Commandments Written on the Heart

Day 43

Exodus 34:1-35:9; Matthew 27:15-31; Psalm 33:12-22; Proverbs 9:1-6

Commandments Written on the Heart

Today’s passage from Exodus is rich and full and mysterious, and will pay back all the effort we expend on it. (We don’t need to understand it all today! We will return!)

Moses goes up the mountain to commune with God, and he carries “two tablets of stone” (34:1) that he has made. God specifies that Moses must make them; Moses will bring himself into God’s presence, fasting and praying “forty days and forty nights.” While he is there, God will write His commandments (His word, His will, His way) on the tablets Moses brings with him.

This is a hopeful sign to us! We want God’s commandments written on our hearts, as the Scripture promises they will be (see Jeremiah 31:33). God promises to “drive out before thee the Amorite, Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite” (34:11).

On the literal level, these refer to the hostile tribes who occupied the land promised to Israel, but the saints of the Church see more in this promise. They understand those tribes to symbolize the hostile sins that persist in our hearts. This promise of victory is great hope to us!

Kevin Holsapple
St. Anne’s
Crystal River, FL

God in a Box

Day 42

Exodus 32:1‐33:23; Matthew 26:69‐27:14; Psalm 33:1‐11; Proverbs 8:33‐36

God in a Box

I read a book many years ago (Sorry, can’t remember the name of it…) that talked about how so many of us try to put God in a box. We imagine God to be of the size and shape we need. Further, we tend to put God away in this box when we want to act in some way other than the way God would have us. God is bigger than any box we could ever construct.

Even though God’s people in today’s Old Testament passage had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired. They had seen Him act in the plagues, in the crossing of the Red Sea, and in the provision of the manna and the quail – but it was not enough.

We are so much like them. Our great temptation is still to shape God into a picture we can imagine, to make God convenient to follow or to pay no attention. God responds in great anger when His mercy is ignored. The gods we create turn us away from the care our loving God wants to shower on us. God can’t work in us when we put anyone or anything above Him. What false gods in your life are preventing the true God from living in you?

The Rev. Phyllis Bartle
St. Jude’s Episcopal Church
Orange City, FL

A Kiss, a Fist, and a Sword

Day 41

Exodus 30:11‐31:18; Matthew 26:47‐68; Psalm 32:1‐11; Proverbs 8:27‐32

 A Kiss, a Fist, and a Sword

Today’s reading from Matthew covers the time from Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in Gethsemane to His abuse at the hands of Jewish leaders at the High Priest’s residence.

When the crowd showed up, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss. Then He was arrested and one of His disciples drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus quiets everyone down and restores the ear. He is then led off to Caiaphas’ residence. There He is interrogated, many false charges against Him are rehearsed, and when He declares His Messiahship, He is spit upon, slapped, and beaten with fists. Even then the abuse has only begun. As we know it includes whipping, more beatings, the hair of His beard pulled out, a crown of thorns thrust down into His scalp drawing streams of blood, mocking, and finally crucifixion.

Such cruel treatment – at the hands of sinners; and the only defense offered was more violence, and later denials of knowing Him by the same disciple Peter. This incident teaches us an important lesson: we are broken. We are all capable of spitting on Jesus, slapping Him, striking Him with our fists, denying Him, mocking Him, and even crucifying Him; and yes, even of drawing our swords and blindly striking out at unseen and unknown enemies of our faith. We are all sinners, it is only a matter of degrees that separate all of us.

What then do we do? We seek forgiveness. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” – Psalm 32:1

The Rev. Richard Bordin
Holy Cross
Winter Haven, FL