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Daily Devotion for January 28, 2013
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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.
Here is a good thought for the entire week, interpreted by the Joyful Noise Rockin' Gospel Choir.
The illustrations are primarily from a children's book by E. B. Lewis. It is morning when the book opens, and readers are greeted by a smiling boy. Throughout the day, he witnesses and spreads his own special brand of joy wherever he goes.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day. When I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
For our restful sleep at night,
for the rain and sunshine bright,
For the love that Thou dost send,
For our homes and for each friend,
For the day and all its pleasures,
Grateful thanks I render now.
May our lives pass on the blessings,
None can give to us, but Thou.
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that you direct my way unto you, and make me and all of us to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end that we may establish our hearts unblameable in holiness before you, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
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.
Proverbs 19:1 (NKJV)
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
Exodus 5:12-23 (NIV)
The People Criticize Moses
The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.” And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”
Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way? Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”
Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are — lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”
The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.” When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Notes on the Scripture
Pharaoh's orders have created a physical impossibility for the Hebrews. They were already working at full capacity just to make the mud bricks. Now, they have been ordered not only to gather their own straw, but also, to gather it from stubble — that is, from the remains in fields where the good straw has already been harvested.
Pharaoh, obviously, is not actually trying to increase brick production. The orders are just an excuse to show the Hebrews who's the boss. His dismisses this god of theirs. The Egyptians had dozens of gods, idols made by human hands, and often Egyptian pharaohs were considered gods or demi-gods in their own right. So, this puny god of the Hebrews, who were themselves slaves and an abomination to the real Egyptians, was practically a joke to him.
In fact, the Hebrews fear genocide (and rightfully so), but as thoroughly subjugated slaves will do, they blame not Pharaoh, but Moses. They have lost their confidence in the power of their God over the centuries; they have not utterly lost faith or reverence, but it is apparent that they have fallen into a great deal of idolatry and asceticism.
They blame Moses for calling on God; but Moses blames God Himself! He has been an unwilling participant all along, and a small setback has completely thrown him off track. Having little confidence in Yahweh, despite the miraculous signs, Moses does not understand that God might let his people suffer in the short run, as penance for their sinfulness, even though He fully intends to keep a promise of helping them.
If we look down on the Hebrews or Moses for their lack of faith, we need only to look at contemporary disdain for any sort of obedience to God's will. Atheism is a growth industry in the modern world, largely because people do not want to sustain any sort of sacrifice to do God's will. Sexual morals are especially out-of-fashion. The idea of delayed gratification is scorned. People scoff at God, and compare Him to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.
This isn't meant to be a diatribe against modern life, but rather, an illustration to make us see the ancient Hebrews and Moses in a more understandable light. Human nature gravitates toward sin. The nation of Israel had lost its spirit, in both senses of the word.
Exodus is a long book, for bringing the Hebrews into obedience with God's will was a long and arduous process. Like all great things, faith in God takes time and effort.
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