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Daily Devotion for August 11, 2014
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 very old hymn, a favorite of people from all denominations, is given a fresh sound by Francisco Ortega.
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
[Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.]
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Music by Lobe den Herren (1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
Prayer to Live with Jesus
Dearest Jesus, work another miracle, a prodigy of grace. Make my soul a beautiful, living Tabernacle where You will ever dwell. Let me never leave You alone, but remind me to return hundreds of times in the day and have a word with You.
Prayer for the Departed
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend the souls of your servants departed from this life and beseech you to grant them rest in the place of your rest, where all the blessed repose, and where the light of your countenance shines forever.
And I pray also to grant that my present life may be godly, sober, and blameless, that I too may be made worthy to enter into your heavenly Kingdom with those I love but see no longer: for you are the Resurrection, and the Life, and the Repose of your departed servants, O Christ our God, and unto you I ascribe all glory: to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; now and ever, and unto ages of ages.
To Receive God
God, of your goodness give me yourself for you are sufficient for me. I cannot properly ask anything less, to be worthy of you. If I were to ask less, I should always be in want. In you alone do I have all.
[May my life henceforth be blameless.]
Community of Prayer
I pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer, and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.
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.
Resolved, to examine carefully, and constantly, what that one thing in me is, which causes me in the least to doubt of the love of God; and to direct all my forces against it.
~ Jonathan Edwards (from Resolutions)
2 Kings 2:1-14 (ESV) (excerpts)
Israel after Solomon (11): Elijah Taken to Heaven
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha went down to Bethel. Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho.
Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”
And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.
Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Notes on the Scripture
This odd scene is one of the most famous moments in the Old Testament, although the number of people who have read it in context (as we have!) are unfortunately few. Elijah is taken to heaven while still alive, in a whirlwind. (Notice, the Bible never says he was taken by horses and chariots of fire, although he is usually depicted as sitting in a chariot.) This is an oddity that gives fits to scholars and crackpots alike, for Christ said, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” (John 3:13)
(Elijah was one of only two people in the Bible who apparently did not die. See Daily Prayer blog about Enoch.)
Elijah walks all the way to the Jordan and crosses over to the east bank for his ascension. To cross it, he parts the waters. It is impossible to read this and not think of Moses. But there is a lot more of Moses in this than simply parting waters, for Moses died on the east bank, almost on the spot to which Elijah travelled.
Then we must look at Elijah's route. He and Elisha first walk to Bethel, one of the two primary sites of JeroboamRemember Jeroboam? The first king of the Northern Kingdom.’s golden calves. It is a place tainted by being a center of idol-worship. It is unholy ground, not fit for Elijah's ascension. So there is good reason for them to keep moving when they reach Bethel. But why mention Jericho?
It seems as if Elijah is moving backwards in time to Moses by retracing the steps of the Hebrew nation - from the current idol worship, to a place associated with Joshua's conquest of Canaan, and then back to last place Israel stood before it entered Canaan. 2 Kings does not say this, but Elijah's odd path supports an interpretation of Elijah returning to Moses and the pre-corrupt Israel.
The “double portion” of Elijah's spirit refers to Deuteronomy 21:15-17, which requires that the eldest son receive twice as much of an estate as the other sons. Elijah's gift of spirit is his symbolic estate; Elisha is not asking for twice as much as Elijah has gotten. Rather, the situation is analogized to the property distribution of a dying father, with the living prophets receiving the spirit of Elijah as an inheritance; Elisha asks to be treated as the eldest son.
Elisha is not meant to sound greedy; rather, he is right to think of himself as Elijah's son, and he wants God's spirit of prophecy because he desires to serve God greatly. Remember, in the Northern Kingdom at this time, God's prophets could expect to be murdered. Ahab may be dead, but Jezebel is alive, and Ahab's successors show no interest in reverting to piety.
Elisha then picks up Elijah's cloak and parts the Jordan. He asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit, but he seems to have been vested with spiritual powers equal to Elijah's own. If we look at “prophets of signs”, i.e. men who demonstrate God's existence and power by performing miracles, Elisha must be put in a category with Moses and Elijah, although most Christians have hardly heard of him.