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Daily Devotion for November 15, 2014
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 wonderful old Golden Gate Quartet vows they “ain’t gonna’ study war no more.”
Prayer of Submission
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Almighty God, I pray for wisdom in these times of uncertainty. I look deep into my heart and soul to find your truth. I pray for comfort in times of spiritual restlessness — as I journey through the murky waters of sin and self-doubt. Lord, I pray for your word to enrich my life and bring me to a closer relationship and understanding with you, through your Son, Jesus Christ. And may all your children be granted the same wisdom, comfort, and the promise of your word throughout their daily lives, that we all can gather in your house and praise you more lovingly and faithfully from this day forward. In Christ's name,
Ancient Prayer: Jesus Wash My Feet
Jesus, my feet are dirty. Come even as a slave to me, pour water into your bowl, come and wash my feet. In asking such a thing I know I am overbold, but I dread what was threatened when you said to me, “If I do not wash your feet I have no fellowship with you.” Wash my feet then, because I long for your companionship.
[Submission to God.]
Oh Lord as I face creation
Let me see with eyes made clear
By Your promise of salvation,
Never to return to fear.
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.
“You must believe in God in spite of what the clergy say.”
~ Benjamin Jowett
Exodus 20:4-6 (NKJV)
The Second Commandment
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Notes on the Scripture
This is possibly the most difficult of the commandments given by God at Mt. Sinai. It can be construed in several different ways. Strictly construed, most Christian churches flaunt it; Jews and Arabs, in fact, follow it more literally than most Christians. Jews will not depict a person or object in their temples and synagogues, and strict Muslims will not make such a depiction anywhere at any time! They do not make statues or paintings at all, and their beautiful artwork is either purely ornamentation or calligraphy.
The issues of interpretation drove a huge wedge between Catholic/Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the extreme Protestant sects, such as Puritans and Anabaptists, on the other. During the Cromwell era in England, “Roundheads” — the Puritanical and anti-monarchist faction — would raid Catholic churches, burning paintings of saints and the Virgin, busting up statues and breaking stained glass windows.
An initial interpretive hurdle is that God did not number the commandments, and different people have numbered them differently. Both Augustine and the Catholic Church include this commandment as part of the first commandment. But however they are numbered, they should not be read in a vacuum. The first group of commandments, dealing with how we must relate to God, need to be read as a whole.
Four Baal idols
Put the words “You shall have no other gods before Me” in the same paragraph as the first commandment and a more accurate picture emerges. The purpose of the commandment is to prevent the worship of idols: building statues cattle or dogfaced men and sacrificing to them, building great Molochs with furnaces in the belly, building Asharoth poles, etc. The primary impetus for “no graven image” becomes clearer when the commandment is restated in Exodus 34: “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.” (See Ex. 34:17-28.) This was a huge issue in the Old Testament, and the next 1500 years of Judaism would center on the struggle against such gods. The Hebrews would constantly continue to lapse into literal idolatry (the Baal gods of Canaan were a particular problem) up until the time of Christ; hundreds and hundreds of pages of the Old Testament are, at their core, the history of this struggle.
Compounding the difficulty of interpreting these words correctly is that, with the coming of Christ, our relationship to the law changed radically: parts of the law were completely fulfilled and are no longer needed — one very prominent example is that Christ's sacrifice of His life, being a perfect atonement for all sin, rendered the sacrificial laws moot. Some parts of the law became more strict, some more lenient, some changed, some stayed the same. The area is complex, especially since the fundamental meaning of the law itself changed; it was no longer seen as a vehicle capable of justifying humanity to God.
As rules of morality or conduct, however, Christ extended the scope of many prohibitions in ways that would have astounded Moses, because Christ taught that we must obey the spirit underlying the law. Literal compliance was insufficient. Where the Hebrew thought he was justified by not committing a literal act of adultery, Christ taught that seeking to lust in one's heart violated the commandment whether or not one actually carried out the physical act. (Matthew 5:27-28) What is in our hearts and minds has become as important as literal compliance.
Some denominations today take the commandment strictly and will not have depictions of earthly beings in their churches, and good for them. Other denominations have churches filled with paintings and statues — and good for them, too! But where one must insist that a Christian is bound by the second commandment, is in the spirit of the commandment. We are commanded to devoted worship of the one true God to the exclusion of all else: and the “other gods” include the demigods of earthly desires, such as money, sex objects, fame, etc. Christ made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount, in the phrase, “You cannot serve God and Mammon.”