March 23: Numbers 4 | Proverbs 1 | Luke 15
Reading 1 - Numbers 4
"Previously the Levites were counted from a month old and upwards because they were to replace the firstborn of the other tribes. However, now they are to be numbered for service, and accordingly the count is to be from thirty years and upward. This denotes a measure of maturity, and whilst it is not obligatory on Christ's followers that they should await the age of thirty before ministering before him, it does show that maturity is required of all his followers. The duties of the various families of Levites are set forth in proper order, revealing that each has his work to do in the "ecclesia in the wilderness" in a co-operative service. Hence, as each group arrived at a new site the tabernacle was reared up in a regular and orderly fashion with the least trouble. Co-operation and order are the keynotes of effective ecclesial service today as well" (HPM, "Christadelphian Expositor").
Reading 2 - Proverbs 1:20-22
"Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech: 'How long will you simple ones love your simple ways? How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge?' " (Pro 1:20-22).
"We very rarely have a literal shouting of words of wisdom in the streets of a city, or in the broad places of human activity, but when we remember that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, we can see a definite meaning in the saying. In ancient Israel and in the modern world the idea of God is before men all the while even though human thoughts fail to turn to Him. In our time we can hardly live for a single day without Christ being brought before our minds, and through Christ, the Father who was manifest in him. Even the daily newspaper utters the call of wisdom in spite of its low aim and its native foolishness. The date it gives is from the birth of Christ, the record of human vanity confirms the teaching of Christ, while often, especially in these latter days, there is an item of news which shouts of the purpose of God to those who can understand.
"Even apart from these matters the call of wisdom can surely be heard in the ordered wonders of the universe in which we live. Man's cheerful acceptance of the earth as his home proclaims that in his heart he recognizes that there is a Creator. Would he feel comfortable on a ship with no captain? A hundred thousand tons of metal and wood driving through unknown seas at thirty miles an hour and no one in control? How then should he feel when he realizes that he is all through life on a vessel weighing millions of tons and going through space at sixty thousand miles an hour? Of course men believe that someone is in control. The stability of the earth and its long continuance, the facts of human consciousness and human ideals, the wonders of chemistry and the wonders of life all combine to prove that there is a mind far above that of man. Human intelligence is just sufficient to contemplate these things and to make some response. Wisdom is thus calling to the sons of men in the streets, in the broad places and at the entering in of the gate" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").
Reading 3 - Luke 15:20
"But while he [the prodigal son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (Luk 15:20).
There is a great urgency of love and reconciliation in Christ's picture of the waiting and watching father, as he daily and even hourly stares down the road, looking for the familiar figure. There is not one shred of formality or legality in his reception of his returning son. Even while he is a great way off, his father sees him, and with compassion, runs and falls upon his neck and kisses him.
He did not stand upon his dignity, or remain coldly aloof -- demanding some formal or elaborate proof of repentance. He did not coerce an apology. He loved him and he wanted him back and he was willing to forget the past and hope for the future. He showered every display of affection and attention upon him, in his intense joy at reconciliation.
Here is the divine example for the ecclesial attitude toward any sinning brother who makes the first, faltering steps toward repentance. The members should never question the sincerity of those who seek to return (for they would not like their own sincerity to be questioned), nor should they make the barriers to fellowship more difficult for such than for new converts. The ecclesia should rejoice in that the withdrawal of fellowship collectively administered has by God's grace achieved its hoped-for outcome: the reclamation of the one who has strayed.