A Three-Item To-Do List before Leaving Egypt Behind

May 19, 2014 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Exodus | 5 Comments
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Three important things happen at the end of Exodus Chapter 13.

1. God led the Israelites out of Egypt and toward the Red Sea.

Why did He not lead them directly toward their destination in the land of Canaan?

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Exodus 13:17

God knew that they were hardly ready to be brave, even after what He had done for them. He would be proven right many times. Let’s be thankful for the times when God seems to be leading us into a place away from our strength – in confusing or disorienting directions. It probably means He is protecting us from going back into our old bondage despite our deliverance from the slavery of sin.

2. Moses paused to pick up the bones of Joseph (Exodus 13:19).

Of all the great acts of faith of Joseph, Hebrews 11:22 says that he gave commandment concerning his bones, because he knew God would keep his Word and bring His people into the promised land. What evidence of God’s promises are we leaving for future generations, so they will know we lived what we claimed to believe? That we really trusted the Lord? It’s a good idea to leave behind an inheritance and family heirlooms, but a legacy of faithful service is probably the best thing we can leave to our children and grandchildren.

3. The Lord established how He would guide them.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Exodus 13:21-22

The pillar of fire at night would give light to the Israelites and leave the Egyptians in the dark. The pillar of cloud by day would give shade to the Israelites but not to their enemies. These pillars were types and shadows (literally) of Jesus Christ, but also a symbol of the Word of God. I hope you are using the Bible as your guide. It will show you the way God wants you to go. It will provide cover when the heat of persecution bears down on you. It will leave your enemies confounded and unable to trouble you.

The Down Side of being the Favorite Son

September 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Genesis | 5 Comments
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Joseph didn’t create problems in Jacob’s home. Joseph’s presence revealed problems that were already there. Unlike his brothers, Joseph couldn’t stomach disobedience to his father. When Joseph brought back to Jacob a bad report of his other sons’ dealings with the flocks, Joseph’s way of handling the matter did not so much reveal him to be a snitch as it did to reveal that he was naïve.

As a father, I can sympathize a little with Jacob. It is a challenge to train one child, and an even bigger challenge to train siblings. Part of the challenge is training them to be loyal to their friends and siblings, while still maintaining their integrity in exposing right and wrong.

Jacob repeated the sin of Isaac in having a favorite son. The problem with Joseph’s coat wasn’t the colors so much as that it looked like the coat of a ruler. Reuben and Levi had fallen out of favor with Jacob (Reuben because of his affair with Bilhah, and Levi because of the incident at Shechem), and Jacob may have seen Joseph as the firstborn of his favorite wife.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

Genesis 37:5-6

We can probably sympathize with the brothers’ annoyance for one who shares his dreams.

And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

Genesis 37:10

Jacob’s reference to Joseph’s mother does not seem to make sense at this point since Rachel was dead, but Jacob is referring to Leah, even though she is not Joseph’s biological mother.

Dreams were one of the ways that God communicated with people in the Old Testament. The only recorded actual prophetic dreams in the New Testament are Joseph’s in Matthew 1 and 2, and Pilate’s wife in Matthew 27. Acts 2:17 says that in the last days “…your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” We would do well to be cautious of dreams, but probably foolish to ignore them altogether. Jeremiah 23 is a good place to find out what God has to say about people who say, “God spoke to me in dream. I have a prophecy from the Lord for you. God told me this or that. God told me to tell you this or that.”

And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.

Genesis 37:13

It did not make a lot of sense for Jacob to send Joseph, knowing how the brothers felt about him, but God’s hand was at work. Note that God calls Jacob “Israel” in this passage. Jospeh’s “here am I, send me” reminds us of Isaiah’s response to the Lord in Isaiah 6.

We are left to speculate as to what Jacob’s sons were doing near Shechem after all the trouble they had experienced there.

And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.

Genesis 37:19

This verse in Hebrew gives the connotation that when Joseph’s brothers referred to him as “this dreamer” they were sarcastically calling him “the dream expert.” And, as it turned out, Joseph’s skill as a dream expert would serve him better than any shepherd’s skill. Warren Wiersbe likes to say that an “expert” is a regular “spurt” under pressure.

When it came time to decide what to do with Joseph, Reuben did not get his way even though he was the first born. It is probable that Simeon and Levi were feared after the Shechem incident. In any case, it is clear that this was a family that walked disorderly.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

II Thessalonians 3:6

“Disorderly” means “out of rank.” It is important that we establish order in church and in our homes.

The outcome of the brothers’ discussion was Joseph being thrown into the pit, only to be raised up, sold into slavery, and ultimately to rule.

Look at how Jacob’s sons “comforted” Jacob:

And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and all his daughters [*] rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.

Genesis 37:32-35

Proverbs 12:10 says the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

* The “daughters” in Genesis 37:35 are “daughters-in-law.”

Character and Integrity Part 6

October 13, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Luke | 10 Comments
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Our three main enemies are the devil, the world, and our flesh. The devil wants to lie to us and deceive us. Our flesh wants us to please ourselves, and not God. The world wants us to be fake – something we’re not – in order to get money.

We must not fool ourselves into thinking we can control your own bodies. We must not let people tell us that we have a built-in excuse: our nature. God has the power to control everything. He controls the wind, waves, earthquakes, and atoms. We should not be the one thing that God created that rebels against Him.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

God can control our bodies – the desires of our flesh – if we surrender to Him. But we have to surrender every day. Our minds are not going to be blank. We have to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

In this ongoing series of lessons, I have made comparisons between the character and integrity of material objects and the character and integrity of Christians. Continuing in this vein, I submit that a straight wall has better character and integrity than a crooked wall.

Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:

Amos 7:7-8

For a wall to stand, it must be in balance. Jesus Christ was the most balanced Person of all time.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Luke 2:48

When the Lord Jesus, as a boy, went to the temple without checking in with his earthly parents, they probably thought He had lost His mind. He had not, but here in the story of the Prodigal Son, we see someone who had lost his mind, evidenced by the expression, “he came to himself.”

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Paul was accused of being “beside himself,” another term for having lost his mind.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

Acts 26:24

There was a belief in Bible times that the mind could be separated from the body. The symptoms were that the person’s body was doing something that was out of balance with what the mind would have dictated.

The Lord Jesus, even at age 12, was completely in balance, despite some of the so-called disadvantages which we use as excuses for being out of balance today.

Jesus’s earthly family was not wealthy.

And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:24

His brothers did not believe in Him.

For neither did his brethren believe in him.

John 7:5

His mother did not always understand Him.

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

Mark 3:31-33

Joseph, his earthly foster father, did not always understand Him.

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Luke 2:50

Whenever you feel frustrated because you think nobody understands you, remember that Jesus was misunderstood His whole earthly life!

And yet, look at the balance in His life.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

The Lord Jesus spent His teenage years preparing for His ministry mentally. When Jewish boys turn 13 they celebrate a “Bar Mitzvah,” which means “son of the law.”

Each of us has different degrees of intellectual ability, but no matter how smart we are, it is important to do our best. If we do well in every part of our lives except our intellectual studies, we are going to be out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

“Stature” can refer to size and age. This verse leads us to believe that Jesus was healthy, but He did not give unbalanced attention to His outward physical appearance. He was probably ordinary-looking.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah 53:2

We need to eat right, get enough sleep, exercise.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Our outward appearance is not as important as the spiritual condition of our heart, but it is important. We need to be guided by the example of Jesus. He stood out because of His Words, manner, and actions, not because of His physical appearance. As Christians, we should sometimes stand out, but we should not stand out for the wrong reasons: tattoos, body piercings, facial piercings, ridiculously long hair on boys and men. Remember, Jesus was a Nazarene, not a Nazarite. There is no warrant in Scripture for portraying Him with the long girlish hair seen in most artwork. A common objection to the admonition not to have an attention-seeking physical appearance is, “I’m just expressing myself.” But the truth is, God doesn’t want us expressing ourselves – He want us to express Him!

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1

A good question to ask about my physical appearance is whether I am exalting God, or exalting me? If my “stature,” my body, is not surrendered to God, then I am out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

If anybody had the right to really think He was Somebody special, it was Jesus. But even though He was the “Lord,” He didn’t “lord” it over everyone.

But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

Luke 2:44

Notice that Jesus’s earthly family could go a day without worrying about how people treated Him. They knew that people like someone who is a servant, and who is obedient and respectful. As a man, the Lord Jesus was invited to weddings and parties. If you’re not socially acceptable, or if you’re acceptable only around people who love sin, you are out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and Man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

Jesus was and is God, but in Jesus’s humanity it is also true that God “was with” Jesus. Jesus had favor with God.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:46

When Jesus went to the temple, He did not slump down in the back row. He did not pass notes. None of the teachers got frustrated because He wasn’t paying attention. Jesus was not only asking questions, but He was “hearing them.”

Jesus prayed often. He even taught lessons on how to pray. He quoted Scripture when He was tempted by Satan and challenged by the Pharisees. He always knew the right Verse for the occasion. If you are not right spiritually, you are out of balance.

Jesus was perfect mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually, and He is our model.


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