February 8: It’s Standing between You and God
Exodus 19–20; John 4:1–26; Song of Solomon 2:14–17
There is nothing more frustrating than being ordered around. Few people take to a drill sergeant. Although we like to cite the Ten Commandments (Exod 20) because they’re the norm, the rebellious part of our spirits has trouble with them. If we’re honest with ourselves and take them the way Jesus did (Matt 5–7), we’re confronted with the fact that we’ve all violated them at some point or another. (I don’t know anyone who has always honored their father and mother.)
If everyone lived by the Ten Commandments, the world would be a peaceful place. But again, we’re rebellious. The Ten Commandments reveal something about us: we’re weaker than we would like to believe. They also reveal something about our place before God: it’s not good—not without Jesus’ saving act that redeems us from our sins.
In John 4:1–26, we see Jesus confront a woman at a well who, like us, is a commandment-breaker. And because, as a Samaritan woman, she worships in a different place and in a different way than Jewish people, she is further frowned upon by the people around her. This makes Jesus’ remark to her all the more startling: “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). Jesus tells her that He is what she is searching for—not rules or justification for her lifestyle as a commandment-breaker.
We commandment-breakers can live as legalists or attempt to justify our own decisions. Or we can do something entirely different and admit our need for the living water: Jesus. We can recognize that our religion or inability to keep commandments is not what matters most—what really matters is what God can do for us. We must acknowledge our weakness and need for Him. We must say, like the woman, “He [being Jesus] told me everything that I have done” (John 4:39).
How is religion, self-deprivation, or legalism standing between you and God?
JOHN D. BARRY
- In the third month, after the children of Israel were gone out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they departed from Rephidim, and came to the desert of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness, even there Israel camped before the mount. But Moses went up unto God, for the Lord had called out of the mount unto him, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I carried you upon eagle’s wings, and have brought you unto me. Now therefore if ye will hear my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be my chief treasure above all people, though all the earth be mine. Ye shall be unto me also a kingdom of Priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Moses then came and called for the Elders of the people, and proposed unto them all these things, which the Lord commanded him. And the people answered all together, and said, All that the Lord hath commanded, we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people unto the Lord. And teh Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I came unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear while I talk with thee, and that they may also believe thee forever. (for Moses had told the words of the people unto the Lord.) Moreover the Lord said unt oMoses, Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready on the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai: And thou shalt set masks unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up to the mount, nor touch the border of it, whosoever toucheth the mount, shall surely die. No hand shall touch it, but he shall be stoned to death, or stricken through with darts: whether it be beast or man, he shall not live: when the horn bloweth long, they shall come up into the mountain. Then Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready on the third da, and come not as your wives. And the third day, when it was morning, there was thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the sound of the trumpet exceeding loud, so that all the people that was in the camp was afraid. The Moses brought the people out of the tents to meet with God, and they stood in the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was all on smoke, because the Lord came down upon it in fire, and the smoke threof ascended, as the smoke of a furnace, and all the mount trembled exceedingly. And when the sound of the trumpet blew long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by voice. (For the Lord came down upon mount Sinai on the top of the mount) and when the Lord called Moses up into the top of the mount, Moses went up. Then the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, that they break not their bounds, to go up to the Lord to gaze, lest many of them perish. And let the Priests also which come to the Lord be sanctfied, lest teh Lord destroy them. And Moses said unto the Lord, The people cannot come up into the mount Sinai: for thou hast charged us, saying, Set marks on the mountain, and sanctify it. And the ord said unto him, Go, get thee down, and come up thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the Priests and the people break their bounds to come up unto the Lord, lest he destroy them. So Moses went down unto the people, and told them. then God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods before me. Thou shalt make thee no graven image, neither any similitude of things that are in heaven above, neither that are in the earth beneath, nor that are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, neither serve them: for I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon teh children, upon the third generation and upon the fourth of them that hate me: And showing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his Name in vain. Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work, But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shlat not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid, nor thy beast, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: therefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it. Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be prolonged upon the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors ouse, neither shalt thou cover thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid, nor his ox, nor his ass, neither anything that is thy neighbor’s. And all the people saw the thunders: and the lightnings, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, and when the people saw it, they fled and stood afar off, And said unto Moses, Talk thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God talk with us, lest we die. Then Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not. So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near unto the darkness where God was. And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make therefore with me gods of silver, nor gods of gold: you shall make you none. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and thereon shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places, where I shall put the remembrance of my Name, I will come unto thee, and bless thee. But if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones: for if thou lift up thy tool upon them, thou hast polluted them. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy filthiness be not discovered thereon. Exodus 19–20
- Now when the Lord knew, how the Pharisees had heard, that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not: but his disciples.) He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then came he to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near unto the posession that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. And there was Jacob’s Well. Jesus then wearied in the journey, sat thus on the Well: it was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water, Jesus said unto her, Give me drink. For his disciples were gone away into the city, to buy meat. Then said the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it, that thou being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews meddle not with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest that gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee water of life. The woman said unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the Well is deep: from whence then hast thou that water of life? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the Well, and he himself drank thereof, and his sons, and his cattle. Jesus answered, and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water, shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never be more athirst: but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life. The woman said unto him, Sir, give me of that water, that I may not thirst, neither come hither to draw. Jesus said unto her, Go, call thine husband, and come hither. The woman answered, and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, thou hast well said, I have no husband. For thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast, is not thine husband: that saidest thou truly. The woman said unto him, Sir, I see that thou art a Prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say, that in Jerusalem is th eplace where men ought to worship. Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem worship the Father. Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and Truth: for the Father requireth even such to worship him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in Spirit and Truth. The woman said unto him, I know well that Messiah shall come, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all tings. Jesus said unto her, I am he, that speak unto thee. John 4:1–26
- My dove, that art in the holes of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, show me thy sight, let me hear thy voice: for thy voice is sweet, and thy sight comely. Take us the foxes, the little foxes, which destroy the vines: for our vines have small grapes. My well-beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies, Until the daybreak, and the shadows flee away: return, my well-beloved, and be like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether. Song of Solomon 2:14–17