As we begin another year we recommence that wonderful tradition which is followed by so many of our brethren and sisters and their families world wide – the opening of our Bibles at Genesis, Psalms and Matthew. Daily, through the guidance of the Bible Readers’ Companion, we again systematically read through the Scriptures. How fitting it is that as we begin the first Psalm we read of the righteous man whose “delight is in the law of Yahweh; and in His law doth he meditate day and night”. This daily reflection upon Yahweh and His ways is imperative if we are to be moulded to manifest the character of “the Father”, who “of His own will begat He us by the Word of Truth” (James 1:18).

A Light In A Dark Age

 The Psalmist, reflecting upon the daily need to allow the Word to guide his life, wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psa 119:105). To him the world around was filled with darkness yet the Word gave him security and comfort and illuminated the path before him. If David’s day was dark, what of our own? The Lord likens it to the days of Noah and Lot. How imperative it is then for us to open our Bibles daily, and prayerfully seek Yahweh’s guidance as we read and meditate upon those things recorded for our instruction.

Can we plead, “We are too busy – we don’t have time to do the daily readings”? One of the problems with life in Sodom was “fullness of bread and abundance of idleness” (Ezek 16:49). Before we hastily use the excuse that we are “too busy” let us realise that there has never been an age or a place on the face of the earth where people can work 38 hours a week and have four weeks leave per year. It may not be that we don’t have time – it may be that we don’t prioritise our time!

Joyfully Gathering Olives

 The reflective Israelite would have been under no misconception that Yahweh’s Word must burn brightly before him to guide his daily walk, service and prayer in his pilgrimage. Daily, both morning and evening, he would witness the priests bearing oil into the Holy Place to trim and attend to the Seven Branched Lampstand. The priest acted as a representative for the people, for all Israel were involved in that duty. It was all Israel who were to “bring pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn always” (Ex 27:20).

That Lampstand was only effective as a lightgiving source in the Holy Place when all Israel committed themselves to the task of gathering and pressing the olives. Without Israel’s effort that Lampstand would not be a source of light, and therefore both the offering of incense and placing of the shewbread in the Holy Place would have been rendered impossible.

We can picture the father in Israel impressing upon his family the need to gather the olives, to press them and finally gather the oil into jars for the lamps. It would be a joyful family activity with a united purpose and spirit. The parents would choose the most suitable time for the family to gather olives so that all could be involved. The father would plan where they could find an olive grove so all could gather the fruit.

The enthusiasm of some families would encourage others. All over Israel individual families and groups would gather olives. No doubt they would talk to each other of the crop and how much “pure oil” they had extracted from the olive fruit they had picked. Their results would be directly related to their labour.

Olives were gathered by shaking the trees (Isa 24:13) and sometimes by beating them (Deut 24:20). This heavy work would be performed by the men, whereas the gathering of the fallen fruit would be the work of the women and younger members of the family. There were tasks for all the family, supervised by the head of the household. The parallels are obvious.

As a new year opens, throughout the world brethren and sisters and their families will recommence the task of gathering “pure oil” for the light to burn brightly in their “lampstand” ecclesias. The gathering of this precious oil is the duty for “all Israel” and is not to be left to just a few. Wise fathers will ensure that each family member is given a task of gathering that which comes within his capacity. Thus, forward planning will provide for joyful and productive daily reading sessions. The younger members will benefit from the experience of those more mature in the Word. The young ones will be given little projects with which they can cope, while older family members will be urged to extend their capacity, being taught that the more effort they expend, the greater the amount of oil they will gather.

Seeking Yahweh’s Blessing

 When we sit quietly in our homes, our Bibles open at the chapters for the day, do we pause to consider that throughout the world our brethren and sisters will be reading the same chapters as we are, often in another language? As we bow our heads to seek Yahweh’s blessing and guidance on our readings, thanking Him for His Word and the privilege of being able to so read, do we seek a blessing also upon our brethren and sisters in other places?

How important it is that the brotherhood is well illuminated by the light burning brightly from “pure oil” produced by the labour of brethren and sisters who have been blessed and guided by Yahweh. If Paul desired that the Philippians would “shine as lights in the world” in their day (Phil 2:15), then surely we too must earnestly seek that the ecclesias throughout the world will so shine in these perverse days, that Yahweh might be glorified.

Our Bible Reading Companion

 As we open our Bibles for the Daily Readings do we realise that we are following the results of the labours of a young brother, who at the age of fifteen saw the need to systematically read the word of Yahweh daily. It was Brother Robert Roberts who was the “young brother” who tabulated the daily reading chart as we now have it. He wrote in “My Days And My Ways” on this subject as follows:

“It was about this time (age 15) I commenced the systematic reading of the Scriptures, which is now so general a practice, with the aid of the Bible Companion. I found I must read, first for information, and then for daily sustenance in the things of the Spirit. Reading led to marking special passages with ink – arising from the need for ready quotation in conversation with those who opposed the truth … My Bible reading was at first discursive. Then I began to see the need for system”. Brother Roberts explained how through trial of differing methods he finally settled on the plan we have in the Companion. He then had it printed and made available for the brotherhood explaining, “Many, many thousands have been printed and circulated – (I know not how many), and to this day there is no pamphlet in connection with the Truth in such steady demand. This result is gratifying, as it means that the enlightened reading of the Scriptures is a growing custom, which cannot fail to be a blessing to all who practise it”.

Let us therefore, as we commence our readings for another year, do so with dedication and enthusiasm. Let us seek the Father’s blessing on our own meditation and on that of our brethren and sisters, that the “pure oil” of the Word may give the fullness of its radiance in the lives of all His children. May we be wise in this duty so that when the cry goes forth ,“Behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him”, we may all be found with oil in our vessels, and prepared to go forth joyfully to meet our Lord.