Daily Devotion for February 18, 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.
Selah is a contemporary Christian vocal trio consisting of Todd Smith, Allan Hall, and Amy Perry. They do a terrific job updating this old English hymn.
Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (350 A.D.)
O Lord and Master of my life, this day, give me not the spirit of laziness, despair, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of sobriety, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages.
Penitential Prayer of St. Augustine
O Lord, The house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases Your sight. I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare Your servant from strange sins.
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, master and lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hate for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in us the fear of you and confirm in us love for one another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
Dedication (from St. Teresa of Avila)
May it please you, my good Lord, that there may come a day when I can repay a little of my great debt to you. O Jesus, strengthen my soul, you who are good above all good, and since you have inclined my soul in this way show me how I may act for you, whatever it may cost, O Lord. Here is my life, my honor and my will; I have given them all to you and they are yours: use me to do whatever you want.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity
Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
Exodus 10:21-29 (NKJV)
The Ninth Plague: Darkness
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, darkness which may even be felt.” So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.
Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.”
But Moses said, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the Lord our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!”
So Moses said, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.”
Notes on the Scripture
The very first words in the Bible are: “In the beginning . . . darkness was over the face of the deep. . . . And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Darkness was not created by God. Darkness is what exists in the absence of God. Which is to say, darkness is non-existence. Because this is the first thing we read in the Bible, it informs everything in the Bible that comes after it. (In ten-dollar words, Biblical hermeneutics calls this an instance of the "First Mention Principle".)
God has turned His face away from the people of Egypt. There is literal darkness over the land and it is not just the light of the sun that is missing; light itself has ceased to exist. The Egyptians cannot burn a candle.
The physical light is metaphorical as well as literal. The Egyptians now live outside God's favor; they have lost His grace and love. But, despite the consuming nature of the darkness, the Hebrews are able to see light by burning candles in their houses. This is a very rich symbol to Jew and Christian alike, the burning of a candle as a demonstration of God's light, and both religions will burn candles when they turn their minds most fully toward God, i.e. on special occasions and during worship services.
The tenth and final plague, coming next, is what stands out in the minds of most people, but the most important one is the ninth, for it is the act of finality, the act of condemnation. A hanging draws popular notice, but it is only the inevitable consequence of a judge signing a death warrant.
The Pharaoh's final and most outrageous act of pride — telling Moses that he will see Pharaoh's face no more, and on the day he sees his face, Moses will die — is wrought with irony. Pharaoh is blind; living in absolute spiritual darkness, he believes that his face has the power of a god. But the true God has turned His face upon Moses and the Hebrews, and it is a face of love and salvation.
So when Moses agrees with Pharaoh, he does so with knowledge that Pharaoh lacks. He will no longer see Pharaoh's face, in the sense that Pharaoh will no longer have any power over him.