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Today's Readings: Joshua 12 | Isaiah 16 | 2 Timothy 2

Reading 1 - Jos 12

"Jos 12 forms a fitting conclusion to the military campaigns of Joshua, containing as it does a summary of his numerous victories and a list of the thirty-one kings which were smitten by him. A short account is there given of the conquests made by Israel both in the times of Moses and of Joshua. The land which the Lord gave unto Israel consisted of two parts, for though it was but a single country, yet its terrain was divided by the Jordan. Thus the conquest of Canaan was a single enterprise, though it was actually accomplished in two distinct stages. That portion on the eastward side of Jordan was subdued by Moses, and given to the two and a half tribes, but the much larger half lay on the western side, and was subjugated by Joshua and allotted unto the nine and a half tribes" (AW Pink).

Reading 2 - Isa 16:4,5

" 'Let the Moabite fugitives stay with you; be their shelter from the destroyer.' The oppressor will come to an end, and destruction will cease; the aggressor will vanish from the land" (Isa 16:4).

The KJV has: "Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab" -- but the NIV rendering (above) has strong support of the LXX (and other versions: NET, RSV, RV mg), and suits the context much better: Isa 15;16 is all about Moab being overrun by Assyria.

But there is, in the last of this verse, the assurance that -- finally -- the Assyrian oppressor will come to an end, and will vanish from the land!

"In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it -- one from the house of David -- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness" (v 5).

Here is "an assurance of the saving power of godly Hezekiah -- note the words 'mercy... truth... judgment... righteousness' -- with the strong implication that, sharing the faith of this wonderful man, these distressed Moabites can share also the safety and recovery which comes through him" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 216,217).

Reading 3 - 2Ti 2:15

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (2Ti 2:15).

"Do your best" is the Greek "spoudazo": "give diligence" (RSV). The same word occurs in 2Ti 4:9; 4:21; Tit 3:12; Heb 4:11. The word does not mean "study" (as in KJV) or "book-learning" ONLY... although that may well be included. Rather, it means to "do your best", to "make every effort", to train and learn, diligently, in whatever way presents itself. In modern terms, we would probably do well to think -- not just of school or university -- but of apprenticeship programs thereafter, and of practical job training and experience.

"Were you but as willing to get the knowledge of God and heavenly things as you are to know how to work in your trade, you would have set yourself to it before this day, and you would have spared no cost or pains till you had got it. But you account seven years little enough to learn your trade and will not bestow one day in seven in diligent learning the matters of your salvation" (Richard Baxter).

The diligent workman will "correctly handle" (or "rightly divide": KJV) the word of truth! The Greek means "making straight, or clean, cuts" -- and suggests a priest dividing up the sacrifices for the altar. A priest's job is to examine thoroughly the potential sacrifice -- to ascertain that it is free of disease and defect -- in accordance with Divine instructions. Similarly, we as believers are to examine -- thoroughly -- ourselves, alongside and in light of the Word of God, to determine that our inner selves (our hearts and minds and spirits) correspond to and reflect what God is revealing in His message to us.

"God has hidden every precious thing in such a way that it is a reward to the diligent, a prize to the earnest, but a disappointment to the slothful soul. All nature is arrayed against the lounger and the idler. The nut is hidden in its thorny case; the pearl is buried beneath the ocean waves; the gold is imprisoned in the rocky bosom of the mountains; the gem is found only after you crush the rock which encloses it; the very soil gives its harvest as a reward only to the laboring farmer. So truth and God must be earnestly sought" (AB Simpson).


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