|God’s Tender Compassion|
The Daily Bible Readings
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Luke 1:68-79; Malachi 3:5-12; Philippians 1:12-18a
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
In today’s lectionary readings, the Song of Zechariah in the first chapter of Luke heralds the dawning of the light of Jesus on all who sit in darkness. Once rendered mute on account of his doubt, the father of John is now the prophet who proclaims the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel. His is a song of Advent as we wait for the light that has already come and is still yet to come. In the book of Malachi, in answer to Israel’s arrogant and hypocritical question thrown at God, Where is the God of judgment? Malachi 2:17, God here tells them that he will hasten the time of judgment. It shall come speedily upon them, on account of those sins that were general among them: and that if they did not repent, and reform their conduct upon the preaching of the gospel by the forerunner of the Messiah, the Messiah himself, and his apostles and other servants, he would proceed to the utter excision of their nation. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul does not overlook his hard circumstances. He plainly states in this passage that he wants his Philippian brethren in the Lord to know the things related to him and his circumstances. Our verse of the day emphasizes the fact that Christ is the latest part of God’s continuous, consistent message. Where God had spoken through the prophets of the Old Testament, He now speaks through the person of Jesus Christ.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews is addressed to Jewish Christians who were facing terrible persecution within their communities because of their confession of Christ. The author affirms that they are not following a different religion, but the completion of the true faith in the Lord. God has always spoken to His people through the prophets and other faithful individuals who have communicated His message. However, when it came to providing for and explaining the salvation He has given on the Cross, the Lord came Himself.
Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Gospels
God’s Tender Compassion
68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Zacharias uttered a prophecy concerning the kingdom and salvation of the Messiah. The gospel brings light with it; in it the day dawns. In John the Baptist it began to break, and increased apace to the perfect day. The gospel is discovering; it shows that about which we were utterly in the dark; it is to give light to those that sit in darkness, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. It is reviving; it brings light to those that sit in the shadow of death, as condemned prisoners in the dungeon. It is directing; it is to guide our feet in the way of peace, into that way which will bring us to peace at last, Romans 3:17. John gave proofs of strong faith, vigorous and holy affections, and of being above the fear and love of the world. Thus he ripened for usefulness; but he lived a retired life, till he came forward openly as the forerunner of the Messiah. Let us follow peace with all men, as well as seek peace with God and our own consciences. And if it be the will of God that we live unknown to the world, still let us diligently seek to grow strong in the grace of Jesus Christ.
3:5 “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty.
6 “I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. 11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. 12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.
The men of that generation turned away from God, they had not kept his ordinances. God gives them a gracious call. But they said, Wherein shall we return? God notices what returns our hearts make to the calls of his word. It shows great perverseness in sin, when men make afflictions excuses for sin, which are sent to part between them and their sins. Here is an earnest exhortation to reform. God must be served in the first place; and the interest of our souls ought to be preferred before that of our bodies. Let them trust God to provide for their comfort. God has blessings ready for us, but through the weakness of our faith and the narrowness of our desires, we have not room to receive them. He who makes trial will find nothing is lost by honoring the Lord with his substance.
1:12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18a But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.
The apostle was a prisoner at Rome; and to take off the offense of the cross, he shows the wisdom and goodness of God in his sufferings. These things made him known, where he would never have otherwise been known; and led some to inquire after the gospel. He suffered from false friends, as well as from enemies. How wretched the temper of those who preached Christ out of envy and contention, and to add affliction to the bonds that oppressed this best of men! The apostle was easy in the midst of all. Since our troubles may tend to the good of many, we ought to rejoice. Whatever turns to our salvation, is by the Spirit of Christ; and prayer is the appointed means of seeking for it. Our earnest expectation and hope should not be to be honored of men, or to escape the cross, but to be upheld amidst temptation, contempt, and affliction. Let us leave it to Christ, which way he will make us serviceable to his glory, whether by labor or suffering, by diligence or patience, by living to his honor in working for him, or dying to his honor in suffering for him.
Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings
, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year C. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2022, we will be in Year A. The year which ended at Advent 2021 was Year B. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings
, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org
. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®
, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible