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Posts Tagged ‘pillar of smoke and fire’


Psalm 3:5: The Lord Sustains Me

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Psalm 3:5I lie down and go to sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.

There is nothing more we need remember when we put head to pillow to sleep, or when we rise in the morning to begin our day.  In the nighttime, God guards us as the pillar of fire watched over the Hebrews in their exodus from Egypt.  In the daytime, the pillar of smoke leads us as we weave among the perils and hazards of life.

God says:  Despite what you may feel at times, I really do listen to you, I really do watch over you, I protect you from the things and people who will destroy you entirely.  I guide your feet on their path.  If you follow me, you will not be lost.  I bring you the bread and wine that sustain just as I sent manna and water to my people when they crossed the desert.  You cross your own desert . . . and I am with you.  Look for the column of smoke and follow.  Lie down when the smoke turns to fire; it will keep you warm from the cold of the desert nights.  Rise again with the morning light.  Follow the column again.  I am with you always.

Wishing you warmth in the cold of the desert.  Stay well . . .

To reflect on our lives as a desert experience, click on the image to discover more about dry biomes or go to: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert.htm


A re-post from June 23, 2012.

Image from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/desert.htm

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Exodus 23:20-33: Reward of Fidelity

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Pillar of Fire

Some time ago we reflected on the effects of idolatry in our lives; today we look at the reward for maintaining authenticity through tribulation.  As human beings, with our many fears and anxieties, we succumb quickly to the turmoil of life . . . and fidelity to self and others is too often given over quickly so that we might take up convenience, comfort and ease.  God is always faithful to us; he never forgets to think about us, he never forgets his promises.  We, on the other hand, too often find it difficult to stand by God when challenged by the pressures and influences of modern living.

Just over two years ago we looked at chapters 20 to 24 of Exodus to reflect on the two-way relationship we have with God as represented by the Covenant agreement mediated through Moses and represented in a very visual way by the Ten Commandments.  Today we can zero in on 23:20-33 and spend some time with the image of the angel of the Lord who goes before us, to guard us on our way and to bring us to our destination, a place prepared for us by God in the New Jerusalem.

We need not doubt that there is a dwelling place for us and a purpose for us beyond this life.  John records what Jesus tells us in Chapter 14 of his Good News:  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith in me.  In my father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  The apostles knew – and we know today – that this man Jesus who has always acted in compassion will not lie to us for the sake of easing fear.  He speaks truth to us because he can do other thing – he cannot lie.  This we know and hold through faith, we believe through hope, and we act in through love.

The Pillar of Smoke

This Exodus story today reminds us of another of God’s promises: not only does Jesus go before us to prepare our place, but God sends his messenger to accompany us, to bring us safely to that home.  The voice of God tells us how important it is for us to look for this angel as we wander through the desert and cross through seas and rivers: Be attentive to him and heed his voice.  Do not rebel against him . . . my authority rests in him.  The tough part, of course, is to discern the angel in the smoke and haze of living, to hear the voice of God and his messengers through the cacophony of life; however, today’s reading indicates that we need not have a physical explanation of why we believe.  We need only muster our faith.  The reward of this fidelity to our belief is the guidance and protection we so keenly seek.

I have noticed something about life and perhaps you have, too.  I cannot miss the fact that the more often and the more deeply I trust the God who goes before me as a column of smoke in the day and as a column of fire by night (Exodus 13:20-22), the more confidence I feel, the less fear I experience, and the easier it becomes to do what God asks of us in today’s reading: Be attentive to the voice.  Do not rebel against it.  My children, grandchildren and friends know that when I feel frightened, I step into that column – which seems a foolish thing to do when we notice how it roils and churns.  And yet there is something mystical in this pulsing smoke and intense fire – it empowers more than it overcomes; it gives life rather than consumes it.

Be attentive to the voice.  Do not rebel against it.  What is the reward we receive for this kind of fidelity?  To live within this column of smoke and fire and never be consumed.  To know the touch of God within and without.  To shed fear, to love well, and to walk humbly with our God.

Be attentive to the voice.  Do not rebel against it. 


A re-post from March 21, 2012.

For more on The Desert Tabernacle click on one of the images above or go to: http://thedeserttabernacle.blogspot.com/2010/06/numbers-915-23-pillar-of-smoke-and.html

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Numbers 14:8: From Grumbling to Peace

Monday, April 16, 2018

Route Map of the Israelite Exodus

If the Lord is pleased with us, he will take us there and give us that rich and fertile land. 

In Numbers 14, we hear murmurs among the people as they tire of wandering in the desert in expectation of a promised land where the faithful will flourish to pass down their fidelity to God through many generations. Although scholars find little evidence of this difficult, 40-year desert pilgrimage, we appreciate the desert wanderings of the twelve tribes of Hebrew peoples. Not only do they suffer physical hardship, they suffer mental distress as well. They wonder why they have left the comfort of a home where although they lived in slavery, they knew what to expect each day. Now in the desert, searching for water and food, and evading bands of marauders, they question the wisdom of following leaders shown to them by The Living God.

Our Old Testament thinking is binary; when we behave as God asks, God rewards us. When we do not, we expect punishment. Our New Testament thinking removes the fear of ancient ancestors as we remember Jesus’ words as recorded by John: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (John 14:7)

God says: I know that you worry each morning as you rise about the thousands of details you tend to as you support a life of work, play and prayer. I know that you move through the day and into the evening juggling people and circumstances, numbers and facts, opposites and equals, clarity and confusion. I know that you think of me each night as you set up your evening tent and tuck into your bed. I know that you keep your eye on me as you traverse the deserts in your life; and for this I love you more than you can imagine. When you grumble, I hold you close. When you cry out, I am at your side. When you weep, I dry your tears. I am with you always. As Jesus tells you, do not let your hearts be troubled. Do I not go before you each day as a pillar of smoke? Do I not follow you each night as a pillar of fire?

In the Moroccan Desert

Although we fear, we move forward in confidence. Although we complain, we step into each day with conviction. Although we doubt, we follow Christ with steadfastness. In this way, we allow God to convert our grumbling and fear into Christ’s calm and loving peace.

During the day the Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way, and during the night he went in front of them in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel night and day. (Exodus 13:21)


For a reflection on the Book of Numbers, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-torah/numbers-arrangement-of-the-tribes/

For a reflection on Numbers 14:1-4, enter the words Back to Egypt into the blog search bar.

To read about scholarly opinions on the Sinai wanderings, visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/world/africa/03iht-moses.4.5130043.html

Images from: http://wildmorocco.com/cosmic-fireworks-from-the-sahara-desert/ and http://www.bible-history.com/maps/route_exodus.html

 

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Wisdom 11:2-5: Special Providence in Exodus (more…)

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Exodus 13:21-22: The Lord Precedes UsPillarOfFire (2)

First Sunday of Lent, February 22, 2015

In our Noontime reflections we have frequently written about the pillar of smoke and fire that lead the Hebrew people in their faith-journey through desert trials in their search for the land they had been promised.

The Lord preceded them, in the daytime by means of a column of cloud to show them the way, and by night by means of a column of fire to give them light. This they could travel by both day and night. Neither the column of cloud by day nor the column of fire by night ever left its place in front of the people.

Today we reflect on our own Lenten journey, our own penitent search and we ask ourselves a few essential questions.

  • What is it we seek?
  • Is there any part of ourselves we hope to change?
  • Is there a relationship we must amend before healing can take place?
  • Are there actions we need to take before moving forward in our journey?
  • When confused, where do we look for guidance?
  • When alarmed, how do we find peace?
  • Are we as eager to follow God’s lead as we are to ask for God’s protection and help?
  • Is it possible that we cannot see the column of smoke and the pillar of fire even though it constantly precedes us?

If we cannot see ourselves as the Hebrew people who wander in the desert hoping and looking for the covenant promise, we might see ourselves as the Children of God who are well loved and well guided by God. In times of fear, pain and confusion, we might remember that after returning from death to commission his disciples, Jesus comforts and assures them. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.  (Matthew 28:19-20)

floatingcloud-440x300God is with us always in the person of Jesus and in the healing person of the Spirit. When we consider our worst trials and suffering, we do well to look for the presence of the column of smoke by day and the pillar of fire by night. We do well to allow the Lord to precede us. As we spend time with these verses today, let us be open to the presence of the Spirit.

To read Rabbi Sigal Asher’s thoughts of the column of cloud and fire, click on the cloud image above or visit: http://rhr.org.il/eng/2014/01/finding-our-pillar-of-cloud-and-fire/ 

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horlogerieFriday, May 9, 2014

Mark 13:3-8

Such Things

See that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name saying, “I am he,” and they will deceive many. When you hear of wars and reports of wars, do not be alarmed; such things must happen but it will not be the end.

We live in a world in which information flies around the globe more quickly than we can take it in. Some of us are overwhelmed. Some of us become desensitized. Some of us try to find a place for our fear and an appropriate reaction.  Some of us hide and try to protect ourselves in the monuments to our fear and control that we build for ourselves and loved ones. Some of us take in this news and try to balance our caution with our love.

God says: It is impossible to sort out all the conflict that surges around you locally and globally. This information is fearsome but do not let it drive you further from me. I am not in the event. I am in you. I am not in the dreadfulness. I am in the caring hands and feet and hearts that tend to the wounded. When such things happen that frighten you, remember that I watch over you just as I watched over the Hebrews when I guided and protected them as the pillar of smoke and fire. You are as precious to me now as were the Hebrews then. Live out my love as you address the wars and reports of wars but do not be alarmed. Such things happen but it is not the end.

Let us consider how we might preach the good news Jesus speaks to us today in these words recorded by Mark.  Think about visiting an “End Times” web site and applying God’s words about such things.  (A typical site can be found at http://www.signs-of-end-times.com/.) Think about the presentation of such information, and reflect on how we react, why we react, and how we might live out the Gospel words we read today.

Tomorrow, the coming persecution.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

eyes[1]Song of Songs 3:6-7, 11

Come Forth

What is this coming up from the desert, like a column of smoke laden with myrrh, with frankincense, and with the perfume of every exotic dust? Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth . . .

We have waited for so long.   We crane our necks and stand on tiptoe.  We exhaust ourselves with preparation and waiting.  And like a pillar of smoke bearing the scent of incense that delights and comforts us, our God comes into our view.  With this first sighting, we quite suddenly realize that God has always been with us; we quite suddenly understand what it means to be Christmas people.

Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth . . . and see that the desert blooms in God’s presence.

Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth . . . and see that your God rises like a pillar of frankincense and myrrh.

Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth . . . and see that your God is among you.

Daughters of Jerusalem, come forth . . . the king is here . . .

To learn more about the frankincense and myrrh resins and how they were used in Biblical times, go to: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/question283.htm

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Psalm 18

 A Favorite Noontime first written on October 24, 2008. and posted today as we prepare for the holiday of Thanksgiving in the U.S.A.

0707160038521psalm_18_28b_niv[1]Thanksgiving for God’s Help

I have a list of petitions I take to God each dawn . . . that I reprise in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and when I go to bed.  On those nights when I wake during the wee hours I ask again.  Scattered among the petitions are my Thank yous for prayers answered . . . I like to think of many big and little miracles with which I and my loved ones . . . and my enemies . . . have been graced.  This list brings me peace.  It reminds me of who I am, the Petitioner.  It reminds me that I was formed by God, the Creator.  It keeps the reality fresh that I have a purpose which is important and special.  It reminds me that I have a mission . . . even though I am often in a cloud of unknowing about what that mission is.  It renews for me the fact that I am child . . . that God is parent . . . and that my humility, fidelity and mercy are what my God requires of me.  In all of this reminding I settle fully into the knowing that my blessings far outweigh my sorrows . . . and for this I am continually thankful.

Psalm 18 29[1]My days go best when they are a constant, unceasing prayer.  My nights are happiest when I enter them with God.  My enemies touch me not when I step into the protective pillar of fire and smoke and pulsing prayer.  The lures of the other world melt away from the light of this guiding and protecting pillar.

The rocking of my world reduces to a gentle sway when I turn to God.  The darkness and thick thunder clouds dispel when I remember God.  The depths of despair evaporate when I call on God.  The harsh buffets of life become a gentle breeze when I sing with God.

The psalmist today reminds us that God gives us the swift feet and the sharp mind with which we avoid trouble.  God gives us himself as armor against the cruelties of the world.  God is our rock.  God is our breath.  God is our life.  Praise God.

Dear gracious and good God, You have shown us mercy.  We thank you.  You have shown us the way.  We thank you.  You have borne us up.  We thank you.  You have carried us away.  We thank you.  You have eased our burden.  We thank you.  You have created us.  We thank you.  You have loved us well.  We thank you.

We thank you when we come to you at dawn, in the morning, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, in the night.

We thank you when we make our life a constant prayer. 

We thank you.  Amen. 

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Thursday, January 17, 2013 – Deuteronomy 5 – Speaking with God

We have heard his voice from the midst of the fire and we have found out today that a man can still live after God has spoken with him.

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Reubens: Teresa of Ávila

Moses acts as mediator for the Chosen People because they believe that anyone who sees the face of God and hears his voice must live no more. This thinking changes when Jesus acts and moves among his people to heal their wounds and cure their anxieties.  This thinking is altered with Jesus’ death and resurrection.  This new idea of a God among us transforms our human fear if we only allow it.  Christ becomes our new arbiter with God, interceding for us with our petitions before the Father. 

Like the Hebrews, we also have the opportunity to hear the voice of God.  We might see his face in those who live as Christ asks; but perhaps like the Hebrews, we are a bit afraid to approach the Holy Presence to petition favor.  What we read today tells us that we need not dread God’s presence, and we need not hesitate to ask Jesus for his help . . . this is what he awaits – our realization that he loves us more than we can imagine.

Prayer is the best way to hear the voice of the Creator, Redeemer, and Consoler, and God has advice for us that is better than any offered by any human.   We may not have time for formal, liturgical prayer.  We may not feel comfortable in communal prayer.  We may find that individual prayer lacks direction and intensity.  However, whatever our condition or opinion regarding prayer, we must address all obstacles to it . . . for this is the only way to reach the serenity that God promises, the peace that Christ purchases, and the love that the Holy Spirit offers.

Today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation is taken from words of Teresa of Ávila regarding prayer.  The good that one who practices prayer possesses . . . is that in spite of any wrong they who practice prayer do, they must not abandon prayer since it is the means by which they remedy the situation; and to remedy it without prayer would be much more difficult.

This does not mean to say that those who pray each day have a magical entrée to God’s presence and favor; but what it does say to us is that people who pray daily have a place to take the stresses that come to bear on them as they maneuver their daily obstacle course . . . and that place is God. 

We might wish that God would show us a physical smoking presence with a loud booming voice as he does with the Hebrews in today’s reading . . . but would this be more helpful than that quiet voice which speaks to us from behind to which Isaiah refers in 30:21? 

We might wish we had stone tablets on which are written God’s words clearly . . . but is this more loving than God’s writing on our hearts as Jeremiah predicts in 31:33? 

Teresa of Ávila tells us that she trusts in God’s mercy and love; she perseveres in prayer through the dry times in order to maintain contact with this God of compassion and peace.  When we struggle with our own desire to know God intimately and to commune with him daily, we will know that we are not unique . . . for holy and saintly people have their doubts, their fears and their anxiety when they speak with God.  We can do no worse and no better than this then, to listen for the voice of God . . . a God who loves us in spite of any wrong we commit. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 28.5(2010): 385-386. Print.   

Written on May 28, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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