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Daily Devotion for March 7, 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.
Prayer of Wonder at God's Creation
Dear Lord, grant me the grace of wonder. Surprise me, amaze me, awe me in every crevice of your universe. Delight me to see how your Christ plays in ten thousand places. . .to the Father through the features of men's faces. Each day enrapture me with your marvelous things without number. I do not ask to see the reason for it all; I ask only to share the wonder of it all.
A Lenten Prayer
Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Prayer of St. Basil the Great
O God and Lord of the Powers, and maker of all creation, who, because of your clemency and incomparable mercy, sent your only-begotten son and our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind, and with his venerable cross tore asunder the record of our sins, and thereby conquered the rulers and powers of darkness: Receive from me, a sinful person, O merciful Master, these prayers of gratitude and supplication, and deliver me from every destructive and gloomy transgression, and from all visible and invisible enemies who seek to injure me.
Nail down my flesh with fear of you. And do not let not my heart be inclined to words or thoughts of evil, but pierce my soul with your love, that always contemplating you, being enlightened by you, and discerning you, the unapproachable and everlasting Light, I may unceasingly confess my misdoings and show my gratitude to you: The eternal Father, with your only-begotten Son, and with your all-holy, gracious, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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.
Psalm 5:1-3 (NKJV)
Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my meditation.
Give heed to the voice of my cry,
My King and my God,
For to You I will pray.
My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.
Exodus 13:19-22,14:1-9 (ESV)
The Hebrews' Initial March to the Southeast
And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness.
Notes on the Scripture
When on his deathbed, Joseph made his sons promise that they would bury him in the Promised Land. (Genesis 50:22-26) Remember also the enormous production of carrying Jacob's remains from Egypt to Canaan (Gen. 49:29 - 50:14), to be buried with Abraham and his other relatives, when Joseph was one of the greatest men in Egypt. The Bible refers to his remains as "bones" but Joseph (like Jacob) had been embalmed by the greatest undertakers in world history; he was a mummy!
The translation "equipped for battle" is misleading. The Hebrew reads "by fifties". Hebrew armies were divided (eventually) into units called simply thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. (In fact, when the rule of judges is instituted, civil society will be formally divided in exactly the same way. Israel is an integrated military/civil society, much like the rootless barbarian hordes that would plague Europe and eventually destroy the Roman Empire.) So it is reasonable to read this as "organized into military units". But they were not equipped for battle, in any sense of the word. They could not have had much in the way of swords, shields, spears, armor, etc. Nor did they have military training or experienced officers.
The importance of this appeared in the preceding verses, for it explains a primary reason that the Hebrews were headed for the barren desert, difficult and hostile to human life, rather than towards Canaan and the "land of milk and honey" God had promised them.
Note that they have not yet entered the true desert; they are still in Egypt, headed towards the southeast. While the land is not green farmland, it is still an inhabited region. Nobody really knows exactly where Succoth or Etham were. These were not cities or towns important enough to be recorded, but tiny hamlets, perhaps a few dwellings around a spring or well, long lost to antiquity.
We do know, however, that they were within the borders of the Egyptian state. As will soon become apparent, the inhabitants report the movement of the Hebrews to the Egyptian authorities.