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Today's Readings: 1 KINGS 10 | Jeremiah 36 | Mark 10

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

Reading 1 - 1Kings 10

The visit of the Queen of Sheba is typical of the peoples of the Millennium coming to worship Christ. She had heard about Solomon's wisdom, and wanted to learn more for herself. Through our teaching of the people in the towns and villages over which we rule, the motivation for the visits to Christ at Jerusalem will be similar. The Queen of Sheba saw Solomon's wisdom through seeing the "sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel" (1Ki 10:4-8). It was through her observation of Solomon's people that she perceived and understood his wisdom. The nations will likewise learn the knowledge of Christ through observing the example of natural Israel and ourselves; as they should in this life too.

Reading 2 - Jeremiah 36:21-24

"The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll [of Jeremiah], and Jehudi brought it from the room of Elishama the secretary and read it to the king and all the officials standing beside him. It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe's knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes" (Jer 36:21-24).

God's Word is a burning fire (Jer 20:9)! We can warm ourselves by it, but not in the way Jehoiakim did! Do we cut up and cast aside and burn God's Word?

The "scribe's knife" in the NIV is translated as "penknife" in the AV. Alan Hayward has an interesting comment about the use of a penknife, in much more modern times, which strangely echoes this incident:

"A very interesting book was published in the year 1900: 'A Bible Hand-book for the Use of Unbelievers.'

"It is an astonishing document. It contains nearly two hundred pages of Bible quotations, arranged by two atheists to provide ammunition for other atheists to shoot at Christians. So-called contradictions, absurdities, indecencies, atrocities -- they are all there.

"Nearly all of them can be answered quite successfully. I use the book to give my senior Sunday School scholars something to cut their teeth on. What concerns me at this moment is the thirty-four pages of 'unfulfilled prophecies and broken promises.'

"This is an accusation to be taken very seriously. If true, it would undermine the Bible-believer's foundations. If the Bible is full -- as that book alleges -- of promises that have been broken, how can we trust it? How can it be inspired? And if it contains lots of unfulfilled prophecies, what then?...

"Relax. There is nothing to worry about.

"In their preface the atheist writers said that, to ensure accuracy, they cut all their quotations out of printed Bibles with a penknife. Unfortunately, this is not the way to treat the Bible. Bible verses only make sense if you study them in their context, that is, their setting. You need to read the verses on either side of the verse in question. As I have pointed out on several occasions, you also need to make allowance for Hebrew idiom.

"These authors have done neither. They have treated each verse as an isolated statement of literal English. In consequence the interpretations they put on many passages are quite ridiculous. For example, they quote the words of Jesus, which were obviously meant to be symbolic: 'Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life' (John 6:54). Alongside this they print the absurd comment: 'Cannibalism to secure eternal life' " ("God's Truth" ch 20).

It is plain to see that the Bible cannot and should not be cut up into small pieces, with a penknife or by any other means. (Not even by computer and word processor!) Just like the old saying about real estate, it's all about location, location, location! Every verse in the Bible is meant to be studied in its proper setting, comparing verse with verse, and chapter with chapter, in its immediate context. And then, broadening the scope a bit, every book in the Bible is meant to be studied alongside the other parts of the Bible -- law compared with history, and history with prophecy, and gospel with gospel, and New Testament fulfillment with Old Testament prophecy. Any form of "study" of the Bible that cuts the word of God into small, distinct pieces -- or that attempts to take lessons from single verses or short passages cut off from their setting -- will only lead to confusion or worse. Most every "false doctrine" that is believed, anywhere, can be "proven" by such a "penknife" method!

Or, as it has been said, a "text" without a "context" is merely a "pretext" -- and one more way of cutting up the word of God, and making it meaningless.

Reading 3 - Mark 10:31

"But many who are first will be last, and the last first" (Mar 10:31).

"Why is it that the last shall be first? What is it that makes this so difficult to accept? The answer came in the form of an ugly little dog. Sophie has taken over our hearts and in many respects our house. She is not particularly pretty (one ear stands up and one lies down, and she has patches of hair that inexplicably shoot up like a lion's mane); nor does she have any pedigree. She is, however, a good little dog and clearly loves us. She follows me wherever I go all over the house. She can't stand to be away from me. When I do go away and come into the house, I receive a greeting of a king. When I walk into the house, this little dog is celebrating like this is the most miraculous thing that has even happened -- her master came home!

"Isn't this a little how God views us? Let's face it, we don't provide God with a whole lot of value. He doesn't really 'need' us any more than I 'need' my dog. What we do provide Him is love, devotion and faithfulness. When Jesus comes back, will we celebrate like my dog celebrates when I come home? Or will we be like the bad dog who has spent the day chewing the sofa cushion, and then slinks off to hide? Do we follow our Master wherever He will lead us? Do we obey commands? Is our love demonstrative to Jesus in the way my dog's love is to me?...

"Many of the qualities we attribute to great men -- intelligence, boldness, speaking abilities, education, beauty, wealth, etc -- mean absolutely nothing to God. In fact, these attributes can impede our service to God if they translate into pride. God loves us because we love Him (even though He loved us first!), and even if we are like ugly little dogs!

" 'Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him' (1Co 1:26-29)" (Kyle Tucker).

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