Daily Devotion for May 28, 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.
A great old hymn performed by Casting Crowns. Lyrics are in the video.
Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (350 A.D.)
O Lord and Master of my life, this day, give me not the spirit of laziness, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of sobriety, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.
Prayer for One's Home (by Edgar Guest)
Peace, unto this house, I pray,
Keep terror and despair away;
Shield it from evil and let sin
Never find lodging room within.
May never in these walls be heard
The hateful or accusing word.
Grant that its warm and mellow light
May be to all a beacon bright,
A flaming symbol that shall stir
The beating pulse of him or her
Who finds this door and seems to say,
"Here end the trials of the day."
Hold us together, gentle Lord,
Who sit about this humble board;
May we be spared the cruel fate
Of those whom hatreds separate;
Here let love bind us fast, that we
May know the joys of unity.
Lord, this humble house we'd keep
Sweet with play and calm with sleep.
Help us so that we may give
Beauty to the lives we live.
Let Thy love and let Thy grace
Shine upon our dwelling place.
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
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.
What is Prayer?
Prayer is where pride is abandoned, hope is lifted, and supplication is made. Prayer is the place of admitting our need, of adopting humility, and claiming dependence upon God. Prayer is the needful practice of the Christian. Prayer is the exercise of faith and hope. Prayer is the privilege of touching the heart of the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ Rev. Joey Burns (Oneida Church of God, Oneida, Kentucky)
Exodus 24:1-11 (ESV)
The Covenant is Sealed
Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar. Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the decrees. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”
And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
Notes on the Scripture
Notice the structure of Exodus. Moses must write down the laws that God has given him, and so the narrative ceases and the book spends several chapters reciting the laws. In Chapter 24, we pick up the narrative where we left off in Ch. 19. This interweaving of history and law continues throughout the Pentateuch.
Today's verses describe a ritual that seals or formalizes the Covenant. Another altar is built, this one with twelve pillars. Since God has commanded that all pillars of Ashereth be destroyed, He clearly does not mind holy pillars; it is the meaning, not the form, that differentiates the sacred and profane.
The ritual itself is foreign and rather gross to the modern eye. There is no indication that God decreed the particulars of the ritual; rather, it was a common form of making a treaty, or any very important contract, especially one involving forgiveness. An animal would be slaughtered and divided, and the parties would walk between the halves. Even the New Testament tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (Heb. 9:22)
Ancient people were more aware than we, of an inescapable truth: a human cannot live unless something else dies. All food derives, ultimately, from photosynthesis. We hide the messier and more arduous aspects of food production from our eyes, which certainly makes life much more pleasant for most of us; we would shriek in horror if somebody sprinkled blood on us. But we must recognize intellectually, even if we cannot change our emotional revulsion, that our horror of blood is an effeteness that comes as a by-product of our comfortable lives.
But the form of the ritual is unimportant. The critical point is that the Hebrews, each and every one, assented to the Covenant in an unmistakably solemn ceremony. It was a form of ritual that they understood, and that they knew was solemn and sacred.
The elders are allowed to go partway up the mountain to see God. The appearance of God Himself is not recorded, and they may not have seen much more than bright light or mist. But they saw a remarkable sight, for the rock beneath Him was as clear as crystal and, apparently, sky blue. Thus, they were reassured that whatever phenomenon they perceived when they saw God was a marvelous and supernatural occurrence.