July 13: 1Sa 26, 27 | Jeremiah 3 | Matthew 14
Reading 1 - 1Sa 26:19
"They have now driven me from my share in the LORD'S inheritance and have said, 'Go, serve other gods' " (1Sa 26:19).
David's sad words here demonstrate that his greatest sense of loss in exile was not that of his personal comfort or material prosperity, but rather his opportunity for fellowship with God. By making him an outcast, as they did at the behest of Saul, his countrymen were cutting him off from the tabernacle and the altar, and 'suggesting' that he serve other gods. In our zeal to do right, our ecclesias should consider whether their treatment of offenders might not have the same effect. It is impossible to justify the 'middle-of-the-road' course in a matter of disfellowship -- that is, to 'separate' or 'withdraw' while still attaching no taint of moral judgment. For an ecclesia to practice excommunication, while holding out no realistic possibility of refellowship, is in effect to tell the brother or sister involved, 'Go, serve other gods!' How many righteous "Davids" have been so treated?
Reading 2 - Jer 3:25
"We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God" (Jer 3:25).
Where the prophets of Israel witnessed against the spiritual abuses among their contemporaries they did so while still continuing full fellowship with those whom they denounced. More than this, the examples of Moses (Exo 32:30-33), Daniel (Dan 9:5-14), Nehemiah (Neh 1:6,7), Jeremiah (Jer 3:25; 9:1), and Ezra (Ezr 9:6,7,13) show these men intimately associated with the people whom they reprimanded, even so far as confessing the sins of the nation as though they were their own. Here is the spirit of true fellowship, or sharing, by which those most exercised against error bear the burdens of their brethren, and strive with them as partners -- not outsiders -- to defeat the enervating effects of sin.
Reading 3 - Mat 14
Mat 14 presents a remarkable contrast between the two feasts:
There is Herod's feast -- which is sumptuous, attended by captains and kings, and the entertainment is provided by a "strange woman". It is a feast of death -- for a righteous man is slain on a whim.
Then there is Christ's feast -- which is frugal, with food for the poor. Here is no strange, lewd woman, but rather Christ's "bride", for whom he provides the bread of life. In contrast to Herod's feast of death, this is a feast of life, for it typifies the death of one who lays down his life for his friends.
"They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat" (v 16). None need depart empty-handed or hungry from the presence of Jesus. The bread that he provides is for all. In the atonement of Christ, there is ample provision for every man and woman!
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