Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 8 | Ezekiel 21 | Luke 18

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 1Chronicles 8:34

"The son of Jonathan: Merib-Baal [also known as Mephibosheth]" (1Ch 8:34).

The treatment of the name "Baal" is probably an example of deliberate change, for theological reasons, by the scribes who copied out the scriptures. With personal names that included the word "Baal" (which could simply mean "master" or "lord"), the scribes deliberately replaced "Baal" with "Bosheth" (which means "shame"). To them the idol "Baal", in all his many forms, was a "shameful thing", and any passing allusion to him was to be avoided if possible. Hence, it is likely that Jonathan's son was actually named "Meribbaal", but later scribes made sure that the (by then) hated name of "Baal" was replaced -- yielding "Mephibosheth" (cp 1Ch 8:34; 9:40 and 2Sa 9:6; 19:24; 21:7).

Reading 2 - Ezekiel 21:25-27

" 'And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem and take off the crown; this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more UNTIL HE COMES WHOSE RIGHT IT IS; and I will give it him' [Eze 21:25-27].

"Here was a diadem to be removed, a crown to be taken off, and a national polity to be completely abolished, as indicated in the triple repetition of the verb, 'overturn,' and as expressed by the phrase, 'it shall be no more.' The prediction related to things Jewish, even to the things which constitute the throne of David; and its fulfillment is notorious to every reader of Jewish history. About a year after its delivery, Zedekiah was uncrowned by Nebuchadnezzar. The nobles were put to death; the nation was partly massacred, and partly carried away captive, and the land given over to desolation. Seventy years after, a partial restoration took place under Ezra and Nehemiah, but not of the throne of David. The Jews existed as a vassal people thenceforward; and after varied political fortunes, were overtaken by a storm which swept away every vestige of their national existence.

"The Romans, under Vespasian, invaded the country, and subdued its fortified places; and Vespasian having transferred the command to Titus, the latter laid siege to Jerusalem, which at that time was crowded with people from all parts of the country. The details of that awful siege are familiar to every one. The city was tediously beleaguered for months; famine arose among the inhabitants; civil dissensions divided their counsels, and led to mutual slaughter; and, finally, the place was sacked and given to the flames, and upwards of 1,000,000 of Jews perished. The remainder were sold as slaves, and scattered throughout the Roman empire as fugitives; and scattered they remain to this day [1868]. So awfully has the prophecy been fulfilled, that for the last twenty centuries, the throne of David has been a mere idle phrase -- a tradition of the past; his kingdom has been overthrown, his land in desolation, and his people wandering as homeless exiles, unpitied and unpitying.

"But is this condition of David's throne to be perpetual? Are the Gentiles for ever to exalt their proud horns over the fallen kingdom of the Lord? (See 1Ch 24:23; 2Ch 9:8; 13:8, which affirm the kingdom of Israel to have been the kingdom of God). Nay, saith the prophecy: desolation shall only continue UNTIL -- until what? 'Until HE COME whose right it is.' Who is this? None other than Jesus Christ, to whom the throne pertains of right, both by lineal descent, and special divine bequest. Observe, then, what is distinctly proved, that the things overturned are the things to be given to Christ at his coming. Now, what things were those? The diadem, crown, throne, and Kingdom of David. Hence, when HE COMES whose right they are, he will enter into their possession in as real a sense as they were held by Zedekiah. He will become King of the Jews, and Lord of the whole earth. We thus perceive a striking significance in the words of the angel: 'The Lord God shall give unto Jesus THE THRONE OF HIS FATHER David, and he shall reign over THE HOUSE OF JACOB for ever; and of HIS KINGDOM there shall be no end.'

"Going a step farther in our New Testament enquiry, we come to the birth of Christ, and we note the following incident: 'Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born KING OF THE JEWS' (Mat 2:1).

"The enquiry of the wise men was intelligible in view of all that the prophets had foretold of him who was to be ruler in Israel; but if Christ is only the spiritual Saviour of mankind, in a universal general sense, their words have no meaning. In what sense could Christ be 'king of the Jews,' if he only stood in broad spiritual relationship to the human race as a whole? It may be suggested that he is king of spiritual Jews, who are not Jews outwardly, but in the heart. The reply to this is, that Christ is not king of his own people. Of them he says, 'I call you not servants, but friends.' They are his brethren, 'joint heirs with Christ' (Rom 8:17), destined to reign with him a thousand years (Rev 20:6). They are not his subjects, but aggregately his bride, 'the Lamb's wife' -- signifying the closest communion and identity of relational interest. Christ, therefore, cannot be king of the Jews in any spiritual sense. He is king of those Jews of whom David was king; for he is heir to his throne. That this was the nature of his claim, as understood by his contemporaries, is obvious from what followed the enquiry of the wise men: 'When Herod the king had heard these things he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests an