Elijah in the Desert, by Washington Allston, ca. 1818. You can barely make out a raven bringing food to Elijah. This painting brings home the phrase, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness . . . . ” (See Full-size.)
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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.
To Rest in God’s Strength
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works proceed: Give to your servants that peace, which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments, and also that by you, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the day and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.
Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me in the coming day, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.
Prayer of Praise (from Isaiah 45)
You are the Lord, and there is no other; apart from You there is no God. From the rising to the setting of the sun, I know there is none besides You. You formed the earth; You made the earth to be inhabited, and you created me in your image to dwell upon it. All praise to the great Creator: You are the Lord, and there is no other.
(Isaiah 45:5-6) Mason Barge 5/9/2014
And now, as a little child, let me abide in you for the rest of this day, oh Christ, and during the day to come; so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.
Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith but they are afflictions, not sins. Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.
~ C. S. Lewis
2 Kings 21:1-15 (excerpts) (ESV)
Israel after Solomon (23): Manasseh and the Kings
anasseh reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with necromancers.
And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the Lord said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.” But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.
And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.
And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”
Notes on the Scripture
There were 15 kings of Judah, from David who united the kingdom around 1000 B.C., to Hezekiah, who saved the little remnant of Judah from the might of the Assyrian army after it had obliterated the Northern Kingdom, in 700 B.C. There would be seven more; like their predecessors, they spanned a wide array of righteousness. Throughout the reigns of these 22 kings, Judah seems to have been on a roller coaster between devotion to God and total idolatry.
There was no sharper contrast than the holiness of Hezekiah, which saved Judah from the fate of the Kingdom of Israel, and his son Manasseh, who plunged Judah back into absolute idolatry, building altars to false gods within the very Temple itself and sacrificing his son by burning him alive (most likely to the hideous Ba’al Moloch, a statue built as a great oven wherein infants might be immolated).
At this point, the fate of Judah appears to be sealed. We will bypass the histories of all of the intermediate kings, although we might see a few of their names in connection with the prophets.
Manasseh’s enormous evil occasioned the rise of the latter prophets, who vehemently protested the apostasy of Judah, criticized the kings, and wrote and preached dire prophecies of the consequences. These seem long and repetitive in retrospect — Isaiah alone is 66 chapters — but we must remember that the period lasted 140 years. If we look at the book of Isaiah as representing two or three words for every day of his adult life, it does not seem long-winded at all.
The great prophets of the era were Isaiah, at the very beginning, and Jeremiah, at the very end. We will also look at the lives of three wonderful “minor” prophets: Micah, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk. (See chart.)
There were two aspects to the prophecy in Judah. First, of course, there was enormous antagonism between the prophets and the idolatrous kings because most of the prophecy not only predicted the destruction of the Jewish state, but also held the kings responsible for it. The prophecy that survives in our Bible is only a scrap, a sampling, for these kings naturally sought to kill the prophets and destroy their writings.
More important to us in a theological sense, however, is the second aspect of their prophecy: During this period, roughly 750 B.C. to 600 B.C., predictions of a messiah who would come to redeem the Hebrew people (and the world) began to appear more frequently.
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Today in Daily Prayer
Psalm 94:12: Blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, The man You teach from Your word.
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