Month: April 2018

April 28, 2018: Day 14 – Exodus 14

I think we need to begin this day with a picture:


What is fascinating to me is the length of time that it took to cross the sea and the length of time it took for the Egyptians to die in the sea.  If you read the Scripture again you will see that there was a stand off between the two camps because God got in the middle of them with a cloud.  As soon as the Israelites began to cross the sea after God had parted it, we read in vs. 22 that the Egyptians pursued them.

The parting of the sea is fascinating in and of itself.  I believe it happened.  Notice, that God didn’t just make it happen, like when Jesus stills the storm.  Rather, we read that God used a wind to make it happen.  He didn’t have to do that.  God could have just made it happen.  But He didn’t, He chose to use a wind.

It makes sense that the Israelites crossed the sea under the cover of darkness.  What we read is that as the sun came up, they were still trying to cross the Red Sea.  At this morning hour God threw the Egyptians into confusion and clogged up their wheels.  After this is when we read that the Israelites cross over safely.  The Egyptians are getting the feeling that something is up, and begin to question whether it is wise or not to pursue the Israelites.  I’m guessing they decide to turn back, but since they are all gummed up they aren’t able to escape in time before the water crashes back in on them tossing them into the sea.  

We finish this chapter with a sigh of relief.  We read in vs. 31 that the people saw the great work that the Lord had done so they believed God and His servant Moses.  Well, it is about time!

April 27, 2018: Day 13 – Exodus 13

Maybe the trek looked something like this:

the way out of Egypt

In my 90 Day Challenge IV folder I have three different maps with three different routes.  There are so many theories as to how the Israelites left Egypt.   But one thing for certain is that the people of Israel were commanded never to forget what it looked like when they did leave Egypt, and what God did for them when they left Egypt.  Once again we read about God commanding Moses to set aside a ritual that would take place once a year.  Ritual is good, it reminds us of God’s amazing grace.  

It is interesting that God spares the Israelites the psychological challenge of facing the Philistines first thing in the morning.  He decides to take them a different way so that they would not become discouraged.  Remember what happens when the spies are sent into the promised land?  This is years later, well they come back discouraged, except for Samuel, of course.  The Lord is trying to avoid that so early in the journey.  We don’t hear a peep from the Egyptians just yet.  Maybe Pharaoh was thinking that they were just going on a three day’s journey like it had been set up to be.  We will hear from them soon enough.

God always leads the way.  A cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night.  It is these passages  that make me think: How could they not have trusted the Lord?  They physically saw him every single day.  Then I remember the uncountable times that I don’t trust the Lord and say: Right, now I remember why they didn’t trust.  We never trust completely.  I would love it if we could trust and obey always.  Yes, I think it is time for a song for that one.

April 26, 2018: Day 12 – Exodus 12

And so the great plague has arrived.  Notice before the event takes place the Lord lets Moses know that this is going to be when Pharaoh lets you go, so we are going to have an event, a religious event, to celebrate this day.  He sets Moses up with a liturgy that the people of Israel are to follow for the rest of time to commemorate this event of the Passover.  Did you notice that there are many names for this festival?  Is it the Passover, or the festival of unleavened bread?  Regardless of what it is called it is one that is to be celebrated and remembered in a very specific way.

So, once the holiday is established and Moses is shown how it is to be historically celebrated, the plague strikes.  In this rendition of the passover we do not see an angel of death that passes over the people, but rather it is the Lord who strikes the firstborn of every Egyptian.  The only description that we find is seen in vs.23 where we see that the Lord, will prevent the “destroyer” from entering houses of the Israelities.  The one carrying out this task is called the “destroyer”.  There is no angel of death in Exodus as God’s plague kills the first-born of the Egyptians.  It is interesting to note that there is no differentiation between the man on the throne, Pharaoh, and the prisoner in his jail.  They all suffered the same fate.  

The escape of the Israelites is one where they travel nearly 130 miles when they are freed as they go from Rameses which is in Goshen to Succoth.  That is quite a journey when you have 600 men on foot to say nothing of the children and the women.  So you have thousands on this journey along with the livestock.  There is no mention of how the people of Israel felt about this, just that it happened.  That comes  in the following chapters.  

April 25, 2018: Day 11 – Exodus 11

This chapter is really more or less a buildup of the “great plague”.  God tells Moses  that after this plague he will let you go.  Moses is instructed to go and tell Pharaoh what is about to come; that God will strike down the first born of every Egyptian child.  But it doesn’t end there.  It doesn’t even begin there.  We hear before that God instructing all to ask for gold and silver for their neighbor because they are about to get out of this country.  I guess this is a type of covert plundering of the nation.  

The sign that this act is happening and that it is of the Lord is that dogs will cease growling at the Israelites.  They will growl at every other person group, but they will no longer growl at the Israelites.  That is a bit curious.  We have a dog who doesn’t growl, but loves to bark.  We don’t love it when she barks.  But if she were to bark just at certain types of people or just certain ethnicities, that would be very curious indeed.  But for the plague of the Passover, which we will see next chapter, the whole growling of dogs is part of it.  

Moses tells Pharaoh of what is about to come and he leaves Pharaoh in ‘hot anger’ because he knows, he just knows that he will not listen to him.  In fact, God confirms that fact in the next paragraph.  The plague, the terrible plague comes next.

April 24, 2018: Day 10 – Exodus 10

We are getting closer.  We now have two plagues here, plague 8 and 9.  Before the eighth plague comes we see the magicians and the wise men of Pharaoh’s court come to him and beseech him to let Moses and the people of Israel go.  The country is in tatters and he is only creating more and more problems for the people of Egypt.  It must have been a political nightmare.  So Pharaoh seems to try.  Okay, you can leave, but only your men can go and worship your God in the wilderness.  Leave behind the women and the children and the livestock.

Moses disagrees and Pharaoh goes ballistic.  As a result the locusts come and Pharaoh begs Moses for mercy.  It is interesting because at the beginning of this chapter we find that Moses reveled in the fact that history would remember this encounter as a time when the Israelites made the Egyptians look like fools.  This was to be passed on from generation to generation.  I can’t imagine that this reality helps the situation in the Middle East.

The final plague before the final plague is three days of darkness.  If there was ever a harbinger for the resurrection, this just might be it.  A deep darkness, like death, hung on the Egyptians and it lasted for three days.  That was too much for Pharaoh.  You can go, your children and women can go as well.  But, actually, if you could just leave behind your livestock that would be great.  Sorry, I need them for the sacrifices that we will be performing.  Pharaoh certainly was not someone who was used to being questioned, and this Moses had the audacity to talk back to him often.  As a result, again, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he said no.

This is not the only time that we see a leader who is directly opposed to the will of God who has his heart hardened by God so that God’s purposes could be carried out and a historical happening could take place as a result of God’s people overcoming someone with a hardened heart.  He hardened the hearts of the religious leaders in John and as a result they were able to not hear or see that Jesus was the Messiah.  The fault is not in God, but it is entirely in a will and desire that leads us away from the presence of the Lord.

April 23, 2018: Day 9 – Exodus 9

Notice the pattern of the plagues.  We find ourselves in this chapter looking at plague number 5, 6, and 7.  The first is the disease of the livestock.  The second is the boils which fell on both animal and people.  The third is hail and thunder.  The first two only struck the livestock and people of Egypt.  Pharaoh noticed that all of his people were compromised, while the people of Israel were not.  The third we find the hail falling only in the land where the Egyptians resided where the area where the Israelites resided, Goshen, was not harmed.  

It is after this plague of the terrifying hail and thunder that Pharaoh tells Moses that he will let the people go.  Moses follows through and does what he says he is going to do, but again Pharaoh hardens his heart.  We see that as a constant theme.  God follows through and Pharaoh hardens his heart.  

Take a little time and think about the many, many times that God sends us signs about his presence and directives on turning our lives around and we instead choose to harden our hearts.  But God does not give up and does not go away.  I thank God for that.

April 22, 2018: Day 8 – Exodus 8

Once again the Lord commands Moses to go before Pharaoh and warn him of the plagues to come.  The first plague was turning the water to blood, and then they follow in succession:  frogs, gnats, and flies.  After each of these plagues Pharaoh says that he will let the people go, but then he changes his mind, just as the Lord said that he would.  I think it is interesting that the magicians are able to turn the Nile to blood, they are able to bring out frogs, but when he gets to the gnats, they are at a loss.  It seems like from now on they will be at a loss.

There is a longer dialogue with Moses and Pharaoh, and it almost seems as if he is interested in knowing why the Israelites can’t just go and worship their God in their own homes.  Moses comes up with a good reason, even if I wonder it was simply for the attempt to get the people away from the land and away from their place of slavery.

April 21, 2018: Day 7 – Exodus 7

Did you know that Moses was the little brother?  It is in vs. 7 that we see their ages when they approach Pharaoh.  It is not important for this part of the story, but it was interesting to me because it fits in with the other little brothers who were over their family like Isaac, and Joseph, and Jacob and others.  

The detail of this chapter is really quite rich.  We have read all of these stories in Sunday School, but I wonder since then if we have ever really read them?  I mean have you seen the detail in these stories?  The magicians were also able to throw their staffs down and snakes appear, but Moses’ staff which had turned into a snake ate up the other snakes.  The same way the magicians of Pharaoh were able to turn the water to blood, just like Moses did.  But they were not able to turn it back.

Did you notice that the water remained blood for 7 days?  Moses knew that Pharaoh would not relent, God had told him.  We are in Houston now, rebuilding, and it does feel like a plague has hit this city.  Entire blocks of homes are uninhabited and uninhabitable.  Slowly but surely the city is coming back, but these 7 months have been terrible for the city.  We know it was not the hand of God that caused this, but how can you not question the desires of the Lord in these situations?

April 20, 2018: Day 6 – Exodus 6

There is a common theme here that Moses is a bit unsure of his abilities and as a result doubts that the Lord’s command is going to come to fruition.  This chapter is bookmarked by Moses’ statement that if the Israelites wouldn’t listen to him, then why in the world would Pharaoh.  He says this from experience.  He told the Israelites the promises that the Lord had given him, that God would deliver the Israelites from slavery and lead them to the promised land, a land that was promised to their ancestors.  But we read in vs.9 that they would not listen to Moses because of their broken spirit and their cruel slavery.

It is hard to overcome a broken spirit.  It is hard to bounce back once you have learned that you are helpless.  There is a condition called learned helplessness which is a state where you have learned that no matter what you do it makes no difference what you do, you will always be helpless.  It is not reality, it is not the truth, but some people learn this and think that as a result they will never be able to do anything positive or anything to change the trajectory of their life.

The presence of God lifts our helplessness and provides us hope that we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).  The strength of our faith is found in that we are never in a position to think that death, the negative, or evil has won.  God will always conquer which means that we can do all things and that all things are possible, as Mary responds to the angel Gabriel.  A crucial part of our Christian life is to believe that all things are possible.  

We find a genealogy in these verses which serves to place Moses and Aaron right in the middle of history.  This portion of Scripture, yes serves as a reminder that Moses was a reluctant servant, but also shows that both Moses and Aaron are situated in some of the most prominent households of Israel.  The stage is set for a second showdown between Moses and Pharaoh.  

April 19, 2018: Day 5 – Exodus 5

We have to begin this chapter with the end of chapter 4.  We read that Moses and Aaron went to visit the people of Israel while they are yet in Egypt.  As they visit with the people, whom Moses hasn’t seen in decades, they believed the words that they uttered, that God was going to get them out of this mess.  As a result of this belief, that God is going to act, not that Moses is with them, but that God is going to act, the Scripture tells us that they bowed down and worshiped.  The motivation to worship God was a result of “when they heard that the Lord had given heed to the Israelites and that he had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.”  Sometimes we just need to know that God cares.

In this chapter we see God kind of become the bad guy.  Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh and ask for a very reasonable request.  Let us go into the wilderness for 3 days to worship God.  They do not ask that Pharaoh set their people free.  That is what we think Moses asks.  Let my people go!  Should really be: Let my people go for three days and then we will be right back…, but that isn’t what we historically have thought.  Pharaoh isn’t excited about letting the Israelites go, and in fact questions who this God is.  He sees this request as manifestation of the laziness of the Israelites who just don’t want to work hard.

So he makes them work harder.  He takes away their straw, has their Jewish foremen beaten when they don’t produce the same amount of bricks as before, and calls them lazy, lazy.  Every since Moses shows up, Pharaoh has become a bit of an ogre and the people of Israel are not happy about that.  Things were going fine before you came along.  In fact, if you turn to vs.22-23 that is exactly what Moses tells the Lord.  Ever since you sent me, Lord, Pharaoh has mistreated the people of Israel far worse than they were treated  before I came.  You haven’t done anything to deliver your people.  I love this story.  Even Moses takes the side against God.  God is about to deliver, but things can’t work out the way that we think or expect.  They have to work out the way God wants them to.  Hold on, and we will be getting there.

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