Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Exodus chapter five comments: the Pharaoh drops the hammer on the Hebrew slaves

1 ¶  And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. 2  And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

We don’t know how Moses and Aaron got an audience with the Pharaoh so apparently it isn’t important. But, they must have been accepted as representing the Hebrew slaves. Here, Moses does not tell Pharaoh what is to happen if he does not let them go. Pharaoh said he does not know the Lord. Isn’t it interesting that that mankind has degenerated into devil-worship, idolatry, to such an extent that of all the many gods in his pantheon of deities, the true God is not listed. Egypt’s gods justified Egypt and gave authority to its power structure and the sovereignty of its rulers, much as England, America, Russia, and Germany’s God did before World War One. Pharaoh, like many in the aforementioned countries, does not know the God whom Moses represents.

It is odd how even many Christians today do not know the God of the Bible. Their God is simply a personification of their own fears, bigotry, and paranoia. They have made a God in their image who believes what they do politically and morally and justifies their every concern. The 21st century Christian God is often a social God, a mirror of Christians’ expectations and beliefs.

    3 ¶  And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword. 4  And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. 5  And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens. 6  And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, 7  Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8  And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. 9  Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.

Moses and Aaron repeat their request for permission to go into the wilderness, supposedly to offer sacrifices to their God. Pharaoh here seems suspicious. He’s now going to make it even harder on the Hebrews. Apparently, he says, the Hebrews have it too easy so they are asking for this little holiday. So, he’s going to make them provide their own straw for bricks and yet not lessen the tally of bricks required.

The bricks the Hebrews made were composed of mud, water, and straw. Apparently, the Egyptians provided the straw before this.

Tale is a word meaning total count or tally, a word we use today.

    10 ¶  And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. 11  Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished. 12  So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw. 13  And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw. 14  And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?

    15 ¶  Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants? 16  There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say to us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten; but the fault is in thine own people. 17  But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD. 18  Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet shall ye deliver the tale of bricks. 19  And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task. 20  And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh: 21  And they said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to slay us. 22  And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23  For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.

The Hebrews are being punished severely for Moses’ and Aaron’s request so it appears to have backfired. The Hebrew overseers, beaten by their Egyptian taskmasters, confront Moses and Aaron and accuse them of making the Hebrews’ lives worse by their demands.

Moses’ original doubts are amplified. He, in turn, confronts the Lord. “Why have you done this? Why did you send me? This has caused nothing but trouble and you have not delivered them!”
Imagine thousands, tens of thousands, of slaves in danger of being worked to death, being punished for a request made by their spokesman who claimed to be representing their God who had come to deliver them from bondage.

This reminds me so much of the person who is held in bondage to sin who hears a preacher promise deliverance in Christ, then prays for that deliverance, only to find his or her plight worse than they ever imagined. This has happened to some of you, admit it. You heard the message, maybe repeatedly, then believed, but unlike what some evangelists tell you, when you got off your knees, got up from prayer, you found yourself not freed from the power of sin, but in a worse way than when you walked in the door or came through the tent flap.

For those of you who had that experience, remember how you were made aware of sins you never even knew existed in your heart?! What frightening and discouraging thing that can be. But, God is working and you must follow Him out of your Egypt.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Exodus 4:24-31 comments: and the people believed

24 ¶  And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. 25  Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me. 26  So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision. 27  And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. 28  And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him. 29  And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel: 30  And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people. 31  And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.

The inn, a place of lodging for travelers to Egypt, is mentioned in Genesis 42:27 and 43:21. We don’t know if this is a reference to the same lodging place mentioned in both books but since Moses traditionally is considered to be the main author of both books under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit one might assume it was.

Here is a scene, like many others, for which we are given little information and our imaginations can run wild. Did God appear as the angel of the LORD, the preincarnate Jesus Christ? This is clearly only a threat as God has plans for Moses beyond this. But Moses must be taught something here. The narrative is not always what we think it is. Compare the previous and future passages on circumcision for the Hebrews, the willful binding of a person and their family to God, to see how important it is that man make his small commitment in the face of God’s great mercy.

James 1:8  A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

Apparently, Moses is required to commit himself completely to God and to trust and believe Him. Part of this is the rite of circumcision of the males of one’s family.

Genesis 17:10  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14  And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

In this type of context, in Genesis, to be cut off means to be killed.

Zechariah 13:8  And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

2Kings 9:8  For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:

Ezekiel 25:7  Behold, therefore I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and will deliver thee for a spoil to the heathen; and I will cut thee off from the people, and I will cause thee to perish out of the countries: I will destroy thee; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.

Moses’ wife does the job for him in her frustration. Here is an example of a woman doing God’s will, and God accepts her act, when a man can’t or won’t do it. I am reminded of the modern Bible champion, Dr. Gail Riplinger. Consider this verse;

Jeremiah 31:22  How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

Or consider the judge, Deborah, and her commitment.

Judges 4:4 ¶  And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 5  And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. 6  And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 7  And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. 8  And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. 9  And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh.

Or Huldah, the prophetess, preaching to the king’s men.

2Kings 22:11 ¶  And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes. 12  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying, 13  Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. 14  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her. 15  And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,

Or consider Philip’s daughters.

Acts 21:8 ¶  And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9  And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

Here, we see that Aaron had already been sent to meet with Moses on the mount of God. They met, talked about what God had commanded them to do, and then met with the elders of Israel. Contrary to Moses’ prediction they were believed by the people.

Here is an example of one posture of worship, bowing one’s head. There are other postures of worship listed in the Bible which were discussed in Genesis, showing reverence, awe, and submission to the one worshipped.

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.