March 12 Devotional (2021)

The apocalyptic texts are offered to Christians in every generation to encourage them in their struggles against sin, the principalities and powers of darkness in this world, and the fear of death…

March 12, 2021
Lent

Today’s Readings: Daniel 12:5-13; Essay: The purpose of the apocalyptic writings; Ephesians 1:7-14



Morning Invocation

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.

Opening Prayer

O Lord, you are the light in the darkness, 

Creator of all elements, 

Forgiver of our sins. 

O Lord, may your great mercy be on us 

as we seek you with our whole heart. 

We hear of your majesty, O Lord, in the morning. 

Blot out our sins, for nothing is hidden from you; 

who lives and reigns, one God, now and forever.

Amen. [1]

The Hymn

“Sing with Gladness” 

By John Ellerton

Lyrics:

Sing, you faithful, sing with gladness, wake your noblest, sweetest strain, 

With the praises of your Savior let his house resound again; 

Him let all your music honor, let your songs exalt his reign. 

Sing how he came forth from heaven, bowed himself to Bethlehem’s cave, 

Stooped to wear the servant’s vesture, bore the pain, the cross, the grave, 

Passed within the gates of darkness, thence his banished ones to save. 

So, he tasted death for mortals, he, of humankind the head, 

Sinless one, among the sinful, Prince of life, among the dead; 

Thus he wrought the full redemption, and the captor captive led. 

Now, on high, yet ever with us, from his Father’s throne the Son 

Rules and guides the world he ransomed, till the appointed work be done, 

Till he sees, renewed, perfected, all things gathered into one. [2]


Bust of Antiochus IV at the Altes Museum in Berlin.
(source)

Morning Reading: Daniel 12:5-13

The people will be purified

5 Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6 And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 8 I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” 9 He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10 Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11 And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 12 Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”

Coin depicting Antiochus IV
(source)

Midday Lesson

Three and a half years

The two others in verse 5 refers to two angels.

In verse 7, the man in linen raised his right hand. “Raising the hand was a symbolic oath gesture in the biblical world (Deut 32:40; Rev 10:5-6)… The oath is sworn by invoking the name of God and calling on Him to act as the divine Witness and Enforcer of the pledge being made.” [3]

Three and a half years (verse 7) was “the approximate duration of Antiochus Epiphanes’ assault on Palestinian Judaism.” [4] “The Seleucids, like the Ptolemies before them, held a mild suzerainty over Judea: they respected Jewish culture and protected Jewish institutions. This policy was drastically reversed by Antiochus IV, resulting in harsh persecutions and a revolt against his rule, the Maccabean Revolt. Scholars of Second Temple Judaism therefore sometimes refer to Antiochus’ reign as the ‘Antiochene crises’ for the Jews.” [25]

St. Augustine had a different interpretation of this passage. He wrote, “But he who reads this passage, even half asleep, cannot fail to see that the kingdom of Antichrist shall fiercely, though a short time, assail the Church before the last judgement of God shall introduce the eternal reign of the saints. For it is patent from the context that the time, times, half a time, means a year, and two years, and half a year, that is to say three years and a half.” [5]

Verse 10 says, Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined. This refers to “the spiritual effect of martyrdom.” [6]

“The persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes is still in view. However, it is unclear what distinguishes the different time calculations associated with it in 8:14 (1150 days), 12:7 (3 ½ years = 1260 days), 12:11 (1290 days), and 12:12 (1335 days). Perhaps they measure different aspects of the Seleucid persecution that stretched beyond the three years of the Temple’s desecration from 167 to 164 B.C.” [7]

“Hippolytus [wrote] that this prophecy [v. 11] concerns the three and a half years – ‘the one thousand two hundred and three score days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church.” [8]

Short Verse

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me;* O LORD, be my helper. 

Psalm 30:11

Morning Prayer

We have sinned, 

and have acted wickedly. (2 Chr 6:47, also Judith 7:19)

You have redeemed us, O Lord, God of truth, by your holy blood. Now help us in all things, Jesus Christ; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Amen. [9]

The Plea of the Church

Keep this your family, Lord, with your never-failing mercy, that relying solely on the help of your heavenly grace, they may be upheld by your divine protection; through Christ our Lord. Amen. [10]


A prayer inspired by Saint Gregory the Great, who the Church remembers on March 12th

Almighty and merciful God, who didst raise up Gregory of Rome to Be a servant of the servants of God, and didst inspire him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in thy Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that thy people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



“Allegory of the Apocalypse”
by Joseph Heintz the Younger
(source)

Midday Reading

The purpose of the apocalyptic writings

“Within Holy Scripture there are certain visionary, prophetic writings that are specifically seen as revelations because they reveal something about the last days, or end times. These writings within Holy Scripture are part of a larger group of works known as apocalyptic literature (from a Greek word meaning ‘to uncover’ or ‘unveil’).” [11]

“From about 250 BC to AD 200, there were some thirty to forty such works circulating within the Jewish and early Christian communities. Only one of all these writings, the Revelation of John (also called the Apocalypse), was accepted by the Church to be part of Holy Scripture. There are other sections in the Bible which also are written in an apocalyptic style, such as Isaiah 24-27, 60-66; Ezekiel 38-39; Daniel 7-12; Zechariah 1-6, 9-14; and Mark 13.” [12]

“It is typical for apocalyptic writings to describe visions of angels, animals of various kinds, scrolls, lamps, stars, and dragons, as well as battles and various natural disasters. The Revelation of John includes much imagery found also in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zachariah (see Ezk 40:1-5 and Rev 11:1; 21:9-17; Dan 7:1-8 and Rev 13:1; Zechariah 4:1-6, 11-14 and Rev 4:5; 11:3, 3). About three-fourths of the 404 verses in Revelation refer to something in the Old Testament.” [13]

“How are we to understand this not so easily understood literary form? How are we to apply these Scriptures in our lives?  Christ taught it is impossible to know when He will come again (Mt 24:36, 44).  It is impossible to determine the precise meaning of all the imagery in the apocalyptic writings. Rather, we are to look forward to the end of time with sober yet eager anticipation, as pilgrims seeking His eternal kingdom (Php 3:20; Col 3:1-4). A prayer by Saint Basil the Great says, ‘Grant us to pass through all the night of this present life with vigilant heart and sober thought in expectancy of the coming of the bright and manifest day of… our Lord.’” [14]

“The apocalyptic texts are offered to Christians in every generation to encourage them in their struggles against sin, the principalities and powers of darkness in this world, and the fear of death. These writings assure us that even in the midst of the cosmic cataclysms and battles against evil powers occurring just before Christ returns – the time of ‘great tribulation’ (Mt 24:21) – the Lord will strengthen and guide His people (Mt 28:20), bringing them to final victory over all forces of evil (Rev 20:7-10). Making references to Daniel 7 and 12 concerning the end times, St. Cyril of Jerusalem explain[ed] that as in the prosecutions, God will again permit these things. Why?  Not because He wants satanic power to hinder His people, but because He desires to crown His own champions for their patient endurance – just as He did His prophets and apostles – so that having toiled for a little while, they may inherit the kingdom of Heaven.” [15]

“So the essential purpose of the apocalyptic writings is to encourage the faithful to be full of hope and prepared to persevere to the end, no matter what happens (Mt 24:3-13; Lk 21:25-28). All are inspired to look through the darkness of the present age and to behold the ultimate victory of Christ and the joyful consummation that awaits His Bride – the Church – who, through Her sacraments, has prepared herself for the coming of the Lord (2Pt 3:7-14; Tts 2:11-14). The closing words of the New Testament express this very sense of expectation: ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).” [16]

Short Verse

You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Psalm 5:6

Midday Prayer

For Sound Government

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth.

        Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their duties.

        Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to fulfill our obligations in the community of nations.

        Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.

        Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for the well-being of our society; that we may serve you faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name.

        For yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Amen. [17]



“Sacrament of the Eucharist”
By Laura LaHaye
(source)

Vespers Reading: Ephesians 1:7-14

We live to the praise of God′s glory

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“Baptism”
By Lucas Cranach the Elder  (1472–1553)
(source)

Vespers Lesson

Both redeemed and to be redeemed

“The sacraments of baptism (redemption) and the Eucharist (His blood) are alluded to as the necessary foundation for drawing near to God. Redemption has a technical meaning relative to the freeing of slaves. Here, the bondage is to sins; the act of releasing is forgiveness; the price of redemption is blood – the human life of Christ given over to death for the sake of new life. This beginning of life in Christ is not merely legal, nor instantaneous, but living and dynamic.” [18]

“The mystery is the plan of salvation, the gospel, the Kingdom of God, the Church. The mystery centers on Christ Himself (Col 2:2), from the Incarnation (1Ti 3:16), to the Cross (1Co 2:8), to the restoration and culmination of all things (v. 10). It is the fullness (v. 10) of all, not only for humanity but for the whole creation. Although it was announced by the prophets (Rom 16:25, 26), God revealed it through Christ, and it is made known to us through the apostles (3:1-5; 1Co 2:6, 7, 10-16; 4:1). The mystery is made manifest in history by the fact that Gentiles and Jews compose one body. The mystery is experienced in the sacraments of the Church, which are called the ‘mysteries.'” [19]

“The gospel unites all humanity: the Jews (vv. 11, 12) and the Gentles (vv. 13, 24). The Jews, especially those who trusted in Christ (v. 12) – one of whom was Paul, hence the use of we (v. 11) – were the first witnesses to the coming of the Messiah. In ‘the fullness of times (v. 10) they were joined by the Gentiles.” [20]

“The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was an evidence that the last times, the day of the Lord, had come. Hence, Pentecost was a proof to the Jews that Jesus indeed was the Messiah. And the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48) was a proof they were equal to the Jews in this final age. After baptism one is sealed with the Holy Spirit.” [21]

“The guarantee (v. 14) is a first instalment in kind, a down payment or earnest of what is later to be completed: we both are redeemed and shall be redeemed.” [22]

Short Verse

In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament,* and he will hear my voice. 

Psalm 55:18

Vespers Prayer

Let our evening prayers 

ascend to your ears,

O divine Majesty,

and let your blessings descend over us,

O Lord,

as we put our hope in you;

for you live and reign with your Son 

and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.

Amen. [23]



The Boisil Compline 

(from the Northumbria Community’s Daily Prayers [24])

+ indicates that you may make the sign of the cross. 

* indicates a change of reader. All say together the sections in bold type. 

The words in bold italic type set between lines should be said by each in turn. 

+ (silently.) 

*  Lord, You will keep us safe 

and protect us forever. 

I am placing my soul and my body 

in Thy safe keeping this night, O God, 

in Thy safe keeping, O Jesus Christ, 

in Thy safe keeping, O Spirit of perfect truth. 

The Three who would defend my cause 

be keeping me this night from harm. 

*  I call on You, O God, 

for You will answer me; 

give ear to me and hear my prayer. 

*  Show the wonder of Your great love,

You who save by Your right hand 

those who take refuge in You from their foes. 

*  Keep me as the apple of Your eye; 

hide me in the shadow of Your wings. 

Lighten my darkness, Lord. 

Let the light of Your presence 

dispel the shadows of night. 

*  Christ with me sleeping, 

Christ with me waking, 

Christ with me watching, 

each day and each night. 

*  Save us, Lord, while we are awake, 

guard us while we are asleep; 

that, awake, we may watch with Christ, 

and, asleep, may rest in His peace. 

God with me protecting, 

the Lord with me directing,

the Spirit with me strengthening 

for ever and for evermore. 

*  In the name of the Father precious, 

and of the Spirit of healing balm. 

In the name of the Lord Jesus, 

I lay me down to rest. 

The peace of all peace be mine this night 

+  in the name of the Father, 

and of the Son, 

and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Stratman, P. (2001). Morning Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 14). Rossway.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). March. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 179). New York, NY: Image Books

[3] Hahn, S., Mitch, C., & Walters, D. (2013). Commentary. In Daniel (Sec Catholic ed., p. 2447). San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Daniel. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1293). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Hahn, S., Mitch, C., & Walters, D. (2013). Commentary. In Daniel (Sec Catholic ed., p. 2449). San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.

[7] Ibid. 6, P. 2452

[8] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Daniel. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1293). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[9] Stratman, P. (2001). Confession. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 21). Rossway.

[10] The Episcopal Church. (2018). Seasonal Blessings. In The Book of Occasional Services (PDF ed., p. 11). Then Episcopal Church. Retrieved November December 15, 2020, from https://episcopalchurch.org/files/lm_book_of_occasional_services_2018.pdf

[11] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Daniel. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1293). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[12] Ibid. 11

[13] Ibid. 11

[14] Ibid. 11

[15] Ibid. 11

[16] Ibid. 11

[17] Episcopal Church. (1979). Prayers and Thanksgivings. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 821-822). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[18] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Ephesians. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1630). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[19] Ibid. 18

[20] Ibid. 18

[21] Ibid. 18

[22] Ibid. 18

[23] Stratman, P. (2001). Evening Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 18). Rossway.

[24] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Boisil Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92298-92324). London: HarperCollins.


[25] Antiochus IV Epiphanes. (2021, February 27). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

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