From Egypt to Canaan – XVI

September 30, 2016

Image result for photo ten Commandments

Exodus 19:1, 2, 20, 20:1

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We will continue for one more blog on the Ten Commandments.  Here is the introduction before the Commandments were revealed – Exodus 19:1, 2, 20, and 20:1

      …after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt…they
      came to the Wilderness of Sinai….and…camped there before the moun-
      tian….Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai…and Moses went
      up….And God spoke all these words, saying…

I listed the Ten Commandments in abbreviated form in the last blog.  And I would encourage you to read the first 17 verses of Exodus 20 to get the whole content.

As mentioned two days ago in Blog XV of this series, the Ten Commandments were not given for God’s children to keep (obey) and to earn His favor!  We cannot keep God’s law perfectly!  Only Jesus did that!  And He did it in preparation for His sacrifice on our behalf – offering His perfect self on the cross as a substitute for us! (See I Peter 2:21-24).  He took God’s judgment of condemnation in our place, so we could go free! (See II Corinthians 5:21).  Now whosoever receives Him – trusting in His sacrifice for me personally (you personally) – that one…will never be condemned.  They have already gone from death to life.” (John 5:24 – Contemporary English Version).

So why then did God give the Ten Commandments if it was not for us to obey them?  He gave them to show us how sinful we are! (See Romans 3:20).  God wants us to know we cannot live by keeping His laws.  Those laws only serve to condemn us!  And if we cannot be saved by keeping the law, we will be led to the Savior as the only alternative! (See John 14:6; Galatians 3:24, 25).

But the Ten Commandments – and the whole of the Jewish law served the Old Testament believer in another way also.  The law revealed the mind of God!  How was the ancient Hebrew supposed to know Jehovah God – His mind, His will, the expectations He had for His children?  By practicing what it says in Psalm 1:2:  “…his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (See also Deuteronomy 11:18-21).

In New Testament times – today included also – believers know God by looking at Jesus!  He tells us in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….”  John, in the introduction to his gospel, wrote in John 1:18 (Contemporary English Version):  “No one has ever seen God.  The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like.”  Why has no one seen God?  In Numbers 33:18, Moses requested of the LORD, “Please, show me Your glory.”  God replied in verse 20, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”  His unveiled glory is just too much for mortal man to behold!  It would destroy him!  So God veiled His glory in the person of Jesus Christ (see Philippians 2:5-8).  But still, it says of Jesus even in this veiled condition, He is…the brightness of His [God’s] glory, and the express image of His person…” (Hebrews 1:3).  “For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).  So, to see what God is like, take a good look at Jesus!

But how do we take a good look at Jesus?  We behold Him through faith – faith made strong through the Word of God, the Bible! (See Romans 10:17).  God’s basic methods don’t change.  Just as the ancient Jew became more and more acquainted with Jehovah God through the Scriptures, so we get to intimately know our Savior the same way – through the Bible!  No wonder Paul writes in Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly….

Another amazing thing happens when we “Let the Word of Christ dwell in…[us] richly….”  By our strengthened faith, we behold the Lord ever more clearly as that faith increases!  And as we behold Him…

      All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that
      same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into His
      likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. (II Corinthians 3:15 – Good
      News Bible).

One day, that transformation will be complete!  It will happen upon Jesus’ return at His Second Coming!  “…we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (I John 3:2).  Until then, the change is gradual.  But it is God’s declared purpose for His children,…to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29).  We are being made like unto Jesus!

So, get in the Word of God, and stay in the Word of God!  This is the key to the Christian life!

From Egypt to Canaan – XV

September 28, 2016

Image result for photo ten Commandments

Exodus 19:1, 2, 20, 20:1

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

To give the setting, I have condensed the Scripture as much as possible – yet to still give the idea of the setting of the Ten Commandments.  I would encourage you to read the full text of Exodus, chapters 19 and 20.  But here is Exodus 19:1, 2, 20, and 20:1

      …after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt…they
      came to the Wilderness of Sinai….and…camped there before the moun-
      tian….Then the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai…and Moses went
      up….And God spoke all these words, saying…

…the Ten Commandments:

I.       You shall have no other gods                 VI.      You shall not murder.
         before Me. (Exodus 20:2)                                   (Exodus 20:13)

II.      You shall not make for your-                  VII.      You shall not commit adultery.
         selves any carved image…you                           (Exodus 20:14)
         shall not bow down to them or
         worship them. (Exodus 20:3, 4)                VIII.    You shall not steal. (Exodus
III.     You shall not take the name of
         the LORD your God in vain.                    IX.      You shall not bear false
         (Exodus 20:7)                                                     witness. (Exodus 20:16)

IV.      Remember the Sabbath day,                  X.       You shall not covet. (Exodus
          to keep it holy.
(Exodus 20:8)                            20:17)

V.       Honor your father and your
          mother. (Exodus 20:12)

Of course this is a shortened version.  The first 17 verses of Exodus 20 that the Ten Commandments occupy gives a lot more detail.

One thing I have discovered:  We often think of the Ten Commandments as listed above (usually displayed in Roman numerals – I through X).  Maybe they should be displayed in a circle!  In Colossians 3:5 Paul writes (English Standard Version):  “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”  Did you catch what was at the end of this verse?  “covetousness…is idolatry.”  The first commandment has to do with idolatry!  The last with covetousness!  So Paul ties the last right back to the first!  It is interesting to note that Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul the Apostle) persecuted Christians for practicing idolatry.  In the minds of the Jewish leaders of the day, the early followers of Christ were worshiping a false god named Jesus!  Yet Paul later confessed that he struggled with covetousness (see Romans 7:7).  Since covetousness…is idolatry, he was persecuting Christians for the very thing of which he was guilty!

Why did God give the Ten Commandments?  Was it so we could have the goal of keeping them to please Him and gain eternal life?  No!  Paul plainly says in Romans 3:20:  “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His [God’s] sight….”  Remember, the Ten Commandments are the basis of the whole 613 statutes of the Jewish law! (613 is the number given by rabbinical tradition).  Why, then, was the law given?  Again, the apostle has the answer.  It is found in the last part of Romans 3:20:  “…for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  I suggested above reading Romans 7:7.  Now I will quote it:

      What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  On the contrary,
      I would not have known sin except through the law.  For I would not have
      known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.”

Paul, in Galatians 3:24 and 25, compares being bound to observe the Jewish law to being under a tutor (or schoolmasterKing James Version):  “…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.”  When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the obligation to keep the Jewish law – or to be legalistic about our Christian faith!  And James reminds us in James 2:10 and 11 the necessity we put ourselves under if we try to keep the law:

      For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is
      guilty of all.  For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do
      not murder.”  Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you
      have become a transgressor of the law.

Just take the example of murder :  I John 3:15 reads, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”  Who has not experienced hating someone at sometime in his or her life?  What about adultery? Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “…I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Most men (according to what the Lord says) have committed adultery!  And many women have also – looking with lust upon men!  But we might not realize this unless we are told that such actions are wrong!  This is the function of the law (the Ten Commandments)!  And when we then realize that we are such sinners, we will search for a Savior!  As God said in Jeremiah 29:13:  “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

You will find Jesus Christ to be your Savior!  I might say that He will find you!

More on the Ten Commandments in the next blog.

From Egypt to Canaan – XIV

September 26, 2016

Image result for photo Holding up Moses' armsExodus 17:8-13

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

There is an interesting episode during the journey From Egypt To Canaan, and it is recorded in Exodus 17:8 through 13:

      Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.  And Moses said
      to Joshua, “Choose us some men, and…fight with Amalek.  Tomorrow I
      will stand on top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”  So Joshua
      …fought with Amalek.  And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up…the hill….
      when Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed.  And when he let down
      his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they
      took a stone…and he sat on it.  And Aaron and Hur supported his hands
      …until the going of the sun.  So Joshua defeated Amalek….

Who was Amalek?  In this Scripture Amalek refers to a nomadic Sinai Desert tribe.  They were also known as the Amalekites – descended from Esau’s grandson Amalek (see Genesis 36:12).  Why did they attack the Israelites?  It involves a spiritual problem that goes back to Esau and Jacob.  God said in Malachi 1:2 and 3, “…Jacob have I loved; but Esau I have hated….”  Why?  Because, basically, Jacob was open to God and His ways, and Esau was not!  He despised his birthright, which he ‘sold’ to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup! (See Genesis 25:29-34).  The birthright was God’s way to make sure a Hebrew family continued in a strong and godly manner, because the eldest son was to take the position of spiritual, relational, and financial leader.

Not only did Esau despise his birthright, but by doing so, he was despising God!  It is written into the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:5 that, “…the iniquity of the fathers [are visited] on the children to the third and fourth generations….”  Apparently, Esau’s grandson, Amalek, inherited his grandfather’s disposition towards God!  And the tribe he founded – the Amalekites – were hostile to Israel, and Israel’s God!  They were a thorn in the Hebrews’ side for centuries thereafter!

And so “…Amalek came and fought with Israel….” (Exodus 17:8).  Moses gave more pertinent details concerning the attack in Deuteronomy 25:17 and 18:

      Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out
      of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all
      the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did
      not fear God.

It was not a bold frontal attack!  It was a cowardly raid from behind – on the old, the young, the sick, and those who were just wearied by the demanding journey out of Egypt.  It is no wonder, then, that Moses reminded the Israelites in Deuteronomy 25:19:

      Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest
      from all your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your
      God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out
      the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.  You shall not forget.

They made a half-hearted attempt to fulfill this command under the leadership of King Saul (see I Samuel 15:1-26).  But Saul left alive “…Agag the king of the Amalekites…” (I Samuel 15:20), whom Samuel the prophet then killed (see I Samuel 15:32, 33).  Apparently, Saul and the fighting men spared others of the Amalekites also.  For, centuries later, “…Haman, the Agagite…” (Esther 3:1) – descended from Agag, king of the Amalekites tried to eliminate all the Jews of the Persian Empire! (See Esther 3:6).

What can we learn from this?  When God says to go and do something, partial obedience can be as bad as disobedience!  As Samuel told King Saul in I Samuel 15:22 and 23:

      Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in
      obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
      and to heed than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is as the sin of witch-
      craft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry

But back to Moses, Aaron, and Hur :  Somehow (according to our featured Scripture, verse 11) victory over the Amalekites depended on Moses holding the rod of God high above his head!  But try holding your hands above your head for just a few minutes. You will get fatigued, and your arms will begin to drop.  Moses had to hold the rod of God over his head for most of the day!  So Aaron (Moses brother) and Hur (Jewish tradition has it that he was Moses brother-in-law) got a large stone for Moses to sit on, and – one on each side – held up his arms…until the going down of the sun…” (Exodus 17:12).  At the end of the day, the battle was over, and victory belonged to Israel!

Christian leaders – no matter how talented and gifted they are – cannot do the job alone!  God calls us to help, to hold up their arms, as it were, so victory can be won!  Think of your pastor.  He is called and gifted by God (see Ephesians 4:11; II Timothy 2:24, 25), but he needs the support of his congregation to get the job done! (See Philippans 4:10-19; I Thessalonians 5:11-13; Hebrews 13:7).

You may not be called as a pastor, deacon, teacher, or other Christian leader.  But you do have a God-given gift – because everyone does! (see Romans 10:6-8).  And that gift may be one that keeps you in the background as someone who provides assistance to a leader.  And that position is extremely important to the mission of God’s kingdom – as important as any leadership position!

Moses couldn’t do it without the help of Aaron and Hur.  Are you holding up the arms of Christian leaders?

From Egypt to Canaan – XIII

September 23, 2016

Image result for photo striking the rockExodus 17:1, 3-6; Numbers 20:7-11

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

They had just left the wilderness of Sin where they complained about being hungry.  Now the Israelites were grumbling about being thirsty.  Here is a shortened version from Exodus 17:1 and 3 through 6:

      Then…Israel…camped in Rephidim….And the people thirsted there for
      water, and…murmured against Moses…,“Why is it you have brought
      us up out of Egypt, to kill us…with thirst?”  So Moses cried out to the
      LORD…“What shall I do with this people?  They are almost ready to
      stone me!”  And the LORD said to Moses, “…take with you some of the
      elders of Israel…[and] your rod, with which you struck the river….Be-
      hold…you shall strike the rock…in Horeb…and water will come out of
      it, that the people may drink.”

It was more than grumbling!  They were about ready to stone Moses!  But God in His gracious provision fulfilled their need (see Philippians 4:19), and gave them water in a most unusual way.  Moses was to strike the rock of Horeb with the rod he carried – with which he had performed many miracles (see for instance Exodus 7:20; 8:5; 8:17; 10:13; 14:16) – and God promised water would flow out of it !  And it did!  There is no record of judgment against the Israelites because of their grumbling, blaming, and not trusting God.  However, the place where this happened was ever after known as Massah and Meribah (Exodus 17:7), which means “testing and quarrel.”  That’s quite a legacy to leave!

But there is another incident, similar and related to the first we have examined.  It happened almost 40 years later than what happened at Horeb rock.  It is recorded in Numbers 20:7 through 11:

      …the LORD spoke to Moses…“Take the rod; you and…Aaron gather the
      assembly together.  Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield
      its water…and give drink to the congregation.”…And Moses and Aaron…
      said to them, “Hear now, ye rebels!  Must we bring water for you out of
      this rock?”  And Moses…struck the rock twice with his rod; and water
      came out abundantly….

You can see the difference right away!

•      In the first case, God told Moses, “…you shall strike the rock…and water will come out of it…” (Exodus 17:6).  And his attitude was submissive as he obeyed what the LORD had told him to do.

•      But the second time God told Moses, “Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water…” (Numbers 20:8).  And what was Moses attitude on this occasion? He was angry and probably fed up with 40 years of hard-hearted rebellion by the people!  So he struck the rock this time also – twice!  Hadn’t it worked that way the first time?  And God, in His mercy and grace, gave forth water anyway – in spite of Moses’ rebellious actions!

What do these two episodes teach us?

•      Paul, speaking of the Israelites in I Corinthians 10:2 through 4, wrote:

      …all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the
      same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.  For they
      drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was

If that Rock was Christ (representative of Him in a prophetic way) then the Lord only needed to be struck once!  And that striking was the brutal torture and death He experienced at the hands of sinful men!  It says in Hebrews 9:25, 26 and 10:14:

      …not that He should offer Himself often….He then would have had to suf-
      fer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the end of the
      ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself….For
      by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

So the first incident where Moses struck the rock signifies Christ’s suffering and death.  Once we put our faith in Him and His sacrifice for our sins, “…He is…able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them…” (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus does not need to be struck again!

•      The second incident signifies how we are to approach our Savior once we are redeemed!  Here is what Hebrews 4:14 through 16 says about it:

      Seeing then we have a great High Priest who has passed into the heavens,
      Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession [of faith].  For we do
      not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but
      was in all points tempted [tested] as we are, yet without sin.  Let us there-
      fore come boldly to the throne of grace [speaking to Him about our needs],
      that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We now only need to ask, seek, and knock! (See Luke 11:9, 10).

Moses – because of disobedience – lost the privilege of leading the new nation of Israel into the Promised Land (see Numbers 20:12).  Let us learn how important it is to obey the Lord’s commands!  For there can be a heavy penalty when we don’t!

From Egypt to Canaan – XII

September 21, 2016

Image result for photo mannaExodus 16:13-15

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Our featured Scripture is Exodus 16:13 through 15:

      …in the morning the dew lay all around the camp [of Israel].  And when
      the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness, was a small
      round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  And when the children
      of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”  For they did not
      know what it was.  And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the
      LORD has given you to eat.”

It was called manna, which is the Hebrew word for “What is it?”  The Israelites had never seen anything like it before – nor had anyone else!  It was God-sent food, described in Exodus 16:31 as, “…like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.”  And God gave manna in response to the Israelites grumbling against Moses and God:  “…you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3).  He is gracious like that – even when we don’t deserve it!

There were specific instructions given in Exodus 16:16 concerning the gathering of manna:  “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded:  ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer [around two quarts] for each person….”  It was to be gathered every morning, for as the day progressed, and “…it the sun became hot, it melted.” (Exodus 16:21).  But manna was not to be gathered on Saturday!  The Sabbath was to be a day of rest!  So on Friday, “…the sixth day…it shall be [gathered] twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16:5).  Usually, the freshness of the manna lasted only one day.  If kept longer, “…it bred worms and stank.” (Exodus 16:20).  But because of the Sabbath, and by God’s miracle, what was gathered on Friday morning lasted two days! (See Exodus 16:23-26).

Now how do we apply this to our Christian lives?

•      In John 6:49, 51 and 54 Jesus told the Jews, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead….I am the living bread which came down from heaven….Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life….

We are to partake fully of the Lord Jesus every day!  And how do we partake of Him? By the Word of God – “Let[ting] the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16) – reading, studying, meditating on it and obeying every day what we read in the Bible!

The Israelites had to go out and collect the manna each morning.  If they went out after the sun became hot, it melted, and they didn’t find any.  They had to do it on God’s time-table, and that took discipline.  And it also took some effort to gather it.  Do we have the discipline to set a regular time to mine God’s riches – to partake of the Lord Jesus Christ?  And are we willing to expend the necessary effort?

•      “What is it?” the Israelites asked.  For they had never seen manna before. “Angels’ food” it is called in Psalm 78:25.  Do you limit God in what He can do?  When there seems to be no other way, do you feel you have to step in to make a way?  Can your God do something to provide for you that you have never known before?  Paul writes in Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  But the apostle does not restrict how God will do it!

Do you know how much manna God had to provide for over 600,000 men, plus women and children? (See Numbers 2:32) – perhaps two to three million people?  It would take four to six million quarts of manna every day!  If the dry measure of two quarts per person weighed about two pounds, that’s two to three thousand tons of manna a day!  And He did that for 40 years! (See Exodus 16:35).  Do you really think God can’t provide for you?

•      “And Moses said, ‘Let no one leave any of it until morning.’  Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses.  But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank.” (Exodus 16:19, 20).  Yesterday’s manna bred worms and stank And yesterday’s intake of the Bible will grow stale if not renewed each day!

It is a sad fact that too many Christians, especially in the western world, depend on being spoon-fed the Word on Sunday morning – and they expect that will be enough for the next six and a half days!  Would you eat physical food only once a week?  If you did, would you maintain your health?  Job cried out in the midst of his great trials:

      My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. 
      I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the
      words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12).

We need His daily sustenance also! (See Jeremiah 15:16).

•      One more thing we might learn from this episode:  It says in Exodus 16:5, 23 and 24:

      “…on the sixth day…gather…twice as much…[for] tomorrow is a Sabbath rest
      …and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.”  …and
      it did not stink, nor were there worms in it.

The Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.  Would not we greatly benefit if we set aside one day out of every seven to refrain from regular work and concentrate on the things of God?  Think about it!

From Egypt to Canaan – XI

September 19, 2016

Image result for photo complainingExodus 16:1-3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I find it interesting that the next event we will examine (in Exodus 16:1 through 3) as the Israelites traveled From Egypt to Canaan, happened in…the wilderness of Sin” (verse 1), because sin was the major issue!  Here is our Scripture:

      And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of
      the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin….Then the whole
      congregation…murmured against Moses and Aaron….And the child-
      ren of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the
      LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and…ate
      bread to the full!  For you have brought us out into this wilderness to
      kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

This isn’t the first time the Hebrews complained after the great miracles of the Exodus, including crossing the Red Sea by God’s great power (see Exodus 15:22-25).  But this incident could not be too long after the Exodus because it resulted in the beginning of the LORD’s daily provision of manna.  This point is important:  How quickly God’s people forgot His love and care!  How quickly they did not call to mind His power He showed in saving them!

Was it just a few days after the Red Sea crossing?  It might have been, because the departing Israelites only had time after the tenth plague – the killing of Egypt’s firstborn – to grab a few provisions and be gone!  Exodus 12:34 tells us that they didn’t even have time to leaven their bread dough!

Read again our featured Scripture.  Perhaps we can learn something from this incident which happened so long ago.

•      What were the words of their complaint in Exodus 16:3? – “…you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  Would God have bothered to redeem them from centuries of slavery in Egypt if He did not intend to preserve this new nation in their wilderness journey?  Did not He tell them that He would lead them into the Promised Land – a land flowing with milk and honey? (See Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5).  Would the LORD bring them out of Egypt just to kill this whole assembly in the wilderness?

What about us?  Think of the price God paid to redeem us from our wilderness of Sin!

      ✞      Jesus came all the way from His eternal glories in heaven to live as a humble human being on earth! (See John 17:5).

      ✞      He lived the perfect life demanded by the Law that we could never live! (See Galatians 3:10; I John 3:4 with Romans 3:10, 23; I Peter 2:22).

      ✞      He died a horrible death, both physically and spiritually – a death we deserved! (See II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; I Peter 2:24; 3:18).

      ✞      We are reckoned righteous before God – robed in Christ’s own righteousness! (See Isaiah 61:10; II Corinthians 5:21).

      ✞      We are forever…accepted in the Beloved [Jesus Christ].” (Ephesians 1:6).

      ✞      Now Jesus will…save [us] to the uttermost…who come to God by Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25).

This is the greatest sacrificethe greatest and most costly giftGod could have ever given us!  And this truth is the logical idea Paul had in mind as he penned Romans 8:31 and 32:

      What shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against
      us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,
      how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (See also
      Romans 5:8-10).

Yes, it is simple logic:  If God already gave the very best and most expensive gift to us, will He not give all else that we need – all else being a lesser gift and less costly to Him?

But He will test us as He did the people of Isralel.  He allowed them to experience hunger.  He tests us to see if we will hold on to the promises He has given us, and to help us develop…patience…experience…and hope…” (Romans 5:3-5).  He will allow trials to enter our lives because they make us…perfect and entire, lacking nothing…,like Jesus! (James 1:2-4).

•       Whom did the Israelites blame for their predicament in the wilderness of Sin They murmured against Moses and Aaron, but they ultimately blamed God!  However since He wasn’t there in human form, they blamed God’s divinely appointed leaders! (See Exodus 16:8).

      ✞      Doesn’t the Lord say in I Chronicles 16:22 (and again in Psalm 105:15):  “Do not touch My anointed ones, and do My prophets no harm…?

      ✞      And do we not tend to criticize our leaders if something goes against our liking in our church?  Are not we too often really criticizing God?  And we do so risking our own harm!

•      After what were the Israelites lusting?  Egypt which stands for the world!  The food they said they freely ate (see Numbers 11:5) – but they were forgetting their cruel slavery! (See Exodus 1:14; 6:9).  The good life they thought they lived – but they were forgetting the death decreed against their newborn males! (See Exodus 1:15-22).  The world calls, but we are called out of the world ! (See John 17:6).  And we are told not to return to it – to not love the world ! (See I John 3:15-17).

So keep your eyes on God and the Promised Land of His Kingdom (see Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-3), as you journey through this old world!

From Egypt to Canaan – X

September 16, 2016

Image result for photo praising God in heavenExodus 15:1-4

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

What was the first thing the Israelites did after they crossed the Red Sea by God’‘s miraculous parting of the waters and drying of the seabed?  They looked back to see “…Moses stretch…out his hand…[and] the waters return…and cover…the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them.” (Exodus 14:27, 28).  Then they broke into a song of praise – recorded in full in Exodus 15.  Here are verses 1 through 4:

      Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and
      spoke, saying:  “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! 
      The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!  The LORD is my
      strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I
      will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.  The LORD is a
      man of war; the LORD is His name.  Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He
      has cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.”

We would expect these newly redeemed people to praise God.  They were delivered from generations of slavery in Egypt by mighty miracles!  And they were just saved from death or reenslavement by the pursuing Egyptian army!

Praise should be an important part of our life in the Lord Jesus!  But how often do we praise Him?  Too often our prayers (our communication with God) consist of requests for personal issues and those of family or close friends!  Many prayers follow an outline of, “Bless me, my wife, and two kids – us four, and no more!  Amen.”  But what if we spent the first major part of an extended prayer time praising our God?  What benefits would be derived from this?

•      We would find ourselves drawn closer to the Lord!  It is not that He would be closer to us – for Jesus plainly tells us in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20 (in that order):  “I will never leave you or forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  He is with us by means of the Holy Spirit, as He said in John 14:16 through 18:

      …I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He
      may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth….I will not leave
      you orphans; I will come to you.

Jesus said the Holy Spirit will come, yet it is He who comes and abides!  As He says in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one…,so He and the Spirit are one!  Also, God gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us as a down-payment – earnest – of all the good things in Him to come (see Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 1:6).  But Paul tells us in Colossians 1:27, that it “…is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  So when we have the Holy Spirit, we have Jesus Christ!

Yet how is He drawn closer to us (or we to Him) by praise?  It is written in Psalm 22:3 that God “…inhabit[s] the praises of Israel.”  He is no different today!  He inhabits the praises of His people – you and me, when we take the time to praise Him!  What true Christian would not want to experience the Lord God drawn closer to him or her?

•      David wrote in Psalm 34:1:  “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  We think of God blessing us, but we can bless Him – by praising and thanking Him for all His blessings upon us!

•      Hosea 10:11 – “Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow.  Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break the clods.”  There is a lot in this verse, and it would take pages to explain it all.  But I want to focus on just one phrase:  “Judah shall plow….”  Judah, in Hebrew means, “praise.”  You could then translate it, “Praise shall plow….”  Praise plows the ground, getting it ready for planting the seed!  What is the seed?  “The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11).  Praise gets the ground ready to receive the Word!  The ground is the heart and life of the individual (see Matthew 13:18-23).  So if you want the Word of God to be more effective in your life – or in the life of someone else for whom you are praying – spend more time praising God !

•      Praise is a big part of our eternal heavenly experience!  In Revelation 7:11 and 12 we read:

      And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four liv-
      ing creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
      saying:  Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor
      and power and might, be to our God forever and ever.  Amen.

This involves all the inhabitants of heaven, including the elders who, many Bible scholars think, represent the faithful of all history, both throughout Old Testament times and New!  Christian, we will be there – praising and worshiping God !  And if that is going to be a big part of our eternal heavenly experience, we ought to practice praising God now!

From Egypt to Canaan – IX

September 14, 2016

Image result for photo bad friendsExodus 12:37, 38

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

There is an interesting note in the account of the Exodus from Egypt – a brief mention of something that is often overlooked!  Here is Exodus 12:37 and 38:

      And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about
      six hundred thousand men on foot, beside [women and] children.  A
      mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks, and herds — a
      great deal of livestock.

A mixed multitude went up with them also….”  What does it mean by a mixed multitude, and why is this important to note?

Although it is not fully explained in the text of Scripture, apparently, a mixed multitude refers to Egyptians (and other foreigners living in Egypt at the time of the Exodus) who were so impressed by the Hebrew God and His powerful plagues against the Egyptians and their gods as He delivered the Israelites from bondage, that they were drawn to the Hebrews and joined the Exodus.  What affect did the mixed multitude have on this covenant people who were called out by God?

•      They were drawn to the demonstration of God’s power, but they were not necessarily converted!

      ✞      In Acts 8:5 through 24, there is recorded a great revival in Samaria as a result of Philip’s preaching.  Peter and John joined him later when word of the revival reached Jerusalem. These two apostles “…prayed for them [the Samaritan believers] that they might received the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 8:15).  There was among the new followers of Jesus a noted and influential sorcerer named Simon who, “…also [seemed to] believed and…was baptized…” (Acts 8:13).  But did he really believe?  When he wanted to ‘buy’ the power of the Holy Spirit (see verses 18, 19), Peter told him off with these words:

      Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God
      could be purchased with money!  You neither have part nor portion in
      this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God….For I see
      that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. (Acts 8:20,
      21, 23).

      ✞      There are those today – like Simon the sorcerer, and like the mixed multitude – who are drawn to Christianity because of the observed power and/or benefits of following Christ.  But they are not born-again!  They are still in and of the world – lost and going to hell!  They are tares among the wheat ! (See Matthew 13:24-30).  And they bring down the true Body of Christ!

•      What effect did this mixed multitude have on the Israelites of the Exodus?  It is recorded in Numbers 11:4 through 6 this sorry incident:

      And the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving;
      so the children of Israel also wept again, and said, “Who shall give us meat
      to eat?  We remember the fish we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the
      melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is
      dried up; there is nothing at all, except this manna before our eyes.”

Manna – free food direct from God – fresh every morning!  It was…like the taste of pastry prepared with oil…” (Numbers 11:8), tasty and totally nourishing!  It is even called angels’ food in Psalm 78:25!  But the Israelites, led by the mixed multitude, complained.  Notice that they just didn’t complain against the manna, they longed for…the fish…the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic…” of Egypt!  They were willing to return to slavery in Egypt for free fish and vegetables!  And it resulted in God’s punishment – a very great plague (Numbers 11:33) that killed many people!

Watch out whom you allow to associate with you!  I Corinthians 15:33 tells us, “Do not be deceived:  Evil company corrupts good habits.”  In God’s Word to the Nations it is translated this way:  “Don’t let anyone deceive you.  Associating with bad people will ruin decent people.”  Proverbs 13:20 says, “…the companion of fools will be destroyed.”  Fools?  David teaches us in Psalm 14:1 that, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”  It may not be spoken by his or her lips, but the unbeliever acts like – says in his or her heart – “There is no God…!  Hanging around with unbelievers will generally bring you, a follower of Jesus Christ, down just like the mixed multitude demoralized the Israelites, and led them to complain about God’s abundant mercy and grace – to the destruction of many!  Many Christians have been so distracted in their walk with the Lord by unbelieving companions that they end up lusting for the things of the world, and they return to that Godless lifestyle to their own destruction!

Choose your friends carefully, Christian!

From Egypt to Canaan – VIII

September 12, 2016

Image result for photo crossing the Red SeaPsalm 106:9-11

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The psalmists sometimes used recounting the events of Israel’s history in composing their psalms.  In the opening lines of Psalm 106 there is remembered the Exodus from Egypt – specifically, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.  Here are verses 9 through 11:

      He rebuked the Red sea…and it dried up; so He led them through
      the depths, as through the wilderness.  And He saved them from the
      hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of
      the enemy.  The waters covered their enemies; there was not one of
      them left.

The incident is recorded in the 31 verses of Exodus 14, and is remembered by faithful Jews as the greatest miracle that God produced as He saved the escaping Israelites from the pursuing Egyptian army.  Thank God these ancient miracles are recorded in the Old Testament.  And Saint Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 10:11:  “Now all these things happened to them as examples; and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come.”  In other words, we are to learn from the experiences of the people in the Old Testament, and apply it to living out our Christian lives today!

What does the miracle of the Red Sea crossing teach us about our Christian experience?  I struggled with this because some scholars relate the incident to foreshadowing our salvation.  They say that God brought His children out from the slavery of Egypt, delivering them from the death of the pursuing army, and leading them to freedom and new life led by Him.  That, they say, is a picture of our salvation in the New Testament economy.  But I believe our salvation experience is better proclaimed by the blood of the slain lamb protecting the Israelites as the angle of death passed through Egypt, killing the firstborn of man and beast, but passing over the dwellings whose doors were so blood-marked.  For Christians today, the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ – applied to us when we accept Him as our Savior – protects us from God’s judgment of eternal death!  The Son became the sinner in our place!  He received the Father’s wrath and condemnation on the cross so we can go free!

Then what does the crossing of the Red Sea foreshadow?  I believe it is a picture of the call of God upon our lives to leave the world behind, and to live for Him in His Kingdom!  Let’s consider several things as we analyze this picture:

•      In From Egypt To Canaan – I, I quoted the ancient Alexandrian teacher Didymus the Blind:  “Egypt represents the world….Pharaoh and his soldiers are the Devil and his satellites.”  Bible scholars have long recognized this representation.

•      Jesus, as He prayed in John 17, said we, as God’s children, “…are not of the world…but …are in the world…” (verses 11 & 16).  For “He has delivered us from the power [the kingdom] of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…” (Colossians 1:13).  Satan is the ruler of that kingdom of darkness, and he seeks to keep us there, all the way into the eternal darkness of hell! (See Matthew 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 1:13).  The devil’s dominion includes “… all the kingdoms of the world…” (Luke 4:5).  So it is no wonder then that I John 2:15 and 16 tells us:

      Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world,
      the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world — the lust
      of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father
      but is of the world.

And James warns us in his epistle, James 4:4:  “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

•      Therefore Paul tells us in Colossians 3:2 and 3:  “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.  For you died [the old sinful nature – see Colossians 3:5], and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

•      The Red Sea is the south-eastern border of Egypt.  When the Israelites crossed the sea, they left behind the country of Egypt.  They were also to leave behind the culture of Egypt!  But, as we shall see in the next blog, that was not as easy as physically leaving Egypt!

•      Since it is the sinful nature that answers to Satan’s temptations and the world’s corrupt pull (see Galatians 6:19-21), the death of the Egyptian army as they tried to chase the Israelites across the Red Sea signifies that as Christians, we are to…reckon… ourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:11).

•      Do not exclude the miraculous in both that which foreshadows and the fulfillment!  It was by His miraculous power that…

      …the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that
      night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.  So
      the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, and
      the waters were a wall to them on their right and on their left….Then
      the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the
      army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them.  Not so much as one
      of them remained. (Exodus 14:21, 22).

And it is only by God’s miraculous and powerful mercy and grace that…He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).  Once that is true in someone’s experience, it is only by His miraculous power that we can be called from this sinful world to walk in [live out] the new life of the kingdom of God!

From Egypt to Canaan – VII

September 9, 2016

Image result for photo pillar of cloud and fireExodus 13:20-22

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

As the Israelites left Egypt and slavery behind in the Exodus, we learn an interesting detail about their journey – concerning the presence of God:

      …they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the
      edge of the wilderness.  And the LORD went before them by day in
      a pillar of a cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to
      give them light, so as to go by day and night.  He did not take away
      the pillar of the cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from be-
      fore the people.

Let’s look at the characteristics of this pillar of cloud…and…pillar of fire, and relate what we learn to our Christian experience today.

•      Exodus 13:21 – God’s pillar presence was “…to lead the way…[going] before them…” (the Israelites) in their journeys.

      ✞      In John 14:2 through 6, there is an interaction between Jesus and His disciples:

              “I go to prepare a place for you….And where I am going you know,
              and the way you know.”  Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not
              know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus
              said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to
              the Father except through Me.”

Since the above is true, all we have to do is obey Him when He tells us in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me….

      ✞      Numbers 9:17, 18 – “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above
              the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and
              in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel
              would pitch their tents.

The leading of God was very specific.  He not only told them when to move, but where!  As Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 8:2, “…the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness….”  This led me to think of the way the Holy Spirit led Paul as he traveled through Asia Minor on his second missionary journey (see Acts 16:6-10).  It is as written in Isaiah 30:21:  “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.

•       Exodus 13:21 – “…the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud…and by night in a pillar of fire…,a constant and very visible reminder of the presence of their Redeemer God!

      ✞      The pillar of cloud guided the Israelites by day.  This was as it says in Psalm 121:5, “…thy shade upon thy right hand.”  The Psalm speaks of God as our keeper and protector.  So the shade is relief and rest from the heat of trial, and protection from evil!

      ✞      The pillar of fire was a phenomenon manifested at night, guiding the Israelites and also giving them light for any activities after dark!

This double-duty of the pillar greatly served Israel in Exodus 14:19 and 20 as the Egyptian army pursued them:

      And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and
      went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them, and
      stood behind them.  So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and
      the camp of Israel.  Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it
      gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the
      other all that night.

•      Exodus 14:20 – “…a cloud and darkness to the one, and…light by night to the other…” – two very different results from the same presence!  Jesus proclaimed in John 8:12 and 9:5, “I am the light of the world.”  But John 3:19 through 21 reveals the same two results – two entirely different reactions by people who are confronted with that light of Jesus:

      And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and
      men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For
      everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest
      his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light,
      that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

      ✞      The one who practices evil stays in darkness and shuns the lighteven hating it!because it will expose the evil deeds he does!  Such a one will stumble through life (see Jeremiah 13:16; I John 11:10; 12:35; I John 2:11), right into hell at the end! (See Revelation 21:8).

      ✞      But the repentant one, having accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and walking in the light of His Lordship (see I John 1:7), will continually come to the light so that his or her…deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God….”  Such deeds are a testimony to God’s marvelous grace!

•      Finally, the pillar of cloud and fire remind us of our Lord’s continual presence!  As He said in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20, “I will never leave you nor forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Amen.