16:16).

"Armageddon" probably signifies 'the mountain of Megiddo". But other related passages -- many of them (eg, Joel 3; Zec 12; 14; Eze 25; 36; Oba; Rev 11) -- point to Jerusalem (about 70 miles south) as the site of the last great battle. The (probable) parallel account in Joel 3 records the battle of "the day of the LORD" as occurring in the "valley of Decision", which Joel 3:2 says is the Valley of Jehoshaphat, just outside Jerusalem.

So will the last great battle be at Megiddo, or Jerusalem? Is this a discrepancy? Or will there be two separate battles? Or is there another explanation? Notice that this verse states only that the kings (who will fight in the great battle described in Rev 16) will be assembled at Megiddo. This accords well with the strategic importance of the Plain of Jezreel, where Megiddo is situated. The order of battle of a large army coming from the north -- or from the east or west, for that matter -- can be organized in detail in this area. From Jezreel a force can advance by any one of three main routes:

Or it can launch three simultaneous attacks from different directions.
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