Warning: Use of undefined constant W3TC_POWERED_BY - assumed 'W3TC_POWERED_BY' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/orchardt/public_html/wp-content/plugins/google-webfont-optimizer/google-webfont-optimizer.php on line 342
Exodus: Finding Freedom | Orchard Christian Fellowship

The Tabernacle is Erected

Moses puts the TABERNACLE up

Exactly one year to the day since Israel was rescued by God from Egypt, Moses and his assistants assemble the tabernacle (Ex. 13:3, 4). Though His presence fills the universe, God chose to give his people a location of corporate worship where He would dwell (Ex. 29:44, 45). Individual worship should never take the place of corporate worship. Christianity is fraternity—while we are saved individually, we are connected corporately (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 12:27; Heb. 10:25)! The tabernacle (Heb. mish-kawn, ‘residence/dwelling’) was a tent structure and all its elements had functional as well as symbolic meanings to the life of Jesus (John 1:14). The outer fabric wall dictated the separation between a holy God and all of sinful humanity with one gate (75×150 ft.; John 10:9; Rom. 3:23). Upon entry, first was the bronze altar to accept an animal whose blood was shed to forgive sin (Lev. 1:4; 17:11; Heb. 10:3-10). Next, the bronze basin held water where the priest would wash his hands and feet to cleanse himself before approaching God (Ex. 30:20; Heb. 10:22). Entering the tabernacle or ‘tent of meeting’ (15×45 ft.), in the front room (Holy Place), to the left, was a menorah or 7-candle lampstand to give light, shaped like budding almond branches symbolizing the Tree of Life (Ex. 25:31; John 8:12). On the right, a table held 12 flat loaves of bread eaten by the priests, showing God’s willingness to commune with forgiven sinners (Ex. 25:23, 30; Matt. 26:26). At the back was an altar to burn incense, representing the prayers of God’s people (Ex. 30:1; Rev. 8:3, 4). Next, a thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies which contained the Ark of the Covenant where God’s presence dwelt and was only accessed by the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement (Ex. 25:10; Heb. 10:19-22). The closer you get to God the more holy you must become (2 Cor. 5:21)!

 

The GLORY of God comes down

At the moment Moses competed the tabernacle, God descended and His shining glory filled it (Heb. maw-lay’, verb form describes a dynamic, ongoing reality like radiation) so heavily that Moses couldn’t enter! Religion without God is empty ritual, and gathering without God is a social club (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 3:17). God’s presence cannot be fabricated or manipulated—there is no real Christianity without the real Christ present!

Download Notes As PDF

Bezalel Builds the Ark

Bezalel builds the THRONE of God

From Mount Sinai, God gave Moses instructions about who would build the pieces of furniture for the tabernacle and how they would be built. Bezalel was chosen and spiritually gifted to oversee the construction along with training others to help (Ex. 31:1, 2). While many people assisted in various aspects, Bezalel chose to make the ark (Heb. aw-rone’, ‘box or chest’) himself. There is no excuse for poor effort or mediocre work as all things should be done with excellence as for God Himself (Col. 3:23, 24). Unknown to him, this piece of furniture would become the most famous furniture in history! Though nothing about the ark was perfect, God honored Bezalel’s work and dwelt on his creation. God doesn’t ask for perfect work, He asks for perfect willingness. Bezalel honed his skill as a slave in Egypt as the ancient Egyptians were experts in furniture making and working in gold as is exemplified in King Tutankhamen’s tomb (c. 1323 BC; Exodus happened c. 1440 BC). Bezalel’s ark became the resting place for the Presence of the Almighty God—His literal throne on earth (2 Sam. 6:2). God uses the imperfect work of people for the perfect work of God!

God DWELLS with His people from His throne

While God’s divine presence fills the universe, the reality of His personal presence was constrained to a small area on the ark (Ex. 25:8, 9). The ark was 27x27x45 inches long, made of wood, and covered in hammered gold with a solid gold cover called the Mercy Seat. On top of the Mercy Seat were two gold cherubim from where God would accept sin offerings presented on the Day of Atonement by the priest and where God spoke with Moses (Ex. 25:22; Lev. 16:2, 30). It was carried like a throne by four priests with two poles through rings on the feet. While God’s holy presence was there, it could never be touched by human hands at the risk of death (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). By the end of Israel’s journey it held the Covenant (Ten Commandments), a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff (Heb. 9:4). For centuries, the Ark of the Covenant would be where God manifested Himself and a symbol of His power and presence. It was probably destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon or may have been hidden beforehand (597 BC; 2 Kings 24:13, 14). Today, God dwells in the hearts of His people through Jesus (Rom. 3:21-25; Eph. 3:14-19)!

Download Notes As PDF

The People Work For God

Bezalel and Aholiab are GIFTED by God to work

On Mt. Sinai, God instructed Moses about the construction of the ark and the tabernacle. God told Moses He had chosen Bezalel and Aholiab to lead the work. As Moses was Israel’s gifted spiritual leader, these two men were Israel’s gifted construction supervisors. Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God to do the work of God. He and Aholiab were empowered by the Holy Spirit to have the wisdom and ability to build the ark and the tabernacle. The Holy Spirit indwells a person for salvation and infill’s them for serving. God does not give everyone the same gifts but imparts it to them as He sees fit for His purposes (1 Cor. 12:11). God may give a gift that was not requested, but it is up to the individual for it to be invested. Sometimes a person’s gift is supernatural and sometimes it is a ‘super’ use of the person’s natural ability. In either case, the Holy Spirit will give the inclination, intelligence and industry to fulfill His calling. Bezalel was already a craftsman having worked on wood and metals in Egypt as a slave (Ex. 36:1, 2). He didn’t realize that God would one day use his skill to bless the world! Many times skills learned in human frustration are used later for God’s glorification.

 

Bezalel and Aholiab TRAIN others to work

Just like with Adam and Eve or Israel or the church, God does not ask Bezalel to do it alone. Even though he is skilled, God asked him to disciple others and build a team. God’s Kingdom is teamdom—everyone doing their part in unity for the glory of God (1 Cor. 12:27). Believers with ability should find joy in training others to find joy serving God. There is no ‘sacred’ or ‘secular’ work—everything is sacred if it is done for God. Ultimately, every skill and craft finds its origination in God. So, unless it is immoral, illegal, or unbiblical, there is no ‘mundane’ or ‘worthless’ work that God can’t use (Gen. 4:20-22). Because of this, all work done for God should be done with excellence to the best of a person’s ability (Col. 3:23). Laziness with God’s gifts, skills, and opportunities are unacceptable (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:10-12). Everyone, and especially men, often find their joy in working hard and producing and providing, which is a gift from God (Prov. 22:29; Ecc. 3:11-13; 5:18-20; 9:10). Believers are to set an example to the next generation as they learn how to serve God by watching and doing (Ps. 145:4; Heb. 13:7)!

Download Notes As PDF

The People Give To God

The nation is given an opportunity to GIVE

After a humiliating and harsh rebuke from God for breaking the covenant, Israel is given a chance at redemption. Even in failure and punishment, God is merciful and redemptive. Forty days earlier Israel had willingly given their gold to Aaron to make an idol. Now they are asked to willingly give to God for their place of worship—the tabernacle. The ironic thing about this offering was that God had given it all to them through the Egyptians when they left Egypt (Ex. 12:35, 36)! Sadly, some Israelites who had been slaves with almost nothing six months earlier were not moved to give back to God at all. All possessions belong to God before we get it and belong to Him after we leave it—it’s up to us in how we invest it. Everyone has a something to give and opportunities to give it. Believers must look for every chance to bless others with God’s blessing. To be able to give is a gift, to be able to bless others is a blessing. Believers are overseers of God’s property not owners (Matt. 25:15-30).

 

The nation responds with overwhelming GENEROSITY

The people give their time: everyone who saw God’s work as a priority sacrificed their time to make it happen. Everyone has equal amounts of time in the day from God and opportunities to serve Him must take precedence. The people give their talent: all those who had skill in a particular area stepped forward to do it. Not all people are gifted the same and they must use their abilities to bless others with the skill God gives them. The people give their treasure: gold, silver, bronze, jewelry, gems, colored thread, colored linen, animal skins, wood, oil and spices. Owning these would be vital to social status and bartering or trading power yet they give freely to God. All gifts of God are to be managed not amassed. God could have demanded the offering but wanted generosity as the foundation for His place of worship. Israel is challenged to ‘open-handed living’ and they respond joyfully. In fact, they give so generously they are told to stop giving! It is more blessed to give than receive and God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:7). The quality of the heart determines the quality and quantity of the gift (Luke 21:3, 4). As Israel worshipped each week, those with generous hearts saw their offering used to honor God. As no one can out-give God, thankfulness to Him is measured in generosity (2 Sam. 24:24; Prov. 14:31)!

Download Notes As PDF

The Golden Calf Appears

Moses DISAPPEARS

Having left leadership responsibilities to Aaron and Hur, Moses went up into the storm to meet with God at the top of Mount Sinai and spent 40 days getting instructions about the Law. Despite miraculously rescuing Israel a few months earlier, the people grow restless and don’t know, or care, if Moses died travelling up the mountain as an old man or was overcome by fire and smoke, so they pressure Aaron to make idols. Unlike Moses who waited to hear from God, Israel would not wait to hear from God or Moses. Leadership can be a lonely and thankless calling (Heb. 13:17).

 

The calf APPEARS

A vocal minority began to stir up spiritual discontent, so Aaron gathered gold, melted it in fire and forged a calf—which may have been the Egyptian creator/fertility bull-god, Apis—and equated it with the LORD (‘YHWH’). Aaron’s first leadership decision broke the first three (and most important) commandments and led the nation to sin after they had covenanted their allegiance to God just one month before (Ex. 24:3-7)! Great leadership doesn’t fold under stress or pressure, but acts in the best interests of God and people. Losing all restraint, the nation has a drunken orgy in honor of the LORD (breaking the seventh and tenth commandments), attempting to mix pagan fertility from Egypt with worship to the true God. Syncretism is spiritual poison (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:5, 6). After observing it, God is so angry they broke the covenant, He almost destroyed the whole nation and started over with Moses and his family. Returning to see what happened, Moses smashed both tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments. It’s easier to take the Israelites out of Egypt than the Egypt out of the Israelites (Col. 3:5-10). When asked about the calf, Aaron, apparently forgetting he carved it, claimed he threw the gold in the fire and ‘out came this calf’! Great leadership doesn’t make excuses, they set examples! (1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7). Moses then tells all the sons of Levi to kill the men who led Israel in their rebellion and 3000 die. The Levites are then given the role as priest-assistants for their desire for the pure worship of God. In response to the covenant-breaking orgy, God kills 23,000 with a plague (1 Cor. 10:6-8). God desires pure worship from the pure heart of His purified people (2 Tim. 2:22).

Download Notes As PDF

Moses Becomes A Lawyer

Moses gets God’s COVENANT

After being led by God through the Sinai desert, Israel finally encamped a short distance away from Mt. Sinai. From the mountain, God spoke the Ten Commandments out of a storm of fire, smoke, lightening and an earthquake. The Ten Commandments were the ‘high points’ and overview of the whole Law, which they had not received yet. In addition to the Commandments, Moses wrote down a covenant from God that He promised to take care of them if they would obey it (Ex. 20-23). God’s word demands a response! Also, they were to obey the voice of His angel (Heb. mal awk, ‘to dispatch, messenger’) who had the character of God and was involved with judging sin and was probably a theophany of Jesus (Ex. 23:20-23). Oxen were then sacrificed as their innocent blood was used to ratify the Covenant and as the peace offering between sinners and a perfect God, which also mirrored the sacrifice of Jesus (Col. 1:19, 20). The blood meant that whoever broke the covenant should die! God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God (Matt. 26:27, 28).

 

Moses gets God’s LAW

The book of the Covenant was left with the people as the priests, 70 elders, and Joshua and Moses went to the base of the mountain and saw God. This vision included viewing His feet on a magnificent sapphire platform and was not a total view of God, which would have cost them their lives (vs. 11; Ex. 33:20; John 1:18). Then they ate a meal with God in covenant fellowship. After leaving national oversight to Aaron and Hur, Moses and Joshua go near the storm cloud and wait to hear from God. After six days, God called Moses so he left Joshua, entered the storm, and became the mediator between God and man. God’s timing is rarely our timing. God desires a faith-filled relationship with believers—many times through waiting and disappointment. Waiting and disappointment are used to expose pride, anger, immaturity, and rebellion. God will often give the ‘what’ of His will, sometimes the ‘where’ and ‘how’, but rarely the ‘when’ or ‘why’. For the next 40 days God gave Moses instructions about the ark, tabernacle, and priestly responsibilities. He was also given two Ten Commandments, written by God on stone, which completed God’s reason of rescuing Israel—worship (Ex. 3:12; 1 John 2:5). Worship is an action not a feeling!

Download Notes As PDF

10 Commandments, 10

From Mount Sinai, God gave the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder, #7 Do not commit adultery, #8 Do not steal, #9 Do not be a false witness. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#10 Do not COVET

Because the Israelites lived in poverty at the bottom of Egyptian society as slaves, their desire for better things was huge. However, they were not to have a jealous desire (resentment against a person instead of happiness for them) for someone else’s home, spouse, servants/employees (indicating significant wealth), working animals (which were implements of making and maintaining wealth), or for anything else belonging to another. Coveting (Heb. khaw-mad, ‘to take delight in’) someone else’s resources revealed pride, jealousy, idolatry, lust, and thanklessness to God. The last command was a ‘catch-all’ for where most violations of the previous nine commandments (not honoring the true God, making a version of God to control, profaning God’s name, working without resting to worship, dishonoring parents, murdering, adultery, stealing, lying for gain) come from—a selfish, undisciplined heart.

Lastly, God gave a comprehensive mandate about internal motivations—unparalleled in ancient laws. Only God as the sovereign ruler can make demands about an unacceptable heart disposition. Coveting is a lack of contentedness not a lack of possessions (Phil 4:12, 13; Heb. 13:5). God had promised to provide for His people by rescuing them, bringing them to a good land, and blessing them. But God’s blessings were never meant to be an excuse for greed or lust for more (Luke 12:15). Loving God and others was ultimately a matter of the heart as Jesus reiterated (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 7:21-23). Humility and thankfulness will kill covetousness. Humility in that believers deserve nothing, but are graciously given all things to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). Thankfulness in that believers shouldn’t grumble about what they don’t have but be thankful for what they do (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18)!

Download Notes As PDF

10 Commandments, 9

From Mount Sinai, God gave the Commandments as an overview of the Law in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder, #7 Do not commit adultery, #8 Do not steal. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#9 Do not be a FALSE witness

The nation of Israel, who had just come from being slaves, had no rights and had only experienced the Egyptian justice system which was dictated by the Pharaoh. After being rescued by the true God, He related the new justice system which was founded upon truth. Before forensics, the most vital and potentially damaging part of the justice system was an eye-witness, as a person’s livelihood or their very lives might be on the line. For this reason, two or three witnesses were required and punished if found to be lying (Deut. 19:15-21). The root of the command to not be a false witness was the desire or ability to lie about a situation to escape judgement or for personal gain. Truth without prejudice is at a premium in any society, especially among God’s people (Ex. 23:1-8).

Even in our modern day, the Bible and the God behind it, are used in court to bind the person to the truth. Satan is known as the Father of lies, and lying and false witnesses were used to put Jesus to death (John 8:44; Mark 14:55-60)! Lying, or falsehood, is not just the opposite of the truth, but the opposite of God, who is Truth. God is pure integrity, having no deception or falseness within His character and God’s children should strive to imitate their Father (Num. 23:19; 1 Pet. 1:14-16). It is this holiness, or ‘set-apartness’ of believers that designates their new nature and their willingness to tell the truth even if it is to their hurt or loss (Ps. 15:1-3; Col. 3:9). God blesses those who fear Him by not becoming a false witness against someone though they could gain from the other person’s conviction. Lying is a lack of trust and faith in God and fear for His omniscience and future judgment (Matt. 12:33-37; Rev. 21:7, 8). A person’s word represents their character, and as God holds to His word, so should believers though they may suffer loss because of it (Ps. 15:1-4). As God is, so should His people be!

Download Notes As PDF

10 Commandments, 8

From Mount Sinai, God spoke the Commandments as an overview of the whole Law—given in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder, #7 Do not commit adultery. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#8 Do not STEAL

Immediately following the command to not commit adultery, which was ‘theft’ of honor and fidelity from a married spouse, God commands Israel to refrain from taking anyone’s property. As former slaves living at the poverty level in Egypt, the people of Israel often struggled with stealing from the Egyptians and one another. While theft in poverty and desperation is understandable, it was never approved of and always carried punishment (Prov. 6:30, 31). Stealing (Heb. gaw-nab, ‘to deceive/carry away’) is an immoral desire and acquisition of goods by illegal, immoral, or unethical means. Theft is a combination of lust for ‘now’ rather than work for later and dissatisfaction in the providence of God (James 4:1-3). Israel had to learn that God will bless His children and take care of their daily needs which they would never need to make up for by stealing (Luke 11:2-4; 12:27, 28). God will provide for all the needs but not all the greeds!

Governments steal by overspending and deficit spending, employers steal from employees by not paying for extra work and employees steal from employers by taking materials and not working a full day. God’s people are to work hard for their possessions, thank God for them, and enjoy them. Believers are to use their energy, talents, and abilities to bless others by working and giving rather than damaging by stealing and taking (Eph. 4:28). Your blessings should not just bless you! God approves of personal possessions (or else there wouldn’t be a warning against stealing!), and work is His primary means of people gaining, appreciating and enjoying them. Believers realize God gives the ability to work and make wealth and the things bought with it (Deut. 8:16-18; Ps. 24:1; Prov. 10:22; 1 Tim. 6:17). Regardless of the job, believers should remember it is Jesus they are working for (Col. 3:23; Eph. 6:7).

Download Notes As PDF

10 Commandments, 7

From Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law, and were given in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother, #6 Do not murder. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#7 You shall not commit ADULTERY

After the sanctity of human life, respect for the covenant of marriage was paramount. God began marriage in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve as an example of physical and spiritual oneness that produced completeness and children (Gen. 2:18-25; 3:20). God’s original intent was to bless sex inside of marriage as beautiful and unrestrained (Heb. 13:4). Sex is powerful because it is not just a sharing of bodies but a sharing of souls. What is done sexually is the deepest, most profound expression of a person. God built men and women, marriage, sexuality and the home. Adultery, which devalues marriage and tears apart the oneness, damages the home and can have unforeseen individual consequences (Prov. 5:1-23; 6:20-35; 7:1-27). While women have a need to be wanted relationally, men have a need to be wanted sexually.

As sex was made for marriage, premarital sex (fornication) is a form of pre-adultery as it is a lack of respect for the future covenant of marriage. Every law is a legislation of morality—either personal, societal, or divine. When the individual decides what is right then he is a god to himself and will conflict with others, when society decides by majority then they are god and will eventually conflict with others, when God decides then people live in peace or conflict with God Himself (Jud. 17:6; Prov. 29:18). Before the Law, adultery was known as ‘great wickedness’ and in the Law, marital covenant breakers should be put to death (Lev. 20:10). In the NT, unrepentant sexual sin (including adultery) is a heart issue and should result in church discipline and/or removal (Gen. 20:9; 39:9; Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22; Matt. 5:27-32; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; Eph. 5:5). Sexual fidelity can only be recovered through repentance, forgiveness, and relational repair (1 Cor. 6:9-20). Married couples should focus on their spouse as if they were still dating!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

10 Commandments, 6

From Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law, and were given in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy, #5 Honor your father and mother. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#6 You shall not MURDER

After the importance of order and honor in the family, prohibiting murder (Heb. raw-tsakh, ‘to dash in pieces/slaughter’) was the most essential as it preserved the sanctity of human life. The most basic building blocks of any society is the specialness of humanity. At the beginning of creation God built the earth and instantly produced billions of animals, insects and fish on it. As His last and greatest creation, He built a man and woman in His image who were able to make moral choices and have a relationship with Him (Gen. 1:26). After sin entered the world, anger, hate and jealousy created the possibility of murder which happened with Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:6-14; 23). Though Abel had previously killed an animal for sacrifice bringing no consequences, once Cain killed Abel, he knew he deserved to die. This unwritten rule on the human conscience was in place since the beginning and was later codified in the Ten Commandments.

This command forbid death by rage, premeditation, carelessness, abortion, euthanasia, and suicide—but not death by accident, justified war, self-defense, or capital punishment. Capital punishment from a social justice system (not vengeance by the individual) was commanded by God before the Law, in the Law, and after the Law in the NT (Gen. 9:5, 6; Ex. 21:12-14, Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:1-5). God expects governments to protect their people by protecting life. People by nature know that humans are special, but they don’t know why. Humans have value because the God that created them gives them value and no human has the authority to end another person’s life except in the form of justice for murder. Jesus recognized that all sin, especially murder, came from the heart (Matt. 15:19). Murder is the opposite of a life controlled by God (1 John 3:15; Rev. 21:8). Life is precious because God made it!

The first command dealing with human relations is the family. God created the home and human development from infant to adult to teach honor and authority. In many ways parents are like ‘God’ to children—they preceded them, created them, feed, clothe, love and discipline them (Prov. 13:24; 29:15, 17). Though no home is perfect and change can be sought, rebellion is never tolerated. God does not bless chaos. Children are to bring honor (Heb. kaw-bad, ‘to give weight to’) to their parents in how they think, speak and act toward them—even if they’re unworthy of it. Honoring someone does not mean their actions are approved of, but that the child is honoring the God who commanded it. Honoring says more about the person doing the honoring than the person being honored. Humility and rebellion are on opposite ends of God’s blessing (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6). Parents and the elderly are given a special designation of respect. This included showing deference to those that are older through physical and verbal appreciation. Also, older children are to take care of their parents in their old age in way of repaying them for all the years they poured into them both emotionally and financially (Lev. 19:32; 20:9; 1 Tim. 5:4).

God built the season of youth to be a time of exploration, learning and serving God (Ecc. 11:9; 12:13, 14). While old age often brings wisdom with little energy, youth often brings energy with little wisdom (Prov. 20:29; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6). Believers are to honor the authority over them as authority from God whether parental, governmental, or church (Rom. 13:1-7). No one lives outside the boundaries of leadership and authority, and there is no stable society without a stable home. Having an orderly, honoring home pleases God and is the only command that, if followed, draws the blessing and favor of God (Eph. 6:1-4). The home is the primary furnace of discipleship where a person’s character is forged.

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

10 Commandments, 5

From Mount Sinai, God spoke the Ten Commandments as an overview of the whole Law, and were in descending order of honor and authority. #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship, #3 Do not take name of God in vain, #4 Keep the Sabbath holy. The first four were people’s relationship to God, the next six were people’s relationship to others.

 

#5 HONOR your father and mother

The first command dealing with human relations is the family. God created the home and human development from infant to adult to teach honor and authority. In many ways parents are like ‘God’ to children—they preceded them, created them, feed, clothe, love and discipline them (Prov. 13:24; 29:15, 17). Though no home is perfect and change can be sought, rebellion is never tolerated. God does not bless chaos. Children are to bring honor (Heb. kaw-bad, ‘to give weight to’) to their parents in how they think, speak and act toward them—even if they’re unworthy of it. Honoring someone does not mean their actions are approved of, but that the child is honoring the God who commanded it. Honoring says more about the person doing the honoring than the person being honored. Humility and rebellion are on opposite ends of God’s blessing (Prov. 3:34; James 4:6). Parents and the elderly are given a special designation of respect. This included showing deference to those that are older through physical and verbal appreciation. Also, older children are to take care of their parents in their old age in way of repaying them for all the years they poured into them both emotionally and financially (Lev. 19:32; 20:9; 1 Tim. 5:4).

God built the season of youth to be a time of exploration, learning and serving God (Ecc. 11:9; 12:13, 14). While old age often brings wisdom with little energy, youth often brings energy with little wisdom (Prov. 20:29; 1 Pet. 5:5, 6). Believers are to honor the authority over them as authority from God whether parental, governmental, or church (Rom. 13:1-7). No one lives outside the boundaries of leadership and authority, and there is no stable society without a stable home. Having an orderly, honoring home pleases God and is the only command that, if followed, draws the blessing and favor of God (Eph. 6:1-4). The home is the primary furnace of discipleship where a person’s character is forged.

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

10 Commandments, 3&4

From Mount Sinai, God educated Israel on the requirements of being His people. In a thunderous voice He spoke from the mountain which was shrouded in fire, smoke, thunder, lightning and an earthquake. The Ten Commandments were an overview of the whole Law and were in descending order of importance and honor: #1 No other gods before Me, #2 No carved images to worship,

 

#3 Do not use the NAME of God (YHWH) in vain

To invoke a god’s name was to say something about that god’s character (Deut. 18:20). In Egypt, using a god’s name for an oath was binding but because no other real gods existed, had no consequences if broken. Israel could take oaths in the LORD’s name (Heb. YHWH, Ex. 3:14) but never falsely, making His Name worthless in authority (Lev. 19:12; Deut. 6:13; 32:4). Israel was never to use God’s name as profanity (‘to treat with irreverence or as common’). So, when God’s name was uttered, especially in business or in reference to the truth of a matter, it guaranteed authenticity and integrity. To use YHWH to lie (‘in vain’), caused the other person to blaspheme the real God and brought judgment on the violator (Matt. 12:36; Rom. 12:23, 24). Names represent the character of families, teams, cities, nations and ultimately God. God’s family is to represent their family Name well!

 

#4 Keep the SABBATH holy

As slaves in Egypt, Israel worked sun-up to sun-down, seven days a week to provide for Egypt and themselves. Now that they were free, God required them to trust Him by working six days and resting (Heb. shab-bawth, ‘intermission/rest’) on the seventh (Saturday; Ex. 16:29). This weekly reminder mirrored God’s work and rest during the Creation Week (Gen. 2:1-3). There is no cultural or astronomical reason for a ‘7-day’ segment of time but nearly all cultures had this timeframe as a remnant of creation’s history. Because of the inconsistent nature of ancient chronologies, there is no way of knowing what modern day represents the first Sabbath. God requires people to work, however, believers are still to choose a day to be set apart to worship God (2 Thess. 3:10; Heb. 10:25). Resting keeps believers from making work, money, and things an idol, rather than the God who gives work, money, and things!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

10 Commandments, 1&2

After sanctifying themselves in preparation to meet God, the people of Israel gather around the mountain to encounter the God who saved them from Egypt (Ex. 19:10, 11). God then speaks the Ten Commandments, which were an overview of the entire Law, audibly in a thunderous voice from the fire and smoke on Mount Sinai. God dictates a descending order of authority and honor.

 

  1. No other gods BEFORE Me

The people of Israel had spent 400 years with Egyptians who continually and collectively worshipped a pantheon of gods that represented various aspects of nature and Egyptian life. Because of this, Egyptian worship of any particular god was not dishonor to any other god as they were disconnected deities. Israel’s God however, was not made up by men or bound by nature but was the Creator and Sustainer of all things. This meant that no other true ‘gods’ existed and Israel’s worship would be appropriately monotheistic. God would not tolerate syncretism (attempted blending of opposing views about god/s) as He proved during the plagues in Egypt. God made it clear that He (Heb. YHWH, ‘I am that/who I am’, Ex. 3:14) was the only real God and that all the other gods of the nations were nothing but made-up myths unable to help or hurt anyone (Deut. 4:34, 35, 39; 32:39; Is. 44:6-8). In view of this, the primary focus for Israel was not to worship or honor, either physically or spiritually, any god before (Heb. al paw-neem ‘before my face’) or alongside YHWH.

 

  1. Make no carved IMAGES to worship

The Egyptians had depictions of gods on palace walls, pottery, tombs and made large statues or small images made from silver and gold. Because the Egyptians gave the Israelites many gifts as they left, undoubtedly Israel had many of these images with them (Ex. 12:35, 36). Because of their background, Israel was prone to polytheism. So, God purposely never revealed Himself in a tangible form but chose light, fire, smoke, and lightening so people wouldn’t make an image of Him and worship the ‘form’ rather than God. Because of His great love for his people, any worship of non-existent gods would arouse his jealousy and anger. The consequences of the sin of those who hated God would be generational until repentance happened. The true God deserves true worship from a true heart!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Israel Reaches Mt. Sinai

Israel gathers at the MOUNTAIN to worship

It had been about two months since Moses left Egypt with the nation of almost 2 million people. They had gone nearly 200 miles and were nearing Mount Sinai where they were originally called to worship God (Ex. 3:12). Though they had seen the God of their forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) do miracles to punish Egypt for enslaving them, they still did not know Him personally. God has no grandchildren (Rom. 14:11, 12). Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things! After following God’s direction through Moses, God brought them to a place of corporate worship apart from any distractions. Though people must make individual choices to follow God, believers are commanded to seek out corporate times of prayer, teaching, and fellowship (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24, 25). A distracted mind leads to a disinterested heart leading to a disjointed connection with God. Worship takes focus. Focus takes desire and energy. Worship is a focused moment committed to giving someone or something the greatest worth a person can (Mark 12:30). Wherever God is, is holy. God’s presence transforms the mundane and profane into miraculous and pristine!

 

Israel encounters their GOD to worship

Upon reaching the mountain, God gives Moses a bilateral agreement that if Israel obeys His commands they will be a ‘special treasure’, ‘kingdom of priests’ and a ‘holy nation’. When God changes lives He expects believers to shine and draw others out of darkness (Matt. 5:14). Like a wedding or event where participants prepare themselves for the occasion, God prepares His people to meet Him. God tells Moses to sanctify (Heb. qadash, ‘to make clean/set apart as holy’) the people. Two conditions in the national sanctification process were the washing of clothes representing a cleaning from their former life in Egypt and abstaining from sexual contact to show self-restraint. God is greater than any personal past or personal desire and special moments with God often require special action (1 Cor. 7:5). God then appears in smoke, lightening, an earthquake, a trumpet blast and His own thunderous voice to talk with Moses. The people tremble at the power and presence of God and those who disobeyed would die! Sanctification is a reminder for believers of the seriousness of Who they worship and why!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Moses Gets Some Help

Moses gets his helper BACK

After miraculously leaving Egypt and travelling for a month and a half, the nation of Israel stops at Rephidim. While camping there, the Israelites were attacked by a local clan leader, Amalek, who went after the weak and tired at the back of the settlement. In this first war, Moses helped the army to victory by holding the staff of God up in his hands, but grew tired, so Aaron and Hur held his hands up (Ex. 17:12). While at Rephidim, Moses’ father-in-law, Reuel/Jethro, brought Moses’ wife and sons back to him after he sent them home on his way to Egypt nearly six months earlier (Ex. 4:25, 26). Fathers should be their son-in-law’s greatest fan, as their daughter by blood has become a wife by covenant. Though more powerful than him, Moses humbly honors Jethro by bowing down, kissing him, and inviting him to eat. God honors those who honor others (Lev. 19:32; Prov. 29:23). The last time they were together, Zipporah fought with Moses over his lack of leadership. Now, in meeting him again, she went from being a shepherd’s wife, to a prophet/pastor/national leader’s wife. But regardless of the husband’s job, wives will either be their husband’s greatest help or hindrance. Nothing has more influence on a man than his wife—men set the direction of the home, but women set the distance (Ex. 34:16; Prov. 12:4; 14:1; 18:22; 21:9; 31:10; 1 Kings 11:1-4).

 

Moses gets his helpers going FORWRD

The report of the Israelite exodus had spread around the near East and when Jethro heard of it in Midian, he went to meet Moses. After being told about the miracles, Jethro rejoices. Godly people get excited about God’s work! Jethro notices that Moses is the only judge for over one million people. So, he counsels him to find men who follow God, are trustworthy, and have integrity, and depending on their ability, place them over certain amounts of people. Not everyone is gifted to lead and do it well, but everyone can follow and do it well! Leadership is not a right, but a gift (Rom. 12:8). Not even a Spirit-empowered, amazingly gifted, wise man of God can do God’s work long-term without help from others. Moses had assistants to help with guiding the nation, a wife to help with the home, and associates to help with the people. Great leadership finds great people to create a great future to glorify their great God!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Bread From Heaven

Israel provides complaining from their HEART

After their miraculous salvation at the Red Sea, Moses leads Israel into the desert toward Mt. Sinai (Ex. 3:18). When Israel departed Egypt they left behind their homes, gardens, and almost all other food and food preparation. As their journey started to the Promised Land, they realized they are totally dependent on God. As people can die of exposure quickly in the desert, God provided a massive cloud during the day for shade and a pillar of fire at night for light and warmth (Num. 14:14). After changing undrinkable water to sweet water for the people when they complained, they cry out for food next. It has only been one month since they left Egypt as slaves and despite the miracles they have seen, they provoke God with their lack of faith wondering why the He hadn’t killed them in Egypt rather than starving them. Instead of trusting God and thanking Moses, they grumble and slander (1 Cor. 10:10). Belief is a function of faith that catalyzes trust. Doubt is a function of disbelief that destroys confidence. Complaining is a heart issue and the litmus test of faith in God when challenged with difficulty.

 

God provides food from HEAVEN

Despite Israel’s miraculous freedom and blessings from God, they blame Moses and God for His inability to provide food. So, in the middle of the desert, God graciously gives them ‘manna’ (sounds like Heb. man hu meaning ‘What is it?’) as bread every morning with the dew and quail for meat at night. Manna was a small, round, thin, white substance that tasted like wafers with honey and described as the ‘bread of angels’ (Ps. 78:25). They were to gather enough for one day (2 quarts a person) and eat their fill, trusting God by not storing any. Instead, they disobeyed and horded the manna. Whatever they stored grew worms and whatever was left outside melted. Then, on day six (Friday) they were told to gather enough for two days because there would be no manna on the seventh—the Sabbath day of rest (Saturday). The manna they gathered to store then didn’t rot as an example of trusting in the word of God over physical food and His provision of daily bread (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:3, 4; John 6:31-35). However, many people tried to gather more and God’s anger burned against their pride and rebellion. The people of God should trust the character of God!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

The Red Sea

Israel is TRAPPED by the Red Sea

After the death of their firstborn, the Egyptians begged the Israelites to leave. As Moses had prepared the people earlier, nearly 2 million Israelites left Rameses (modern Qantir) in Goshen (Ex. 12:37). Instead of going east into Philistine territory to encounter war, God led them southeast by a cloud by day and pillar of fire at night. They eventually stopped with the Red Sea (Heb. yam suph, ‘sea of reeds’) on one side and mountainous desert on the other (Ex. 13:18; 14:3). (3500 years ago the Gulf of Suez probably stretched north beyond the Bitter Lakes—all called ‘Sea of Reeds’) As Israel camped by the water (possibly by modern Adabiya), Pharaoh realized they were trapped and that no ‘god’ had rescued them, so he sends his war-chariots to recover them. God sets a trap for the blindly arrogant so they are caught in it! Seeing the Egyptians, the people start to panic. Despite all the miracles they had seen, at the first sign of trouble they give up—and attack their leader. The Israelites wished Moses hadn’t come and had rather left them in the slavery they complained about! Right at the beginning of their faith journey they encounter a problem and want to return to the ‘good old days’ of slavery instead! Immaturity chooses familiar over faith.

 

Israel is RESCUED by the Red Sea

As the Egyptians approach, God places a fiery cloud between them and Israel—producing darkness on Egypt’s side and light on Israel’s. God is the same to both believers and non-believers but one has light and the other remains in darkness. Before he knows what God will do, Moses tells them to have no fear, and they will never see this army again. Godly leaders trust God! God then instructs Moses to tell the people to go forward before he has even parted the water! As Moses waves his staff over the sea, billions of gallons of water pile up creating huge ‘walls’ to the left and right. During the night, Israel crossed over on dry ground and when the cloud lifted, the Egyptians pursued them. After Israel finished crossing and the army was near shore, God confused them, and as Moses waved his staff, tons of water crashed down killing the entire army. The same passageway that was salvation for God’s children was judgment for God’s enemies. Faith without testing is wishful thinking. God is trustworthy, even when believers are trustless (2 Tim. 2:13).

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Death Of The Firstborn

God threatens His maximum PUNISHMENT

After systematically crushing nine of Egypt’s most revered gods, God reserved the last plague for Egypt’s trust in their own Pharaoh. Lies are eventually shattered against the rock of truth (Jer. 16:9). Because Egypt ‘kidnapped’ and abused Israel, God’s firstborn ‘son’, God will bring justice upon their firstborn sons for not letting Israel go (Ex. 4:23). The title ‘firstborn’ was for the firstborn male, thought to be the best or strength of the family or herd. The firstborn son received most of the family fortune at the father’s death and was treated with special favor as the future hope of the family. For the firstborn to die early was thought to be a curse from God and for it to happen to a nation in one night was catastrophic. This last plague challenged all the gods of Egypt and the Pharaoh himself as the self-proclaimed ‘blessed one’ of the gods. At first the Pharaoh wouldn’t obey as he didn’t ‘know the LORD’, now he knew the LORD in judgment rather than blessing (Ex. 5:2). Everyone will know the Lord as God the Judge, but not everyone will know the Lord as God the Savior (Is. 45:34; Phil. 2:9-11)!

 

The Pharaoh loses his most precious POSSESSION

God instructs the men to kill a lamb for their homes, cover the doors with blood, and eat the meat. At midnight, God visited every house without the blood of the lamb and takes vengeance on Egypt while ‘passing over’ Israelite homes. As a reminder that it was a miracle and not planned, Israel was to eat unleavened bread during Passover showing the haste in which they left. This event prefigured Jesus, who was called ‘Lamb of God’, and whose shed blood would make divine wrath ‘pass over’ believers, being exemplified at the last supper (Luke 22:19-20; John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). After the most destructive plague, the Pharaoh releases them. Moses, who was maturing as a godly leader and had been threatened by the Pharaoh before, was now respected by Israel and Egypt. Leaders can either bless or injure those they lead. The Israelites were given gold, silver, and animals by the Egyptians and came out as a rich nation as God had prophesied to Abraham (Gen. 15:13, 14). This event was so significant Israel restarted their national calendar here (Abib/Nisan-March). Though bondage may last for a season, God specializes in breaking bondage and setting His children free (John 8:36).

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Hail, Locusts, Darkness

God demanded TOTAL obedience

After six plagues did moderate damage to Egypt, the Pharaoh’s heart remained hard so God announced more severe punishment to jolt him out of his defiance. To begin, God states He could have already wiped out all of Egypt. Instead, YHWH graciously kept the pagan nation alive and submitted Himself to a test of strength against their pantheon of gods. Just because things are going your way doesn’t equal God’s approval, sometimes it just equals God’s patience! God mercifully warned that everyone who fears YHWH, along with their animals, should seek shelter—those that don’t will die. Moses then brought a massive storm of rain, lightening and hail so heavy it crushed trees and killed everything without strong cover. This challenged Nut, goddess of the sky, who Egypt worshipped for water to nourish their crops. Seeing this power, the Pharaoh acknowledges his ‘sin’ (Heb. khaw-taw, ‘to miss/error’) and begs Moses to stop it. After he does, the Pharaoh changes his mind again so Moses brings locusts to cover the ground. They eat all the plants and shrubs, which confronted Osiris, the god of rebirth and vegetation. By again claiming that he has ‘sinned’, the Pharaoh asks Moses to remove the locusts. After God blows the locusts out, Pharaoh sees relief and refuses again. Then, God covers Egypt in a thick, stifling black ‘fog’ for three days. This was a direct threat to one of Egypt’s most revered gods—Amun-Re, the god of wind, sun, and warmth. In contrast, the settlement of Israelites in Goshen had sunlight and didn’t experience any of the plagues!

 

Pharaoh desired PARTIAL obedience

The Pharaoh knew he and his advisors were overmatched by Israel’s God yet they refused unconditional surrender. Despite the power he has seen, the Pharaoh agrees partially but threatens Moses if he takes the women and children. At first the Pharaoh wanted to bargain and only let the men go, then later everyone but without the animals as hostages. Moses tells him he will take their herds and there will be no compromise as the defeated have no authority to bargain. A hard heart leads to a calcified will, and delayed obedience leads to increased penalties (like car registration!). Partial obedience is acknowledgement of what should be done but a willful heart not to complete it. Obedience in part is disobedience in full!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Scarabs, Livestock Death, Boils

God wanted OBEDIENCE from the Pharaoh

After the Nile recovered from turning to blood and the dead frogs and gnats were gone, the Pharaoh felt relief so he rejected Moses’ request to leave again (Ex. 8:15). Moses then warned of more severe plagues coming on the Egyptians but that the Israelites would be exempt. Similar to the first time Moses met the Pharaoh at the water, he was likely performing a ritual thanking one of their gods for stopping the plagues. God then brought a massive invasion (Heb. arōb, swarm) of flies or scarab beetles that covered the land, animals, and people. This was an attack on either the air god Shu, or Khepri, the beetle god. Pharaoh pleads for Moses to take them away and when he does, Pharaoh goes back on his promise to release the people for the second time. God then inflicts a plague of disease on Egyptian livestock in the field as a challenge to the bull-god Apis who was revered for livestock strength, fertility, and health. Even after seeing their livestock die, Pharaoh wouldn’t change his mind. Moses then brings the most personal plague yet—painful, pus-filled skin boils. This challenged Sekhmet, their goddess of warfare and healer of plagues and ills. It was so severe the magicians, who couldn’t stop the plagues, couldn’t even stand up to talk to Moses! A hard heart can result in painful bodies!

 

The Pharaoh wanted OPTIONS from God

After the plague of flies, the Pharaoh wants to bargain with God to let the people worship in the land so as not to lose control. As Israel’s sacrificial worship would be revolting to the Egyptians and God commanded them to leave, they must separate to worship God. Personal control apart from God is an illusion. Seeing neither the flies, livestock death, nor boils affect the Israelites, Pharaoh starts to see divine distinction between his gods and Israel’s God. God told Moses to inform Pharaoh that the LORD (YHWH) is in the midst of their land thereby claiming Egypt as His own (Ex. 8:22)! Personal possessions apart from God are an illusion (Ps. 24:1). The Israelites were set apart or ‘sanctified’ to show the Egyptians and the world where the true God could be contacted. This was the purpose of Israel before and is the purpose of the church now (1 Pet. 2:9). The people of God are to show the power of God so people without God can become children of God!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Blood, Frogs, Gnats

Moses begins to show God’s STRENGTH

After Moses complained that God’s plan didn’t work, God declared He would show Egypt the power of the true God. Though Aarons’ staff became a snake that ate the magicians’ snakes, the Pharaoh is unimpressed. The next morning, Moses met the Pharaoh at the river where he may have been performing a ritual to Hapi, the god of the Nile. Hapi was worshipped as the nourisher of Egypt through the annual rising of the river and its life-giving elements such as fish and birds. Aaron then took the staff and turned the Nile, ponds, and even jars of water in homes to blood, killing every living thing in the Nile and the people had to dig to find drinking water. After the magicians mimicked the blood, Pharaoh was unmoved. The next week, Moses caused an invasion of frogs into Egypt’s homes, beds, dishes and bodies. Frogs were considered sacred in Egypt as an emanation of the goddess Heket—who was linked to birth and fertility. The magicians also produced frogs but couldn’t rid the land of them, so Moses was asked to stop them. God then killed the frogs and they stunk up the whole land. Pharaoh agrees to let the people go, but when the frogs stop, he goes back on his promise. Pharaoh wanted relief not repentance.

 

The Pharaoh begins to show his STUBBORNNESS 

In response to the Pharaoh, Moses brings biting gnats/fleas from the dust as a challenge to Geb, god of the earth, and they cover the ground, animals, and people. Though the magicians were able to emulate some of the miracles, they couldn’t reverse the effects, and when they couldn’t duplicate the gnats, they recognize God’s hand. Despite this, the Pharaoh doesn’t listen and hardens his own heart (8:15). Rebellious hearts will look for any reason not to believe! Testing exposes the quality of the heart and either hardens or purifies it. Though all lives feel pain, a godly heart is purified in the fire and becomes like gold after testing (Job 23:10). God told Moses beforehand that the Pharaoh was stubborn and wouldn’t let the people go (Ex. 3:19). So, God chose to also harden his heart to expose it for what it already was and extend Egypt’s punishment to clarify the power of Israel’s God. This was done to rebuke Egypt and warn other nations that Israel’s God was the true God (Josh. 2:10). The true heart of people should glorify the true God!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

From Bad to Worse

Moses increases Israel’s HOPE

The Israelites had been praying for deliverance from slavery for years, so God called Moses from Midian to rescue them (Ex. 2:23). As Moses appeared before the Pharaoh he demanded that the people be allowed to go to Mt. Sinai to worship God. As he does not know ‘the LORD/YHWH’, the Pharaoh won’t obey. Believers should not be surprised when unbelievers don’t see the hand of God at work and are hostile towards it. Understandably, the Pharaoh has no respect for the God of the Israelites, as in his view, the Egyptian ‘gods’ have kept the Israelites in slavery. In the mystery of God’s plan, what the Pharaoh doesn’t realize is that Egypt has been used as an ‘incubator’ until the Israelites were big enough to take over Canaan (Gen. 15:13, 14). In the mystery of God’s sovereignty, He will eventually produce good out of evil done to His chosen people (Rom. 8:28). What is a mystery to humanity is destiny to divinity!

 

The Pharaoh increases Israel’s BURDEN

After Moses showed the elders the miraculous power of God, word spread that freedom was near—so many Israelites stopped working. Realizing the economic disaster this would create and believing they had too much time to sit around and think up a new God to save them, Pharaoh makes them scavenge for straw to make bricks instead of having it provided for them. What looked like a moment of deliverance had become a moment of dismay both for the people and for Moses. God did not tell Moses he would be rejected by both the Pharaoh and the Israelites—as their lives became more miserable than before—so he wanted to give up. God often allows a believer’s situation to become worse to test their faith and remind them afterward about God’s power and provision. People who exercise no faith in a time of testing either prove their unbelief or show their spiritual immaturity (Prov. 24:10). Often times the darkness is the deepest and most despairing before the dawn. Disappointment from God should not lead to pessimism about God but prayer to God. While the Israelites label themselves to the slave drivers as ‘Your servants/slaves’, God refers to them as His favored ‘firstborn son’ and promised to provide for them as His covenant people (4:22; 5:15). Regardless of the personal situation, believers must never forget who they are based on Whose they are!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Moses Leaves For Egypt

Moses is given great POWER by God

After God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, God told him that he was being sent to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Because Moses failed to gain the support of the Israelites 40 years earlier, he is nervous about returning. Though God promised to go with him, Moses asks how they will believe him on his word alone. God then shows him three miracles; a wooden staff to a living snake, a leprous hand to restored flesh and a jar of water to blood. Moses should have had confidence in God’s power by seeing Him making dead things alive, decaying things restored and pure things defiled. God can make the impossible, possible (Luke 18:27)! As a last ditch effort to get out of the mission, he reminded God of his speech problem and lack of eloquence. Believing the Pharaoh will be unimpressed with his presentation, he asks God to find someone else. God’s anger burns at Moses’ lack of belief after the miracles he has just seen—God made his mouth and can transform it by His power. God is never surprised by a circumstance, so believers should be confident in God’s calling! In response to his lack of faith, God sarcastically claims that his brother Aaron can ‘speak well’ and will send him to be his spokesman. Even when believers are faithless toward God, God is faithful to them (2 Tim. 2:13)!

 

Moses is in great DANGER from God

Moses returns from Mt. Sinai with his father-in-law’s flocks and leaves for Egypt. As Moses journeys with his wife and sons, God appears at a rest stop, coming to kill him. His wife realizes what is happening, and though not an Israelite, as his helper, saves her husband’s life by circumcising her son (Gen. 17:9-11). God often puts others in our lives to help us live for Him. As Moses should have done the circumcision she is angered by his lack of leadership and throws the skin at his feet in disgust. Either because of laziness or rebellion, Moses failed to follow God’s direction as He holds the leaders of His people and the home to high standards (1 Tim. 3:5). No one is indispensable or untouchable. It is the pleasure of God to use anyone, it is the privilege of believers to be used, and it is the prerogative of God to remove anyone. After meeting Aaron, they leave for Egypt and share the good news of liberation. God’s power goes with His presence in His people!

The Pharaoh increases Israel’s BURDEN

After Moses showed the elders the miraculous power of God, word spread that freedom was near—so many Israelites stopped working. Realizing the economic disaster this would create and believing they had too much time to sit around and think up a new God to save them, Pharaoh makes them scavenge for straw to make bricks instead of having it provided for them. What looked like a moment of deliverance had become a moment of dismay both for the people and for Moses. God did not tell Moses he would be rejected by both the Pharaoh and the Israelites—as their lives became more miserable than before—so he wanted to give up. God often allows a believer’s situation to become worse to test their faith and remind them afterward about God’s power and provision. People who exercise no faith in a time of testing either prove their unbelief or show their spiritual immaturity (Prov. 24:10). Often times the darkness is the deepest and most despairing before the dawn. Disappointment from God should not lead to pessimism about God but prayer to God. While the Israelites label themselves to the slave drivers as ‘Your servants/slaves’, God refers to them as His favored ‘firstborn son’ and promised to provide for them as His covenant people (4:22; 5:15). Regardless of the personal situation, believers must never forget who they are based on Whose they are!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Moses Meets God

God invites Moses to MEET Him

When Moses was forty years old, he fled Egypt for murdering an Egyptian. He then lived in Midian where he got married and became a shepherd. Now, forty years later at eighty years old, Moses was nearing Mt. Horeb/Sinai and saw a burning bush that was not consumed. Even if we feel God has forgotten us, eventually God reminds us we are remembered! As a 40-year veteran of the desert, Moses investigated the shrub, and God calls to him personally by name. Even in perceived anonymity, God knows us. God tells him to remove his sandals in recognition that God’s holy presence was present. Though God’s call can be recognized with comfort, it should be responded to with caution! Since no one can see God and live, yet God physically interacts with people, and the Spirit of God was at creation and is sometimes manifested as fire, the imagery of the burning bush mirrors the threefold designations of God in the Trinity—Father who speaks, Son (messenger/angel of the Lord) who interacts, and Holy Spirit who empowers (Gen. 1:2; 3:8; 32:30; Ex. 33:20; Jud. 2:1; Acts 2:3; John 1:18). God can transform our ordinary movements into extraordinary moments!

 

God invites Moses to KNOW Him

After God identifies Himself with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel, God shares His plan to send Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and bring them to Canaan—the Promised Land. Moses questions this plan, but God tells him the reason for confidence is not his ability but God’s reliability. God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called. Moses then asks what God’s name is so he can tell the people which God will deliver them from the pantheon of Egyptian ‘gods’. God reveals His name as ‘YHWH’ (from Heb. verb hayah ‘to be’) meaning ‘I am who/that I am—the one who is/will be’ hinting at His eternal, changeless nature. Names throughout history were often chosen to describe the situation or the character of the person being born (Prov. 22:1). Though God knew Moses personally before He met him, God shares His name with Moses so Moses can know Him personally! YHWH will make the gods of the earth’s strongest nation look inept as He takes the Israelites out unharmed and plunders Egypt like a victorious army by only asking for their goods. Those God knows closely, He blesses abundantly!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

Moses, The Murderer

Moses REACTS for his people

Providentially, Pharaoh’s daughter had found an infant, adopted him, and named him Moses (Heb. mawshaw ‘to draw/pull out’, Ex. 2:10). Though ethnically a Hebrew from a slave family, Moses grew up in royal privilege and received the best education of his day (Acts 7:22). When he was forty years old, he was out observing the slave labor of his people, and upon seeing an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. While it isn’t clear if Moses murdered the Egyptian from anger, pity, righteousness, or to show his Hebrew loyalty, his actions were out of place. Divine justice never hides behind the veil of human vengeance (Rom. 12:19). Offended personal sensibilities does not automatically equal divine moral imperatives.

 

Moses is REJECTED by his people

Moses later saw two Hebrews fighting and offered to settle their disagreement. Instead of accepting his help, they mock him and wonder if he will kill them too (Prov. 26:17). Seeing they didn’t view him as an ally, Moses escaped hundreds of miles east to the land of Midian (modern Saudi Arabia). Though God could have possibly used him as Egyptian royalty to bring about reforms, Moses’ hasty action jeopardized his God-given situation and influence. Whether from immaturity or ignorance, Moses desired to be a savior but didn’t have the necessary skill, right timing, or power of God to perform the task (Acts 7:25). Purposes for God without the power and plan of God, brings failure without God!

 

Moses RESCUES other people

In the desert, Moses sat down at a well and saw women trying to get water for their flocks, but were run off by other shepherds. So, Moses bravely ‘stood up’ to save the weak (Ps. 82:3, 4). The women were seven daughters of Reuel/Jethro, priest of Midian, a distant cousin who Moses ended up living with and working for (Gen. 25:2). Moses would later marry Zipporah, who birthed his first son, Gershom. From privileged, single prince to poor, married father, God often uses our family and financial situations to mold us. Though Moses’ failed before, God’s people are defined by His promises, not their problems (vs. 24)!

The Pharaoh increases Israel’s BURDEN

After Moses showed the elders the miraculous power of God, word spread that freedom was near—so many Israelites stopped working. Realizing the economic disaster this would create and believing they had too much time to sit around and think up a new God to save them, Pharaoh makes them scavenge for straw to make bricks instead of having it provided for them. What looked like a moment of deliverance had become a moment of dismay both for the people and for Moses. God did not tell Moses he would be rejected by both the Pharaoh and the Israelites—as their lives became more miserable than before—so he wanted to give up. God often allows a believer’s situation to become worse to test their faith and remind them afterward about God’s power and provision. People who exercise no faith in a time of testing either prove their unbelief or show their spiritual immaturity (Prov. 24:10). Often times the darkness is the deepest and most despairing before the dawn. Disappointment from God should not lead to pessimism about God but prayer to God. While the Israelites label themselves to the slave drivers as ‘Your servants/slaves’, God refers to them as His favored ‘firstborn son’ and promised to provide for them as His covenant people (4:22; 5:15). Regardless of the personal situation, believers must never forget who they are based on Whose they are!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

A Savior Is Born

Not knowing God’s plan, God’s people TRUST God

For hundreds of years after Joseph died, the Israelite population grew so large in Egypt, the Pharaoh (possibly Amenhotep II) decreed infanticide for all males. Because Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives charged with the delivery and recording of slave children, refused to obey and murder them, God blessed them. God honored their life-threatening decision and put the women in families gaining them safety and financial security or possibly children of their own. Faith in God must be tested, and God will honor those who honor Him (1 Sam. 2:30). Believers are called to follow the laws of the land, however, when the laws of the land contradict clear revelation of God, obedience to God is required (Acts 5:29; 1 Pet. 2:13). Believers will give temporary account to temporary governments but give eternal account to an eternal God—God’s Law trumps all other laws. Though the future is a mystery, believers must honor God in the present!

 

At the right time, God’s plan is BIRTHED

A man named Amram was of the poor, slave-class in Egypt, but came from the priestly tribe of Levi and wanted to obey God. After marrying Jochebed, she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy. Even in oppression, there is no excuse for dishonoring God’s design for sexuality! Regardless of socio-economic status or situation, anyone anywhere can love and please God. Technically, she didn’t disobey the order to ‘cast her son into the river’, she just put him in a basket first! After putting him in a known royal bathing spot with her daughter watching, once the princess found him, the daughter volunteered the boy’s mother to wean him. So not only did her son stay alive but she got paid to nurse him as well! God often bridges the gap of human effort with miraculous interaction. Ironically, the Israelite who would one day ‘draw out’ Israel and save them from slavery in Egypt is named ‘Mosheh’ (Heb. mawshaw ‘to draw out’) by an Egyptian princess who drew him out of the Nile and saved him from death! Just like his ancient ancestor Noah, Moses is saved by a pitch-covered ark/box (Heb. taybaw, Gen. 6:14) floating in the water. And, just like his forefathers Jacob and Joseph, Moses is kept alive by the kindness of an Egyptian. The sovereignty of God may be mysterious but it is not mistaken.

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF

God’s People Flourish

God leads His people to BLESSING

For reasons unclear, around 2000 BC, God chose a man named Abram (eventually renamed Abraham) from the city of Ur in Babylonia (modern-day Iran/Iraq) and promised to bless him (Gen. 12:2). Eventually Abraham’s son, Isaac, would have a son named Jacob. Despite Jacob being a liar and deceiver, God was faithful to His promise and continued to work on Jacob. God’s love and patience is long, because He desires to see people change! At one point, God wrestled Jacob to show His sovereignty and then renamed him Israel (‘he that struggles/strives with God’, Gen. 32:28). Jacob/Israel had twelve sons, one of whom was Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers and became a slave in Egypt. Years later, Joseph became a leader of Egypt and Jacob/Israel along with all the other brothers moved there to live (Gen. 47:11). After Joseph’s death (c. 1804 BC), and for the next 400 years, God prospered Israel’s descendants in Egypt as He promised Abraham and Jacob (Gen 46:3). God desires to bless His people and, with obedience, it can lead to greater blessings!

 

God’s people end up in DIFFICULTY

The clan who had entered Egypt as 70 people from the man called Israel (Jacob), had grown into the nation called Israel of over 2 million by the time of Moses 400 years later (Num. 1:46). Eventually, a later ruler of Egypt (possibly Amenhotep II), who did not know about Joseph’s life or agreements, put the Israelites into bondage because of their large population and out of fear of an alliance with his enemies. Surprisingly, God’s great blessing eventually led to great persecution and enslavement. Yet even during persecution, nothing could stop God’s love for His people. God can take what other people mean for evil and harm against believers, and turn it into their good and blessing (Rom. 8:28). We don’t get to choose the circumstances of life but we can choose our reaction to it—trust God or trust self. In God’s economy, no time inside His will is wasted no matter how fruitless it seems from a human standpoint. It is important to realize that most promises of God won’t be realized in this life. In many ways, Israel’s time in Egypt was just a time of incubation so the nation could grow in numbers, strength, and knowledge from one of the greatest empires in history. Often what appears useless in the present, is training for greatness in the future!

Download Notes As PDF
Download Devotional As PDF