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Monday, October 24, 2016

Daily Devotion for February 1, 2013

Exodus, Aaron staff turns into serpent
This wonderful woodcut from the 15th Century Nuremberg Bible shows Aaron's staff becoming a serpent, the subject of today's Scripture. On the right, a horned Moses turns the Nile into blood.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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 sublimely beautiful version of the Lord's Prayer, very Russian Orthodox in sound.

Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning

I  give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.


Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)

Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.

For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.

Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.



I  pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh
This oil by an unknown artist depicts the French King Francis I as Pharaoh; it was commissioned by the Dinteville family, who was having a political dispute with him.

Psalm 115:4-8, 9-11

But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.

O Israel, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord;
He is their help and their shield.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 7:1-10 (KJV)

Aaron Shows Pharaoh the First Sign

And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

And Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, so did they. And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh.

And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, "When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent."

And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.

And he hardened Pharaoh's heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.

Notes on the Scripture

We used the King James Version today, because its tone gives such grandeur and importance to this momentous scene, as Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew slaves, confronts mighty Pharaoh. Pharaoh is not impressed when Aaron shows him the first of Yahweh's signs. He believes that this is the same magic his priests use, and that Yahweh is like the "gods" of Egypt. Then, in a scene rich with metaphor, Aaron's serpent devours the serpents of the magicians. Pharaoh apparently was psychologically incapable of absorbing what had happened right in front of him. In modern slang, he pooh-poohed it.

Psalm 115, excerpted above, is very similar to Psalm 135, and they deal directly with the gods of Egypt. "They have eyes, but they do not see" means literally, of course, that these inanimate statues are simply lifeless carvings; they have the shape of eyes carved on their faces but they are without power; they do not function as eyes.

But Pharaoh also has eyes that do not see. They register the image of what happened, but his pride — his hardened heart — refuses to register its significance. He cannot absorb the truth, because it would mean changing his mind, even slightly, about his omnipotence.

Why, though, does God interfere with Pharaoh and harden his heart even further? Of course, we might not fathom the mind of God, but one simple answer is that God intends to punish proud Pharaoh and his idolatrous nation. We have seen Sodom and Gomorrah stricken from the earth for their sin, already. Another answer comes later in Exodus: God intends this as a show that will not be soon forgotten, a demonstration of His power and wrath against those who ignore Him, and a show of His love for His chosen people. He wants people to know about Him, so that they can become righteous.

endless knot

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