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bible reading july 30



Bible reading for July 30. 

Judges 13.

"And the angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her, 'Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.'" (Judges 13:3) 

A NAZIRITE FROM BIRTH. The next several chapters will focus on a remarkable and colorful hero named Samson. His birth narrative has similarities with that of Isaac (Gen 17-18), John the Baptist (Luke 1), and our Lord Jesus (Matt 2; Luke 2). Samson was to be a Nazirite (cf Numbers 6) from his birth, indicating his separation for the Lord's service. Sadly, there were areas in his life not sanctified for God's service. The angel would not give his own name, saying that it was "wonderful", meaning perhaps, "too high for you" (compare Gen 32:29). The NIV has "beyond understanding," and the NLT, "too wonderful for you to understand". There is a lot we don't know about angels! And perhaps, this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ, who alone would be the perfect deliverer, separated and sanctified for his Father's service (John 17:19; Heb 7:26). Samson, however, was an extraordinary but tragic figure. John Milton (1608--1674) once wrote a poem about him...  

"O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an off'ring burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His godlike presence, and from some great act
Of benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd
As of a person separate to God,
Design'd for great exploits; if I must die
Betray'd, captiv'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this Heav'n-gifted strength? ..."

Samson Agonistes, vv 23--36
By John Milton

==============  

Acts 17.

"For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you." (Acts 17:23) 

ON MARS HILL. We follow Paul, Silas, and Timothy in their outreach to the cities of Thessalonica and Berea. Their Jewish opponents cause much agitation, saying, "These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also..." (v 6). Paul ends up in Athens and has the opportunity to speak to the philosophers gathered on the Areopagus (the Romans called it Mars Hill). In previous situations Paul "reasoned from the Scriptures" since this was accepted by most of his hearers. But here he steps back to argue first for the biblical God -- one, personal, independent creator God. This was necessary before his proclamation of Christ in the gospel. As in most other places, there was a mixed reaction. Church history records that Dionysius the Areopogite, formerly an Athenian judge, became the first pastor / overseer (aka bishop) of the church in Athens.

REFLECT. In reading Acts we have seen that by God's power the gospel has moved from Jerusalem to Athens, crossing nations and cultures. Where is the gospel advancing now? Do you know what cities, peoples, and nations to pray for as the Good News still moves in the world today?    

Image credits. Left, photo of the Areopagus (as viewed from the Acropolis) by O. Mustafin on Wikimedia Commons. And right, a Byzantine-era icon of Dionysius at the Hosios Loukas Monastery, Boeotia, Greece. 
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.




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