Exodus Review

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So we have reached the end of the 2nd book of the Bible… Exodus! In it we have seen the formation of a nation of people – the Israelites – who are rescued out of slavery by the Lord God and led through the desert towards the land God has promised to give them through their ancestors – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We watch as Moses does his best to lead this group of ex-slaves… being guided by the instruction from God Himself – speaking directly with Moses face to face (as a man speaks with a friend).

The last portion of Exodus has this group of ex-slaves encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai – on the northern edge of the desert – south of the Promised Land of Canaan. It is here that God calls Moses up to the top of that mountain and begins to download specific instructions to Moses in minute detail. Moses writes them all down… beginning with the infamous Ten Commandments – and right on through the blue prints for the Tent of Meeting.

As we read – it can start to become tedious… all those details. What is the point of the details anyway? Why does God go through such effort to ensure Moses follows the plan exactly?

Well – we have to remember that God already knows the beginning from the end. (Isaiah 46:10). He knew that Adam & Eve would fall in the garden… He knew that Joseph would be sold into slavery by his brothers… He knew that Moses would become a great leader and lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And even as God knew all these things before they happened – He also had a plan! That plan was Jesus.

So in this foreknowledge… God has reasons for the details. Every step He gives Moses – every bit of instruction and detail – is actually pointing to something MUCH bigger… bigger than Moses or the Israelites could have ever foreseen! (Because we have the gift of hindsight – we can see these “hidden” symbols today!).

For example… in the instructions on how to layout the Tent of Meeting in Chapter 40 – we see a beautiful image being portrayed that will not actually happen for several thousand years. Around the Tent of Meeting itself is a gate which encompasses a courtyard of sorts. When someone enters the initial gate – the first piece of “furniture” they come upon is an altar. This altar was to be used for the sacrifices to God as payment for the sins of the nation. This has HUGE symbolism about Jesus – who would become the Final Sacrifice years later!. It also is the first step of salvation for anyone of us… sacrifice – surrender – dying to self – altaring your direction. First piece of imagery.

Moving on towards the Tent entrance you come across the laver. This is the basin of water where Aaron (and the other priests) would wash their hands and feet prior to entering the Tent of Meeting. In the same way, for us, after our initial surrendering – we are “washed clean by the water of the Word and the blood of the Lamb”. (Heb 10:22; Eph 5:26). Second piece of imagery.

Finally we enter the actual Tent of Meeting through the “door”. It is in this Tent that the Shekinah presence of the Lord rests. The Hebrew word “Shekinah” means “heaviness” – and that is how the presence of God many times feels… like a heavy weight upon you of love and power! In the same way – we are invited to enter the Shekinah Presence of God through the “Door” – being Jesus. (John 10:1-9).

Ironically – this furniture layout is in the shape of a cross.

So you see, nothing in the Word of God is there by chance or accident. It all has a much deeper purpose and meaning for us today. All we have to do is search it out, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Even seemingly meaningless details such as where to place the furniture for this Tent of Meeting Moses is told to construct has deep connections to you and I thousands of years later!

So when Jesus said “These are the Scriptures that testify about Me.” (John 5:39) – He wasn’t kidding!

Next up is Leviticus… and while you read – remember – it all points to Jesus!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 32

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Some things change… and some things stay the same.

That is an ancient quote – yet holds so much wisdom and Truth in it. In Exodus 32 we see this ageless proverb in action as well. The Israelites are still encamped at the base of Mt. Sinai. Moses has been up on the mountain for the past several chapters getting instructions from the Lord on everything from how to construct the tabernacle to how this new nation of people will live day to day. He took his assistant Joshua with him – and left Aaron in charge of the people.

But notice what happens:

When the people saw that Moses was delayed…”Ex 32:1

Even back then the human propensity for impatience was a huge stumbling block. Remember – these people had heard God and seen his presence on the mountain top by smoke and thunder! They all watched Moses and Joshua go up the mountain to speak with the Lord – yet here they were getting impatient. (I can imagine it got pretty boring sitting encamped at the base of that mountain for so long…) In their impatience – they fail to obey God and take matters into their own hands.

Some things stay the same…

So the Bible tells us that the people pressured Aaron into melting all of the gold down and forming a golden calf for them to worship. (This is what they were used to… idol worship was quite prevalent in Egypt!). Aaron does not have the fortitude which Moses has… and caves in to the pressure. So, as we see today, the “Mob Rules” mentality causes the people to get into trouble. Instead of trusting Moses (and Aaron) – they demand their own way and out-muscle their leader.

Some things stay the same…

It also strikes me how quickly the people fall back into their previous habits. We are not told how long Moses was actually up there on that mountain (with Joshua waiting all by himself…) – but it is amazing how the people, when left to their own devices, turn back and repeat the things they know not to do – yet do anyway.

Some things stay the same…

But through all of this – there is a part of this chapter which glows like the dawn of a sunrise. God interrupts His discussion with Moses and informs him that the people are doing a detestable thing down in the valley. Moses, after pleading with God and securing mercy, heads back down the mountain and deals with the people. The calf is destroyed – the people drink their sin – and consequences are experienced. Then, Moses says something interesting…

The next day, Moses said to the people, You have sinned a great sin. And now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” – Ex 32:30

This act of Moses was not just a random reaction – it is actually a beautiful foreshadow of Jesus. Just as Moses goes before God and speaks on their behalf (intercedes) – in order to gain God’s favor and assuage God’s anger at their sin; Jesus did the same for us! By going to the cross in obedience – and taking upon Himself the penalty for sin – He stayed our execution as a payment for our sin. That is why we no longer see God demanding 3000 people be killed as a result of sin. Yes – sin has it’s consequences… but because of Jesus – there is now great mercy available for us all.

Some things change…

It isn’t the seriousness of sin which has changed – nor is it God’s take on sin – nor is it even the penalty for sin that has changed. What has changed is WHO that penalty get’s laid upon. Jesus took my penalty for my sin – and He wants to take yours as well – If you will let Him…

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 29

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So for the past 5 chapters in Exodus we have been seeing some strange preparations being made by the Israelites – by direct order from God through Moses. They are told (in minute detail) to construct a Tent – equipped with an inner room, curtains, two tables, lamps, and other various furnishings. Every tiny detail is spelled out in specifics for the Israelites to follow during the construction process.

After that we see more detailed instructions for how to construct some rather strange garments – equipped with precious stones and undergarments and a crown of sorts. Again (as before) intimate details are provided on exactly how to construct the items – with God telling them to follow the directions very carefully.

As if that wasn’t weird enough – then Moses is told to separate Aaron and his sons to be made priests. A ceremony is described – where Aaron and his sons are washed, dressed, and then consecrated to God. In this ceremony there is burning incense – blood from bulls – burning entrails and other guts. (Can you understand why Judaism has been described as a messy religion?)

So the question is – what is really going on here? Why all the fuss? Why all the details? Why all of the specifics? Well – the final verse verse in chapter 29 clues us in:

And they shall know (from personal experience) that I am the Lord their God, Who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God.” – Ex 29:46

By this verse we are told that the entire purpose for the detailed explanations – for the ceremony – for the blood and the fire is to create a way for God to dwell among His people. This is a monumental statement! Never in the history of the world had a god of any sort want to live in the midst of His servants. (Usually the deity is untouchable to the worshiper). But this God is giving details on how His people can meet with Him personally and how He can dwell among them.

The part that strikes me the most is everything it took to get to verse 46. The painstaking details that went into constructing the Tabernacle – the furniture – the altar; as well as preparing Aaron and his sons to minister before the Lord. Obviously the presence of the Lord (Heb. Shekinah – or “heaviness) is not something to be trifled with. (Notice on the ends of the clothing which Aaron will wear there are bells – just in case he dies when in the inner sanctuary of the Lord – the bells would stop ringing and they would be able to get his body out!).

If I take this further into my own walk with the Lord – there is an obligation to entering His presence. The same God in Exodus is the same God we sing to and worship and pray to today. If great care was taken prior to entering His presence back then – it seems logical that great care should be taken today as well. When I get up on Sunday mornings – I begin to prepare myself. obviously not with blood and fire – but mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I treat the time as precious.

Sundays are special – the time when my family stops what they have been doing throughout the week and shifts their focus to the Lord alone.

To treat the presence of the Lord as a trivial thing is to grossly miss Him.

Now – because of Jesus we no longer are required to slit the throats of bulls and sprinkle their blood and burn their guts – all of that “messy” stuff! But, perhaps now the “messy” stuff is within me? Perhaps the consecrating is done in my heart? Perhaps the fire on the altar is now the Holy Spirit in my belly?

Maybe a great way to begin my Sundays (and every day for that matter!) is not just to rush in – but step back – get a few minutes at my day’s start to gather my thoughts before my God. Pray in tongues – read my chapter a day (with PK) – thank the Lord for my day and ask Him to guide me through it. Clear the “messy” part of me and be purified by the Word of God.

Sure is better for the bull!  🙂

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 23 – Why all the Rules?

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After miraculously rescuing the Israelites from out of the hand of Pharaoh and the Egyptians – and leading them across the Red Sea into the desert – we see God lead this newly freed gaggle of ex-slaves up to the base of Mt. Sinai – in the desert. It is there that God speaks to Moses and begins to give him the outlines of the future nation these people would become.

there is fire…

there is smoke…

there is thunder…

And then God begins to set Moses up with some details on how these people are to live from here on out. It begins with the Ten Commandments in chapter 20 – and then leads into the next 8 chapters of various laws and instructions on everything from how to dress to what to eat.

Which brings up an important question…

Why all of the rules?

At first glance – the next group of chapters involve rules that appear tedious and controlling. God instructs Moses to take a long list back down the mountain which will seemingly completely regulate every area of these people’s lives. Remember, these people are all ex-slaves, newly set free. Why would the same God who had just recently set them free – turn around and enslave them once again?

It doesn’t seem to make sense… when you look at it from the people’s point of view.

But if we look at it from God’s perspective we can see a different purpose.

These people have not been rescued by God so that they can become a elite group of “God-lovers”. They have been set up with a purpose in mind.. to become a kingdom of Priests and a holy nation. (Ex 19:6). They will serve as an example to the rest of the world what exactly it looks like to live life God’s way.

After 400 years in Egypt as slaves – these people had no idea what it meant to live free. They needed guidance – instruction – example. All around them were pagan nations which served other gods and had other customs, many of which were quite nasty. (For instance – the kingdom of Moab to the northwest worshipped the gods of Chamos and Ashtar. This worship involved, among other things, child sacrifice).

God certainly didn’t want them following that example!

So what can appear at first to be rules and regulations meant to control – are actually instructions on an entirely new way to live which will bring true freedom – not just for the Israelites – but eventually for the whole world.

God had bigger plans in mind!

Reading on, we see the continuing profession of love that God has for these people. In Ex 23:20-33 we see God reminding them of what will be in store for them if they obey the things He is telling them.

You shall serve the Lord your God; He shall bless your bread and water, and I will take sickness from your midst.Ex 23:25

Can you see the Promises which God gave to Abraham continuing to follow the people even all the way out here in the desert? God loves these people and has big plans for them – but the only way they can fully realize these plans is to obey Him in every step of the way.

And so it is with you and I…

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 15

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Victory!

After numerous warnings from God for Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free from 400 years of slavery – coupled by Ten Plagues which devastated the Egyptian landscape – the Israelites are finally free and sent on their way. (Actually – the Egyptians PAID them to leave in the end… huge implications there!).

Reading on we find the Israelites seemingly trapped on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula – between the approaching Egyptian army and the Red Sea. But, once again, God proves He is the Defender of His people (noticing a theme?) – and they escape across dry land as the entire Egyptian army drowns.

(Side Note: The picture used is a picture of a beautifully preserved chariot wheel found at the bottom of the Red Sea!)

In Chapter 15, after this dramatic showing of God’s mighty power, Moses breaks out in song (backed up by the children of Israel singers). Then his sister, Miriam, grabs her tambourine and begins to dance across the desert floor. That is the natural human reaction to God’s intervention – to dance!

But it is what happens at the end of this chapter that I want to focus a bit on. The Israelites journey from the Red Sea into the Desert of Shur. They travel for three days (33 miles) and find no water. Things begin to get fearful for this group of ex-slaves… still fresh from Egypt and learning to trust in God’s protection/provision.

They begin to grumble.

They begin to complain.

At Marah they find only bitterness (strangely reminiscent of Egypt) (vs 22-24).

Then God has Moses perform the strange act of tossing a stick in the bitter waters of Marah (vs25)– which causes them to be made sweet and drinkable. That stick becomes a huge foreshadow of another stick – in fact – a cross which will one day hold the body of God Himself. Jesus comes to enter the bitterness of our lives and make them sweet, drinkable, life-saving.

Right after that lesson – God reminds His newly forming nation that He is NOT a destroyer – He is a Healer. (vs 26) Those who get destroyed are the ones who fail to live their lives according to His instruction. But those who heed to what He tells them to do will find Life! He is the God who heals. He isn’t sending sickness to them – He isn’t making life bitter – He is doing the very opposite!

Funny how much of our doctrines speak a different language then that.

Sickness, bitterness, difficulty comes when I attempt to steer my life along my own road map. When I make choices which fall outside of how the Creator created life to be lived. When I do that – a find myself again and again returning to the bitter waters of Marah. BUT – when I place my trust in the cross and the powerful work that was done there – the bitter waters of my situation turn sweet once again!

Then – as I journey with Him as my Guide – I arrive at Elim (vs 27)… 12 Springs… fresh water… 70 palm trees… and a guy in the corner hut playing a ukelele. Plenty to go around for everyone!

That’s our God!

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 7-10

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Our journey continues as Moses are Aaron confront Pharaoh with this message from the Lord – “Let My People Go!”. (Just cannot help but picture Charlton Heston here!). 🙂

One question that inevitably comes up when reading through this passage of Moses and Pharaoh and the plagues is the numerous statements by God that HE hardened the heart of Pharaoh. This passage (like the one we discussed previous) – has been another source of debate regarding it’s meaning. As before, all I can do is offer my thoughts and allow you to seek out these things between yourself and the Holy Spirit.

First – notice that various verses in this section (Chapters 7-10) we are told that God was the One who hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that he did not release the Israelites. (7:3; 10:1; 10:20) – yet at other times we are told that Pharaoh himself hardened his own heart (8:15; 8:32). So which is it? There appears to be a contradiction going on. Was it God who did the hardening or was it Pharaoh?

I would say that the answer is… YES! Both God and Pharaoh did the hardening. Scripture is correct on both accounts.

Remember, Pharaoh wasn’t simply a good guy who was making a bad decision. He had a history of abusing these people and hardening his heart towards them. (In fact – the Egyptians had been acting wickedly for 400 years!). It is apparent that Pharaoh had no mind to submit to the God of the Israelites and allow the people to go. So when the Scriptures say that he “hardened his heart and would not listen” (8:15) then that is exactly what he did. It was in line with what he had been doing for his whole life – in agreement with his fathers before him. Pharaoh was a very stubborn guy!

The other side of the coin is God’s involvement in this – and this is where people get in disagreement. The text also says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as well (read also Rom 9:17-18). Once again – reviewing the history helps put this in context. Egypt has been enslaving God’s people for 400 years. God has heard their cry and is responding in deliverance. BUT – there are many facets going on here. Punishment for the wicked, an example to other nations, an example to the Isrealites, the perfect timing. All of these play into what God was doing.

I believe that on one hand God (knowing everything) already knew that Pharaoh would not submit to Moses’ request. (In fact – even Moses knew this and didn’t want to face his grandfather, Pharaoh). So God enacted His Rescue Operation in full mind that Pharaoh would resist to the point of death. On the other hand, there was righteous judgment to be dealt with. God needed to make an example of Pharaoh to what happens when someone messes with His people. He also needed to show the Israelites that He was their Defender (not themselves). So God hardened Pharaohs heart – until the full punishment of plagues was complete and the timing was in God’s time.

The main issue is that God was in charge here – not Pharaoh. In the first few plagues – Pharaohs magicians easily copied the result… but in the Plague of Gnats (Ex. 8:16-19) the Lord brought living things out of the dust (sound familiar – Adam?) and this sort of Life Power was too much for the magicians to replicate. Here God displayed His complete control over the Universe… right in the face of Pharaoh! In that same way – he controlled this entire scene with Pharaoh for a greater purpose then simply the deliverance of His people.

With all of that being said – I think it is important to note the heart behind all of this as well. God needed His people to trust Him in order to accomplish what was before them (and eventually usher in the birth of Jesus). In the same way, He asks us to trust Him as well. Ask yourself – do I consider God unfair by the way He dealt with Pharaoh? If that is the case then the real issue of discussion isn’t fairness – but trust.

God has the right and ability to do as He pleases. He is always good and always justified in His actions. Any misunderstanding I have when it comes to why He would do a certain thing in a certain way is all on me. It is my perspective that is limited – not His. God is never unfair… and so if He chooses to override the free will and harden the heart of Pharaoh to exact punishment for 400 years of wickedness – plus to make a point – then He is within His rights and power to do so.

… and I will still trust Him.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

Exodus 4 – “The Bloody Bridegroom”

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So we have read through the first few chapters of Exodus – seeing God’s wonderful heart as He “hears the cry of the Israelites” and set’s into motion His rescue operation. We watch as He preserves the life of a small Hebrew baby – despite Satan working overtime to manipulate, and in effect thwart God’s plan, by killing all of the Hebrew boys. (Remember – Satan probably heard God tell Abram that his people would be rescued in the “fourth generation” (Gen 15) – so Satan did the math…). Now Moses wasn’t perfect by any means. He reacted in anger – and then committed murder – when defending the Hebrew against the Egyptian. This caused Moses to flee for his life… ending up in the family of Jethro – married to Zipporah (a Midianite).

Setting the stage for a very strange passage in chapter 4 (Ex. 4:24-26). Referred to as “The Bloody Bridegroom” passage – it has perplexed scholars and theologians for ages. It has many times been referred to as one of the most difficult passages in the Word of God to understand… and any casual “google” on the internet will reveal a plethora of opinions on what is really going on here. I have had several people ask me about it – and I have even engaged a few friends about some of the deeper meanings. For the purpose of this blog – I’m simply going to share a few insights and offer some references you can look into if you are curious to go deeper.

First – here is the passage in question…

“And it came to pass by the way of the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said ‘Surely a bloody husband art thou to me’. So he let him go; then she said, ‘A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision’.” Ex 4:24-26 KJV

So what is going on here? Moses has been told by the Lord to return to Egypt and confront Pharaoh with a message. Jethro has given his blessing and the family has head out on their journey to Egypt. But, right in the middle of this journey we are told about a weird encounter between the Lord, Moses, and Zipporah.

Several questions come up here… Why was God angry at Moses? Why did Zipporah step in? What is the point of this situation? Let me try and provide some insight into these questions.

First, remember that in Genesis 17 we learn what circumcision is all about. It is to be a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and the Israelites. Every child born into the family is to be circumcised at 8 days old (in addition to any servants, etc). God also tells Abraham that to fail to do this will require “that soul to be cut off from the people”. In effect, that individual has broken the covenant with God.

So why was God angry at Moses? We can speculate that Moses had failed to obey this commandment. We already know that he and Zipporah had 2 sons – and this may in fact be the younger of the two (Gershom). It seems that Moses had for some reason not had this son circumcised as God had commanded – thus bringing the wrath of God upon him.

So then why did Zipporah step in? Well, if we continue on that same concept of the uncircumcised child, Zipporah would have been fully aware of this and would have immediately stepped in to “save” her husband. Taking it a bit deeper, there are many theologians who speculate that it was Zipporah who had negatively influenced Moses to disobey God in the first place. After all, Zipporah is a Midianite (a NON-Israelite) and obviously, by her reaction, was not one who enjoyed the ceremony of circumcision (a very bloody ceremony as it was). Perhaps after she witnessed the circumcision of her firstborn, Eliezer, then she resisted allowing this same ceremony to be done to Gershom. But, upon seeing what was happening to Moses due to this disobedience, she stepped in and corrected the wrong, thus saving Moses.

Again, this is a difficult passage, with a lot of speculation needed due to not a lot of information provided by the text. Most Biblical scholars agree that what we are witnessing is a disagreement between Moses and Zipporah. It is interesting that Moses (who wrote these first 5 books of the Bible) speaks very sparingly about Zipporah and their two sons. Could this be evidence that they were like any married couple – needing to work out their differences, especially being that she was from a foreign land? In fact, later on in Exodus 18 we are told that Moses actually send Zipporah and their sons back to Midian with Jethro – furthering the thought that this was a major issue for them (Ex 18:2).

So what’s the point? I believe the real issue here isn’t the circumcision or Moses and Zipporah’s possible marital conflicts, but the need for Moses to fully obey the Lord. Moses was on his way to step into leadership over this entire fledgling nation. As any leader, Moses HAD to be an example to the people of full obedience to God. The Covenant between God and Abraham was a major part of who these people were becoming, and for Moses to not obey the sign of this covenant would have proved disastrous for the future of the nation. So, in that light, God needed to come down hard on Moses right at the get go – to ensure his obedience in future dealings.

Because this was all prior to Jesus coming as the final sacrifice for sin – Moses was placed in a precarious situation due to his disobedience. BUT (and here is the main focus) – despite all of this… we still see God’s loving mercy and grace in action! Moses was guilty of breaking the covenant with God, that punishment was laid out as “to be cut off”. It was Zipporah who stepped in and corrected the mistake… not Moses. Yet, God, in His wonderful grace, chose to accept that act of Zipporah’s and spare Moses the punishment due him.

All in all, as we continue to read through the story of Scripture, it is important to keep the overall theme in mind. With a casual glance it appears that God is mean and overly harsh towards Moses at a seemingly benign infraction. (I have heard some even accuse God of wanting to kill Moses here – which just doesn’t fit the character we have seen since Gen 1). In fact, we can see that what is really happening is that God knows the future plans He has for not only Moses, but this nation as a whole. Eventually, through these people’s bloodline, Jesus would come and provide salvation for us all. So, what can be seen as a “benign infraction” is actually a major misstep which could sidetrack the plan for future salvation for all of mankind! Hence, why God needed his first leader to obey Him in all things.

If you are interested in reading further – here is a great article on this subject.

Be Fruitful & Multiply,

PK

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