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Daily Devotion for April 25, 2014
ANZAC Day - Australia & New Zealand
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 moving Sabbath Prayer from “Fiddler on the Roof”, where Tevye and Golde pray for the future of their unmarried daughters. This is sung at supper on Friday, the start of the Sabbath.
Prayer for This Day
Holy God, I pray in the name of Christ that you will this day increase my faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel. Give me repentance from dead works. Pardon my wanderings, & direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation. Teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments.
Make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber. But daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life.
Bless my family, friends & kindred; unite us all in praising & glorifying thee in all our works begun, continued, and ended, when we shall come to make our last account before thee blessed Saviour, who hath taught us thus to pray, our Father.
[The blessed resurrection.]
To Treat Others with Love and Understanding
Heavenly Lord, you have commanded us to love one another, but sometimes even when I am pleasant to another person, it is not sincere. Help me, I pray, to be sincere in choosing good over evil. Let my love and concern for others not be a sham. When I work for you, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I might be committed and enthusiastic in your service. Let me live in your presence, not getting so wrapped up in my life that I forget about you.
And may I be patient when difficulties arise and not give way to frustration and anger, knowing always that the result belongs to you. Let me not take offense at others, let me not be thin-skinned; but shielded by the power of your Spirit, let me not hear insult where none is intended, and shrug off even the most intentional. In Christ's name, I pray this.
Now to Him who has given me grace in accordance with His gospel, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for many ages past, but now revealed and made known by the command of the eternal God, so that all mankind might find the obedience that comes from faith; to the only God, the God of wisdom and truth, be glory forever through His only son, Jesus Christ.
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.
Jeremiah 19:10-11 (ESV)
“Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, and shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter's vessel, so that it can never be mended. Men shall bury in Topheth because there will be no place else to bury.
Zechariah 11:10-12 (ESV)
And I took my staff Favor, and I broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep traders, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the Lord. Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver.
Matthew 27:3-10 (ESV)
Judas Hangs Himself
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”
And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter's field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me.”
Notes on the Scripture
We once again see that Matthew is the “Gospel to the Jews”. He gives us the only description of Judas' actions after the arrestBut see Acts 1:18., for Judas fulfills two great prophecies. The “thirty pieces of silver” prophecy actually comes from Zechariah. Although to us it seems that Matthew made a mistake, he probabaly did not. It was a convention of rabbis to name only the first prophet when citing multiple prophesies, and Jeremiah came well before Zechariah (just as his book comes first in the Bible).
Among the many different sets of rules for interpreting the Bible (“hermeneutics”) is an approach to reading the Old Testament called “Christological Hermeneutics”, which reads Christ directly into the Old Testament. For example, in Genesis 3:15, this approach would see the serpent bruising the heel of Eve’s offspring as an allegory of the crucifixion, and Eve’s offspring bruising the head of the serpent as an allegory of Christ’s final victory over Satan and/or death.
Zechariah lends itself more readily to Christological interpretation than Genesis. Chapter 11 concerns a shepherd whose wages are thirty pieces of silver — commonly cited as the price of a slave — who revokes his covenant with a flock of unruly sheep and gives them into the hands of wicked shepherds to be slaughtered. This is thought to represent God’ abandonment of Israel to the Romans, specifically the slaughter and destruction of the Temple several decades after Jesus' death. It fits nicely with our earlier readings in Matthew, where Christ alludes to the end of the first covenant and the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah was explicitly a prophet of the first conquest of Jerusalem. He intended that the smashing of an “empty pot” — a religion that continued in form but had been emptied of its true faith in God — would foretell the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem around 600 B.C. So although the imagery fits the theology of Christ very nicely, we might wonder if it actually had been intended as such.
Here, we have to trust Matthew; if his writing is inspired of God, his interpretation must be also. So, in this case, Christological interpretation has the force of Scripture. The empty pot is the symbol of the Sanhedrin in particular and the Jewish religious establishment in general. Christ used the wonderful metaphor “a whitewashed tomb” to describe the Pharisees: shining with holiness in appearance, but filled with death. The “empty pot” would carry the same message.
The Sanhedrin unwittingly plays directly into the prophetic metaphor, by buying a field from a potter to be used as a cemetery. Although it became known as the Field of Blood in first century Palestine, the term “Potter’s Field” would win the test of history, as “Potter’s Field” became the common term for graveyards bought by the public, for the burial of anonymous or impoverished people.