Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 23 | Ezekiel 33 | Ephesians 6
Reading 1 - 1Ch 23:24
"These were the descendants of Levi by their families -- the heads of families as they were registered under their names and counted individually, that is, the workers twenty years old or more who served in the temple of the LORD" (1Ch 23:24).
This seems to be the age of Levites at the beginning of their service in the Temple. It seems as though the age of Levites when beginning service must have declined from 30 to 25 to 20 (cp 1Ch 23:3; Num 8:24,25; 1Ch 23:24-27). A possible reason: when the Levitical duties became fixed and expanded in the Temple era, less strength but more numbers were required (1Ch 23:26).
Reading 2 - Eze 33:2-4
"Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: 'When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head' " (Eze 33:2-4).
In ancient Israel, each town and city had a person positioned upon the wall in order to call out a warning about the approach of unexpected and possibly hostile people. This watchman had to "sound the trumpet" if an enemy was approaching, so that the townspeople could get ready for an attack. Prophets in Israel took on the function of spiritual "watchmen" (eg Eze 3:17; Jer 6:17), warning the people of impending punishment by God unless the nation changed its ways.
The word itself is from a Hebrew root signifying "to lean forward, to peek" (cp Isa 21:6-10; Hos 9:8; Hab 2:1). Thus the spiritual watchman was a "shepherd", his manner of life characterized by constant vigilance, with his eyes on the future for potential threats, as well as potential blessings, and an overriding concern for the spiritual wellbeing of others. "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb 13:17).
Reading 3 - Eph 6:11-17
"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of evil. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:11-17).
"When soldiers go into battle they make sure that they are protected against anything the enemy might throw against them and that they are also prepared to fight. It would be stupid to go into enemy territory without camouflage gear, flack jackets and ammunition, but sometimes as Christians we do exactly that as we battle against sin. Paul tells us that we need to put on the full armor of God.
"We need to wear the belt of truth around our waist. If truth makes up part of our armour and we are thoroughly familiar with the word of God we will instantly recognize all the lies and untruths that could make us fall.
"The breastplate of righteousness must be in place. We are not in and of ourselves righteous, but with our faith in the mercy of God and the sacrifice of Christ, our faith can be counted as righteousness and our trust in God will save us.
"Our feet should be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. We need to be ready and willing to spread peace as far as we can -- not just peace, but the peace of God, the forgiveness of sins.
"Take up the shield of faith. Have faith in God and he will defend you. Trust that he will 'deliver us from evil,' as we pray in the Lord's prayer.
"Wear the helmet of salvation. We need to keep our minds protected from attack. Keep them centered on God and on his salvation. God is our salvation. He wants to give us the Kingdom and will never try us beyond what we are able to bear.
"Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This is our most powerful weapon and it has the power to change people like we would never dream possible. Jesus overcame temptation by quoting the Word of God to give him strength to overcome. Let us get the Word inside us so that we can do it too. Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on!" (Maritta Terrell).