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Daily Devotion for April 12, 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.
This extraordinary Romanian Orthodox song, "O, Maicuta sfanta" (Oh Holy Mother) is performed by Teodora Tuca. (It was a real adventure trying to transcribe/translate the lyrics from Ancient Romanian! But we got most of them. There are a few gaps.)
1. O, Maicuta Sfanta
Nu lasa Maicuta,
2. Cand plangeai sub Cruce
3. Calatori pe marea
4. Fa sa-ti batem zilnic
5. Iar cand nori si ceata
Prayer for the Guidance During the Day
Oh my God, you know my weakness and failings, and that without your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others'. Grant me, therefore, the help of your grace, according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the tasks you will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and let me set my hand to these tasks with the vigor and joy of one with whom you abide. And if I should face trials, suffering or failure, I pray that your hand will lift me up, and I may be refreshed. In the name of Christ, I pray,
For our Enemies
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of Surrender
All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
For Renewal of the Holy Spirit
Renew in our own days your miracles like a second Pentecost. Grant that the Church, re-united in prayer, may extend the kingdom of Jesus - a kingdom of truth and justice, of love and peace.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in his sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
From The Dream of Gerontius
By truth and justice reigns;
Who tears the soul from out its case,
And burns away its stains!
~ John Henry, Cardinal Newman (1848)
Exodus 19:16-25 (ESV)
Ritual Preparation to Meet God
On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.
Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.”
And Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.’”
And the Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Notes on the Scripture
Description of the Events
Exodus, to this point, logically divides into four parts: 1) Introduction and birth of Moses; 2) Moses with the Midianites, where he meets God in the burning bush; 3) The ten plagues and exodus; 4) Israel travels to Mount Sinai. Today's passage marks the end of part four; the covenant has been made and God appears to Israel.
The camp is some distance from the mountain. The Israelites, who have spent two days in preparation, awake to the sight of Mount Sinai wrapped in smoke, trembling, with thunder and lightning.
They proceed several miles to the foot of the mountain (which, remember, has been marked off with a perimeter that nobody can cross, on pain of death). As they stand there, they hear a sound like a trumpet that grows gradually louder. Moses speaks, and God answers him in thunder and descends to the top of the mountain. He tells Moses to ascend, and when Moses has climbed up to Him, tells him not to let the people come onto the mountain. He also mentions that the priests must be consecrated to stand at the foot of the mountain, just as the regular people were.
Moses tells God that the people will not come up, for they will obey His previous order that they not come onto the mountain. God then instructs Moses to return to the people, remind them (including priests) yet again not to try to approach God, and then return with Aaron.
Exodus as Evidence of God's Existence
There is a school of Biblical interpretation — often the fantasy of that most absurd of positions, atheist Judaism — that tries to tie occurrences of miracles in the Bible to natural causes. They have a field day with Exodus. They would explain this passage as the eruption of a volcano; but such an explanation neither makes sense nor, more importantly, has any meaning. If one does not believe Exodus, why bother trying to explain how it could be an historical record of events that actually occurred? Did some outcast and unlettered Hebrew shepherd really make all of this up, and then stumble upon a series of outlandish coincidences that made all his predictions come true?
There is no other religious belief that has survived on earth for 3500 years. People still eat bread without leaven on Passover, just as God commanded them to do at a point so distant in history that we cannot reckon the date accurately. The very endurance of Exodus is evidence of God's hand.
As remarkable as Exodus is to this point, our next Scripture will begin one of the most extraordinary occurrences in history: the iteration of the Ten Commandments and the law. It isn't as flamboyant as, say, the Red Sea parting. But as an event unique in its remarkable nature, the last part of Exodus — the creation of a revolutionary legal code, out of thin air and in the middle of a desert, which has endured to this day — is equaled only by the coming of Christ.
Many people find it rationally difficult to accept the existence of God. But it is utterly impossible to believe that Moses could have done what he did without divine inspiration.