The Struggle of Our Callings – The Daily Devotion

Today I am re-republishing the Daily Devotional from the Living Chruch Foundation whose publication is supervised by the Reverend Emily R. Hylden .  Today’s devotion was written by the Reverend David Baumann and discusses the entry of the Hebrews into the “promised  land” Even after their rebellion against him God fulfills his promise and tells the Hebrews they are to enter the land but that he would not go among them but would send an angel to guard them.  To me this is a metaphor for what we often face in our daily life and work.   We sense a call from God but we must find the strength to fulfill that call.  We cannot simply sit back and expect God to do it for us.  Action must be taken and far too often we either fail to heed the call or simply give up trying to fulfill it.

Also, the devotion is illustrated with a detail of stained glass windows in Lincoln College Chapel depicting a  leader of Israel dressed in mitre and cope, rather like a Christian bishop. This may be because the pontifical vestments, particularly the mitre were believed to have come from Jewish Temple worship. The windows of Lincoln College chapel c.1629 are the only complete set of windows remaining by Abraham van Linge, the finest glass-painter of his generation. The title indicates that the leader is looking at the bronze serpent which Moses was commanded to create as indicated in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 21 verse 9.  The Israelites had rebelled against God and he had sent fiery serpents to bite them. When they expressed repentance and sought forgiveness God commanded Moses to make a “bronze” serpent  so that if one looked upon it and was “bitten” ( a metaphor for remorsefulness)  then he would live.

Daily Devotional is a ministry of the Living Church Foundation.
Image licensed via Creative Commons.
Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr

Change for the Better
Daily Devotional • April 20
By the Rev. David Baumann

The awfulness of the rebellion and its aftermath is now behind us. It is noteworthy that even in the outworking of these startling events, the people — both the rebels and the faithful — remained freed from slavery and were on the “other” side of the Red Sea. They lived in the place of grace and their destination was still “the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying ‘To your descendants I will give it.’” God keeps his promise, but in this passage he refers to them once again as a “stiff-necked people” and decides not to accompany them as they continue their journey for fear that he would consume them utterly because of their habitual rebellion.

At last, the people respond properly: “They mourned.” Moses now meets with the LORD in a tent “outside the camp.” The place of encounter is hidden from observing eyes, and it is apart from the people — yet not as far away as the mountaintop. For the business here, divine as it is, is not as weighty as the giving of the Law. The sign of the LORD’s presence is a pillar of cloud, not a mountaintop tempest with fire and trumpets. And when Moses is in the tent, the people “rise and bow down.” These necks are not quite so stiff — at least not always. There has been a turn in their lives. At the prayer of Moses, the LORD decides that he will accompany the people after all. Moses’ prayer is the ideal prayer of a pastor, or a parent, or any kind of leader among the faithful. It concludes: “Show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.”

Exodus 33:1-2

The Lord said to Moses, “Go, leave this place, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, and go to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it.’ 2I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 3Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, or I would consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.” 4When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. 5For the Lord had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’” 6Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.

7Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp; he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp. 8Whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise and stand, each of them, at the entrance of their tents and watch Moses until he had gone into the tent. 9When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. 10When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise and bow down, all of them, at the entrance of their tent. 11Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then he would return to the camp; but his young assistant, Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the tent.

12Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. 16For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” 17The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” 18Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” 19And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” 21And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; 22and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; 23then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

 

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