Daily Devotion for October 23, 2015
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.
The lyrics to this haunting movement from Rachmaninoff’s Vespers is very close to the Western Ave Maria (Hail Mary).
Virgin Mary, Mother of God,
Holy Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with Thee.
Blessed art Thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of Thy womb;
For Thou hast given birth
to the Savior of our souls.
Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff
Ancient Prayer - For Support of the Holy Spirit
O Educator, be gracious to thy children, O Educator, Father, Guide of Israel, Son and Father, both one, Lord. Give to us, who follow thy command, to fulfill the likeness of thy image, and to see, according to our strength, the God who is both a good God and a Judge who is not harsh. Do thou thyself bestow all things on us who dwell in thy peace, who have been placed in thy city, who sail the sea of sin unruffled, that we may be made tranquil and supported by the Holy Spirit, the unutterable Wisdom, by night and day, unto the perfect day, to sing eternal thanksgiving to the one only Father and Son, Son and Father, Educator and Teacher with the Holy Spirit.
To Be Filled of the Spirit
Heavenly Father, fill me with Your Spirit until I am overflowing, as the sun is filled with light, until it spills out of me and illuminates everything it my path. Crowd out the flawed thoughts of my mind with your truth and wisdom; put so much of your knowledge and fear in my heart that there is no longer room for the seductive lies of this world. Comfort me in my pain, convict me in my transgressions, guide me when I am tested. Fill my being with energy and focus to spread your word and do your will, and, with the salvation of your grace through Jesus Christ, this will be enough for me.
[The light of the Spirit is more brilliant than the light of the Sun.]
Blessing for the Day
Oh God, hold me in the palm of your hand. I pray that you will mold me into what you want me to be. May I joyfully fill the role you have given to me and feel your peace deep in my soul, today and always,
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.
Proverbs 3:1-4 (KJV)
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
t 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 alkalinity, 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.