Daily Devotion for November 30, 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.
Few people realize that this song was written in Zulu in the 1920s, and may have been traditional before then. The original name was Mbubu (lion).
The words have a special religious significance in South Africa. "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8
Prayer to Dedicate This Day to God
Holy God, as I face another day, I know I am going to face many challenges: to my faith, to my patience, to my love for others. I am going to have constant temptations to lapse into sin. Come to me now, Lord, and stay with me all day. Let your Spirit encompass my mind. Let me know your presence. Steer my hand, direct my words, guide my thoughts in everything I think and say and do. I resolve to live this day as a beacon of your glory, the best I can, with your help. I commit myself to give this day to you. In the name of Christ, be with me and help me.
For Renewal of the Holy Spirit
Renew in our own days your miracles like a second Pentecost. Grant that the Church, re-united in prayer, may extend the kingdom of Jesus - a kingdom of truth and justice, of love and peace.
For Those Who Protect Us
Almighty God, I commend to your gracious care and keeping all the men and women of our armed forces at home and abroad; for those who fight fires and crime; and for all those who put themselves in danger for our protection. 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.
Community of Prayer
I pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer, and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.
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.
Psalm 78:1-4 (ESV)
A Maskil of Asaph
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth!
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
Matthew 13:34-43 (ESV)
Prophecy and Parables; The Parable of the Weeds Explained
All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet:
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”
He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Notes on the Scripture
The quote spoken by Jesus is Psalm 78:2 — “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.” It was written by a mystic named Asaph the Seer, who is mentioned in 2 Chron. 29:30 as a poet comparable to King David.
Psalm 78 doesn't appear to be prophetic, in the usual sense of the word, but it supplies historical context and dimension to Matthew's chapter on parables.
Asaph described parables as “dark sayings”, the poetic equivalent of “secrets” or “mysteries” in verse 11. “Secrets” does not indicate something meant to be kept unknown. In fact, Asaph writes, “We will not hide them from their children.” (Psalm 78:4) “Secrets” is simply a bad translation: the Greek word indicates not that parables are meant to be kept unknown, but that they will be understood only by some people; perhaps those with prior instruction, or even just an open mind.
In verse 32 of the psalm, we read: “In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe.” This describes not only the way in which unbelivers found the parables incomprehensible, but also, the content of the Parable of the Weeds itself.
The weeds (bearded darnel - see Tuesday's devotion) were indistinguishable from the grain plants until harvest time; and even if they could be distinguished, their roots wound around the roots of the grain so that it was impossible to remove them without killing the grain plant. A farmer basically grew a crop of mixed wheat or barley and darnel weed, and at the harvest would burn the darnel and put the grain in the barn.
So, ironically, the “weeds” are hearing Jesus speak the very parable that condemns them. They are mixed in among the faithful. But the weeds/unfaithful find the parable impossible to understand. The age in which we live is comparable to the field in midsummer; the fruitful grain and weeds are all growing, tangled together, impossible to separate and difficult to distinguish.
The unsaved appear to be doing just fine; they certainly think they are. But the harvest will come, and the weeds will be burned while the grain is saved. “By their fruits, you shall know them” takes on an additional meaning, for the grain will be distinguished, not by the appearance of the plant, but by the edible wheat or barley it produces.
There is also a pun, perhaps unintentional, when Jesus says “He who has ears, let him hear.” The word ears has two definitions. The more common one is an organ of hearing, but it also means the fruiting spike of a cereal. The plants that will be saved in the parable also have ears: ears of grain! Whether the wordplay is intentional or not, it is 100% on point: the people who have ears to hear are the “grain” of the parable, those who will be saved and find eternal life.