Moses on Mt. Sinai (detail) by Domenico Beccafumi ca. 1520. This work is, remarkably, a marble inlay on the floor of the Duomo (Cathedral) in Siena, Italy. It is hard to appreciate in a small photo -- the full-size is easier to see. (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.
For a Cheerful Disposition in All I Do Today
Holy God, who has filled me with the joy of your grace and salvation, assist me this day that I may do all things I am called to do without grumbling or disputing. I call on your Spirit to assist me, that I may be blameless and innocent, a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.
Let me follow holy Christ and all his saints: Let me shine as a light, a beacon in a world where darkness seeks to overcome us in every thing and at every moment. And help me to hold fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ’s return I may be proud that I did not strive in vain.
I pray this not for my own glory, but in all humility before you, to whom be all glory and honor,
Prayer for Holiness
Oh Christ, who brings back the wandering sheep, turn me from my evil ways to good ones and imprint upon my soul the recollection of the dreadful day of death, the fear of hell and the love of Your Kingdom, that I may repent of my sins and do righteousness. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner.
~ St. Nersess, 12th century
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with the voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
What Bible verse indicates that Jesus was in some respect subordinate to the Father until his death?
Our “Saturday Oldie” artist, Tennessee Ernie Ford, is the musical equivalent of comfort food.
Lyrics to Peace in the Valley
Peace in the Valley
I'm tired and so weary
But I must go along
Till the Lord comes and calls, calls me away.
Well the morning's so bright
And the lamb is the light
And the night, night is as fair as the day.
There will be peace in the valley for me, some day.
There will be peace in the valley for me, oh Lord I pray.
There'll be no sadness, no sorrow
No trouble, trouble I see
There will be peace in the valley for me.
Well the bear will be gentle
And the wolves will be tame,
And the lion shall lay down by the lamb.
And the beasts from the wild
Shall be led by a child,
And I'll be changed, changed from this creature
That I am.
Exodus 20:18-21 (ESV)
The Israelites Are Afraid of God
ow when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”
Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”
The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.
Notes on the Scripture
If we were to witness this today — a mountain covered with cloud, with bright flashes of lightning showing through at the top, and an ear-splitting noise like a trumpet, and then a loud voice speaking to us — we would look around for the person responsible. David Copperfield, perhaps, the “man behind the curtain.” But the Hebrews were not misled into explaining it by technology. It did not exist.
They knew for certain that it was God they were seeing and . . . they did not like the experience. They had seen the actions of this Being, done for their benefit, to deliver them from Egypt, and those were terrifying enough: a great body of water opening to let them pass and then collapsing on the Egyptians; a silent angel who came in the night and killed every firstborn. How terrified would we be, if one night the eldest child of every woman and female beast were to die, for no discernible cause.
The fact is, seeing and hearing the overwhelming sensory experience of Mount Sinai, and knowing what a fearful Being God actually is, they realize that they cannot experience Him without dying. For, like us, they are full of sin. God, in the presence of sinfulness, becomes an angry God to be feared to the utmost. A human being cannot face Him and survive.
God appears to the Hebrews to give them the Ten Commandments directly; and here, we see a second purpose. He intends to save the Hebrews (and, eventually, all those who will follow His Son). But the beginning of salvation, like the beginning of wisdom, is fear of the Lord. If we do not fear God, we will die. For we and the world we live in are His creation and like any creator, He will edit His work. The parts that are true to His vision will live on for eternity, for God is not bound by time; but the parts that offend Him, He will remove.
So this is the second purpose of God’s appearance to the Hebrews. No longer will any of them desire to see God. Rather, they will take instruction from His prophet, so that they might become worthy to appear before Him some day.
Death on a Pale Horse, another fearful depiction of the Divinity, this one a scene from Revelation by William Blake, ca. 1800.
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Today in Daily Prayer
Hebrews 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.