Daily Devotion for October 7, 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.
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: Lobe den Herren (anon. 1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
To Spend this Day in Thankful Reverence
Holy Father, Holy God, I come before you today in reverence and awe; I am filled with humility in the face of your greatness, your majesty, your holiness, and your power. And to acknowledge my sinfulness in the face of your pure and holy presence fills me with fear. Yet I pray boldly, for you have called me and adopted me as your rightful heir, through the sacrifice of your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I give you thanks for your mercy with every ounce of my being, and pray that your Holy Spirit might be with me, that I might do your will in every thought and action this day; and that the work of my hands and the words of my tongue might seek your glory, and not my own.
And I promise, with your help and grace, to be fearless in the world; for if you are with me, who can be against me? Let me not hesitate to call upon you, for your power and love will see me through anything this world can bring against me. All thanks and praise be to you, almighty God.
In the name of Christ, I pray,
O thou who coverest thy high places with the waters,
Who settest the sand as a bound to the sea
And dost uphold all things:
The sun sings thy praises,
The moon gives thee glory,
Every creature offers a hymn to thee,
His author and creator, for ever.
[Unless we rely on God's power within us, we will yield to the pressures around us.]
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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 19:19 (HSCB)
A person with great anger bears the penalty;
if you rescue him, you’ll have to do it again.
Exodus 12:37-42 (Holman Standard CB)
The Size of the Exodus
The Israelites traveled from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 soldiers on foot, besides their families. An ethnically diverse crowd also went up with them, along with a huge number of livestock, both flocks and herds. The people baked the dough they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened loaves, since it had no yeast; for when they had been driven out of Egypt they could not delay and had not prepared any provisions for themselves.
The time that the Israelites lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of 430 years, on that same day, all the Lord’s divisions went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of vigil in honor of the Lord, because He would bring them out of the land of Egypt. This same night is in honor of the Lord, a night vigil for all the Israelites throughout their generations.
Notes on the Scripture
Problems with Reading the Old Testament
When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, we must always remember that it is actually the Word of God translated into English. There are words and units of measurement that are difficult to translate. There are occasional words that we have no clue what they mean. Any attempt to interpret Genesis 6:1-4, for example, is utter guesswork. Older Bibles spoke of a race of giants, but more modern versions tend to simply give the Hebrew word, Nephilim, a tacit admission that they do not know what the word means.
Most Bibles state that "600,000 men" joined in the exodus from Egypt, which is almost certainly incorrect. The Hebrew tells us that "600 elephs" made the journey. Literally, this means 600 male oxen! Like many livestock, the core unit of a herd of oxen is one male and a number of cows, which by their nature group around the male. Thus, the word eleph came to mean, figuratively, the head of a group of people.
Holman, like most translations, tells us that the groupings were 1,000 soldiers, with good but not infallible reasoning. Many aspects of the early Old Testament histories treats the Hebrews as an army of God, and the counting of people includes only men over the age of 20. But a military unit in the Hebrew armies ranged in size from five to 10,000! Eleph does often mean a military unit of 1000 men, especially in later books, which is why most Bibles mistakenly translate the Exodus 12 passage as "600,000 men". But the word also has many other meanings, including smaller groups of people, and there is almost no doubt that it what it means here.
Moreover, identifying the 600 groups as "soldiers" is misleading. The Hebrews no doubt attempted some sort of rudimentary defensive organization, but these are not Roman legions. There are no units of set size, nor progressive levels of organization commanded by ranked officers. They are kinship groups.
Each of the twelve tribes of Israel was populated by "clans", which were in turn populated by extended families. Modern scholars believe that the 600 groupings in the Exodus were large families and small clans, having a leader (an eleph) and averaging perhaps 20 men physically able to fight (although they might be unarmed and completely untrained). So with women and children, the exodus comprised 15,000 to 45,000 people, not 600,000 men with their families.
In addition, notice the reference to "an ethnically diverse" contingent. Israel was already populated, in part, by people who were not descended from Jacob. (Ruth herself was a convert — see Ruth 1:16-17.)
Judaism has never been a proselytizing religion like Christianity, but it had already begun to accept outsiders who worshipped Yahweh and followed the few laws of the time, primarily circumcision of men (and now, the Feast of the Passover). They were clearly accepted by God, for they had not suffered the death of the firstborn. A people called the "Cushites" were especially close to the Hebrews; Moses will marry a Cushite woman.