Welcome to the first BONUS BLOG! We had so much to unpack from chapters 32-34 of Exodus, so please enjoy this inductive study.
We see in chapters 32-34 of Exodus the flagrant breaking and disregard for the commandments of God. Moses had gone up the mountain to receive the tablets of the Ten Commandments, and in that time, the people of Israel had asked Moses’ second in command, Aaron, to build them an idol so that they may worship it. Aaron agrees and melts down their earrings and jewelry to produce a golden calf. They proceed to dance and sing and feast around it, saying “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” This travesty is revealed by the Lord to Moses who is still on the mountain. The Lord tells Moses that He will destroy Israel for this, but Moses intercedes on behalf of the people.
Moses proceeds down the mountain and dashes the stone tablets against it when he sees the wickedness of the people. At his command, the sons of Levi gather together with swords and strike down 3,000 of the people who had instigated the breaking of their covenant which is followed by plague. Following this, Moses orders that the people leave Sinai and do it without wearing any ornaments. We are then told of the Tent of Meeting where Moses would speak face-to-face with God. Moses intercedes with the Lord once more and asks Him to continue to lead his covenant people, otherwise Moses would not move. The Lord agrees and, when Moses asks to see His glory, he is hidden in the cleft of the rock as He passes by.
After this, Moses climbs back up Mount Sinai and works out another set of tablets before the Lord who renews His covenant with His people, declaring He will bring Israel to the promised land and do signs and wonders which they have never seen before. Moses comes down the mountain, his face shining so brightly that the people asked him to wear a veil any time after speaking with the Lord.
There is so much that we can focus on here and much to be discussed, however let us keep in mind Pastor Dave’s reminder to focus on the big picture in scripture. Moses served as a familiar and physical reminder for the Israelites of the way God had worked, not to mention the pillars of cloud and fire which were the presence of God Himself. Yet the they showed remarkable short-sightedness after watching Moses disappear up the mountain and assuming he was lost to them.
All that Israel had to do was sit tight until God had finished his work with the tablets and all would be well. They had ceased their grumbling, they had water, mana, and quail – but the people hankered after a physical image of God and were not satisfied to simply wait. They were eager to return to their time of simple ignorance. Their impulsiveness and impatience demanded that Aaron make an idol for them to worship. We see in these few chapters the anger and indignation that the Lord felt, and it is fitting.
After all, if our Holy God does not hate sin, He is not Holy at all. Worse still, Israel had just agreed to these covenant terms and wholeheartedly endorsed them. They had seen the incredible works done for them, the wonders performed, and the care given, yet as soon as the Lord was out of sight, they lost who they truly were and turned to idol worship. It would be one thing for a foreign people to do these things, but the expectations are clearly higher for those who had seen these mighty things firsthand. 2 Peter 2:21 says “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
How does this make you feel? I think it is safe to say that, while we believe in God and try to follow his commandments, we find it so easy to forget what he has done and how we ought to live. Though how can we hope to live up to the law that the Lord has given us?
Enter the Gospel!
The Good News is that we have something the Israelites did not: we are the physical temple of the most Holy God! We have His Spirit in us and it is this Spirit that convicts the world of sin, who teaches and enables us to please God. In the book of Hebrews chapter 10 it says "This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My laws in their hearts and inscribe them on their minds." Again in Philippians 2:13 it tells us “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
The path is narrow and the way difficult that leads to eternal life, but praise God for giving us His only Son and working in us through the Holy Spirit - It is by the death of Jesus Christ that our debt of sin was cancelled– He took the penalty of our sin! It is by Him that we can please Him, and we do not need to look longingly up the mountain for His presence. We are His living temple, His prized possession, and He is all we should ever worship and adore. Again in Hebrews 12:24 - “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
Let us read one of the verses of In Christ Alone –
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on him was laid --
Here in the death of Christ I live.
What does the death of Christ mean to you? How has it saved us?
Thank you Lord for being so patient with us, for forgiving and healing us, and for bringing us along in your goodness. We thoroughly thank and praise you for making us your people, and we ask that you continue to direct and guide us into deeper knowledge and intimacy with you.
In Christ Alone (My Hope Is Found) - Adrienne Liesching
In the chapters of Exodus 35-40 we see the outset of Sabbath regulations as well as dimensions and specifications for the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the table, lampstand, incense altar, court, priestly garments, and so on. These projects are incredibly detailed and combine a wealth of different materials and skilled workers. Each and every aspect of these projects are full of biblical symbolism, right down to the markings on the stones set within the ephod worn by the priests.
The Lord blessed Bezalel and Oholiab with special skill as foremen of sorts to take the lead on the constriction of these various Tabernacle-related things. All sorts of different materials are needed and they are heartily given by the people of Israel until they actually have to be turned away, as they had the required resources and much, much more. It is after an unspecified measure of time that the Tabernacle and all it’s related components are finished, assembled, and ready. It is anointed and consecrated with oil so that it may be holy. Then Aaron and his sons are washed and consecrated.
Moses puts the finishing touches together, everything is assembled, and it is at that point that the glory of the Lord descended upon the Tabernacle and filled it as a cloud! Thus the Israelites followed the Lord wherever he went. This marks the end of the book of Exodus.
It is a meek and chastened Israel that gave the best of it’s supplies to the building of the tabernacle. Moses had disappeared once again up the mountain to receive a second pair of stone tablets written on by the hand of God, and this time there was no idolatrous evil. It seemed the people of Israel were all too eager to show just how committed they were to the Lord and gave the best they had to His prescribed dwelling. There is no account of grave misunderstandings or quarrelling, just focused work on what the Lord had His people build. This makes me think of the way the church today operates. Those building the tabernacle had liberal givers, willing workers, diverse giftings and skills, zeal in their offering, and followed the wisdom of the Spirit.
Each gave of their time and talent and possession in joyful obedience to the Lord. They gave so much they had to be told that there was too much! Eventually, the work was done and with the Lord leading them on. It must have been such relief and awe at seeing the Lord come to dwell with them in the cloud that surrounded the tabernacle - to have their God dwelling among them in their midst! The Lord showed His Justice and Mercy at Sinai, and in spite of everything, He remained their faithful leader.
The Lord has made his dwelling within each one of us, so let us treat one another with all love and dignity and seek to spread the dwelling of the Lord to every corner of the earth! We have our jobs and lives and friends and obligations, but whose name is at the top of our to-do list? Who is it that calls the shots on our priorities? It is easy to say that Jesus is calling the shots, but on whose terms are we living? There are decisions that must be made each day, most small and some huge. I would encourage everyone to take note of where they go first when making plans or decisions of any kind or size. Do we weigh things ourselves and only turn to the Lord when things don’t pan out, or do we lay all things at the foot of the throne of God and see what He has to say about it?
It is vital to remember that, though we operate as Christians in a physical church building, we ourselves are the temple of the Living God. The building of St. Aidan’s finished long ago, and we ought to have our focus on the building up of the church as a living body. We must be attentive to the Lord and see how and when He wants us to use our gifts of time and material. We must remain eager and willing to jump in and help wherever we are able. We need to keep an eye (or two!) out as to what our giftings are and how we could use them alongside others. We must treat this as the fundamental and glorious task it is, and we must do all things in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord does not have you on this earth by accident, He has work for you to do and has given each of his children gifts and talents for the edification and building up of His church. We must learn to live our lives in His timing and for His purpose, that we might be joyful and focused and fruitful doing the things He wants us to do! Look at the way Paul writes on this in Ephesians 2:8-10: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” We all have a part to play in advancing the Kingdom of God here on earth. He has purchased for us eternal life through his Son, Jesus Christ, and we owe Him our entire selves to do His good work!
Do you use your God-given gifts to build up the church? What are some ways you can examine and evaluate your priorities?
Father God, we thank you for saving sinners and using them to further your Kingdom here on earth. We are not worthy, yet are made worthy in your one and only Son. Please use us and show us how to build up the church, to be eager helpers, and to be at peace and in unity with one another as we follow your Holy Spirit into greater things.
Song: You’re The Dawn - Strahan
Text: Exodus 32-34
We are told in Exodus 24:12-18 that the LORD called Moses to come up the mountain to receive on tablets the law and commands He was giving to Israel, since they collectively agreed to do everything that the LORD had said. Moses told Aaron and the elders, “wait here for us until we come back.” Moses takes Joshua with him and the pair ascend the mountain where God’s glory cloud descends on them. To the Israelites, the glory looks like “a consuming fire”. Exodus chapters 25 through 31 are the account of what the LORD told Moses while he was up there for 40 days and 40 nights.
In Chapter 32, we learn what was happening while Aaron remained with the people in the camp down below. The people of Israel soon get impatient waiting for Moses to get back. They approach Aaron and demand he make them gods they can follow into the promised land, since they didn’t have Moses to lead them. Aaron readily agrees and instructs the people to give them their earrings and he makes the gold into an idol shaped like a calf. Aaron announces a festival and then the people make offerings on the altar Aaron also built and then they eat, drink and “indulge in revelry”.
The LORD informs Moses what is happening with the people and tells Moses to leave Him alone so He can be angry and destroy the people. He says He will instead make Moses into a great nation.
Moses intercedes for the people, seeking the favor of the LORD, reminding Him of His reputation, especially to the Egyptians, and asking Him to remember the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The LORD relents and does not destroy the people.
Moses descends the mountain and breaks the tablets inscribed by “the finger of God” (Ex 31:18) because of his anger when he sees the golden calf and the people dancing. When he confronts Aaron, Aaron gives an account of what happened, “they gave me this gold, I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” Moses grinds up the gold from the calf and puts it in the water so the Israelites have to drink it.
The Levites rally to Moses and obey the Lord’s command to kill their brothers, friends and neighbours in the camp and this results in the death of 3000 people. Moses pleads to the LORD that he forgive the sin of the people but God strikes them with a plague and tells them to leave the mountain. He tells them to go to the promised land but says He will not go with them.
Moses sets up the Tent of Meeting outside the camp and speaks with the LORD there “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend”. When the Israelites saw the pillar of cloud resting at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, they would worship God from the entrance of their own tents. Moses’ young aide Joshua does not leave the Tent of Meeting. In the tent, Moses leverages God’s favor with himself for mercy with the Israelites and the LORD relents.
For a second time, Moses ascends Mt Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights and this time Moses writes out the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments by his own hand on tablets he chiseled out himself.
Responding to Moses’ request, “Now show me your glory, the LORD comes down in the glory cloud, describing Himself to Moses as being compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving of sin, wickedness and rebellion; and also, that he punishes the guilty.
Moses descends the mountain with instructions on how they are to conduct themselves in the promised land and the people of Israel see the radiance of his face and are afraid of him. Moses assures them and wears a veil over his face in their presence, which he removes when he re-enters the presence of God.
Aaron has seen how Moses instructs the people on behalf of the LORD as God’s prophet: how the LORD gives instructions on how and when to worship and Moses relays these commands to the people. Now the opportunity arises for Aaron to be considered the prophet in the eyes of the people. When they give into their impatience, he readily constructs a god of gold at their request, provides the strategy of how sacrifices can be made to it and he gives the people the time of the “festival” for which they have the opportunity to worship it. Things get wild pretty fast.
When Moses comes down the mountain and confronts Aaron, Aaron doesn’t take responsibility for his bad leadership, rather he blames the people saying they are “prone to evil” and distances himself from the construction of the idol by saying he threw the gold the people gave him into the fire and “out came this calf!” We see Aaron’s cowardice in his inability to instruct the people according to what the LORD commanded them, how he is swayed by their demands, and how he refuses to take responsibility for his own role in this debacle.
Moses on the other hand, immediately takes action against the people to get them back in order by using the sword against them. Then he goes back before the Lord to plead for mercy. This was not immediately granted. Moses had to take time in God’s presence in the tent of meeting and as he did this, his friendship with the Lord grew. Moses’ favor with the LORD increases as Moses remains in His presence and refuses to move on toward the promised land without the presence of the LORD accompanying them. Finally, Moses is able to leverage God’s favor with himself to ask for mercy for Israel. While there are consequences for their actions, God does relent and agree to go with them to the promised land.
We see here the stark contrast between the leadership abilities of Aaron and Moses. It is plain as day the reason God called Moses to lead the people, despite his speaking difficulty. Moses without Aaron has a communication problem, but Aaron without Moses is altogether unfit for leadership. Moses won’t do anything apart from the presence of God but Aaron lacks a healthy fear of the LORD and instead fears the people. Moses denies the opportunity for personal gain when God offers to destroy the people and start over with Moses’ family, while Aaron selfishly submits to the people when they want him to act like a prophet on behalf of an idol. Moses intercedes for those he is in leadership over, that God will forgive them and show mercy, Aaron throws the people under the proverbial bus and blames them for his lack of proper leadership. Moses waits patiently in the presence of God, becoming as a friend to God. Aaron, lets the impatience of the people rub off on him and, though he has personally seen God (Ex 24:9-10), he denies his experience and facilitates idolatry with the golden calf.
The key qualities of good leadership displayed in Moses are also reflected in young Joshua, who will, in his later years, lead the people into the promised land after they wander the desert for 40 years. In Ex 33:11, we see that Joshua never left the tent of meeting. This means he was as intent as Moses was on pursuing the presence and glory of God. This is what prepares him for his future role as leader of Israel as we will discover in the book of Joshua. From the words of King David in the Psalms this week, we see his heart also was preoccupied with the presence and glory of God (Ps 27:4). This shows that great leadership comes by way of a heart posture: the priority and hunger of seeking God’s presence and glory above all else.
Think about the ways in which you are a leader to those around you at home, at work, or just as a witness for the Kingdom of God. Does your leadership example look more like Aaron or Moses? How might you prioritize seeking God’s presence in a greater way this week? This year?
Prayer: LORD, I acknowledge the presence of your Holy Spirit right now. Help me to be still and know that you are God. Help me to wait patiently for your presence and leading in my life so that I do nothing apart from your presence with me. Amen.
Kari Jobe - Holy Spirit (Live) ft. Cody Carnes
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.’”
Psalm 27: 4
Psalm 27 (Exodus 30 - 31)
I thought we would step out of the main readings today and focus on the Psalm. Partly because of the connection the Psalm has with the key themes in our ongoing readings and partly because on Sunday, in my sermon, I will cover a good deal of the topics in today’s readings.
Psalm 27 is listed as being one of David’s. It comes in two parts which are markedly different. The first section describes our confidence in God, our worship of Him and the blessings that flow from such a beautiful relationship. In the second part we see a prayer of seeking and of faith. They connect with our readings in Exodus in that we see forgiveness and fellowship described in both with the matter of atonement and/or salvation (Exodus 30) and the desire for God’s people to be set apart for and in a worship filled relationship (Exodus 31).
As a King, David will have had many enemies, within and outside of his fold. His source of confidence, his light and salvation, came from God (vs. 1-3); why should he be afraid when God was his strength. In recognising this truth David’s desire and joy was for and in God. As a King he had power, wealth, position, status and purpose. Yet his true longing was to be with and before the Lord (the Tabernacle is even mentioned! A further connection to our Exodus readings). He wanted to worship God, gaze on His wonder, and find protection, provision and wisdom. Owning all that he did, David knew the one thing he really needed was God Almighty; that was where true riches and fulfilment were to be found (vs. 4-6).
In the second part of the Psalm we see the prayer of a heart that seeks God and expresses faith. David pursues His one true Saviour knowing that God will not reject Him even if those closest to him might (his father and mother). He knows that in mercy God will hear, answer and deliver (vs. 7-10). However, David knows that he must seek God’s will and way, then he can be confident of God’s goodness, protection and provision. This may require patience and faith; waiting on God (vs.11-14)
As we journey through the bible we see the ultimate purpose of God’s revelation of Himself; a right relationship with His creation. In this Psalm we see that in a turbulent world and in our own lives God alone is the source of our salvation and strength. The world offers much but real value can only be found in God Himself where we discover freedom, peace, truth and eternal purpose. Faith is a required for that relationship and prayer is an essential means of empowerment within it.
The Question of Application
Charles Spurgeon said, “Wait at His door with prayer; wait at His foot with humility; wait at His table with service; wait at His window with expectancy.” Are you prepared to wait for God and His blessings?
Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Saviour but teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path. I remain confident of this: I will see your goodness in my life. Help me to wait for you Lord; cause me to be strong and take heart as I wait for you. Amen
From Psalm 27
Psalm 27 sung by Jonathan Ogden
Text: Exodus 25-27
OBSERVE: The Tabernacle was a giant tent, a portable sanctuary for God’s presence to be with his people. It was an arrangement that almost didn’t happen due to the sin of the people although God would remain faithful to his promises to Abraham. God gave Moses detailed designs for the Tabernacle, saying, “Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly to the pattern I will show you” (Exodus 25: 8-9). Since it was similar to the tents they lived in, it showed how close God was. This was the blessing of the covenant: God was with his people, and they were with their God. At the same time, since the Tabernacle was so elaborate, it reminded them the God was separated from them by his holy majesty. God also gave specific instructions for everything that would go inside the Tabernacle (Exodus 25: 10-11, 16-18). In the innermost part of the Tabernacle was the Most Holy Place where God descended to dwell with his people. This is where the Ark of the Covenant was located.
INTERPRET: The Ark of the Covenant was an earthly symbol of the heavenly reality of God’s intentions for his people. It pictured what would ultimately make it possible for him to be reconciled with sinners who seek him. God would dwell above the Ark, in all his holiness, enthroned between the cherubim. Underneath was the law of God that exposed Israel’s sin. And in between was the mercy seat, where an offering was made by the high priest for the atonement of sins for the whole community. In between a holy God and the law of God came the blood of the atoning sacrifice. In this way, when God came down to dwell with his people, he would not see them in light of the law that they had broken, but instead would see them through the saving blood of an atoning sacrifice.
APPLICATION: Thousands of years before Jesus came to live among us, God purposed that there be a Tabernacle in order that there would be One who would fulfill the meaning of that Tabernacle and would be the true Tabernacle (John 1: 14). Every detail of the Tabernacle pointed to some aspect of the character and work of Jesus Christ. The Cross of Christ is our mercy seat. It is the place where the blood of an atoning sacrifice reconciles us to God by coming between his holiness and our law breaking (Romans 3: 23-25). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is sufficient and permanent for all who have faith in him. Jesus (the true Tabernacle) gives us access to God and invites us into his very presence.
APPLICATION QUESTION: What comes to mind when you contemplate the incredible gift we have been given to be able to be in the presence of God? How does this truth impact your prayer life and worship?
PRAYER: Gracious God, I come boldly to your throne, confident that you see me not in my sin but covered by the atoning blood of Christ. There I will receive mercy and find grace. I desire to know you more each day and to be continually transformed by your glory.
WORSHIP SONG: Here I am to Worship (Marantha)
The chapter titles in my ESV Bible do a good job of providing a summary of the events in Exodus 16-18. That is, Bread from Heaven, Water from the Rock, and Jethro’s advice. The Israelites set out from Elim as they continued their journey from Egypt to the promised land. It wasn’t long until they started complaining and wishing that they had died by the hand of the Lord in the lands of Egypt where they were enslaved but had plenty of food. The Lord, in his goodness and provision, rained bread, known as mana, from heaven and gave instructions as to how it ought to be stored and shared. They were to take and work with only what they needed and warned not to try and save some for the next day. Some disobeyed and found that the mana spoiled over night.
Again the Israelites grumbled and mumbled against the Lord and complained to Moses about their thirst. Moses pleaded with the Lord who told him to strike a rock with his staff which would spill forth water. Shortly after, the Amalekites came out to fight the people of Israel. The Lord told Moses to hold up his hands with his staff and the Israelites would defeat their foe. Moses’ hands grew weary so Aaron and Hur propped him up.
Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses came from his home land In Midian for he heard all the things the Lord had done. He brought with him Moses’ wife and their two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. The two made burnt offerings and ate with Aaron and the elders of Israel before God. The following day, Moses was sitting in judgement for the people and did so from morning to evening. Jethro saw this and offered sage advice, saying that Moses will burn out easily if this burden of judgement falls to him alone. He says Moses must delegate his responsibilities to trustworthy leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. Shortly after Jethro returns to his homeland.
In these three chapters we find many prime examples of how the Lord provides for his people. He is aware of and acts on the needs of the Israelites in the wilderness and shows immense patience with them as they grumble and moan and quarrel amongst themselves and against Moses and, worst of all, God. They have had their bonds of slavery and oppression burst by the mighty hand of God, yet they long to return to captivity because it was predictable and familiar.
It is all too easy to draw a line between their actions and ours as we examine our walk with Christ. It was the Son of God himself that purchased our freedom acting in his Father’s mighty plan, and he made many promises about how he would look after those whom he frees from the slavery of sin. For example, John 6: “Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus promises to be our bread. Again in John 7 – “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
God consistently shows his faithfulness in that he not only provides for his people in Exodus but anyone and everyone who comes to him. He also takes special care of Moses and his daily wellbeing and has his earthly father give sage advice on tedious things like judicial administration. We have only to look at John 14 and see how he lovingly provides for us in this area too: “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
It is a common thing to think that if we had been there to see what they had seen we would not have grumbled against God, but we are frequently dissatisfied with the way God has provided for us even today. He was faithful then despite their failings and is faithful now despite ours. We must make sure that we remove all bitterness from among ourselves that gives in to grumbling, gossip, and quarrelling. We must learn to recognize all the ways in which God has provided and give him the praise and worship he deserves – then we can truly live lives of thanksgiving!
Spending time each day in contemplation of the goodness of God and practicing gratitude is a deeply underrated practice. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” When we recognize all that the Lord has done for us in both our daily provisions and with our eternal needs, we find ourselves wonderfully humbled and joyfully centered on the right thing: Jesus Christ. Thankfulness and gratefulness are powerful weapons against despair and bitterness, against quarrelling and grumbling.
I know for myself it is far too easy to move from one prayer to the next and to miss the ways in which the Lord has answered my prayers and taken care of things. It takes a keen eye to see how the Lord is working on a given day, but over time he teaches us to stay attuned to him and sensitive to his word – as his sheep, let us come to know the voice of our Good Shepherd.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9: 1-2
You might find yourself in a barren wilderness today, but God has not forgotten you and will always provide what you need. He has brought you out of slavery and into his glorious light and made us alive in him. For that and so much more he deserves our constant praise! Let us turn away from grumbling and focus on the light that has come in to the world.
What comes to mind when you think of your bonds of sin being burst? What does it look like to live a life of praise and thanksgiving? Can you identify the ways in which you may have grumbled against God?
Thank you Lord for breaking the chains of sin and death from around us and bringing us into your glorious new life. I pray that you continue to lead me into a deeper relationship with you and that my life would reflect your goodness. Thank you for not leaving me where I was but for doing infinitely more for me than I could ever do for myself!
He will hold me fast (<---- Click there)
Observe: The avenging angel has completed the work. Before they leave, God commands His people to dedicate the firstborn of their sons and animals to Him to redeem, to worship; Passover becomes memorial to His deliverance. Israel exits Egypt, fists defiantly raised. Knowing their fickleness, God leads them into wilderness, avoiding the direct route to Canaan, His cloud and fire to guide. Suddenly, Moses receives a strange order. Turn around, camp in a specific place beside the Red Sea, right in the line of Pharaoh’s troops (he rued his decision to let them go), right in the line of God’s plan (formed before time). Pharaoh moves swiftly, God-hardened heart pounding as loudly as his chariots.
The people see them coming -- and trust that God is near to rescue? Not. Afraid, they panic, whine, accuse. Moses says, in effect, Be still, and know that He is God. Yet even Moses hesitates (remember Lot?) until God roars, in effect, Don’t just sit there – MOVE!! They move, all right.
Moses obediently holds his staff over the sea. That night, God sends a preparing wind. Water-walls rise up, lining a dry path. Then, daytime -- men, women, children hurry across to safety, Pharaoh in hot pursuit, chariots breaking down, horses panicking! Moses again holds out his staff as God makes the walls come crashing down over the enemy! Dead -- silence. Awestruck, they witness God’s breathtaking deliverance -- His glory!
And then? Well, what else? Praise, of course! Sing this extraordinary event to the last detail, dance with tambourines in sheer delight at God’s miracle. Direct to the Promised Land? Not.
Wilderness again, more whining and kvetching (ingratitude has a short memory) til they hit an oasis. Bad water but another promise: if they obey Elohim Rapha, God the Healer, they will never have the diseases the Egyptians had. Moving on, they reach Elim; good water, palm trees, momentary rest. God’s love shown, yet again.
Interpret: The Genesis stories often point back to the beginning, to recall God’s acts. Think of the wind blowing over the Red Sea: nephesh, Hebrew for wind/breath/spirit, His Spirit hovering over chaotic waters (1:2). God separating the waters from dry land (1:6-10). Disobedience, deception, blame (3:1-13) – and His mercy, both tender and severe (3:21,23-24).
From the start, God promised a Saviour (3:15). He repeats His covenants -- obey His laws made for their good and good will follow -- all for love of His image-bearers. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, all failed God at some point. Models for the greatest of Saviours? Really? The stories grind on, pointing to the promised Saviour. The God of love persistently works out His ways, however puzzling, in His time.
Apply: We convince ourselves we can manage very well thank you on our own. When things fall apart, we panic, question, doubt, second guess God. Following Him is hard! And how we grumble when things don’t match our preferences, or we don’t like His way of doing things, or the sacrifices required, or change, or… We make hash of His plans so often, yet He persists in rebuking, calling, forgiving. Loving, always.
Ask: “Red Seas come in all shapes and sizes. What is the Red Sea [of difficulty] you’re facing now?”
-Where is God’s pillar of fire leading me in this present greyness?
- The Israelites, in awe, praised God for His deliverance. How did God lead me out of my “Red Sea” difficulty? Write 2 reasons for praise!
Pray: Lord, we are so in need of Your leading and Your mercy. Guide us by Your radiant Spirit. Deliver us from resisting Your will so we may walk humbly in Your way, remembering Your grace and persistent love far exceed our failures. In Jesus’ name we ask, amen.
1. Red Sea Rules. Robert J. Morgan
The Objects(s) of our Worship by Pastor Dave
“So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord God of the Hebrews says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go that they may worship me.’”
Exodus 10: 3
Exodus 10 - 12 (Psalm 20)
The two key matters that we focus on this morning are that of Worship and the Passover (the Passover being an act of worship in itself).
All through the interchanges in these opening chapters we see the questions: who is God; who is to be worshipped; whose people are the Israelites; and who are they to obey? God continually calls on Pharaoh to free His people so they can worship Him. Pharaoh, seeing himself as a deity refuses to humble himself before God and release the people. God shows Himself to be the one true and Almighty God. He brings judgement on the gods of Egypt (12: 12), His people obey, bow down and worship Him (12: 27). They then find freedom. We see that what we worship impacts, binds and controls us. Only God is due true worship, in that worship and service of Him we find real freedom.
The Passover is a demonstration of God’s salvation over judgement. Blood is shed and a life lost to provide that protection. Their salvation became a celebration in which they were blessed and freed. A journey began for them on route to their promised land. This event foreshadows Christ’s sacrifice and the offer of salvation for us. The three days of darkness compares to the time at the crucifixion (Matthew 27: 45), Jesus becomes the Lamb of God who takes away our sins as His blood is shed on the cross and a new life and journey begins for those who humble themselves before Him and obey. He is not the unleavened bread but the bread of life that now sustains us.
We need to consider what we worship in our lives. There will be obvious matters that we can identify but often it is the more subtle ones that have huge and unrecognized control over us. For example: the desire for self; finances; affirmation from others; food and drink; achievement; fear of others or failure; and self-justification to name a random few. If we humble ourselves before God, repent and worship Him we can receive freedom by His grace through faith. We can then begin a life of obedience and service sustained by the life giving Spirit of Jesus Christ as we journey to eternity.
The Question of Application
What do we worship in our lives, what has control over us? How might we submit to God today and find true freedom?
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon Him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of His patience and humility, and also be partakers of His resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
At the Cross (Love ran red) by Chris Tomlin
Nothing but the Blood of Jesus
Text: Exodus 7 - 9
Observe: God has heard the cry of the Israelite slaves in Egypt. These are the twelve tribes of Israel that were descended from the twelve sons of Jacob. They had been in Egypt for 400 years and endured all manner of hardship. They cried out to God to save them, and Moses was chosen as God’s ambassador to Pharaoh. God promised that he would be with Moses and make him “like a god to Pharaoh”, so that he would be convinced to release the captives and Aaron would be “like a prophet to Moses”. They both would be the agents of the miracles God performed to convince Pharaoh to let His people go.
But Pharaoh isn’t accustomed to receiving demands from anyone, least of all from someone who claimed to be the ambassador of the God worshipped by his slaves. Pharaoh was counting on his own magicians to match any “miracle” that Moses could perform. Then he could refuse Moses’ demand and send him away as an inconsequential irritation. Moses and Aaron visited ten plagues on Egypt, seven of which are found in these verses. They brought the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague of the death of the Egyptian livestock, the plague of boils on the Egyptian people, and a plague of very large hail. Each time the Israelite people living in Goshen were spared the plagues as a sign that they were protected because they were God’s chosen people. With each successive plague, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he refused. Even when he agreed to let them go and asked Moses to intervene with God on his behalf to remove the plagues, he would renege on his promise.
God told Moses this would be the case that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart and he would not let the people go.
Interpret: The story of Moses and Pharaoh is really about the consequence of disobedience to God, but it is also a story about belonging to God. Moses obediently followed God’s instructions and went to Pharaoh to demand that he release the slaves so they could worship Him in the desert where He would lead them. But Pharaoh didn’t much feel like letting the slaves go because, after all, they were the basis for much of the Egyptian economy. Slaves performed all the hard work necessary to plant and bring in the crops, and to construct the buildings and statutes Egypt was famous for. Moses was up against Egypt’s very economic foundation as well as a powerful and haughty ruler. But he had God on his side. Moses obeyed God every instruction while knowing full well that Pharaoh could at any time have him imprisoned or killed for making demands on him or threatening to bring plagues against his kingdom. However, Pharaoh humoured Moses at the start confident that his magicians could easily duplicate any miracle Moses could do. Whatever his first impression of Moses and Aaron might have been, they were soon dispelled as Aaron’s true miracles bested anything his wise men could do. Yet still his heart was hardened as the Lord said, not because of anything that God did to Pharaoh, but because Pharaoh didn’t like being bested by anyone. Moses and Aaron faithfully contended with Pharaoh time and again, plague after plague, in an effort to change his heart and mind, but still he refused or he went back on his word. Pharaoh continually defied God, and you could almost see him shaking his fist at God daring Him to do anything else, and each time he did so, a worse plague was unleashed on his land and his people.
Moses and Aaron obeyed God, risking Pharaoh’s wrath in the process, but the people of Israel were spared any of the effects of the worsening plagues. They were set aside and protected by God. He promised Abraham that his descendants would become a mighty nation, that they would inherit a pleasant land, and that they would be His chosen people through whom the whole world would be blessed. This episode clearly shows God collecting His chosen people in order to keep His promise.
Application: In these chapters, we see the consequences of disobedience to God’s will. Over and over, God tells Pharaoh to let His people go. Each time he refuses and the consequences become worse and worse. That’s often how our own lives play out. We hear God’s call on our lives to bend our will to His, yet we refuse. We know that His will is perfect and He promises to make our lives meaningful and fulfilled in ways we can’t imagine, but our hearts are hardened. We don’t want to wait on His timing for things to happen. We don’t trust that He will provide for all our needs. We decide that we know what is in our best interests. We have tasted the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and we have charted our own path in life. And we have suffered the consequences of that defiance in our broken relationships, in our unfulfilling lives, and in our in our constant chasing after the “next big thing”.
Moses on the other hand, obeyed God’s call on his life and accomplished what must have seemed impossible. With God’s power and authority, He convinced an absolute monarch to give up the economic foundation of his kingdom, freed the slaves, and set them on the road to the fulfillment of the God’s promise for them as His chosen people, who would eventually bless the world with the birth of the Messiah. In our own lives, we will never know what opportunities lie before us if only we would hear God’s calling and take the first on the road to His freedom. You may not free an entire people, but think about what you might accomplish for your family, your church, your neighbours, or those in need around the city and around the world.
Questions: Have you ever thought about whether you have a heart that is hardened to what God may be calling you to do? How do you think you would you know if you were actually answering His call?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your unfailing faithlessness and mercy. You have plans for us from before the foundations of the world were laid. Give us the courage and patience to follow your will for our lives and in our church fellowship. In the mighty and merciful name of Jesus, Amen.
Text: Exodus 4-6
OBSERVE – In God’s instructions to Moses, we see the heart of a Father who longs to be with his child. God commanded Moses to say these words when confronting Pharaoh: “This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, “Let my son go, so he can worship me” (Exodus 4: 22-23). We see here that God cared very much about what happened to the Israelites. Out of all the nations of the world, he went to great lengths to rescue them from slavery. The Egyptians had made the Israelites their slaves and appointed slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. The Israelites had cried out in distress and their Father had heard their cries.
INTERPRET – Here we see that God cared so much about what happened to the Israelites. Their loving Father wanted to rescue his children so that they could be together with him as a family. God wanted to lead them to a place that they could worship him and that he could dwell with them. God wanted to be able to share his fatherly love with his children. God would later describe his longing for Israel through his prophet Hosea: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). This care and concern for his children was evident to them when Moses and Aaron had shared everything the Lord had said “And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped” (Exodus 4: 31). But God’s son Israel always proved to disappoint. Often God’s son grumbled and complained and rejected the Father who loved him. The people of Israel simply could not live up to their Father’s standard. Another Son was needed who would be about his Father’s business, accomplish his Father’s purpose, display his Father’s likeness and demonstrate his Father’s love.
APPLICATION – From his early days, Jesus seemed to understand his unique purpose, as well as his unique relationship, as God’s Son. When Jesus’ parents found him in the temple courts at age twelve, he said, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2: 49). Jesus was everything that God the Father had ever wanted in a Son. By his perfect obedience to his Father, he did what Israel could never do. And because of what the Son of God accomplished in his obedience at the Cross, everyone who comes to him in faith becomes a true child of God. Paul wrote to the Galatians, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3: 26). Despite his incredible love for them, the Israelites’ disobedience prevented them from being a family. And despite our own best efforts, we too will disappoint God on our own merits. However, God sent his Son to rescue us so we can one day be together as a family. When we put our faith and trust in the One True Son, we can be a part of God’s family and know with certainty that we will arrive home safely. “Jesus died for sinners to bring us safely home to God” (1 Peter 3: 18).
QUESTIONS – Do you ever try to please God on your own strength and merit just to end up feeling like you disappointed your heavenly Father? What changes when you remember everything that God did for you through his Son? Does this change your attitude in regards to how you serve God?
PRAYER – Loving Father, you have rescued me so that we can be together as a family. I know the day is coming when, because of what your beloved Son has done, we will all be together in the place you are preparing for us, safe at home with you. AMEN.
SONG - 10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.