Exodus 14-16

Exodus 14-16…The Lord parts the Red Sea, the song of Moses and Miriam is sung, and the Lord sends manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert.

Three observations about these chapters:

1) God’s judgement is certain for those who disobey.

The Lord delivers the Israelites by parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptians. Just like the Egyptians, we have a certain, pending doom if we don’t repent and believe. This should motivate us to share the gospel with friends and family who do not believe. They will face an eternal judgement far worse being drown by the Red Sea. If we love them, we need to not only tell them with our words, but also show them with our actions, that there is great power in the gospel to redeem.

2) A right response to understanding His judgement involves being laid low before Him.

Notice the end of Exodus 14 (verses 30-31), which leads into a prayer of praise to God.

“That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”

If we’re to truly place our faith in the Lord, we must understand His power and wrath against our sin. The Israelites did, and in Chapter 15, Moses and Miriam lead the people in a song about how great and powerful He is. This is what turning to the Lord in authentic faith looks like. Being laid low, rightly grasping our nothingness, then proclaiming our desperate need for Him.

3) Like the Israelites, we grumble and complain because of our unbelief, yet God continues to extend us mercy.

Despite this initial burst of faith, the Israelites become lukewarm. They distrust the Lord’s goodness, and quickly forget His mercy and grace. Yet, He is faithful, slow to anger and abounding in love. He blesses them because of an intercessor; Moses communicates with the Lord on their behalf, which is a picture of what Christ does for us. Moses was interceding on a micro level in Exodus 16, whereas Christ intercedes in the most important way possible. His perfect life is what the Lord sees when He looks upon us.

Exodus 1-4

Exodus 1-4…The Israelites are oppressed in Egypt, Moses is born and flees to Midian (Northwest Saudi Arabia today) after killing an Egyptian, Moses encounters the Lord in a burning bush, and Moses returns to Egypt with Aaron.

God had blessed His people in Egypt through Joseph. But, in Exodus 1, when Joseph died and a new king took over, things changed. The Israelites went from being exceedingly fruitful in all things, to being oppressed. This was part of God’s plan for them, just as trials are part of His plan for us. It is not a matter of “if” trials come for us, it’s when.” We know based on James 1:2-4, that we can trust the Lord in trials, and even take joy, because He’s using them to make us more like Christ:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

All of these very unlikely circumstances (in both Genesis and Exodus), including Moses being placed into the Nile in a basket, and ending up being raised by Pharoah’s daughter, were for God to make Himself and His glory known. We need to trust His providential hand, and not grumble and complain, because we don’t know always know what His plan is. He often uses difficulties and trials to bring about His glory.

Moses flees to Midian, and marries Zipporah, then God appears to him in the burning bush. He reveals to Moses a name that denotes what He is in Himself; I AM THAT I AM. This name signifies four things in particular:

1. That He is self-existent: He has His being of Himself.

2. That He is eternal and unchangeable.

3. That He is incomprehensible; we cannot fully understand Him.

4. That He is faithful and true to all his promises.

In Exodus 4:13 we see Moses’ fear of man when he says, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.” It is just like God, to take a man fearful, meek and afraid, and turn Him into a servant-leader. Are you praying the Lord would use you in the lives of others for their spiritual good? If you are afraid, remember Moses, and pray that God would take away your fear of man. If you don’t have an interest in the spiritual well-being of others, and aren’t spending time on this important piece of the Christian life, then repent and obey God’s word.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11

“He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Genesis 24-26

Genesis 24-26…Isaac marries Rebekah, Abraham dies, Jacob and Esau are born to Isaac and Rebekah, and Isaac interacts with King Abimelech.

Abraham sends his senior servant out to find a wife for Isaac. He gives specific instructions, and the servant demonstrates a model of prayer encouraged throughout the Bible. Since it was unknown what the will of the Lord was with regard to the specific person Isaac should marry, Abraham’s servant prays this prayer in Genesis 24:42:

“Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.”

This is exactly how we’re instructed to pray in James 4:13-17, particularly when we don’t know what the Lord’s will is:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

The Lord answers the prayer of the servant, and Rebekah is brought back to marry Isaac.

Abraham dies in chapter 25, and then Rebekah and Isaac have twin sons; Jacob and Esau. The doctrine of election is revealed in Genesis 25:23, where the Lord says to Rebekah:

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the elder will serve the younger.”

God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. The doctrine of election is true, and good, and is often resisted and/or denied because it puts into perspective how small and helpless we are to save ourselves. Based on what we’ve seen so far in Genesis, it shouldn’t surprise us that election is resisted by humans. We like to think we’re ok, and that we don’t need to be rescued. However, a right view of the human condition, allows for a right view of the doctrine of election. This teaching is abundantly clear throughout scripture, and Paul further explains in Romans 9:10-13:

“Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”

It’s important to note that the elect will repent and believe in Christ and produce spiritual fruit, and that is how we know who is saved. Praying the sinner’s prayer, responding to an alter call, and/or being baptized means absolutely nothing unless there is a change. There is nothing magical about any of those things, and we need to be sure we’re not relying upon them for assurance of our salvation.

In Genesis 26, Isaac does the exact same thing his forefathers did; he lies because of his fear of man, and his unbelief. He tells King Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister, and the King banishes him from Gerar. What happens next is truly remarkable, and shows once again what God is like. Genesis 26:23-24 tells us:

“From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.’”

God is unbelievably patient with His people. He has been patient with us too, consistently pulling us back to Himself, and preserving us for the day in which we will see Him face to face. One way to grow in godliness, is to approach our relationships with this perspective: Since God is patient with us, and since our own offenses against Him are far worse than those against us from others, we should exercise patience and humility with those offending us.

Isaiah 40:12

Isaiah 40:12…”Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens.” The answer is God only. This verse is a powerful illustration, showing both God’s bigness and his power. His hand controls all things, and nothing is outside of his reach. This should bring us great joy with our current circumstances. God’s hand is on every last detail of our lives. If we consider this truth about God, and actually believe it, we’re left with a very hard reality about our complaints, both big and small. We’re complaining about God. We think we know better. We think we deserve better. However, if we were given what we truly deserve, we would all be in hell right now, under God’s eternal judgement. Thankfully, we have a Father who is also abundantly gracious and merciful, and has provided a rescue plan for us in Christ.

God in His own words explains it best in Ephesians 2:1-10:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Titus 1:3

Titus 1:3…”And which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” What has been brought to light? Based on verses 1-2, he’s speaking specifically about faith, truth, and hope. The accuracy of these three is extremely important, and depending on who’s preaching to you, it can vary quite a bit. But, according to this verse, preaching is one of the primary ways we learn about what God is like. This is scary given how many times (23 to be exact) the bible warns about false teachers. With that said, here are 7 traits of false teachers:

1. Different Source—Where does the message come from?

Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different Message—What is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).

Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different Position—In what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian “escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: “They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different Character—What kind of people does the message produce?

The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

5. Different Appeal—Why should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.

The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2:18). So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?”

6. Different Fruit—What result does the message have in people’s lives?

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is “like a spring without water” (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different End—Where does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11). The false believer will experience “swift destruction” (2:1). “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21).

Titus 1:2

Titus 1:2…”In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” God promised us eternal life in eternity past. Election (or predestination) is implied in this verse, and is throughout the bible in addition to all the clear, explicit teachings on this doctrine (Titus 1:1 for example). For the elect, He has always known us, set His affection on us in eternity past, changed our hearts in rescuing us in Christ, and will sanctify us until we’re glorified. We should rejoice in this, knowing that although we have to battle every day, the war has already been won, and the fruit we see is assurance of our salvation! However, this can be a hard teaching if we try to limit God’s attributes and power according to our own finite knowledge, understanding, and abilities. Interestingly, we’ll get in a car or on a plane not fully understanding how everything works and believe that we’ll get to our destination. Our trust in these simple actions demonstrates that we’ll put our hope in something we don’t fully understand. We show our intellectual inconsistency with spiritual things when we treat God and His word differently. The doctrine of election is true because the bible says it is. And, according to this verse, God does not lie.

Malachi 1:8

Malachi 1:8…”‘When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty.” God’s people have always been saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, so the sacrifices were not for that purpose. As it is today, God wants our heart, and He wants all of it. The Old Testament sacrifices were God’s plan for a particular people to be set apart from the world in the way they lived. His church today is to be that way, growing in holiness. The Lord’s problem with Israel in this verse, is that they were holding back their best for themselves. We are no different, and it is mainly our time that we keep as “our own” today. Our time does not belong to us though, and when we make an idol of it, we rob God of what rightfully belongs to Him as our Creator and Lord. Our priorities are exposed when we treat our work time, or TV time, or hobby time as if they were more important than time with God and His people. The way you spent your time in this life will be scrutinized by the Lord when you die, and those who are in Christ will have a harvest to show the Lord. They will be rewarded with eternal life. For those who do not produce fruit, there will be eternal punishment:

The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:10

Acts 26:20

Acts 26:20…”I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.” In giving his defense to King Agrippa, Paul is able to share the gospel. This particular verse is extremely helpful for us in our evangelism as well. Sharing the gospel includes the following four key elements: God, Man, Christ, Response (details have been posted previously here under Acts 18:4). All four are equally important, and all four have been watered down in the contemporary American church. Paul clearly includes in his gospel presentation a right response, which specifically describes active repentance and obedience. There is a cost to the Christian life, and any gospel promising ease of life this side of heaven is extra-biblical (outside of the bible). Your life does not get easier when you follow Jesus, and we need to make this clear in evangelism. There is a cost to following Him, mainly that you’ll have to give up your previous life and pursue Him, submitting to His ways in all things. Thankfully, we’re not saved based on our own deeds being perfect, but we have a Savior who was perfect, and laid down His life for our justification before God. But, if we are truly saved, then we will pursue sanctification, imperfectly as it may be (Romans 8:30).

Acts 18:4

Acts 18:4…”Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.” Paul spent each Sabbath in Corinth preaching the gospel, and arguing for the truth of the gospel. This likely involved contextualization, which is a hot topic today. Contextualization in our evangelism is needed based on differences in culture, language, and age for example. We need to pray for wisdom in this regard, especially in light of 1 Peter 3:15-16 – Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

However, the actual gospel message should never be contextualized, because it does not change. Here is where we have allowed the culture to subtly affect the content of the message, particularly in the US. In a culture that assumes that all are “OK,” and that truth is relative, it is absolutely necessary that the gospel be clear and true to scripture. So, a gospel which minimizes the separation between God and man because of sin is very dangerous. The Holy Spirit is not at work in someone who doesn’t see the massive chasm between creator and creation. Recognition of depravity is a sign of supernatural revelation, and is used by the Lord to drive people to repentance and faith in Jesus out of desperation. A gospel which presents our eternal state in a casual way will produce casual disciples or even worse; false converts.

1 Corinthians 9:22 has been cited as a verse defending gospel message contextualization:

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

But, this really has to do with the way that we live, and how we spend our time with non-believers. There is no reason to believe this verse has anything to do with contextualizing the gospel message, which should always include the following four key elements:

God – Is our creator and is perfectly holy and perfectly just. He made us to obey him as His creation.

Man – We have all chosen to disobey him and sin against Him. He punishes sin with eternal torment and separation from him in hell.

Christ – Jesus lived a perfectly obedient life and died on the cross for our sins. On the cross, he took on the punishment we deserve, was raised from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand interceding on our behalf.

Response – We can be saved from God’s wrath and have Christ’s perfect life counted as ours, bringing us into a right relationship with God if we repent and believe in Him. Those who repent and believe will enjoy God forever in heaven.

Acts 11:22-23

Acts 11:22-23…”News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.” Those that believed were convinced of the truth of the gospel, and it brought about a changed life. They turned from a careless, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heaven-leaning, spiritual life. They turned from worshiping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in Spirit and in truth. They turned from themselves to Jesus, and submitted their lives to Him as Lord. This is what true conversion looks like. Someone who is actually converted will go from being a spiritual corpse, to having spiritual life. Unfortunately, this has been cheapened in our day, and reduced to merely praying the sinner’s prayer or walking down the aisle during an altar call, and no evident change is either encouraged or required prior to baptism. The result is false conversions, which produce Christians who look/sound/act/live no differently than non-Christians. However, in these verses, and throughout scripture, we see that true conversions produce spiritual fruit.

Matthew 13:18-2318 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”