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.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Exodus 1:15-22 comments: Pharaoh gives an order for murdering male Hebrew babies

15 ¶  And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: 16  And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. 17  But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. 18  And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? 19  And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. 20  Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. 21  And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. 22  And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

Apparently, the midwives had a sort of hierarchy, perhaps official even, with Shiprah and Puah as their leaders. Common sense dictates that two midwives could not handle the population. The Pharaoh gives his command to kill male babies. This they did not do. The midwives’ leaders underscored the strength and health, the vigor, of the Hebrew women while exaggerating to justify their disobedience to this human king and their loyalty to God. They disobeyed the civil authority because to obey would have been disobedience to God.

In Genesis 30:3 comments I talked about the phrase she shall bear upon my knees.

In verse 16 see the reference to birthing stools. The modern child-bearing position is on your back. The ancient was sitting on someone’s knees or a stool, a birthstool, pictures of which relics can be found on the internet if you are interested. I have read, though I cannot confirm, that birthstools were used in Europe during the Middle Ages. One Jewish source I read reported that ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics show the development of a chair type device with a hole where the seat is normally, much like a toilet seat today.

God blessed the midwives and made them houses. Now, lest you think God is in the business of building suburban developments near Cairo understand that a house can be a family, or a dynasty, that goes on for generations.

Exodus 6:14  These be the heads of their fathers’ houses: The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; Hanoch, and Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi: these be the families of Reuben.

1Samuel 20:16  So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.

As well as a building…

1Kings 9:10  And it came to pass at the end of twenty years, when Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the LORD, and the king’s house,

So, depending on the context house can be short for household as well including servants, wives, and children.

Genesis 45:2  And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.

So, a question for fundamentalists arises naturally from this. Is this reference following a physical building or a group of people characterized in type as a spiritual building?

1Corinthians 14:23  If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

How do physical buildings come together to meet? Seems an absurdity.

Colossians 1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence…24  Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

The church is Christ’s body on earth, not a building.

Acts 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

1Timothy 3:15  But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

So, what is the house of God, to the Roman Catholic ‘wannabes’ of Protestant fundamentalism, the Vatican’s auxiliaries? Has the gate of heaven reference in Genesis 28:17 confused you? Do you consider your specific church building, the place where your church meets, the ladder between heaven and earth? What about Christ in John 1:51? And what about these verses?

1Corinthians 3:16 ¶  Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1Corinthians 6:19  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

The Hebrews had a high birth rate and grew rapidly in number. Then, Pharaoh gives a wicked command to all of his people to murder the sons of the Hebrews as they are born, to throw them into the river.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Exodus 1:8-14 comments: a new king, a native Pharaoh over Egypt

8 ¶  Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9  And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10  Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11  Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12  But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13  And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: 14  And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

If the Pharaoh who welcomed Joseph and then his family was one of what scholars call the Hyksos or Shepherd-kings, who ruled over Egypt for a time, then this would be the return of a native-born Egyptian ruler. This would be a Pharaoh who represented the deep hatred and disgust the Egyptians would feel against the shepherds of Canaan. Here the great numbers of these immigrants from Canaan would make the Egyptians feel threatened and uneasy so they reduced this numerous people to slavery, building the treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

If Goshen was in northeastern Egypt, a possibility we discussed in Genesis, and these cities were there as well, then the area is called Lower Egypt as the part of Egypt adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the area of the Nile Delta, lush and fertile, the powerhouse of Egypt. It was a rich agricultural region and was where such things as the Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799 which helped scholars decipher hieroglyphics, the ancient Egyptian picture writing. There are a great many archaeological sites in this area.

The children of Israel’s lives went from the favored and plentiful existence of the welcome guest whose presence was made possible by the savior of the nation, Joseph, in a time of great want to despised slaves whose lives were made of hard, unending labor under mean-spirited overseers. It must have been quite a transition and there was probably much lamentation about the former days.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Exodus 1:1-7 comments: the exponential growth of the children of Israel

1 ¶  Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob. 2  Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, 3  Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4  Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher. 5  And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already. 6  And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. 7  And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

Genesis 46: 26  All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, all the souls were threescore and six; 27  And the sons of Joseph, which were born him in Egypt, were two souls: all the souls of the house of Jacob, which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten.

Deuteronomy 10:22  Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

Acts 7:14  Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.

The difference in numbers between Moses’ accounts in Genesis, Exodus, and Deuteronomy, and Stephen’s account recorded by Luke in Acts can be attributed to counting different people such as wives not mentioned in one. There are a number of very good explanations for why Stephen would count 75 people leaving for Egypt with Jacob and Moses would say 70 three times.

Look at the factors by which this family of less than 100 people grew. First, there is no mention in the Bible of widespread epidemics or virulent diseases yet. The first known epidemic in scientific literature and history may have been a Typhus epidemic in Athens, Greece in the middle of the first millennium BC, which killed upwards of 100,000 people. It was brought on by war and as many as 30 different microbes have been blamed for it. We will see God placing epidemics directly upon the Egyptians and their livestock.

We will also see indications of a high birth rate and of the hardiness and health of the Hebrews who had come to this land. How fast can populations increase is not only a subject of debate but has been seen as populations arise from great calamity. A high birth rate and abundant food resources can lead to relatively quick growth in population. When resources are abundant a population can experience what is called “exponential growth” and this leads to a rapid multiplication of individuals. If you add God’s supernatural purpose for multiplying the children of Israel you can imagine how amazing this could be.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Genesis 50:22-26 comments: in a coffin in Egypt

22 ¶  And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father’s house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years. 23  And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph’s knees. 24  And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25  And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26  So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Genesis, also known as the First Book of Moses, covers nearly half of history from the creation of the physical universe and life until the people that God carved out of fallen mankind for Himself are secure in Egypt. Egypt will be a nursery where this people can grow from a few into many. In God’s ministry of reconciliation, drawing mankind to Himself, Genesis lays out the first steps, dealing with man’s sin, using man’s foolish and often wicked choices, and going beyond anything that man himself planned to produce this end result of salvation for those who would receive God in the flesh for their salvation.

It began with a world much different than we live in today. Nothing was meant to die. As one non-Christian evolutionary biologist pointed out, which I referenced earlier;

Humans on rare occasions may survive to 120 years, some turtles to 200. But all animals eventually die. Many single-cell organisms may die, as the result of accident or starvation; in fact the vast majority do. But there is nothing programmed into them that says they must die. Death did not appear simultaneously with life. This is one of the most important and profound statements in all of biology. At the very least it deserves repetition: Death is not inextricably intertwined with the definition of life. (50)

But, Adam, the first man, stood by and watched his wife, Eve, get taken in by Satan’s rebellion against God, his desire to be God and then followed her lead. She was tempted by the three things that mankind has ever since then fallen to repeatedly.

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

1John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

As Jesus warned the religious of His day of walking on earth as a human being;

Luke 16:15  And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

Genetically, spiritually, psychologically, culturally, and in every way all human behavior was tainted by this willingness to exercise their free will to defy God’s commands and break fellowship with him. The result was death for all living thing, decay and corruption. Death became the primary cause of disruption of God’s perfect plan, a judgment on all of the earth for man’s sin. We alone bear the responsibility for all death from the African savanna to the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, from the hospital in town to a lonely hut in the wilderness.

Man suffered and suffers;

Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Hebrews 2:15  And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

And, in fact, all creation suffers because of man’s sin.

Romans 8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

Another atheist science writer notes with no hope of reconciliation;

The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored….In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference. (51)

These men have no hope nor do they have any understanding because they reject God’s revelation of His ministry of reconciling mankind to Himself. But we know the truth and should teach it to each other and to our children.

Now, God, the Creator of all things and master of all reality, has taken a people for Himself from out of a sin-darkened world through which He will insert Himself physically into this dimension of existence for a brief time as one of us while still being fully God. Thus ends the first book of the account given to Moses, the story of God’s ministry, His-story.

And so, the first half of history ends in a coffin in Egypt.

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

(51) Richard Dawkins, River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life (New York: Basic Books, 1995), 154-155.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Genesis 50:15-21 comments: Joseph's example to us

15 ¶  And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. 16  And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, 17  So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. 18  And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. 19  And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20  But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. 21  Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

We have no evidence that Jacob told his sons to make this request of Joseph. As far as we know this is pure self-interest and understandable as the brother whom they abused is the second most powerful man in their world’s great superpower. They plead with Joseph, through a messenger, not to seek revenge and then further the plea in person. But, they do admit the evil that they did to him in restraining him in the pit and selling him into slavery into Egypt those years ago.

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then, he gave an important statement about God’s permissive will that we all must understand if we are to understand reality.  This is akin to understanding through the book of Job how all reality, even the most simple thing like dust turning into a clod of dirt in a farmer’s field (see Job 38:38), is a function of His will. Man chooses to do evil; malicious violence, with harmful intent. God can and does use that bad intent to accomplish something for His purpose. You can’t escape His will, though try as you might.

This does not make our evil acceptable. The follower of Christ who believes in His resurrection and that He is the visible image of God, the body of God, and to see Him is to see God, and is the only way to God the Father, in other words, a Christian, is not to do evil so that good may come. In Romans 3 Paul condemns those who twist His words to make it sound like that is what he is implying, that we may do evil that good may come. Instead, we are to seek God’s complete and perfect will as he said in Romans 12.

Romans 12:1 ¶  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We are to keep our minds focused on what is right and good.

Philippians 4:8  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

And to permit the fruit or proof of having God’s Spirit indwelling us to shine from us.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Any so-called Christian who professes that they are willing to do evil so that God may bring something good out of it should be removed from the congregation and you should have no fellowship with them. You only action should be to pray for them, that they may be genuinely saved at some point before it is too late.

God used Joseph’s brothers’ human frailty and hatred of him as a youth to set up His temporal salvation of the people He was creating for Himself.

Joseph forgave and did not seek revenge for wrongs done to him. The Bible speaks often of forgiveness, particularly under the Law where there was a judgment for not forgiving.

Matthew 6:14  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:

Mark 11:26  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.

 Paul told us that revenge belongs to God.

Romans 12:19  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

 Joseph understood these things more than most Christians, particularly in dealing with wrongs done to them by the members of their own family.

Jesus forgave His brethren, the Jews, on the cross, for their ignorance.

Luke 23:34  Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do…

A willingness to forgive is a fundamental Christian principle although it does go against the American ideal of demanding respect from others and getting fired up if we don’t get our “propers.” In fact, we are so jaded that we will treat someone else in a cruel or thoughtless manner and then become incensed when they respond negatively. We then talk about forgiving them, as Christians, ignoring the fact that we were the original malefactors.

Joseph was abused by his brothers; kidnapped and sold into slavery. He rose to prominence in his new surroundings and was able to turn around and help his own family survive. He realizes God’s hand in these events and does not turn and rend his brothers. He promises to care for them and their families and does so. There are many lessons here for those of us going through trials and tribulations with our families. We must always realize, in every thing, God’s hand in the affairs of men who think they are in control, when they are not. Joseph is a prime example we should follow not some character in an action movie about ‘get-backs’ on people who have hurt you. Remember, though, the brothers are repentant. Forgiveness can only include restoration when there is repentance. That is an important lesson to learn, as well, as some fundamentalists demand women who are abused not only to forgive their tormentor but to restore a sincerely unrepentant tormentor to a position where they can do more harm.

Still, the important thing in this passage is the quality of Joseph’s forgiveness as he recognizes how God acted in his life. We see this more often than we admit if our eyes are open.