Daily Devotion for March 16, 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.
A traditional favorite done by Fernando Ortega who, despite his name, gives it a Celtic setting.
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.
A Lenten Prayer
Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan; Come quickly to help me, who is assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of myself and all people, let all of your servants find you mighty to save; in Jesus name I pray,
Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
My son, forget not my law; But let thy heart keep my commandments:
For length of days, and years of life, And peace, will they add to thee.
Let not kindness and truth forsake thee:
Bind them about thy neck; Write them upon the tablet of thy heart:
So shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man.
Exodus 15:22-27 (ESV)
Bitter Water Made Sweet
Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log [or a tree], and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.
Notes on the Scripture
At this point, we still have some idea of where the Hebrews are located, for scholars are reasonably confident that "The Wilderness of Shur" was a desolate area in the northeast Sinai. (See maps, above.) The location of Marah and Elim today are conjecture. Geography changes over millennia, and they might not exist even as discoverable ruins today.
Bitter water is common in deserts, as alkaline salts can easily become concentrated in the sparse water and render it extremely foul-tasting. (So common, in fact, that old maps of the American West are covered with indications of "sweetwater", to indicate a lack of alkilinity, and the word has given its name to several towns.) The word "marah" actually means "bitter" in Hebrew.
Why does God, instead of leading the Hebrews to clean water, lead them to bad water and then have Moses perform a miracle for them? One might conjecture that He wants to solidify Moses' role as His prophet and also to remind them that they have not stumbled onto a desert spring by chance. He doesn't want them to take their existence for granted; they live (as we do) only because Yahweh is with them.
Perhaps to reward them for their faith in continuing to follow Him, God then grants them another boon, in the form of a covenant. If they remain faithful, they will be free of certain diseases inflicted on the Egyptians. While this raises many unanswered (and unanswerable) questions, it does demonstrate God's sympathy for human nature; for He is training and reinforcing the relationship he has imposed between Himself and the Hebrews by constant repetition. He does not want them to fail and be punished; He does not expect them to "hear once and obey".
God the Creator is usually called the "Father", for He acts towards humanity very much like a good father towards children. He provides. He trains the children with patience: they are allowed to make mistakes and even pay for their mistakes. He demands obedience, but understands the stubbornness and pride of human nature, and does not "throw the Israelites out of the house" for a single rebellious act. He does punish disobedience.
The time of the exodus and the forty years following are the adolescence of Judaism. When Exodus begins, the Jews have only a crude notion of God and the simplest of covenants with Him. They will emerge with a detailed, complex and cohesive body of laws, creating an entire integrated system of conduct towards God and others.