November 18 Devotional (2021)


November 18 Commemoration: Saint Hilda of Whitby, Abbess and Peacemaker

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty Might be rich: deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that, following the example of thy servant Hilda, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the world to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


November 18, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: 

  • Psalm 93, Your throne has been established
  • Ezekiel 28:1-10, A king pretends to be God
  • Acts 7:54—8:1a, The Son of God’s right hand

Invitatory

The Lord, the King of Confessors, * O come, let us worship.

Opening Prayer

May the everlasting God bless

us this day

May he save and defend us

from all that is evil,

and make us partakers of his

heavenly kingdom;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen. [1]

Intercession 

For our Enemies

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [2]

Hymn

“Walkin’ in Jerusalem” (Spiritual)

Morning Prayer

The General Thanksgiving

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen. [3]

Short Verse

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Your works,

And my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:14

Morning Reading

Psalm 93, Your throne has been established

The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;

the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.

He has established the world; it shall never be moved;

your throne is established from of old;

you are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,

the floods have lifted up their voice;

the floods lift up their roaring.

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,

more majestic than the waves of the sea,

majestic on high is the Lord!

Your decrees are very sure;

holiness befits your house,

O Lord, forevermore.

Morning Lesson

The Kingship of God 

“The voice of the waters, the swells of sea waves, and the thunder of waterfalls witness to the power of nature in such a way that we can feel small, vulnerable, and even fearful. Yet, it also witnesses the power of God, who created everything and gave nature its essential properties. Recognizing the power of God in these waters prompts us to raise our voices in praise and thanksgiving for his bountiful goodness toward us.” [4[

“St. Augustine used the image of the rough seas to explain how, as the faithful raise their voices to spread the Gospel, the storms of rejection and persecution often arise in response, imperiling the boat, which is the Church. In such times we must not despair; rather, we should remain mindful that Christ is always with us and that he who created the seas also has the power to calm them.” [5]

“This is the first of eight consecutive psalms extolling the kingship of God… Christ came to announce the Kingdom of God, a kingdom not of this world, which is a kingdom of grace, peace, truth, and love that is established within the hearts of Christ’s followers.” [6]


Midday Prayer

To Please God Rather Than Men

Our God, in whom we trust: Strengthen us not to regard overmuch who is for us or who is against us, but to see to it that we be with you in everything we do. Amen.

by Thomas à Kempis [7]

Short Verse

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

Midday Reading

Ezekiel 28:1-10, A king pretends to be God

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘In the pride of your heart

you say, “I am a god;

I sit on the throne of a god

in the heart of the seas.”

But you are a mere mortal and not a god,

though you think you are as wise as a god.

3 Are you wiser than Daniel?

Is no secret hidden from you?

4 By your wisdom and understanding

you have gained wealth for yourself

and amassed gold and silver

in your treasuries.

5 By your great skill in trading

you have increased your wealth,

and because of your wealth

your heart has grown proud.

6 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘Because you think you are wise,

as wise as a god,

7 I am going to bring foreigners against you,

the most ruthless of nations;

they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom

and pierce your shining splendor.

8 They will bring you down to the pit,

and you will die a violent death

in the heart of the seas.

9 Will you then say, “I am a god,”

in the presence of those who kill you?

You will be but a mortal, not a god,

in the hands of those who slay you.

10 You will die the death of the uncircumcised

at the hands of foreigners.

Map of Phoenician cities, showing Tyre and Sidon.

Midday Lesson

A Prophecy Against the King of Tyre

The prince of Tyre was Ithobaal II. [8] “Tyre’s sin is epitomized in the pride of the chief of state, the prince. Ezekiel condemns the prince out of his own mouth, quoting him”: I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas (v. 2). [9] “Apparently the king of Tyre had a role in the ritual of the ‘Awakening of Melqart,’ the chief god of Tyre [mlk qrt, meaning ‘king of the city’], in which the king was attributed divine status. Second-century AD Roman author Aelian reports that the Tyrian Phoenician royal dynasty claimed descent from the gods (Varia Historia, 14.30). Moreover, [verse 2] seems to allude to a sea-girt divine abode, a prominent motif of ancient Near Eastern literature. The Ugaritic god El has his abode at the mouth of the rivers, i.e., ‘at the sources of the floods, in the midst of the Headwaters of the Two Oceans.’” [10]

“In Sumerian texts, the gods of creation, Enki and Ninhursag, dwell on the paradisiacal island of Dilmun, which is situated at the junction of two seas. In Arabic the region is called Bahrain, which means “two seas.” The same motif was later applied to the city of Eridu in southern Mesopotamia, located at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and not far away from Nippur, where Ezekiel is stationed.” [11]

“The Greek historian Xenophon (c. 430–354 BC) mentions that in the Persian period royal palaces were built at river sources (Anabasis, 1.4.7,10), implying that kings attempted to imitate gods in their choice of the location for their dwellings. In applying this ancient motif to the king of Tyre, who boasts of sitting on such a divine throne chosen by the gods, Ezekiel castigates this expression of hubris.” [12]

“In the prophet Ezekiel the ‘prince of Tyre’ is most plainly pictured as a certain spiritual power. When these, therefore, and other similar princes of this world, each having his own individual wisdom and formulating his own doctrines and peculiar opinions, saw our Lord and Savior promising and proclaiming that he had come into the world for the purpose of destroying all the doctrines (whatever they might be) of the “knowledge falsely so called,” they immediately laid snares for him, not knowing who was concealed within him. For “the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ” [Ps 2:2]. But their snares became known, and the plots that they had contrived against the Son of God were understood when they ‘crucified the Lord of glory.’ . . . Therefore the apostle says, “We speak a wisdom among the perfect; yet a wisdom not of this world or of the rulers of this world, which are coming to naught . . . a wisdom that none of the rulers of this world knew. For had they known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory” [1Co 2:8],” (Origen of Alexandria, On First Principles 3.3.2). [12]

In verse 3 the Lord asks the king, Are you wiser than Daniel? Is no secret hidden from you? “Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, ‘No mystery is too difficult for you’ (Dn 4:9; cf Dn 1:20).” [13] Daniel “was willing to endure danger for the law of God rather than to be turned from his purpose in order to gain the favor of men” (St. Ambrose). [14] “The king of Tyre lacked the fear of the Lord, without which the most highly endowed intellect is prone to work havoc (cf Pr 3:7; 9:10; 26:12; Is 5:21; Jer 9:23–24).” [15]

In verse 5 we read, because of your wealth your heart has grown proud. “Tyre’s commercial affluence has gone to its head. The inhabitants of the city are guilty of hubris and are going to be struck down in reprisal. The message is reinforced with a wordplay, a technique that exerted much influence on the ear of ancient Near Eastern hearers. Tyre’s pretension of divine prerogatives is an act of profanation against deity.” [16]

Because of the king’s overconfidence and self-delusion, the Lord declared, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor (v. 7). “A king’s shining splendor or radiance points to a concept well documented in ancient Near Eastern literature. The sanctity of a king is often said to be manifest by an awe-inspiring radiance or an aura characteristic of deities and divine beings. The Mesopotamians used the Akkadian term melammu (‘awe-inspiring luminosity’) in order to describe this concept.” [17]

Finally, the Lord proclaimed, You will die the death of the uncircumcised at the hands of foreigners (v. 10).

For the Jews, “circumcision was the sign of the covenant with God (Gn 17:10–14).” [18] To be uncircumcised was not only a disgrace to Jews, but also to Egyptians. [19] In fact, “this descriptor is not uncommon in the ancient world. For example, one text describes princes from the northern shores of Egypt as being uncircumcised. The term used is motey, a word occurring only here that can mean either ‘impure’ or ‘uncircumcised.’ The text says that the various lords from the north could not enter the royal palace because they were uncircumcised and they ate fish, both features seen as an abomination by the pharaoh. The Egyptians, who practiced circumcision like the Israelites, counted the killed uncircumcised enemy soldiers by cutting off their private parts (cf. 1Sa 18:25–27). Contrary to the Philistines, the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon practiced circumcision as attested by Herodotus, who records their assertion that they adopted it from the Egyptians (Histories 2.104).” [20] Therefore, the expression You will die the death of the uncircumcised (verse 10) would “be as insulting to the Tyrian as to an Israelite.” [21] “In contrast to his claim to royal honor, the king will die a shameful death like the uncircumcised Philistine slain by David and left unburied on the battlefield (1Sm 17:26, 36, 51).” [22]

In review: “Tyre symbolizes God’s concern to destroy sinful self- pride. Her ruins remain as Tyre’s legacy of disgrace to surrounding nations. Unfortunately, like Tyre, we often deify ourselves. We pridefully boast in the works of our own hands instead of rejoicing in what God has worked through us. Paul states, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” ( 1Co 1: 31 ), who alone is the author of life and salvation. • Heavenly Father, raise up God-fearing leaders and prevent us from suffering Tyre’s fate. Amen.” [23]


Eventide Prayer

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

    creator of heaven and earth;

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.

    He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit

        and born of the Virgin Mary.

    He suffered under Pontius Pilate,

        was crucified, died, and was buried.

    He descended to the dead.

    On the third day he rose again.

    He ascended into heaven,

        and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

    He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

    the holy catholic Church,

    the communion of saints,

    the forgiveness of sins

    the resurrection of the body,

    and the life everlasting. Amen.

Short Verse

And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.

Isaiah 32:17-18

Eventide Reading

Acts 7:54—8:1a, The Son of God’s right hand

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

1 And Saul approved of his execution.

Eventide Lesson

The Stoning of Stephen

Overview

The account of Stephen’s witness is found in Acts 6:8–8:3. “The martyrdom of Stephen is the turning point in the story of the first twelve chapters of Acts. It is closely linked with the events of Acts 3–4: Peter and John were finally not punished because the priests and Sadducees were afraid of the people. Now, by turning the people against Stephen, his enemies are able to put him to death. The parallel with Jesus is clear and detailed.” [24]

The story of Stephen’s martyrdom “begins with a mass movement against him and ends with something that looks like a lynching, but which also has features of a judicial execution. In between comes a trial before the Sanhedrin, whose members are suddenly transformed into a murderous mob.” [25]

“Stephen’s enemies are, like himself, Hellenist Jews, who, however, have not become believers in Jesus. When they cannot overcome Stephen in argument, they plot his death. Up till now the people have been favorable toward the followers of Jesus. Stephen’s enemies turn the people against him by instigating some men to say: ‘We have heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and against God.’ Stephen is dragged outside the city and stoned (like Naboth, whose unjust execution is told in 1 Kgs 21:11–13).” [26]

“Before the Sanhedrin Stephen is accused of speaking against the Temple and the Law, by claiming that Jesus the Nazarene would destroy ‘this place’ and change the customs they had received from Moses. A great part of Stephen’s speech is taken up with convicting the Israelites of continual rebellion against God. He takes up biblical history from Abraham (with some variations from the biblical narrative). The Israelites rejected Moses and so revolted against God. No sooner were they released from captivity in Egypt than they fell into idolatry with the Golden Calf. This set the pattern for their subsequent behavior. Stephen’s hearers, he implies, are now behaving like their ancestors. They too are ‘stiff-necked’ and ‘uncircumcised in heart and ears.’ The implicit argument is that the same judgment will be passed on them as on their forebears: their Temple will be destroyed.” [27

“At the end of his speech Stephen ‘sees the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ This declaration provokes the murderous onslaught on Stephen. The ‘witnesses,’ who had accused Stephen and were required by law to lead the proceedings, lay down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.” [28]

“Stephen continues to follow Jesus to the end. The story concludes with his twofold prayer: ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ and ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ Then he ‘fell asleep.’ Stephen can rest in peace. God will give him back the spirit, which he committed to Jesus, as Jesus had committed his own Spirit to his Father. A ‘severe persecution’ breaks out, in which Saul takes part. As a result, all, except the apostles, ‘were scattered throughout the countryside of Judea and Samaria.’ This dispersion was the occasion of a further stage in the mission.” [29]

On tonight’s passage from Acts:

Acts 7:55, He … saw … Jesus standing at the right hand of God: 

Stephen affirms to the Sanhedrin that the prophecy Jesus made before them has been fulfilled (Mk 14:62). 

[30]
Acts 7:57, covered their ears: 

Stephen’s declaration, like that of Jesus, is a scandal to the court, which regards it as blasphemy.

[31]
Acts 7:55-58: 

Stephen’s vision of the enthroned Christ is seen by his opponents as the ultimate blasphemy, which carried the penalty of stoning (LV 24:16). Saul, a participant in Stephen’s martyrdom, was a great persecutor of the early Christians. He would later be called by Christ to be His apostle and would become the great Christian missionary, Paul of Tarsus (see 9:1-22).

[32]
Acts 7:59, 60: 

In imitation of his Savior (Lk 23:34), Stephen offers his soul to God and prays for the forgiveness of his enemies.

[33]
Acts 8:1, In the Liturgy of St. Basil, God is proclaimed as… 

One who “makes the evil to be good.” In other words, God uses the sins of man for good and holy results. Here, the scattering of the disciples during this persecution led to the spread of the gospel to other areas. St. Stephen is sometimes called the Protomartyr (or “first martyr”), as he is the first believer to be killed in the name of Christ.

[34]

Compline Prayer

At the hour of midnight the angels rejoiced at the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, let us also rejoice in your peace, almighty God; who reigns, now and forever. Amen. [35]


Citations:

[1] Stratman, P. (2001). Blessings. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 85). Crossway.

[2] 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. 816). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[3] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. 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. 101). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[4] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Psalms. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1614). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum, Ignatius Press.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] Occasional Prayers. (2019). In The Book of Common Prayer (PDF). Anglican Church in North America. Retrieved at: http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/56-Occasional-Prayers.docx

[8] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5582). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[9] Ibid. 8

[10] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4921). essay, Zondervan.

[11] Ibid. 10

[12] Origen. (2019). Ezekiel. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2381). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[13] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5582). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[14] Ibid. 13

[15] Ibid. 13

[16] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4921). essay, Zondervan.

[17] Ibid. 16

[18] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5582). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[19] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4921). essay, Zondervan.

[20] Ibid. 19, P. 4921-4922

[21] Ibid. 19, P. 4922

[22] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5582). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[23] Ibid. 22, P. 5583

[24] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Acts. In The Catholic study Bible: The New American Bible, revised edition, translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources (Third ed., p. 924). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[25] Ibid. 24

[26] Ibid. 24

[27] Ibid. 24

[28] Ibid. 24, P. 925

[29] Ibid. 24, P. 925

[30] Ibid. 24, P. 4812

[31] Ibid. 24, P. 4812

[32] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1512). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[33] Ibid. 32

[34] Ibid. 32

[35] Stratman, P. (2001). Evening Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 19). Crossway.

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