Monday, February 28, 2011

Exodus 22 - Ordinances of Restitution

LINK: Exodus 22

BACKGROUND

We are continuing with more ordinances that extend beyond the Ten Commandments. Many commentators believe that these are not just a list of picky laws but "case studies" of God's principles in action. The objectives were (1) to protect the nation, (2) to organize the nation, and (3) to focus the nation's attention on God.

Here is a brief overview:

22:1-4 contains ordinances concerned with the theft of animals that expand upon the eighth commandment (20:15).

22:5-6 contains ordinances concerned with property damage.

22:7-13 contains ordinances concerned with safekeeping. Since there were no banks in the ancient Near East, neighbors were sometimes given personal property for safekeeping. These laws were set up in case there were problems.

22:14-15 contains ordinances concerning borrowing.

22:16-17 contains ordinances concerning sexual seduction and expanded upon the seventh commandment (20:14). A daughter was considered personal property. The loss of her virginity reduced her monetary value. So, the father had to be compensated. This custom is still followed today in parts of the Middle East. You might find it interesting that in Malaysia, where we lived for two years, the bride pays! We will learn later in Scripture that if a girl was seduced who was betrothed, she and the man were both stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:23-24).

22:18-20 contains ordinances concerning idolatrous practices. All three of the the things mentioned: sorcery, bestiality, and sacrifices to other gods were all practiced in that time. Bestiality is described in many ancient myths and epics. It was common in Canaanite Baal worship (Leviticus 18:23-24).

22:21-27 contains ordinances concerning the care of the needy because God is compassionate (21:27).

22:28-31 contains ordinances concerning reverence for God and rulers. They were to honor God with their first-fruits and firstborn.

REFLECTION

I hope your eyes are not glazing over, and you are still hanging in there with these various laws! I read something this morning that brought these laws to a more practical level:
What does the Bible have to say about television? How about Sunday football? Where would you turn in your bible to find daycare centers discussed? Or movies? Or smoking? What about birth control? Or rock music? Or recreation vehicles? Or horoscopes?
If you go to your Bible expecting a detailed answer for every situation you encounter today, you will come away disappointed and discouraged. Even the seemingly exhaustive regulations of chapters 20-23 leave much unsaid. But where God has seen fit not to provide particulars (either in Moses' day or in yours), He has supplied principles that help you to determine His mind in every situation. His Word, though ancient, is always relevant.


Expedients are for the hour;

principles, for the ages.
(The Daily Walk, January 2008)
APPLICATION

What are the "principles for the ages"? What are your convictions about various subjects based on those principles? What are some of your questions about life and conduct that might not be specifically answered in the Bible? Can you draw principles from your reading of Exodus 20-23 that will help you in making decisions in how you will live out your walk of faith?

PRAYER

Lord, help us to walk by faith in You. Help us to learn precept upon precept and line upon line Your Word so that our hearts and minds are so saturated with it that Your principles come out of our every pore. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Exodus 21 - Ordinances To Govern God's People

LINK: Exodus 21

BACKGROUND

Exodus 20:22 - 24:11 are an elaboration of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) of Exodus 20:1-17. It involves specific civil and religious ordinances. It is often called "the Book of the Covenant" based on Exodus 24:7.

Here is a brief outline of these ordinances:

20:22-26 were ordinances regarding worship and reiterate the first and second commandment.

21:1-11 were ordinances regarding the rights of male and female slaves. You may have observed that females were treated very differently than males! We have already learned in our reading in Genesis that female slaves were often concubines or second wives (Genesis 16:3; 22:24; 30:3, 9; 36:12, Judges 8:31; 9:18). Exodus 21:8 speaks of being "redeemed" if the female slave was not pleasing. This meant that a relative could free her by paying off the debt which forced her into slavery (Leviticus 25:47-55).

21:12-17 were ordinances involving criminal offenses that required the death penalty: premeditated murder (reiterating the sixth commandment); physical violence and verbal abuse against parents (both reiterating the fifth commandment); and kidnapping. Cities of refuge were for unintentional deaths and will be discussed in more detail in Numbers and Deuteronomy.

21:18-27 were ordinances concerning physical injuries that did not involve the death penalty.

21:28-36 were ordinances concerning injury through negligence.

No REFLECTION and APPLICATION today since we are in the middle of a section that goes until Exodus 24.

PRAYER


LORD, I praise You as the ultimate Lawgiver and Judge. Thank You that all Your ways are just. We acknowledge and submit to Your righteous judgment in our lives. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Exodus 20 - The Ten Commandments

LINK: Exodus 20

BACKGROUND

The Ten Commandments were the center of Israel's laws. This designation is given in Exodus 34:28 and literally means "Ten Words." It is also called the "Decalogue."

The Decalogue reflected the pattern of a contemporary royal (suzerain) treaty. It had a preamble where the king identified himself followed by a historical prologue in which the king identified his previous gracious acts toward his subjects. God does this by stating,"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (20:2).


The third part of a treaty involved the stipulations that are to be obeyed. God's stipulations in the treaty with His people are the Ten Commandments. The first four commandments were all about the relationship of the Israelites with God. The other six dealt with their relationships within their community.


The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Jesus said that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). I thought it would be beneficial to compare each commandment with Jesus' own words:


RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD


COMMANDMENT 1:  "You shall have no other gods before Me"


Matthew 4:10: "You SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY"


COMMANDMENT 2: "You shall not make for yourself an idol"

Luke 16:13: "No servant can serve two masters"


COMMANDMENT 3: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain"

Matthew 5:34:"Make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God"


COMMANDMENT 4: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy"

Mark 2:27, 28: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath"


RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS

COMMANDMENT 5: "Honor your father and your mother"

Matthew 10:37: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me"


COMMANDMENT 6: "You shall not murder"

Matthew 5:22: "Everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court"


COMMANDMENT 7: "You shall not commit adultery"

Matthew 5:28: "Everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart"


COMMANDMENT 8: "You shall not steal"

Matthew 5:40: "If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also"


COMMANDMENT 9: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor"


Matthew 12:36: "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment"


COMMANDMENT 10: "You shall not covet"


Luke 12:15: "Be on your guard against every form of greed"


(Adapted from the Life Application Bible, p.137)

REFLECTION/APPLICATION


I am challenged today to pray through the Ten Commandments and examine my life in light of them and the words Jesus gave regarding them. I have had a bookmark for years entitled "Let Your Prayers be Guided by the Ten Commandments." I am adapting this as I close in prayer today.


PRAYER


1. Lord, I pray that You will be worshiped above all else in our land and throughout the world.

2. I ask that You reveal our nation's idolatry as well as our own individual idolatry.
3. Lord, may Your name be honored and glorified, and I ask that You give us a fresh conviction about words of our mouth that dishonor You.
4. I praise You that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God and in Jesus there is rest! I pray that Your people will set an example of a Sabbath rest in You to the outside world.
5. I pray that, by our words and actions of love, we would honor and respect the parents that You have given us. 
6. Lord, show us where anger has led us to murder others in our hearts. Forgive us. Teach us to love others.
7. Lord, I pray that you would guide and put a hedge of protection around all the marriages reading with the Bible Book Club. I pray that you would restore the sanctity of the marriage bond in our world.
8. I pray that we would have a healthy respect for others in terms of their personal property and also in terms of their time.
9. Lord, please make us honest in all our dealings with others. Make us men and women of impeccable integrity to an outside and watching world.
10. Lord, root out the greed in our lives, break the grip that materialism has on us and the lives of our children. Help us to be people who understand that it is better to give than to receive. I pray we would be givers not only of our material possessions but even our lives.

Amen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Exodus 19 - Preparations for the Covenant at Sinai

LINK: Exodus 19


BACKGROUND


Exactly three months after the Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai. The events from Exodus 19:1 - Numbers 10:10 lasted 11 months and 6 days. The major event in this chapter is the preparation of the people for the acceptance of the Law. The Law is also called the Mosaic Covenant, and it is like the suzerainty treaties of the Near Eastern kings with their vassals. I will explain more about that in the future.

The God and King of heaven was about to make a treaty with His "vassals," and they needed to separate themselves from all impurity and consecrate themselves to Him. The preparations took three days. At the end of the three days, the God of heaven came to Sinai in all His power and glory. 

I wish I could have seen it! Only Moses and Aaron were allowed to ascend to the top of the mountain while the people and priest waited below. They had to stay there for they would have perished in the powerful presence of the Lord.

So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!” And Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.  (Exodus 19:7-8, NASB95)
Stay tuned to see whether they follow through on their part of the treaty!

REFLECTION 

God said to the Israelites, "I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself" (19:4).

Deuteronomy 32:10-12 says:
He found him in a desert land, 
And in the howling waste of a wilderness; 
He encircled him, 
He cared for him, 
He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. 
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, 
That hovers over its young, 
He spread His wings and caught them, 
He carried them on His pinions. 
The Lord alone guided him, 
And there was no foreign god with him.

This is such a beautiful picture of what God does for us. He does not want us to stay comfortable in our nests. He wants us to grow and fly and become strong, and this causes us to become closer to Him. Praise HIM!

APPLICATION

How long ago did you "hatch" as a believer?  It may be time to take some risks and fly. Talk to God about it. He will carry you and draw you to Himself! 


PRAYER


We are Your eaglets in training, Lord! Teach us to fly. Amen.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Exodus 17 & 18 - This is a Hold Up!

LINK: Exodus 17 & 18

BACKGROUND

Complaining reached new heights when the people started to quarrel with Moses (17:2) and were ready to stone him (17:4) when they got thirsty. I marvel at the patience of God toward an unbelieving, grumbling people because he tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb (the Sinai region) so that they can drink. Moses called the place Massah ("testing") and Meribah ("quarreling").

In this place, they also met up with the Amalekites. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau through Eliphaz (Genesis 36:12). In this passage, we also meet a new character who will play a major role in the next book: Joshua! This story is significant because Moses held the staff of God above his head with both hands in total dependence on God for the victory over the Amalekites. When he lowered his hands, the enemy won. Aaron and Hur had to help keep his hands up for the victory to be assured.

In Exodus 18, Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, visited and gave praise to God by sacrifices after he heard of all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He was a Midianite priest (Exodus 2:16), and the Midianites were idolatrous, but perhaps he now believed in Moses' God because he said to Moses "and may God be with you" (18:19).

This chapter concludes with Jethro giving Moses some sound advice about the delegation of his tasks.

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption

Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and discover for yourself the scarlet thread for today!

REFLECTION (Written in 2008)

In 1988, I was on a three-month trip in Bangkok, Thailand with sixteen other "twenty-somethings" from all over the United States. We did ethnographic research for five days a week, and one day a week we spent walking the hot, noisy streets of Bangkok praying for God to be glorified in that city, and I tell you, like the Israelites and the Amalekites of Exodus 17, it was a battle. Bangkok is one spiritually dark place!

During one of our team devotional times, our leader, Steve Hawthorne (author of Prayer Walking), taught from Exodus 17 in order to illustrate the importance of team. He said that just as the Israelites were in a physical battle with the Amalekites, we are in a spiritual battle with the enemy, and we need to "lift up each other's arms." In order to illustrate this, he had each of us, individually come to the center of the room so that that person could be supported by two other team members as that person lifted up his or her arms. Those two other team members (our "Aaron" and "Hur") prayed blessing, protection, and support over our lives.

It was one of the most powerful prayer experiences of my life.

APPLICATION

In borrowing from the cheesy High School Musical song:


We are all in this together!

Who are the "Aaron" and "Hur" in your life as you face the daily battle? Who props your arms up when you are tired? Whose arms are you helping stay up? We are the body of Christ, and we need each other!

I suggest you have at least two people in your life whom you can call, email, or text to ask for prayer through the battles of your life. I call my little band of women my "Go to Girls," and they help we weather the storms, and I help them. 


PRAYER


Lord, thank You for Your word that challenges us every day to grow. I thank You that You have given these great people of faith to us as examples of how we might live out this life of faith. Lord, make us people who support others in their battle, and provide people to support us too. Lord, thank You that You created us to be in community with one another! Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Exodus 16 - God's Provision and People's Grumbling

LINK: Exodus 16

BACKGROUND

God parted the Red Sea and the Israelites saw the great power of the LORD. As a result, they feared and believed in the LORD and his servant Moses (14:31). Their response was a song of praise (15:1) and playing the timbrel and dancing (15:20). Yet how quickly they forgot His great power and started grumbling when they thought He would not provide water to drink (15:24)!

In Exodus 16, we see further doubt in God’s power followed by grumbling in the wilderness of Sin. They even wanted to go back to Egypt because although they were oppressed and in slavery, at least there was plenty of food to eat (see song below). God responded to their grumbling by sending “bread from heaven” in the form of “manna” which is the Hebrew word man hu which literally means “What is it?” They were to gather two quarts every morning and a double portion on the Sabbath. If they gathered more it would rot. It should be noted that this is the first mention of the word “Sabbath” in the Bible. It is alluded to in the creation account when the God rested on the seventh day in Genesis 2:2-3. The Hebrew words “seventh” and “rested” are similar. In Exodus 20, we will see this concept of the Sabbath expanded upon in the giving of the Ten Commandments.

God also provided meat in the evening in the form of quail (16:13). This small game bird is similar to the pheasant and grouse. It still migrates south from Palestine and Arabia to Central Africa in the fall and returns in the spring.

They were to keep one omer (two quarts) of the manna in a jar as a reminder of God’s goodness and provision to future generations. This was to be kept before “the Testimony.” This refers to the two tablets of the Law which were in the “ark of the Testimony” that we will read about in Exodus 25.

The chapter concludes by saying that the Israelites ate this manna for forty years until they came to the land of Canaan. This did not happen until Joshua 5:10-12 when the Israelites came to Gilgal (near Jericho on the west side of the Jordan River north of the Salt Sea) and celebrated their first Passover in the land of Canaan.

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


Then the LORD said to Moses, 
"Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you." 
(Exodus 16:4)

Jesus quoted this verse from Exodus 16 in John 6:31. In subsequent verses in John 6, he referred to Himself as “the true bread out of heaven”(6:32), “the bread of God”(6:33), “the bread of life”(6:35, 48), and “the living bread that came down out of heaven"(6:51). As bread gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness, so Jesus gave life to the world! It is also interesting to note that a popular Jewish notion was that there would be a renewing of the sending of manna when the Messiah came into the world. Jesus asserted that there would be no manna because He was the manna and all they needed for life. He would not sustain them for just forty years but forever. Some commentators believe that the Greek implies that Jesus said I am the “bread that is living” and/or “the bread that gives life” in 16:35.

REFLECTION

Is Jesus all I need? That is a question I am asking myself today as I reflect upon this chapter in Exodus and the parallel chapter in John 6. Do I really believe that God will provide for my every need, or do I reveal my unbelief by my grumbling and complaining about things I think I need and He should be giving me?

I have listened to the hearts of many women over the years. Sometimes, I hear their disappointments when God does not seem to be coming through in the way they had envisioned He should have come through. It might be in relation to disappointment in their spouse (or lack of one) or feeling like God should provide good friends and fellowship or financial freedom or a baby or obedient children etc. Often, we evaluate God's love for us in how He is or is not providing for us when God has a sovereign purpose in why He is not meeting that desire. Often God just wants to test us to see if our hearts are totally His. He is not doing the testing to punish us but to draw us in trust to His side. He wants us to know that He is all we really need, and we can trust Him to provide what is best for us.

APPLICATION

Is He all you need? Meditate on John 6 and meditate on Jesus as the “bread of life” who sustains you. Talk to God about your needs versus your wants. Have your wants and desires turned into demands? Have they progressed to the form of an idol in your life?


This is SUCH an important concept to grasp and this article is helpful:

The Progression of an Idol

Can you let go of your demands that have turned to idols and trust God to provide everything you really need?

PRAYER


Lord, my heart goes out in the words to that song "You're all I want/You're all I've ever needed." Help us to desire only You. Help us to know that You will provide for our every need. We praise You as our loving, sovereign, provider God. Amen.

JUST FOR FUN

This song has been going through my head as I have typed this post about manna. It is silly, but it strikes at the heart of the grumbling of Egypt. You can listen to it HERE.


“So You Wanna’ Go Back to Egypt” by Keith Green

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it's warm and secure.
Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure?
You wanted to live in the Land of Promise, but now it's getting so hard.
Are you sorry you're out here in the desert, instead of your own backyard?

Eating leeks and onions by the Nile.
Ooh what breath, but dining out in style.
Ooh, my life's on the skids.
Give me the pyramids.

Well there's nothing to do but travel, and we sure travel a lot.
'Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving when the sand gets so hot.
And in the morning it's manna hotcakes. We snack on manna all day.
And they sure had a winner last night for dinner, flaming manna soufflé.

Well we once complained for something new to munch.
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch.
Ooh, such fire and smoke.
Can't God even take a joke…Huh?….(NO!)

So you wanna go back to Egypt, where old friends wait for you.
You can throw a big party and tell the whole gang, that what they said was all true.
And this Moses acts like a big-shot, who does he think he is.
It's true that God works lots of miracles, but Moses thinks they're all his.

Well I'm having so much trouble even now.
Why'd he get so mad about that cow, that golden cow.
Moses sits rather idle, he just sits around.
He just sits around and writes the Bible.
Oh, Moses, put down your pen.

What…Oh no, manna again?
Oh, manna waffles….Manna burgers...
Manna bagels...Fillet of manna...
Mannacoti...Bamanna bread!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Exodus 15 - Song by the Sea and Complaining in the Desert

LINK: Exodus 15


Let's start off today with praise!  On the day we did Exodus 15 in 2008,  my family was on a getaway by the sea, and I sang Moses' song. I say March 2nd because that was the schedule for that particular year.  

Enjoy!

Song by the Sea



BACKGROUND


The response to God's amazing power to part the Red Sea and save the Israelites from the Egyptians was praise!  It was a recalling of what God did and an acknowledgement of the strength, power, holiness, glory, and loyal love of the one and only true God who was stronger than any Egyptian god or goddess. This is why Moses praised God for His uniqueness by asking the question, "Who is like You among the gods, Oh Lord?" This question will be repeated several times in the Old Testament (Psalm 35:10; 71:19; 77:13; 89:6; 113:5; Micah 7:18). God wanted to prove Himself more powerful than all the gods of the ancient world. Moses' song concluded with the assurance that God would bring them to the Promised Land and Jerusalem.

In response to Moses' song, his sister, Miriam, probably in her 90s at the time, took up a tambourine and sang and danced with the women in joyful praise to God. Miriam was the first prophetess mentioned in the Bible. Prophecy and music were closely related in the Bible (1 Samuel 10:5; 1 Chronicles 25:1).

I would love to end on a high note, but this chapter goes from praise to complaining about bitter water at Marah! How quickly they forgot God's powerful protection for them. They complained against Moses again (14:10-12) and would do it many more times (16:2; 17:3; Numbers 14:2; 16:11, 41).  Moses cried out to God, and He gave them sweet water to drink and some principles to obey that can be summed up in this way:


If you obey, I will bring blessing
If you disobey, I will bring judgment

Stay tuned to see how they did!

REFLECTION
The enemy said, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; 
My desire shall be gratified against them; 
I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them."  
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; 
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.  
Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? 
Who is like You, majestic in holiness, 
Awesome in praises, working wonders? 
You stretched out Your right hand, 
The earth swallowed them.  
(Exodus 15:9-12, NASB95) 
Written in 2008: As I meditated on these verses this morning, I thought of the genocide happening in Libya right now and how Gaddafi is "drawing his sword" and trying to destroy the people of Libya who are seeking freedom from his oppressive 42 year regime. I am praying this morning that God would sink his regime and stretch out His right hand and swallow it up! Would you pray with me?

Update: And we all know how that ended up. Gaddafi is no longer in power and was killed by his own people. Libya is still in turmoil. Please continue to pray for the reign of the righteous Prince of Peace there.

PRAYER


Who is like You among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?  We call upon You to work wonders in Libya. Amen.

Update: As I was updating this post, I read that a Senior al-Queda leader was killed in Syria. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Exodus 14 - A Path Through the Sea

LINK:  Exodus 14


BACKGROUND


Pharaoh let the people go, but God hardened his heart again (9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4,7). This is a hard concept for some to understand, but God did it in order to display His mighty power and make His name known throughout the whole earth!

Pharaoh and his army pursued the Israelites, and this caused them to fear and blame Moses for deceiving them (something they will continue to do throughout the wilderness journey). Moses showed his strong leadership and faith by assuring them that God would deliver (15:3; Nehemiah 4:20; Psalm 35:1). The angel of God protected them (14:19-20), and God displayed His mighty power by allowing the sea to part and the Egyptians to be swallowed up in the sea.

I will be pointing out throughout Scripture the top and bottom line of these Bible stories. The top line is that God is powerful to save, and He wants His people throughout all generations to believe and trust in Him:
When Israel saw the great power 
which the Lord had used against the Egyptians,
the people feared the LORD, and they believed 
in the LORD and in His servant Moses. 
(14:31)

But God's bottom line is this:


Then the Egyptians will 
know that I am the LORD
when I am honored through Pharaoh, 
through his chariots and his horseman.
(14:18)

He wanted this Gentile nation to stand and take notice that there is one God, and He was it! He stood up against all the gods and goddesses of the Egyptians through the plagues. This final display was meant to put an exclamation point to it! His heart was for the whole earth and all peoples from the beginning!


There is an excerpt of a video with archaeological evidence for the Red Sea crossing HERE. It is cool to see the chariot wheels! Start at about 15:00. I do not know how significant it is, but I watched the full version a few years ago, and it sure seemed convincing to me. 

REFLECTION/APPLICATION


I see God's power in this passage! How will you respond in faith to the reality of God's power? Can you recall a time where God displayed His power to you? Share this story with someone! It will build up and edify His followers and challenge the thinking of those who do not (yet) follow Him!

PRAYER


I praise You for Your might and awesome power displayed in the parting of the Red Sea. God show us Your power today. Open our eyes to see You in all our activities today. Amen.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Exodus 13 - Are You Set Apart?

LINK: Exodus 13


BACKGROUND


Israel was adopted as God's firstborn:


"Thus says the LORD, 
"Israel is My son, My firstborn."
Exodus 4:22


Consequently, they were to sanctify their own firstborn sons and beasts that were saved from the tenth and final plague. This is the second mention of the word "sanctify" (NIV says "consecrate"), and it is the Hebrew word qadash which means "to set apart as sacred, consecrate, dedicate." The first time it was mentioned was in regard to the Sabbath in which God blessed and sanctified it. This concept of sanctification is a very important concept throughout the Old and New Testaments. So, you might want to mark that while reading.


We will be talking much more about the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the future, but I want to emphasize that God really wanted the people of Israel to remember their deliverance out of slavery into the Promised Land (13:3). Immediately following the Passover, they were to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. This was one of the "pilgrimage" feasts where Jews went to Jerusalem when the temple was standing. Traditionally, Jews eat a matzo cracker. The dough for matzo is made when flour is added to water only, which has not been allowed to rise for more than 18–22 minutes prior to baking.


Exodus 13:9 - A literal reading of this verse led to the writing of verses on strips of parchment and putting them in small leather boxes strapped to the forehead. Here is a picture:



Uploaded on March 12, 2007 by quemas™


Genesis 50:24-25 says:
Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place." 
His bones stayed in Egypt for over 300 year, but Exodus 13:12 is a fulfillment of his request. There are also references to this in Joshua 24:32, Genesis 15:12-16, and most importantly, Hebrews 11:22:


By faith Joseph, when his end was near, 
spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt
and gave instructions concerning his bones.

Joseph's request was an act of faith that was rewarded long after he died. He knew that they would return to Canaan some day!


The chapter concludes with God's guidance to the Promised land via the Red Sea in order to avoid the military route. God did this with a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to give them light. These are examples of theophany - God appearing in a physical form. He lighted their path and protected them from enemies


The Scarlet Thread of Redemption


Jesus was Mary's firstborn Son and was presented at the temple (Luke 2). Jesus is also the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1). Jesus is also the Light of the world (John 1).


REFLECTION (Written in 2008)

"Sanctify" is the word that God continued to bring to my heart today. I have been asking myself many questions in relation to this word:
  • In what way am I "set apart" and "dedicated to the LORD"?
  • Can the outside world see this in my attitude and actions?
  • Can they see it in the way I demonstrate love to others?
  • What are the visible marks for all to see?
I read this morning in the comments for Exodus 13 in my Life Application Bible that Christians are marked by loving one another (John 13:34, 35). This immediately made me think of our dear friend, Bruce, who is dying of melanoma. He gave us some final words at an open house held for him on Sunday night. The essence of what he said was that love was all that really mattered. I feel like Bruce has lived a life of love. He is finishing this life well in that department.


I have a video of his last words that I want to post here so you can hear this directly from him. It is so good and well worth the 6 minutes, 43 seconds. I must apologize because it is a very jumpy video, but I believe God had a reason for it being jumpy to teach me some things about love.


You see, my dear husband was the one who filmed Bruce's words. I wanted it to be really nice; but when I first watched it, I was really frustrated with my husband for the way he filmed it. Sadly, I let George know that in a very unloving way. Can you see the irony in me being unloving toward my husband for the way he filmed Bruce talking about being loving? I love it when God does things like this. (I think.)


After my initial frustration, God convicted me of my unloving attitude toward my husband, and I was able to ask for forgiveness and he graciously forgave me. I am thankful for his love for me.

Oh, how I want to live a life of love.


Here is the video: 



APPLICATION


In what way are you "set apart" to where the world can see you as different? Is your life characterized by love for others? Talk to God about it.


PRAYER


Lord, set us apart for You. Teach us to love one another so that the world may know that we are Your disciples because of our love for one another (John 13:34,35). Amen.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Exodus 11 & 12 - The Most Dreadful Plague

LINK: Exodus 11 & 12


BACKGROUND


The previous nine plagues were terrible, but this plague . . . 
He sent upon them His burning anger, 
Fury, and indignation and trouble,  
A band of destroying angels [a deputation of angels of evil].   
(Psalm 78:49)  
This plague hit Pharaoh at his father's heart. In that time, Pharaoh's son would have been considered a god. This plague was a challenge to the goddess Isis, who was the wife and sister of Osiris. She was the goddess who protected children, and no Egyptian firstborn child would be protected by her. 

The Israelite children would be protected though. The blood of the Passover lamb on the door posts and lintels of the door told the destroying angels to "passover" (pāsaḥ in Hebrew) the houses where the Israelite firstborn children slept safely in their beds. From this night on, they would commemorate this by holding the feast of Passover (pesaḥ in Hebrew) It was the first month in Israel's religious calendar. It is at the time of the barley harvest in March or April. 

The Scarlet Thread of Redemption



Jesus is the perfect "Lamb of God" (John 1:29) who takes away the sin of the world. The blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled over the door posts and lintels allowed the Israelites to escape death and be delivered from bondage, so Christ's blood is our means of redemption and deliverance (Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7).

God also gave the Israelites instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a yearly celebration of Israel's redemption from Egypt. In Jesus' time, the two feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were considered one feast (Luke 2:41; 22:1, 7-38; John 19:14; Acts 21:3-4). The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted seven days from the 15th to the 21st of the month. They were not allowed to eat any bread that contained yeast (leaven). In preparation, homes were cleansed of yeast, which was a symbol of sin (1 Corinthians 5:8).


This plague broke Pharaoh, and he let them go. They were delivered from bondage. The Egyptian people even gave them articles of silver, gold, and clothing.


Here is a summary of all the plagues with the primary god involved (some plagues could have involved more):


The Signs (Plagues)
Reference
False god of Egypt Who Was Attacked
1 Water to blood
 7:20 
Hapi (Apis), the father of the gods,
his symbol is running water
2 Frogs
 8:6
Heqt, the god of resurrection,
had the head of a frog
3 Lice
 8:17 
Hathor, goddess of love and joy,
protected women
4 Flies
 8:24
Shu, god of the air,
maintained order and calm in the sky
5 Livestock
 9:6 
Apis, god of fertility, shaped like a cow
6 Boils
 9:10
Sekhmet, goddess of war,
protector of good, destroys evil
7 Hail
 9:23
Geb, the god of rich soil
8 Locusts
10:13
Serapis, god of vegetation and death
9 Darkness
10:22
Ra, the sun god
10 For Egypt: Angel of Death
12:29
Pharaoh believed he himself
and his son were gods
10 For Israel: Blood of the lamb
12:13
A covenant of God’s continuing Mercy

REFLECTION 



While studying this passage with a group of Muslim women, one of them informed us that their country has an old tradition of putting blood on the door posts and lintels of new houses for protection. I wonder where they got that tradition?

Months later when we came to studying Jesus, they totally understood why Jesus had to die because they understood the story of the Passover lamb!



APPLICATION


Application is all about digging into the Word of God and not walking away from it with your head filled with knowledge but with your heart responding in obedience.  What is God speaking to you about?

Here is a handout about APPLICATION.


Here is a summary of all the feasts from Precept Ministries. It shows how they are linked to the Scarlet Thread of Redemption:
Feasts of Israel 

PRAYER



Jesus, we thank You for being the Passover lamb. Thank You that Your blood brought about our redemption  and deliverance from the bondage of sin. Help us to walk in freedom as we walk with You. Amen.