A Fawning Farewell

August 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: I don’t understand why the Egyptians would give the Israelites their gold and silver and jewels when they were leaving.

Answer: There are a couple of possible reasons found in Exodus 12:33-36. One, it could be that the Egyptians were anxious to get rid of them, since the plagues were obviously because of their presence in Egypt. They had come to recognize the truth: God was going to keep sending plagues until the Egyptians let them go, and they already thought of themselves as “dead men” because of all they had suffered. That is indicated by Verse 33.

And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

Exodus 12:33

Giving them gifts was a way to encourage them to hurry up and leave.

Second, Verse 36 indicates that this was a supernatural phenomenon where the Lord simply made it so that the Egyptians “favored” the Israelites with gifts without fully understanding why they themselves were doing it.

And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

Exodus 12:36

It says that they “spoiled” the Egyptians, which is language used when a victorious army takes away the property of a defeated army after a battle. The Irsaelites had won a war without lifting a finger (which means that God actually fought and won it for them).

There is another possibility which I stumbled upon while researching something else. Apparently all ancient cultures practiced some form of “exorcism” (casting out demons). In most cultures this was done by berating or commanding demons, trying to force them to come out of their hosts and leave. However, the form of exorcism practiced in ancient Egypt was quite different. Egyptians priests believed that the way to get rid of demons was to be extremely polite to them. This is pure speculation, but it is fun to imagine the Egyptians (wrongly believing that the children of Israel were under the influence of agents of Yahweh, whom they considered “demons”) trying to coax them to leave the land. “Would you mind taking my coat, sir? I shan’t need it anymore. Oh! and here you are mi’lady, please take this gold necklace and these silver earrings. We fixed you a canteen and a picnic basket for your trip into the wilderness. So sorry to see you go!”

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From Garbage to Glory

October 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.

Psalm 68:13

There was a time when God’s people were in bondage in Egypt. Like pots that had been thrown away, they were the least of the least of the least. They had been that way for a long time before God called Moses to deliver the news of their deliverance. Why did God allow their bondage to go on so long?

One reason may have been because freedom is more greatly appreciated when the pain of bondage is known. I seldom walk around during the day thinking about how “good” my head feels. However, after enduring a long sinus headache, when the relief finally comes, I really appreciate the feeling that comes with having a non-aching head! I thank the Lord for it, I smile, I tell my wife and children how wonderful it feels just to feel “normal.” Freedom is something we are prone to take for granted until God allows us to experience the reality, or at least the threat, of losing it.

Another reason is that we tend to appreciate gifts more when they are novel – when they are things to which we are unaccustomed. I’m thankful to receive a tie for Father’s Day, but – because I have a rack full of them already – I would be hard pressed to describe myself as “delighted” over another one. However, when I received four free tickets and a parking pass to Cowboys Stadium, it was a whole different story! I was thrilled because this would be a whole new experience. The Lord has a way of surprising us with His graciousness so that we remember that every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

Note that Psalm 68:13 describes a covering of gold and silver over things that had been cast aside as broken and useless. These precious metals were not intrinsic to the doves’ wings themselves. They came from another source, and were applied with skill and care. This is an illustration of the “alien” righteousness that Christians receive from Christ at the moment of salvation. It benefits us, but it comes solely from Him. It is our only basis for claiming usefulness and worth.

We don’t like it when this world’s system treats us the way that Egypt treated the Israelites, but we will find ourselves more anxious to leave the bondage of it behind when we recognize its cruelty. We may be thankful to God, in a sense, even for God’s allowance of our sins – for they pursued us to the Savior.

The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner

November 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Exodus, Luke, parables | 11 Comments
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In the Book of Exodus there are many ways to view the role of Pharaoh, but it seems that the Holy Spirit intends for the reader to see him as a vassal or a husbandmen given stewardship over a “vineyard” known as Egypt. Jesus taught a parable about how the Jewish religious leaders had rebelled against God and His messengers, and it is interesting to note some of the parallels to the Exodus account.

Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

Luke 20:9

God had placed the Jewish people in Egypt to survive a famine. They prospered there at first, but eventually were placed into bondage and servitude by the Egyptians.

And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and sent him away empty.

Luke 20:10

This reminds us of God’s servants, Moses and Aaron, going to Pharaoh with God’s demand to let the people go, then being sent away “empty” again and again.

And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others. And when they heard it, they said, God forbid.

Luke 20:11-16

Egypt belonged to the one true God, but Pharaoh neither acknowledged that fact, nor did a good job managing God’s property. It was time for him to give an account, and to learn a lesson about making God’s people serve a man who saw himself as a god.

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

God’s People in the World

September 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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The name of the Book of Exodus refers to the idea of “going out:” exiting. In Hebrew, though, it was called “Names” or the “Book of Names” because of the way it starts.

Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

Exodus 1:1

The children of Israel were “God’s people” – also known as Hebrews, Jews, or sometimes Semites, descended from Shem, one of Noah’s sons. They were the descendants of Abram/Abraham.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

Genesis 12:1-2 (emphasis added)

However, at the beginning of Exodus they could have hardly been considered a “great nation.”

And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

Exodus 1:5

Jacob was Abraham’s grandson, and Jacob’s son, Joseph, had been providentially moved into authority in Egypt. It was there that the children of Israel began to prosper and multiply, because God was keeping His promise.

Exodus begins with the word “now” (used as a synonym for “and”) to let us know that this is a continuation of what happened in Genesis. The children of Israel were blessed by God, but they were in the “world,” which is symbolized by Egypt. God’s people will always be oppressed by the world in the world – unless they act like they are of the world (which we are forbidden from doing). Christians should live like ships sailing on the sea. The best place for a ship is not in dry-dock. It is “on” (on top of) the sea (the world). We do well on top of the sea, but if the sea gets into us, we begin to ride low in the water, take on more and more water, and eventually sink into ineffectiveness and tragedy. Christians should not live like monks, completely separate from the world, but neither should we immerse ourselves in the sin promoted by this world’s system. The Jewish people were hard-working and a blessing to Egypt’s economy, but they could not be absorbed into Egypt, which was a culture of false gods and death.

When We Are Tempted to Slam on the Brakes at the Fuller Revelation of God’s Mercy

May 17, 2013 at 11:40 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 6 Comments
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All 26 verses in Psalm 136 end the same way: “his [God’s] mercy endureth for ever.” When we see the great and wonderful and awe-inspiring things that God has done for His people in creation, in blessings, in salvation, and in deliverance, we become enthusiastic worshipers, and joyfully repeat the mantra, “His mercy endureth for ever,” over and over again.

He is the God of gods and Lord of lords! (vv. 2-3)
Yes! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made the earth and the whole universe! (vv. 5-6)
Hallelujah! His mercy endureth for ever!

He made all the lights in the sky and the heavenly bodies! (vv. 7-9)
Amen! His mercy endureth for ever!

He killed all the firstborn sons of all the Egyptian moms and dads! (v. 10)
Praise His name! His mercy endur… Wait… Hold on a minute… Suddenly, we’re not so enthusiastic, are we?

To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:10

And what about verse 15? “But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever.” How many families lost their loved ones in the watery grave of the Red Sea when the Egyptian army followed the Israelites into the parted waters? How many 15 and 16 and 17 year old Egyptian little brothers lost their lives, adding to the grief of their mothers and grandparents who had already lost their sons and grandsons and husbands by the hand of the Lord? This doesn’t sound like forever-enduring mercy to us.

See, in Christian ministry, our primary goal is to teach and to learn God’s Word so that we can apply it to our lives. But doing this often means doing the difficult task of staring straight into God’s revealed truth without dressing it up or watering it down. When we get happy about the truth of God’s mercy, we need to remember that God’s mercy toward some can at the same time be His judgment and vengeance toward others. God does not offer a smorgasbord of His attributes for us to sample. We don’t get to pick and choose what we happen to like about Him, or what is easy to understand about Him, and leave the rest.

Here is a Bible truth about God’s mercy: No one deserves it. It wouldn’t be mercy if it was deserved.

Who remembered us in our low estate: for his mercy endureth for ever:

Psalm 136:23

And God’s mercy never needs to be reconciled with His righteousness, holiness, justice, or wrath, because, in God, His attributes are never at odds with each other. They simply flow from His divine nature in perfect sovereign harmony.

Shew us thy mercy, O LORD, and grant us thy salvation. I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly. Surely his salvation is nigh them that fear him; that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Psalm 85:7-10

We did not cause God’s mercy; we were not the source of God’s mercy; and we do not get to dictate the terms of God’s mercy. It endures forever, because God endures forever. He is immutable, and all His attributes are likewise. He is the Redeemer. We are the redeemed. This makes us sing and shout, not dispute and doubt.


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