Reading 1 - Gen 43:11
"Then their father Israel said to them, 'If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift -- a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds" (Gen 43:11).
Balm, honey, spices, and nuts were all products of trees, which could live through a famine.
TAKE... A LITTLE HONEY: "That was the advice Jacob gave to his sons when they were going down into Egypt to buy food. They took many gifts: balm, spices, myrrh, nuts and money. But wise old Jacob added, 'Take a little honey.' People may take with them on the journey of their lives ability, training, initiative, ambition and so many good things. Yet they fail because they forget kindness. If they had been just a little sweeter in spirit what a difference it would have made. We can learn how to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Simple, warm kindness will work wonders. Some say this is a hard, tough world and if we ever expect to get anywhere, we have to be hard-boiled. That kindness stuff, they say, might work at a Sunday School outing, but it has no place in business. But kindness works everywhere. On the journey of life don't forget to 'take a little honey' " (C Lamb, The Christadelphian 112:157).
Reading 2 - Psa 46--48
Psalms 46, 47, and 48 are Korah psalms. All the Korah psalms fit the Hezekiah period remarkably well. These three seem to form a trilogy on the same theme: the destruction of Sennacherib's Assyrian army (2Ki 18). The awesome army of the Assyrian "wolf" is decimated by divine power (Psa 46), and God is at last glorified in the earth (Psa 47). And Jerusalem, the "city of the great king" (Psa 48:2; Mat 5:35), is preserved. Various passages (Isa 29:6; 30:30,31; 31:8,9) suggest that the Assyrians were destroyed by a mighty exercise of divine power -- hurricane, earthquake, or the Cherubim of glory; maybe, in fact, by all of these combined! The vivid language of Psa 46 adds to the picture.
"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells" (Psa 46:4).
"River" is "nachar" (a constantly flowing stream), in contrast to "nachal" (a wadi, an erratic, often dry desert stream bed). This river, this "nachar", which gladdens the city of God is Hezekiah's tunnel or conduit, driven through solid rock by two teams of engineers, so as to insure an adequate supply of water for the besieged people of Jerusalem (2Ki 20:20; 2Ch 32:2-5; cp Psa 42:7n). (Before this time, Jerusalem had depended upon rock-cistern storage for rain water, and upon the fountain of the Gihon Spring located outside the walls of the city.) At the same time as the conduit was being constructed, a new wall was going up to enclose the area of Siloam, at the south end of the city, as a sizeable reservoir. Hezekiah's conduit is, even today, an amazing feat of planning and execution. But it is more than that: it is also an eloquent symbol of the silent, hidden purpose of the Almighty (the "still, small voice"), by which Israel was sustained during her severest trials (cp Psa 87:7; Isa 22:9,11).
"God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day" (Psa 46:5).
SHE WILL NOT FALL: "She shall not be moved" (AV) -- and this in spite of the devastating cataclysm destroying the Assyrian camp less than a mile away (the ancient name of Mount Scopus is "the camp of the Assyrians"). The great "waves" of the Assyrian flood surged through Judah -- sweeping everything before them -- but they could not overflow Jerusalem, which was in God's plan fixed and immovable (Psa 124:1,4,5; 125:1,2).
GOD WILL HELP HER AT BREAK OF DAY: "God shall help her, and that right early" (AV). Literally, at the dawn of the morning (RV mg), or "at the opening of the dawn". The best commentary on these words is 2Ki 19:35 and Isa 37:36.
"O Thou whose ear is ever bowed to strains of human care;
Who writest on my darkest cloud Thy rainbow soft and fair:
When silent grief implores Thy aid, and begs Thy hand to move,
Let my extremity be made the chariot of Thy love.
A triumph of Thy loving skill, I rest upon Thy grace,
Though midnight pains and tears conceal the glory of Thy face.
Help me to wait till light appears, and let the morning prove
How false and baseless were my fears,
How faithful is Thy love."
"Be still, and know that I am God" (Psa 46:10).
"Let go, desist"; cease from your own labors. "Give in" (Moffatt). And Hezekiah's faith rested on this: " 'Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us that with him: With him is an arm of flesh: but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.' And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah" (2Ch 32:7,8). And the people rested themselves on the faith of Hezekiah also!
Reading 3 - Mat 28
"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb" (Mat 28:1).
As soon as the Sabbath restrictions were past, i.e., after sunset on Saturday -- the three women (close companions of Christ in life) prepare to give their last token of love to their Lord in his death. Early on Sunday morning, at first light in the east, they set out for the tomb.
"The first day of the week" is , literally, "day one of the seven". The beginning of a new creation week! Compare Gen 1: a new creation, "day one"! God had said, "Let there be light", and now there was! Compare also Col 1:15-18: Jesus the beginning of the new creation! To the disciples, this day (when they understood it later) would mark the beginning of their new lives. This new "Sun" of the morning was to drive away the dark shadows of lost hope, and create a new spirit within the disciples (Isa 9:1,2; 2Co 4:6).
"There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it" (Mat 28:2).
Possibly the angel rolled the stone some distance away, laid it flat, and sat upon it. It would now be impossible to replace without a lot of time and effort. He thus "sealed" it open (contrast the sealing shut of the tomb: Mat 27:66)!
"A violent earthquake": The earth, which trembled with horror at the death of Christ, now leaps for joy at his resurrection!
"His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men" (vv 3,4).
The soldiers, assigned to guard the dead, became as dead men themselves. Paralyzed with terror, they cowered on the ground, and then crept away at their first chance.
"While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, 'You are to say, "His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep." If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.' So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day" (Mat 28:11-15).
The guards, awed and bewildered, now reported their stories in the palace of the High Priest. Thus these rulers, who had repeatedly come to Jesus demanding a sign from heaven, were now given a sign from "hell" (the grave) also, which they could not deny!
"His disciples came and stole him away while we were asleep." Thus these leaders and the nation deceived themselves with lies. They closed their eyes to the truth, and their ears became dull of hearing. The story became true of them, even if untrue of the Roman soldiers: they lost their Messiah through being fast asleep.