Benefice of Farleigh,

Candovers and Wield

Prayer Diary from Thursday 18th April - Wednesday 5th June 2024

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Dear fellow pray-er, 

Prayer Diary for the period Thursday 18th April – Wednesday 5th June 2024.

Moses is up on Mount Sinai for forty days. (Does that period of time ring any bells? Noah’s Ark, Jesus in the wilderness being tempted. The period between Jesus’s resurrection and ascension?) God is giving Moses’s instructions of the portable sanctuary to be constructed by Moses as a place of worship for the Hebrew tribes, during the period of wandering before their arrival in the Promised Land. There are also descriptions of the furnishings and priestly garments. I find it interesting to notice that Moses is to tell the Israelites to bring an offering “from each man whose heart prompts him to give.” That, for me, reminds me of the early church when “Selling their possessions and goods they gave to anyone as he had need.” (Acts 2: 45). God calls those who follow Him to give! Like us today, with our urgent need to get what we want without delay, the Israelites couldn’t wait for the return of Moses. They needed a figure to guide them! And so, they made one. A golden calf. (Can we still see that in today’s society?) Result – thousands died. And so we see Moses having to seek the favour of the Lord, that He should continue to lead His people. Finally, when all the work of the tabernacle, its furnishings, curtains and the priestly garments are completed, Moses set it up and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. O that we should see the glory of the Lord filling our churches!

We continue with the Book of Numbers, which tells of how the Israelites would stay in their camp whilst the cloud remained above the tabernacle. When it lifted, they would set out. The Israelites complained about their hardships, and fire from the Lord consumed some of those on the outskirts of the camp. And so, the journey continues with grumbling, God’s anger, repentance, peace until God calls Moses to send one man from each of the twelve tribes to explore the land of Canaan. They take forty days and come back with the report of a land flowing with milk and honey. However they also report on those living there that: “All the people we saw there are of great size.”  Only Caleb and Joshua were confident that they could enter and take the land and so the other ten, who had spread a bad report about the inhabitants, were struck down by a plague and the whole community was told that they would spend the rest of their days in the wilderness and that it would be the next generation that would enter the land with Caleb and Joshua. They continue in their wandering, making war against Sihon king of the Amorites and defeating him and then the summonsing of Balaam by Balak, king of Moab to prophesy against the Israelites. Moses is told to commission Joshua who is to lead Israel after Moses dies and there are further instructions as to various festivals. Notice the Feast of Weeks which we celebrate as Pentecost.

From Numbers we turn to the Book of Joshua. Joshua is told by God and the Israelites to “Be strong and courageous.” We could all use that sort of encouragement! He leads the Israelites as they cross the Jordan and comes up against the commander of the army of the Lord. Here we see a repeat of the instruction to Moses by the burning bush. Joshua is to take off his sandals for the place he is standing is holy ground. He is given instructions as to how to take Jericho. This is where we meet Rahab, a prostitute, and an ancestor of Jesus (see Matt 1:5). Then the defeat of Jericho and Achan’s sin which brought about the rout of the Israelites by the men of Ai. We still try to test the Lord by failing to obey him. Another notable occurrence is when the sun stopped for a full day when the Israelites fought the Amorites. They divided up the land and apportioned it to the tribes and so we leave Joshua with the tribes settled and at peace in their land.

The New Testament readings are for the first half of Luke’s Gospel. Luke’s story of Jesus is dominated by a historical perspective. It has always been a favourite of mine, told by a doctor, and tells of how God’s divine plan for human salvation was accomplished during the period of Jesus. You may care to reflect on Jesus raising the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-13). If we look in the Old Testament, you may recall, that God raised a widow’s son at the request of Elijah, who is moved by the mother’s tears (1 Kings 17:17-24) (much like Jesus was moved with compassion for the widow of Nain). God also raised the son of the Shunammite woman when Elisha interceded for them (2 Kings 4:18-37). It is not too far to assume that this Jewish community would have connected the dots between the accounts with Elijah and Elisha and Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead and caused the news of this to spread far and wide! O that we should see such events in this our time. But we will still: Praise the Lord!

Our blessings to you. May the word of the Lord inspire and guide you.

Peter & Sylvia


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