Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Reading 1 - Ezr 4:24
"Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia" (Ezr 4:24).
Through the opposition of the adversaries the wonderful work that had commenced with the returning exiles stopped. The work was stopped for abut 16 years. It was this stopping of the work which caused some to say, "The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built" (Hag 1:2). Opposition should not cause us to slack the work and make excuses for our inactivity.
Reading 2 - Hos 6:6
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" (Hos 6:6).
"God is not setting up mercy and sacrifice as opposites. He is not condemning the offering of sacrifices, but He is exposing their attitude of mind in the offering thereof. Their worship was hollow, without heart. They were, as Malachi so clearly stated, guilty of robbing God whilst in the very act of offering sacrifices to him (Mal 3:7-12). They were going through the motions of seeking forgiveness, for God had given them the blood of animals 'upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls' (Lev 17:11), but there was no appreciation of His mercy and consequently no spilling over of that mercy from their own lives. There was no knowledge of God, no fear of His presence; their lives were filled with self.
"This is a searching exhortation: to be exposed to the possibility of incurring condemnation whilst in the act of performing that which was designed to save. Is this not the Old Testament counterpart of, 'Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body' (1Co 11:27-29). How important it is, then, that we should have a 'knowledge' of God, a knowledge of His redeeming mercy and of His searching truth, and that these should be discerned along with the Lord's body in the emblems given for that purpose" (Cyril Tennant, "Hosea" 47,48).
Reading 3 - Acts 24:25
"As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, 'That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you' " (Acts 24:25).
"Felix was a naturally violent and headstrong man, used to exercising power, and getting his own way. If men revolted against his authority, he destroyed them. If the High Priest remonstrated with him, he had him put to death. If he fancied another man's wife, he took her. But if he wanted to be a Christian, he would have to get down off his high horse and learn to control his passions. 'Except a man be converted, and become as a little child', the founder of Christianity had laid down, 'he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.' And neither Felix or anybody else is exempted. There is no place for people on hand-made pedestals in the Kingdom of Christ, and of God" (Len Richardson).
"The bloated slave sitting on the seat of judgment and power, representing all the worst vices of Roman degeneracy; the heads of the sinking Jewish commonwealth, blinded by history and mad with hate, forgetting for the moment their abhorrence of their Roman masters and their deeper detestation of the apostle Paul; the hired advocate with his fulsome praise and false charges. And the great apostle with his inimitable skill in debate, pure-minded, upright, fearless, pleading his own cause with consummate force and dignity, and overawing his heathen judge by the majesty of his character. A graphic description of a noble scene" (AC Hervey, cited in "Story of the Bible" 14:85).