Trek through Exodus
Dear Friends on the journey,
Greetings! Are you taking time to rest and reflect on God’s goodness and grace? Are you attending a service of worship and meeting with others of faith to honor God? Are you setting an example for your children and grandchildren by living a life of worship with others in a church? If you are not physically able, God understands, but if you are able, please make every effort to exalt the Lord in community!
God brought His people out of Egypt to worship Him in the manner and place that He chose! (Exodus 7:16) He brought out men, women, and children to worship together! He desires our worship! Worship puts God in the first place. Worship is all about God! So many people today make worship about themselves and their personal preferences. They want a certain style or type of worship. They don’t want this or that–maybe drums or instruments. They don’t want to sing too long or too loud. They want to stay home and sleep in if they are tired. They want to come when it suits them and they want to feel good when they leave. They often say that they can worship alone better than with others, but seldom do! Besides this, they are being disobedient when they fail to gather with others.
God brought His people out for worship. They were laden down with blessings. God was visibly with them. They were provided with clothes that didn’t wear out, manna from heaven, water from the rock, and not one feeble or sick among them! (Nehemiah 9:19-21) What did they do? Complain and grumble! They even covered their ears when God spoke to them from the mountain! It is often no different today! To whom much has been given, much is required! We know too much and apply too little! Don’t neglect gathering together today in God’s house with God’s people to worship God! It’s in the New Testament too! Jesus is coming back for those who are eagerly awaiting Him and obediently worshiping!
In His Love, Pastor John
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Scripture reading for January 24: Exodus 16-18
For some reason, I’ve been in leadership positions all my life! I’ve always felt inadequate and usually haven’t sought a leadership position; others always seemed to volunteer me. As I’ve worked leading in various secular and church positions, I’ve become acutely aware of my inability to please everyone. Moses soon learned this same truth! There are as many opinions as there are people under you and Moses had over a million “followers”!
In the passages of the last few days, God’s redeemed people were delivered from Egypt by a mighty act of power by the Lord, and then from Pharaoh’s pursuing army! Led by Miriam, Moses’ sister, they danced in joy and sang a song of deliverance! Redeemed people sometimes expect everything to be handed to them and that their lives will be some kind of fairy tale where they live happily ever after. This picture is soon in need of readjustment as troubles bring us to acknowledge our lack of faith.
A few days after the victory celebration, the Israelites faced hunger and began to grumble. They blamed Moses for his poor leadership and for bringing them out into the desert to die. (Exodus 16:3) God met their need! A little farther into the walk, they ran out of water and began to grumble again, quarreling with Moses. Their hearts were angry and hard and they blamed their leader, actually blaming God! (Exodus 16:8) Each time, God came to Moses’ rescue!
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came for a visit to bring back Moses’ wife and two sons. Jethro was thrilled to hear the stories of God’s deliverance through his son-in-law. He observed Moses sitting in judgment with all the people coming to him with their complaints. His advice to Moses was to raise up some helpers to share the load of leadership. Moses should just handle the ‘hard’ cases and let the others do the rest! What a life-saver for this leader!
Lessons for today are plain. First, pray and obey before you complain! When you grumble about your leader, you are grumbling about God! Listen to your leadership and support them by prayer and encouragement! Don’t test or blame God; He is never at fault! (He makes no mistakes) If you are a leader, raise up those who can help you with the work. Sharing the load makes sense and enables others with giftings to share in the blessing and be a part of the solution! Leadership is a joy when you take these tips and your followers do, too! The main one to please in all of this is God. May His face be smiling on your leadership!
“ For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”
Scripture Reading for January 23: Exodus 13-15
Have you ever followed the Lord’s direction and gotten into more trouble than you bargained for? Moses had obeyed the Lord and witnessed the 10 plagues that humbled Pharaoh and judged the people of Egypt and their gods. He and Israel had experienced God’s protection and blessing throughout this time, even though they were slaves and had cruel taskmasters. The final plague had comvinced Pharaoh to send the Israelites away. The Egyptians had given them many items of silver and gold and they went away rich! God healed their bodies and there was not one feeble or sick person in the company of over one million people! The lamb that they had eaten and the blood over their doors had brought them amazing deliverance and blessing! They left Egypt following the cloud of God’s presence by day and a pillar of fire by night! But, trouble was lurking not far behind them and would soon put them between the proverbial “rock and hard place”!
The Egyptians came to their senses and Pharaoh decided to bring them back. He ordered all his army into mobilization and hot pursuit! The chariots were fueled and the chase was on! The Israelites, under the direction of the Cloud and Fire of God’s Presence, were camped in the desert by the Red Sea. They looked up and saw the army of Egypt bearing down on them and “cried out to the Lord”. (Exodus 14:10-13) They then began the “blame game” on Moses, saying that they should have stayed in Egypt. They blamed God for bringing them out in the desert to die! What had started out so good with such joy and blessing now looked like trouble–or death!
But God fought for them! If God is for you, who can be against you? (Romans 8:31) The God of the pillar of cloud and fire can do anything! When you are following His instructions, the journey may get wild and even scary at times, but you will enjoy the ending! Moses had the instructions from the Lord and held out his staff over the waters. The waters were parted and the Israelites walked over on dry ground between two walls of water. As soon as the Egyptians were between the walls of water, their wheels started to come off and the Lord fought against them. Moses held out his staff again and the Egyptians were all drowned in the surging sea!
The lessons for us are plain! Follow God closely and trust Him no matter what obstacles you face. When you find yourself between a “rock and a hard place”, look to the cloud and the fire to direct the way! Stand still and see the salvation of God! (Exodus 14:13)
Scripture reading for January 22nd: Exodus10-12
My wife and I adopted two girls from Russia in 1999. They were 8 and 9 years of age and spoke no English when they came to America from near Siberia in August of that year. We were eager to share our faith in Jesus with them and took them to church each week. We had to communicate in sign language most of the time. For Easter of 2000, I did an illustrated sermon with a live lamb, a basin of red paint, and a door frame. I also had a big knife. I explained the story of the Passover lamb that was killed for the Israelites from Exodus 12. That day, one of our girls prayed to receive the Lord as her Savior! Pictures are powerful tools for presenting truth!
The plagues were sent, one by one, to attack the deities and idols of Egypt. Egyptians worshiped many gods and Pharaoh, himself, was considered like a god. Scripture states that Pharaoh hardened his heart through the first few plagues. (Exodus 8:15, 32) After the plague of death on Pharaoh’s animals, it states that “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Exodus 9:12 This hardening of a heart is what happens when truth is denied and a person or nation refuses to hear God’s voice or obey His instructions. Men are really without excuse because God makes Himself plain to them. Miracles don’t always persuade a person, however. If not heeded they can harden you as well. When you pass a certain point, God then turns you over and hardens your heart to your own destruction!
The last plague was the death of all the firstborn. The only way to prevent the death of a firstborn son or daughter or animal, was to obey God’s plan. A lamb was to be brought into the house on the tenth day of the month. They were to be sure it was a perfect lamb, without blemish. They were to keep it until the fourteenth day and slaughter it at twilight. The elder in the home was to take blood and sprinkle it on the doorpost and over the lentil. Every family member was to be inside. The lamb was to be roasted in the fire and eaten. They were to be ready to travel. They were also to ask the Egyptians for gold and silver and valuables for the trip. At midnight, the death angel would visit each household. When he saw the blood on the door post of a house, he would pass over that home. Every home that failed to be covered with the blood would find the firstborn child suddenly dead! Only those with faith to obey God would be spared!
It is the same today! The lamb that was slain for our sins was Jesus Christ! He was examined in the temple from the 10th day until the 14th. He was crucified early in the morning and died at three o’clock in the afternoon. He ended his life with the words, “It is Finished!” Everything necessary for our deliverance from the death angel has been accomplished by the death of God’s firstborn Son! God did for us what we could not do for ourselves! Praise Him today for this beautiful picture of our salvation!
“Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are, for Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” Ist Corinthians 5:7
When I was younger, we would hunt frogs each fall on a late October night that was lit by a full moon. It was an annual ritual that our neighborhood used to enjoy. The men would go out after dark with flashlights, spears, and burlap sacks and head for the farm ponds. The frogs would be gathering in clusters, getting ready to head down into the mud for the winter. They were easy picking! After harvest, the neighbors would gather to eat fried frog legs and pot-blessing, play cards and swap stories about the harvest. It was great food and a good time!
In our reading today we have another story about frogs. Moses had decreed a plague of frogs on the land of Egypt because Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go to worship God. Frogs filled the land. They were in the fields, houses, marketplace, Pharaoh’s palace, and even in the bedrooms! Pharaoh summoned Moses to ask for prayer to God to get rid of those frogs. Moses, trying to be polite, allowed Pharaoh to set the time when the frogs would be gone. Pharaoh’s answer was, “tomorrow”. Why tomorrow? Did Pharaoh want one more night of frog hunting too? Did he enjoy sleeping with the frogs? Maybe one of his magicians had turned one of his kids into a frog? These are some silly questions to ponder about this story! There are more serious ones.
It amazes me that when God offers us freedom to ask Him for anything, (John 14:13) we often answer just like Pharaoh: “tomorrow”. Do we want one more night with our addiction? Do we want to be sick one more night? Do we want one more night to be angry and bitter? Tomorrow never really comes. When we procrastinate, we are saying that we love our sin or problem more than we love God. We want one more night with the frogs!
Ask the Lord to help you break the bondage of procrastination. Sit down with him today and get it taken care of! Frogs may be tasty animals, but you don’t need another night with them!
“Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7
Scripture reading for January 20: Exodus 3-6
One of my brothers is a law professor. He went to 4 years of college and over 5 years of post-graduate study for his degree. My other brother is a surgeon. He went to 4 years of college and 7 more years of graduate study for his degree. God’s ‘graduate school’ sometimes takes 40 years to get the degree. Some of us are in class right now and we think God has left us as a perpetual student (or maybe in the dunce chair). But He is working with us just like with our forefather, Moses.
Moses was picked by God to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. He knew of this early in his miraculous life. First, the Hebrew midwives spared his life; they feared God and hid him. Then God showed his parents a plan to save Moses’ life. He was placed in a basket and released in the Nile river. Pharaoh’s daughter was bathing just downstream. She “found” Moses, named him and paid his own mother and sister to raise him. God’s sense of humor in action!
Moses had an unusual life. He grew up in Pharaoh’s household and was taught in Egypt’s schools. At 40 years of age, he tried to protect his Israelite brothers by killing an Egyptian who was mistreating them and ended up in the back side of the desert, a wanted man. He went from a prince in Pharaoh’s household to a fugitive wanted for murder in a story as bizarre as Joseph’s in Genesis. Sometimes we think we know God’s plan and we end up in the back side of the desert. Life takes strange turns. Stuff happens! “Where is God now?” we ask. We get involved in life again where we find ourselves, but wonder what went wrong. Ever been there?
God’s delays and detours are for His purposes and our preparation. When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush in the desert 40 years later, Moses was called to take off his shoes and then go and deliver God’s people from slavery in Egypt. Moses wisely took off his shoes but made excuses about going. God met Moses and answered each excuse. Moses is said to be the most “meek” of men. (Numbers 12:3) God honors humility and brokenness. Moses, after 40 years in the desert university, has learned a valuable lesson. He can’t do anything on his own! He needs God at each turn. You might say that Moses graduated with his BSDD! He passed the exam and was ready for his assignment!
Are you in the School of the Desert? Are you open to learn humility and brokenness? What area of your life needs the most help right now? Submit it to the Lord and wait patiently on Him. He will help you pass the course! He’s preparing you for your assignment too.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1st Peter 5:5-7
Scripture reading for January 19th: Exodus 1-2
“Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which is established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
Is it ever right to disobey government authority? Do they always speak for God? What if they want you to do something that actually breaks God’s Law? How can you disobey civilly?
Shiphrah and Puah are ordinary Jewish women who had a job to do. They were mid-wives and helped deliver babies. They would go to the homes of pregnant Israelite women and sit with them during labor and delivery, washing off the baby and attending to the mother and child until the mothers were strong enough to take care of the child or children themselves. Pharaoh gave an order to these god-fearing women to kill all the male babies. It was a form of late-term abortion being practiced in Egypt of that time. This kind of thing was happening even 3500 years ago; there’s nothing new under the sun.
Satan comes only to kill, steal, and destroy but God is a life-giver and life-saver! These Hebrew women knew God and feared Him more than they feared Pharaoh. The chose a path of civil disobedience that is a good model for us today. They simply ignored Pharaoh’s order and did what was right in God’s eyes. When confronted, they told a story that made an excuse. They continued to do what was right before God. They knew that abortion was murder of God’s children. God was kind to them and protected them (Exodus 1:19-20). He rewarded them with families of their own. If you are faithful with the little, God can give you much! ( Luke 16:10-12)
Do an inventory today of the things God has given you stewardship over. One thing is your influence and vote in our democracy. Are you voting for those who will authorize abortion? Are you giving approval to those who would perform abortions and kill off human beings made in God’s image? Do you call the politicians that are trying to enact more laws to abort children? Are you like Shiphrah and Puah, staying strong for God and protecting life whenever and wherever you can? God rewards well and is pleased with “civil disobedience”.
If you have had an abortion or voted for that to be legal or put politicians in office that are pro-abortion, repent and ask God’s forgiveness. He is merciful and will forgive your sin! No one needs to carry guilt or shame. We for sure don’t want to be found to be an accomplice of “Pharaoh” (Satan).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe. (Proverbs 29:25)