Daily Devotion for January 26, 2016
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 Renewal in Christ
My Father, if Your mercy had boundaries, where would be my refuge from just wrath? But Your love for me in Christ is without measure. Thus, I present myself to You with sins of commission and omission, against You, my Father, against You, Adorable Redeemer, against You and Your stirrings, O Holy Spirit, against the dictates of my conscience, against the precepts of Your Word, against my neighbours and myself.
Enter not into judgment with me, I pray, for I plead no righteousness of my own, and have no place to hide my iniquity. Pardon my day dark with evil.This morning I renew my repentance. I vow to love You more fervently, to serve You more sincerely, to be more devoted in my life, to be completely Yours; Yet I soon stumble, backslide, and have to confess my weakness, misery and sin. But I bless You that the finished work of Jesus needs no addition from my doings, that His atonement is sufficient satisfaction for my sins.
If future days be mine, help me to amend my life, to hate and abhor evil, to flee the sins I confess. Make me more resolute, more watchful, more prayerful. Let no evil fruit spring from evil seeds my hands have sown; Let no neighbour be hardened in vanity and folly by my want of watchfulness.
If this day I be ashamed of Christ and His Word, or show unkindness, malice, envy, lack of love, unadvised speech, hasty temper, let it be no stumbling block to others, or dishonour to Your name. O, help me to set an upright example that will ever rebuke vice, appeal to goodness, and evidence that lovely are the ways of Christ.
To Live in Sympathy with Others
Blessed Lord Jesus, who wept with Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus had died, may I ever take your love and sympathy for humanity into my heart. As Paul prayed in Romans, “May I rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Soften my heart towards all, heavenly Lord, my enemies and my friends, my family and those who offend me. May I see the humanity of all my fellow men, rather than their sinfulness, and replace the fist of criticism with the opens arms of Christian love. By your grace, Lord Christ, I dare to ask your help in overcoming my hard heart,
[If I procrastinate for a day, I lose that day's success.]
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Living in the World
True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it.
~ William Penn
Verses 22:1-15, which deal with compensation for specific instances where property is stolen or destroyed, are omitted. If you want to read the entirety of Exodus, read them in your Bible or here.]
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”
Notes on the Scripture
The law given here concerning men is quite clear. If a man sleeps with a virgin, he has to marry her, unless her father objects. Given the change in marriage laws, however, the guidance concerning the modern woman is not so clear. One might conclude that the woman, being half of the couple, would have the same obligation as the man; or we might conclude that, since she stands in the place of a Hebrew father — that is, she rather than her father picks whom she will marry — she may make the decision not to marry.
lso, we might wonder, is this entirely a moral law, or at least partially a practical one? The Hebrews did not have access to birth control and any act of sexual congress risked pregnancy. Whereas today, a couple might have sexual relations with relatively less chance of conception. Moreover, Hebrew girls normally were betrothed — very similar to today's engagement — when they were extremely young. Women did not spend their teens and 20s (and often, 30s) as single women away from home before they married, as they do today.
This does not seem to vitiate the law, though, because Hebrew men, who married later in life, were also expected to control themselves. As a practical matter, they could get away with casual sex much more easily; men don't develop a telltale bump in their belly a few months later. But the women who would normally sleep with them were prostitutes, not the girl next door, and later verses repeatedly warn young men to resist the seductress and the prostitute. (E.g. Proverbs 5:3-6)
If we read the Bible, without preconception or distortion, we see a definite norm take shape, that sex should be reserved for marriage. For single people, it is not quite the fierce stricture that the Victorians made it out to be — offenders, for example, would not be stoned. The punishment for the man involved, for example, is that he must offer to marry the woman; and he must pay the bride price, even if her father forbids the marriage.
It might be more accurate to say that sex creates a marriage, rather than to say premarital sex is a sin. Remember that (with her father's blessing and after paying the bride price) Isaac married Rebekah by simply "taking her into his tent." But see 1 Corinthians 7:2: "There is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband."
The stated verse leaves an interesting grey area for engaged couples. Remember that Joseph and Mary traveled and stayed together; she remained a virgin, but their conduct in traveling as a couple was apparently accepted by the Jewish authorities. So we might infer that the verse does not prohibit relations between a betrothed couple — it only requires them to marry. (But this is an inference, not God's Word!)