Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 17 | Ezekiel 29| Galatians 3



Reading 1 - 1Ch 17:16

"Then King David went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: 'Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?' " (1Ch 17:16).

"When we take the lowest place and 'seek not high things' we need have no fear of falling. Pride is the destroyer of men's souls. We rise in the balloon of our own self-esteem, only to fall to earth when our vanity is punctured. Most of our 'taking offence' and our super-sensitivity at criticism are but flowers which thrive in the garden of pride. The Man who became the world's outcast and bore the scorn of a people who should have reverenced him, had no pride to lose. He took no offense. Having become the servant of all, he had taken the lowest place. From the height of heaven the Spirit of God came to his lifeless body in the tomb of Gethsemane and called him to come forth. 'Friend, come up higher,' the words of the Lord's own parable, were exquisitely fulfilled in the Master himself. Exalted and given a name which is above every name, he received the blessing of immortality and was caught up to heaven to the presence of God the Father" (Harry Tennant, "The Man David" 35).


Reading 2 - Eze 29:3,4

"Speak to him and say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, you great monster lying among your streams. You say, The Nile is mine; I made it for myself' " (Eze 29:3).

Like the king of Tyre and his people, Pharaoh and Egypt had also been guilty of pride. He had become like a great river monster (Heb "tannim", probably a crocodile of which there were many in the Nile) because he had taken credit for the Nile River, the lifeblood of the nation. Rather than giving God thanks for this resource, the king had proudly claimed responsibility for it.


"This was [Pharaoh] Hophra's [Gr 'Apries'] arrogant self-image. Herodotus implied that Pharaoh Apries was so strong in his position that he felt no god could dislodge him. In his reign he sent an expedition against Cyprus, besieged and took Gaza (cf Jer 47:1) and the city of Sidon, was victorious against Tyre by sea, and considered himself master over Palestine and Phoenicia... This arrogance had also shown itself in an attempt to interrupt Babylonia's siege of Jerusalem -- an attempt thwarted by God" (Expositors' Bible).


"But I will put hooks in your jaws and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales. I will pull you out from among your streams, with all the fish sticking to your scales" (Eze 29:4).


The LORD promised to remove Pharaoh and his lieutenants and subordinate princes (the lesser "fish" clinging to him) from their land, as a fisherman pulls a crocodile out of the water with hooks. Normally people caught crocodiles by placing hooks in their jaws and then dragging them onto land where they killed them. In the delta region of Egypt, the Egyptians worshipped the crocodile as a god, Sebek, which they believed protected their nation (cf Eze 32:2; Psa 74:13; Isa 27:1; 51:9). Thus God promised to destroy Pharaoh, Egypt, and the god supposedly responsible for their protection.


Reading 3 - Gal 3:13

"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.' [Deu 21:23]" (Gal 3:13).

"Redeemed" is the Greek "exagorazo", which literally means 'to buy out of the agora, or marketplace'. This is one of the most powerful pictures, or parables, in the New Testament: that of the sinner as a "slave to Sin", where "Sin" is personified as the powerful but ruthless Master to whom allegiance is owed -- who brutalizes his "property" and gives it at last only "death". "I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin" (Rom 7:14). In this metaphor Paul is recalling the words of Jesus: "Everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (Joh 8:34).


"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (Rom 6:17,18). Christ has come into the "agora", or marketplace, and purchased the sinner out of his bondage; now he has a new Master (Christ himself), and a new life.


"Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law." In addition to being redeemed from sin and wickedness and the world and men (Tit 2:14; Heb 9:15; Rev 14:3,4), man was also redeemed from the Law of Moses (Gal 4:5), and from the "curse" of that Law (Gal 3:13).


But the Law itself was not evil (it was holy and just and good: Rom 7:12-14). However, the Law brought into focus and highlighted man's sin -- in effect, making him a "sinner". Thus it came to stand -- by metonymy (putting the cause for the effect) -- for his sin.


By coming under the curse of the Law -- more or less artificially, and in the manner of his death only -- whilst living a perfectly righteous life... Christ effectively removed that curse, and made it meaningless. And thus he did the same for those who are "in Christ" also.


 




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