Today's Readings: Joshua 14 | Isaiah 19 | Titus 1-3

Reading 1 - Jos 14:11

"I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I'm just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Jos 14:11).

"For fighting, and for all the intercourse and manifold activities of life, his sinews are as braced, his eyes as clear, his spirit and limbs as alert as they were in those old days. No doubt you will say that was due to miraculous intervention. No doubt it was; but is it not true that, in a very real sense, a man may keep himself young all his life, if he will go the right way to work? And the secret of perpetual youthfulness lies here, in giving our hearts to God and in living for Him. Christianity, with its self-restraint and its exhortations to all, and especially to the young, to be chaste and temperate and to subdue the animal passions, has a direct tendency to conserve physical vigour; and Christianity, by the inspiration that it imparts, the stimulus that it gives, and the hopes that it permits us to cherish, has a direct tendency to keep alive in old age all the best of the characteristics of youth. Its buoyancy, its undimmed interest, its cheeriness, its freedom from anxiety and care -- all these things are directly ministered to, and preserved by, a life of simple faith that casts itself upon God, and dwells securely, in joy and in restfulness, and not without a great light of hope, even when the shadows of evening are falling.

"One of the greatest and most blessed of the characteristics of youth is the consciousness that the most of life lies before us; and to a Christian man, in any stage of his earthly life, that consciousness is possible. When he stands on the verge of the last sinking sandbank of time, and the water is up to his ankles, he may well feel that the best and the most of life is yet to be.

" 'They shall still bring forth fruit in old age, they shall be full of sap and green.' A gnarled old tree may be green in all its branches, and blossom and fruit may hang together there. The ideal of life is, that into each stage we shall carry the best of the preceding, harmonised with the best of the new... The fountain of perpetual youth, of which the ancients fabled, is no fable, but a fact; and it rises, where the prophet in his vision saw the stream coming out, from beneath the threshold of the Temple door" (Alexander MacLaren).

Reading 2 - Isa 19:11-15

"The officials of Zoan are nothing but fools; the wise counselors of Pharaoh give senseless advice. How can you say to Pharaoh, 'I am one of the wise men, a disciple of the ancient kings'? Where are your wise men now? Let them show you and make known what the LORD Almighty has planned against Egypt..." (isa 19:11,12).

Verses 11-15 picture a "sustained and contemptuous exposure of the experienced statecraft of Egypt. The political skill of that land's priests and Pharaohs had wide reputation outside its own borders (Exo 1:10; 1Ki 4:30; Act 7:22). Yet it would all prove useless to stave off the downfall and chaos purposed by the Lord of the hosts of angels, who in Moses' day had wrought such havoc in that land of unmatched prosperity (Psa 78:49)" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 229).

Reading 3 - Tit 2:14

"(Jesus) gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Tit 2:14).

"(Jesus) gave himself for us": Jesus laid down his life, deliberately, willingly (John 10:11,15,18; 1Pe 2:23), on our behalf. The preposition "for" is "huper", as also in 1Ti 2:6 ("a ransom on behalf of all men"), which can bear this meaning; Jesus may be seen as a representative -- dying ON BEHALF OF men -- and not as a substitute -- dying INSTEAD OF men.

The original word for "redeem" here is "lutron", which means to release for a price, or -- put simply -- to buy. It is one of the several words (or word groups) translated "redeem", "redemption", and "ransom".

The word translated "his very own" ("peculiar people": KJV) is the Greek "periousios", which literally means "something beyond". Paul is quoting from the Old Testament: "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be MY TREASURED POSSESSION (Heb 'segullah') . Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exo 19:5,6). "Segullah", we are told, referred to the private treasure of kings; in societies where kings were more or less absolute dictators, everything in their realm was considered to be legally their property -- but even a king could not control and spend and enjoy all properties in his kingdom, and so he would possess certain properties, properties which were set apart as his own "special treasure", his "peculiar" or unique property, and no one else's.

In the figure here, God Almighty is the great king, and all the universe belongs to Him, and all men, and all they have -- it is all His. The cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him! But... the Heavenly Father has condescended to choose a special few of all His subjects to be His own family, His own special possession, His own cherished riches. They stay close to His person; they recline in His bosom; they hear His whispers of endearment; they feel the tender touch of His special love. They are dearer to Him than the stars in the heavens, or the glorious snow-topped mountains. They are dearer to Him than the treasures of the richest mines, or the harvests of the richest fields. They are the ones He has redeemed with the precious blood of His Son. &qu