Today's Readings: 1 Samuel 4 | Isaiah 50 | Revelation 10-11
Reading 1 - 1Sa 4:3
"When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, 'Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh, so that it [or 'he'] may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies' " (1Sa 4:3).
This carrying of a "god" into battle was a common practice of Gentile armies (cp 2Sa 5:21). This action here suggests the Jews' superstitious reliance upon the ark of God, as though such alone would "save" them in battle, even when they had little or no regard for the commandments of their God.
In later times this characteristic would manifest itself again and again, in a strict observance of the letter of the Law, and a love of outward show. "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isa 29:13).
Reading 2 - Isa 50:5
"The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back" (Isa 50:5).
"In this trial and preparation of the heart man must be responsive. There is a profound meaning in the words, 'The Lord God hath opened my ears, and I was not rebellious.' [Isa 50:5] Some men are rebellious even to the extent of making void the word of God. God gave to Saul a new heart so that he began his reign well, but he became rebellious and his heart turned to evil. His fall furnishes an excellent illustration of the proverb, 'A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy is the rottenness of the bones' [Pro 14:30]" (Islip Collyer, "Principles and Proverbs").
Reading 3 - Rev 10:10,11
"So I went to the angel and asked him to give me the little scroll. He said to me, 'Take it and eat it. It will turn your stomach sour, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey.' I took the little scroll from the angel's hand and ate it. It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour" (Rev 10:9,10).
"John was commanded to take the book and eat it. Its taste was sweet as honey, but it made his belly bitter. This was Ezekiel's experience over again. It would be strange, then, if Ezekiel did not afford some hint as to what John's little book contained: 'And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me, and lo, a roll of a book was therein: and he spread it before me, and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe... moreover he said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth and he caused me to eat that roll. And he said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then I did eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness' (Ezek 2:9,10; 3:1-4). 'So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit' (Eze 3:14).
"The parallel between the experience of the two prophets is plain enough. Both had to prophesy the downfall and desolation of their own nation because of disobedience. 'Lamentation, mourning, and woe' was the theme of both -- hence bitterness in the belly, even though the message had the honey sweetness of holy words from heaven (Psa 19:10; 119:103; 40:8 mg). It was the duty of each to foretell a time of scattering and downtreading, and to each were entrusted visions concerning Gentile nations during the period of Israel's casting off. 'John, thou -- like Ezekiel -- must prophesy again, this time not so much about thine own people Israel but concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings'... Who can doubt that the little book is the rest of the Book of Revelation being imparted unto John? It cannot be accident that the same expression about 'peoples, nations, tongues and kings' meets the reader again in Rev 17:15. And even a casual reading of Rev 12-20 makes it abundantly evident that that part of the book has much to say about Gentile nations and powers" (Harry Whittaker, "Revelation").