Today's Readings: 2 Samuel 23 | Jeremiah 26 | Romans 15
Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Samuel 23:5
"Is not my house right with God? Has he not made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part? Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?" (2Sa 23:5).
"Stick with it! Keep the mind fixed. Do not let the flesh sidetrack or divert. Set the one great goal before you, and eliminate everything else from your interest or your attention. There will be plenty of scope within that goal for all necessary attention and diversity. Do not be concerned about how much you accomplish. Do not be concerned about how well you do. Our very most and best is nothing in God's sight: it is the desire and effort that matters. Do be concerned -- very concerned -- about how great and strong your desire is: pray fervently that it be constantly increased. A fervent, singleminded desire for God is God's greatest blessing: from it all other joys and blessings flow. Do be concerned about a wandering mind, a wavering attention, a weak and easily distracted persistence. These are warning signs of weak faith, weak love, weak comprehension of the beauties of God and the glories of eternity -- childish signs that we are neglecting our homework. The only cure is much prayerful meditation devoted to the Word. If we are not prepared to shape our lives and affairs so that this is life's central factor, then God and eternity are not for us" (GV Growcott).
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 26:1,2
"Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: 'This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD'S house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word' " (Jer 26:1,2).
"Now, at the beginning of this new reign, with the nation thoroughly under the thumb of Egypt, Jeremiah was directed to issue a solemn warning and make an eloquent appeal to the nation -- to the common people and rulers alike. It was to be his most public reminder of the authority of the Lord his God. It may even have been on coronation day when this great open-air meeting was held in the temple court. It may also have been on one of the Feasts of the Lord, for people out of all the cities of Judah were there 'to worship in the Lord's house.' The pattern of religious observance re-asserted by Josiah still continued; but the character of Jeremiah's denunciations shows that now it was mere formality" (Harry Whittaker, "Jeremiah" 58).
Reading 3 - Romans 15:11
"And again, 'Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples' " (Rom 15:11).
Paul is citing Psa 117:1. Whereas Paul anticipates the time when Gentiles shall be joined with his people, Psa 117 puts Gentile believers BEFORE Jews. Far from being an afterthought, then, the inclusion of Gentiles in the hope of Abraham was a primary object of God all along! So why did not Paul emphasize this even more in his argument? Would not this point have reinforced considerably his campaign of preaching to the Gentiles? Presumably he omitted this useful emphasis for tactical reasons. If the inference were to be drawn that in his gospel Jews must finally take second place to Gentiles, what a vast amount of psychological damage might result!
But it was right that Paul stress to his fellow Jews, to some extent, the necessity that the gospel be preached to Gentiles.
"There has always been a reticence among men to take the Gospel to those outside their immediate sphere. Israel had eyes only for themselves and even when in early NT times the disciples were bidden to go into all nations and to preach to all people they were loathe to do so: so much so that God had to press them into action by special miracles, as is seen in the Acts of the Apostles. Even today, when we are involved in preaching to all people, the work is not entirely free from restraints of one kind or another" (Cyril Tennant).