Category Archives: Bible

Exodus 25-27

Have you ever heard someone allegorizing portions of Scripture? Some will look at the Old Testament altar and say that it represents Jesus. Others go further to assign meaning to each part of the tabernacle and its furnishings. A website (which I will not cite here) stated that the door covering which measured 10 by 10 represented both perfection and Jesus. This kind of thinking is reaching for meaning where none was intended and leads to making up things instead of finding the clear meaning God has for us in the Bible.

This morning, we will survey God’s instructions to Moses for building the tabernacle and its furnishings. While not all of us have experience in constructing buildings, the descriptions given in these chapters will give us an idea of the size and beauty of the tabernacle. Following this description, we will look at five thoughts conveyed in these chapters that are also mentioned in the New Testament for us.

  1. What was Moses to build for Old Testament worship?

    a. The Ark of the Covenant (25:10-16)

    The Ark of the Covenant was “a rectangular chest (2′ 3″ wide, 3′ 9″ long and 2′ 3″ high, based on the cubit as 18″) made of acacia wood and overlaid inside and out with … gold” (Hannah 148). The Lord later told Moses to put the stone tablets in it along with a pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. It was to be carried with gold covered poles inserted into the rings on its side.

    b. The Mercy Seat (25:17-22)

    The Mercy Seat was a gold lid placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant. On top of it were two golden cherubim on either side facing the center of the lid. “Apparently these golden cherubim were to resemble winged angels in God’s presence” (Hannah 148). The Ark and the Mercy Seat were to be kept in the Holy Place of the tabernacle where the priest would come once a year to sprinkle blood to atone for the sins of the nation (Lev. 16:1-19).

    c. The Table for Showbread (25:23-30)

    The table was “1′ 6″ wide, 3′ long, and 2′ 3″ high … made of acacia wood (like the ark, v. 10), covered with … gold and was to be carried by gold-covered poles in the same manner as the ark. A frame about 3″ wide (a handbreadth) around the edge of the table would keep objects from falling off” (Hannah 148).

    On this table, the priests were to place 12 loaves (cakes) of bread sprinkled with frankincense every Sabbath day (Lev. 24:5-9) in the presence of the Lord in the holy place. The priests were later to eat this bread in the holy place.

    d. The Golden Lampstand (25:31-40; 27:20-21)

    The lampstand (menorah) was to be made of a talent of pure gold (about 75 pounds). The instructions given to Moses included ornamental knobs and flowers. It must have been very beautiful.

    “On each side of an upright shaft were three branches extended upward. Each branch had three … almond flower-shaped cups (v. 33), and the center shaft had four such cups (v. 34). At the top of the center shaft and each of the six branches was a lamp (v. 37). The seven lamps in the lampstand provided light in the tent (v. 37)” (Hannah 149).

    In Leviticus 27:20-21, the Lord commanded the Israelites to provide olive oil to keep this lamp burning continually. The priests added oil every morning and at sunset.

    e. The Tabernacle (26:1-37)

    “The portable building was 15′ by 45′ with a wooden framework at the sides, top, and back. Over the top and back of the structure were placed 10 curtains which served as a large tent” (Hannah 149).

    The tabernacle was made of gold-covered acacia wood boards, fine linen curtains, goats hair curtains, bronze clasps, a roof made of rams skins died red and badger skins, silver sockets to hold the vertical boards, a woven veil of blue, purple and scarlet thread with cherubim on it, and a screen to cover the doorway of the same colors.

    f. The Altar of Burnt Offering (27:1-8)

    Outside of the tabernacle was the altar of burnt offering. This is where the animal sacrifices were to be burned.

    “It was to be made of acacia wood, was 7 1/2′ square and 4 1/2′ high, with a horn ( a projection that looked like an animal horn) at each of the four corners, overlaid with bronze” (Hannah 150).

    “The grating, or bronze network, placed on a ledge within and halfway up the altar (a little more than 2′ up) … may have been the place where the animal meat was cooked” (Hannah 150).

    g. The Court of the Tabernacle (27:9-19)

    The final section was a fence surrounding the tabernacle and creating the Court of the Tabernacle. The rectangular fence was 75′ by 150′ and was made of linen curtains supported by bronze pillars. The entrance gate was covered by a screen made of blue, purple, and scarlet thread.

    “The height of the surrounding curtainwall was 7 1/2′ (27:18). This was high enough to prevent casual onlookers from peeping in; yet it was only half the height of the tabernacle itself so that the tabernacle could be seen” (Hannah 151).

    The Lord told Moses exactly what to build for the place where the Lord would live and receive worship from the Israelites. The tabernacle and its furnishings must have been both beautiful and sobering as the Israelites recognized God’s presence with them. But… Christians don’t have a tabernacle nor do we offer sacrifices anymore. This leads us to our next question.

  2. What do New Testament Christians learn from these chapters?

    a. The Lord loves a cheerful giver (25:2; 2 Cor. 9:7).

    Did you notice what the Lord said about the offering of gold, silver, bronze, cloth, wood, and animal skins? He wanted the people to bring the items needed for the tabernacle from willing hearts. In other words, the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Does that sound familiar?

    2 Cor. 9:7 – “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

    When we lived in Wickliffe, a neighbor told me that his church was always asking for more money. It became a turnoff to him that kept him from wanting to go to that church. Because of this (and perhaps this Bible verse), some churches have moved from an offering plate being passed to a box in the back where people can quietly give as they desire to do so.

    God has not changed since Moses’ time. He wants us to give to His work not because we feel pressured, but because we want to.

    b. The Lord wants to be with His people (25:8; John 14:23).

    In Exodus 25:8, God specifically told Moses that the sanctuary/tabernacle was to be built so that He could live among the Israelites. The Lord wanted to be with His people.

    This same idea is also mentioned in the New Testament.

    John 14:23 – “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'”

    Jesus made it clear that God wants to live with Christians. Not only does the Holy Spirit indwell every Christian, but God the Son and God the Father want to be “at home” with us. This close relationship is something that the Lord has always wanted.

    c. The Lord is specific about what he wants (25:9, 40; 26:30; 1 Cor. 14:22-40).

    One of the things you may have noticed in Exodus 25-27 is the repeated command for Moses to follow the exact instructions given to him on the mountain. Apparently, the Lord had shown Moses a pattern for how to build the tabernacle when he was on the mountain. For an unexplained reason, the Lord was very specific about how things were to be done.

    The New Testament gives no description of how church buildings are to be built. In fact, the early church met at the temple in Jerusalem or in people’s homes. It wasn’t until the 3rd century that church buildings became popular.

    However, there is something we can learn from God’s repeated commands. The Lord is specific about our worship. We must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4). And there are certain instructions about how church services are to be run. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 14:22-40, Paul had to give the Corinthian church some instructions on how the Lord wanted things to be done. Apparently, the services had become out of control and were not pleasing to the Lord.

    How should we worship the Lord today? “Every Bible-believing church body must be regulated by the authority of Scripture. If it does not, it has ceased to be a New Testament church” (GotQuestions). Let us be careful that our church services today are honoring to the Lord and that they do not bring in practices that detract from true worship as God desires.

    d. The Lord deserves to be honored with our best (25:13, 17, 24, 31; Col. 3:23-24).

    You may have noticed that a lot of gold and expensive materials were used in constructing the tabernacle. If we were required to gold plate the church building, we could not afford it! Just remember that the building materials were donated by an entire nation of several million people.

    I think the point that we should take from this is that the Lord deserves to be honored with our best. We should not give the Lord our hand me downs but our best. This thought is given in the New Testament as well.

    Colossians 3:23-24 – “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

    Whether it is giving toward church ministry, missionaries, building projects, or a camp offering, we should consider how we can honor the Lord with our best. This doesn’t mean that we stop paying our bills or that we extend ourselves beyond our means. However, with all that the Lord has done for us, shouldn’t we consider him worthy of our best?

    e. The Lord made all of this obsolete by his death on the cross (Heb. 9:11-12).

    As we looked at the altar of burnt offering, the tabernacle, and the mercy seat, it was a bit sobering for me. Although the Lord wanted to be with His people, there was definitely something keeping them from a close relationship to Him. What was it? It was their sin. Quite often, the people would need to offer a sin offering to restore their relationship with the Lord. And being that people sin often, this continued repeatedly throughout the year.

    Thankfully, the Lord put an end to that by sending Jesus who died on the cross and gave his blood to pay the final, once-for-all cost for our sins.

    Hebrews 9:11-12 – “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

    As a result, each of us can be forgiven by God through faith in Jesus who died for us and rose again.

Conclusion

In both the Old and New Testament times, God’s people knew that the Lord wanted to be with them. But they also knew that they did not deserve a good relationship with God because of their sin. Old Testament believers believed God and offered sacrifices as He directed them. New Testament believers also believe God but no longer bring offerings to God. Instead, they trust in the finished work of Jesus who died on the cross for them and rose again.

Are you trusting Jesus to forgive your sins and bring to you to God? If not, will you trust Him today? Secondly, if you are a Christian, are you giving your best to the Lord, or are you holding back for some reason? Will you give of your best this week and seek to serve Him with the time and talents He has given you?

Bibliography

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 147-151.

“Question: “Regulative vs. normative principle of worship – which viewpoint is correct?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=9545 on 8/13/2022.

Philippians 1:9-11

Paul had just expressed his thanks for the Philippian believers in the previous verses. He had good memories of them. He had good fellowship with them. He had high hopes for them because of what God was doing in them. He had great love for them.

But he also prayed for them. This didn’t mean that they were spiritual losers who needed incredible changes to ever accomplish anything for the Lord. No, they, like us, were a work in progress. The Lord was working on them and helping them to become more and more like Jesus.

In verses 9-11, Paul expresses three specific prayers he had for the believers in Philippi. Do you notice the word he repeats three times in these verses? He uses the word “that” three times to tell us three prayer requests he had for the Philippian believers. If you ever wonder what to pray for other Christians, you can use these three prayer requests.

  1. We should pray that other Christians will increase their love the right way (9).

    [Read Philippians 1:9.]

    a. What is love?

    “Agape love involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will. It is distinguished from the other types of love by its lofty moral nature and strong character. … God’s agape love is unmerited, gracious, and constantly seeking the benefit of the ones He loves.”

    Eph. 2:4-5 – “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

    Rom. 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    This is the kind of love that God has for us, that the Spirit produces in believers, and that we should have for others.

    b. How does love abound?

    Paul uses two thoughts here. Their love was to (1) abound, and (2) more and more. First, abounding can also mean overflowing (Rienecker). Think of someone pouring a drink and continuing to fill the cup until it is overflowing with more than is necessary. Second, this love is to be abounding more and more. You might wonder how much is too much here. If your waiter filled your cup and your saucer with coffee that would be a bit much. But what if they kept pouring and pouring until your plate, then your table, then the room was filled with coffee. That is a picture of more and more.

    c. What do knowledge and discernment have to do with love?

    How do you know how to best love another person? You need knowledge and discernment. First, your love should be informed by God’s knowledge. You gain this kind of knowledgeable love by reading the Bible and seeing how God loved the world and various people. Second, your love should use that knowledge to make the best decision. This is discernment. When someone has discernment, they use God-given knowledge to make decisions that are best.

    ILLUS. When you love someone do you always do what they want? Someone who is an addict may ask you for money, but giving them money would not be loving, it would be enablement. When someone is thinking about a frivolous divorce, do you encourage them so they will be happy, or do you point them to God’s help found in the Bible.

    How do you get to the point where you are abounding more and more in God’s love for others? It takes time and preparation. Read your Bible this week with the specific goal of finding and applying God’s wisdom to the people you are interacting with. Love them the way God loves. You will make mistakes, but keep loving and applying God’s wisdom to each situation.

  2. We should pray that other Christians will approve of excellent things (10a).

    [Read Philippians 1:10.]

    If your love is informed by what the Bible teaches, it should follow that your discernment about decisions, relationships, investment of time, entertainment, etc. should become better.

    a. What does approving things mean?

    Paul uses the Greek word δοκιμάζω that can mean “to test, assay, metals, 1 Pet. 1:7; to prove, try, examine, scrutinize, Lk. 14:19; Rom. 12:2; to put to the proof, tempt, Heb. 3:9; to approve after trial, judge worthy, choose, Rom. 14:22; 1 Cor. 16:3; 2 Cor. 8:22” (Mounce)

    ILLUS. At this point in my life, it is hard for my eyes to discern the fine print on things. I will sometimes take a picture of the small print with my phone and then zoom in to read it.

    I think that Paul’s readers may have been thinking of a chemist who discerns whether a piece of metal was actually valuable gold or false gold. Or they may have been thinking of a judge listening to a case and making a wise decision based on the evidence before him.

    Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would examine the things they were involved with and determine their value.

    b. Why approve excellent things?

    ILLUS. During the last week, I have been going through the DSB Transport inventory of Garmin GPS units. Some of them have reached the end of their usefulness. Instead of spending lots of time trying to fix them, I discerned that it was a waste of time and threw out the troublesome devices.

    Paul prayed that the Christians in Philippi would determine the value of the things they were involved with and keep the things that were excellent.

    Rom. 12:2 – “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

    1 Cor. 3:12-15 – “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

    APPLIC. What is it that you are investing your time in? What entertainment do you allow in your home? What music fills your mind? What books are you reading?

    The Lord wants us to examine what we are doing and see what is best, what is excellent. Take some time to consider how you are using your time and what would be best in light of what the Bible says.

  3. We should pray that other Christians will be sincere and inoffensive (10b-11).

    [Read Philippians 1:10b-11.]

    Have you ever met an offensive person? No matter what the situation, they always say the wrong thing. It is possible that we Christians can come across as unnecessarily offensive and insincere. Let’s talk about that.

    a. What does sincere mean?

    Another way to describe sincere is “pure, genuine” (Rienecker). When you meet a sincere person, you see someone who you don’t doubt their motives. They are what they are.

    ILLUS. When the first computers and printers came out, you didn’t always know if what was on the screen would actually look like when you printed it out. But programmers came out with new software with WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). This was a great thing because you were never surprised when you printed out the paper. It looked exactly like what was on the computer screen.

    Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would be sincere, genuine, and pure examples of believers to all those who saw them. This should be our goal as well.

    b. What does without offense mean?

    Without offense means “blameless, clear; not causing one to stumble, not giving offense” (Mounce). It has the idea of someone who does not cause others to stumble in their spiritual journey.

    1 Cor. 10:31-33 – “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”

    The truth is that some of the things we do have the possibility of causing someone to sin. In 1 Corinthians 10:23, Paul said that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” When we love other people, we should be willing to not do certain things if it would cause that person to stumble back into sin.

    This is another evidence of agape love where we look at what is best for another person more than what we want to do.

    c. What are the results of living this way?

    The result of this kind of sincere, genuine, inoffensive, Christian lifestyle is that we will be displaying the fruit of Jesus’ righteousness in our lives. As others see the fruit in our lives, they will see a reflection of God in us. This will bring glory to God making Him look good to others.

Conclusion

We started these verses talking about how we can pray for others. Paul wanted the Philippian believers to grow in their love, discernment, and sincerity. There is no doubt that this is a good pattern for our prayers for other Christians. However, the more we looked into these characteristics, the more we see our own needs.

Perhaps this was intentional. As we see our needs and allow the Lord to make changes in us, we will desire these same things to be present in the lives of other Christians that we know.

Consider what the Lord has said in this Bible passage. As you see changes that need to be made, submit to the Lord and allow Him to change your life. Then pray for others in this church, in sister churches, and for those apart of missionary work in other countries. What a difference God wants to make in all of our lives!

Bibliography

GotQuestions, “What is love?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=1469 on 7/31/2022.

Lightner, Robert P., “Philippians,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, 650.

Mounce, Bill, “δοκιμάζω” as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/dokimazo on 7/31/2022.

Mounce Bill, “ἀπρόσκοπος” as viewed at https://www.billmounce.com/greek-dictionary/aproskopos on 7/31/2022.

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

Exodus 24

As we study the Book of Exodus, I would like you to remember that these laws were given specifically to the Israelites. They were a covenant for the Jewish people for a specific time. The Lord had brought them out of Egypt to be His special people. To be His special people, they would need to voluntarily agree to abide by His laws as given to them by Moses.

“The covenant stipulations—including the Decalogue and the ordinances—whereby the people of Israel were to be regulated as the people of the true God had been given. It now remained for the people to ratify the pact” (Hannah 145).

After all the grumbling and complaining that had happened thus far, you would be right to wonder if the Israelites would agree to follow the Lord’s commands. In this chapter, we will see how they responded.

  1. Distant worship (1-2)

    [Read Exodus 24:1-2.]

    The Lord instructed Moses to bring Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders to worship from a distance. But only Moses was allowed to come close to God at a later time.

    a. The Lord wanted them to worship Him.

    I find it interesting that the Lord wanted the leaders to worship Him. It reminds me of what Jesus told the Samaritan woman. “ But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).

    b. The Lord wanted them to keep distant.

    “All 73 of them, except for Moses were to keep their distance from the Lord out of respect for His majesty and holiness” (Hannah 145).

    In the Old Testament, there was a definite distance in worship. At this point, only Moses was allowed to speak closely with the Lord. Only the priests were allowed to offer sacrifices. Only the high priest could enter the most holy place once per year.

    What was the reason for this distance? Perhaps the Lord was trying to instill in them a proper understanding of His holiness and their sinfulness. Even these dignified leaders (chosen from the millions of Israelites) were to recognize their sinfulness and God’s holiness.

    But when we come to the New Testament, are we to remain distant from the Lord? The answer is complicated. We are still to recognize our sinfulness and God’s holiness, but we have been brought near to God through the blood of Jesus.

    Eph. 2:13 – “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

    Matt. 27:50-51 – “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom… .”

    “So, what do we make of this? What significance does this torn veil have for us today? Above all, the tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins. It signified that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile” (GotQuestions).

    Though our sin distances us from God, Jesus’s once for all death on the cross enables us to draw near to God. Sinners need not worship from a distance. Instead, we can be close to God through the blood of Jesus.

  2. Unanimous agreement (3-8)

    [Read Exodus 24:3-8.]

    Moses told the people the Lord’s laws. Surprisingly, the people were unanimous in agreement. Moses sealed their agreement with sacrifices and sprinkling of blood.

    a. Moses read the Lord’s judgments to the people (3).

    “Moses rehearsed before the people all the Lord’s words and laws (20:22-23:33), called ‘the Book of the Covenant’ (24:7). After hearing these laws the people heartily submitted themselves to obey them” (Hannah 145).

    To be sure that they understood what they were agreeing to obey, Moses read the Law to them. When the people heard the stipulations, they unanimously agreed to abide by them.

    Does this surprise you? Based on the way they responded in the past, it is surprising. But this is because we forget the circumstances surrounding God’s meeting with them. Remember the dark cloud, the fire on the mountain, the earthquakes, and other symbols of God’s power. The people were awe struck with God’s greatness that day and were willing to do whatever He commanded them.

    Now that they had agreed to obey the Lord, “Moses prepared the people for the ratifying of the Law” (Hannah 145).

    b. Moses wrote down the covenant (4).

    When you purchase a home, there is a large amount of papers that need to be signed—especially if you are borrowing money to buy the home.

    When it came to this covenant between the Lord and his chosen people, Moses wrote down what God required of them. This would enable them to read and know what God required of them.

    c. Moses offered sacrifices (5-6).

    Moses initiated the covenant with burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. The blood of the oxen was divided into two basins and first sprinkled on the altar representing the Lord’s part of the covenant.

    d. Moses read the Book of the Covenant (7-8).

    “He read it that their memories might be refreshed, and their consent given with full knowledge and due deliberation” (Bush 61).

    Then Moses sprinkled the people (probably the representatives) with the blood. “This is the only time in the Old Testament when people were sprinkled with blood. … The sprinkled blood, then, symbolized the legal transaction between God (represented by the altar, Ex. 24:6) and the people (represented by the stones). Israel was thus ceremonially set apart through blood (the blood of the covenant) as the people of the true God” (Hannah 145).

    Commentator George Bush indicates that the blood made the promise all the more important. It was like saying that I should be killed if I don’t keep my part of the covenant.

    The blood of the Old Testament covenant was a picture of what Jesus would later do for us. “Later the New Covenant, established by Jesus, was also ratified by blood, His own (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25-26)” (Hannah 145-46). There Jesus shed his own blood to ratify his new covenant between God and all who believe.

  3. Seeing God (9-11)

    [Read Exodus 24:9-11.]

    Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders saw God and lived.

    a. Why were these people present?

    “This company was selected in order that they might be witnesses of the glorious appearance about to be made, and of the communion with God to which Moses was admitted, that their testimony might confirm the people’s faith in their leader and teacher” (Bush 58).

    If anyone had any questions, these people could verify that they had seen God and that He was real.

    b. Did they actually see God?

    “As we are assured upon the authority of inspiration, 1 Tim. 6.16, that ‘no man [has] seen or can see’ God…, this language undoubtedly denotes that they were privileged to behold the visible sign, symbol, or demonstration of his presence” (Bush 62).

    “Apparently the sight was so grand and awesome that their eyes saw only below His feet” (Hannah 146).

    Ezek. 1:26-28 – Ezekiel saw the appearance of a brilliant throne and a glorious man.
    Isaiah 6:1 – Isaiah saw the Lord on the throne.

    Did they actually see God? It seems that they saw a representation of the Lord that was so brilliant that all they remember was the sapphire-like stones under his feet. Whatever the saw left a big impression.

    c. Why did God not strike the nobles?

    For sinful men to be in the presence of holy God is a serious thing. And yet, despite their sinfulness, God did not judge them for appearing in his presence.

    This should make us think twice before acting foolishly when coming into God’s presence when we sing or pray, etc.

    d. Why did they eat on the mountain?

    “It was common to symbolize the ratifying of a covenant with a meal (cf. Gen. 26:30; 31:54; Luke 22:15-20)” (Hannah 146).

    Gen. 26:30 – Abimelech’s covenant meal with Isaac
    Gen. 31:54 – Jacob’s covenant meal with Laban
    Luke 22:15-20 – Jesus’ New Covenant meal with His disciples

    “The Mosaic Covenant had been confirmed (24:1-11) and Israel was then a theocracy, a government or commonwealth under God. Having been redeemed from bondage by God and now in a covenant under His laws, God’s people were then enlightened as to the proper way to worship Him” (Hannah 146).

    Now that the covenant was completed, the Lord wanted to meet with Moses alone to explain and provide stone tablets with his laws written on them.

  4. Moses Only (12-18)

    [Read Exodus 24:12-18.]

    The Lord called Moses up to the mountain to receive the laws written on stone tablets. Aaron and Hur were put in charge until he came back.

    a. The Lord called Moses to the mountain (12-13).

    As Moses was going to be the Lord’s representative to Israel, he was called to meet with God to receive the words he would later give to the people. Surprisingly, Joshua was allowed to accompany Moses.

    b. Moses put Aaron and Hur in charge (14).

    Knowing that he might be gone for a while, Moses put Aaron and Hur in charge of the people. If there were any problems, they would be the ones to see. If you know your Bible well, you may realize that this didn’t turn out very well.

    c. Moses was with the Lord for 40 days (15-18).

    Moses (and Joshua) went up onto the mountain to meet with God. But the Lord did not speak to Moses immediately.

    “After six days God communed with Moses from within the cloud. … While there 40 days Moses ate and drank nothing (cf. Deut. 9:9)” (Hannah 146).

    What must the people have thought when Moses disappeared into the cloud at the top of the mountain? The elders had seen a portion of God’s glory but what would Moses see in the very presence of God?

Conclusion

I began the message with a disclaimer. What we read in this chapter was the old covenant made between the Lord and the Israelites. The relationship was distanced. The presence of God scared the people. Only Moses had a close relationship with the Lord.

While we understand the holiness of God, our relationship with Him is quite different. Are we any less sinful than the Israelites? No, we are just as sinful. Are we more likely to keep our promises than the fickle Israelites? No, we are just as fickle. Are we more obedient than them? No, we have the same propensity to disobey the Lord. Then what makes the difference between then and now?

Jesus makes all the difference. The Lord knew that none of us could keep all of his laws and that we could never be holy like Him. So, he sent His own Son Jesus who would initiate a new covenant with His own blood. This covenant does not demand that we obey God’s laws. Instead, Jesus shed his blood for us to cleanse us and make us God’s children apart from any works that we could do (Titus 3:5-6).

Today, we can rest in what Jesus accomplished for us once and for all on the cross. When we turn from our sin and place our faith in Jesus, God the Father forgives our sins and makes us His children. This is all made possible through the blood of Jesus. No more distant worship. No more sinful guilt. We have been brought near by the blood of Jesus and can now have a close relationship with God.

Bibliography

Bush, George, Notes on Exodus Volume 2, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, orig. 1852, 57-70.

“What was the significance of the temple veil being torn in two when Jesus died?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=670 on 7/30/2022.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus,” Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1985, 145-46.

Matthew 6:19-34

I recently had a conversation with my parents about their financial situation. Not knowing their situation, I was carefully trying to find a place in our phone conversation to ask them if they were doing okay. As we talked my dad offered that information without me asking. I am happy to report that the Lord is providing for their daily needs.

But what about the future? Will our family have enough money for the future? Should we start saving madly for the future? Should we invest in crypto currency and open several retirement funds? Is the stock market safe to invest in? What is going to happen?

In this chapter, Jesus addressed these questions in a general way. He talked about wealth and worry. As we look at these verses, let us listen carefully and learn from the Lord’s teaching.

[Read Matt. 6:19-21.]

  1. Wealth is not a good treasure (19-21).

    It has been interesting to read articles about a new form of money called crypto currency. You may have heard about Bitcoin. A Central American country decided to do away with their currency and use Bitcoin instead. However, this week, I read an article about several times where the new currency was hacked by computer thieves.

    a. Earthly treasure can be lost.

    Jesus told his disciples that hoarding physical treasure was a risky thing. If your treasure was expensive clothing, a moth could eat holes in it. If your treasure was made of metal, it could be destroyed by rust. If your treasure was locked away, it could be found and stolen. All of these treasures have the possibility of losing their value. The point is that physical treasure is not a wise investment for a Christian.

    Q: Is it wrong to have money or to save or invest it? No.

    “Neither here not elsewhere is the possession of wealth condemned: it is being enslaved to riches that is fatal, and to possess great riches without being enslaved is not easy” (Plummer 107).

    Jesus’ point is that we should not be hoarding riches which can so easily be lost. Instead, we should invest in something better.

    b. Heavenly treasure will never be lost.

    Jesus contrasted earthly treasures with treasures in heaven. What was he talking about?

    “Spiritual treasure should be defined as broadly as possible as everything that believers can take with them beyond the grave e.g. holiness of character, obedience to all of God’s commandments, souls won for Christ, and disciples nurtured in the faith” (Blomberg 123).

    We could add Sunday School classes, missionaries sent, or money invested in supporting God’s work. These heavenly treasures will not lose their value during a recession or burglary but will have value for eternity. They are worthy investments for Christians to make.

    c. Wealth can take your focus away from what is most important.

    Jesus wisely noted that what someone values will be the focus of his heart. When you value earthly treasures, your mind will constantly be thinking about them. When you value spiritual treasures, your mind will be constantly thinking about them.

    APPLIC. What is it that has captured your heart? If you are constantly thinking about earthly treasures, consider what Jesus says here. Devote your heart’s attention to what really matters.

  2. Wealth is not a good master (24).

    [Read Matt. 6:24.]

    “Against those who might protest that they can accumulate both spiritual and earthly treasures, Jesus replies that they have only two options. They must choose between competing loyalties” (Blomberg 124).”

    a. You can only be devoted to one master.

    When we hire a new driver for DSB Transport, we make it clear that the on-call driving job needs to be the primary job. If someone wants to drive for Uber, there is always the possibility of a conflict. So, the driver needs to choose whether he will make this job the priority to alleviate any conflicts with other jobs.

    Jesus told his disciples that it is impossible to serve two masters. Back then many people were slaves not servants. Imagine a slave who was owned by two masters. How would he know which one to obey if there was a conflict of commands? One master tells him to go into town. The other tells him to harvest the crop. Which one would he obey?

    b. You can’t love God and riches at the same time.

    Jesus used the two Master illustration to show how someone could not serve the Lord and mammon at the same time. Mammon is “the Aramaic word for ‘wealth or property'” (Barbieri 33). Someone who serves the Lord, puts Him in front of all other activities. Someone who serves riches, will put them in front of all other priorities.

    “Jesus proclaims that unless we are willing to serve him wholeheartedly in every area of our life, but particularly with our material resources, we cannot claim to be serving him at all” (Blomberg 124).

    APPLIC. Which one are you serving? Are you completely given over to what the Lord wants in your life, or are you too concerned with acquiring wealth to have any time for Him?

  3. Worry is not a good practice (25-34).

    [Read Matt. 6:25-34.]

    “If a person is occupied with the things of God, the true Master, how will he care for his ordinary needs in life, such as food, clothing, and shelter?” (Barbieri 33)

    It is a real question but one that Jesus answers in this next section.

    a. Don’t worry about your food and clothing (25-32).

    “Christians must plan for the future, but they need not be anxious” (Blomberg 125).

    Jesus tells us to stop worrying about needs such as food and clothing. He points to God’s provision for the birds. God the Father feeds them and they don’t have to plant crops and store the produce in barns. If God provides for the birds so easily, why should we worry?

    Jesus then asks two question: (1) Are you not more valuable than the birds? God has made you His sons and daughters. You are more valuable to Him than the birds. Think about that. (2) Does your worry have any real power to make changes? He actually asks if worry can add a cubit to your stature.* The answer is obviously no. We can’t make ourselves taller by worrying. So what is the use of worrying?

    Jesus tells us not to worry about clothing our family. With thrift stores on every corner, it seems strange to wonder how our family will be clothed, but for some people this is a real and pressing need.

    Jesus points us to the lilies in the field. These flowers don’t rise up early and go to bed late worrying about what they will wear the next day. But God still makes them more beautiful than Solomon with all his wealth. If God can clothe the flowers in the field, despite the fact that they have a very temporary life span, why don’t we trust Him to provide for our clothing?

    His conclusion is that we shouldn’t worry about food, drink, or clothing. God the Father is aware of our needs. We just need to trust Him.

    “One great feature of heathenism is living for the present. Let the heathen, if he will, be anxious. He knows nothing of a Father in Heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When bereaved of those whom we love, we are not to ‘sorrow as those who have no hope.’ When tried by anxieties about this life, we are not to be over-careful, as if we had no God, and no Christ” (Ryle 60).

    APPLIC. Are you trusting the Lord to meet these basic needs? Or are you daily bothered by worry wondering how things will turn out tomorrow? Trust in the Lord with all your heart (Prov. 3:5-6). He will take care of you.

    b. Make God’s kingdom your priority (33).

    Jesus tells us to replace our worry with seeking after God’s kingdom and His righteousness. There are two thoughts here: kingdom and righteousness. First, we should seek His kingdom. We ought to find out what our King’s intentions are and do our part to promote His policies and plans. Second, we should seek His righteousness. We ought to live our lives patterned after His perfect example. We will never be perfect, but we should seek to live in a way that pleases Him.

    As a result, when we are seeking God’s kingdom and living righteously, He will provide for our needs. We don’t need to worry.

    APPLIC. Does it seem too simplistic? Does it seem too difficult? Whatever your thoughts, it is plain that the Lord values us and has promised to provide for our needs when we do as He has commanded. So trust Him and do what He says. You will see that He always keeps His promises.

    c. Don’t fret about tomorrow (34).

    Jesus concludes His thoughts by telling us not to worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about its own problems. Today’s troubles are all you need to take care of right now.

    “We are not to carry cares before they come. We are to attend to to-day’s business, and leave to-morrow’s anxieties till to-morrow dawns” (Riley 61).

    APPLIC. We often think about issues that might happen in the future. These issues and their possible outcomes are often what keep us up at night worrying. But does worrying really make a difference? Does worrying remove the problem or the possibility? No, it only makes us feel worse. Instead of worrying, let the Lord take care of each situation.

Conclusion

Jesus made things very clear today.

  1. Wealth is not a good treasure. Instead of focusing on physical treasures that can be destroyed or stolen, we should focus on spiritual treasure that will last for eternity.
  2. Wealth is not a good master. Instead of being pulled in two directions, we should choose to serve only the Lord.
  3. Worry is not a good practice. Instead of worrying about our physical needs, we should trust the Lord to provide as we faithfully serve Him.

What is it that the Lord has spoken to you about today? I hope that you will choose to set aside whatever it is that is turning you from the Lord. If it is your desire for wealth or your worry about future possibilities, realize that the Lord loves you and will meet your needs. You just need to follow Him and trust Him.

Footnotes

* If your Bible talks about adding time to life rather than a cubit to stature, consider this: “The NIV marginal note ‘single cubit to his height’ is a somewhat more natural translation of the Greek than ‘single hour to his life,’ but it does not fit as well into the context. Addidn a foot and one half to one’s height is not the trifling amount Jesus’ flow of thought seems to demand, and stature does not fit the context of provisions of food and clothing nearly as well as longevity” (Blomberg 125). Also, “ἡλικία size, age. The passage can reger to the length of life or to the size or stature of the person” (R&R 19).

Bibliography

Barbieri Jr., Louis A., “Matthew” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, 33.

Blomberg, Craig L., Matthew, Vol. 22 of The New American Commentary, Nashville: Broadman, 1992, 122-27.

Plummer, Alfred, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Matthew, Minneapolis: James Family, reprint n.d., 105-110. (Note: This commentary was not very helpful. It seems that the author likes to quote the Talmud and other Jewish texts with as much authority as the Bible.)

Rienecker, Fritz and Cleon Rogers, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980, 19.

Ryle, J. C., Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Vol. 1, Matthew – Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker, reprint 1977, 55-61.

Exodus 19

When you grew up, what was your church like? The church I grew up in would probably seem a bit stiff to some today. Everyone dressed up and the services were designed for reverent worship of the Lord. Most everyone brought their Bible with them to follow along as the pastor preached what God said from a specific passage.

I have heard that some churches today have a different way of doing things. They darken the auditorium and use stage lights, smoke, and emotional music to set the mood. Following the worship time, the preacher gives a message designed to meet the felt needs of the people.

While change, emotions, and felt needs are not necessarily wrong, what we do in our services should accomplish God’s purposes as they are revealed in the Bible. So what does the Bible say about our worship? How should we approach God during our services? What does God desire from us? Today’s passage, Exodus 19, may help us to answer these questions.

Note that this is the chapter just before Exodus 20 where the Ten Commands are given to Moses by God. Exodus 19 shows how the Lord prepared the Israelites to recognize His power and to properly respect Him. As we look through the chapter, we will see two main thoughts. (1) The Lord wanted them to be His special people (19:1-9), and (2) The Lord wanted them prepared to meet Him (19:10-25).

  1. The Lord wanted them to be His special people (Ex. 19:1-9).

    [Read Exodus 19:1-9.]

    After traveling from Rephidim to Sinai, the Lord spoke to Moses on the mountain. This was the place to which the Lord had promised to bring back Moses. While there, the Lord told Moses of his plan to make the Israelites His special people.

    a. He brought them to Himself (3-4).

    The Lord reminded the Israelites of what He had done in Egypt. Just months ago, they had seen His unstoppable power poured out against Pharaoh and his nation. But why did the Lord do this? Why did he rescue them?

    The Lord’s purpose for rescuing them was to bring them to Himself. He wanted them for Himself. Isn’t that amazing! He wanted them as His own and wanted them to know Him.

    Christians have a similar experience with the Lord. “This is the ultimate aim of all the gracious method’s of God’s providence and grace, to bring us back to himself, to reinstate us in his lost favor, to restore us to that relation in which alone we can be happy. Christ has died ‘the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God'” (Bush 237-38).

    b. He required them to obey Him (5a).

    Notice that the Lord used an “if” clause. If they would obey what he said and keep their part of the covenant, the Lord would give them great benefits. On the other hand, if they would not obey what He said and did not keep their part of the covenant, they would not receive those benefits.

    If you are familiar with the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Mosaic Law, you know that obeying God’s commands would involve a lot of effort. But those who willingly obeyed the Lord would be rewarded with a privileged position and a God blessed life. What exactly was the Lord promising to do for them?

    c. He promised to make them His special people (5b-6).

    They would be a treasure to Him.

    “If they accepted and obeyed the covenant stipulations, God promised to make them His treasured possession” (Hannah 138). “The leading sense is that of select, precious, endeared; something exceedingly prized… (Bush 238).

    Have you ever had something that was especially precious to you? Maybe it was a letter from someone, or a trinket that reminded you of a happy moment in your life. Whatever the case, that item was precious to you and made you feel good to have it.

    The Lord considers those who obey Him to be a special treasure. Of the entire population of the world, He chose to make the Israelites his own particular treasure to love and value. This relationship that began in Exodus continue through the last book of the Old Testament.

    Malachi 3:16-17 — “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. ‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.’ ”

    The Lord values those who love and obey Him.

    They would be holy for Him.

    The Lord’s plan was to make of them a kingdom of priests who were holy for Him. As priests, they would represent Him to the world. As a nation, they would stand out as an example of what the Lord desires and does for those who follow Him.

    Christians are given the same position of influence for the Lord. As we live according to God’s ways in the Bible, we may often stand out as very different from the people around us. We may be looked at as odd, but the world will see in our obedient lives what it means to follow Jesus and they may also see the benefits.

    Summary: The Lord wanted the Israelite people to be His special people. And from the response recorded in verses 7-8, it appears that the Israelites wanted this as well. Does their response surprise you? It should as they had complained and resisted Moses so many times. But this time, they saw the benefits of being God’s favored nation especially after all He had done for them in Egypt and along their journey so far.

    APPLIC. This reminds me of what often happens when someone sees the benefits offered by God. They hear that God loves them, offers heaven, gives peace, and answers prayer. Who wouldn’t want all of that? So they “accept Jesus” to gain the benefits. But is that the whole picture? No, God is not just a benevolent Giver, He is also the holy and righteous Lord who expects His children to obey Him.

  2. The Lord wanted them prepared to meet Him (Ex. 19:10-25).

    [Read Exodus 19:10-15.]

    As you read these verses, you probably noticed the requirement for the people to wash their clothes and to keep away from the mountain. It definitely gives you the idea that this visit with the Lord was not something to be taken lightly.

    a. He expected them to consecrate themselves (10-11).

    “In anticipation of the covenant God ordered the people to separate themselves from impurity and to consecrate themselves to God. The three-day purification ritual included washing their garments and abstaining from sexual intercourse” (Hannah 138).

    What does it mean to consecrate yourself?

    “In the Bible the word consecration means ‘the separation of oneself from things that are unclean, especially anything that would contaminate one’s relationship with a perfect God’ ” (GotQuestions)

    The Lord wanted them to be clean in body and consecrated to Him in their thinking. Having clean clothes would remind them of God’s holiness and their sinfulness compared to Him. They would be more apt to think rightly after doing those things.

    Think about it. When someone is coming over to visit, we clean the house and make sure everything looks as best as possible. “How much more, when the visitor is to be none other than the King of Kings himself!” (Bush 241).

    b. He setup certain boundaries (12-13).

    “Also during the three days no person or animal was to contact the mountain or he or it would be put to death” (Hannah 138).

    This seemed like a big deal to God and perhaps not something we would have thought of. But maybe we need to think a little deeper.

    “While Jehovah makes himself known as Father, a Protector, a Guide, a Portion, he still would have his servants remember that he is ‘the great and terrible God.’ He therefore requires that they should worship him as a respectful and reverential distance” (Bush 242).

    “Such careful preparation underscored the significance of the event that was about to transpire. The God of the heavens was about to make a covenant with His people” (Hannah 138).

    c. He caused them to tremble (16-18).

    [Read Exodus 19:16-18.]

    “The people heard crashing thunder and a very loud trumpet blast (cf. 19:13); they saw flashing lightning … fire, and dense billowing smoke as from a smelting furnace; and they felt the mountain trembling in a violent earthquake. The black cloud of smoke brought darkness to the sky. …little wonder that the people trembled, standing at the foot of the mountain” (Hannah 138).

    Today’s movies are filled wtih special effects that diminish our reaction to this section of Scripture. We are used to explosions, earthquakes, and powerful events on television. However, those who were at this event were trembling at what they experienced.

    Being in the presence of God has often had this effect on believers. Think of Isaiah’s response to seeing God in a vision (Isaiah 6:5). Think of John’s response to seeing Jesus in his vision (Rev. 1:17). Our response would be similar if we were in the same situation.

    Someday the unbelieving world will tremble in fear when Jesus comes to judge those who do not know or obey Him.

    2 Thessalonians 1:7b-9 — “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

    Being in God’s presence should have an effect on our lives.

    d. He expected some to disobey his commands (21-25).

    [Read Exodus 19:21-25.]

    The Lord seems to be repeating Himself here. He had already told Moses to warn the people about touching the mountain, but He tells Moses to warn them again. This didn’t make sense to Moses as he had already warned the people and setup boundary fences (see Ex. 19:12).

    “Moses seems to have thought that by reason of the unutterable terror and glory of the scene, it was morally impossible that the people … be so presumptuous as to transgress an order which he had once so expressly delivered to them, and which he had guarded by setting bounds according to divine direction” (Bush 248-49).

    However, the Lord, who knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts, knew better than Moses. He sent Moses back down to warn the priests and people from breaking through the boundaries. Otherwise, they would be killed.

    APPLIC. “The good and the charitable are sometimes prone to entertain a more favorable opinion of human nature that the truth will warrant. God often sees a necessity of uttering cautions and repeating commands of which his right-minded servants are but little aware” (Bush 249).

    Summary: The Lord wanted the people to prepare themselves to meet Him. This involved washing their clothes and keeping their distance from the mountain. On the third day, the Lord descended on the mountain and two things happened. First, the people trembled as what they saw and felt. Second, some of the people became curious and had to be reminded that their actions could have serious implications.

    APPLIC. It may be that we needed to consider this today. While the Lord is our Father, Friend, and Helper, we must remember that He is the terrible and all powerful God who controls everything. Yes, we can have a close conversation with God while lying in bed at night. Yes, we can worship the Lord while driving to work in the morning. But we must never forget that He is holy and deserving of not only our love but also our reverence.

Conclusion

At the beginning of this message, we thought about the type of worship practiced in the past and currently being practiced in churches. Did this chapter help us to answer those questions?

In the first section, we found that the Lord wanted Israel to be his special people. That should have humbled the people and caused them to be in awe of their privileged relationship to the Lord. Christians today should have the same reaction. Our worship should be filled with great happiness and thankfulness for the privileged relationship we have with God.

In the second section, we found that the Lord expected the Israelites to prepare themselves to meet Him. They were to wear clean clothes, abstain from certain activities, and keep a respectful distance. These stipulations reminded them that they were meeting a very special person who deserved their reverence. Christians today should have a similar reaction. While we do have a close relationship with the Lord, we must never forget that He is Almighty God and that should affect the way that we worship and speak about Him.

Bibliography

Bush, George, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, orig. 1852, 237-49.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 137-38.

“What does the Bible say about consecration?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2758 on 6/25/22.

Exodus 18

While traveling, I often listen to Detroit’s AM radio station, WJR. Friday morning, one of the hosts shared his personal experience of having three fathers while he was young. Sadly, his mother divorced three times and when he was in his 20’s he had no father to help him with decisions. However, he came to the conclusion that despite his experience he had a heavenly Father that would help him through those times. If you were blessed with a good father or multiple fathers, thank God for the influence he/they had on your life.

During today’s message, we will be looking inside the personal life of Moses. Something we probably forgot was that Moses had a wife and two sons. While living in Midian, he had married and had children. But the Lord’s plan to use Moses in Egypt caused some difficulty for the family. In this chapter, we learn that Moses’ wife went back to her father while Moses was dealing with Pharaoh and leading the people through the wilderness.

If you compare Moses’ duties to that of a general during a war, you may better understand why his wife and children were waiting elsewhere. But when things settled down, Jethro reunited Moses with his family and spent some time with them before going back home. During the visit, several things happened that benefited both Moses and Jethro. Let’s begin with the first part of the chapter.

  1. Jethro plans to visit Moses (1-6).

    [Read Exodus 18:1-6.]

    a. Who exactly was Jethro?

    “Jethro was the father-in-law of Moses and father of Zipporah. Jethro is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 2:16 where he is described as ‘a priest of Midian.’ He is also referred to as Reuel (verse 18), which could indicate the equivalent of a last name. The name Reuel means “friend of God,” so the fact that the Bible calls him first by this name may mean that he was a priest of the Most High God, rather than a pagan deity as some have suggested. Many people in the Bible were called by two names such as Jacob (Israel, Genesis 35:10), Simon (Peter, Luke 6:14), Matthew (Levi, Mark 2:14; Matthew 9:9), and Paul (Saul, Acts 13:9). Sometimes the name change was due to an encounter with God. Other times it may have simply been a second name, in the way that a man named Ben Jones may be called both ‘Ben’ and ‘Jones'” (GotQuestions).

    As we look through the chapter, let’s try to figure out if Jethro was a believer in the one, true God.

    b. What did he hear?

    Remember Rahab’s conversation with the two spies? In Joshua 2:9-10 she says, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt.” Rahab lived forty years after Israel left Egypt and the story was still traveling around the land.

    What must it have been like when Jethro heard about it? Perhaps a traveling merchant stopped in and told him what someone had told him. Maybe the local newspaper had a vague story about it with just enough details to make him wonder what had happened. “Jethro apparently had followed the affairs of his son-in-law with interest so that when the Israelites camped at Rephidim Jethro determined to see him” (Hannah 136).

    c. Why did he want to visit?

    But this older man didn’t come just to hear Moses tell the story. He also came with a special purpose. While Moses was leading the people out of Egypt, his wife and sons had stayed with Jethro. “Though the reason for that action is not stated, Moses may have wanted to protect them from the horrors of the Egyptian bondage” (Hannah 136). Zipporah needed her husband and the sons needed their father. So why had the family been living separately?

    Perhaps there was a rift between Moses and Zipporah.

    Do you remember when the Lord was angry with Moses as he and Zipporah traveled to Egypt? (Ex. 4:24-26) Apparently, they had not circumcised one of the boys. After Zipporah completed her son’s circumcision, she called Moses a bloody husband. Perhaps this event caused a rift between the two that led her back to her father. Things like this have happened before. If this was the case, it would be a wise father who would seek to reunite his daugher and son-in-law.

    Perhaps he knew that it was time.

    It had been some time since Israel left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, and had been traveling around the wilderness. At this point, it may have been a year since Moses first left. As a wise, older man, Jethro knew that Moses needed his wife and children … and they needed him.

    While doing God’s business is important, so is family life. If you have the opportunity to provide for your family or to serve the Lord in some capacity, remember to take time for your family. They are also an important part of your life and service to the Lord. Love them and lead them. They are also your responsibility.

    Perhaps he was wanting to hear more about the Lord.

    In the precious description of Jethro, we got the idea that Jethro was a “friend of God.” But some of the things he says later in this chapter seem to show him coming to faith after hearing Moses’ story.

    While Moses had known Jethro’s family for forty years, we are not told anything about his influence on them for the Lord. While he was noted as the one who pushed aside the other shepherds to help Jethro’s daughters water the flocks, what else did Jethro know about Moses? Was he someone who knew the Lord at that time? Did he speak of the Lord in the presence of this family? Whatever the case, Jethro wanted to know more about what the Lord had done since they last met.

    APPLIC. I like this part of the chapter because it shows that someone was interested in what the Lord was doing. It would seem that the Lord had been working in Jethro’s heart and he was seeking to know more. As a Christian, this is encouraging to know that someone wanted to know more about the Lord. It gives us motivation to keep speaking for the Lord and hope that there will be people the Father is drawing to Jesus (John 6:44).

  2. Jethro responds to the Lord (7-12).

    [Read Exodus 18:7-12.]

    This part of the chapter is filled with a wonderful family reunion. Moses and his family are reunited. Jethro and Moses have a great conversation about what had happened in the last year. It was a meeting that they would not soon forget.

    a. Why did Moses greet him in this way?

    When his father-in-law arrived, Moses greeted him with great honor. “Moses’ meeting with Jethro was marked by gestures of respect (bowed down) and gratitude (kissed) as they greeted each other” (Hannah 136). In that part of the world, this was the proper way to greet your older relatives.

    “Though a prophet and a judge in Israel, he does not forget the duties that grow out of his relations as a man. Instead of waiting in state till his visitors are admitted to pay homage … he goes with [cheerful readiness] to meet them… ” (Bush 225).

    APPLIC. However highly the providence of God may have advanced us in rank or authority, yet we are bound to give honor to whom honor is due, and never to look with disdain upon our kinsmen or others in an humbler sphere of life” (Bush 225).

    b. Why was he so joyful?

    You know how it is when you see someone you haven’t seen for a long time. You talk non-stop and enjoy hearing what has happened since the last time you met. However, this meeting had something more than just what happened since the last meeting. They talked about what the Lord had done.

    He finally heard a first-hand account of God’s mighty acts (8-9).

    “If the most trifling incidents that befall a brother, a friend, a aparent, a child, are full of interest to the parties concerned, what must have been the emotions of Jethro in listening to the wondrous narrative of Moses?” (Bush 225-26).

    As Moses saw all that the Lord had done for Moses and the Israelites, he rejoiced that God would treat them so well. It was amazing that they had been delivered from Pharaoh and his army.

    He recognized the greatness of the Lord (10-11).

    In these two verses, we see Jethro’s response to what the Lord did for Israel. He blesses the Lord for delivering His people. But then he says something very interesting. He said, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.” This statement makes me wonder if this was the moment of his conversion.

    We know that Jethro was a priest of Midian but don’t know if he was a priest of another religion or not. If he was not a believer before this time, it is apparent that he is now! And if he was already, Moses’ story reaffirmed his faith in God as the Almighty God.

  3. Jethro gives good advice (13-27).

    After the evening’s festivities, Jethro notices that Moses was very busy as leader of the nation. What he saw caused him to ask questions.

    [Read Exodus 18:13-16.]

    a. What did Jethro see? (13-16)

    “Jethro observed that much of Moses’ time was taken up in answering disputes and inquiries as the judge of the people, who sought through him to know God’s will” (Hannah 136).

    “In so vast an assembly it is easy to conceive that the controverses and matters of reference would be very numerous” (Bush 227).

    This gives us a bigger picture of what happened while Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness. It wasn’t a non-stop journey. They actually stopped in certain places for periods of time to live, worship, and handle civil disputes.

    Jethro’s opinion was that what Moses was doing was not good. He “warned that Moses would become overexhausted. Also the people would be worn out (v. 18), waiting for their turns to present their cases” (Hannah 136).

    Thankfully, Jethro didn’t just point out a problem; he also had an idea of how to correct the problem.

    b. What did Jethro suggest? (17-23)

    [Read Exodus 18:17-23.]

    “Wisely Jethro urged Moses to delegate some of his responsibilities. … Moses was to be the people’s representative before God (Ex. 18:19) and their teacher but most judicial matters were to be given to others” (Hannah 136).

    Jethro suggested that Moses assign a hierarchy of government which could handle the varying levels of problems. He suggested that these men have certain qualifications:

    “The leading sense is that of men of strong character… . The second was that they should be … men deeply impressed with the conviction that there is a God above them, whose eye is upon them, to whom they are accountable… . The next qualification insisted on is that they should be … men whose word could be implicitly relied upon… . Finally, they were to be men hating covetousness … not only not seeking bribes, or aiming to enrich themselves, but cherishing a positive abhorrence of any such corruption” (Bush 229-30).

    This is a good description of what a judge should be. And men with these characteristics would be able to help Moses carry out justice for the people who needed it. Note that even in this group of God’s chosen people there were trouble makers who needed to be held back. Until sin is completely removed, we will need to have capable and honest judges (and policemen) to wisely hold evil in check.

    c. What did Moses do? (24-26)

    Moses listened to the wise advice given by his father-in-law.

    [Read Exodus 18:24-26.]

    We learn later that Moses took this need to the people.

    Deut. 1:9, 12-13 — “And I spoke to you at that time, saying: I alone am not able to bear you. … How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints? Choose wise, understanding, and knowledgeable men from among your tribes, and I will make them heads over you.”

    Sound familiar? “In like manner the deacons of the primitive church, Acts, 6. 3, were chosen by the people, and finally inducted into office by the apostles” (Bush 231).

    God’s plan for government doesn’t involve just one person. Even a strong leader like Moses needed help. Even the disciples needed help. And so, in God’s perfect plan, there is a place for others to help with the work so that God’s work may continue and be successful.

Conclusion

[Read Exodus 18:27.]

“From all we can tell in the Bible, Jethro was a godly man of integrity who played a small part in God’s great story of deliverance for the Israelites. He is a good role model for in-laws. He offered wise counsel, stepped in to help when needed, and then got out of the way” (GotQuestions).

What do we learn from this chapter in the Bible?

1. Never get to the place that you are unwilling to listen to advice.

Moses was the one chosen by God to lead the people out of Egypt, to talk to Pharaoh, and to be the one carrying out God’s miracles. Yet he was willing to humble himself and listen to his father-in-law’s advice.

None of us should think that we know everything about anything. While some of us have developed various skills and have accumulated experience and knowledge about subjects, we should remember that the Lord has given other people wisdom as well. Take a moment to listen and learn from others. It may help you to do things better.

2. Delegate responsibility when it makes sense.

Moses was given a great responsibility as God’s representative to Israel. But the task of dealing with the problems of an entire nation was too much for him. When he delegated some of his responsibilities to capable men, things went much better. More situations could be addressed and the wait time was decreased.

Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord put these ideas into the Bible for us? We, too, can become overwhelmed with the amount of work to be done. But when we find capable, trustworthy people to help us, the job gets done and may even get done more efficiently. Note that this is not telling us to be lazy. We must bear our own burdens. But there are times when adding more managers can make things run more efficiently.

This chapter shows us that the Lord cares about us and has a way to help us if we will only listen and follow His advice. Will you?

Bibliography

Bush, George, Notes on Exodus Vol. 1, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, orig. 1852, 223-31.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 136-37.

“Who was Jethro in the Bible?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=17029 on 6/18/22.

Exodus 17

During the past week, people like you have faced various problems: relationship issues, physical problems, political upheaval, financial issues… the list could go on. When we go through these problems, we can be tempted to think that we are the only one who has ever faced this. But is that really true? Is it possible that someone else during the last 6,000 years has had a problem like yours? A read through the Bible will give evidence that other people have faced these difficulties.

In today’s passage, we will read about two problems that Moses and the people faced. Some of the problems came from inside. Some of the problems came from outside. But we will also see that the answer to those problems — regardless of the source — came from turning to the Lord and trusting Him to take care of the situation. As we read the account of what happened, keep your eyes open to both the problem and the solution.

  1. Problems from inside (17:1-7)

    What does this mean? A problem from inside might be something that happens between you and someone close to you. The situation usually involves people that you know and have a relationship with.

    [Read Exodus 17:1-7.]

    a. The problem (1-3)

    The people were obeying God’s command (1a).

    It seems strange to say that part of the problem was that the Israelites were following the command of the Lord. But the first verse is very specific in stating that the Israelites were obeying God’s command. They were exactly where the Lord wanted them to be.

    “Though journeying … under the express guidance of the Lord, yet they are conducted to a scene of extreme trial and distress; showing that the mere fact of our being in the way of our duty is no certain security against the occurrence of trouble” (Bush 215).

    Think about that for a moment. This problem happened when the Israelites were exactly where the Lord wanted them to be. But is that really that odd? The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. In this chapter, the Israelites were led to the place where they would be tempted to complain instead of trusting the Lord. So, we learn that the Lord often leads His people to places that will give them problems. It is by His design; perhaps it is a test.

    The people were thirsty (1b).

    Once again, this large group of people was thirsty. Bitter water was not the problem; it was a complete lack of water. They needed water to drink and to water their cattle. Remember that this part of the world is very hot and without water they would be quite thirsty.

    The people complained to Moses (2-3).

    The people contended with Moses about the lack of water. Here the inside problem was an angry quarrel with people whom Moses knew well. They accused him of bringing their families and cattle into the wilderness to die of thirst. In their minds, it was obvious that Moses had caused this problem.

    But was it Moses’ fault? Remember they had followed where the Lord had led them.

    “They challenge him to supply them with water, as if he had the command of springs and rivers and could summon them up at will, and produce effects in the desert to which Omnipotence alone is equal” (Bush 215).

    APPLIC. Note how thirst and hunger can cause a person to do and say things that don’t make sense. Be careful to guard your thoughts, attitudes, and speech when you are not feeling well. You may do things that you will later regret.

    Things continued to escalate until “their rage and malice at length rose to such a pitch, that they were ‘almost ready to stone him'” (Bush 216). Not good.

    If you were Moses, what would you do?

    b. The solution

    “We cannot doubt that Moses was now in real peril of his life. But he had before this learned where his true refuge lay, and to that he [takes] himself” (Bush 216). So what did he do?

    Moses prayed to the Lord (4).

    Knowing that the Lord was the only One who could provide water for this huge group of people, Moses prayed to the Lord. Note that he asked a question first. What shall I do? He knew that the Lord had the solution he needed.

    But Moses didn’t just ask the question, he also expressed his fear and feelings. He told the Lord that the people were almost ready to stone him to death. This meant that they would kill him and find someone else to lead them to where they wanted to go. Yikes!

    David had a similar response in Psalm 61.

    “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!”

    APPLIC. When you are in a deep spot in your life, cry out to the Lord. It might involve tears but the purpose is to talk to the Lord about your need and to leave it with Him. He is the One who can take care of you and no one else.

    Moses heard from the Lord (5-6a).

    The Lord gave a solution to the problem. Instead of running from his accusers, Moses was to go before the people and take some of the elders with him. With the rod of God in his hand, Moses was to strike a certain rock and water would come out of it so that the people could drink.

    Why was Moses to take the rod with him?

    “This ‘staff of God’ (4:20; 17:9) was a symbol of power; holding it was a sign of dependence and trust in God” (Hannah 135). It would remind the people of what the Lord did in Egypt and at the Red Sea. It was a visual cue that God could and was about to do something miraculous.

    Why take the elders with him?

    Note that Moses was to go in front of the people and select some of the elders to go with him. “The elders would be able … to testify that there was previously no spring or reservoir of water in the place, and that the present supply was produced solely by the mighty power of God” (Bush 217-18).

    Moses did as the Lord said (6b).

    This is such an understatement. Moses just did what the Lord told him to do. There is no mention of water gushing out of the rock. There is no mention of him striking the rock. But we know that the Lord always keeps His promises. So everything went just as the Lord said would happen.

    Question: How much water came from the rock? Pictures of this event make it look like a small stream that would be insufficient to meet the needs of millions of people. I imagine that it must have been a great torrent of water that rushed out of the rock and caused a great river or lake to be formed.

    Moses commemorated the event (7).

    The Lord’s kindness to the complaining Israelites was not something Moses wanted the people to forget. The Lord could have punished them as He did the Egyptians, but He chose to love and provide for them.

    To help them remember what had happened, Moses “called the place by two names: Massah (‘testing’) and Meribah (‘quarreling’)” (Hannah 135). The end of verse 7 indicates that the people had suggested that the Lord was not with them. Sadly, many of the Israelites were still too spiritually dense to see the Lord’s hand in their lives after all that He had done.

    Sometimes, problems come from inside. They come from the people closest to you. Tensions rise, words are said, feelings are hurt but the Lord is still there to help. But in our next section, note that problems can come from another source.

  2. Problems from outside (17:8-16)

    What does this mean? A problem from the outside could be something caused by someone outside your normal sphere of influence. It might be from a stranger or someone you don’t usually interact with. But whatever the case, it still is a problem.

    [Read Exodus 17:8-16.]

    a. The problem (8)

    While enjoying the Lord’s provision of water, the Israelites faced another problem. The Amalekites attacked them. Just who were these people? “The Amalekites were nomads in the desert south of Canaan (cf. 1 Sam. 15:7; 27:8). They were descendants of Esau through Eliphaz (Gen. 36:12)” (Hannah 135).

    Moses records some more details about their attack in Deuteronomy 25:17-19. There we learn that the Amalekites “attacked [their] rear ranks, all the stragglers at [the] rear, when [they] were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.” It was a cowardly attack that showed their total disregard for God and his people.

    Another thing to note about problems from the outside is that we often have no control over the situation. In this case, the Israelites didn’t invite the attack. It happened without a logical reason. But it happened nonetheless.

    b. The solution (9-12)

    If Moses were to follow the solution from the first half of the chapter, he would have gone somewhere quiet and alone to pray to the Lord. But this would not have been appropriate at the moment. They were being attacked and had to respond or be killed. So Moses did what he needed to do. The solution involved two things:

    Moses sent Joshua to lead the army (9a).

    With an enemy attacking and perhaps capturing some of their people, it was time to go into action. Moses immediately instructed Joshua to choose men and form an army to fight against the Amalekites. But he also told Joshua that he would be on top of the hill overlooking the battle with the rod of God in his hand.

    Moses held the rod of God on a hill (9b-12).

    The next day, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of the hill to watch the battle. As Moses held up the rod of God, the Israelites prevailed. But when he lowered his hand, the Amalekites prevailed.

    What was Moses doing?

    Remember how the Lord commanded Moses to use the rod for certain miracles? In the past, the rod had become a serpent, been used to part the Red Sea, to turn the Nile into blood, and cause water to come out of the rock. But now, the rod was being used in a different way.

    “Moses’ holding the staff of God (cf. Ex. 4:20) above his head … symbolized Israel’s total dependence on the power of God. When Moses lowered his hands, a picture of lack of dependence, the enemy was winning” (Hannah 135).

    One commentator has the idea that Moses was praying while he was holding the rod up. The text doesn’t say that but it could be true. I would imagine that Moses’ view of the battle caused him to pray many times while on top of the hill.

    So how did the Lord respond to Moses’ raised staff?

    c. The results (13-16)

    The Lord gave them the victory (13).

    That day, Joshua and his chosen soldiers defeated the army of the Amalekites. With the Lord’s help, they won the battle. This happened because they were trusting in the Lord and fighting for his purposes.

    The Lord promised to destroy Amalek (14).

    After the battle, the Lord spoke to Moses. He wanted Moses to write down that God would completely destroy the Amalekites in the future. Apparently, their disregard for the Lord and their attack against God’s people revealed their wicked character and this led to this pronouncement of future judgment.

    “The defeat of the Amalekites was something God wanted Joshua to remember. The Amakekites remained a persistent, harassing enemy of Israel (cf. Num. 14:45; Jud. 6:33; 1 Sam. 14:48; 15:7; 27:8) until they were finally destroyed by King David (1 Sam. 30)” (Hannah 136).

    The Lord was honored (15-16).

    To remember what the Lord did for them that day, Moses built an altar and named it Jehovah Nissi which means “The Lord is my Banner.” The Lord was the banner under which they fought and lived. But there was more to this than just that. This further underscored the Lord’s decision to destroy the wicked Amalekites.

    APPLIC. What do we learn from this? Sadly, there are some people whom the Lord despises. Yes, God is love, but He is also holy. Yes, God loved the world, but He will also judge the world. Those, like the Amalekites, who reject the Lord and His ways will be rejected by the Lord.

    There are two parts to this application.

    First, if you have been rejecting God’s commands in the Bible, be sure that you will face God’s judgment at some point. Consider what Romans 1:17 says: “ The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Those who reject the Lord will face His wrath now and in the future. Turn from your sin today and believe and follow Jesus. It is your only way to escape the coming judgment.

    Second, if you have already turned from your sin to the Lord, be faithful in warning people who are actively rejecting the Lord and how He has instructed us to live. A recent visit to downtown Columbus showed me that there are many people there who are supporting ungodly behavior and attitudes. Unless these people hear from us, how will they escape the wrath to come? And who knows? Maybe some of these people who hear your warning will turn to the Lord from their sin and find hope in God.

    Remember that the same Jesus who died for your sins and rose from the dead did it for the world. If they will repent of their sins and believe Jesus, they too will be saved from God’s judgment.

Conclusion

The problems we face during our lives will be varied. Some problems will come from inside. In Moses’ case, the first problem was a lack of water, complaining people, and threats to his life. What did he do? He took his problems to the Lord. When you face problems that come from close by, remember what the Lord did for Moses and the Israelites. The Lord may allow you to face a problem this week but remember that He is there to help you through it. Be sure to take your problem to Him to find the appropriate solution.

Some problems will come from outside. In Moses’ case, the Amalekites attacked the people and had to be fought. What did he do? He trusted in the Lord to give the victory over their outside enemy. This week, you may face some problems that come from outside. You may face bad attitudes from people who reject the gospel message or who want to continue in their sin. What should you do? You should trust the Lord, pray, and use the sword of the Spirit (the Bible) to combat these problems. As you do, you will see God give you the victory.

This chapter teaches us to turn to the Lord in any situation. Regardless of the source of the problem (from inside or outside), we must learn to turn to the Lord and trust Him for the solution. Will you do that today?

Bibliography

Bush, George, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, 215-223.

Hannah, John D., “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1989, 135-136.

“Who were the Amalekites?”, as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=8622 on 6/12/2022.

Mark 4:26-32

In Mark 4:26-32, Jesus uses the act of planting seeds to say something about the kingdom of God. You might not be aware of this, but there is difference of opinion about what Jesus meant by the kingdom of God. Is Jesus referring to the coming millennial kingdom where He would reign as king over the world? Or was he speaking about a spiritual kingdom which He was currently establishing in the hearts of those who believe Him? While the Bible teaches that there will be a millennial kingdom in the future, it seems to me that Jesus was talking about the spiritual kingdom at this point.

This would coincide with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” He wasn’t telling his followers to seek to be a part of the future kingdom of God on earth. He was telling them to submit to God and make His ways a priority in their lives. So as we look at this passage, that is how I will interpret “the kingdom of God.”

[Read Mark 4:26-32.]

During my summer with Marion Baptist Church, I lived with an older farmer and his wife. While there, I learned that farming was not for the faint of heart. I helped toss hay into the top of a barn, tear down a chicken building, tasted field corn (I hadn’t known there was a difference), and was chased by a rooster. But I also learned that between planting seeds and harvesting crops there is a lot of work. Sometimes, the seeds grow well and provide a good income for the farmer. At other times, the seeds don’t grow or amount to much.

In the verses we just read, Jesus likened the kingdom of God to the process of planting seeds and harvesting a crop. During this message, we will look at four thoughts from what Jesus said about seeds.

  1. The kingdom of God is like a seed that is planted (26).

    The first statement Jesus made about the kingdom of God is that it is like a man who is scattering seed on the ground. This was a picture which all of the people would easily recognize. They had probably just passed several men who were doing that on this day. Jesus was using this imagery to teach something about the kingdom of God. However, to understand the analogy, we must understand what the terms in the parable represent.

    a. What is the kingdom?

    Remember how Jesus told Nicodemus that he would not see or enter the kingdom unless he was born again? He was talking about the new birth that makes a spiritually dead person alive to God. Nicodemus did not understand. But neither did the other Pharisees of his day.

    In Luke 17:21, Jesus told the Pharisees that the kingdom was not something that would be observed by them. It was something that would be within them. More than just a future physical kingdom, God’s kingdom begins inside of those who believe Him and willingly submit to his rule in their lives. The kingdom of God is not just something in the future; it is something God is doing right now.

    b. Who is the man?

    At this point, we might be safe in assuming that Jesus is the farmer in the parable. He was the One who was planting the seeds of truth in the lives of those who were listening. But as the disciples took on this task, this farmer could represent any of them or any of us who are speaking the truth to others. This idea is supported by Jesus’ explanation earlier in the chapter (Mark 4:13-14). As someone presents the truths of God’s Word, he is the sower of seed.

    c. What is the seed?

    Jesus defined the seed as the Word (God’s truth). When you look at the previous parable and consider that he is talking about the kingdom of God, you must come to the conclusion that he was talking about presenting the truth of God that would change the hearts of His listeners. Today this would refer to presenting the good news of Jesus to someone.

    d. How is it accomplished?

    The ancient process of planting seeds was much different than today. The farmer would take a bag of seeds to the field and scatter the seeds by hand.

    At first thought, this may seem like a haphazard method for planting seeds. But I don’t think that is the point. The ancient farmer did not place each seed into a specially spooned out hole. He threw the seed wherever he could, knowing that only a portion of the seeds would germinate and be harvested.

    Jesus was trying to show us that we should not discriminate who hears the truth. Just as he shared it with Samaritans, tax collectors, and religious people, we should tell everyone regardless of who they are. We are not called to only speak to those who are receptive. We are to speak to as many people as possible.

  2. The kingdom of God is like a crop that grows by itself (27).

    [Read Mark 4:26-28.]

    After showing the need to plant the seed of truth in people’s lives, Jesus points out the need to let the seeds grow.

    a. We can do other things.

    The first phrase indicates the life of the farmer after planting the field. Jesus described his life as sleeping and rising. He was showing that planting is not the entire life of the farmer. Although planting does take a good portion of his time, there are other things that he is able to do.

    If we are not careful, we can become so overcome with the need to spread the gospel that we are unable to sleep. Yes, we need to see the need for evangelism and missions, but we must also rest in God’s control of the task.

    Psalm 127:1-2 — “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”

    Sleep is a benefit given to us by God. We must remember that our strength for Christian endeavors is not found in our efforts, but in God’s efforts. That ought to take the burden off of us and help us to trust God to accomplish his goals.

    b. We can rely on the Holy Spirit.

    The next thought is that the growth of the seed is not something the farmer understands. It isn’t that he is uneducated or inexperienced. It is just that the process happens without his having any knowledge of how it happens. The farmer scatters the seed and then goes about other business because he knows it will grow. The seed responds to the soil, rain and sun and eventually grows on its own — just as God designed it to work.

    Evangelism is very similar. When the gospel has been planted in the heart of a person who has not yet become part of God’s kingdom, it begins to accomplish something. Remember that God promised that his Word would not return void to him (Isaiah 55:11). And Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

    We are not alone in our efforts to share the truth with people.

    APPLIC. Have you ever been especially concerned about someone to whom you have presented the gospel? Most of us have shared the gospel with a friend or relative. Then we earnestly pray for their salvation. It is good to pray and to present the gospel, but we must temper our zeal with knowledge.

    If you have planted the seed of the gospel in someone’s heart, please allow God to do his work. Don’t be pesky and constantly knock on that person’s door. You may feel like you are being zealous, but you may actually be pushing that person away unnecessarily. Let God do His work.
  3. The kingdom of God is like a crop that will be harvested (29).

    [Read Mark 4:29.]

    After the farmer has planted the seed, he waits for a period of time. For some crops it will take a long time for the plant to develop fruit. So, the farmer has to be especially patient. But he is still waiting for that time of harvest. As he watches the field, he will eventually recognize that the grain is ready for harvesting. At that point in time, he sends out his laborers to harvest the grain.

    What do we learn from this?

    a. There will eventually be a harvest.

    Evangelism takes a lot of effort with not much return. However, Jesus encourages us with the first two words in verse 29. “But when” shows us that waiting is not the only thing we have to do.

    “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” –Galatians 6:9

    God may call us to difficult places of ministry, but as we faithfully proclaim the gospel, there will be results … it just takes time.

    b. There will be a harvester.

    At the time of harvest, the farmer who planted the seeds is often a part of the reaping. In this parable, that is not as clear as you might think. The phrase “he puts in the sickle” can also refer to a master sending his servants into the field to harvest the grain. In any event, the grain is harvested and he is happy with what God has provided.

    APPLIC. It is the same way with evangelism. You may speak to many people about the gospel and not see any response for a while. But as the Holy Spirit works, there will come a time when God may turn that person from his sins to faith in Jesus.
    Will you always see the results of your ministry? No, although you have given the gospel, someone else may be the one who finally sees the harvest.

    1 Cor. 3:6 – “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”

    Paul made it very clear that he didn’t care who got to harvest the spiritual crop. He planted the seed and was sure that others were watering what he had planted. But in the end, he knew the God was in control of the results. It really didn’t matter who got to harvest the spiritual crop.

  4. The kingdom of God is like a small but fruitful seed (30-31).

    [Read Mark 4:30-32.]

    Jesus now begins a second parable about the kingdom of God. In this parable, He compares God’s kingdom to a small seed that produces a surprisingly large tree.

    a. The mustard seed (31)

    Mustard seeds are very small. “The seeds are usually about 1 to 2 millimetres… ” (Wikipedia). Compared to a peach pit, the tiny mustard seed seems incapable of producing much of anything. But “it can reach a height of 12-15 feet in a few weeks” (Grassmick 121). That is a surprising contrast with the size of its seed.

    b. The kingdom of God

    Jesus said that the kingdom of God is like the surprising growth of the tiny mustard seed. The work of God’s kingdom begins with the spoken (or read) Word of God. When this truth is planted in the heart of someone or in a certain community, it has the possibility of producing great results.

    Jesus had a short conversation with the woman at the well which later led to the whole city listening and responding favorably to Him (John 4:39-42). Jesus had a small group of disciples at the time of His death and resurrection but look at how the kingdom grew quickly in the days following his ascension. Thousands believed just days later.

    How was this accomplished?

    Jesus and the disciples spoke God’s truth the those who would listen. They planted the seed of the kingdom of God in their hearts and then God’s Holy Spirit caused that seed to germinate and grow in them leading to them to repentance and faith in Jesus and a changed life.

    Rom. 10:17 – “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

    APPLIC. When you present the truth of the gospel, it may seem insignificant. Quoting a Bible verse to someone may seem like a small thing to do. You may think that telling someone about Jesus and what He did is not very important. But God is able to use the small message preached to convert the soul of the worst sinner.

Conclusion

As you consider these parables about the kingdom, do you see the encouragement Jesus gave to us? We have a job to do. We need to proclaim the truth to everyone. But the end result is not our responsibility. God has designed it so that the Holy Spirit will work beyond what we say and do. We can rest in God’s ability to bring about the harvest at the right time.

1. Are you spreading the seed of the gospel?
2. Are you patiently waiting for God to do the work?
3. Are you expecting a harvest?

Smile today and realize that God is doing the work behind the scenes and that He will accomplish his great work in His perfect time.


Bibliography

Alexander, Joseph A., The Gospel According to Mark, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1858), pp. 102-05.

Redlich, E. Basil, St. Luke’s Gospel, (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson, 1948), 93.

“Mustard Seed” as viewed at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustard_seed on 6/4/2022.

David Harris, “How Tall is a Mustard Tree?” as viewed at https://www.gardenguides.com/12412948-how-tall-is-a-mustard-tree.html on 6/4/2022.

Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983, 120-21.

Exodus 16

Memorial Day is a sober reminder to Americans that the freedoms we enjoy were not given to us without a cost. Men and women died on battlefields around the world to insure that we would have the freedoms we currently enjoy. Sadly, we often forget about those people. Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the Twin Towers, and many other significant places are already becoming distant memories that don’t mean much anymore.

In today’s Scripture passage, we will see that such forgetfulness is nothing new. The Israelites who had been delivered from slavery in Egypt, defeat at the Red Sea, and thirst at Marah had already forgotten what the Lord had done for them in the recent past.

Read Exodus 16:1-3.

  1. Selective Memory (16:1-3)

    What is selective memory? It is looking back on something in the past as better than it actually was. For instance, I have fond memories of the the $2,000 Jaguar XJ-S I owned in 2008. It had a V12 engine and was a beautiful car. Some days, I look back and wish I had kept it. But then I remember having to keep a case of oil in the trunk, the fact that the heater did not work, and that a mechanic thought it would fall apart if I took it to the race track.

    In these verses, the Israelites demonstrate their selective memory. Their lack of provisions made them think back to the good food they left behind in Egypt. This makes us wonder if their hunger was overpowering their memories of slavery in Egypt.

    a. They had only been gone for a short time (1).

    Had it been 2 months and 15 days since they left Egypt? No, according to Exodus 12, the Lord began their new calender the previous month. The Passover was to begin on the 10th of that month. So, in reality, the people had only been gone for about 1 month and 5 days.

    b. They complained against their leaders (2).

    While it had not been a long time since they left, it had been a while since they had eaten. And, as you know from experience, lack of food often affects the way we think. In the case of the Israelites, their hunger caused them to complain against Moses and Aaron.

    But this time, it was not just the leaders complaining. It was the whole congregation of Israel. On every street corner, someone was complaining against Moses’ lack of leadership in providing food for them and their families. And then it got worse.

    c. They remembered the food in Egypt (3).

    “They had now subsisted thirty days upon the provisions brought out of Egypt, and it may well be supposed that their stock was nearly, if not altogether exhausted” (Bush 201).

    These hungry people started talking nonsense. First, they wished that they had died under God’s judgment in Egypt. Really? Second, they wished they were back in Egypt eating bread and meat. Somehow they forgot about slavery, oppression, or genocide. Third, they accused Moses of bringing the people into the wilderness to kill them with hunger.

    What these people said was ridiculous. After all that the Lord had done for them, and after all that Moses had been through for them, these people complained and started down the path of selective memory. Instead of praying to the Lord for their needs, they complained and wished to go back to Egypt.

    APPLIC. May I give you a suggestion? The next time you are in a troubling situation, be careful with what you think and say. It is easy to forget all that the Lord has done for you and what your leaders have done for you in the past simply because of the difficulty you are currently facing. Remember that the Lord is good and that things are not quite as bad as they seem at the moment.

  2. Heavenly Promise (16:4-12)

    Read Exodus 16:4-12.

    The Lord decided to be merciful to His complaining people. “Instead … of expressing the resentment of an insulted sovereign and benefactor, he utters the gracious purpose of overcoming their evil with good, and of pouring down blessing instead of wrath upon the murmuring host” (Bush 203).

    a. The Lord promised to provide bread (4-5).

    He told Moses that He would cause bread to rain down from heaven. When this happened, the people would go out and gather a quota of it each day. This would be a test given by God to see if the people would obey His law.

    Note that this was stated before the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law. This was a quiz preparing the people to trust in God’s ability to provide for them, but they would not only need to trust Him but would also need to follow His rules. For instance, they were to gather a certain amount every day but twice as much on the sixth day.

    b. The Lord was the focus of their complaint (6-8).

    When Moses and Aaron relayed God’s message to the people, they told them that the Lord had heard their complaint. But they also chided them for complaining against them. Was Moses the reason they were in the wilderness? No, the Lord had led them there. Was Moses the reason they had no food? No, the Lord was using this as a test of their dependence on them. Why then were they complaining to Moses and Aaron?

    c. The Lord should have been the focus of their prayer (9-12).

    Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation for a meeting. As they met, they saw the glory of the Lord in the cloud. Then the Lord told Moses to announce that He would provide meat in the evening and bread in the morning. This would show them that the Lord was the Lord their God.

    Too often, Christians have this same problem. Instead of turning their troubles over to the Lord, they start complaining. The Lord Jesus addressed this with his disciples.

    Matt. 6:31-34 – “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

    Christian, are you trusting the Lord for your daily needs? Or are you constantly complaining about what you don’t have? Take the advice of your Lord and make seeking His kingdom your first priority. Then trust Him to meet your needs each day.

  3. Daily Provision (16:13-21)

    Read Exodus 16:13-21.

    It wasn’t long before the Lord fulfilled his promise to provide their food.

    a. The Lord provided quail in the evening (13).

    That evening, the Lord caused a huge flock of quail to land in the camp. It makes me think of the flocks of birds that fly south in the fall. There are thousands of them that land in the trees in Willard’s park. What would it have been like for the Israelites?

    “In the fall this small game bird, similar to pheasant and grouse, migrates south from Palestine and Arabia to Central Africa, and in the spring returns” (BKCOT 134).

    Apparently, enough birds landed in the camp to supply meat for the hungry families. The Bible says that they covered the camp (13). But that was not all that the Lord provided.

    b. The Lord provided bread in the morning (14-16).

    The next morning, when the dew was gone, the ground was covered with a small round substance which reminded them of frost. When they noticed it, there first response was “manna?” or “what is it?” That is what the word manna means.

    Moses told them that this was the bread the Lord had promised. They were to collect enough for each person’s need. An omer was enough for each person. An omer is approximately 2 quarts. If it helps, you could think of 2 quarts of oil as the amount of bread provided for each person.

    c. The Lord provided manna for each day (17-21).

    “Each day the people were to gather only enough bread for that day. This meant that they would have to trust the Lord to bring the food each morning! … [These] provisions would cause the community to know that He is the Lord their God (v. 12)” (BKCOT 134).

    Moses told them to use up the collected manna each day without saving some for the next day. But some of them didn’t listen to Moses. They kept some of the manna until the next day and it attracted bugs and began to smell bad. Moses wan’t very happy with their disobedience.

    What would make you more happy — having plenty of food in the pantry or trusting the Lord to meet your needs every day? While none of us desires to be poor and destitute, there is something about trusting the Lord that brings peace and happiness.

    “A state of constant conscious dependence upon him is the state to which he aims to bring all his people. And this, could we realize it aright, is a far happier state than any other” (Bush 203-04).

    While we should provide for the future, we must remember that it is the Lord who meets our needs day by day.

  4. Sabbath Rest (16:22-30)

    Read Exodus 16:22-30.

    In these verses, the Lord instructed the people about a day of rest. To do this, he had to make special provisions for them and had to patiently work with those who were not good listeners.

    a. The people gathered double on the sixth day (22).

    Remember what the Lord told Moses in verse 5? He had told the people to gather a double portion of manna on the sixth day. Apparently, Moses had passed this along to the people because some of them did just that.

    But their rulers reported this to Moses as if they had done something wrong. This gave him the opportunity to teach them about the Lord’s provision of a Sabbath day of rest.

    b. The Lord gave them a Sabbath rest (23-26).

    Moses told them that these double gatherers were following God’s plan. They were to gather extra on the sixth and then bake and boil food for the next day. The seventh day would be a Sabbath day of rest for them.

    When the people followed his instructions, the manna did not stink or breed worms the next day.

    c. The people had to be reminded (27-30).

    But certain of the people didn’t listen to Moses. “Disregarding God’s instruction (v. 23) some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather the bread” (BKCOT 134). This didn’t sit well with the Lord. The Lord confronted Moses (as the leader of these rebels) about them not keeping His commands.

    In verse 29, the Lord starts by saying, “See!” He wanted Moses to make it clear that He was giving the people a day of rest. That is why he provided double manna the day before. They were to remain in their camp and rest.

    Do you see the value of having a day of rest? When I was a child, I didn’t like to take naps. My mother told me to take an hour nap by counting to 60 sixty times. After speed counting, I was back in front of her asking for the end of my nap.

    It seems that most people don’t see the value of rest. Instead of taking time to rest each week, we are eager to work through the week in order to get more done. But are we getting more done? Or are we getting more run down? God’s idea of a day of rest each week seems like a good idea to me.

  5. Future Generations (16:31-36)

    Read Exodus 16:31-36.

    The final paragraph is about future generations. The Lord thought it good to save a pot of manna to show future Israelites how He provided for their ancestors during their time in the wilderness. How many of you would be interested in seeing this pot of manna and in tasting it? I know that I am certainly curious about it.

    a. The people called it Manna (31).

    “What was manna? Interestingly, the Israelites asked the very same question: ‘When the people 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, ‘It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat’ (Exodus 16:15). The Hebrew word translated ‘manna’ literally means ‘what is it?'” (GotQuestions)

    b. The people needed to remember (32-34).

    The Lord “told Moses to keep an omer of manna … in a jar as a reminder of God’s goodness for future generations. The manna in the ark was a perpetual reminder of God’s loyalty to His people in supplying their needs” (BKCOT 135).

    I don’t know if this pot of manna was displayed occasionally to the future generations, but it was kept to remind them. It was eventually stored in the tabernacle and probably was kept in the ark. “This Ark was not indeed yet constructed, but the history was written and perhaps the command given after it was made” (Bush 213).

    c. The people were fed for forty years (35-36).

    As you may be aware, the children of Israel traveled throughout the wilderness for forty years. Their principle food was this manna from heaven. “The Lord continued to supply manna until the nation came to Gilgal, where they began to eat the products of the land (Josh 5:12)” (BKCOT 135).

    How gracious God is to provide for the needs of His people!

Conclusion

As you read through this chapter, what was it that caught your attention?

Perhaps you saw yourself in the Israelite’s complaining. They looked at the past and selectively longed for the parts that pleased them then. But they failed to see the Lord’s current hand in their lives. Are you a complainer right now? If so, it would be good for you to stop and think of all that the Lord has provided for you just now. “Be thankful unto Him and bless His name.”

Perhaps you saw God’s gracious provision of food for His people. And hopefully, in their provision, you are reminded of how the Lord can meet your daily needs. As you seek to daily follow God’s direction in your life, remember that He will provide as you seek His kingdom first. Will you do that?

Perhaps you saw God’s gracious provision of rest for His people. As they stayed in their camp that day, they were able to relax and catch up on the sleep or family time that they needed. While we are not commanded in the New Testament to take a Sabbath day of rest, do you see the value of resting? Without rest, we may become more anxious and tired than God intended. Don’t equate constant work with industriousness and rest with laziness. It is possible to work hard and also get proper rest.

Bibliography

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, 134-35.

“What was manna?” as viewed at https://printer.gotquestions.net/GeneratePF?articleId=2789 on 5/28/22.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, 200-14.

Exodus 15:22-27

In our last study, we celebrated with Moses, Miriam, and the Israelites as they sang about what God had just done at the Red Sea Crossing. Now, with happy conversations continuing about that miracle, the Israelites traveled a three day distance further toward their destination.

  1. Complaining (15:23-24)

    [Read Exodus 15:22-24.]

    In this section, we will look at the circumstances that led the Israelites to begin complaining.

    a. They were in a wilderness area (22 a).

    Note that wilderness and desert are not the same. This was an uncultivated and vacant area where nobody lived. So there were no hotels, gas stations, or cell phone coverage. They were alone in a wilderness area.

    When I was first driving for DSB Transport, my GPS told me to turn left when I should have kept driving straight. The resultant journey took me through a wilderness area in the Pennsylvania mountains. The road turned into gravel and then into dirt with scattered rock embedded in the pathway. If I had run out of gas or broken down, there would have been nobody nearby to help.

    The Israelites were in a similar situation. They were a giant caravan traveling without a AAA membership, a GPS tracker, or many supplies. All they knew was that the Lord had miraculously brought them this far and that Moses would lead them to where the Lord directed. The many unknowns caused the people to stop trusting the Lord.

    b. They had limited water (22 b).

    The size of the Israelites group may have been over 2 million people. Remember that they left Egypt with 600,000 fighting men. So, if you add a wife and two children to each soldier, you will easily come up with a large group of people.

    How much water would they require? According to one article, “most people need about four to six cups of water each day” (Harvard). Another article says that “there is no evidence to support that you should drink eight glasses — or 2 liters — of water a day. Research has found that most people get enough water from the foods and beverages they consume daily” (GoodRx).

    But we all know that this area of the country is usually warmer than what we are used to. So the amount of water for people and animals would have been quite large.

    “A person’s water requirements would have been … 20 quarts approximately … per day in … 108 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, it is thought that the Israelites would have needed up to 11,000,000 gallons of water each day just to drink, wash themselves and clean dishes etc. This would be equivalent of a freight train of tank cars, 1,800 miles long just to bring water” (Petton).

    I am not as sure with my figures, but if each person needed a gallon of water each day, that would amount to 2 million gallons. How could this much water be available for them in this wilderness area?

    c. They found bitter water (23).

    The Israelites were expecting to quench their thirst but were very disappointed because the water was bitter to taste. The place earned the name Marah which means “bitter.”

    During a recent visit to our house in Painesville, I took our dog with us. This meant that I needed to bring a water dish as well to keep him hydrated. But for some reason, no matter how often I would refill it with fresh water, Diego would not drink from the metal bowl. Maybe the taste of the metal was too much for him to handle.

    The Israelites were unable to use the water because it was too bitter for drinking. This being so, the animals were probably just as unwilling to drink.

    d. They complained about Moses (24).

    If the people had humbly asked Moses for help, the words, “What shall we drink?” would not come across as complaining. But there was something in the tone of their voice and the look in their eyes that showed that they were not just asking for help; they were complaining against Moses.

    “This response is amazing in light of their recent deliverance and triumphal songs of worship. They were so privileged; yet hardship quickly induced them to impugn Moses” (Hannah 133).

    APPLIC. Most of us are not like Pollyanna. Instead of finding something to be grateful for, we often find things to complain about. But is this a good thing? Compare the following two verses.

    Numbers 11:1 “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused.”

    In this situation, the people were grumblers who were more interested in getting their needs met than praising the Lord for meeting that need.

    Psalm 102:1 – “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the Lord. Hear my prayer, O Lord, And let my cry come to You.”

    In this psalm, the writer was praying to the Lord to meet his need. He had a complain of some kind but he wasn’t grumbling, he was taking it to the Lord and was trusting the Lord to meet that need.

    Which one describes you best?

  2. Receiving (15:25)

    [Read Exodus 15:25a.]

    In this section, we will see the Israelites receiving from the Lord what they needed.

    a. Moses prayed to the Lord.

    “The ingratitude of the people of his charge did not prevail to extinguish in the breast of Moses the spirit of fervent intercession in their behalf” (Bush 196-97).

    There were times when Moses was angry with the people, but this time he prayed for them. Knowing that their attitude was wrong but the need was real, he cried out to the Lord for help.

    This reminds me of Samuel’s response when he confronted the leadership of Israel about asking for a king. After telling them what they did wrong and what repercussions they would face, Samuel said, “far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Sam. 12:23).

    May God grant us to be like Moses, Samuel, and Daniel and pray for sinful people. Perhaps the Lord will answer our prayers by changing the wicked heart as well as meeting the specific need.

    b. The Lord provided a solution.

    This time, the Lord did not have Moses raise his staff. Instead, he told Moses to cut down a tree and cast it into the water. The result was that the water was no longer bitter but had a sweet taste.

    How did this happen? There are two opinions.

    View 1: God did a miracle. “The wood that Moses tossed into the water did not have a magical affect on the water; it was simply a symbolic act in anticipation of God’s working a miracle (like Moses lifting his staff over the sea, 14:16)” (Hannah 133).

    View 2: The tree had medicinal characteristics that counteracted the bitterness. “Unless we admit that it possessed some native efficacy this way, it is not easy to see why a particular kind of tree was pointed out to Moses” (Bush 197).

    “In recent years, the water-clarifying ability of Moringa powder was found to be due to a positively-charged protein called the Moringa Oleifera Cationic Protein (MOCP). When you crush the seeds and add them to water, this protein will kill some of the microbial organisms and cause them to clump together and settle to the bottom of the container” (Swales).

    Although I could not find an article to back this up, I have also heard that moringa can make water taste sweet. My wife used to buy moringa powder to make nutritional drinks. So, you can ask her for more details after the service.

    c. The people had water to drink.

    The end result was that the bitterness was removed and the people could use the water for themselves and their animals. God had provided just what they needed in response to the prayer of Moses.

    APPLIC. It is interesting that the Israelites received God’s blessings despite their bad attitude about their water supply. It is a good reminder, especially after we have failed God in some way, that the Lord is full of grace and mercy. He knows who we are and how we are of such little value to Him, and yet He still continues to love us despite ourselves.

    Be sure to thank Him for that today.

  3. Understanding (15:26)

    [Read Exodus 15:25b-26.]

    In this section, we will see the Israelites understanding what the Lord required of them for future blessing.

    a. They were being tested (25).

    At this point in their journey, the Lord made it clear that the Israelites could enjoy his blessing them so long as they followed this agreement. It would be a test of their faithfulness to Him as they traveled toward the Promised Land.

    It says here that the Lord made a statute and an ordinance for them. This is similar to what Joshua did for the next generation of the Israelites (Josh. 24:25). With these words, the Lord was showing them his regulations for them receiving his blessings.

    What was required of them?

    b. They were to listen and obey (26a).

    “The Lord gave the people a simple principle: obedience brings blessing, and disobedience brings judgment” (Hannah 133).

    They were to listen to the Lord and obey His commands. Notice that he adds the word diligently to listen. It was not to be a grudging obedience but one that showed their desire to please Him. When is the last time that you wanted to hear what God says and then to do what pleases Him? This is what the Lord wanted for His people. He still wants it for us today.

    c. They would be protected (26b)

    The end result of their obedience is spelled out very specifically. Along with the other blessings (protection from the last plagues, deliverance from Pharaoh’s army, drinkable water, and more to come), the Lord promised to keep them from contracting the diseases which He plagued the Egyptians with.

    To help them remember this, the Lord introduced Himself as Jehovah-Rapha or Yahweh-Rapha. This name means, “Jehovah thy healer” (Bush 199). If you tie this declaration to what just happens, it makes more sense. The water was bitter but the Lord made it sweet. He was able to “heal” the water. In a similar way, the Lord could heal them of any potential diseases. If they would diligently listen and obey, they would know Him as the Lord who heals.

    Does this remind you of someone in the New Testament?

    “Jesus Christ showed that He was the Great Physician who heals the sick. In Galilee, Jesus went from town to town, “healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). In Judea “large crowds followed him, and he healed them there” (Matthew 19:2). In fact, “wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed” (Mark 6:56). Not only did Jesus heal people physically, He also healed them spiritually by forgiving their sins (Luke 5:20). Every day, in every way, Jesus proved Himself to be Jehovah-Rapha in the flesh” (Got Questions).

    APPLIC. Unlike the Israelites, we are not promised to be free from the diseases prevalent in the world today. But we are promised that God can heal our sinful hearts. When we put our faith in Jesus, who died for us and rose again, the Lord will heal us of our sins, forgive us, and make us a new creation. Have you experienced this healing of God in your life? He is willing to change you from a sinner to a saint if you will turn to Him today. Turn from your sins and place your faith in Jesus today.

  4. Enjoying (15:27)

    [Read Exodus 15:27.]

    In this section, we will see the Israelites enjoying the Lord’s blessing on their lives.

    a. They followed their leader.

    It is interesting how (after God provided water) the Israelites resumed following Moses. They had complained against him just a little while earlier, but now they were willing to follow him.

    b. They found a good place to camp.

    As they traveled, they came to a place called Elim. At this place there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees. I see this as God’s continued reminder to them that He would provide for their needs.

    The wells may have seemed puny to so many people, but they must have been sufficient for them since they are mentioned here in the text. The date palm trees would have been appreciated as well as they provide “every year about three or four hundred pounds weight of dates. This fruit … is of a sweet and agreeable taste” (Bush 200).

    APPLIC. Sadly, there is no mention of thankfulness during these events. We would hope to hear of joyful shouts of praise to the Lord. But we read nothing of the kind. Perhaps this generation was still uncertain of their need to listen to and obey the Lord. And without this commitment to Him, they were fair-weather friends with the gracious God who had delivered them time and time again.

    Don’t be this kind of person.

    Psalm 100:4-5 – “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

Conclusion

As we have studied through this short portion from Exodus 15, we have noted four important truths. Can you remember them?

1. We should stop complaining and instead pray to God.
2. We should recognize what the Lord has done for us and be thankful.
3. We can have our sinful hearts healed by the Lord.

After reading through this message and reading the Scriptural account, you should have some kind of response. Are you a complainer who needs to pray? Are you an unthankful person who needs to open your eyes to see what God is doing for you? Are you a sinful person who needs your soul healed by the Lord? Whatever the case may be, will you turn your heart to the Lord and respond to Him as He desires?

Bibliography

“How much water should you drink?” as viewed at https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-much-water-should-you-drink on 5/21/22.

“How Much Water Should I Really Be Drinking Per Day?” as viewed at https://www.goodrx.com/well-being/diet-nutrition/how-much-water-should-i-drink-daily on 5/21/22.

Larry Petton, “The Daily Needs Of Israel In The Wilderness” as viewed at https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/84125/the-daily-needs-of-israel-in-the-wilderness-by-dr-larry-petton on 5/21/22.

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knoweldge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, 133-34.

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, 1994-200.

Jennifer Swales, “Researchers study inexpensive process to clean water in developing nations” as viewed at https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/researchers-study-inexpensive-process-clean-water-developing-nations on 5/21/22.

“What does it mean that God is Jehovah-Rapha?”, as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovah-Rapha.html on 5/21/22.