Daily Devotion for October 29, 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.
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Music by Michael Omartian (2010)
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford (1873)
For a Sense 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, in limbs and eyes not His, to be 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.
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
[Remembering all those in the world who are in great pain today.]
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
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
The previous 18 chapters of Exodus can be divided 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 is one of the critical passages in the Bible, for it marks a great turning point: The end of the exodus saga and the beginning of the Jews' life as a nation under the old covenant. 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 this passage from Exodus is, the chapters following 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.