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Daily Devotion for November 30, 2015
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 for the Morning
Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.
Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.
For Workers in Foreign Lands
O God our Saviour, who wills that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, prosper, I pray thee, our brethren who labour in distant lands. Protect them in all perils by land and sea, support them in loneliness and in the hour of trial; give them grace to bear faithful witness unto thee, and endue them with burning zeal and love, that they may turn many to righteousness and finally obtain a crown of glory; through Jesus Christ,
[God's love enables us to serve Him.]
Let me not forget you as I go forth into the world this day, blessed Lord; may my every word be a prayer, and my every act be testimony to your love and truth, and may I know your presence every second of this day.
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.
Which Will You Feed?
Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.
~ Tara Leigh Cobble
Exodus 34: 1, 10-21 (CEV)
The Versions of the Ten Commandments 
One day the Lord said to Moses, “Cut two flat stones like the first ones I made, and I will write on them the same commandments that were on the two you broke. . . .
I promise to perform miracles for you that have never been seen anywhere on earth. Neighboring nations will stand in fear and know that I was the one who did these marvelous things. I will force out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, but you must do what I command you today.
Don’t make treaties with any of those people. If you do, it will be like falling into a trap. Instead, you must destroy their altars and tear down the sacred poles they use in the worship of the goddess Asherah.
I demand your complete loyalty — you must not worship any other god! Don’t make treaties with the people there, or you will soon find yourselves worshiping their gods and taking part in their sacrificial meals. Your men will even marry their women and be influenced to worship their gods.
Notes on the Scripture
The Exodus 34 Commandments
If you have not read the notes on the Scripture from Saturday, you might want to review them quickly as background, to better understand what we're talking about. Although we are reading through Exodus, we have taken a temporary tangent to explore the ten commandments more fully, because it will give us a deeper understanding of Exodus 20.
We saw yesterday that there are three, or possibly four, versions of the ten commandments, and that the Deuteronomy version is nearly identical to Exodus 20. But not the version in Exodus 34! These are substantially different, and furthermore, they are just as much the "Ten Commandments" as the Exodus 20 version. In today's Scripture, they are identified as the commandments written by God on the famous stone tablets. (See also Exodus 34:27-28.)
The laws given in the Exodus 34 version are more difficult to understand and apply to modern life than those in Exodus 20, which is why we never see them. In fact the Exodus 20 commandments seem so immediately understandable that too much weight is put on them. We do not live under the old covenant and our relationship to the laws of the Old Testament is different than it was for the Hebrews.
The First Commandment
he first commandment in Exodus 34 represents a considerable expansion of the "no other gods before me" rule. It is filled with practical and detailed rules of ways in which the Hebrews must ensure that they are not tempted into worshipping the fake gods of the tribes who inhabited Canaan at the time.
We can see immediately why this version is suppressed in favor of Exodus 20, for it is the antithesis of the modern notion of religious tolerance. It commands the Hebrews to destroy all physical signs of any false god. Yahweh intends that Canaan be exclusively Hebrew. Signs of other gods, persons who worshipped other gods, and all temptations to idol worship are prohibited.
Specifically, the first commandment forbids treaties with tribes who are engaged in idol worship, forbids eating meals with them, and prohibits Hebrew men from taking wives from among them. God does not want treaties, because having such idol worshippers living alongside the Jews would present a constant source of temptation. The two greatest of these temptations are — you guessed it — food and sex.
Sacrificial meals were huge banquets, where one might eat his fill of the best food available. If you have ever smelled the air when the neighbors were having a cook-out, you will appreciate how tempting it is, especially if you are hungry. God does not want His people to be tempted by food, when the temptation is a gateway to idol worship.
Even worse was the possibility of bringing heathen women into the heart of the Hebrew nation as wives. As experience has taught time and time again, a man seeing a beautiful and available woman every day creates an irresistible temptation.
The Hebrews had no racial barriers in marriage, but the religious barrier is here made absolute. An unconverted woman raised in the worship of Baal or Asherah might bring her idols and beliefs into a Hebrew household. The original Hebrew version of this verse actually uses the term "prostitution" to describe the idol worship that might result from such a union. Prostitution in this sense: In order to have a woman, a Hebrew man might be tempted to sell out his religious beliefs. As husband and wife, there would be pressure to compromise on religious observance.