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Daily Devotion for April 11, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Day (written by Jane Austen)
Give us grace Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address Thee with our hearts, as with our lips. Thou art everywhere present, from Thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our thoughts on Thee, with reverence and devotion that we pray not in vain.
May we now, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing thoughts, words and actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of evil.
Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed Thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our hearts these questions oh! God, to save us from deceiving ourselves by pride or vanity.
Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference. Hear us almighty God, for his sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray.
For Those in the Armed Forces
Almighty God, I commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad. Defend them day by day with your heavenly grace; strengthen them in their trials and temptations; give them courage to face the perils which beset them; and grant them a sense of your abiding presence wherever they may be; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Benediction (from Colossians 3)
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within me all this day; and whatever I do in word or deed, may I do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
"It is possible to be happy without having perfect health . . . Thank goodness my happiness doesn't come from my joints, but from my heart."
~ Beverly LaHaye
Exodus 19:9-15 (ESV)
Ritual Preparation to Meet God
When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot [with an arrow]; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
Notes on the Scripture
The first and third paragraphs command the Hebrews to consecrate themselves before hearing the voice of God. ("Consecrate" means, literally, to make something holy.) They must take considerable trouble in preparation, to show that their reverence is sufficiently sincere that God will communicate with them.
Washing their clothes in two days would have been a sizable undertaking. They are very dirty and have access to a limited supply of water: whatever size pool might have accumulated from the rock Moses had struck. They have no soap, no washtubs; and there are, perhaps, 30,000 people involved. They would have been hard-pressed to get the entire job done in two days. (It was a different time, indeed; today, preparation for church often involves less trouble than getting ready to go to work.)
But God, while not setting a perpetual commandment, wants to set a proper sense of reverence between the Hebrews and Himself. Human pride ever wants to bring the mighty down to one's own level. We are prideful by nature. Our minds naturally work to bring ourselves ever closer in stature to one above us, either by raising our own status (in reality or in our mind) or by lowering the status of the one above us. We want to call the boss by his first name. The President of the United States has his photograph taken carrying his own suitcase off a plane, to pander to this phenomenon.
But God will not stand for familiarity; His relationship with the Hebrews is going to be unmistakably hierarchical.
Even to set foot on the mountain where He will appear rates instant death, for man or beast; even more remarkably, the violation is so severe that the person committing it cannot be touched and must be killed by stoning or being shot. Nobody can "put the fear of God" into someone like God Himself!
It is both humbling and important to remember the degree of reverence that God demanded of the people He loved best. Is He trying to hurt the Hebrews? Is He jerking them around? No. He loves them greatly; they are special to Him. He sets such severe rules for their benefit, not His. We must take the message of this passage to heart, for it is the starting point of the salvation of mankind. Just so, it makes sense that it is also the starting point of our own salvation, and indeed, Proverbs tells us repeatedly that "fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom."
(An interesting side note on "do not go near a woman": the NIV, no doubt attempting to make the Old Testament more relevant to modern notions of gender equality, translates this passage — incorrectly — "abstain from sexual relations." There is, of course, a possible motive of abstinence from pleasure as a sacrifice, or to prevent a diversion of concentration, in the prohibition.
But the real problem is that a man's sexual fulfillment made him ritually unclean. Lev. 15:16-18 And here's the shocker: The man did not become "unclean" because sex was "dirty"; the man (and the woman, in most cases) became ritually unclean because it was sacred.
So, most likely, the closest meaning of this phrase is: "do not ejaculate"! The O.T. can get a bit earthy, sometimes.