Daily Devotion for May 31, 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 Guidance During the Day
Oh my God, you know my weakness and failings, and that without your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others'. Grant me, therefore, the help of your grace, according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the tasks you will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and let me set my hand to these tasks with the vigor and joy of one with whom you abide. And if I should face trials, suffering or failure, I pray that your hand will lift me up, and I may be refreshed. In the name of Christ, I pray,
Prayer for The Unsaved
O God, the everlasting Creator of all things, I pray for the souls of unbelievers, for they were made by you and formed in your image. Jesus, your Son, endured a most bitter death for their salvation. Permit not, I beseech you, Holy Lord, that your Son should be any longer despised by unbelievers, but accept the prayers of those who remember them and be mindful of your mercy. I pray you to forgive their idolatry and blasphemy, in the hopes that they too may some day know Him whom you have sent, the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may yet be redeemed and delivered, as was always the deep desire of your Son.
Prayer of Resolve
I bind myself to you this day, oh Christ, in your truth and in your sacrifice. I give to you my anxiety and my fear, my depression and my doubt, for you have promised to take them if we only ask; and I take upon myself your burden, for it is light and your way is gentle. May I keep this in my heart and mind all this day.
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.
The Wages of Sin
You would think that everyone would leap at the chance to get rid of sin. Not so. They want relief, not a cure.
~ Henry Brandt
Exodus 25:1-9 (1-40) (ESV)
Contributions for the Sanctuary
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution.
From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats' hair, tanned rams' skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece.
And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.
Synopsis of verses 10-40
The rest of the chapter is a lengthy, detailed description of four items to be built for the sanctuary: 1) The Ark of the Covenant, acacia wood covered in gold, about four feet long with poles so it can be carried; 2) The Mercy Seat, made of pure gold, with two cherubs facing each other; 3) A table made of acacia wood and covered in gold, about four feet long; and 4) A golden lampstand with seven candles — the well-known menorah — and ornate decoration. (Exodus 25)
Notes on the Scripture
"They will make me a holy place, that I may dwell among them." (Exo. 25:8, NLT) God gives the Hebrews seven chapters of instructions in Exodus about the details of how they shall worship, beginning with this chapter, which describes exactly how the primary four items of furniture should look. The first and most important, by far, is the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the law inscribed on stone tablets. This is the focal point of the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, so sacred that, eventually, nobody will even see it except one priest, once a year.
The temple menorah
has 7 candles. The
more commonly seen
has 9 candles.
And so, where does God live? God lives in His Word. The tablets themselves are simple slabs of stone filled with writing. The lavish structures are outside, surrounding it, so that the people will know the importance of what is within, but the actual sacred object representing God's presence are words.
Daily Prayer places great emphasis on the importance of minimizing division between Christian denominations, and the structure of the tabernacle is a good illustration of what is most important. We have been freed from literal compliance with the laws of Moses and no longer must build elaborate structures where God may live among us, for we were given the Living Word, in the person of Christ.
But we must not look on our neighbors' places of worship with disapproval, for we commit the sin of pride when we do. Notice that the tabernacle contains graven images, golden statues of cherubim complete with wings, certainly something that lives in the "heavens above". Moreover they are right at the center of Hebrew worship.
It is not right to criticize those who worship in simple and plain surroundings, for we are released from literal compliance with these chapters of Exodus (and all the law of Moses). And by reference to the apostles, they often worshipped in the simple rooms of a church member.
But on the other hand, neither can we criticize any church with elaborate decoration, made of gold and other precious materials, for God clearly authorizes it to be done, even to the point of instructing the Jews to make golden statues of angels. If we read Exodus with no preconceptions, no personal axe to grind, we must conclude that the prohibition against graven images was meant to forbid making and worshipping heathen gods (as will be specified in Exodus 34). So the zeal of the Puritans, who ransacked Catholic and Anglican churches, destroying stained glass and crucifixes and statues of saints, was misguided.
But the primary thing to take away from this chapter is that even in the most elaborate and ornate setting is only window dressing for what we are worshipping: God's presence in His Word.