June 15, 2016
My planned readings were on the stumbling blocks facing one of the churches in Revelation. However, due to the tragedy in Orlando, I felt that I should do some readings on man’s friendship and brotherhood which extend beyond the physical appearances of sexuality, nationality, or religious beliefs. I usually post my readings on Wednesday mornings, but I thought I would send them out ahead of time in case they should provide some comfort.
The Bible readings have three stories about friendships with those we would certainly describe as diverse in today’s language. The first, Ebed–melech, bravely saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah when the weak King of Judah was too afraid of disagreeing with his advisors to follow Jeremiah’s God-given instructions. The second, Ashpenaz, disobeyed the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon so that the Jewish captives (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) could keep their faith’s dietary laws. The third, the eunuch of an Ethiopian queen, was baptized by the Apostle Philip for proclaiming his belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In Miscellaneous Writings, Mrs. Eddy answers a question about the salvation of this eunuch, and I am quoting part of it below as it is a wonderful essay on the transition from firm believing to understanding to the miracle of grace. (The entire essay is available at the end of the readings.)
“This is the Father’s great Love that He hath bestowed upon us, and it holds man in endless Life and one eternal round of harmonious being. It guides him by Truth that knows no error, and with supersensual, impartial, and unquenchable Love. . . . To believe thus was to enter the spiritual sanctuary of Truth, and there learn, in divine Science, somewhat of the All-Father-Mother God. It was to understand God and man: it was sternly to rebuke the mortal belief that man has fallen away from his first estate; that man, made in God’s own likeness, and reflecting Truth, could fall into mortal error; or, that man is the father of man. It was to enter unshod the Holy of Holies, where the miracle of grace appears, and where the miracles of Jesus had their birth, — healing the sick, casting out evils, and resurrecting the human sense to the belief that Life, God, is not buried in matter. (Miscellaneous Writings p. 77-78)
Here are some interesting comments found in the notes in the New Oxford Annotated Bible:
Jeremiah 38:7 “The eunuchs” is often used of court officials indicating how highly in Judean court life such persons of ambiguous gender could ascend. Some scholars, however, suggest that the term has two distinct meanings (“official” and “eunuch”). There is no indication, however, that the “eunuch” was a social pariah. (4th edition, page 1116)
Daniel 1:5 Three years are cited by Persian texts as the time required for gaining knowledge of religious concerns. (page 1234-35)
Hmm…I wonder if Mrs. Eddy considered this with her Bylaw regarding Readers’ terms of three years, or perhaps it had to do with the length of Jesus’ ministry?