Daily Devotion for October 16, 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.
If you think about the message here — the Heavens tell the glory of God — this setting by Haydn will be filled with meaning.
(from “The Creation”)
The heavens are telling the glory of God,
The wonders of his work displays the firmament;
Today that is coming speaks it the day,
The night that is gone to following night.
In every land [In all the land] resounds the word,
never unperceived, ever understood.
Music by Josef Haydn
Lyrics translated by Robert Shaw, based on Psalm 19.
Prayer for the Guidance During the Day
Oh my God, you know my weakness and failings, and that without your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others'. Grant me, therefore, the help of your grace, according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the tasks you will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and let me set my hand to these tasks with the vigor and joy of one with whom you abide. And if I should face trials, suffering or failure, I pray that your hand will lift me up, and I may be refreshed. In the name of Christ, I pray,
Prayer of Thanks
For the gladness here
where the sun is shining at evening on the weeds at the river,
Our prayer of thanks.
For the laughter of children who tumble
barefooted and bareheaded in the summer grass,
Our prayer of thanks.
For the sunset and the stars, the women
and the copper arms that hold us,
Our prayer of thanks.
God, the game is all your way, the secrets and the signals and the system; and so for the break of the game and the first play and the last.
Our prayer of thanks.
from Our Prayer of Thanks by Carl Sandburg
[The game is all God’s way.]
The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant; Make me perfect in every good work to do your will, working in me that which is well pleasing in your sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
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.
Psalm 4:6-8 (NKJV)
There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Exodus 14:1-14 (ESV)
The Egyptian Pursuit
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal Zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”
So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Notes on the Scripture
When the Hebrews make camp for the third time, next to a large body of water (which we really can't identify), they are still in Egypt, moving more or less along the border. Pharaoh believes that they are trapped by the desert because they cannot survive in it. But they are not; they are following God, literally, and God is baiting a trap. We must never forget God's wrathful nature against those who defy Him. It is part of His plan to demonstrate both His might over the most powerful human on earth, His punishment of one who despises Him, and at the same time His love and protection of those who worship Him.
One might think the Egyptians incomprehensibly stupid. But they merely demonstrate a phenomenon we see time after time, even today, when nations go to war. There is something in our nature akin to amnesia when we go to war. If one reads any history, one knows what happens: millions die, massive poverty and human misery ensue, even the governments are replaced. What were the Germans, French, Russians, Austrians, Hungarians, etc. thinking in 1914? Pharaoh's circumstances are peculiar, but the blind pride and puerile anger that lead him to attack the Hebrews are a recurring theme of human history.
The Hebrews show similar human foibles: the confusion and rapidly changing mentality of a mob. Suddenly they recall the naysayers, whose objections had been overcome when they decided to leave Egypt; and like any confused mob, their opinion changes rapidly to another extreme.
(It sounds like the Hebrews had an early Borscht Belt comedian in their company:"What, they don't have graves in Egypt? We had to come out here to die?")
But God has chosen well, and Moses, the reluctant leader, steps up. In fact, it is at this point he begins to characterize the attributes of God for all time. We begin to see the revelation of the God we know.
Reading Moses' speech carefully we see, first, that God is a comforter of his people. He quells our fear. In a similar vein, God delivers us from our distress. Third, God asks and expects that those who believe in Him will trust Him and will act on their trust: "Fear not," Moses declares, "stand firm."
Fourth, God delivers us from danger and death. He will fight for us. And fifth, God despises and fights against evil, with enormous power and might; and when His time comes, He destroys both the people who embrace evil and, ultimately, evil itself.