Monday, August 14, 2017

Exodus 4:18-23 comments: Israel is my son...

18 ¶  And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace. 19  And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. 20  And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. 21  And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. 22  And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: 23  And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

See the comments on Exodus 2:16-22 about the two names of Jethro/Reuel. He does not tell Jethro what he has seen or heard or what his mission truly is, just to go back to see if his brethren yet live. God encourages him that those that wanted his death are no longer living. So, he took his wife and sons and began the journey back into Egypt. It must have been with a lot of emotion, self-doubt, and perhaps, not a little fear. God not only tells him to perform the wonders but that they will not make the Pharaoh let his people leave. In fact, God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh that the people of Israel are collectively God’s son, His firstborn. And, if Pharaoh doesn’t let Israel leave, God will kill even Pharaoh’s eldest son.

Verse 22 is an important prophetic verse. There are other verses by cross-reference to compare.

Hosea 11:1 ¶  When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

That verse is applied to Christ by the Holy Spirit in;

Matthew 2:15  And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

Then there are these verses;

Proverbs 30:4  Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?

Malachi 3:16  Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17  And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18  Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.

These verses point backwards to Israel and forwards to Christ and His body on earth, the church. An interesting point is made under the Law regarding this as well. In prophetic terms, the following verse is one of the foundations for showing that God is not done with Israel, lest the church, Christ’s body on earth, be swelled up in its thinking.

Deuteronomy 21:15 ¶  If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: 16  Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: 17  But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

So, God has given specific instructions to Moses to say a specific thing to Pharaoh, a warning that if he does not let the people go God will kill his eldest son. Moses will be warned personally about this judgment probably due to his doubts and hesitation. Connect this verse 23 with what comes next. The duty and place and heritage of the eldest son was discussed in the comments on Genesis. There was no greater person in a family besides the father himself. To lose the eldest son would be devastating. To lose him as a consequence of God’s wrath cannot be imagined. Apparently, Moses has not committed himself to the sign of circumcision for his own child of a Midianite women required for God’s people. This was the first sign of a Hebrew on his part that he would follow Jehovah God. First, God argued with him, encouraged him, offered alternatives, and gently led him. Now, though, Moses must be shown that God means business.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Exodus 4:10-17 comments: Moses still needs convincing

10 ¶  And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. 11  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? 12  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. 13  And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. 14  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. 15  And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16  And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. 17  And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

In spite of the miraculous signs Moses continues to make excuses for himself as to why he is not up to the task God has assigned. God counters with the fact that He made Moses mouth and not only that he made those who can’t speak, hear, or see. So, either way, whether you can do something or not do something it is of God. God tells Moses to go do what he has been told and God will provide the means and the ability. Notice here what Christ’s disciples are told.

Luke 12:11  And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: 12  For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

The heathen prophet, Balaam told King Balak;

Numbers 22:38  And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.

But, as inspiration given by God comes typically in the form of wisdom and understanding (Job 32:8; 2Peter 3:15) rather than word for word dictation, we can get rather disturbed when we find that people don’t often repeat exactly what God tells them word for word. Still, as it is said in Jeremiah;

Jeremiah 1:9  Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

This is the way the Bible comes down to those who believe it, not as the manual to your automobile or computer, but as God’s intention and design for you to speak, representing Him as His mouthpiece. But, this will become more clear later.

This is a difficult verse, verse 11, for most modern Christians. We have been taught that defects in our normal abilities including speech and sight are the consequence of genetics or disease. These are purely mechanistic causes. In other words, we were lucky or unlucky. Our handicap or our challenge is a negative thing that we are either ashamed of, perplexed by, or angry at or even all of the above. We are not taught to consider a specific purpose for our individual lives given by God. There is a norm and any deviation from the norm is considered an unhappy condition in which we find ourselves. In a particular instance in the New Testament Jesus was asked why a man was born blind.

John 9:2  And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3  Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

This particular man was made and made a certain way so that he would be there when God wanted to perform what is a miracle to us, revealing Himself in a special way. This is much like how God prepared the Pharaoh of Moses’ confrontations to set the stage for His power to be revealed. We are so vain and egotistical that we consider our lives to be for ourselves and our things to be purely for our enjoyment. We find it hard to imagine that God made us just so tall, just so heavy, just so handsome, just so pretty, just so athletic, just so intelligent, and just so clever for a reason. Most of humanity has no interest in finding out that reason or even questioning God about it. They just either lament their bad luck or glory in themselves.

Moses still objects, kindling God’s anger which will be the cause of a scene in a short while that is very perplexing to Bible students, the scene at the inn. Moses is not trusting God in accepting God’s power and control. He has to be shown. Moses is on a bit of a learning curve here. Imagine how he himself will be in wonder at the things God will do. We often ignore that in our understanding, that Moses, as well, was seeing things for the first time, things he could not have imagined. God promises to let Aaron, Moses’ brother, speak for Moses. Moses will tell him what to say as God tells Moses what to say. Aaron will be the spokesman with the words provided by Moses and God. Moses will do signs with the rod in his hand.

God’s foreknowledge allows Him to take into account Moses’ free will so Aaron has been prepared to assist a Moses who is not acting in complete faith. This weakness in his faith will be Moses’ undoing in the end when he is denied entry into the Promised Land. But, God uses weak vessels of clay to accomplish great purposes as Moses has been prepared to deal with the Pharaoh as almost a peer by his upbringing in the court. All the characters have been prepared by God for what is to come.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Exodus 4:1-9 comments: signs for the elders

1 ¶  And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. 2  And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3  And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4  And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5  That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. 6  And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. 7  And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh. 8  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. 9  And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

Moses expresses his doubts. The elders of Israel will not believe him, he says. But, God shows him a touch of the power that God will work through him. It is interesting here, as God turns Moses’ rod, the staff he uses for managing the flock from the word that also comes a scepter for rule, into a serpent. Here is an important point about Hebrew as well as Greek words.

The Holy Spirit, through Moses, uses the Hebrew word, naw-khawsh, for serpent, the same word used for the serpent who is Satan in the garden. But, in 7:9 & 10 serpent will be translated from tan-neem, which also is used in other places for a dragon or even a whale. But in 7:15 we come back to naw-khawsh again for serpent. As we have seen in Greek from our study of books in the New Testament it is pointless to look at a Hebrew or a Greek word and state that this or that is its exact meaning when the context determines meaning and while one word can be used for different ideas, more than one word can be used for the same idea. A study of the word, love, in the Greek text of the New Testament will produce little understanding if one runs off on a rabbit trail trying to use those words to delineate different kinds of love. The kind of love the Holy Spirit is explaining will depend on the context, not on the Greek word.

For instance, in the following passage different words for love are used and a great many mental gymnastics with the original Greek will take you off the road of understanding into the mire of the meaning of Greek words. For instance, several different Greek words are used for love in the New Testament but they all, in context, mean what we think of as love, not, though, the erotic or romantic kind.

After the resurrection, in John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him, which calls into sharp, painful memory that Peter had denied His Lord three times as Jesus predicted He would. And there are many other great sermons from that passage, I'm sure.
Here, a person who pretends to be a Greek expert is about to burst. He excitedly points out that the first and second time Jesus asks the question He uses the word Agape' for to love someone from esteem or respect and also used for divine love. Each of those times Peter responds with Phileo, the love that comes from friendship or brotherly love. The last time Jesus Himself uses Phileo and once again Peter responds with the same. The pseudo-scholar will say that this lends much more meaning to the conversation because Jesus is asking for a different kind of love, a divine love, which Peter is not capable of and this reflects a fundamental failure in mankind's capacity or willingness to love God in the right way blah, blah, blah.
What the person who likes to think he is more intelligent and knowledgeable than a Christian janitor who can read English has done is to reveal his own ignorance. Agape' and Phileo are words for love that are used interchangeably. No extra insight into these verses is gained by playing ping pong with them. In Matthew 6:5 hypocrites Phileo to pray standing in the synagogues, in Matthew 19:19 you are told to Agape' your neighbor as yourself, John 15:19 says the world won't Phileo the disciples, 1 Corinthians 16:22 says that if any man Phileo not the Lord Jesus Christ let him be Anathema Maranatha, and when we are repeatedly told to love our neighbor as ourselves with Agape' the Scriptures in no way imply that this is superior to our brotherly love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. I doubt anyone would imply that the kind of love Jesus says we are to have for each other, which distinguishes us as His followers, is inferior to the love we are supposed to have for a stranger who is in need.
Titus 3:4 doesn't have the love of God our Saviour toward man as Agape'. Paul's admonition in Titus 3:15 isn't Agape'. 1 Peter 1:22 uses both words for the same thought with Phileo first and then Agape'. Does knowing this change your understanding of the text? Does it help you know what you are to do? Is your lack of access or availability of access to the Greek a determinant of your ability to understand God's words? Finally, in Revelation 3:19 does it matter to you that Jesus Phileos here?
So, trust your English Bible and don’t be concerned about unbelieving preachers choking on nuances of meanings, offering “nuggets” of wisdom from the original languages that simply aren’t there.

Serpent is a serpent whichever Hebrew word for such a creature serpent comes from.

The incident of changing Moses’ rod into a serpent and back again is for the purpose of convincing the elders of the children of Israel, not the Pharaoh. Again, in the turning of his hand leprous and then healing him the purpose is to provide him a sign to show the Hebrews.

The Jews required a sign, Paul wrote.

1Corinthians 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks [Gentiles] seek after wisdom:

And God revealed Himself in signs and wonders on Egypt.

Deuteronomy 6:22  And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:

The third and last sign to convince the elders of Israel was to take water from the Nile and pour it onto the ground. It would become blood. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Exodus 3:16-22 comments: God gives Moses instructions

16 ¶  Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: 17  And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. 18  And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. 19  And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. 20  And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. 21  And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: 22  But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

God gives Moses instructions. Imagine the thoughts of the elders of Israel as this fugitive from Pharaoh’s court, wanted for murder, having disappeared for years not only returns but announces that Jehovah God, the God their fathers worshipped appeared to him and is intent upon delivering them from the bondage of Egypt and returning them to Canaan. It is a bountiful land and a land in which they will prosper. He and the elders are to go to confront Pharaoh, the most powerful man in their world with the power of life and death over them from whom there is no appeal, and demand that the people of Israel be permitted to go three days journey into the wilderness to engage in an act of worship to their God. God also tells him that Pharaoh will not let them go until a magnificent display of power from God forces him to do so. In fact, the Egyptians will be glad to get rid of them and will bestow on them much wealth and personal property in the form of precious jewels and valuable things.

You can imagine Moses’ consternation. You want me to what?!?! Here is an encounter between a finite, frail human being and the God of the universe. See things from each of their perspectives, not knowing versus all-knowing. Moses, in a movie setting, might be looking around for a rock to hide behind.

This brings up a valuable point. Notice that God tells Moses to lie to the Pharaoh. Even though it is highly unlikely that Pharaoh would release his slaves to wander into lands that are the possession of city-states subordinate to him and dependent on his army for protection, in the land of Canaan, the demand is only to let them go three days journey into the wilderness to worship God. This clears up the age-old nonsense question that philosophers and skeptics ask, “would a Christian hiding a Jew in their house be committing a sin if he lied to the Nazis and said he was not hiding a Jew?” When life is on the line and great injustice is being opposed what do you think? Are you justified in self-righteous smugness at saying, “I have not lied,” when you have allowed someone to suffer or die because of your feigned Godliness? This is not situational ethics, but simple common-sense. A lie told to save an innocent person’s life, to keep from crushing a person’s sense of self-worth and value, or to generally prevent a greater evil from taking place may be necessary at some point in your life.

As an example of hyperliteralism there are many heartless Christians who will say that since God has ordained marriage and proscribed divorce, except in very narrow circumstances but where the privilege of remarriage is denied, would tell an abused woman who is beaten down and whose life is in danger and even the lives of her children that she is sinning if she divorces her abuser. This way of looking at God’s word is clearly not the way God looks at it. Religion, like all systems of living and philosophies, does attract people who are rigid in their thinking and liberal in their self-righteousness. By focusing on such strict understanding of what God says He wants they can then overlook greater sins in their own lives.

Matthew 23:23  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Do what you know is right but as you form the way your convictions interact with your daily decisions keep in mind God's greater purpose.

But, back to the text, God knows what this Pharaoh will do. In fact, He has prepared this Pharaoh for this purpose.

Exodus 9:16  And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.

Paul refers to this in Romans but reveals to us the power of the written word of God giving us more to think about regarding the book we hold in our hands;

Romans 9:17  For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.

But, God will set up a scene for the display of His power and of His identity to the world of that time and for the future.

Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

In God’s ministry of reconciling man to Himself He has prepared a time when He will reveal who He is through His power over reality to the world at that time and to all of history. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Exodus 3:11-15 comments: God is because He is

11 ¶  And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12  And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. 13  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. 15  And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Moses begins to express his self-doubt and lack of confidence that he is the person who can do this job. God reassures him. In the exchange God tells Moses to tell the people of Israel who He is, simply I AM THAT I AM. God simply is. He is the source of all reality, time, space, and matter, of things invisible and visible, simply of all that can be said to exist and yet He is beyond that, too. God lives in eternity, limitless time, not one event after another that go on forever, but where all events that we would consider past, present, and future are now.

Isaiah 57:15  For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

 It is mind-boggling for us constrained in a finite body and mind. We learned in the Book of Job that all events, no matter how seemingly trivial, result from His direct will or by His permissive will. This is who He is. Nothing can happen from dust forming into a clod of dirt in a farmer’s field to a star bursting into a nova millions of light-years from earth without His involvement. He is the God their fathers worshipped.

When Christ stated these words a crowd fell back.

John 18:1 ¶  When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2  And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. 3  Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4  Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 5  They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 6  As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground.

Since Adam’s falling away from God by his disobedience men and women had been creating their own religions to appeal to the God-shaped space in their spirits that nothing else but God can fill. It is part of mankind’s legacy to believe in a world that is not part of this world of the flesh and matter. But, the God who created them has begun a work of reconciling man to Himself and we watched this progress through Genesis. Now, He is going to intrude Himself in a very visible way into the existence of the world’s great superpower, Egypt. If we take the Bible as the record of God’s ministry of reconciliation what is happening is amazingly clear.

Most of mankind is the enemy of the God who created them. God is making peace but in a way that, when eternity comes for us, we will know that we had nothing to do with it but to respond in a way that God already knew we would. He has that advantage of seeing the future as well as the past.

Moses is being recruited to play his part in a monumental work, perhaps the most important work of world history before Christ’s resurrection and after creation itself.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Exodus 3:7-10 comments: God declares His intention

7 ¶  And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8  And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. 9  Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10  Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God announced to Moses that he was aware of the suffering of the Hebrew slaves and planned on delivering them from their bondage. He would bring them into the land promised to them, the land of the Canaanite tribes. But, notice that God is going to use Moses as a vehicle of His deliverance as God often uses men to accomplish His purposes. We have a lot of negative words in this passage like affliction, cry, sorrows, oppression, and oppress along with positive notions in response like deliver, bring them up, a good land and a large, and unto a land flowing with milk and honey. While you might make a sermon about how God will deliver you from the bondage of your sin and turn your life around I like the thought that God came in the form of Christ to deliver us from death itself and Hell, to bring us up out of the agony and termination of this life, to deliver us from the bondage of death.

Hebrews 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17  Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Moses has knowledge and understanding of the Egyptian mindset, having been raised and educated with them. He knows the anguish of being a Hebrew and an outcast as well, a stranger in his own land, among his own people. Although he himself did not suffer being a slave any more than Christ suffered in Hell he and Christ did understand the suffering of the people whom they came to save, their suffering and their fears.

Hebrews 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9  And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Moses as a type of Christ begins to break down at Moses’ all too human doubts and his eventual disobedience that denies him entry into the Promised Land. But, this is a play in which God the Creator plays all the parts, as Christ representing the suffering multitudes trapped in the body of this death, a phrase Paul used in Romans 7:24, although without the sin that Paul was lamenting, and the deliverer who saves His people.

Moses lacks the foreknowledge and intent of purpose to be too much like Christ, as well as the obedience to and trust in God the Father. But, he is a chosen vessel to bring God’s word of deliverance from bondage to his people, as even we are. So, there is another view of Moses in type, as the Christian who is uncertain, perhaps unwilling, even afraid, to offer a testimony to the lost and is only able to with God’s power on him or her.

The point is, your people are dying and they are terrified of it, even as modern culture tries to insulate us from death and the bondage it holds over our imaginations and desire to live. We say, like the frightened child singing in the darkness they fear, “death is a part of life,” but that is a lie. Death is an aberration and, in fact, is part of the judgment over which Satan has, I am sure, gleeful control. Even evolutionary biologists who do not believe in God insist that death is not necessary to input into the definition of biological life.(1)  God will use you, who escaped from death itself, to go back into the Egypt of this world and bring the message of deliverance to God’s people, while God Himself does the delivering and defeats Satan, whom the Pharaoh is in type.

Luke 10:18  And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

Colossians 2:13 ¶  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15  And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

And again;

Hebrews 2:14 ¶  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The ideas presented here are incomplete, of course, and there have been many great sermons on the ideas brought forth by this passage of Scripture but the typology, the metaphors, and the comparisons seem almost endless. I’m sure you can do better than I’ve done.

Let’s go back to the passage in question. God has announced who He is and has declared His intention of sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring Jacob’s children out of Egypt.

(1) William R. Clark, Sex and the Origins of Death (London: Oxford University Press, 1998), 54.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Exodus 3:1-6 comments: a fire in the desert

1 ¶  Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. 2  And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3  And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5  And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6  Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Moses leads the priest of Midian’s flock to a remote part of the wilderness, the backside of the desert. The mountain of God, even to Horeb shows that by connecting with the word even that Horeb is the mountain of God.

1Kings 19:8  And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.

Sinai was the name of the area.

Exodus 19:1  In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2  For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

So, Sinai and Horeb will be used interchangeably for the name of this mountain.

1Kings 8:9  There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

Exodus 31:18  And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God…32:4  And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

Psalm 106:19  They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

Malachi 4:4 ¶  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

The angel of the LORD is one way the presence of Jehovah God is manifested in our reality.

Isaiah 63:9  In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

The angel of the LORD is Jesus Christ who led the Hebrews in the wilderness.

Judges 2:1 ¶  And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

Which the New Testament makes very clear is God Himself.

Galatians 4:14  And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 1:3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

God the Father, the soul of God, the seat of His will, is a spirit and cannot be seen.

John 4:24  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 1:18  No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

But, in this case, God manifested Himself in a bush that burned but was not consumed, in a fire that did not consume. This attracts Moses’ attention and God speaks to him out of the fire.

Then, God demands that Moses respect that the area around this bush is holy ground, separate to God. Here is one definition of what it means to be holy or separated unto God. But, just remember that it is separated unto God by God. Something is holy because God says it is holy, not because you say it is holy.

Numbers 6:5  All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.

In the following verse God requires the successor of Moses, Joshua, to show the same reverence.

Joshua 5:15  And the captain of the LORD’S host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.

It is then that God identifies Himself as the God of Moses’ ancestors, the fathers of the Hebrew people. Moses was afraid to look at this presence of God.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Exodus 2:16-25 comments: The Pharaoh dies while Moses is in Midian

16 ¶  Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters: and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17  And the shepherds came and drove them away: but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18  And when they came to Reuel their father, he said, How is it that ye are come so soon to day? 19  And they said, An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds, and also drew water enough for us, and watered the flock. 20  And he said unto his daughters, And where is he? why is it that ye have left the man? call him, that he may eat bread. 21  And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. 22  And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land.

The priest of Midian, we will come to know as Reuel and as Jethro. It is not uncommon for a person to have two names. For instance, my brother’s name is Douglas and also Brent as at different times of his life, for various reasons, he has preferred one over the other. In addition, we have seen that some names in the Bible that appear to be given names are actually titles. It is possible that either Jethro or Reuel is a title or it is likely that they are both names for the same person.

I suspect Reuel is a personal name, used only once here, regarding his daughters, and Jethro, which we will come to later, is a more formal name.

Moses, a bold man, probably skilled in the warrior arts of Egypt, defended the daughters of the priest of Midian in their efforts to feed their own flock of sheep against shepherds who apparently bullied them.  He was given sanctuary by the priest of Midian and eventually a daughter to take as a wife, named Zipporah. She bare him a son named Gershom, which in the context means a stranger in a strange land to be understood as a foreigner. Moses suffers the worse kind of alienation. He did not belong anywhere. As the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter he was always a Hebrew yet his own people regarded him as a member of the oppressing Egyptians and now he has fled as a fugitive to seek refuge in a desert place with people who were not his people. Sometimes, we know that God has to bring us to a desert place in our lives to prepare us for His use, a state of mind where we feel as if we have no place where we belong.

The stage is being set by God for some great events in God’s plan of reconciling man to Himself, nothing like of which has been seen since the Flood of Noah’s time or the dispersal at Babel.

    23 ¶  And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.

The Pharaoh that sought to kill Moses has died. But, the descendants of Jacob are still struggling as slaves under hard work. They prayed to God for deliverance. It must have been pretty painful. We have only to look at our own experience with racial slavery in America to see how awful it can be to live under those conditions; a despised, hated race serving in hard bondage to masters and mistresses who can have you killed and do whatever they wish to your person. But, God’s plan is unfolding in His own time.

We do not know who these Pharaohs were although many have tried to guess. One problem is that kings were not liable to make monuments to their defeats only their victories. In fact, like the communist North Vietnamese in the war with America and South Vietnam who declared every defeat a victory, it is more likely that the ancient kings would twist the truth to glorify themselves. Be careful about accepting scholarly opinions which are based on limited and tainted evidence as most of the truth of history is buried in the dust and no amount of archaeologists’ spades and shovels will ever dig it up. Trust the Bible only, God’s preserved words given to us for our learning and understanding. As Paul explained the purpose of these histories of God’s ministry of reconciliation of man to Himself;

Romans 15:4  For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Exodus 2:11-15 comments: Moses, a fugitive from justice

11 ¶  And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12  And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13  And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow? 14  And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. 15  Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.

Now, we have evidence that, unlike in a recent movie perversion of this Bible story, Moses’ past and ethnicity were not kept from him. He went out to see the burdens placed on his brethren. He had not grown up ignorant of who he was and where he came from. We don’t know how this played out in his life, if he was mocked or derided because of who he was or if the protection of his adopted mother, Pharaoh’s daughter, prevented that.

He saw an Egyptian hitting a Hebrew, one of his brethren, and thinking no one saw him, killed the Egyptian and buried his body. Clearly, Moses’ upbringing did not keep him from rage at the injustice being done to his brethren. Like one of the slave rebels in the Southern United States before the Civil War such as Nat Turner or Denmark Vesey, to a lesser extent, his rage manifested itself in violence. Moses’ act did not seem to involve premeditation, though, except that he looked first to see if he was being observed and mistakenly thought he was not.

A lesson is learned here for us that even when a member of a despised race is given privilege in the oppressor culture it does not necessarily prevent them from empathizing with their own people in their suffering. It’s a blood thing.

Moses, the next day, cannot understand, as many African-American activists like Malcolm X have commented on, why the Hebrews who are beaten down resort to beating each other. But, instead of understanding he gets the accusation thrown in his face, the acknowledgement that he is guilty of murder. There were witnesses.

Here in verse 14 we have a way the Bible defines itself presented to us as well as evidence of the authority of an ancient ruler to lead and to judge. See in this verse that a prince and a judge are synonyms. Note the cross-reference here as the martyr, Stephen, inserts ruler for prince in this allusion to verse 14;

Acts 7:27  But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?

This combined the roles of political leader and judge of civil matters is something we have separated in our form of government. The Founders of America, basing the idea of separation of powers on the writings of the French political writer and Enlightenment philosopher Baron de Montesquieu in his book The Spirit of Laws, fell upon this idea as essential to good governing. But, in the ancient world the absolute ruler was not only a leader but he made laws and judged cases. See this reference to God Himself in Isaiah.

Isaiah 33:22  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

The God of creation is the absolute ruler of the universe from whom flows all the laws of physics and, indeed, all reality, and from whom there is no appeal. We can only seek His favor, His blessing, His kindness, and His mercy.

It probably did not take much to give the Pharaoh a justification to kill this Hebrew upstart whom his daughter saved against his will and command years before. But, Moses fled to the desert, to the land of Midian.

Midian was the son of Abraham and Keturah, his wife after Sarah died. Strong, in his dictionary, calls them Arabs. Some authorities say they dwelt in the northwestern Arabian peninsula on the east coast of the Gulf of Aqaba, on the northeastern tip of the Red Sea. This will be important later for the exodus from Egypt. As the earth continued and continues even today to dry out from the disaster of the Great Flood this desert region may have had more vegetation then than it does today. 

Paleoclimatologists who study evidence of ancient weather suggest that it was greener and wetter in years past than it is now. Some of what are thought of as the oldest human remains have been found there.

In the Bible, a desert is a wilderness, with sparse populations of humans or none at all. See the synonymous relationship between desert and wilderness with solitary and dry and desolate.

Exodus 19:2  For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.

Deuteronomy 32:10  He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.

Isaiah 35:1  The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.

Jeremiah 50:12  Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.

And here, in this passage of prophecy against Israel that defines what without form, and void from Genesis 1:2 means, the unstable and empty earth, a wilderness, we see;

Jeremiah 4:23  I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. 24  I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. 25  I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26  I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. 27  For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.

Today, this area is called the Tabuk province or region, one of the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia.  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Exodus 2:1-10 comments: Moses adopted by Pharaoh's daughter

1 ¶  And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2  And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3  And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink. 4  And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

Here is described a marriage between a man and a woman from the tribe of Levi, the family of Levi, or, as it says here, the house of Levi. The son she bore was healthy and strong, a goodly child. To keep him from being murdered she hid him as long as she could and when it was impossible to hide him she built a small waterproof container and placed him in the river near the bank with his older sister watching from a safe distance. There is a reason for her actions and she is not just abandoning the child. Remember the Ark that carried Noah and his family through the worst natural catastrophe to hit the earth, the great Flood.

    5 ¶  And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river’s side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6  And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews’ children. 7  Then said his sister to Pharaoh’s daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8  And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child’s mother. 9  And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. 10  And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.

It doesn’t say that the Pharaoh’s daughter immersed herself or went swimming. It says that she came down to wash herself. As there were several gods associated with the Nile River, which allowed Egypt to exist as a great civilization in the desert, she may have been performing a ritual ablution. We can’t be sure, going by the literal text. It is not likely that the Pharaoh’s daughter would be swimming naked in the river especially considering the animals that lived in the river. We will learn later the religious significance of washing oneself in the Law given to Moses. In any event, she and her attendants were walking by the river’s side when they saw the little ark, like a small boat, sitting in the reeds.

The word flags refers to the reeds and rushes from which they derived papyrus, early paper for documents.

Job 8:11  Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?

Isaiah 19:6  And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.7  The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more.

Isaiah 35:7  And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.

She easily identified the baby as a Hebrew child but had mercy on the child. The baby’s sister, who had been watching close by, offers to get a nurse for the child, seeing the Pharaoh’s daughter wanted to save the baby. So, in this way the baby’s mother was able to nurse him and care for him for the Pharaoh’s daughter until he was weaned. He became the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, who named him Moses because he was drawn out of the river and that’s what the name means, drawn out.

The son of Pharaoh’s daughter would have, in all likelihood, been raised and educated with all of the worldly learning of the Egyptian royalty. Some authorities say that Egyptian children stayed with their mothers until around the age of four. The Prince’s school in ancient Egypt, according to a source I read, taught history, writing, and math based on a ten point system. It taught arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, as well. Geography, science, and medicine rounded out the lessons. The hieroglyphic, picture style of writing was very important. You have seen this type of writing where the characters were, as in Chinese and Aztec, pictographs. In this writing there was a tremendous religious significance rather than just a utilitarian one of communication. While this is, perhaps, an oversimplification, this is a general way to understand the general concept of writing. This will become very important in a few chapters.

Moses was most likely raised in the arts of war and peace and in governing. The Egyptian leadership was a top-down organization with the Pharaoh the supreme authority and we have seen the tendency toward government control of everything by what happened in Joseph’s time. Keep these things in the back of your mind as we move forward in Exodus. While we don’t know for certain from the text what Moses was taught we can be sure he wasn’t raised in a box. 

Here, in this passage we can see God's hand in moving His ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself forward in small steps, using mankind's choices whether good or bad to further His plan.