Daily Devotion for April 19, 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.
The soloists in this work represent the archangels Raphael, Uriel, and Gabriel.
Haydn was inspired to write The Creation after looking through a telescope at night, for the first time, while crossing the English Channel.
The heavens are telling the glory of God,
The wonder of his work displays the firmament;
Today that is coming speaks it the day,
The night that is gone to following night.
In all the lands resounds the word,
never unperceived, ever understood.
Music by Josef Haydn
Lyrics translated by Robert Shaw, based on Psalm 19.
Prayer for the Morning
The night has passed, the sun shines its light upon us, and the day lies open before me. As I rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence fill me with love for you and my fellow man, holy God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Abide with me, I pray, now and for ever.
Prayer for Those Who Have Turned Away
Grant, O Lord, peace, love and speedy reconciliation to your people whom You have redeemed with your precious blood. Make your presence known to those who have turned away from You and do not seek You, so that none of them may be lost, but all may be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, so that everyone, in true love and harmony, O long-suffering Lord, may praise your all holy Name.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Proverbs 20:3 (NKJV)
It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.
Exodus 20:12 (NKJV)
The Fifth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
Notes on the Scripture
What Importance Do the Commandment of Exodus 20 Have?
The first four of the ten commandments address the relationship between God and man; the remaining six (beginning with today's) address the relationship of people to one another. This division underlies Christ's famous summary of the Law into two great commandments, e.g. Matthew 22:37-40.
The fifth commandment and the fourth, which we examined yesterday, raise an important issue: As important as Exodus 20 is for understanding God's will, it is neither complete nor fully original and is, really, a sort of Cliff's Notes version of God's law given to the Hebrews. (In fact, there is another difficulty we will explore in the future: Exodus gives us two versions of the words on the engraved stones brought down the mountain by Moses.)
The first, second and fourth commandments have certainly been given to the Hebrews before. See e.g. Exodus 16:22-30. More importantly, their already exist "commandments", equal in importance to these ten. For example, we earlier saw a strict set of rules requiring the observance of Passover. If it occurs to you that they are not as important as these ten, just consider: a person who eats leavened bread at Passover must be thrown out of the congregation of Israel. Exodus 12:19
More a propos of today's passage, at several prior points God has imposed obligations on parents to instruct their children. E.g. Exodus 12:24-27. Instruction and discipline of children is probably a more fundamental duty than any of the last six "commandments", for the continuation of the covenant would depend upon it.
When we think about such issues as "what were the laws of Moses" and "what obligation do they place upon Christians today", turning to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 is a cop-out. Too much emphasis on them means that we have not read the Bible. People like them, though, because they aren't "Jewish" sounding. We want to put them in a nice clean category, "rules that still apply after the coming of Christ", as opposed to, say, laws detailing the burning of goat carcasses as a sacrifice. But no such distinction can be supported from the actual text of the Bible.
Reading and studying the actual text of Exodus will give us a much more accurate and deeper understanding of Old Testament law and its application to modern Christians.
That Your Days May Be Long
The gloss at the end of the commandment, "that you days may be long upon the land . . ", might or might not be intended to be tied to the specific commandment. "Your days" does not refer to an individual's lifespan, but rather, to Israel's occupation of the promised land under the protection of Yahweh. By inference, a child who honors his parents will learn and follow the precepts of a monotheistic and God-centered life; he will inherit the knowledge needed to please God and, under his parents' watchful eyes, learn to behave correctly in the eyes of God.
As a general principle of Biblical interpretation, however, the first mention of a principle informs what is to follow. As J. Edwin Hartell puts it in Principles of Bible Hermeneutics(Zondervan, 1947): "The first time a thing is mentioned in Scripture it carries with it a meaning that will be carried all through the Word of God." There is, we must remember, only one speaker in the Bible, although there are many mouths.
Which put more plainly, means that the reward of living long in the Promised Land applies to all of God's commandments, not only to the obligation of honoring one's mother and father. There lies a critical message, not only for a struggling, scruffy Semitic tribe over 3000 years ago , but also for us today. If a society is to prosper, it needs to pay close attention to God's moral law.