November 23 Devotional (2021)


November 23 Commemoration: Saint Clement of Rome (Bishop of Rome and Martyr)

Almighty God, who didst choose thy servant Clement of Rome to recall The Church in Corinth to obedience and stability: Grant that thy Church may be grounded and settled in thy truth by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and may evermore be kept blameless in thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


November 23, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: 

  • Excerpt from the Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Ezekiel 29:1-12, Prophecy against Pharaoh
  • Revelation 11:15-19, God’s reign at the end of time

Invitatory 

O give thanks to the Lord, and call upon his Name; make known his deeds among the peoples.    

(Psalm 105:1)

Alleluia. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Opening Prayer

Blessed be the name of the Lord,

      From this time forth for evermore.

O LORD JESUS CHRIST, thou hast said, ask and ye shall receive, seek and find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you, give us a heart to know and love thee, strengthen us to seek and follow thy will, and open to us the door of thy everlasting kingdom. Amen.

The Lord gives us his peace and everlasting life. 

Amen.

  • The Book Of Common Prayer, 1928 [1]

Intercession

For  Justice

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the people of this land], that barriers which divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [2]

Hymn

“We plough the fields, and scatter” by Mathias Claudius

Morning Prayer

Let God be praised in the beginning and the end.

Those who pray to him, he will

neither despise nor refuse.

The only son of Mary, 

the great exemplar of kings, …

God above us,

God before us,

God possessing all things.

May the Father of heaven grant us a portion of mercy.

  • The Black Book of Carmarthen [3]

Short Verse

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

Revelation 1:4-5

Morning Reading

Excerpt from the Dead Sea Scrolls

Great and holy is the Lord,

the holiest of holy ones for every generation.

Majesty precedes him,

and following him is the rush of many waters.

Grace and truth surround his presence;

truth and justice and righteousness are the foundations of his throne.

Separating light from deep darkness,

by the knowledge of his mind he has established the dawn.

When all his angels had witnessed it they sang aloud;

for he showed them what they had not known

Crowning the hills with fruit,

good food for every living being.

Blessed be he who makes the earth by his power

establishing the world in his wisdom.

In his understanding he stretched out the heavens,

and brought forth wind from his storehouses.

He made lightning for the rain,

and caused mists to rise from the end of the earth.

[4]

Midday Prayer

PRAISE GOD from whom all blessings flow; praise him, all creatures here below; praise him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

– Thomas Ken, 1674 [5]

Short Verse

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

Matthew 25:34
A second century ‘Nilotic scene’ mosaic from the Aventine Hill in Rome

Midday Reading

Ezekiel 29:1-12, Prophecy against Pharaoh

1 In the tenth year, in the tenth month on the twelfth day, the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt and prophesy against him and against all Egypt. 3 Speak to him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:

“‘I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt,

you great monster lying among your streams.

You say, “The Nile belongs to me;

I made it for myself.”

4 But I will put hooks in your jaws

and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales.

I will pull you out from among your streams,

with all the fish sticking to your scales.

5 I will leave you in the desert,

you and all the fish of your streams.

You will fall on the open field

and not be gathered or picked up.

I will give you as food

to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.

6 Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. 7 When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched. 

8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will bring a sword against you and kill both man and beast. 9 Egypt will become a desolate wasteland. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

“‘Because you said, “The Nile is mine; I made it,” 10 therefore I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt a ruin and a desolate waste from Migdol to Aswan, as far as the border of Cush.  11 The foot of neither man nor beast will pass through it; no one will live there for forty years. 12 I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities. And I will disperse the Egyptians among the nations and scatter them through the countries.

Midday Lesson

A Prophecy Against Egypt

“The word of the Lord recorded in the opening verses of ch 29 came to Ezekiel after the siege of Jerusalem had begun (cf 24:1). No concentration of human might, whether specifically mentioned or not, is able to obstruct God’s plan of salvation.” [6]

“Half of chs 25–32 is devoted to a sevenfold prophecy against Egypt.” [7] Pharaoh is an “embodiment of the nation.” [8] “Seven times, the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel to announce the coming downfall of the proud land of the pharaohs (29:1, 17; 30:1, 20; 31:1; 32:1, 17).” [9] “Unlike the six other nations, Egypt had achieved the status of a world empire and could be considered a formidable obstruction to God’s government. As Ezekiel wrote his denunciations, Pharaoh was challenging Babylonian supremacy in the ancient world. The armies from the Nile would not be able to prevent Nebuchadnezzar from doing the task God assigned to him—the capture of Jerusalem and the chastening of the chosen people.” [10]

The words “you great monster lying among your streams” (v. 3) appear “on the surface to refer to a crocodile (see ‘scales’ in v. 4). Crocodiles populated the Nile and so make an appropriate image, but they were also on the periphery of the conjunction with chaos creatures, which would also be suitable imagery here.” [11] “Because God created the great… creatures (Gn 1:21), they cannot begin to dispute His control of them, for He can dispose of them as readily as He called them into being (Ps 74:13–14; 148:7). Opposition to God is at times represented by a dragon, identified as Rahab or Leviathan.” [12]

“Herodotus (History, 2.70) describes the procedure of catching a crocodile in the Nile: ‘The hunter baits a hook with a chine of pork, and lets it float into the middle of the river; he himself stays on the bank with a young live pig, which he beats. Hearing the cries of the pig, the crocodile goes after the sound, and meets the chine, which it swallows; then the hunter pulls the line.’ In this context, however, even if Pharaoh is equated with the crocodile, the “great monster” crouching in the Nile (v. 3), the focus of [verse 4] is on the manner of leading prisoners with hooks in their mouths or jaws. This is a practice portrayed in Assyrian reliefs as a means of humiliating captives and taking them into exile.” [13]

In verse 5, the Lord says, “I will give you as food to the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky.” “In this prophetic oracle, the scattered, exposed corpses suffer the ultimate disgrace: they are eaten by animals, a common threat in ancient Near Eastern curses. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon tells of not properly burying his enemies but instead allowing wild animals to devour them. Not to have a proper burial implied that the descendants could not perform the usual religious duties for their dead ancestors. The person left to die in disgrace became a roaming spirit unable to find rest. What Ezekiel is announcing in this verse would have been frightening for his hearers. One of the fundamental duties of the descendants was to honor their ancestors.” [14]

In verse 6, the Lord condemned Egypt: “You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. 7 When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.” King Zedekiah, the twentieth and the last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon (wiki), had “found out that to rely on Egypt for help was as foolish as leaning one’s weight on one of the many stalks or reeds growing on the banks of the Nile (cf Jer 37:6–7).” [15] “In 720 BC, Sargon II of Assyria characterized the pharaoh as ‘a king who cannot save,’ although he had been ‘bribed’ by a coalition of little states. Sargon had to put down a rebellion that began in Philistine Ashdod together with Judah and other allies. In the time of Ezekiel, King Jehoiakim was raised to the throne of Judah by Pharaoh Necho (2Ki 23:34). He rebelled against his new Babylonian overlord, Nebuchadnezzar, hoping for Egyptian support that never came. In the last days of Judah, Pharaoh Hophra dispatched an army to relieve besieged Jerusalem. The intervention proved futile as he retreated without even engaging a battle with the Babylonians. Isa 36:6 calls the Egyptians a ‘splintered reed of a staff.’ For Judah, Egypt incarnates betrayed promises and disappointed hopes. Such an attitude of betrayal is universally condemned in ancient literature.” [16] Now, “Egypt’s overthrow will be as complete as if its fertile land along the Nile had become a desolation and a waste.” [17] “Egypt’s surrender to foreign domination would be as complete as when Israel was dragged into exile.” [18]

The “forty years” (v. 11) is a “symbolic number to indicate the full duration of the imposed punishment.” [19] “The Israelites had a 40-year period of wandering in the desert (Nu 14:33). In Northwest Semitic texts it also designates a period of temporary national punishment. King Mesha of Moab gives 40 years as the length of Israelite occupation of part of his land during the time of his god’s anger.” [20] “Egypt’s surrender to foreign domination would be as complete as when Israel was dragged into exile.” [21]


Eventide Prayer

NOW, UNTO CHRIST, who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

– Jude 1 

Short Verse

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:3

Eventide Reading

Revelation 11:15-19, God’s reign at the end of time

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” 16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying,

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,

who is and who was,

for you have taken your great power

and begun to reign.

18 The nations raged,

but your wrath came,

and the time for the dead to be judged,

and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,

and those who fear your name,

both small and great,

and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Eventide Lesson

The heavenly voices proclaim

“The heavenly voices” of verse 15, “which introduce an interlude with the scene shifting back to heaven, provide for us the pivotal verse of the whole of Revelation. Once again (as in 10:5-7) the proclamation is made that the fullness of time has arrived: the kingdoms of this world are subject to the Kingdom of God. This is the mystery of mysteries alluded to in 10:7, which our Lord Himself mentioned, as recorded in Jn 12:31: the judgment of the world and the casting out of Satan is effected by the crucifixion. The voices state this has already occurred once and for all, at Calvary. Up to this point, Revelation has recorded only the prelude to God’s judgment. From now on, the book records the judgment of God in all its power.” [22]

“The twenty-four elders concelebrate the consummation of God’s Kingdom in the heavenly Liturgy [vv. 16-18]. This carries a message of consolation to the Church. Those who destroy the earth (v. 18) are the morally wicked, not merely the ecologically irresponsible – however, ecological irresponsibility is moral wickedness. Perhaps the pagan Roman Empire is in view.” [23]

Compline Prayer

MY GOD, I THANK THEE for thy blessings this day, and through my whole life. O my God, I love thee and I want to love thee more. Jesus, I believe in thee and I hope in thee, for the pardon of my sins, for the help of thy grace and for everlasting life, because of thy love, thy promises, and thy power. Amen. [24]


Citations:

[1] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Litanies. In Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 301). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[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. 823). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[3] Stratman, P. (2001). Praise to God. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 14). Crossway.

[4] Tickle, P. (2000). November Compline. In The divine hours: Prayers for Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 279). New York, NY: Image Books.

[5] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Doxologies. In Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 75). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[6] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5585). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] Ibid. 6

[10] Ibid. 6, P. 5585-5586

[11] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4926). essay, Zondervan.

[12] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5586). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[13] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4926). essay, Zondervan.

[14] Ibid. 13

[15] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5586). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[16] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4926-4927). essay, Zondervan.

[17] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5586). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[18] Ibid. 17

[19] Ibid. 17

[20] Keener, C. S., Walton, J. H., & Matthews, V. A. (2016). Ezekiel. In NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle, pp. 4927). essay, Zondervan.

[21] A., E. E. (2016). Ezekiel. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 5586). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[22] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Revelation. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1760). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[23] Ibid. 22, P. 1761

[24] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Brief Forms of Daily Prayer. In Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 44). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

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