Daily Devotion for September 23, 2010
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.
Prayer for God's Power in Our Lives
Eternal spirit, giver of life, bearer of our pain and wellspring of all love, source of all that is and all that shall be, father and mother of us all, loving God, in whom is heaven: May the hallowing of your name echo through the universe. May the way of your justice be followed by the people of the world. May your heavenly will be done by all beings in your creation. May your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope, and may earth see your kingdom.
With the bread we need for today, feed us; in the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us; in times of temptation and test, strengthen us; from trials too great to endure, spare us; from the grip of all that is evil, free us. For your reign is the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples.
Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love.
Grant me the Spirit of Fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence toward You.
the Spirit of Piety that I may find peace and fulfillment in the service of God while serving others;
the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation;
the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know You and know myself and grow in holiness;
the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your truth;
the Spirit of Counsel that I may choose the surest way of doing Your will, seeking first the Kingdom;
Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may aspire to the things that last forever;
Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
May the Passion of Christ be ever in my heart. May your law and your goodness guide my every thought, O Lord. And may the power of your Holy Spirit flow through my words and my actions.
Walk with me, so that I may not be alone as I face this day, but always in your presence. Your joy is a lighthouse in a world often dark with sin, and I pray that I may inspire others as I have been inspired. In the name of Christ, bless me this day, and all who I may meet.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Medallion of Nebuchadnezzar
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
The Rise of Nebuchadnezzar
It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. At that time Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana. Around this city he built a wall of blocks of stone, each six feet in height and twelve in length. He made the wall 140 feet high and 100 thick. At the gates he raised towers of 200 feet, with a thickness of 120 feet at the base. The gateway he built to a height of 140 feet, with an opening 80 feet wide for the passage of his chariot forces and the marshaling of his infantry. Then King Nebuchadnezzar waged war against King Arphaxad in the vast plain, in the district of Ragae.
To him there rallied all the inhabitants of the mountain region, all who dwelt along the Euphrates, the Tigris, and the Hydaspes, and King Arioch of the Elamites, in the plain. Thus many nations came together to resist the people of Cheleoud.
Now Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, sent messengers to all the inhabitants of Persia, and to all those who dwelt in the West: to the inhabitants of Cilicia and Damascus, Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, to all who dwelt along the seacoast, to the peoples of Carmel, Gilead, Upper Galilee, and the vast plain of Esdraelon, to all those in Samaria and its cities, and west of the Jordan as far as Jerusalem, Bethany, Chelous, Kadesh, and the River of Egypt; to Tahpanhes, Raamses, all the land of Goshen, Tanis, Memphis and beyond, and to all the inhabitants of Egypt as far as the borders of Ethiopia.
But the inhabitants of all that land disregarded the summons of Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians, and would not go with him to the war. They were not afraid of him but regarded him as a lone individual opposed to them, and turned away his envoys empty-handed, in disgrace. Then Nebuchadnezzar fell into a violent rage against all that land, and swore by his throne and his kingdom that he would avenge himself on all the territories of Cilicia and Damascus and Syria, and also destroy with his sword all the inhabitants of Moab, Ammon, the whole of Judea, and those living anywhere in Egypt as far as the borders of the two seas.
In the seventeenth year he proceeded with his army against King Arphaxad, and was victorious in his campaign. He routed the whole force of Arphaxad, his entire cavalry and all his chariots, and took possession of his cities. He pressed on to Ecbatana and took its towers, sacked its marketplaces, and turned its glory into shame. Arphaxad himself he overtook in the mountains of Ragae, ran him through with spears, and utterly destroyed him. Then he returned home with all his numerous, motley horde of warriors; and there he and his army relaxed and feasted for a hundred and twenty days.
Notes on the Scripture
Judith is a book of the Apocrypha. Traditionally and in general, Jews and Protestants consider it acceptable to read and learn from, but do not consider it the word of God, i.e. it is not "canonical". On the other hand, it is canonical in the (Roman) Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. But all scholars agree, it is an absorbing and possibly true tale. Some Protestants have called it the "first historical novel".
Among the pantheon of great conquerors — Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, etc. — Nebuchadnezzar has gotten completely lost. For one thing, his name is so hard to pronounce! But I suggest you take a minute and learn his name, so that it trips off your tongue (at least inside your head) without any difficulty. We are going to be reading about him the next week or two, and you will want to be completely comfortable with the name. If it helps at all, there was once a silly riddle that my father taught me: "Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Jews, spell it with two letters, I'll give you my shoes."
The beginning of Judith's story shows a local king who has enormous drive and ambition, and creates a great walled city in Assyria, an area which would roughly correspond to Iraq on today's globe. The time is roughly 600 B.C. Anyone who has seen, or has read or watched much about, the pyramids of Egypt, knows the enormous feat that building a stone wall 100 feet thick and 140 feet high entailed in the ancient world.
Still, nobody paid much attention to this upstart. The Assyrian Empire was long defunct as a great power. He got no respect; and so, like many such men in history, he went out and seized the respect he needed by fighting and destroying his neighbors. The passage ends as he returns home, having captured his enemies' soldiers to use in his own army, and relaxes while his new, elevated position in the world sinks in.
P.S. If you didn't get it, the answer to the riddle is "i-t".