Reading #1 – Acts 17
Reading #2 – Psalms 121
Reading #3 – Songs 1
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 41
Reading #5 – Nehemiah 9
Nehemiah 9 – The People Confess Their Sin. When Ezra read from the book of the law, the purpose was two-fold, to show where the wheels came off the axel and to remind G_d of His promises. The Book of the Law was written in the time of Moses and handed to Joshua to read before the nation. The reading of the law, to me anyway, was likened to writing down our parental promises and how their actions would circumvent or stop them from receiving the good promises and cause them the unstated alternate promises. For example, Johnny I promise you that I will give you a dollar for each yard that you clean up.” Johnny decides to pass the task off onto someone else and then comes to collect the money. So, when he comes to collect, I give him no monetary reward. Instead, I give him the alternate promise that is, “you get nothing”. This may sound unfair after all, the work did get done but he didn’t do it. So being the faithful person I am to honor my vows, I give it to the person who did do the work; again, this sounds unfair. What would be unfair is to pay Johnny for doing nothing which will continue to cause problems. The Jews had the promises of G_d providing they did the work as it was given out and honored the Lord with all of their hearts which, they didn’t do as the results prove out. While they stood in their places, they read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their G_d for a fourth of the day and another fourth [of it] they confessed [their sins] and worshiped the LORD their G_d (3). It was important for Ezra to read from the Book of the Law because honoring it requires that we know what it says so we must read from it (Joshua 1:8). A parallel verse would be Jesus telling the listers to stay in the word so you would know the truth and so that you would be free (John 8:31-32). When we do not stay in the Book of the Law by reading it and meditating on it, we end up in the same situation the Jews were in after David’s death (Deuteronomy 17:15-20) leading up to the exile to the time the people returned to Jerusalem.
Psalms 121 – The Lord the Keeper of Israel. This unknown writer reminds the Israelites, those who adhere to His laws, commands, and precepts where the strength of the writer stemmed from. I will lift my eyes to the hills [of Jerusalem]— From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth (1-2) or, in other words, “He who made everything from nothing” (John 1:3). Because G_d made everything, He also knows how everything should work, and He knows how to put it all back together again without our help (3). When we trust and rely on Him by not thinking “we know better”, He will do amazing things for us (3-9). Telling G_d, “I know better” is what got the nation into trouble in the first place; equally, it is what gets us into trouble multiple times over.
Songs 1 – The Young Shulammite. This love relationship between Solomon and his young bride parallels G_d’s relationship with His church and the desire for those who choose to ignore Him. The picture in verses 1-4 resembles G_d’s desire for His children in its pristine shape. The young Shulammite is darker than the daughters of Jerusalem and the reasoning behind it was because of the work she did in the hot sun (4). Working in the sun, I believe, parallels following the ways of the world or being out of the relationship with the Lord G_d which darkens our heart (Ephesians 4:18). When we come to the Lord, our minds and hearts are not immediately purged so that we become “Lilly white”, it is a process of time (Hebrews 3:12-13). When we come to the Lord, what did is forgiven and because G_d forgives the sinner, we also need to forgive and work out the issue until it is resolved fully (Phillipians 2:12). “Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, Where do you pasture your flock, Where do you make it lie down at noon?
For why should I be like one who is veiled Beside the flocks of your companions?” Solomon, the Lover, Speaks (The Bridegroom) “If you do not know [where your lover is], O you fairest among women, Run along, follow the tracks of the flock, And pasture your young goats By the tents of the shepherds (7-8).
Jeremiah 41 – Gedaliah is Murdered. Gedaliah had been warned about the pending attempt on his life but chose to ignore it (Jeremiah 40:13-16). Gedaliah was killed during the time of a Festival (1). Gedaliah was nominated as the Governor of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar so, killing him created another problem. Once the act was committed, there was no going back on it and it would cause problems for the poor people who remained in the land. Once Nebuchadnezzar heard of the assassination, Babylon would return to destroy everything in the land. Even though Ishmael was confronted with his butchery and was later attacked, it was still too late. because of the Chaldeans; for they were afraid of them because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had appointed [governor] over the land [and whose death the king might avenge] (18).
Acts 17 – Paul at Thessalonica. When Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica, they went to the Temple to try to have a religious debate (3). As with any debate, there will be people who agree with you and people will not agree (4). There were agitators in the crowd that stirred up trouble as the Devil did during Jesus’ trial (Luke 23:18). Although Paul had done nothing wrong except “preaching in the forbidden name of Jesus” (2-5). Only a few troublemakers were accusing Paul so to draw a larger audience, they hired scoundrels from the market place to add credence to their claim (8). Mob rule is usually predicated on the claim of the few who can convince others to their cause simply by the size of the audience. According to Mosaic law, anyone who spoke against the law of Moses should be put to death (Hebrews 10:28). The difference between Thessalonica and Berea was how Paul’s message was received and how they came to the truth (11). The troublemakers that followed Paul to Thessalonica also followed him to Berea (11). The people of Athens loved to debate the recent conversations so when Paul taught them about this “Unknown G_d”, the people’s ears perked up believing the message to be “Something new”. Paul used every option at his disposal to reach people for the Kingdom of G_d. You would think that upon seeing the plethora of idols, he would have said “these people are crazy religious” and gone onto another city. Just like it was in Thessalonica and Berea, some received the message ut many did not. Now when they heard [the term] resurrection from the dead, some mocked and sneered; but others said, “We will hear from you again about this matter.” So Paul left them. But some men joined him and believed; among them were Dionysius, [a judge] of the Council of Areopagus, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them (32-34).