Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Reading 1 - 2Ch 35:24,25
"So they took him out of his chariot, put him in the other chariot he had and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his fathers, and all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him. Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the men and women singers commemorate Josiah in the laments" (2Ch 35:24,25).
Josiah was the most righteous and useful man of his age; yet he died at the age of thirty-nine, when -- had he remained alive -- he could have done so much good. This sort of thing can seem like such a mystery; yet it teaches us:
that the God of heaven is no respecter of persons;
that death is remorseless and irresistible;
that there is nothing and no one on this fleeting earth on which we should set our hearts, or put our trust; and
that there must be a resurrection and life eternal for God's faithful servants, for "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
And it teaches us one more thing besides: "The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil" (Isa 57:1). Great evil and judgment was soon to fall upon the nation of Judah, but God's faithful servant Josiah was to be taken away before the worst of it arrived. And so we learn that death -- far from a punishment -- can in fact be a real blessing; and that we should trust in God alone and recognize that, in all things, He knows what is best, and He does what is best for us.
Reading 2 - Hos 3:1
"Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes" (Hos 3:1).
"We are brought back to the current relationship of husbands to their wives, and as far as Hosea is concerned the outcome is a happy one. The first verse reveals the profound spirit of love, pity and forgiveness that is so characteristic of God. It made Him send the prophet to do what He Himself had done throughout history: to love and to seek the sinner in order to restore her to favour. It was not an easy task for Hosea, even though it may have been in his heart, because Gomer had destroyed his happiness and ruined his marriage. Nevertheless he obeyed the divine command... There is a consistent divine logic behind this command: I love the sinner, therefore you must love your wife who has sinned; I pity the wayward, hence you must pity your wife who has betrayed you; I forgive the disobedient, so you must forgive your wife who disobeyed the marriage covenant; I am compassionate to the weak, thus you must show compassion to the wife who yielded to temptation. This is the divine way of life" (John Marshall, "The Christadelphian" 117:6).
Reading 3 - Acts 19:19
"A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly" (Acts 19:19).
Were these disciples graduating from an imperfect to a more perfect faith? Or new converts renouncing their old ways? Or both?
"The Word of God has power in this wicked city, and the power must have been mighty, which would make them willing to destroy their property.
"From this instructive passage we may learn that: (1) True religion has the power to break the hold of unjust and dishonest means of living over sinners. (2) Those who have been engaged in an un-Christian and dishonorable practice will abandon it when they become Christians. (3) Their abhorrence of their former course ought to be expressed as publicly as was the offense. (4) The evil practice will be abandoned at any sacrifice, however great. The question is 'what is right?' Not 'what will it cost?'
"If what they did when they were converted was right -- and who can doubt it? -- it sets forth a great principle on which new converts should act" (Albert Barnes).
"When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas" (Acts 19:19b).
At a day's wages per drachma (as per the NIV margin), the total value could be several million dollars in today's terms.