Archive for April, 2006
But, I like what the Matthew Henry Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible had to say:
It is here promised that they should be guided and kept in their way through the wilderness to the land of promise, Behold, I send an angel before thee, mine angel. The precept joined with this promise is, that they be obedient to this angel whom God would send before them.
How reasonable are the conditions of this promise; that they should serve the only true God; not the gods of the nations, which are no gods at all. How rich are the particulars of this promise! The comfort of their food, the continuance of their health, the increase of their wealth, the prolonging their lives to old age. Thus hath godliness the promise of the life that now is. It is promised that they should subdue their enemies. Hosts of hornets made way for the hosts of Israel; such mean creatures can God use for chastising his people’s enemies.
In real kindness to the church, its enemies are subdued by little and little; thus we are kept on our guard, and in continual dependence on God. Corruptions are driven out of the hearts of God’s people, not all at once, but by little and little. The precept with this promise is, that they should not make friendship with idolaters. Those that would keep from bad courses, must keep from bad company. It is dangerous to live in a bad neighbourhood; others’ sins will be our snares. Our greatest danger is from those who would make us sin against God.
I can vouch for this truth. For me, I can feel Him moving me towards Him little by little…sometimes it feels agonizingly slow, but those times I feel I’m being moved too fast, my nature tends to stiffen and resist. God knows exactly what He’s doing and just when to do it.
Avoid hanging out with those who would make you sin against God. Good word, Mr. Henry.
10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all these commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 Consequently, it is clear that no one can ever be right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 How different from this way of faith is the way of law, which says, “If you wish to find life by obeying the law, you must obey all of its commands.” 13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.
The encouragement today for me is to stop trying to live by the law, but to fall deeper in love with God. Christ has rescued us from having to obey each and every law, but took our sin upon Himself. My motivation to live right should be to please my God, rather than fulfill the law.
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomachand the stomac is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Since we’re on the subject, I wanted to throw in a free story from Pastor Dan Dunn. During my recent weekend at Tres Dias, he told of how the Asyrians used to execute prisoners in the worst, most horriffic way possible. They would teather a dead corpse to the prisoner. The prisoner would eventually absorb that dead body into their own. The living would eventually die an agonizing slow death. In this way, we should think about being joined with Jesus, so close to Him that we absorb Him and become one spirit with Him.Not much to do with Exodus 22, but this is what the Lord led me to today in my study.
Their government being purely a theocracy; that which in other states is to be settled by human prudence, was directed among them by a divine appointment. These laws are called judgments; because their magistrates were to give judgment according to them.
Life before political parties. How nice is that to think about!? There was no finger-pointing, no political debates, no campaign finance reform, no “drive-by media.” Law came straight from God.
Thinking about this as I read today’s chapter caused me to ask myself several questions:
1) Whose authority am I under?
2) Where did today’s laws come from?
3) Am I under the law?
I was reminded of what we read in Romans 6:
14 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God’s grace. 15 So since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. 18 Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness.
For some strange reason, I struggle with the mandatory seat belt law. Last night, I heard on the news that Florida is one of the few remaining states that police can’t pull you over because you aren’t belted in. But, it looks like that’s about to change.
I guess it says a lot about my rebellious nature, but when I get in the car I have to force myself to put on my seat belt. I mean each time I get in the car, it’s like a struggle in my mind – like the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. I resent that there is a law that requires me to wear my seat belt and I want to leave it off just as a matter of principle. But, I know that it’s the safe thing to do and there’s no good reason to leave it off. I recruited the help of my 8 year-old daughter, Jesalyn. If she catches me driving the car without my seat belt, I have to give her a quarter. She used to do quite well, but I’m starting to learn.
Bottom line: I must obey man’s laws, or else I’ll suffer the consequences. I must respect the government because God has ordained our local, state and federal government. Laws, then, come from God – not man – because He put them in office.
Do you struggle with any little law like this? Speeding, perhaps?
Rather than comment on each of the ten commandments, I asked the Lord which ones I particularly needed to focus on. It seemed pretty obvious as I read through. I was compelled to study the third commandment:
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”
Growing up, I understood this to mean that I was to never curse using the name of “God” or “Jesus.” I heard it all around me, even from Christians. I heard substitute words like “gosh” or “jeez” but wondered what the difference was. I knew there had to be more to this “taking His name in vain.”
One of the definitions of the word vanity (on dictionary.com) says this: Lack of usefulness, worth, or effect; worthlessness. I’ve come to understand “taking His name in vain” as something having more to do with what’s in our heart just as much as what comes out of our mouths. Do we call ourselves Christians, but not live up to that profession? Do we make promises to God, but not carry through? The other commandment that I felt I needed to hear again this morning is the fourth:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Somehow, I’ve got to get back to this practice – not for “religiosity” but for my health and to focus on God. My weekly schedule can easily rob me of this day with the Lord if I let it.
Thank You, Lord, for these reminders today. I want to take my responsibilities as a godly man seriously. I never want to cause others to think You are worthless to me. I do not want to serve You in vain. And, I want to honor You by keeping the Sabbath holy. You are worthy, Lord!
4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I brought you to myself and carried you on eagle’s wings. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the nations of the earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’
The people responded with, “We will certainly do everything the LORD asks of us.”
But when it came time, and God showed up, they were afraid:
16 On the morning of the third day, there was a powerful thunder and lightning storm, and a dense cloud came down upon the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. 17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain shook with a violent earthquake. 19 As the horn blast grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply for all to hear.
Let’s try a little interaction. Let me ask you a question. Why do you suppose God told Moses in verse 12:
12 Set boundary lines that the people may not pass. Warn them, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Those who do will certainly die!
And, again in verse 21:
21 Then the LORD told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to cross the boundaries. They must not come up here to see the LORD, for those who do will die.
And then in verse 24, He told Moses:
24 But the LORD said, “Go down anyway and bring Aaron back with you.”
The encouragement for me in this chapter, is that God needs us to be prepared to hear His Word. That may mean different things for everyone, but for me, I can’t expect to sit down for 10 minutes and expect to receive from the Lord as much as I would if I’d prepare: pray first, ask Him to show me something, make time to read and listen instead of rushing through. I can’t do that every morning, but I can tell a difference on those mornings I do.
Make time for God today!
I appreciate Jethro. He brought Moses’s wife and kids out to be with Moses, and he took the time to sit and talk with Moses. He ended up honoring him and encouraging him. They thanked the Lord together, they ate together and they made a sacrifice to God together.
Had it not been for Jethro and his wisdom, Moses may have continued to try to do all “the stuff” by himself. Instead, Jethro made a suggestion for Moses to set up trustworthy men as judges so they could resolve ordinary cases. This would free Moses up to decide on the more complicated or important cases. This would make the people happy because they wouldn’t have to wait, and this would free up Moses’ time so he would not burn out. Wise words to be sure, but did you catch the little phrase in verse 23?”
23 If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”
I’m talking about “and if God directs you to do so”. Jethro may think he has a great idea, but he encourages Moses to seek God about it.
I’m finally on the last few chapters of the book “Why Men Hate Going to Church” and there is powerful wisdom in there. This morning, I read a similar concept to what Jethro is describing about the concept of “spiritual fatherhood” and how it’s woefully lacking in today’s churches. The author, David Murrow, suggests setting up a solid foundation based upon this concept of spiritual fatherhood and gives an example of how one church in Texas did it. They set up the pastor over 12 men, then each of those 12 men over 12 men, and so on. One person interviewed had a “lineage” of 108 men and he knew them all by name and knew when one was in trouble and responded individually. This church is growing by leaps and bounds and there is no typical “gender gap” (where a church is usually comprised of a majority of women) and men actually enjoy coming to church.
Our pastors were not meant to do everything. Men need to step up in the church and become the leaders God intends them to be (and in their homes as well). Men want to follow God, but we’ve created a woman-targeted environment in our churches that simply turns men away. That’s what I love about Wildmen Ministries – encouraging men to step up and assume their rightful positions. That’s how we’re going to change the world.
We need each other, and as it says in Ecc 4:9-10, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble.”
Pray for your pastor today, men. Pray to understand your role in all this.
4 And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this so I will receive great glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his armies. After this, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!”
Can it be any clearer than that? If Moses had lead the now free Israelites down the obvious path to freedom, God would not have the same opportunity to demonstrate His power. If Pharaoh would have freed his two million slaves the first time Moses came and asked, God would not have the same opportunity to demonstrate His power (and Pharaoh would have been the laughing stock of the Egyptian community forever).
There are times we need to trust Him – even though our prayers seem like they’re going unanswered. If we had the obvious easy way out, then God would not receive the ultimate glory from our situations.
Unfortunately, the children of Israel reach the sea and feel trapped and start complaining:
10 As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the LORD for help. 11 Then they turned against Moses and complained, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? Why did you make us leave? 12 Didn’t we tell you to leave us alone while we were still in Egypt? Our Egyptian slavery was far better than dying out here in the wilderness!”
I love Moses’s response:
13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you. The Egyptians that you see today will never be seen again. 14 The LORD himself will fight for you. You won’t have to lift a finger in your defense!”
Can you imagine the impact this had on these people? They got to see a miracle of God who has the power to open up the sea (as if the whole pillar-of-cloud-and-fire-thing weren’t enough)! You’d think this would increase their faith (although it doesn’t seem to work for long). Now, imagine the impact this had on those that remained in Egypt! God showed His power that day!
Lord, forgive my doubts. I trust You, but I’m asking for more trust. Increase my faith by the reading of Your word.
Reading today’s chapter, I found myself fighting jealous thoughts. How cül would it be to have such an obvious, visible sign from God to follow? Oh, to have such rich traditions prescribed in eloquent detail for me and my ancestors to follow!
I don’t know about you, but my Christian walk frequently calls for more faith than I think I have (especially lately). I long for visible or audible signs from God.
Look at these verses in Exodus chapter 13:
18 So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea, and the Israelites left Egypt like a marching army.
21 The LORD guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. That way they could travel whether it was day or night. 22 And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from their sight.
Still, I don’t have these visible or audible signs. Promptings…sometimes. But for the most part, it’s a journey of faith and trust.
My encouragement is found in the book of John:
“You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me and believe anyway.” John 20:29
Increase our faith, Lord!
My family never was much for rich traditions. I have fond memories of holidays and family times, but there was no annual rituals in which we all participated in together. I have known families who are deep in these kind of traditions and strongly hold to the performing of these. I admire this practice.
I guess I wondered where these traditions came from. With Passover, there’s no question. God prescribes it with great detail in this chapter: what to eat, what to do, what to wear, etc. It’s pretty clear.
I started thinking that perhaps I’m missing out. Afterall, I am a Christian and after what Jesus did on the cross, that makes me “circumcised at heart.” Look what God says:
48 “If there are foreigners living among you who want to celebrate the LORD’s Passover, let all the males be circumcised. Then they may come and celebrate the Passover with you. They will be treated just as if they had been born among you. But an uncircumcised male may never eat of the Passover lamb. 49 This law applies to everyone, whether a native-born Israelite or a foreigner who has settled among you.”
Do you and your family share in any traditions? I’d be curious to hear about it…
11:10 Although Moses and Aaron did these miracles in Pharaoh’s presence, the LORD hardened his heart so he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave the country.
In chapter 7, we see another Godly “mind-control”:
7:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pay close attention to this. I will make you seem like God to Pharaoh.
Now, look in the first part of chapter 11 for a supernatural influence of a different flavor:
11:2 Tell all the Israelite men and women to ask their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (Now the LORD had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel, and Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt. He was respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike.)
God caused the children of Israel’s neighbors to favor them with riches.
I wish I could make all this make sense, but the truth is God’s ways are higher than ours. I have no idea why He couldn’t just cause Pharaoh yield the first time Moses went in. Why did countless horrible plagues have to occur? Why did many people have to suffer and die? I do know that I trust God. There will always be things I cannot fathom concerning the ways of Almighty God.
Perhaps it has something to do with reward. What do I mean?
Well, we see in this case how the children of Israel (through their own selfishness and sinfulness) were held in bondage for many years. The suffering and torture were tremendous. But God heard their call and not only rescued them from bondage, but gave them all the livestock, food, and riches they could carry with them. I don’t pretend to know the heart of God, but I do know this: He does not waste suffering and He will reward His own.
For me, when I read stories like this or about Job, I am content with the simple fact that I will never completely understand His ways until I’m with Him…and even then I have a feeling the learning process will continue!
Lord, increase my faith in You. You promise answers for those who seek wisdom. You promise reward for those who trust You. I declare my trust in You today, Lord.