Daily Devotion for February 15, 2013
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.
Our "Oldie Goldie" this week is an emotionally powerful rendition of Go Down Moses by Doris Akers, backed by her Sky Pilot Choir.
Prayer for the Morning
May all I do today begin with you, O Lord. Plant dreams and hopes within my soul and revive my tired spirit: be with me today. Be at my side and walk with me; be my support, that your hand may be seen in every action I take, that your goodness may be in every word I speak, and that your spirit may inhabit my every thought. Make my thoughts, my work, and my very life blessings for your kingdom. In Christ's name I pray,
A Prayer for Lent
Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son's death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son. who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup with every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, the bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, and for the riverside; for all Thy goodness hath bestowed, and all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, and for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown and for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love which stirred my worldly nest; and for the stormy clouds which drove me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, and for the waning joy; and for this strange, this settled peace which nothing can destroy.
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 5:4-8 (NKJV)
You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness,
Nor shall evil dwell with You.
The boastful shall not stand in Your sight;
You hate all workers of iniquity.
You shall destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But as for me, I will come into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy;
In fear of You I will worship toward Your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies;
Make Your way straight before my face.
Exodus 10:1-11 (ESV)
The Eighth Plague: Locusts 
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land.
And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.
Then Pharaoh's servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh.
And he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?” Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.”
But he said to them, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
Notes on the Scripture
God announces an underlying purpose of the plagues, for the first time. He wants Moses' son and grandson to witness His works. The ESV translates the verse "how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians", but it could as easily read "how I have humiliated" or "made a spectacle of . . . ." The plagues are a demonstration of His power and wrath, to be remembered for all time. They are also a sign of His commitment to the Hebrews.
One might puzzle over the plagues until this point. God certainly has no qualms about destroying cities or nations that have sunk into total idolatry and pridefulness, but in the case of Egypt, He seems wantonly cruel. If all He wants is to free the Hebrews, He could certainly accomplish the task with less fuss and less suffering.
Let My People Go
Ruth Starr Rose
Not that we can expect to understand God's methods, always. We are often in the position of savages who see a surgeon's knife cutting open a patient's abdomen, able to see the terrible wound inflicted but unable to grasp that, by this apparently murderous action, the surgeon will save the patient's life. But in this case, we are given a hint to understand the entire plague scenario.
The purpose is to save mankind by giving the Hebrews a demonstration which they, and the world, will remember forever. (And it worked!)
Another oddity is the repeated statement that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. We rarely see the Lord taking away free will. But in Exodus, Moses tells us that Pharaoh's intransigence was God's work.
In the context of the entire Bible, we must believe that Pharaoh was beyond salvation and irrevocably committed to his own pride. Had he been permitted to release the Hebrews at an earlier stage, it would only have been a matter of expediency — something along the lines of, "these Hebrews are more trouble than they are worth." If Pharaoh had been capable of abandoning his panoply of animal-god idols and bowing to Yahweh, we must believe God would have permitted it, for at every point God welcomes the penitent sinner with open arms.
As for the narrative, Pharaoh has now offered to let the men (and only the men) go worship, but his bargaining strategy backfires. Moses now demands specifically that every Hebrew person be allowed to go worship and, what's more, that they take their flocks with them. And we know that this retrograde bargaining will continue; instead of moving toward compromise, the demands of Yahweh and His people will only increase.