Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Reading 1 - Ezr 7:27,28
"Praise be to the LORD, the God of our fathers, who has put it into the king's heart to bring honor to the house of the LORD in Jerusalem in this way and who has extended his good favor to me before the king and his advisers and all the king's powerful officials. Because the hand of the LORD my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me" (Ezra 7:27,28).
"Ezra may have been the agent, but he understood that the work was really God's. This is an attitude all God's servants should attempt to adopt: thankfulness that God in His mercy has allowed human involvement in the working out of His great plan and purpose."
THE HAND OF THE LORD MY GOD WAS ON ME: "This can be discovered and proved true by experience. Work done for God and not for selfish motives brings its own reward: peace of mind and contentment. As the Apostle wrote, 'Godliness with contentment is GREAT GAIN' (1TI 6:10). ¶ Undoubtedly it was as a result of Ezra's deep pre-occupation with study and meditation in the word of God's law that he was able to see with great clarity 'the hand of God' in many aspects of the events in which he played his part. This perception was to give him great comfort and confidence in the difficult times he faced when he reached Jerusalem, and the phrase is therefore found often on his lips: Ezr 7:6,9; 8:18,22,31" (Michael Ashton, "The Exiles Return").
Reading 2 - Hos 8:7
"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up" (Hos 8:7).
Israel had sown the wind, something foolish and worthless (cp Job 7:7; Pro 11:29; Ecc 1:14,17), namely idolatry. Sowing the "wind" of vanities (idols) will yield the "whirlwind" of Divine judgment!
Paul comments on this: "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Gal 6:7,8).
THE STALK HAS NO HEAD; IT WILL PRODUCE NO FLOUR: The "whirlwind" from God will destroy their crops.
WERE IT TO YIELD GRAIN, FOREIGNERS WOULD SWALLOW IT UP: And even if the "whirlwind" of God does not destroy all their crops, then alien marauders will take anything that is left.
Reading 3 - Acts 27:39
"When daylight came, they did not recognize the land" (Acts 27:39).
"Principles are like stars, constant and comprehensive, but not local or particular. The pilot with only local knowledge may guide the ship through the well-known channel and into the old port, but a knowledge of the stars is necessary when sailing in unknown seas. If a pilot should mistake a foreign port for the one he knows and attempt to guide the vessel according to the old rules he will bring it to disaster. Ships of various kinds have been wrecked through such mistaken confidence. Oftentimes men have ignored principles and have applied the lessons learned in former years to circumstances that are totally different. They have even quoted the words of former leaders in a manner that would horrify such leaders could they rise from their graves and witness the application" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").