Sunday, April 9, 2017

Moses Obeys, and a Correction

Obedience at Last

First that correction

In Exodus 4:18-31, We can read how Moses finally accepted God's call on his life, and stepped out in faith with God. Before I get into that though, I want to post a correction on my last post.  At the end of my last post I made an error, I said that we never see in the Bible where Aaron actually spoke for Moses.  Now, I said this because a teacher I respect very much had made a similar statement in their teaching recently, and rather than fact check, I assumed it to be true.   Well, today's passage shows that it is not true, the Bible does record Aaron actually speaking for Moses.  I went back and took the statement off of yesterday's post, but I also felt it necessary to admit my error and apologize.  I should have checked the information myself, rather than just assume it was correct because of who said it.  I will be more careful in the future.

Now, Moses Obeys

Unclear happenings.

So back to Exodus 4 we read about the beginnings of Moses' official ministry.  Several unclear things take place in this chapter though.

 First in verse 18 we see Moses request permission from his father-in-law.  Why he had to ask permission isn't clearly stated, perhaps it was just a sign of respect, perhaps it was to give his father-in-law notice since he served as shepherd of his flocks.  Perhaps he had previously agreed to serve his father-in-law in order to gain permission to marry his daughter.  Whatever the reason, Moses now asks if he can return to Egypt, but he doesn't really say why he is going.  He doesn't tell Jethro about God's call, he doesn't tell Jethro that God spoke from a burning bush or that He chose Moses to free the children of Israel.  Instead, he says he wants to go see if any of his family is still alive there.  

Why didn't he disclose what he was doing?  

Was he afraid Jethro wouldn't believe him?

Was he still processing for himself what God had asked of him?

The Bible doesn't say his reason, but we do see that in verses 19 and 20 God repeats His call, this time with the assurance that those who wanted to kill Moses are now dead, and that Moses leaves for Egypt with his wife and sons.  Then in verses 21-23 God again instructs Moses as to what he is called to do.  Perhaps Moses really did plan on only going to see if his family still lived.  Perhaps his heart wasn't fully set on obeying yet.  I know we often do the "half obedience" game with God.  God calls us to tell someone the Gospel, but rather than tell them ourselves, we invite them to church so the Pastor can do it.  We half obey and wonder why we get half results.  Here Moses is headed to Egypt, but is he really planning to go to Pharaoh and demand that God's people be set free?  The Bible isn't really clear, but we do see that for some reason, God decided it was necessary to tell Moses AGAIN what he was to do when he arrived in Egypt.

Then in verses 24-26 something happens that seems baffling at first glance.  God comes to Moses and seeks to kill him, Moses' wife intervenes by circumcising their son, and God restrains from harming Moses.  Why did God seek to kill Moses?  Why did circumcision convince God not to do it?

The Bible leaves a lot unclear in this passage, but it isn't hard to infer what was going on.  God had just called Moses to lead His people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He had also called him to stand before Pharaoh and tell him that Israel was His first-born son, and that if Pharaoh didn't let Israel go God would kill his firstborn.  Moses though, was not fit to lead the children of Israel because he had not obeyed the command given to Abraham and all of Abraham's descendants generations before.  God had told Abraham that the covenant between God and Abraham's descendants required that every male be circumcised.  This should have been done when Moses' son was 8 days old.  The Bible doesn't say why Moses hadn't done it, perhaps his wife didn't want him to, since it wasn't a custom to the Midianites, perhaps that is why she seemed so angry about doing it, tossing the foreskin at Moses' feet and calling him a "husband of blood", or perhaps she was just angry that she had to do herself, when it really should have been Moses' job.  Again the Bible isn't totally clear, but we do see that once the circumcision is taken care of, God lets Moses go.

In verses 27-31 we see the chapter wrapping up with God sending Aaron to meet Moses, and then we see them go together to Egypt to speak to the elders of Israel and tell them God's plan for deliverance, it is in these verses that we see Aaron speaking for Moses.

Thoughts for Application

The incident where Moses' wife had to circumcise their son to save her husbands life illustrates the importance of obeying what we already know God wants us to do.  Often, we wonder why God doesn't speak to us and tell us what He wants us to do with our lives, but I think we should ask ourselves if we are obeying what He has already revealed of His will through His word.

Moses had no excuse for not circumcising his son.  The Israelites had passed down that symbol of their covenant since Abraham, and even though Moses had been raised in an Egyptian household, he knew he was an Israelite, and had enough contact with Israelites to know about this requirement.  Yet he didn't do it, and finally his wife was forced to do it with a sharp stone, in a rush, on a child much older than the ideal age for a circumcision.  

In a similar way, we have no excuse for not obeying God in the things we know He wants all of us to do, to love one another, to obey His commands, to read His word and spend time in prayer.  We may ask for further guidance, but one must wonder if He isn't looking at us and thinking, "Why should I tell you to do anything more when you aren't even doing what I already told you I wanted?

So I think the application for this passage is to obey, to obey fully (not half obedience), and to obey in a timely manner, rather than wait until we are backed against a wall.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What Can Change the Plan of God?

What Can Change the Plan of God?

Perhaps the title of this post might seem a little misleading, since I ask what can change God's plan, when I know nothing really can, well nothing except for God Himself that is, and since He is unchanging, His plan isn't likely to change any time soon.   Moses' life, especially the first part, before the plagues of Egypt, before the parting of the Red Sea, and before the Ten Commandments, is a perfect example of this.  Here are some things about Moses' early life that couldn't change the plan of God for him.

Ruthless men can't change God's plan

Looking back into Exodus 1-2, we see that Egypt was ruled by several ruthless and cruel Pharaohs, who turned against the descendants of Joseph and of Jacob (also called Israel), and forced them into slavery, in spite of the fact that Joseph had saved Egypt from ruin, and that the rest of Joseph's family, including his father Jacob (Israel), had all come to Egypt by invitation of an earlier Pharaoh, also despite the fact the descendants of Israel had never taken any action against Egypt in all their time living in the land. Still, there a arose a king over Egypt who did not know Joseph and Israel, and who acted in fear and put their descendants into slavery, not happy with that, he made the decision to start murdering all of the baby boys born to the Israeli mothers.  God protected Moses though, because He had a plan for Moses and nothing was going to change that.

Our past sin can't change God's plan.

Also in Exodus 2, we read about how Moses, knowing that God had chosen him to deliver the Israelites, acted on his own instead of waiting on God, and rose up and murdered a man in cold blood, and then had to run for his own life, a fugitive.  

This didn't change God's plan for Moses though, God just sent Moses to the desert for the next 40 years to do some manual labor and some soul searching, and in that time God was preparing Moses for the task ahead of him.

Our age can't change God's plan.

As I mentioned in my last post, by the time Moses was officially called by God from that burning bush, Moses was 80 years old.  His first 40 years had been spent protected and in luxury, the next 40 years had been spent as a fugitive, and as a lowly shepherd in the the desert, living a life of hard work and harsh conditions, kind of like a 40 year long boot camp to get Moses ready for the job God had for him.  At 80 years old, most people consider their life's work pretty much done, very few expect to be starting new ventures at that time, but Moses' age didn't matter to God, God called him to do the task, and God would sustain him through that task.

Our doubts can't change God's plan.

(This rest of this  post looks at Exodus 3:7-4:17, you can read the passage in its entirety by clicking HERE.)

Moses, the great pillar of faith, was actually pretty full of doubt when God called him.  In Exodus 3:11 Moses responds to God's call by asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 

God responds to Moses with reassurance that He will be with Him every step of the way, but Moses still doubts, and starts to argue with God, bringing up all kinds of questions and doubts. God is patient and answers each one, telling Moses what to say if questioned, and performing several miracles for Moses and promising Moses that these same signs will be repeated in Egypt to convince everyone that God actually sent him.
Moses still doubts, and in fact one of those miraculous signs scares Moses away, when God turns Moses' rod into a snake, rather than being amazed at the work and miraculous hand of God, Moses responds by fleeing from the snake, and only returns to take it up again at God's command.

God continues to show Moses more and more signs, and Moses, the great man of faith, is still arguing with God.  Finally bringing up my next point for this blog post.

Our weaknesses, handicaps, or shortcomings can't change God's plan.

Moses in  Exodus 4:10 points out to God that he, Moses is not eloquent, but is slow of speech and tongue.  Many scholars say that the way this is worded in the original languages seems to imply that when Moses says he is slow of tongue and of speech that he doesn't just mean he isn't a great public speaker, but rather that he suffered some speech impediment, perhaps like stuttering.  

At any rate whether it is just the shortcoming of not being a great orator, or whether Moses is talking about an actual handicap of speech, neither of things matter to God when it comes to His call on Moses' life.

God says to Moses in Exodus 4:11-12, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."  What God is saying here is that it doesn't matter if Moses has a problem speaking, it wouldn't even matter if Moses was mute or deaf or blind, if God calls him to do something, God will equip him to get it done.

Not even our reluctance can change God's plan.

In Exodus 4:13, Moses stops pointing out problems and instead resorts to pleading with God to just choose someone else, saying,  “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”  But God wasn't looking for "whomever else", God had called Moses to this task.  

At this point, God became angry, but still showed Moses incredible mercy and compassion, in verses 14-17 God tells Moses that he is still going to fulfill God's purpose for him, but since he is so full of doubt and excuses, God is going to send a human helper for him, his brother Aaron can be his "translator" when Moses's slow tongue gets tied up.

Monday, April 3, 2017

God's Calling....

God's Calling on Moses

In Exodus 3:1-7 we see God's formal calling of Moses to the ministry of delivering his people, read the passage here: Exodus 3:1-7

God's Calling was Irrevocable

While Moses had known earlier in his life that he was chosen to deliver God's people from Egypt, that had been years ago and Moses had failed.  He probably assumed he had disqualified himself, and that God would find someone else, after all, Acts 7:23 tells us that he was 40 years old when he killed the Egyptian and had to flee to Midian, and acts 7:30 tells us that 40 more years had passed while he lived in Midian.  Moses was 80 years and he had been living in the desert caring for sheep and living with his father-in-law for half of his life. After so many years, he probably had given up on ever delivering his people, and had resigned himself to life as a desert shepherd.  What he didn't know is that God doesn't give up on us. When God has a call and a plan for our lives the only one who can rescind that call is God himself, nothing we do can thwart God's will in the end.

God's Calling was Unexpected

Moses had probably had many days that started just like the one told about in Exodus 3.  He was doing his usual job, tending sheep in the desert. Taking them to the places where enough grew for them to forage, bringing them to water when they needed to drink, finding places shade for them in the heat of the day.  Perhaps that is why is why he headed towards Mount Horeb, maybe he thought that he would let them forage in the shade of the mountain.  Whatever his reason, you can safely assume he had brought them there many times before, with 40 years of experience as a shepherd Moses would have known the area and known the best places to bring his flock for whatever they needed.

So Moses what just doing his job, minding his own business, doing something he had done many times before, when suddenly, God showed up.

God's Calling was Unmistakable

When Moses first saw this bush burning, but not being consumed or burnt up by the fire, his curiosity got the better of him and went in for a closer look, not sure yet what it was all about.  However, once God spoke there was no mistaking Who it was.  Moses had no doubt it was God who was speaking to him.  He removed his sandals as God instructed and covered his face, not wanting to look upon the glory of the one who called him.

God's Calling was Purposed

God didn't call Moses just for Moses's benefit.  Although God did have a wonderful plan for Moses and wanted to bless him, even though God knew that one day Moses would be one of the best known men of all time, even though God cared deeply for Moses and the two were to share a very special and unique connection from this point on, those weren't the only reasons God called Moses.  God's calling on Moses was for the purpose of bringing freedom to an entire nation, and then eventually using that nation to bring the chance of freedom and salvation to the entire world.

God had heard the groaning and cries of the people of Israel, He hadn't forgotten them, and His plan hadn't changed, He was going to set His people free and He was going to use Moses to do it.

God's Calling was Perfectly Timed

Those 40 years of caring for sheep were not because God's plans of deliverance had slipped His mind.  God didn't suddenly say, "Oh yeah, I almost forgot to do that!  Good thing it popped into my mind."

No, the 40 years that Moses spent in the desert were being used to prepare Moses and the children of Israel for what God was about to do. 

Moses, who had grown up privileged and living in a palace, got used to a tough life as a poor shepherd in the wilderness.  He learned the meaning of hard manual labor.  He learned to be responsible for other living things, to put their well being ahead of his own.  He also spent large amounts of time in isolation, caring for sheep, away from other people.  No doubt this gave him much time for reflection and prayer. 

Meanwhile the children of Israel had 40 more years of tough bondage, 40 years to get so tired of it that they were turning to God and crying out earnestly for His deliverance.

Of course, something else happened in this time too.  The Pharaoh who wanted Moses dead had passed on, and enough time had passed that Moses could now return to Egypt and not be killed on sight.

God had waited for the perfect time, for His time.

God's Calling was Unsought 

Moses was not longer striving to be used to deliver God's people.  He had been humbled and was living a humble life.  He didn't seek the position of deliver, in fact when God called him, his response was to doubt himself and question God.  Of course God didn't let him off the hook so easily.  We'll see more about that next time, when we examine the conversation between Moses and God.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ultimate Blog Challenge

Blogging Each Day for a Month

I am once again taking part in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means that for the month of April I will be blogging each day.  However, not all my blog posts will be on this blog.  I have a few different blogs, and I will alternate between them. So you can expect a post on this particular blog every three days. Here are the three blogs I will be posting on during this challenge.

My Art Blog

My art blog can be found at  

My Health and Personal Blog

I have one blog that is primarily about my efforts to lose weight and get healthier, but I also post personal, daily life things there from time to time.  My Health and Personal blog can be found  

My Devotional Blog

I also post devotions and thoughts on Bible readings on my devotional blog, which can be found at  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bumps and Blessings

The Best Laid Plans

A while back, I posted details about my well laid blogging plans, how I would follow a schedule and blog regularly from here on out.  Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans... they go awry.

Bumps in the road.

So, my well laid plans for blogging hit some bumps in the road a few weeks back. First, I experienced a few days without internet access, and after that, I was caught in a procrastination loop, finally I was delayed even more from blogging because of a wonderful blessing to my family.

Internet Issues

So first, the internet problem. I have absolutely no idea what caused it, but I was without internet at my house for several days just after my last blog post. When it finally started working again, I found myself caught in that procrastination loop.

Procrastination loop.

What is a procrastination loop, you ask?

Its when you know that you really should something you dread before you do something else that is optional, but that you want to do. So you tell yourself you will not do that optional thing until you do the dreaded thing, but then you procrastinating the dreaded thing, and therefore don't get either thing done.

For me the loop I was caught in revolved around taxes.

For a business owner in Washington state, there are two different major categories of tax to be concerned with. The first is the excise taxes for businesses. This is a catchall phrase that encompasses the sales tax you collect from people when your business sells things at retail, plus the use taxes that are levied against out of state sales, plus the business and occupations taxes that are collected by your state and some counties. After the excise taxes, comes the income tax, which is the same income tax that everyone pays, the only difference for business owners is that we can deduct business expenses from our income total, which of course is only fair, since if I spend $50 manufacturing something, and then sell it for $70, I shouldn't have to pay income tax on $70, but only on my profit of $20.

The procrastination loop I spent time spinning around in was my excise taxes for business. I knew I needed to get those forms filed, but I was dragging my feet on all of the calculations I needed to do. The forms should have been in my January 30th, but circumstances I couldn't change had delayed them until after that date. That meant I was already going to be fined 9%, the next deadline was February 28th, after which the penalty jumped to 19%. I told myself that I shouldn't spend time blogging until after I completed the forms, but kept on putting off the paperwork.

The deadline I was now facing was February 28th, so obviously I did NOTHING until February 28th, and then spent several hours that day online and on the phone with the department of revenue completing my online forms. Finally the forms were done, and my family could file the income tax forms next. Those were done within days, since we actually pay someone to prepare those for us.

Then the waiting..

So, by March 2nd, I really was free to go ahead and blog, but I was out of the habit, not only that, but I was very distracted by waiting for a blessing I knew would come any day. That blessing was my first grandson, who, like my tax forms, was due on February 28th. Each day the whole family waited, expecting a call that it was time, and each day as we went to bed we were still waiting.

The Blessing on its Way

Finally, of March 6th, early in the morning the call came. I went to my daughter's house to pick up my granddaughter, so that my daughter and son in law could focus on getting my daughter through early labor at home, without having to worry about taking care of their first child.

More Bumps

My grandson was on his way, but there were more bumps in road also.

Inconsistent labor

My daughter's labor was pretty normal at first, though it was a bit inconsistent. Her contractions weren't following a regular pattern, so they stayed home timing them and waiting.

Intense labor

Then around 1:30 in the afternoon, her water broke so they headed to the hospital. After her water broke labor got very intense very fast, she was contracting with barely a break in between, and the contractions were very strong.

Baby struggling.

As soon as they got to hospital, the doctors realized that baby wasn't handling these intense contractions well. My daughter was dilated to a 6 when she arrived, and had managed to progress almost to an eight, but still not enough to start pushing. Yet with every contraction the baby's heart beat dropped drastically. The doctors felt that if they waited, the baby not might survive. So they took my daughter in for an emergency c-section. I arrived at the hospital just in enough time to see my daughter rushed by on a gurney. Now, the hospital we were at normally leaves a woman in the same room for the entire labor and delivery, so the fact that they were moving her was an obvious sign of trouble, but at that time I didn't know what the trouble was, I did deduce that she was probably having a c-section, but didn't get confirmation on that until my son-in-law came by all gowned up. I asked him what was up and he gave a quick summary before rushing off.

The Blessing Arrives.

A few minutes later, the baby was out, and thankfully was fine.

The umbilical cord had been wrapped around his shoulder, and was both holding him back, keeping him from descending and pushing against the cervix, and at the same time the cord was being pinched between the baby's shoulder and the pelvic bones with every contraction. Later the doctor confirmed that without a c-section a live birth wouldn't have happened.

 I am so thankful that we live in a day and age where the medical technology exists that can avert such tragedy. Because of the access we had to medical care, my daughter and my grandson are both healthy and doing great. Because we have access to this kind of medicine, what could have been a disaster turned into a minor bump in the road to great blessing.

I am so thankful.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our Way, or God's Way? Exodus 2:11-25

Whose Plan, Whose Way?

Was it God who decided to use Moses as a deliverer, or did Moses appoint himself to the task?  Click here to read Exodus 2:11-25.

God's Plan

God protected Moses as a baby.  God arranged for him to be put in a position of power and influence.  God arranged for him to still know his biological family by arranging his own mother to be nurse maid.  God did all this with the intention that when Moses grew up, he would deliver the children of Israel out of slavery, out of Egypt, and lead them back to the promised land.

It was all in God's plan to use Moses for this task.  The idea didn't originate in Moses' own mind, God put it on his heart and mind.  However, Moses decided to try to make it happen in his own way and in his own strength, instead of waiting on God.  There's no telling now, how God might have brought this about if Moses had waited patiently and prayerfully.  Maybe God would have used Moses' position of influence to accomplish the whole thing peacefully, and then would have judged Egypt for their sins in a separate series of events.  Or maybe the deliverance itself would have still happened the same way, but Moses wouldn't have spent years on the run in desert before being used.  We don't know, because Moses didn't wait, but decided to make things happen on his own.

Moses took matters into
his own hands.

Moses' Way

Moses' childhood was probably one of conflicted loyalties.  He knew that his adoptive "grandfather" would have had him killed if not for his adoptive mother taking pity.  No doubt there was some resentment between him and Pharaoh, and probably between Pharaoh and Pharaoh's daughter, and between Moses and Pharaoh's biological grandchildren.  Even though he was protected from death by Pharaoh's family, and there was probably a bond between Moses and his adoptive mother, it is quite likely that he grew up feeling like an outsider to the family, and felt more of bond with his biological family. 

One day Moses was walking along, with the burden for God's people on his heart because God placed it there, and the conflicted loyalties in his mind because of his upbringing, and he saw an Egyptian man beating his Hebrew slave.

Anger rose up in Moses' heart, and he didn't stop and pray, he didn't ask God what he should do. Instead, he acted in his flesh, and in his anger murdered the Egyptian man.

That was Moses' way, not God's, and Moses paid the price acting on his own.

The Aftermath

Because of his indiscretion, Moses had to flee for his life.  He ran off into the desert as a fugitive. Acts Chapter 7 tells us that he had supposed that his fellow Israelites would understand that he was called by God to deliver them, but they did not.  So he spent the next 40 years in the wilderness caring for sheep.  He was in exile, but God still had mercy and blessed him during this time.  He was married and had children, he was close to his father in law.  He was not living the comfortable life he had before, but he was living a life that was normal for that time in history.  During this time, the Pharaoh died and new one rose in his place, this was most likely Moses' "adopted" brother, who would have viewed Moses as a betrayer and an ingrate.  God's people in Egypt, however, were still suffering, and it was getting worse (further evidence that this new Pharaoh too, was hardening his own heart).  Of course, God still knew what His plan was, and when God's time was right, He moved.

Moses spent 40 years in exile because
of his impatience and anger.

Still all in God's plan

Much of scripture presents us with a paradox, man has free will, but God is sovereign.  I won't pretend to understand every nuance of how both of these are true, I just know that they are.  What I will say though is that Moses' life is a good example of both of these things.  God had a plan to use Moses, but Moses in his free will acted on his own before the time was right, and suffered consequences for that.  God's will though was not thwarted.  In fact, God in his sovereignty knew all along that Moses would do this, and planned to use the time of exile to prepare Moses for what he was called to do.

Before exile, Moses had lived a protected and lavish life.  He lived in the palace.  He may have not had a complete feeling of belonging, but even so he was able to avail himself of all the comforts of royalty.  It is reasonable to assume that he was not accustomed to hard work, and probably not in the best physical shape.

Before exile, Moses seems to have been a bit proud and possibly bitter over both his alienation from his adopted family and his distance from his biological family.  Its likely that he didn't really feel like he belonged any place, and yet with all that he was still somewhat accustomed to getting what he wanted because he lived as royalty.  This probably had a lot to do with why he presumed to take matters into his own hands rather than wait on God.  He thought he knew well enough on his own, he didn't need to ask God for help, he assumed that the Israelites too, would recognize that he was doing God's will, and would deliver them.  In short, he was arrogant.

After 40 years of living in exile, Moses was used to hard physical labor.  He was used to working for everything he got.  He was used to living with little.  In that time he had probably also had a lot of time to think and to mature, and probably realized how he had messed up.  He probably even questioned whether it was really his calling to deliver God's people, he probably didn't feel worthy of such a call.  Moses was physically hardened, but spiritually softened.  He was aware of his own sins, weaknesses, and inadequacies.  In short, he was humbled.

And that meant, he was ready to be used.

God used Moses' exile to
humble him and
prepare him for his calling.

Lord help us to be humble and to pray for your guidance in our lives. Help us to fulfill your call on our lives in YOUR way and in YOUR time.  Thank you though, that even when we fail, we can be assured that you will use even those failings to accomplish YOUR will. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Total Surrender - Exodus 2:1-10

When You Just Can't Win, Surrender All

Sometimes in life, we face circumstances that make it seem like we just can't win. The enemy is closing in, everywhere we turn, we face opposition, and from a human point of view, there is no hope.  Often though, we just don't realize that our deliverance is at hand.

It is darkest just before dawn.

Often in those dark times, what we are seeing is just the darkness before the dawn of hope.  To see that dawn though, God often often requires us to give up control.  To surrender everything to Him, and give it up as lost.  That is the situation that was faced by a couple in Egypt in our Bible passage today.

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.    Exodus 2:1-4
 This Hebrew couple were in a situation where there appeared to be no hope, no way out.  They had a brand new baby boy, something that should have brought such joy, but they were haunted and overshadowed by the knowledge that as soon as anyone learned of his birth, their baby would die.  Pharaoh had declared that all of the Hebrew baby boys would be killed at birth, and if they managed to be born in secret, they were to be tossed into the Nile to drown as soon as they were discovered. This couple managed to have their baby, and to keep him hidden until he was three months old, but it was becoming impossible to continue hiding him.  Babies make noise, soon he would be crawling and moving about, there was just no way to continue hiding him.

This young mother, I'm sure looked down on her boy and felt her heart break.  Like any mother, she loved him with her whole heart, and wanted to hold him and keep him close.  She would have died to save him, but that wouldn't have done any good, because if she had died in his defense, he would just have been killed anyway.  In her own strength, she simply could not save this little life, it was impossible.  I imagine that every time she walked near the Nile, she would look at the water and shudder at the thought of her baby thrown into the water, sinking, unable to breathe.

I'm not sure what made her think of what she did next, but it involved complete surrender of her child's life.  She went to the very river that was ordered to be his watery grave, laid him in a little basket that she had sealed to keep the water out, and hid him in the reeds.  Imagine how hard it was for her to leave him there.  What if the basket tipped over?  What if one of the crocodiles got him?  What if someone heard his cries and threw him in? I'm sure as she walked away, she felt that he was dead.  She couldn't bring herself to toss him into the river as ordered, but what she did really offered him little more hope than that would have.  When she placed him in that river, she was essentially giving him up to God, the only one who could save him.  She placed him in his grave.  Surrendering all control over what happened to him.

His older sister may not have been so ready to let go, because she stayed nearby, to see what would happen to her little brother.

From the Watery Grave, Came New Life 

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it.  She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Imagine the fear that his sister felt when she saw Pharaoh's daughter discover the baby.  After all, this was the daughter of the person who wanted to murder every Hebrew baby.  It would have been considered right and expected of her to order her attendants to follow her father's orders and drown this child.  But then, in the face of certain death in a watery grave, deliverance happened.

The Pharaoh's daughter felt pity on this helpless baby.  She didn't want to kill him, its not really surprising, because who could hold a baby and want to hurt him?

The baby's sister then went and got her own mother to serve as a nurse-maid for this child.

Imagine the absolute joy and relief that filled this mother's heart when she learned that her child would now be under the protection of the very family that previously sought to kill him, the most powerful family in all of Egypt.  The most powerful family in the known world at the time.   Imagine her elation when she also learned, that not only would her child's life be saved, but she was now going to be the one to continue caring for him, only now without fear.

She had to surrender all hope, she had to give up her child to God, but God, in His goodness and kindness, returned her child to her arms.

Not only did God deliver her child, but He did so as part of a plan to deliver the entire nation of Israel.

And it was all made possible because a mother surrendered to God.

When we come to the end of ourselves, and there is just no way we can win.  It is then that we are ready to surrender to God.  Once we do that, we get out of His way so He can bring His perfect will to pass, and we know that His will works all to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Sometimes, letting go is the best way to hold on.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Time of Darkness, for Egypt - Exodus 1

Exodus 1, A Time of Great Darkness

It had started out so well...

At the end of Genesis, we see that Israel's children escape certain starvation through Joseph, who although sold into Egypt as a slave, according to God's plan had risen to a position of great influence and power, and had wisely saved not only himself and his family, but all of Egypt.

Exodus begins with a recap of who among the children of Israel had made the journey, and tells us that those mentioned, that whole generation, lived the rest of their lives in Egypt and had all passed away, leaving their descendants to thrive and multiply in Egypt. 

I'm sure to those children of Israel who had traveled to Egypt, it seemed that the future of their descendants was secure.  They were in Egypt, fed, and taken care of.  They had been given the entire land of Goshen as their own.  Their family was well acquainted with, and friends to, the family of Pharaoh himself.  When that generation passed away, they probably did so without worry for their children and grandchildren, they were leaving them well taken care of and set for the future.

An adversary rises up, out of fear...

In verse 8-10 we read, "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”

The people of Israel had not done anything wrong, they were not acting as enemies of the Egyptians.  Their ancestor Joseph had in fact, saved Egypt from ruin and famine. Yet this new Pharaoh didn't know their ancestor Joseph, he looked around his land and saw a people, larger in number than the native Egyptians.  A people with different customs, different beliefs, a different language.  A people with a different God.  A people who wouldn't have believed, as the Egyptians did, that Pharaoh himself was a god, or in the other gods of Egypt such as the sun god, the god of the Nile, or even the god of fertility, who took the form a frog.

Statue of Heqat, the Frog Goddess,
about 2950 BC, Predynastic Period,
 Late Naqada III Period to early Dynasty 1,
 travertine - Cleveland Museum of Art

Seeing a people so different from his own people, the pharaoh feared, he feared that these people who had never threatened him in any way, would continue to grow and take over his country, and at some point would turn on him and his people.  He was motivated and controlled by one of humankind's strongest emotions... fear.

The preemptive strike...

In the grip of his irrational fear he did what people with irrational fear often do, he struck out at them first, before they had a chance to strike out at him.  He took a preemptive strike. He set taskmasters over the people of Israel "to afflict them". He made life extremely hard for them, put them in bondage, made slaves of them.
While their ancestor Joseph had risen from a position of slavery into a position of power and influence, his descendants now fell rapidly from a position of security and safety into a position of slavery and hardship. It probably seemed to them as if the were spiraling into a abyss of darkness, but it is doubtful that even they knew just how dark it would become.

Total blackout...

As things grew darker for the people of Israel, God continued to bless them. They grew stronger, their numbers grew larger, in fact it seemed to Pharaoh, that the more he afflicted these people, the more they multiplied and grew... and with their growth, the power of Pharaoh's fear grew as well.  This fear prompted him to take a terrible course of action.

This Pharaoh hardened his own heart against all that was decent, and ordered the Egyptian midwives to murder the Hebrew sons at birth. We'll read later about how God hardened the next Pharaoh's heart, but make no mistake, that Pharaoh hardened his own heart first as well. How do we know this? We know this because he continued in the decrees that this one started.  He hardened it to the point of murdering helpless newborn babies. He hardened his own heart against the cries of the babies and the wails of mothers' lamenting their little boys. Later, God would finish the hardening of his heart, but only after Pharaoh had made the choice to reject all that was decent and good, only after Pharaoh had ignored his own conscience until finally, God let it be seared and stopped speaking to Pharaoh through it. The book of Romans speaks of this kind of hardening, of how as man repeatedly suppresses the truth of God and ignores the wisdom freely offered to them, God eventually turns them over to a debased mind, basically telling them that since they choose over and over not to know God, He will allow them to continue not knowing Him, and will seal and finalize the deal of their hard, rebellious hearts.

While this order of the king seemed like a total blackout of hope for God's people, God had a plan in the works to free them.  The real shadow was in the heart of Pharaoh, because he chose not to know God or be thankful toward Him, Pharaoh's foolish heart was darkened to the point of total blackout.  Meanwhile, God's deliverance of his people was at hand.

Point of Action

God speaks to everyone in their conscience, even those who don't actually know Him still hear from Him in general terms of right and wrong.  It is a frightening thing when one continues to ignore this voice. Dear reader, do not harden your heart against God.  He loves you.  If you are already a believer, He will speak to you about what he wants you to do in your walk with Him, heed Him do not harden your heart.  If you do not yet know Him, He is speaking to you that He wants you to welcome Him into your life, He is reaching out to you, calling to you.  All you need to do is respond, ask Jesus to reveal Himself to you, tell Him that He is welcome in your life.  Don't harden your heart like Pharaoh did, because it is short trip from the choice to harden your own heart to the point of total blackout, where you won't hear Him anymore.

Don't harden your heart against the love of Christ, revealed in His word.

Be sure to check back Saturday February 4th for the next post.