Thursday, March 31, 2016

Thursday - Exodus 7 - The Foundation of Persuasion

God had already given Pharaoh his opportunity to willingly comply with His command (Exodus 5:1). Pharaoh had failed the test and had thereby condemned himself. He didn't know it, but he had indeed sealed his own doom (Romans 1:18-29, Matthew 13:12 & 25:29, Mark 4:25 and Luke 8:18 & 19:26). His rebellion was soon to be strengthened (Exodus 7:3).

One of the lessons that this story teaches us is that God has different levels of purpose for His creation. Truly, there are two premiere purposes for our existence - God's pleasure and God's glory. And, these two things are not the same. The highest ultimate purpose for all of us is God's pleasure (Revelation 4:11). However, there are situations and individuals that can't contribute in that function (Ezekiel 18:32 & 33:11; Hebrews 11:6), so it stands to reason that (since He gets no pleasure from their existence) God settles for receiving glory from it (Philippians 2:10-11). Such seems to be the case with Pharaoh.

Nevertheless, much territory has to be covered before the report on Pharaoh’s life can be written

In this chapter two great miracles are recorded. The first was probably purposed to create a protective respect for Aaron and his little brother. The second was obviously sent to move the Pharaoh and his people toward eventual desperation and surrender ... and to show them that God is God (Exodus 7:5).

Miracle 1:  Aaron's rod became a snake in Pharaoh's court. Pharaoh decided he liked this game, so, he had his magicians do the same "trick" with their power. But, God had the laugh in that situation, for Aaron's snake ate all of the other snakes right there in view of the Egyptians (Exodus 7:12). By the way, how long would it take for one snake to eat another snake?  Hmmm...

Miracle 2:  Using the same rod, God transformed all of the standing and flowing water in Egypt into blood. The only water to be found was the ground water which God mercifully left for them (Exodus 7:24). And, evidently they must have gone out quickly and dug for some of that water because the servants of Satan mimicked the miracle (Exodus 7:22), giving Pharaoh the excuse he wanted in order to ignore the demands of this god named Moses (Exodus 7:1) ... and his sibling prophet.

It appears that the population probably spent the next week digging for water... that is, until perhaps the waters from central Africa began to make their way into the land replacing some of the bloody awfulness which was there (Exodus 7:25).

Despite the stench and the hardship and the horror and the power of this first plague, Pharaoh was still very far from being persuaded to release God's people.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday - Exodus 6 - Who's Who

The main character in the book of Exodus is not Moses. The main character is God.

In this chapter God reintroduces Himself and His team. Here is an attempt at what the emcee's notes might have looked like (to be read aloud and with Alan Kalter styled intonations).


1.         JEHOVAH: once known as "the God who is strong," now He goes by the description "the God who exists."
2.         Israel:  a suffering nation that is destined to be rescued, despite their pain induced spiritual deafness.
3.         Reuben, Simeon & Levi: three tribes... descendants of Jacob's three eldest sons. Their fathers were condemned by Israel on his deathbed (Genesis 49:3-7), yet God is reviving their honor.
4.         Moses: the human instrument of deliverance who is currently on a steep upward climb... almost completely alone. Except for his brother Aaron, this man this feels like he has NO support and is therefore suffering from an incompetence complex.
5.         Pharaoh: a faulty vessel who is essentially worthless, yet he is about to experience an unparalleled admixture of God's patience and wrath (Romans 9:22).
6.         Aaron: the brother of Moses; the first Levitical high priest of Israel; the father of the infamous Nadab and Abihu; the father of the famous Eleazar and lthamar; the grandfather of Phinehas.
7.         Gershon, Kohath and Merari: their descendants will play major roles in the religious development of early Jewish history (Numbers 26:57).

After these announcements, one might think that Moses would have been grounded somewhat; comforted, reassured and more confident as a result of the clear indication that God had a magnificent plan which was only commencing. But, no, instead Moses waffled and worried. He sawed on his violin and whined, "I'm ill prepared. My people won't even listen to me, how can I expect that the king of our oppressors will? My mouth is deficient (Exodus 6:12 & 30)." Of course, his excuses were falling uselessly on deaf ears. Especially Moses' excuse that he wasn't a good speaker: God had already answered that excuse (Exodus 4:12) and cured his "problem" (Acts 7:22).

The stage is set.  The actors are in place.  Now get ready for some fireworks!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monday - Exodus 5 - Sometimes Obedience SEEMS to Backfire

The Jews were convinced easily enough... for the time being. But, Pharaoh wouldn't break so easily. Actually, he was never to be broken. He would die unconvinced ... trying to drive a wheel less chariot in pursuit of the Hebrews that he hated (Exodus 14:25).

Just as God had said it would be, Pharaoh didn't know, fear or respect the God of Israel and therefore he refused to submit to Him (Exodus 3:19). His only concern was the work that "his slaves" were supposed to be doing.

Hypothetically, can you imagine how much God would have blessed Pharaoh and Egypt if they had readily obeyed the Word of the Lord and sent the Hebrews on their way? But, it wasn't to be. The Egyptian Pharaoh thought he was a god, so he had no intentions of allowing anyone else to control him. He was a man of amazing ambition and stubborn foolishness.

In response to the request of the Levite brothers to let his workforce go worship, Pharaoh actually made the tasks of the Hebrews even more difficult. His perspective was that they had too much time on their hands if they had space and energy to imagine and organize a trip. He cut off their supply of brick-straw while demanding that they not only maintain their quota, but produce even more. He figured they had time to find their own straw-substitute for their brick making responsibilities. What a jerk, eh? Yet, the revelation of his arrogance had only just begun.

When Moses and Aaron came out from Pharaoh, instead of gathering the nation for a grand exit... they had to see their people scattering frantically in search of whatever stubble they could glean. It was not the product they had hoped for from their meeting with the king.

The people were understandably distraught. Except for the land right next to the Nile River, Egypt was a desert. It's hard to imagine that the properties which were devoted to agricultural endeavors would have been freely available for the Jews to peruse through in their efforts at picking up stubble.  Clearly they struggled. They didn't meet the demands of their master and they were beaten because of their failure   (Exodus 5:14-16).

"Thanks for nothing, guys!  Look what you got us into!"  That was the response of the Israelite leaders when   they saw Moses and Aaron next. To say the least, Moses was discouraged. Even though God had told him that it would be this way (Exodus 4:21), Moses was at his wits' end. His heart's cry was evident in his prayer to God: "Why is it that You have sent me? You haven't delivered Your people at all. Their condition is worse now than it was before I came. What's going on?!"  (Exodus 5:22-23).

Q: What do you do when your obedience seems to make your state worse instead of better? A: Obey God anyway.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saturday - Exodus 4 - Convincing

Maybe his doubts and fears revolved around himself just as he claimed ... or maybe not. I don't know. Either way, Moses needed some convincing.  He was truly a man of faith. Hebrews 11 states that fact irrefutably. Still, he hesitated enough times that he set God off (Exodus 4:1, 13 & 14).  It sure seems like he wanted out of the job.

Moses almost didn't make it back to Egypt. Though all of Abraham's descendants were supposed to live under his covenant, Moses had evidently neglected to circumcise his son in respect of that covenant.

Moses' impious inaction displeased God so much that He was willing and ready to kill him because of it (Exodus 4:24). Only after Mrs. Moses circumcised the young man (in a crude emergency operation on their journey back toward Egypt) did God allow them to proceed unharmed (Ex. 4:25-26).

Now, Moses had to convince the nation that they were supposed to follow him. And, through the miracles that God worked before them, they were indeed convinced (Exodus 4:3 1). Strangely though, it seems like maybe Aaron did the speaking and the miracles in front of the Jews (Ex. 4:16 & 30).

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday - Exodus 3 - The Invisible God Exists

From a burning bush, the shepherd Moses (at the age of 80) received an assignment from God. Moses was to return to Egypt from whence he had come. He was to bring his nation back to the same mountain were the burning bush was.

Exodus 3:6 says that from the bush Moses heard, "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Now, Moses' reaction was natural enough. He did what anyone would do. He "hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God." When an unholy and unrighteous weakling is brought into the presence of the holy and righteous Almighty, shame and fear are appropriate. But, the situation begs an interrogation. This "looking upon God" thing... what's that all about?

1Timothy 1:17  says plainly that our God is invisible. What is the point in or
possibility of the seeing of anything that is invisible? It's like wanting to smell the rainbow or listen to the sun shine. It's like desiring to taste thunder or to touch an aroma. The sensory interests don't seem to fit with the reasonable possibilities. Yet, we read in Hebrews 11:27 that Moses had indeed "seen Him who is invisible" back when he was still in Egypt. Not only that, Exodus 33:18-20 says that he later asked to see "God's glory" and was told that he wouldn't survive it.

In the New Testament it is written that no man has ever seen God (John 1:18, I Timothy 6:16 & I John 4:12). Yet, the prophets Micaiah, Amos and Isaiah all claimed to have seen Him (Isaiah 6:1, Amos 9:1 & II Chronicles 18:18).

Essentially the answer can be summed up in one word; faith (Hebrews 11:1).  We must believe what the Scriptures says.  Look at John 1:18 again: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Thursday - Exodus 2 - Moses

This man was a servant of the living God. He wasn't an average tool though. Deuteronomy 34:10 says that "there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face ..." By God's grace, he WAS very special (Jude 1:9).  He was to become the first prime minister of the greatest nation in history… and the author of the first five books of the Bible.

He was a Levite. His parents were Amram and Jochebed.  According to the New Testament, his father and mother willfully disobeyed the current infanticide law "because they saw he was a proper child" (Hebrews 11:23 & Acts 7:20).

At three months old he was too loud for them to hide him in their house any more. So, they finally “obeyed” the king... they "threw" baby Moses into the Nile (Acts 7:21). They put him into the river in a floating basket and assigned his older sister to watch over him. Whatever their strategy was all about, God used it. God caused Moses to be found, accepted and protected by one of Pharaoh's own daughters. On top of that, Jochebed became Moses' paid nurse.

Read Hebrews 11:24-27 to find out how and why Moses left Egypt at the age of 40. Then, over the next 40 years he lived in obscurity, became a father and waited (unwittingly) until God was ready to use him as the deliverer that he had originally understood himself to be (Acts 7:25) when he had killed the Egyptian oppressor (Acts 7:24).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday - Exodus 1 - A Nation is Born

At the end of the last chapter we said goodbye to Joseph. But, not only did Joseph pass from this world and thereby from our narrative, so did "all his brethren, and all that generation” (Exodus 1:6).  And, over the next few centuries Israel's descendants proliferated until they had outpaced the Egyptians both in number and in strength (Exodus 1:7 & 9). So great was their prosperity and success that their presence birthed fear and jealousy in the hearts of the aboriginal inhabitants of that land. As such, anti-Semitism was born.  With only periodic and brief episodes of intermittent peace, God's elect people have been suffering ever since.

Chronicling the pains of God's chosen people will consume much of our time, space and attention as we continue on our study.  See, from time immemorial the Israelites, and the most precious Israelite (Christ), were assigned to a difficult path (Revelation 12:1-6 & 13:8).  And, in the case of the nation, much additional stress has been added to their lot by their own lack of faith (II Kings 21:15; Romans 11:3 & 20).  Someday, however, all of the pressures and miseries of the Jews will come to an abrupt end... and they will inherit all that is rightfully theirs according to God's holy promise (Exodus 32:13).

Meanwhile back in Egypt, the Pharaoh was ignorant of his nation's history. He didn't know how a great Israelite named Joseph had once rescued his land from starvation. With evil and cruel intentions Pharaoh led his people to enslave the Hebrews. Amazingly, as the slave drivers afflicted and abused the Jews with rigorous assignments and burdensome requirements, the people increased even more. God blessed them so that the intended effect wasn't possible. And, while God despised the domineering brutality and demanding inhumanity of the Egyptians (Leviticus 25:43 & 46), He was using it to prepare and motivate his people for an eventual departure from Egypt.

The Egyptian people were so grieved by their inability to stop the multiplication of these transplanted people that their fearful and jealousy cruelty became murderous hatred. Their profligacy is seen in the fact that Pharaoh even ordered the midwives (who delivered the Hebrew infants) to abort all of the males at birth. He hoped to thin their ranks through this subversive and satanic plan. But, it failed. The midwives feared God more than man (Exodus 1:17 & Acts 5:29). They deceived the wicked king and protected the helpless children.