Job 19-21

Job 19-21…Why is this world broken?

Why is there evil in the world? Related to this is the question of why the wicked seem to get away with their wrongdoing. There’s no easy answer to this problem, and this fact forms the basis of Job’s reply to round two of his friends’ speeches. In this speech, for the first time, Job does not address the Lord, but instead counters his friends’ claims. This speech is also much less emotional.

The biggest problem with retribution theology, Job begins, is that it doesn’t really explain the ways of the world. As he looks around, he finds numerous examples of the wicked prospering. They grow old, they are safe, and they are successful. What’s more, they die happy, even though they deny God. The picture that Job paints here is similar to the one that Eliphaz drew of the good man, so it may be that Job intends a deliberate contrast. Ironically, Job’s friends have accused him of opposing God by challenging His ways, but it is they themselves who have been, in essence, telling God how the world should be run.

The book of Job doesn’t answer the problem of evil. We need to look elsewhere in Scripture to consider various aspects of this difficult question. Psalm 73 is a good place to start. Here the psalmist considers the apparent success of the wicked and wonders if he has been faithful in vain. The turning point comes in v. 17, where the psalmist begins to understand the final destiny of the wicked beyond this life. Then his heart is encouraged, as he considers his own eternal destiny with the Lord.

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 23-25

Exodus 23-25…The last few laws, the covenant confirmed, and offerings for the tabernacle.

Three observations about these chapters:

1) God desires our worship

In Exodus 23, the last of the laws are given, and God expects the people to obey. He desires our worship of His word and His ways. He tells Moses in Exodus 23:13, “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.” This piece of instruction closes the loop on the commands in Exodus. Back in Exodus 20, the first commandment was “you shall have no other gods before me.” Now, as the Lord concludes, He gives them some hints on how to carefully live this out practically. Carefulness, specifically avoiding speech that includes other gods. For us, this means being intentional about what we talk about. Do you ever discuss God’s word with someone else? Or are you constantly obsessed with talking about your troubles, your difficulties, your life? What are most of your conversations about?

2) God provides spiritual help for His people

Exodus 23:20 tell us, “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” God has sent His Son for us and His Spirit to work in us to preserve us until we’re called home or He returns. But not only that, Christ has established His church, which is like a foreign embassy for heaven. Are you struggling to pursue Him joyfully? Commit to a local church, and live out this spiritual battles in this life with other believers. Share your life with them. Pour into them, and let them pour into you. The bible has no category for the long ranger Christian.

3) Salvation requires bloodshed

As we’ve progressed through this year-long study, beginning in Genesis 1 and now through Exodus 25, we have seen clearly that humans don’t initiate with God, but He pursues them. The blood of the covenant in Exodus 24 is a symbol of the blood Christ would shed for us. To pretend that one can come to God without blood atonement simply means that one is not coming to the one true God, to the God of the Bible, for the God of Holy Scripture lives in holy love. Yes, some have invented a convenient God of “love” who has no character of holiness in which that love functions, and to which he holds his image-bearers accountable. But this is a mere idol of the mind, who can be used to do the bidding of his deluded inventors. You will not meet such a “God” in the Scriptures. On the contrary, the true God of infinite love is at the same time a God of infinite holiness. That is why Hebrews 9:22 states: “without shedding of blood is no remission of sins.”

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 5-7

Exodus 5-7…Pharaoh increases the work of the Israelites, God promises deliverance, Aaron speaks for Moses, and God brings plagues of blood and frogs on Egypt.

Pharaoh hardened his heart and disobeyed God. However, the Israelites should have humbled themselves before God, Instead they quarreled with their leaders. Moses returned to the Lord. He knew that what he had said to Pharaoh was by God’s direction, and therefore appeals to him. When we find ourselves at any time confused, we should go to God, and pursue him in prayer. Disappointments in our work should not drive us from God.

In Genesis 6, the Lord makes promises to Moses and Aaron to deliver His people from the Egyptians. We are most likely to glorify God, and be useful to others, when we learn by experience that we can do nothing on our own. When our whole dependence is placed on Him, and our only expectation is from Him, we’ll enjoy Him most, and trust Him more.

God glorifies himself in Genesis 7, by showing His great power. He makes all people know that he is above everyone and everything. Israel is made to know it by the performance of his promises to them, and the Egyptians by the pouring out of his wrath on them. As we know through our experiences in evangelism though, God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. He hardens the hearts the some, and elects others, and is good and right to do as He pleases. For the believer, we can sometimes struggle to understand why our friends and family refuse to believe. Even though unbelievers will be accountable to God, it is God who blinds them from the truth.

Romans 1:28

“Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.”

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 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.

Isaiah 40:29

Isaiah 40:29…”He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.”

In our prideful, unbelief, we think we’re strong enough to function without God. Its easy to think this way because we cannot see God, and quickly forget about Him. His word is clear though, teaching us that we need Him, and that He wants us to depend upon Him for everything. When we go to Him in utter dependence, He gives us strength. Not necessarily strength to always win, or be successful in a worldly sense, but strength to persevere with an eternal perspective. Strength to fix our eyes on Christ, who is to be esteemed above everything and everyone. Strength to love in difficult circumstances and strength to hold our tongues. Strength to refrain from lust, and strength to trust God’s goodness when we don’t really understand His purpose. This is all to be for His glory, not ours. However, this strength is only granted when the object of our worship is Him. If we go to Him as a means to some other end like health or wealth or special earthly blessings, them we miss the point. Christ didn’t die for us to experience the American Dream more fully. The Creator of the Universe devised a rescue plan because we needed to be saved from our sins, and have no other hope against His wrath. We have to see ourselves as completely without hope or power, and incapable of standing before Him on the day of judgement, outside of Christ. When we grasp this, we’ll see the true beauty of Christ, and the grace and mercy of our Father in heaven. Until then, we’re trying to use a god that actually doesn’t exist, which is a dangerous place to be.

Isaiah 40:23

Isaiah 40:23…”He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.”

God is sovereign over authority in this world. He places people in positions of leadership for His glory. Since we’re not Him, we can’t fully understand His plan, but because of His character and word, we know that His plan is good. If we’re in a position of leadership, be it in our families, churches, or work, He put us there. As Christians, we are constantly either telling the truth about what Christ is like through our actions and words as leaders, or we’re giving false witness. This is true of the times when we do nothing as well. When we fail to lead through not speaking or not acting, we abdicate our responsibility, and lie about Christ. Thankfully, He perfectly led, and always spoke and acted in holiness. If we repent and believe in Him, His perfect life is imputed to us. However, we need to take spiritual inventory of where we are falling short, because where there is no recognition of sin there is no repentance, and where there is no repentance there is spiritual immaturity.