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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Daily Devotion for March 8, 2013

Exodus, <i>The Israelites Led by the Pillar of Fire</i>, William West
The Israelites Led by the Pillar of Fire, William West (British) ca. 1840.



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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.


Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester (1230 A.D.)

Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ, For all the benefits thou hast won for me,
For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
And follow thee more nearly
For ever and ever.


A Prayer for Fasting

Holy Lord God, who by your word reminds us of all who have offered you the gift of fasting as a symbol of contrition; Guide me in my denial of worldly pleasure during this season of repentance, that I may always be reminded of the sin that Christ died to overcome; and accept, I pray, the offering I give you with my body in memory of Christ's suffering.


Prayer for Protections (from Psalm 3)

O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me; many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God. But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cry aloud to you, and you answer me from your holy hill. I lie down and sleep, and I wake again, for you have sustained me. I will not fear the men of this world, even if thousands set themselves against me.

Arise, O Lord! Save me, O my God! For salvation belongs to you alone. May your blessing be ever on your people.



Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.


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

endless knot


A quiet morning with a loving God puts the events of the upcoming day into proper perspective.

~ Janette Oke

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 13:21-22 (ESV)

Pillars of Cloud and Fire

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

Exodus Map - Hammond   Exodus Map 2

Notes on the Scripture

The Difficult Shift to Monotheism

Although the text speaks of two "pillars", it would be more accurate (if less poetic) to say that God manifested Himself as one pillar that changed appearance. Later, it is described as "an angel", which is to say, God creating a representation of Himself perceptible to human senses. The pillar changes appearance not only to remain visible, but also, to represent comfort against the elements: cloud, associated with cool shade and rain, during the hot day, and fire, representing light and heat in the dark and cold desert night.

Not that God is approachable or actually provides cover and physical comfort; the pillar is not in the midst of the horde, but always in the distance showing them the direction of travel. It is a living promise of comfort to come, if they will only follow.

Even more important than a directional beacon, though, is the constant presence of God. He is with them. The actual God is differentiating Himself from the gods of Egypt. To the Egyptian, like all the ancients, the gods and goddesses were fickle, capricious beings, often bickering and fighting among themselves, and absorbed with their own existence. Although powerful, they occupied space and time; one needed to catch their attention and hope that one might convince them to use their power helpfully.

The concept of a loving and constant God was difficult to grasp. Pharaoh cannot grasp it, at all; his behavior, which seems so irrational to us, becomes more coherent when we understand that he expects this slave god to tire of the game and wander off at some point.

And the same fear lies in the minds of the Hebrews. What will become of them if this Yahweh simply disappears? Their belief is fragile, so God nurses it along and forgives them their many doubts. And to help them, He stays with them 24/7, as if they are newborns. The pillar is not a reminder sent by God, however; it is God Himself, made manifest.

Exodus, Pillar of Fire and Cloud
Pillar of Fire and Cloud, design for stained glass by David Ascalon.

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Proverbs 1:7: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

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