January 30, 2010

Exo 33-35: God of Second Chances

Posted in God's Character, Grace, Moses tagged , , , , at 10:52 pm by Steve

Have you ever taken on more than you could chew? What your eyes ever bigger than your stomach? Did God ever ask you to take on a task that was simply beyond your ability? We often think so and I think Moses felt like it too. Remember these were slaves he was leading. They weren’t used to making decisions let alone taking on the military powers that resided in Canaan.

“God did you really want me to take on the fortified cities in Jericho, Jerusalem, and Damascus with this ragtag group of misfits?”

But Moses knows something that makes him persevere. “I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.” [33:2]

So Moses, it will not be you who fights the fight, but God’s power. You just have to follow through. The fact that God will not travel with them highlights the holiness of God.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” [33:11]

As Christian we all have the ability to speak to God like this. To have the kind of relationship that Adam and Eve shared in the Garden. Prayer opens the door to the Kingdom of God, our true home.

When Moses asked to see God he was not able to see God’s glory. The Glory of God is expressed in Jesus. If you want to see and experience the fullness of God’s glory, know and experience the person of Jesus Christ.

Second version of the 10 Commandment. This version is different from the version encountered in Chapter 20.

Why? What is being revealed here than is different from the original?

Share your thoughts.

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January 28, 2010

Exo 30-32: Reverence and Awe

Posted in Fear, Moses, worship tagged , , , , , , , at 10:51 pm by Steve

(1)   Pay attention to Details!

Assume for a moment you’ve been invited to the White House to have dinner the President, the Vice-President and their families. What would you do? Perhaps you would buy a new dress or new suit, new hair styling, shoes, nails, etc. Every detail of your appearance would be analyzed and if possible, improved. You would arrive in Washington a day early and spend all day getting ready because after all this is the President.

When we prepare to meet the Creator of the Universe do we send much time with the details? Notice that every detail of the Ark of the Covenant is described, every weight and measure of the incense to be used and how often is recorded for the generations. It may seem to be in nauseating detail, but it is God’s way of saying this is to be unlike any other place on earth. It is to be God’s place.

When you prepare to encounter God at worship or private prayer, do you have the same reverence and awe that God if offering to the Hebrews?

(2)  Old Testament example of Spiritual gifts

31:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

(3)  Golden Calf

After all that God had done to liberate these slaves from Egypt, why the Golden Calf?

I think that without Moses’ constant leadership and movement they pressure was off and people will naturally revert to what they are comfortable with even that means returning to Egypt. Why do battered women return to the same situation time and time again? Why do people go to jobs they hate day after day? Why do people fight to maintain youth when aging cannot be stopped?

The Golden Calf represents our hesitancy to trust God and have the kind of faith that moves mountains. A faith that has not been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. This is the first time Moses leaves the people for an extended period of time with disastrous results. If we can create our own god, even though heartless and powerless, we will bow before something we can control.

What is your Golden Calf that when stressed, you will seek help besides God?

What is your greatest fear that would cause you to build a Golden calf?

January 26, 2010

Exo 19-21: Freedom to Serve

Posted in Foundations, Israel, Moses, Redemption, The Law tagged , , , , , , at 9:38 pm by Steve

19:6 “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

>> Believe it or not this verse is considered by many to be the central theme of the Exodus. We often think of the Exodus narrative as God’s freeing the slaves to live out their joyful happy lives to do whatever they want in the Promised Land. God defeats Pharaoh’s earthly rule and commands these Hebrews to follow Him to the land He promised Abraham. But God has a greater purpose for the Hebrews, just as He does for us. They are to be a people of priests before the Lord.

What does this mean to be a priesthood and holy nation? They are to be an example of a people wholly dedicated to serving God, loving one another, and living in justice, mercy, and love [see Micah 6:8].

What doe this mean for us as Christians? God did not save us through the blood of Jesus so that we could do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted. We are also called to be a Royal Priesthood [1 peter 2:5], Ambassadors [2 Corinthians 5:20], and the Body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:27]. We are to live as Christ’s representatives that the world may know how good, loving, gracious, slow to anger, and merciful God really is.

So here’s the big question – how do you think you’re doing?

[19:16] “On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.”

>> Does this sound familiar to anyone? On the morning of the third day God comes to the mountain to give the Law. On the morning of the third day Jesus comes to give new life.

[21:1]  These are the laws you are to set before them:If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years.’”

What should we make of this long list of laws from Exodus 21. What I noticed right away is their focus. Notice that the very first law laid down by God is for the proper care of slave. A SLAVE! The first thing God wants the Hebrews to be concerned about is how they care for one another and the slaves above all. In our culture the wealth are the ones we are most concerned about, but not God. God’s focus is on the poorest.

When we as a church try to decide who the church is suppose to serve, is it

(a)  The poorest in our community

(b)  The richest in our community

(c)   The silent majority who do most of the work?

Look over the rest of the laws in Chpt 21. Where is God drawing out attention? What kind of people and issues are being addressed and why?

January 23, 2010

Exo 14-16: The Hard Hearted

Posted in Choice, Foundations, Moses tagged , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by Steve

When God intercedes in the affairs of men, He does so with a unique perspective of time and outcomes. When Exodus states that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” the form of verb suggests a future orientation such that God is viewing a process that is occurring not necessarily a consequence God is causing to happen by divine force. There appears to be an interesting progression in the use of the verbs from one in which Pharaoh’s heart is strengthened and therefore becomes unyielding because of growing pride, to one of burdensome and weariness that reflects the problems associated with positions of power and authority.

The struggle between God’s foreknowledge and Pharaoh’s free will is ultimately at stake in understanding these passages. According to Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, God is long-suffering toward Pharaoh until he showed himself to be intransigent. While others in Egypt responded to the plagues as signs and wonders, Pharaoh remained obstinate and became more of what he already was.

In a larger sense the relationship between God and Pharaoh is best reflected in light of Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

The hardness of Pharaoh’s heart was the consequence of his choices and his stubborn attitude toward any authority other than his own given the life into which he was born. The problem with Pharaoh’s position of absolute power is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room when things don’t work out the way they should. Pharaoh is boxed in and his hardness of heart becomes a burden rather than a strength. In the face of God’s authority and sovereignty, Pharaoh goes down the wrong path and each step make his life and heart harder and harder. It’s all about choices.

The verbs that are most commonly used in Exodus to describe the state and or action of Pharaoh’s inner being as growing sense of strength, pride and arrogance that builds in Pharaoh over time bringing about certain events. The debate over whether God interferes with Pharaoh’s ability to freely choose is somewhat alleviated by looking at the form of the verbs, the process of development, and the context in which they are found.

tae: the mark of the accusative, prefixed as a rule only to nouns that are definite.

ble n.m. inner man, mind, will, heart

qzx  [to strengthen, strong, to grow firm]

Exodus 4:21 – action God takes on Pharaoh’s inner being [verb piel imperfect 1st person] future oriented. It suggests what is foreshadowed based on Pharaoh’s past history.

7:13  – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart

7:22 – remained in its current state

8:19 – Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was resolute and established

9:12 – Action God takes toward Pharaoh [piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person]

9:35 – the state of Pharaoh’s heart such that he took action and would not let the people go.

10:20 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd, seems to be concerned less with the causation of the event than the final state of being

11:10 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” Consequential action, the logical outcome of the preceeding events

14:4 — piel waw consec perfect 1st person, Consequential, because of the nature of God and the nature of Pharaoh, hardness and stubbornness is the logical result.

14:8 — piel waw consec imperfect, consequential action, because the Israelites were out of Pharaoh’s hand, his heart became stubborn and he pursued them.

 To be hard, severe, fierce, make hard, stiff, stubborn, fig. of obstinacy.

 Exodus 7:23 – action God takes toward Pharaoh’s heart

 To refuse, refusing to obey commands;

Exodus 7:14 – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart (perfect tense, is unyielding, or stubborn)

dbeK’ vb. be heavy, weighty, burdensome, honored,

Exodus 8:11 – Pharaoh’s heart became burdened and weighted down

8:32 – the action of Pharaoh toward his own situation

9:7 – in response to the death of the animals, pharaoh remains unyielding

9:34 – because of Pharaoh’s sin, his heart is burdened even more and therefore unyielding

10:1 — verb hiphil perfect 1st person, the subject brings about a state of being, in this case heaviness of heart brought about by God.

John Goldingay in Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel provides a helpful discussion of this:

To soften or harden something impersonal such as butter or jelly, we use physical manipulation, heating or cooling it, but to soften or harden a person, we present them with facts or images or stories so that they can do their work in generating a response on the part of the person. Similarly, Yhwh’s softening or hardening need not involve some equivalent to physical manipulation, as if God reaches into the brain and directly changes the way it works. To judge from other aspects of God’s working with human beings, more likely God softens and hardens in the same personal way that human beings adopt in personal relations. God makes things happen by influencing people. To soften people, God presents them with facts or images or stories of divine love or power, or of human possibilities of action or achievement. These do not force them to a positive response, but give them, for example, extra stimulus and opportunity to trust or love or worship. To toughen people, God presents them with other facts or images or stories – for instance, perhaps, reminding the Pharaoh of the loss he will incur through letting the Israelites go. That, too, does not force or manipulate Pharaoh to decide to hold on to Israel. What happens depends on how Pharaoh responds to the facts or images or stories—on whether he himself toughens his resolve. (353).”

January 21, 2010

Exo 4-6: What if?

Posted in Fear, Historical, Moses tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:47 pm by Steve

Moses is scared and who could blame him? Whenever God asks us to follow Him, it will always cause what Henry Blackaby calls “a crisis of belief.”  Faith in God is not worth much if we already have all the answers, all the strength, and all the confidence to complete the task on our own. Faith comes when we are stretched beyond our limits to the point where only God can accomplish what lies before us.

What crisis are you facing today? None?

How’s your faith today? Is it growing or is it stagnant? You already know the answer!

Paul says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NIV)

How does God help Moses grow and give him confidence? Through a simple staff, but it was a physical representation of God’s presence and Grace. Do you ever wish you had a staff to touch the Nile River and turn into blood? [Remember the Nile was Egypt’s source of power, prosperity, and confidence of divine blessing. To touch the river was to touch their source of confidence? If you could touch the oppressive forces in your life, where would you touch?]

What physical representation of God’s power and grace have we been given?

Holy Communion – the body and blood of Christ

Baptism – washed into the community of faith through water in the Spirit of Christ

The Cross – a constant reminder that “God so love the world that He gave His only Son…” [John 3:16]

Worship – the community of faith that represents the Body of Christ to the world.

>> Can you think of others?

Aaron – Moses doesn’t go alone. God partners Moses with Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. Moses is the visionary, but Aaron has credibility with the people. This is a strategic move by God based on Moses’ fear and anxiety.

Burning Bush – I have often wanted a burning bush in my life to know FOR SURE what God’s will was that I may walk in it. When things don’t work out as I thought they should, I’m big at second guessing myself. The downside of a burning bush is that it belittles the relationship. God command – we do. God grace comes in Christ that we might know His heart. Now the question is simply “What Would Jesus Do?”

New Testament Parallel

LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”  4:19

“Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Matthew 2:20

Prayer

Father I pray that as we read your word together we will grow in grace, gratitude and faith. Continue to guide us and when we feel we cannot accomplish what lies before us, remind us that You are with us always in Christ Jesus. Amen