Exodus 35-37 When I am tested, I will come forth as gold”
In Egypt, God tested his people in a severe trial of slavery. It was there that the Israelites were trained in skills such as jewelry, woodworking, and weaving. God now would call upon those skills to build His Tabernacle or dwelling place. While the people groaned under the pressure, God was forging His people to excel. He does the same for us today. We may not see or understand but know this truth: God is preparing all of us to do His kingdom work. God blessed these workers and they left Egypt with gifts of gold, silver and precious jewels in abundance, enough to pay their wages of 400+ years. As the people looked at their abundance they may have wondered why and for what purpose they had gleaned these treasures. When the perfect time came the people’s hearts were overflowing and they willingly gave so much that Moses had to tell them to stop giving!
Fast forward to the NT and we find the admonition to set aside some income for the service of the church. Imagine if today people gave and gave and gave and then had to be told to stop giving! How many missionaries could we send? How many children’s programs could we provide? How blessed our churches would be if this were true.
Exodus 25-27 Today you can turn on the TV and watch the renovations of homes all with their glitz and glamour. God didn’t want to renovate but to build His home from the ground up with all of the beauty, of gold, silver, and precious ornaments. How do you build a house with no blueprints, no workmen, and no time frame? The master architect, God, gave Moses the plans and also set aside men to do the work. The materials didn’t come from Lowe’s or Home Depot but Egypt when the Lord commanded the Israelites to give the people gold and silver and other precious ornaments as their wages for 400+ yrs. of slavery.
God wanted to dwell amongst a people He had called for His own. He wanted his “house” to be built and centered so that all may see and come near. One reader noted that although shiny and gold and holy inside, it was protected from the elements without. Jesus warned the Pharisees that they were hypocrites and like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside, but inside they were full of dead men’s bones. Yet the child of God is beautiful to behold as it is renewed day by day by His love, even as our outer man begins to diminish.
How does the world see you? Are you just like a dead man’s tomb or are you alive and vibrant because Christ has redeemed you?
Exodus 21-24 God is a God of Order
Companies far and wide institute rules for their employers. Parents institute rules for their children. Without rules we face anarchy. It is rules and regulations that bring peace. Rules are not new, but something God instituted for a purpose. Yet as you read, it seems like it goes on ad nauseum. We get bogged down and find ourselves asking; what is the point? The point is that God is a God of order and like any parent, organization, government or church knows, rules keep the house in working order. “for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace” [1Cor 14] Peace, to be maintained, needs organizational rules and regulations.
However, with all that being said, there is one rule with no options. Men cannot be saved by works but by believing and accepting the Christ and by faith alone.
The people of Israel promised they would comply, but later we see how quickly they forgot and faced disciplinary action. Discipline is needed to restore order. Rules are rules. The entire OT and NT is a book of God’s standards lest we decide for ourselves, as Adam and Eve did, and were led astray by the evil one. God’s love is perfect; He desires that we obey and “follow the rules” so that He can bless us.
Are you struggling with the rules? Seek the face of God and His peace so He can bless you.
Exodus 8 to 10 God has His ways to get our attention. Recently there have been fires, some natural and some intentional but the result is the same; the land is devastated and the animals, people, and businesses suffer. God allows some and some He purposes just as He did in Egypt.
The Israelites needed to learn obedience, submission, and trust in a God that they only had heard about but had, for 400 yrs. not seen His evidentiary hand. The Egyptian Pharaoh needed to learn that he was not God. Through these plagues, the Israelites would see how God treats His own children apart from unbelievers. God’s purpose was to show His strength and that His name might be declared in all the earth.
One thing we can learn from these plagues is that it takes only one man to alter a nation’s rise or fall. Just like in Egypt the counselors advised, after seeing the evidence, that the land and the nation were being destroyed by the finger of God. But, Pharaoh hardened his heart to the cries of the people and God.
When Moses asked Pharaoh when he should ask for the removal of the frogs he answered tomorrow. Why not today? Why tomorrow? Men’s hearts are cold and hard and yet God is merciful as He provides time after time a way for them to bow the knee to Him. Know this, Pharaoh and others who refuse to bow the knee now will find themselves bowing the knee and confessing that God is God alone.
What does God need to do for you to submit to Him? Learn from Pharaoh.
Exodus 1 to 4 Today’s world is focused on women rising in the workforce, in politics, and in a matriarchal society while men abandon their role. How ironic it is then that God elevates women in the first part of this historical record of preserving His people until the appointed time for the “deliverer” is needed to lead them. God has a Plan A and even a Plan B and so on when the usurper seeks to destroy His chosen people.
Take for example the two midwives under Pharaoh who disobey and save the male babies and God blesses them. They cleverly came up with an excuse as to why they saved these children; the Hebrew women give birth faster. It seems that the Pharaoh, although incensed that his Plan A failed, accepted their excuse and God blessed them because they feared Him more than the earthly king.
Then there is the mother of Moses who also feared God and designed a reed basket to hide her son in the bulrushes. Her instincts were right, the daughter of Pharaoh’s heart would be touched by an infant’s cry and thus Moses was saved, raised and educated in an Egyptian palace. Not only was Moses saved but his mother was paid out of the royal treasury to care for him.
And then there is Zipporah, the wife of Moses who was used by God to circumcise his sons when he failed.
Moses, as the author of Exodus, includes these three women to show us that real people in real circumstances can live a godly life in the midst of an evil and perverse nation. God protects, provides and blesses those who fear Him: “The fear of man is a snare but he whoever trusts in the Lord will be safe.” [Prov 29:25] God has placed people—both men and women to be a part of his plan to raise His people. God wants to use you. Are you open to His plan A or B or C or ????
Genesis 40 Wonder what life in Pharaoh’s Palace was like? We need to look no further than this chapter before us. There is intrigue, questions about loyalty and the power of the scepter! Sounds much like the story of Esther where a despot ruled and people fell or rose according to the king’s whim. This was not nirvana but real life. There were suffering and tempers that must be soothed. While the cupbearer and the baker walked the palace halls, Joseph walked the prison floors. All three would become entwined just because of unexplainable dreams and God’s intervention. Two officials ended up in a dungeon where they met Joseph their newly appointed attendant. Even palace prisoners have a hierarchy it seems.
Committed to this prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph weathered this trial with dignity, honor, and integrity. What are the possibilities that three men and three dreams would bring glory to the power of the Lord God Almighty? Only by God’s sovereign will! Joseph interprets the prisoner’s dreams which come true in a mere three days. He pleads with the cupbearer to remember him when he stood before Pharaoh but like us many times, the cupbearer forgot. The calendar pages turned and Joseph’s routine did not change—until that fateful day. Two years later when Pharaoh had unexplainable dreams the negligent cupbearer hung his head in shame and God’s plan was put into place. Joseph was not only released but became second to Pharaoh!
The life of Joseph teaches us how to take one day at a time and not lose hope. Are you losing hope because there seems to be no end to this saga you are facing? Are you prepared to remain faithful as Joseph did?
Gen 30-32 It’s All Your Fault!
Jealousy or envy is not the mark of love. There is a principle in scripture that says: Love is patient, kind and not envious. Jacob, the deceiver was deceived and ended up with two wives and two servant women. Leah produced children but Rachel was barren causing jealousy between her and Leah. She also lacked faith to wait on God’s timing for a child. Her impatience, like Sarah’s, led to ill-founded charges against her husband. Isaac went to God for his barren wife but, Jacob and Rachel were at each other’s throat blaming the other for this failure. Their words “it’s all your fault” and “I am not God!” were used as fuel to take away grace and peace. Rachel, like Sarah, ordered her husband to sleep with her servant, Bilhah and spineless Jacob obeyed the voice of his wife. Nothing good comes from stepping out ahead of God and His perfect plan. The servant woman gave birth to two boys, Dan and Naphtali and while Rachel felt vindicated, these two boys would bring heartache to God’s perfect plan.
The first, Dan will be the one to introduce idolatry to the nation of Israel thus leading the people to follow man-made religions. Naphtali, meaning strife or struggle, would be known as a warring tribe. When Jacob blessed his sons he said that Naphtali is a hind let loose, he gives beautiful words. Yet his lack of obedience failed to drive out the Canaanites as God said to do. Barak, his descendant succumbed to fear and a woman named Deborah got the glory.
Rachel and Jacob’s life is a lesson for us that when we step out ahead of God heartaches follow. If you are facing a trial like Rachel’s go to God and wait on Him.
The Rest of Cinderella’s Story: Gen 21
Families then and now have conflicts. “Cinderella” Hagar ran away from Sarah and on her way met “El Roi” the God who sees. He found her in the wilderness and revealed His plan to her. Returning to Sarah as “El Roi” said, all went well—that is for 13 yrs. Then God opened Sarah’s womb and she brought forth her own son named Isaac. At a great feast on the day Isaac was weaned, Hagar’s child, Ishmael, began to mock and Sarah convinced Abraham to cast Ishmael and Hagar from the home. Early one morning Abraham did just that.
Why did wealthy Abraham only give Hagar a skin of water and some food? Why did he not give them a donkey to carry supplies? Why no servant to be with them? We have lots of questions but the scripture is silent. Maybe you wrestle with God when you face situations like this. Try turning back to Deut 29:29 “the secret things belong to God and those that are revealed belong to us to understand.” (author paraphrase). Just at that moment in time Hagar again met “El Roi.” When we find ourselves in circumstances that are perplexing, God will meet us where we are just as he did Hagar. He may close one door but open another.
You may be like Hagar wondering what God is doing. Wherever you are, remember He is a promise keeper! We may not understand all that He is doing but He will be with us to show us the next step to take. Hagar found water and a wife for Ishmael and His promises came true.
Genesis 20 Abraham, what were you thinking when you told Abimelech that Sarah was your sister? Did you not learn from your foray into Egypt? How often do we find ourselves doing another lap around the wilderness like the Israelites because we fail to learn from the first mistake and just keep repeating it? It is no wonder unbelievers call us hypocrites. Our walk and talk do not match. Maybe that is why God had the Israelites come to the Tabernacle at least 3 times a year to offer sacrifices. Those were visual reminders of men’s failure to walk circumspectly. We too need constant reminding to keep short accounts with God.
Abraham surmised forgetting the foray into Egypt when he said: “surely I thought no one fears God in this place.” Without firsthand knowledge he presumed. Because David saw that as his weakness he wrote: “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me;” [Ps 19] There is a warning here that Abraham should have known; do not assume without facts.
Abraham said he believed God but his life revealed that he feared men more than God. Beware of this sin! The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. [Prov 29:25]
God was gracious to both Abraham and Abimelech but think of what could have been avoided had Abraham just trusted God! Fear God and trust Him only.
Has someone ever called you a hypocrite? Maybe they, like Abimelech, feared God more than you? Is what others think about you more important than your relationship with God?