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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Daily Devotion for June 18, 2013

Tables of the Law with the Golden Calf (detail) by Cosimo Rosselli ca. 1480 (Sistine Chapel). Joshua, seen just below Moses, appears to be taking a nap.



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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.


This is what you would have to call "the voices of angels".

Prayer for the Work of This Day

Almighty God, thank you for the work my hand may find this day. May I find gladness in all its toil and difficulty, its pleasure and success, and even in its failure and sorrow. I would look always away from myself, and behold the glory and the need of the world, that I may have the will and the strength to bring the gift of gladness to others; that with them I stand to bear the burden and heat of the day and offer you my work, as well as I may accomplish it, as praise.


To Be Free of Anxiety

Lord Jesus, I have allowed myself to be filled with depression and negativity over what I see as my failures in life, where I have been disappointed in something I wanted from this world. I find myself hiding, full of anger and self-righteousness and self-pity, and have turned my eyes away from you.

Give me the hope I need and help me never to be afraid to begin again. You told your disciples to be anxious for nothing. I give to you my anxiety, Lord Christ, and lay my troubles upon your mighty back; and I pick up your burden, for you have promised that it is light, and that you are gentle and kind. Let me work for your glory and not my own, Lord Jesus, that the anxiety that comes from pride and vanity and fear of others might be gone from me, and I may serve you in joy and peace.


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.


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

Elijah Prevailing over the Priests of Baal</i> by Evelyn Paul
Elijah Prevailing over the Priests of Baal by Evelyn Paul, ca. 1921.

Proverbs 26:4-5 (NKJV)

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
[Nor] answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 34:1-9 (ESV)

The New Tablets for the Ten Commandments

The Lord said to Moses, “Chisel out two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze near the mountain.”

So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands [or, thousands of generations], forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”

Notes on the Scripture

If there was any ambiguity about the state of God’s relationship with the Israelites, it is clarified here: The covenant made in Exodus 19-20 was broken and completely void, as symbolized by the smashing of the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. Remaking the tablets signifies that the covenant has been made again.

As promised (see yesterday's Devotion), God shows His glory to Moses. But as we learned previously, God would not show His face to Moses (“face” being a metaphor used to describe the aspect of God which is unknowable to a human being).

There are differences of opinion on the meaning of the words “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.” Modern scholarship generally seeks to explain this passage as meaning something different than it says, e.g., that, if a person commits a great sin and is punished for it, his children cannot continue to commit the same sin and expect not to be punished. But this is an example of rewriting Scripture to conform to current culture; holding offpsring liable for the sins of their forebears is anathema to the modern mind.

But in previous times, “corruption of blood”, as it was called, was common practice. We can actually date the change in attitude, because the law was changed in the United States by the U.S. Constitution (art. 3, sec. 3): “ [N]o Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood . . .”). Prior to the 18th century, the idea that a person's heirs might continue to pay for his crimes or sins, especially in cases of disloyalty, was widely accepted.

The passage about “visiting the iniquites of the fathers on the children” means exactly what it says. Yahweh’s covenant with the Hebrews was not between Yahweh and the people present. Just as with Abraham, it extended to their offspring. They would benefit from the righteousness of their forefathers by being born into a covenant, marked by circumcision of infant males; and as stated in today's Scripture, the offspring might also suffer from the sins of their forefathers.

In fact, that is just what will happen from time to time: Generations of Hebrews will be punished for the sins of their forebears repeatedly in the history of Israel, especially for great sins akin to treason; e.g. idolatry or not keeping the Sabbath and/or Passover. The easiest place to see this is the Babylonian captivity, where generations are forced or born into slavery in Babylonia, as punishment for the widespread idolatry developing after the death of David.

On the other hand, we can never forget God’s promise of forgiveness, made in the same sentence; a righteous Hebrew or a righteous generation, that affirmatively sought forgiveness would find it, no matter what the sins of the forebears; until, one day, ultimate forgiveness would come in flesh and blood, in the person of Christ.

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