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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Daily Devotion for June 13, 2013

<i>The Golden Calf</i>, depiction in fabric by Lee Porter, ca. 1999.
The Golden Calf, depiction in fabric by Lee Porter, ca. 1999.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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 to Follow God's Will Today (by Jane Austen)

O  God, the author of all good, I come to You for the grace another day will require for its duties and events. I step out into a wicked world; I carry about with me an evil heart. I know that without You I can do nothing, that everything with which I shall be concerned, however harmless in itself, may prove an occasion of sin or folly, unless I am kept by Your power.

Hold me up O God and I shall be safe. Preserve my understanding from subtlety of error, my affections from love of idols, my character from stain of vice, my profession from every form of evil. May I engage in nothing in which I cannot implore Your blessing, and in which I cannot invite Your inspection. Prosper me in all lawful undertakings, or prepare me for disappointments.

Give me neither poverty nor riches. Feed me with food suitable for me, lest I be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or be poor, and steal, and take Your name in vain. May every creature be made good to me by prayer and Your will. Teach me how to use the world and not abuse it, to improve my talents, to redeem my time, to walk in wisdom toward those without, and in kindness to those within, to do good to all men, and especially to my fellow Christians. And to You, O God, be the glory.


Prayer to Receive God's True Word

Holy Lord, who has given me the facility to hear and understand, let me receive your Word with an open mind and clear eye. Whenever I read your Scripture, let your Holy Spirit guide me to the truth, setting aside my preconception and self-justification.

I pray to hear what you intend for me to hear. Lead me to remember that, where we disagree, You are right and I am wrong. And help me always to an attitude of humility in my study, keeping in mind always to use your Word as a guide that will lead me on the path to salvation, never as a tool to justify my faulty and selfish thought; for I am justified by faith.



The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Devotional painting of
Illustration of Moses striking the rock for water, Torah, ca. 800 A.D.

Psalm 3:1-4 (ESV-A)

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 32:25-29 (ESV)

The Golden Calf [4]

And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord's side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.

And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’” And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell.

And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”

Notes on the Scripture

Aaron clearly screwed up, but he and his family (the Tribe of Levi) apparently find forgiveness because they were not instigators of the idol worship; Aaron even tried to convert the idolatry into a sacrifice to Yahweh. But they are heartily ashamed of giving into rather than stopping — and certainly in Aaron's case, even facilitating — the making and worship of the golden calf. They immediately rush to Moses when he calls for the faithful to assemble.

This is a rather terrible passage, even in the context of Exodus; for it is not Yahweh who does the killing, and it is not foreigners who are killed; but rather, Hebrews must engage in a slaughter of their own kind, possibly friends and neighbors. The Levites must pay a terrible price for Aaron's weakness, as God requires them to act as the executioners.

agony of Jesus Christ
Agony of Jesus, from
The Passion of the Christ

Two side notes about the story: First, the number slain is "three elephs" which is almost surely less than a thousand. (See the notes on Exodus 12:37-42.) Probably something less than a thousand men are killed. Secondly, the people killed were probably the ringleaders of the idol worship. We will not get to Numbers in this series, but a second similar incident, much later in the early history of Israel, states this more explicitly. (See Numbers 25.)

Today's passage brings home one of the great lessons we learn from Exodus: sin angers God, and the price of God's anger is blood. We really have lost this concept in modern times and, as a result, we have difficulty understanding the Old Testament. But our insulation from the stark realities of life and death as an everyday occurrence is a recent phenomenon and, largely, unrealistic.

God has not changed just because we have become more refined. We need to know the cost of sin, because we cannot fully appreciate the significance of Christ without it. The price of sin has not changed; it demands blood. Rather, the cost of our sin has been paid (in blood) by our Savior, Jesus Christ. Mel Gibson did popular Christian scholarship a great service by depicting the real horror of Christ's sacrifice, in The Passion of the Christ.

But many viewers took away from the movie the thought, basically, of how terribly cruel human beings can be. This is a hard truth, but there is an even greater lesson to be taken, from that movie and today's reading both: It is the blood sacrifice of our own sin that resulted in, or necessitated, such an agonizing sacrifice by the Son of God.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

John 14:23-24: Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

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