April 17, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“An Opportunity for Grace”

Exodus 21:15,17

“Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

“Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.”

Back in August of 2018, when I first landed in Taiwan, one of the first things I noticed was a big sign in the airport that read, “Drug trafficking is punishable by death in the R.O.C. (Taiwan).” Of course, drug trafficking is prohibited in most countries; I already knew that. But I was surprised by the severity of the punishment. I thought to myself, ‘Wow, Taiwan is very serious about stopping drug trafficking.’

I was reminded of this while preparing today’s devotion because our passage today contains an even more shocking rule: whoever strikes… or even curses… his father or his mother shall be put to death! According to this passage, many of us (including myself), should be dead already. My immediate question was: Why does God institute such a harsh punishment? I can think of 2 main reasons:

  1. It shows just how serious God is about honoring parents. In our culture, it seems that with each successive generation, honoring our parents has become less and less of a priority. But it’s clear in Scripture that God values the honoring of parents. From the Ten Commandments, all the way to Paul’s exhortations, the Bible reinforces the importance of children honoring their parents.

But really? The death penalty? Was that really necessary? Yes! I believe that God demands this extreme punishment for a second reason…

  1. It provides an opportunity for grace. Proverbs 19:18 reads, “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.” I do not think that in giving this rule, it was God’s desire to see all rebellious children put to death. Instead, His desire was for children to understand the incredible importance of honoring parents. At the same time, the severity of this rule provided parents an opportunity to show grace towards their children, by withholding punishment and issuing discipline instead.

I believe that this rule reflects the heart of our Heavenly Father. He demands perfect holiness from us (Lev 19:2), and anything short of holiness is punishable by death! This not only reveals the importance of holiness, but it also created an opportunity for God to display His grace toward us.  Consider how the spurned father treats his prodigal son: “Bring the best robe and put in on him” (Lk. 15:22). That’s grace—which was ultimately demonstrated on the cross.

Today let’s pray for a deeper reverence for God’s laws and His holiness. Only when we are serious about God’s holiness can we truly understand his grace.

Prayer: Father, may we not take your commands lightly. May we not treat our sins as if they were merely minor nuisances. Remind us of how serious holiness is to You. And as we are reminded, may we understand the depth of Your grace, and joyfully receive Your discipline. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Romans 16


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 3:19-24: Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Questions to Consider

  1. In this passage, what does Paul say is the function of the law?
  2. According to the passage, can the righteousness of God be attained through the law?
  3. How, then, does one receive the righteousness of God? Who can receive it?

Notes

  1. Paul mentions that the law holds the whole world accountable before God. In other words, the law brings us into the awareness of sin. According to Paul, this is one of the primary functions of the law.
  2. No. Paul says, “but now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law.” This means that our hope for righteousness doesn’t actually come through strict adherence to God’s laws. There is a different source for righteousness other than the law—the one that is given to us for free of charge when we believe in Christ
  3. According to this passage, righteousness comes through “faith in Jesus Christ”. Everyone is in need of this righteousness because everyone has sinned. And anyone is eligible to be justified by grace as a gift.

Evening Reflection

Have you experienced the grace of God recently? I’m not talking about understanding His grace, but rather experiencing it. If your answer is “no”, perhaps it is because you have forgotten the holiness of God. This evening, spend some time meditating on the holiness of our God.

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