Song of Victory (Exodus 15:1-21)
It was wonderful to witness certain members of the Superbowl winning Philadephia Eagle's give glory to God after their victory. Success will either elevate one's ego or be used as a platform to elevate the name of God. The humble recognize that the hand of God is behind their every feat. The proud love to rub it in the face of their opponents not realizing that they are creating their own fall.
The children of Israel experienced their own victory parade after the crossing of the Red Sea. It was now time to celebrate, the end of 400 years of captivity was over, so the people began to dance and sing. Just like millions of people erupted in celebration in the streets of Philadelphia during the Superbowl parade, the children of Israel erupted in Praise in Exodus 15:1-21. The song sang by Philadelphia fans and players was "We Are The Champion," the song sang by Israel was "The Lord has triumphed gloriously."
In the Lord's song, credit is given to God as the source of strength and victory. He is the one by His right hand that crushed the horse and rider under the sea. "Who Is like the Lord, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders." It is His unfailing love and His might that leads and guides His people to safety.
We no longer have to wait until we see victory to celebrate for we are already victorious. Even when things look bleak and unpromising we are to celebrate. Faith is the key that releases power and favor that breaks up the fallow ground. Faith is the evidence of things not yet seen. One must already see spiritually that they are victorious before they will see it witnessed naturally.
Life in Christ is a non-stop Holy Spirit Victory Party. It all depends on whether we look through the lens of fear or faith, defeat or victory.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).”
How Quick They Turn
The first part of Exodus 15 the children of Israel were celebrating through dance and song, the second part they are complaining.
Just as excited as Eagles fans are after winning the Superbowl if they start losing in the coming season the fans will quickly turn. That is how people are they celebrate when things go there way and complain when they do not.
The children of Israel had gone three days without finding water, when they finally found some at Marah, it was too bitter to drink. Instead of turning to God to do a miracle they complained to Moses.
Every need that God allows to go unmet is an opportunity to bring forth a miracle through faith.
Moses unlike the children of Israel who complained, prayed to God, and God told him to take a piece of wood, throw it into the water and you will be able to drink.
When bitterness is within someone they can celebrate only so long before they begin complaining again. Bitterness is a virus that you can only get healed from through the wooden cross. Only by applying the blood, offering forgiveness, can it be uprooted and pulled out of your heart.
You only know if you are delivered from bitterness when you are tested. If the person that wronged you comes near you or a thought of them comes to your mind and you choose to pray for them in all sincerity rather than dwell on negativity then you are free.
Prayer turns people and situations over to God who now steps in and does what only He can. When you surrender your bitterness to God the consequences of sin gets lifted and you are healed and delivered. God now leads you away from your place of want into a place of plenty.
Sunday February 11th
Dedicated to God’s Service
It’s amazing the stories that 911 operators can tell.
One operator got a call and said “911, what’s your emergency?”
The voice on the other end said, “My wife is going into labor. I think she’s about to have the baby!”
The 911 operator asked “Is this her firstborn child?”
And the answer came back, “Uh, no, this is her husband!”
As we saw last week, the firstborn children of Egypt were hit by the final plague, but the firstborn children of Israel were spared. Now in chapter 13, God has something to say to about these firstborn sons of Israel.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”
The children of Israel have finally been set free. They are now moving forward out of Egypt towards the Promised Land. It was the death of their firstborn sons that brought Pharaoh and the people of Egypt to their knees.
The firstborn sons of Israel had their lives spared and now the Lord has told Moses to have all of the firstborn dedicated to His service.
In verses 3-10 God reestablishes the Feast of Unleavened bread and then in verses 11-12 God returns His focus to the firstborn:
“Now when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 you shall devote to the Lord the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the Lord.
And in verses 14-15 God tells Moses that they should explain this plan for dedicating the firstborn to all of their children for generations to come:
14 And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the Lord the males (animals), the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’
In fact this dedication of the firstborn was so important to God that He wanted the people to carry a reminder of it on their hands and their foreheads:
16 So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
You might notice that very devout Orthodox Jews actually still wear a small box on their foreheads and wrists in fulfillment of this command.
The reality is this - that the people of Israel had been delivered from Egypt but deliverance was just the beginning of what God was planning to do in their lives. And the next stage of their journey was learning to dedicate themselves to the service of the Lord.
If we are going to move forward into the promises of God we need to be willing to dedicate our entire lives to His service. Our salvation is not a trophy to be put on our shelf, And God isn’t just a genie who just shows up whenever we pray in order to fulfill our wishes.
We are here on this earth to serve Him – not the other way around!
Romans 12:1 says, "considering all God has done, we offer our lives as a living sacrifice.....which is our reasonable service."
Of course there is no distinction in Christ between first born, second born, and third born children. We must all be born again at some point and dedicate our lives to God.
The fact that God wanted them to put a reminder on their foreheads and hands showed that He wanted to be first in their thoughts and in their deeds.
The forehead represents our thinking and the hand represents our doing.
Ask yourself this - Is God the first thought on your mind? Are you trying to please God in all that you do?
Don’t get me wrong.
God wasn’t trying to rain on their parade.
This was a time for the Israelites to celebrate the great and mighty hand of God and for this celebration to be passed on to the generations that would follow.
God is not a party-pooper!
God loves a good party! In fact God is the author of celebrations. He wants His people to have fun and to remember all that He has done for them. When God's people gather together it should be a time of celebration, full of passion and excitement because of the goodness of the Lord in our lives.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our gatherings He will insure that they are full of passion. Our services should be celebrations of praise, where people gather together and experience the amazing feeling of being in His presence and witnessing His power.
God wants His children to live a celebratory life where we are constantly walking in joy and where people encounter God's presence simply by being near us.
However, that doesn’t mean that every moment of the journey is going to be easy, because sometimes God is going to get us where we need to go, but in a round-about way
Let’s look at Exodus 13:17-18
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
Was there an easier way to get to the Promised Land? Yes, there certainly was. So why didn’t God just send the people in that direction? Because they weren’t ready to face the Philistines yet, and God knew that. When they were finally ready, He would send them to face their enemies, but they had some training to go through first.
Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles spiritually or seemingly taking the long way to get somewhere?
The reason why God sometimes doesn’t just push the pedal down on the accelerator of our lives is that He knows where we’re at and what we can handle at any given moment.
We’re often in a rush to get from Point A to Point B, but if we really knew what was coming up ahead, maybe we would slow down and let God determine the timetable.
Just because nothing seems to be getting done at any given moment doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our lives. You see, God actually cares more about our inner growth than our outward circumstances. Because, if things on the inside aren't right we’re most likely going to mess up everything on the outside.
God had the children of Israel take the roundabout way so that they could avoid facing circumstances that they weren’t ready for, circumstances that would cause them to want to run back to Egypt.
How many of you know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle?
He actually wants to increase our faith to the point where we can handle anything.
How many people, when we‘ve had about enough of someone’s issues, we might say, "you’re getting on my last nerve”?
The fact is, it’s when we have no last nerve left that we are finally ready for the Promised Land.
So think about this - how did millions of people leave Egypt without a plan for which direction to go?
Look at verses 21-22
The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
That’s how they knew where to go. God led them with a cloud during the day and with a pillar of fire by night.
God will always show us which path to go on if we acknowledge His leading. He might be taking us on the roundabout way, but if we trust Him then we will simply follow, knowing that He sees and knows all things, so His direction is always the best path for our lives.
There’s an interesting exclamation point on all of this if we go back and look at verse 19:
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”
This is a fulfillment of something that happened way back in Genesis 50:24-26, long before Moses was even born:
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Ask yourself this – are you willing to trust God to keep His promises to you, even if you never see them fulfilled in your lifetime?
That’s what Joseph was saying – “I might die here in Egypt, but one day I believe you’ll carry my bones to the Promised Land, because God will not leave me in this captive land forever!”
So let’s sum this chapter up:
God should be first in our lives.
He should be first in our thoughts and first in our actions.
He should be first in our days and first in our nights.
He should be first if we’re taking the direct route and first if we are going the roundabout way.
He should be first in our lives and first, like Joseph, even at the moment of our death.
Are you ready to make God first in your life?
Sunday February 4th
I don’t know if any of you have even noticed, but we started using gluten-free matzo a while back for communion, in case anyone in the congregation is allergic to gluten. They actually make all kinds and flavors of matzo. They have plain, whole wheat, gluten free, salted, unsalted, garlic flavored, and a new kind of bran and fiber matzo, fortified with Metamucil. The slogan for that brand of matzo is "Let My People Go".
And after many chapters and many plagues, it’s finally time for Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go!
Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
The first month of the Hebrew year was to be Abib, which falls around March and April. This verse seems to show that God was instituting a new religious calendar at that time, with the Exodus as its starting point. So, for example, in 2018 Passover will begin on Friday, March 30 and it will end on Saturday, April 7.
Now starting in verse 3 God is going to give Moses the instructions for the first Passover:
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover.
The Passover observance is the oldest of all of the Jewish festivals and it is celebrated starting at twilight on the fourteenth day of that first month of Abib and then continuing for the next seven days.
The festival involved a sacrifice and a meal. The sacrifice had to be a lamb without any spot or blemish. This would also be true for all of the sacrifices of Israel in the tabernacle and the temple, as we saw in the Book of Leviticus. The idea here was to teach the people the idea of substitutionary death—the lamb was dying instead of their firstborn sons. Jesus’ death was being foreshadowed by the Passover lamb, which is why He is called the Lamb of God in John 1:29 and 36.
Also, look at 1st Peter 1:18-19
“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
The Passover meal had a lot of symbolism, including the fact that it was to be eaten quickly and with their sandals on, as a reminder that they were about to be set free. The meat of the lamb was accompanied by unleavened bread, also a sign of hurriedness as well as an absence of sin. The bitter herbs they ate were to recall the bitter suffering of slavery that they had experienced in Egypt.
Notice also that they were to cover their doorposts with the lamb’s blood. Now God explains to Moses why this is so crucial:
12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
There are a couple of very significant elements to this final plague. One is that it targeted only the firstborn, which makes a difference because in those cultures all of the hopes and dreams of each family were invested in that firstborn son, who had the right of inheritance. This was clearly a planned act by God. As one commentary put it “no epidemic or accident could have been so selective”.
Secondly, God says that He is pouring out His judgment “on all the gods of Egypt”. The death of the firstborn included their animals too, many of which were considered sacred animals. Furthermore, the inability of Egypt’s gods to protect the people who worshipped them was going to be very clearly demonstrated by this plague.
Now God will establish this as a permanent festival:
14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.19 Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.20 You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”
Again we see this emphasis on removing all yeast (or leaven) which was regarded as a symbol of sin or corruption. No Israelite sacrifice was ever allowed to contain any leaven. And neither did Jesus’ sacrifice!
In verses 21 through 27 Moses simply repeats to the people of Israel everything that God just told him to say.
(21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.)
And verse 28 tells us that they were obedient:
28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
And starting in verse 29 the plague begins:
29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
Do you remember how Pharaoh kept trying to bargain with Moses to settle for less than what God was asking for?
Well, he’s not bargaining anymore! He just wants these Hebrews GONE – men, women, children, flocks, herds, the whole bunch of them!
And the Egyptian people felt the same way as Pharaoh did:
33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.
But God wasn’t finished what He wanted to accomplish:
35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
God wasn’t going to let His children leave Egypt empty-handed, especially since they had slaved so hard serving the Egyptians. They may not have received any wages during their time as slaves, but they were going to get some long-overdue silver and gold on their way out!
Now the journey begins:
37 Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. 39 They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
Of course we know now that this journey to the Promised Land was going to take a whole lot longer than they anticipated, but they begin by traveling from Rameses to Succoth, which was somewhere in the eastern Delta of the Nile. And there are hundreds of thousands of them.
How did they grow into such a large people group? One reason was that they had been in Egypt for many generations:
40 Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
This is pretty close to what God had foretold to Abraham in Genesis 15:13
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
Now there are just a few more instructions about the Passover regulations, focusing on the restriction of the ceremony to the Hebrew people only, because as verse 38 mentions, there were a few non-Israelites leaving Egypt with the Hebrews.
42 It is a night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.
43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44 but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45 A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46 It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47 All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48 But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49 The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that same day the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
Besides excluding outsiders, the other significant instruction in these verses is that none of the bones of the animals were allowed to be broken.
Just like the Passover lamb, none of the bones of Jesus were broken at His crucifixion.
Look at John 19:31-36
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”
So does any of this Passover stuff have anything to do with us as followers of Jesus today?
I think that it clearly does.
Look at 1st Corinthians 5:7-8
Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Do you want to see the clear connection between Jesus’ death and the feast of Passover? Look at Luke 22:1-2
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.
Now skip down to verse 7:
7 Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” 9 They said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?” 10 And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.” 13 And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
Jesus Christ is our Passover lamb. His sacrifice cleansed us from all of the old “leaven” or sin in our lives. We celebrate our Passover every time that we take communion, like we did this morning.
Just like the people of Israel, we have been delivered from slavery to our old way of life.
Our Egypt might have been drugs, or it might have been alcohol. Maybe it was anger, jealousy, selfishness, or pride. Maybe we were in bondage to gambling or pornography – but not anymore!
Jesus came to earth to fulfill the role of the final Passover lamb. Everything that God was doing in Exodus was a prelude to what was going to happen when Jesus’ blood was shed to cover the door of our houses, our lives, to spare us from judgment and lead us to freedom.
The Lord says to Pharaoh in verse one “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt, after that he will let you go from here.”
We cannot take things into our own hands, or give up and abort the process, if we are going to see the victory of Christ enforced. Every test we go through is to increase our endurance level so we can handle anything.
Consider it nothing but joy, my [b]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
God told Moses who now had become highly favored amongst the Egyptians to gather silver and gold from the Egyptians which will eventually be used as construction materials for the ark of the covenant.
This is an example of the wealth of the wicked being laid up for the just as it says in Proverbs 13:22. It takes money to restore the earth and we are the called out ones to give the earth a makeover. It is time for us to not fear money but fear God. God will give us favor and people who even hate God will give to us not knowing it will be used to fulfill God’s will.
“See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10
The Lord told Moses that He will strike Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with one more blow which will be a knockout. The plague of death in which every firstborn including Pharaoh’s son the heir to his throne will be killed at midnight. There was nothing that could hit Pharaoh and the people of Egypt harder, it will cause them to wail like no one ever before, but now they will beg the Israelites to go, setting the way for the children of Israel to finally be released from slavery.
If we just can maintain our faith in God every battle will end with His victory enforced. We who were once outcasts, nobodies, through the test of time, being proven through round after round of opposition, and yet enduring, respect and favor will be given, even from our enemies.
The battle was already won with the resurrection of Jesus. Satan thought he had the final blow but before the count was finished Jesus got up and in His getting up Satan was knocked down. We now the body of Christ are called to enforce this victory throughout the earth in every sphere of society.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Habakuk 2:14
There are too many Christians living in defeat, ground is not being taken but rather it is being lost. Your defeated foe continues to operate as if he was victorious. Society sees more of his imprint in everything than they do the Lord. Why is this? Let’s look at Acts 3:17-21 from the amplified for understanding.
17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance [not fully aware of what you were doing], just as your rulers did also.
Some of us have simply been ignorant, we have not been taught or have learned for ourselves what as a citizen of the kingdom of God really looks like. We don’t understand our IPA; our identity in Christ, our purpose, or our God given assignment.
18 And so God has fulfilled what He foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ (Messiah, Anointed) would suffer. 19 So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day];
The question you need to ask yourself is have I truly repented? If we have we will not continue to live in habitual sin, repentance frees us from sin because we turn our heart towards God, and God empowers us through the Holy Spirit. He then leads us in living out our purpose, which goes far beyond church attendance and daily devotions. It is a way of life. It is knowing our assignment on earth and being about doing it. It is only as we walk in God’s will that we walk in His presence which brings continual refreshing.
20 and that He may send [to you] Jesus, the Christ, who has been appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must keep until the time for the [complete] restoration of all things about which God promised through the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
Each of us are called to the work of restoration. God desires to redeem the earth to bring it back to it’s original purpose. God is a creator, Satan is a deceiver. All things are to be used for God’s glory. We are looking for things to get worse before Jesus returns but as we see here, He is waiting until all things are restored before He returns to complete what we have done to usher in the Millennial reign. It is time we get to work and stop being idle as it says in Luke 19:13 in the parable of the talents our job is to “occupy until He comes.” As Colossians 1:20 says “we are to reconcile all things to Christ.”
Which mountain has God called you? What is your part to play in the discipling of the nations? What talent and gifts has He placed within you and are you utilizing them for His glory?
God told Moses that though Pharaoh witnesses all these miracles and initially lets the people go it will still not be enough. He will harden his heart and try not to let the people go and even greater miracles will be released.
It is like a boxer not agreeing with the outcome of a fight and demanding another match. Pharaoh as we will see regrets this decision and with his army chases after Israel. While Satan is allowed to roam on the earth He has no authority to rule unless we let him. There is no rematch, He has no other chance, He is eternally defeated. What we must do is silence him by giving him no place until Jesus returns and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelations 20:1
“When it rain’s it pours.” The immensity of the plagues was intensifying because Pharaoh refused to take heed to Moses and Aaron’s command, “to let the people go.”
A good fighter conserves his strength and power for the later rounds and God now was unloading His might on Egypt. In this next round, He released a plague against livestock while yet sparing those of Israel.
This plague caused an economic crisis. For many in this world, money is their god. Their happiness depends on how much or how little they own. The children of Israel had been unjustly compensated for their hard work but now the tables were being turned. The Bible says the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just (Pro. 13:22). That the righteous will inherit the earth (Psalm 27:29).
Let us look to God for He provides all we need (Phil. 4:19), it is our season for a financial turnaround. God blesses those with a pure heart (Matt. 5:8), He grants the desires of those who delight themselves in Him (Psalms 37:4), and releases His provision, exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
Pharaoh sent officials to investigate and likewise, people will investigate our lives, they will think that we must be doing something wrong. We don’t need to feel offended but honored because God is using us to reveal His glory through His favor and blessings in our life.
Pharaoh heart remained stubborn so it went to the next round where Moses and Aaron released the plague of festering boils. They tossed ashes into the air and it spread like dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing boils out on all the people and animals. The ash became hot, blistering dust that caused boils to break out on all the people.
The children of Israel had to work tirelessly under the sun hour after hour, day after day, having their bodies burned under the sun. Egypt did wrong to the Israelites and it was now coming back on them. The Bible promises “what we sow, we will reap” (Gal. 6:7). Malachi 4:1 says “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw.”
If you are suffering from righteousness sake do not despair, wait unto the Lord for the day of reckoning is near. God will punish all evil doers and the humble will be exalted. Do not lose focus, do not take punishment into your own hands, let God be the judge, for His judgment will come.
The Lord has Moses wake up early and instructs him again in how to face Pharaoh. This pattern we see with Moses waking up early is an example for us to follow.
If we don’t take the time before we get going to seek God we will not be prepared for what we are going to face and will be walking outside of His will.
Moses warns Pharaoh that if he doesn’t let God’s people go, more plagues will be released. God tells Pharaoh that He has spared him for the purpose of showing His power and spreading His fame throughout the earth.
God can wipe His enemies out at any time. Yet for the sake of the lost, He spares His full wrath until His power is fully known and His fame spreads throughout the earth. The enemy is a puppet in the hands of God, he will eventually be knocked out but for now, he is the punching bag for God to demonstrate His greatness.
Pharaoh again refuses to back down and so the Lord releases a hailstorm like no other killing everything that was left outside, including all vegetation, animals, and humans. Though the Egyptians were warned to go inside some of them paid no attention to the word of the Lord and it cost them their lives.
We have people in our life that no matter how many times we warn them because of their ego they won’t listen and it may cost them their lives. We are to keep warning them but don’t be surprised if something devastating happens. This time Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and admits this time he and his people have sinned. He begs the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. Saying enough is enough you and your people can go and worship the Lord. Moses says okay when I leave the city I will lift my hands and pray and he hail will stop and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord, but I know still yet your officials still do not fear the Lord.
People will repent when their sins expose them but if they refuse to repent of the things they have done previously or the hidden sins that nobody else knows their heart will remain hard. We need discernment because we don’t want to be fooled. We need to help people fully surrender, half stepping will never cut it, it is either all the way or not at all with God.
As the Lord foretold despite Pharaoh’s temporary act of repentance, his heart remained hard and he went against his word and did not let the people of Israel go.
Sunday January 7th
Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?
Would you rather be famous when you are alive and forgotten when you die or unknown when you are alive but famous after you die?
Would you rather go to jail for 4 years for something you didn’t do or get away with something horrible you did but always live in fear of being caught?
Would you rather your shirts be always two sizes too big or one size too small?
Would you rather be alone for the rest of your life or always be surrounded by annoying people?
Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day?
Would you rather be locked in a room that is constantly dark for a week or a room that is constantly bright for a week?
Would you rather have a horrible job, but be able to retire comfortably in 10 years or have your dream job, but have to work until the day you die?
The question that Moses raises to Pharaoh here in Exodus chapter 8 is “Would you rather be swarmed with frogs, gnats, and flies, or let my people go?”
God had started to unleash the plagues against Egypt in chapter 7 by turning the Nile into blood, which killed all of the fish and made the water undrinkable. But because Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened, God was about to unleash 3 more plagues, starting with the frogs:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3 The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4 So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”’” 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?”
10 Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.” 12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13 The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Part of the significance about the Nile swarming with frogs was that the Nile River was supposed to be divine in Egyptian religious beliefs, and frogs themselves represented the goddess Heket. So now this supposedly divine river and these supposedly divine frogs were bringing misery upon the lives of the Egyptians instead of blessings. All of this was intended to demonstrate Jehovah’s supremacy over all of these false Gods.
But of course Pharaoh follows a familiar pattern here. He makes a deal with Moses to let the people go and sacrifice to the true God, but as soon as the plague lifts, he reneges on his promise. Which leads right to the next plague:
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’” 17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Notice that the Egyptian magicians admit that they can’t duplicate this sign and they tell Pharaoh that this swarm of gnats (or some translations say lice) must truly be directed by the finger of God. But Pharaoh was still not persuaded. So here comes plague number 4 – flies!
20 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. 23 I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”’” 24 Then the Lord did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.
In verse 23 God says to Pharaoh that “I will put a division between My people and your people”. God is going to distinguish between the area called Goshen, where the Hebrew slaves lived, and the rest of Egypt. He is going to show His favor upon His own people by sparing their area from the effects of the plagues. Pharaoh actually investigates this to see if it is true in chapter 9 verse7, which says:
“Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.”
Now pay attention to the negotiation that the Pharaoh starts to have with Moses in the final verses of this chapter:
25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27 We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us.” 28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 31 The Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
During this swarms of flies, Pharaoh offers to negotiate a deal by agreeing something to less than what the Lord was demanding, but Moses refuses to compromise.
First Pharaoh offers to let them worship in the land nearby but not to go on a three-day journey.
But Moses tells him in verse 26 that the animals that the Israelites sacrificed would be an “abomination” to Pharaoh’s people because the Egyptians actually worshipped some of the same animals that would be sacrificed by the Israelites. Moses feared that the Egyptians would stone the Israelites for sacrificing those animals in their presence.
Later Pharaoh promises that the Hebrew men can go sacrifice if they will leave behind the women and children.
Exodus 10:9–11 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” 10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. 11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Finally, Pharaoh offers to let all of the people go and worship if they will simply leave their flocks and herds behind.
Exodus 10:24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.”
There is something here that we must pay heed to. God has given us a promise of what our lives are supposed to look like. And that promise involves freedom.
But the devil doesn’t want to let you go. He doesn’t want to see you free. And he will try to get you to settle for something less than what God has promised for you. He will try to offer you a compromise – a deal.
For example, the devil may say to you, “So your sins are forgiven, and you will get to go to heaven, but for the rest of your life here on earth you will have to live with the guilt and shame of the things that you’ve done.”
Or maybe the devil will tell you that you can be set free from certain addictions, but other addictions are so powerful that you’ll never overcome them, so you’ll have to settle for being partially free.
Or maybe the devil will tell you that some of the people you pray for will get saved or healed, but others are just hopeless, so you shouldn’t even bother praying.
How about this deal – you can be saved and live a comfortable, trouble-free life as long as you stay on the sidelines and don’t try to reach others for Christ!?
But God didn’t promise you any half-measures. He didn’t ever tell you that you had to be satisfied with a limited version of salvation. Jesus didn’t pay a heavy price on the cross to give you a semi-abundant life!
Let me encourage you this morning to be like Moses.
When the devil tries to offer you half-measures and compromises, tell him what Moses told Pharaoh – “That’s not good enough!”
Don’t make any deals. Don’t take any deals. Don’t settle for anything less that the full freedom that was purchased for you with the precious blood of Jesus!
Sunday December 17th
Sometimes you can really benefit from a name change. Here’s one suggestion for you. Instead of referring to your bathroom as "the John," (as in I have to go to the John) start calling it "the Jim." It sounds way better when you tell people that you go to the Jim several times a day.
In Exodus chapter 6, we are going to see a lot of names, plus God is going to give Moses a new name to know him by:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” 2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.
God had already revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob using the name God Almighty. The Hebrew words for that name are El Shaddai. But now here in Exodus God has revealed to Moses that not only is His name El Shaddai, but it is also Yahweh, which simply means “I AM”. In the Old Testament we see this name is always translated as LORD, because the name of God was considered too holy to even pronounce out loud.
Now God is going to remind Moses what it means for Him to be the “I AM”, the covenant-making God:
4 I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5 Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’” 9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
What we are reading here is basically God’s reply to Moses’ complaint and question back in chapter 5 verses 22–23 - Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? 23 Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”
Moses’ frustration was based on the fact that he was doing everything that God told him to do, but things were getting WORSE for the Israelites, not better.
Did you ever feel that way?
But God tells Moses, “I haven’t forgotten my promises or my covenant. I have a plan to rescue and redeem my people.”
That word redeem refers to paying a price or a ransom. Israel was going to be redeemed, or bought back from Egypt to be God’s own people, his treasured possession.
So despite Moses’ frustration, God tells him it’s time to get back to work:
10 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land.” 12 But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?”13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
When God tells Moses to renew His demand for Israel’s release, Moses reverts to his same old excuses – “Nobody listens to me. I’m not even any good at speaking.” But God seems to basically just ignore him. “Yeah, whatever, just do what I told you to do and stop whining!”
As one commentary points out:
“The discouragement of Israel and Moses shows that the deliverance must be God’s work completely.”
The point is - it doesn’t matter that the people won’t listen. It doesn’t matter that Moses can’t speak very well. It doesn’t matter that Pharaoh has a hard heart.
God is going to accomplish what He has set out to do!
This next section is one that we might tend to gloss over as we read through this chapter. Verses 14 through 25 are essentially a list of names:
14 These are the heads of their fathers’ households. The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn: Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben. 15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon. 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath and Merari; and the length of Levi’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath’s life was one hundred and thirty-three years. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 21 The sons of Izhar: Korah and Nepheg and Zichri. 22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri. 23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24 The sons of Korah: Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites. 25 Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites according to their families.
What is being established here is that God has not forgotten His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This seemingly random list of names is actually a genealogy, or family tree, that starts with Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son, then proceeds down to Simeon, the second son, and so on down the line to Levi’s descendents.
And Levi’s genealogy establishes the link to Moses and Aaron, showing that they are descended from the priestly line.
The final verses of this chapter are a repeat of God’s command to Moses and Aaron and one more repeat of Moses’ same old tired excuse!
26 It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts.” 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt; it was the same Moses and Aaron.
28 Now it came about on the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.” 30 But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?”
Keep in mind that God’s real demand is what is being stated here. What He is looking for is not permission from Pharaoh for the people to take a temporary leave of absence for three days to worship God in the wilderness. That’s what Moses asked for the first time he spoke to Pharaoh. But God is looking for a definitive once-and-for-all freedom for his people from slavery in Egypt.
So let’s go back to one of the opening themes to this chapter:
God is a faithful God and He is unchangeable.
Malachi 3:6 says "I am the LORD, and I do not change.”
Hebrews 13:8 says
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
So God doesn’t change, but sometimes His name changes.
Think about that.
When Moses declared the freedom of the children of Israel’s to Pharaoh, he had to proclaim it in the NAME OF HIS GOD. But it wasn’t in the name of El Shaddai, God Almighty, it was in the name of Yahweh, the great I AM!
A new challenge, a new situation, required God to reveal Himself by a new name.
And this isn’t the only time that God does this. He reveals himself to Abraham as Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. He reveals Himself to Hagar as El Roi, the God who sees me.
Look at this scenario from the Book of Psalms chapter 24 verses 7 to 10:
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Do you see how the people were asking to know God in a new way, by a new name? They even asked this question several times, “Who is this King of glory?”
And then they answered their own question with a new revelation about who God is – “The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”
That phrase “The Lord of hosts” is actually the name “Yahweh Saboath” which means “God of the armies of heaven.”
And if you look at what this knowledge of God by a new name “God of the armies of heaven” did for the people of Israel, it says it allowed them to do what? “Lift up your heads”!
Maybe their heads had been hanging down because of their circumstances. Maybe they were feeling defeated.
But they were able to lift up their heads when they knew that the “God of the armies of heaven” was on their side!
In the same way, we must always remember to proclaim the NAME OF JESUS AS WE CONFRONT OUR ENEMIES!
1 Samuel 12:22 says:
For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.
Psalm 20:5 says
We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
Proverbs 18:10 says
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
And again in Romans 10:13
for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But just like Moses, and just like the children of Israel, sometimes we need a fresh revelation of who Jesus really is – a “new name” for Him in a sense.
And it’s really not that surprising to think of Jesus as having more than one name.
In Isaiah 7:14 we are told:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Is that Jesus’ name? Absolutely! Look at Matthew 1:23
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
His name is Jesus, but He is also “God with us”, Immanuel.
Go back again to Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Those are all names of Jesus – He is our Wonderful Counselor, and Mighty God, and Eternal Father, and the Prince of Peace.
He is also the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of David, the second Adam, the bread of life, the living water, the good shepherd, and the Light of the World.
When you need Jesus, ask yourself this question:
What aspect of Jesus do you need to have and encounter with?
Of course it’s perfectly fine to call upon the name of Jesus, which means “God’s salvation”, but do you need a Wonderful Counselor in a difficult situation? That’s Jesus’ name too.
Do you need the Light of the World in the midst of a dark situation? That’s Jesus’ name too!
Think about this. When you know someone casually, you general know them by one name, the common name that everyone knows them by. Maybe it’s Bob or Tom or Mary.
But when you get to know someone in a deeper way, you might find out that they have other names too, possibly a nick-name that only their friends and family know. Maybe they are also known at Butch, or Boberino, or Tiny.
When you can call them by that new name it is a sign that you have drawn closer to them.
Do you want to draw closer to Jesus? Learn to relate to him by each of the names that define how magnificent He really is.
He is Jesus the savior, Jesus the Lord, Jesus the Word, Jesus the Light, Jesus the Lamb, Jesus the Prince of Peace, and even Jesus the great I AM.
He wants to reveal Himself to you in every possible way. There is no name for Jesus that He will keep hidden from you if you continue to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. Friends want their friends to know them intimately. And Jesus wants to be your best friend!
Sunday December 3rd
A man had been sitting out in the cold all day, fishing through a hole in the ice with no luck, not even a nibble. He was frustrated, cold and tired, and he was about to leave, when another guy walked up, cut a hole in the ice beside him, and started catching fish as fast as he could drop his line in the water.
The first guy couldn’t believe it, so he yelled over, “What’s your secret?"
"woogatkakeptewrwm" the second man answered back.
"What did you say?"
“I can’t understand you. You’re mumbling”, said the first man. “Can you speak more clearly?”
The second man spit out a large ball of worms onto the ice and said, "You have to keep your worms warm".
Moses apparently had a mumbling problem too. At least we know that he tried to use that as an excuse to God!
Here in chapter 4 we pick right up in the middle of where Moses is arguing with God about why he can’t possibly go and lead the people of Israel to freedom:
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
As you may already know, that miracle of the staff turning into a snake is going to be used by Moses to demonstrate to Pharaoh that Moses has been sent by God.
Then God adds a couple more additional signs:
6 The Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. 9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Those were some pretty powerful demonstrations, wouldn’t you agree? Now Moses is starting to run out of excuses why he can’t possibly be the man for the job. So he tries a new tactic:
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”
Moses says, “I’m just not a very good speaker.”
God says, “I made your mouth didn’t I? If I need you to speak I’ll give you the right words.”
Moses says, “Yeah, that’s true, but you know what, just send somebody else anyway.”
God says, “Now you’re getting on my nerves!”
14 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
So God essentially says, “Your brother Aaron is going to go with you, and I can assure you that he is very good with words. But you’re not going to worm your way out of this assignment! You are going back to Egypt!”
At this point Moses realizes that he needs to stop arguing and just do what God is telling him to do:
18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 Now the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.
Moses gets a blessing from his father-in-law, and a reassurance from God that the pharaoh who had wanted to kill him has now died. So Moses will have to deal with the new Pharaoh. God then gives him these instructions:
21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
This is a bit of a complicated passage, so let’s break it down into four parts:
Why would God have Moses perform the signs and then harden Pharaoh’s heart?
One commentary explains it this way:
“The Lord’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is a sovereign divine judgment on Pharaoh. God purpose is to display His power over the stubborn hostility of the king so that His people might know that He, the Lord, is their deliverer.”
We see this point emphasized in Romans 9:17
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
Keep in mind that Pharaoh is also said to have hardened his own heart in Exodus 8:15
“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”
So who is ultimately responsible for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart? Was it Pharaoh or was it God?
I think we can gain some insight into this puzzle from Romans chapter 1 verses 18-26
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions
So who is responsible for the darkened hearts of these unbelievers? Clearly they are. They made choices. They chose not to recognize God as their creator. They chose to exchange the truth for a lie. They chose to worship creatures rather than the creator.
So what was God’s part in their downfall?
We see it clearly in verses 24 and 26:
God “gave them over” to their lusts.
God “gave them over” to their passions.
God said “Is that how you want to live? Then go for it. I gave you a free will. Is that how you want to use it? Then by all means, be my guest. Don’t let me stop you from fulfilling your fleshly pursuits.”
And I believe that’s what happened with Pharaoh too. God knew that Pharaoh would have a hard heart towards the people of Israel. After all, they were his slaves, his property. And Pharaoh didn’t want to hear about their God, because as far as Pharaoh was concerned, HE was God!
So God allowed Pharaoh to follow his hard heart. In fact God said, “I’ll help you have a hard heart if that’s what you choose, because then we can really find out who the true God is here, you or me!”
And I think we all need to be aware that if we set our hearts on a sinful path, God just might go ahead and let us take that path, just to find out where it leads!
Does he want us to come back to him? Of course he does!
But just like the father of the prodigal son, God will allow us to choose a path that leads away from him so that we can learn that being with our Father is so much better than eating the pig slop that the world has to offer.
And if you think that passage was a bit confusing…
Wait until you see this next one!
24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision.
Huh? What? God was going to KILL Moses? Apparently so. But why? That’s the key question.
First of all, biblical scholars say that the Hebrew wording in verse 24 is unclear. These words follow verse 23 which says “Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn” and so they may actually be referring to killing Moses’ firstborn son Gershom, not Moses.
But why would God want to kill Gershom, or Moses?
Possibly because Moses had forgotten his Hebrew heritage and failed to circumcise his son.
Is this a logical interpretation? Probably so, because the next thing that happens is Zipporah jumps up and circumcises her son with a sharp piece of stone (Ouch!). And that seems to solve the problem.
Plus, the fact that she throws the circumcised skin at Moses’ feet and calls him a “bridegroom of blood” is a pretty clear indication that she is ticked at Moses for neglecting to fulfill this important ritual.
It’s like she is saying to Moses, “Duh! You’re supposed to be the leader of the Israelites and you didn’t even obey God’s command about circumcision with your own son!”
Let’s put it all in perspective with these two thoughts:
So now Moses, Zipporah, and their two sons can continue their journey back to Egypt, and just as God had told Moses, Aaron is going to come meet them along the way:
27 Now the Lord said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
Here is the final thing that we should take away from this chapter today:
Moses wasted a whole lot of time trying to convince God that this wasn’t a very good idea, and that he certainly wasn’t the right guy to do the job, and that the people probably wouldn’t even believe that God had sent him.
But none of that was true.
This WAS a good idea, and Moses WAS the right man for the job, and the people DID believe that God had sent him.
So why do we even bother trying to tell God why His plans for our lives won’t work, and we aren’t really capable of fulfilling His call on our lives, and nobody is really going to listen to us anyway?
Maybe we would be better off just trusting God, believing that He knows better than we do how to accomplish His purposes in us and through us.
It’s really true what God said in Isaiah 55:9
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Let’s try to allow the higher thoughts and the higher ways of God to direct our path in life, rather than relying on our own limited knowledge and resources.
I think if we do that, we can walk in greater peace, and waste less time worrying about things that will probably never happen the way we were so scared that they would.