1 Samuel 14-16

1 Samuel 14-16…Jonathan defeats the Philistines, the Lord rejects Saul, and David is anointed King.

It was in the midst of a great national crisis that David was selected to rule over the nation of Israel. After Saul proved to be a great failure (1 Samuel 15), the Lord came to the prophet-judge Samuel and instructed him to anoint a new monarch who would replace him. At first, Samuel was afraid to follow God’s instructions because he knew that Saul would kill him if he learned there was a conspiracy to replace him. This fear is not unlike what many of us feel when we realize what we are supposed to do for the Lord’s glory but know we will meet worldly opposition.

In any case, God reassured Samuel with a plan to keep secret the true purpose of his mission in Bethlehem. So he went forth to the house of Jesse. What followed was a long process of having each of Jesse’s sons stand before Samuel one at a time so that he might discern which of them the Lord had chosen to be the new king. Certainly God could have just told Samuel to find the boy named David and anoint him straightaway, but it seems that He had the prophet go through the ritual to teach him and those who would hear and read this story a lesson. We often select charismatic people for leadership, not the “least likely” candidate. But in having Samuel choose the least of Jesse’s sons to be the king, God demonstrated that the real way to choose a godly leader in the church is to look at the heart of the person under consideration. Samuel thus anointed David according to the Lord’s will, and the Holy Spirit came on the young man to prepare him for leadership.

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Exodus 35-37

Exodus 35-37…Constructing the tabernacle.

As would be expected, constructing a beautiful structure like the tabernacle out of the finest materials (Exodus 26) could not be done for free. God had to provide the gold, costly threads, silver, brass, animal hides, etc., either through direct intervention or indirectly through moving His people to give what they had for the important work of building His tent. We see in Exodus 35:4–29 that the Lord worked not apart from Israel but through Israel to gather the necessary materials.

Moses made known the need for Israel to donate time, talent, and funds to the work of God, perhaps through telling the elders of the people and then having them share the news with the nation (Exodus 35:4–19). In any case, Moses’ action demonstrates that it is appropriate for the leaders of God’s people to let those under their care know what is needed to support the work of ministry, whether it is funds for buildings and salaries, time surrendered to teach or to care for church grounds, special donations to expand the outreach of para-church ministries and seminaries, and any of the other countless, godly endeavors that help in small ways to advance the kingdom.

Israel responded with lavish generosity, choosing to live on less in order to fund the worship ministry. Note that the people gave what they “could” (vv. 23–24) and were not encouraged to give anything they did not have. This is an important principle in a day when televangelists encourage people to contribute “in faith,” which often means giving more than is prudent or worse, taking out loans that cannot be repaid because of the false promise of a hundredfold return.

Exodus 26-28

Exodus 26-28…Design plans for the tabernacle, the altar of burnt offerings, and the priestly garments.

There is much that could be said about the tabernacle’s design, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it was designed to be a copy of the Almighty’s heavenly throne room. The ark of the covenant sat within the Most Holy Place as the Lord’s footstool (Exodus 26:34), and the cherubim woven into the curtains of the tabernacle were depictions of the heavenly host that glorify God day and night in heaven (Exodus 26:1).

Clearly, the details of the tabernacle, altar, and priestly garments were to be a sign that there is a massive separation between our holy God and sinners. Entering His presence is no small matter, and His worship must be carefully guarded so His name is not profaned. The care given to entering God’s presence because of sin shows just how desperately we need a savior to intercede on our behalf. Christ’s sacrifice was pleasing to God, because of His holiness. It is a healthy spiritual practice to remember this huge chasm each day, so we esteem Jesus properly, and cling to His righteousness, seeking to grow in righteousness ourselves.

Exodus 20-22

Exodus 20-22…The ten commandments and the judicial laws.

Following the commandments of God is one mark of the true Christian. After all, Christ lives in His people (Gal. 2:20), and since Jesus’ food is to do the will of His Father (John 4:34), He certainly works in us so that we see following God as essential to our sustenance. Yet may we never forget that our obedience is always grounded in grace, for apart from the Lord changing our hearts, we have no desire to please Him (Rom. 8:7–8). Following God’s law, therefore, does not mean obeying it to secure our right standing in His heavenly court, for we can stand before Him by His grace alone (Eph. 2:8–9). Also, following God’s law does not mean obeying it in order to boast of how we are more godly than others. We are always to confess our failures and remember that “there but for the grace of God go I” (Luke 18:9–14).

Until we trust Christ, God’s law can merely restrain the extent of our sinning, encourage us to love sin, and condemn us as sinners who need the Savior (Rom. 7:8; Gal. 3:23–25; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). But once we are converted, God’s law becomes something in which we rejoice. Redeemed hearts no longer experience the Lord’s regulations as burdensome (1 John 5:3), and they see the importance of keeping “the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19). Through obedience, we thank Him for the right standing granted to us by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (Rom. 5:12–6:14).

Exodus 17-19

Exodus 17-19…God brings about water from the rock, Jethro visits Moses, and God instructs Moses at Mount Sinai.

The Rock is one of the titles of Jehovah (Deut. 32:15). In 1 Corinthians 10:1–4, we read that the Rock (of Horeb) was Christ. Christ would stand in our place, the place of the accused, and bear judgment for the sins of His people. The rod is a symbol of judgment—in this case, divine judgment, for Moses was God’s representative. By the rod, Jesus was smitten, and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5) from sin. In the same way, by the smiting of the rock at Horeb, water flowed forth, just as the Holy Spirit flows forth from Christ to nourish and equip His church. And so, in the Old Testament, we see this beautiful picture of God’s grace in the salvation of His people, for He stands in our place so that by His wounds we will be healed.

In Exodus 19, Moses gives us an inspired account of what happened at Sinai when the Israelites arrived. God made His presence known on the beginning of the third day, descending as fire and enveloping the mountain in lightning, thunder, cloud and smoke (vv. 16–19). This was truly an awesome sight, and it was meant to remind the people that the God who set them free was no deity to be taken lightly. Other passages of Scripture tell us that angels were also present (Galatians 3:19), their submission to the Lord being a further indication of His glory and power. God’s holiness is also demonstrated in His appearance to the people at Sinai, as the need for the people to be purified is stressed. They are also forbidden to touch the mountain lest they be destroyed (Exodus 19:9–15).

Our need for a Savior is woven throughout these chapters. Each day, we need to be laid low, humbling ourselves before God in repentance, and esteeming Jesus greatly. The more we grow in our understanding of the massive chasm between God and us because of our sin and His holiness, the more we’ll love Christ. If we believe in Him for any other reason, we’ve missed the entire point of Christianity.

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 11-13

Exodus 11-13…The death of the first-born is threatened and then brought to fruition, the passover instituted, and the Israelites flee and are rescued by God miraculously parting the Red Sea.

The death of all the first-born in Egypt had been the first threatened, but the last to be executed. See how slow God is to anger. Also, notice that this was for everyone. The prince was not too high to be reached by it, nor the slaves at the mill too low to be noticed. God does not change. He has this same patience with us. We too, are not exempt from His wrath. It doesn’t matter if we grew up in church, know all the Bible stories, and prayed the sinner’s prayer. We desperately need Jesus. The fruit that comes from submitting our lives to Him should be evident. We cannot just agree with the gospel in principle, but need to be transformed by it in our daily lives.

In Exodus 12, the passover was instituted. It was to be kept every year, both as a remembrance of Israel’s preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a foreshadowing of Christ. Their safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness, but the gift of mercy. They would be constantly reminded that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood. It is that way for us with Christ. His perfect life had to be laid down for us to be made righteous. Apart from the loving sacrifice of our Savior, we are not safe, and have no hope.

There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days’ journey, and the other was much further. Through the wilderness was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea, and the Israelites were to be challenged and humbled in the wilderness. God’s way is the right way, though it can sometimes seem more burdensome and tortuous. In some of our trials, we may not ever understand God’s purposes this side of heaven. But, God’s wisdom will clearly appear when we come to our journey’s end.

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 48-50

Genesis 48-50…Jacob puts Joseph’s younger son first, instead of his firstborn, Jacob blesses his own sons, then dies, and Joseph reassures his brothers that he will show them mercy and kindness.

At the end of the book of Genesis in chapters 48-50, we see three themes which are indicative of the entire book, as well as the whole of scripture.

1) God fulfills His promises despite man’s sin

In Genesis 48:3, Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’” God is perfectly faithful. He promises us that He will preserve us until we die, or Christ return, whichever comes first. The God who we read about in Genesis, who did everything He said He would do despite a hard-hearted people, is the same God who came and rescued us, and offers the promise of eternal life in Christ. We should be filled with joy and thanksgiving because of his grace and mercy to us, in saving us from our sins.

2) God’s ways are not man’s ways

As humans, we’re all wired to think that God is like us. But, He doesn’t tend to choose those who are important from a worldly standpoint. This is the opposite of how we tend to think. In other words, the people we’ll be most likely to care for and love are the ones who are important. In Genesis 48, Jacob chooses Joseph’s youngest son to bless, which is a picture of God blessing the least important. It is this perspective that we often miss, because we want to appear as being important and worthy. The Pharisees thought this way, and pretended to love God to appear righteous. We’re no different, and like to get cleaned up each Sunday, and go to church to show that we’ve got it all together. But we don’t have it all together. We need a Savior, desperately. And, we need to pursue God each day, with just as much fervor as we do when we get excited about our favorite songs at church.

3) God’s people will take on God’s character

If we are saved, we will grow in holiness. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). This applies not only to our vertical relationship with God, but also to our horizontal relationships as well. In Genesis 50:19-21, Joseph displays God’s mercy and love. He says to his brothers:

But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

We are not justified by our own holiness, but Christ’s. Therefore we need to run to Him daily, and place our faith in Him. If we do, we will grow in becoming more like Him.

Genesis 45-47

Genesis 45-47…Joseph makes himself known, Jacob goes to Egypt, and Joseph leads Egypt during the famine.

After having patiently held back his true identity, Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is, and he shows them mercy. This represents the Divine compassion toward repentant sinners. “I am Joseph, your brother.” This would humble them even more for their sin in selling him, but would encourage them to hope for kind treatment. When Christ converted Paul, he said, I am Jesus. When he comforted his disciples, he said, It is I, be not afraid. When Christ manifests himself to his people, he encourages them to draw near to him with a true heart. Joseph does so, and shows them, that whatever they thought to do against him, God had brought good out of it.

Jacob travels with his entire family to Egypt. We have here a particular account of Jacob’s family. Though the fulfilling of promises is always sure, it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make him a great nation. However, the branch of his seed, to which the promise was made sure, had only increased to seventy, of whom this particular account is kept, to show the power of God in making these seventy become a vast multitude.

There is rich symbolism in Genesis 47, where Joseph gives life (via food) in return for the material things of the Egyptians. It is plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor. The Egyptians believed that Joseph had saved their lives. Similarly, we will gratefully say to Jesus at the last day, you have saved our souls from the most tremendous destruction. The Egyptians parted with all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of their lives. How much more should we count all but loss in this present world, in return for eternal life.