Thursday, December 07, 2006

Exodus 20 "Thick Darkness where God was"

Exodus 20:21 "And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was."

Chapter 20 contains a list of commands from God to the children of Israel. It also contains a warning and a blessing v5-6.

v3 No other gods before me
v4 No graven image
v7 Do not take the Lords name in vain
v8 Remember sabbath day
v12 Honor thy father and mother
The promise: that thy days may be long v12
v13 Thou shalt not kill.
v14 Not commit adultery
v15 Shalt not steal
v16 Shalt not bear false witness
v17 Shalt not covet thy neighbors stuff

v18 "And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings and the noise of the trumpet and the moutain smoking and when the people saw it they removed and stood afar off. v19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us and we will hear but let not God speak with us lest we die."

It was an awesome day for Israel when God came down to tell them the laws they would live by for generations to come. They were afraid but Moses soothed their fears. He told them that God had come down so they would indeed fear him to the point that they not sin.

God was to be their one and only God which was made very clear. Then the list of laws which would keep order in their nation.

I've often thought of the thick darkness where God was as life sometimes cast a darkness over me. It is difficult when you cannot see the path ahead and cannot tell what is in the darkness. It is good to know that God is no stranger to the darkness. When I cannot see and my faith is weak, I rely on Galatians 2:20.

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me."

Note that the verse says his faith. His faith never grows weak.

And then there is these verses in Isiah 45 2-3 "I will go before thee and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass and cut in sundre the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places that thou mayest know that I the Lord which call thee by name am the God of Israel."

I prefer the light but it is good to know that if I stumble in the darkness, God is there.

Psalm 34:1 "I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Exodus 19 "Eagles' Wings"

Exodus 19:4 "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself."

On a Franklin Mint plate over our kitchen sink sits a beautiful scene of mountains with a soaring eagle and a water fall by Ted Blaylock. It is a wonderful depiction with part of the verse above quoted.

I think of the rough terrain it took to make up such a scene and then I think of life. I am getting old so I can look back over some high mountains and some rough valleys. In the midst though, there is beauty to see if one looks.

In our chapter today, the children have come to Sinai. It is a wilderness but something special is about to happen. God will come to mount Sinai. The Sinai is a peninsula which means it is surrounded on three sides by water. In this case, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Akabah and the Gulf of Suez. It contains 11,500 square miles.

Mount Siani is also called Mount Horeb. An exact location is not sure but scholars belief it is one of the peaks of Jebel Musa which is gigantic mass of two miles long and one mile broad. There was about 400 acres of standing room in a near valley.

The scene is magnificent.

v16 "And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightenings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. v17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. v18 And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly."

We see a contrast here between the Lord in the cloud and fire that guided the children of Israel and God on the mountain. The people were not to venture into the cloud that covered the mountain to gaze . It is difficult to put in a few words here but God cannot look upon sin and man is a sinful being since the fall in the garden of Eden. There is a plan in place to redeem them but Christ has not yet died. We approach God the Father through Jesus Christ the son because Christ stands in our place. God does not see our sin because he looks at us through the shed blood of Christ which wipes away the sin.

In Mount Sinai we hear the thunder and lightening and the trunpet. The smoke ascends. By contrast look in another place in a garden when Christ is risen.

John 20:14-18 "And when she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith nto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him and I will take him away. Jesus saith nto her Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him. Rabboni which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God."

Jesus had to bridge the gap left by sin. God has certain characters that can not be altered. Jesus as God and man could pay the price of sin and fill the gap and so make our approach to the Father like that of Mary in the garden instead of like the approach at Mount Sinai where only Moses and Aaron were allowed to go up the mountain.

Imagine a court of law where the judge is honest and upright. He has a law he cannot deviate from. A guilty party is before him and sentence must be passed. It would be dishonest to not pass the just penalty for the crime and the judge cannot be dishonest. Someone steps forward and says he has paid the penalty for the crime. It gives the judge an out. The penalty required by law is paid and so he can set the prisoner free.

And so in this chapter God sends Moses down to warn the people to stay where they are and not approach the mountain. The plan is in play but not in place yet. Israel carries the promise but it will be generations before the promise is fulfilled in the New Testament so a specific protocol must be followed until then.

A person before the Father without Christ stands there sinful by nature. A person who has accepted Christ as redeemer stands before the Father with Christ as the sacrifice for their sin.

Psalm 53:1 "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Moses' life was divided into three 40 year segments. The book of Exodus is 40 chapters long.

If you had started with me in Genesis, we would have covered one and almost a half books of the Bible since August. Who knows? We may get through all 66 books. It takes only a few minutes to read a chapter. Join in.

Exodus 18 "Hard Cases"

Exodus 18:5 "And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons (Gershom and Eliezer) and his wife (Zipporah) unto Moses into the wilderness, where he encamped at the mount of God:"

As one who has had to be away from his family, I can tell you it was difficult for Moses to do his duty with his family far away. He has dealt with Pharaoh and the murmurring of Israel for some time now, so seeing his family must have been a joyous time for him. The next day after the reunion, Moses was sitting and judging the people. He was holding court.

Exodus 18:12 "And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening."

Moses had a big job with so many people. I expect with that many people there were always disputes over who owned which cow or there was a fight or someone lusted after another's wife. It would have been a variety of issues to settle. When they left Egypt there were six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children (Exodus 12:37). There is no mention that anyone else was helping Moses in this task and Jethro did wisely to counsel Moses on it.

v18 "Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou are not able to perform it thyself alone."

Jethro went on to tell Moses that he should appoint able men of truth to judge thousands and hundreds and fifties and rulers of tens v21. It was much like a military unit is set up.

v26 "And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard cases they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves."

And so a system was set up to rule and judge the concerns of the people.

Psalm 33:11 "The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."

Monday, December 04, 2006

Exodus 17 "Rock" "Battle"

Exodus 17:6 "Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel."

The Israelites have murmured and now they chide Moses with the question Is the Lord among us, or not? . They have come to a place where there was no visible sign of water and they feared that they would die of thrist along with their cattle. Naturally, they attacked their leader wondering if he had brought them out of Egypt to kill them.

God instructed Moses to take the elders and go to Horeb where the Lord would stand before him and he was to strike the rock. I believe this to be a reference to the death of Jesus later in the New Testament(Luke 23:33). We know that he was struck down and that he is the rock of our salvation (I Corinthians 10:4). Then at the well he offered the woman the water that she might never thrist again(John 4:5-30).

I Corinthians 10:4 "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."

Note that in our passage Moses was told to strike the rock and water came forth. In the next book of the Bible in Numbers 20:8-13 Moses is told to speak to the rock. He is apparently angry at the children of Israel and struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as he was told. For this transgression Moses and Aaron were not allowed to enter into Canaan.

Numbers 20:8 "...speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water..." The whole passage tells the story. My point here is that Christ died once for sin (was struck). Once was all that was necessary. There is no need to put him on the cross again.

Romans 6:10 "For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God."

You will notice that there are many depictions of Christ on the cross. I prefer the empty cross because Christ is no longer there. You will notice there are many tombs of people who are dead that people reference. Christ's tomb is empty. We worship a living Savior. The empty cross and the empty tomb are His victory and ours.

At first Moses was told to strike the rock which represents The Lord Jesus. From then on, it was only necessary to speak to him and obey him. Moses was wrong to strike the rock the second time and disobey the command to speak only.

Exodus 17:8 "Then came Amalek and fought with Israel in Rephidim."

Joshua now comes into the picture as the leader of the fighting men of Israel. The balance of the chapter deals with Israel's fight with Amalek. Moses stood on the top of the hill to watch the battle. He was accompanied by Aaron and Hur. Moses held up his hands and when he did so, Israel prevailed. When Moses' arms became tired and he let them down, Israel began to loose the battle. Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms and Israel prevailed in the fight.

It is good to note that even a great man like Moses needed someone to hold up his arms. Everyone needs help at times.

We have seen Israel go from a family to a nation on the move. Now they have been tested in battle. It is a training ground for later when they go into Canaan.

Psalm 20:7 "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God."