What Moses Teaches Us Today

Heb 11 26

Summary

Thanks for reading along this past week, and I really hope you have benefitted from this.  I know I have enjoyed studying and writing this past week. I just wanted to finish off with a quick summary.

 

The story of the Exodus is a story of a people who had been promised so much from God, but had forgotten him and taken on a culture and pantheon that was inherently sinful.  God then works through Moses to directly attack every sinful aspect of their culture and every false god that his people were following to show them beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and that there are no gods before him.  As they are heading out of Egypt on their way to becoming their own nation with their own land God begins to form their culture around himself in order to help them to stay true to him.

 

So many aspects of the passover point the Israelites towards Jesus in the future and prepares their culture for his coming, but we know that when Jesus did come they did not accept him because they had walked away from the lessons they had learned under Moses.  Similarly Jesus’s message brought a massive change in culture to all those who followed him. People started to live changed lives and loved others truly instead of just following rules because they had to. That is the changed life that we are supposed to live.  Just as the Israelites had to sacrifice the lambs that the Egyptian culture worshiped we need to lay aside the idols in our culture that only bring sin into our lives. Maybe that is social media, or crass tv shows, or sleeping around, or any number of other things that are standard in our culture but can easily consume our lives and become idols.

 

Also just as Moses’ story and the Exodus points towards Christ, Jesus’ points us towards the Kingdom and his second coming.  So unlike the Israelites we need to remember what Jesus taught and live by his teachings so that we will be ready for his return.

 

Revelation 21:1-5

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3  4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes.There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

-Chris Mattison

Revelation 21-2,3

The Passover

exodus 12 13

I had touched very briefly yesterday on the plague of the firstborn and the passover ceremony which spared the lives of those who followed God.  Let’s look at that a bit more today.

 

To prepare the Israelites for the passover they were to have each family take a lamb and slaughter it at twilight and take some of the  blood and put it on the doorframes of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb that night with bitter herbs. They were to also take care of the lamp for a week before they slaughtered it.  This would not be an easy thing to do and the meal would not taste good. This was meant to show the pain and sorrow that sin causes and the blood that is required to wash away sin.

 

Slaughtering the lamb in Egypt would also have taken a lot of faith.  Animals were of great value back then, which is why so many of the Egyptians worshiped them, and most likely many of the Israelites did as well.   Animals were of even greater value as well because of all the plagues that had just wiped out the animals in Egypt. Earlier we had seen that they could not do any sacrifices in the land of Egypt because the Egyptians detested it.  Now they are doing just that. In order to do this the Israelites are sacrificing their material wealth, as well as turning their backs on the Egyptian gods. If they were not able to let go of the wealth or culture then they would have faced the judgment.  He goes on to say,

 

Exodus 12:12-14

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

The plague of the firstborn was to be the final blow to the Egyptian culture/gods, and with it God is also implementing a lasting holy day in their culture by which they will remember what God has done for them for all generations, and the seder passover dinner is practiced around the world to this day.  The problem with the Israelites in Egypt was that they forgot what God had promised them. God was not going to let them forget again so easily.

 

In the Old Testament there were many festivals and holy days and cultural things that God implemented in the Israelites in order to remind them of his work and power in their past.  Even with these they often forgot and wandered away from God. After Jesus we do not live under these laws and we do not have to follow these feasts and rituals, but we still need to make a permanent change in our lives every time that God acts in our lives.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. The passover ceremony was designed to make people ask why they would do such a thing so that the Israelites could tell people the story of the Exodus. Similarly our stories of how God has changed our lives are our most powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.

-Chris Mattison

Moses and the Burning Bush

exodus 3 15

After Moses fled Egypt and saved the Midianite women from the jerks at the well he settled down and had children and lived a simple life as a farmer.  Meanwhile the rest of the Israelites were groaning in their captivity in Egypt and their cry rose up to God and he took pity on them (Exodus 2:23-25).  God was then ready to call up Moses out of the wilderness so that he can carry out God’s plan.

 

Exodus 3:10-15

10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,

   the name you shall call me

   from generation to generation.”

 

It is very interesting that Moses had to ask God about his name.  In the eyes of the Israelites God had abandoned them when they were enslaved in Egypt, and they had mostly wandered away from God since then and had taken on the gods of the Egyptians.  It was the mindset of the Israelites that God had forsaken his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses was basically asking if God was wanting to start over in his relationship with the Israelites and form new covenants.  God emphatically states that he is to be known to his people as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, to remind them that those promises still stand, and will stand for eternity. It is helpful to remember God in terms of what he has done for you or your loved ones, which is why God instructs the people to remember him as the God of Abraham so they will remember the stories that have been passed down of God’s faithfulness to their ancestors.

 

We need to be reminded of the fact that God does not change his mind like we do.  God does not forget a promise. Just because things have changed in our lives and we are having doubts doesn’t mean that God is no longer the one who created the foundations of the earth.  If we have sinned, or walked away from God for a time, or had a traumatic event in our lives it doesn’t change the fact that God IS, and that the blood of Jesus can still cover our sins.

-Chris Mattison

Moses’ Early Life

acts 7 25

So now we actually get to Moses in Exodus 2, but Acts 7:20-29 summarizes it very well so here it is.

 

20 “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. For three months he was cared for by his family.

21 When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son.

22 Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.

23 “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites.

24 He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian.

25 Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not.

26 The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’

27 “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us?

28 Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’

29 When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian, where he settled as a foreigner and had two sons.

 

This is not about Israelites being afraid of a murderer, it is about them rejecting Moses/God.  The Israelites reject Moses as their leader, even though they already have Joseph as an example of how God can place one of their own in very high places in order to save them.  We do not know why they rejected him, but they did. And they must have reported Moses to Pharaoh, which not only was a rejection of Moses as their leader, but a rejection of God’s plan and leadership.

 

Because of this Moses flees to Midian to become a shepherd and does not return to lead the Israelites out of Egypt for 40 years.  This is very similar to later on when the Israelites do not want to enter the promised land because they are afraid of the Canaanites and are forced to wait 40 years for the unfaithful generation to die off.  Because of their unfaithfulness these people chose to live in slavery the rest of their lives instead of living as free men.

 

We too have a decision to live the rest of our lives as slaves to sin or to take a leap of faith as Moses did and trust in God.  Moses went through a lot of turmoil because of other people’s unfaithfulness, but “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:26).  You can endure all suffering if you can keep your eye on the Kingdom reward that we all eagerly await.

-Chris Mattison

Painful Growth Rewarded

Gen 15 13,14

Moses: Introduction and backdrop

 

Hey i’m Chris Mattison and I would like to take this week to look at Moses and his incredible life story. First, though I would like to take today to look at the situation into which Moses was born.

 

God had made a covenant with Abraham that his descendants would be numerous and would inhabit the promised land (Genesis 15).  In this promise God did tell Abraham that his people would have to leave to a strange land and be enslaved for 400 years, but that they would return to their own land.  As we know countries do not like to have foreigners moving into their land, so God moved Joseph into place as the right hand of Pharaoh so that he could guide the nation through a seven year famine and so that he could provide a place of protection inside of Egypt for the Israelites (Genesis 45:8-11).  As they continued to live in Egypt they prospered and grew in numbers so much that the Egyptians became worried that they would pose a threat to them someday so the Egyptians enslaved the Israelite people. Through all of this their numbers continued to grow as their nation was being painfully incubated inside the protection of Egypt (Exodus 1:8-14).

 

It is difficult to form a new nation in the ancient world because groups always intermarry with those around them and we see this as a major issue for the Israelites for the rest of the Old Testament, and later on God uses the laws and customs that he gives them to keep them separate and unique, but at this time God uses their enslavement to keep them as a single coherent nation of people.  This is maybe one of the most “tough love” ways to keep a promise.

 

During this time the Israelites began to forget about God’s promise and to worship the gods of the Egyptians, because in their minds those gods must be more powerful if the Egyptians are more powerful than them.

 

God’s people always seem to thrive in adversity.  In the early church the numbers of Christians continued to grow even though they were being fed to lions for spectator sport and were being persecuted in every manner imaginable.    Today in areas like China where Christianity is viewed as a threat to the government and is actively repressed the number of Christians is estimated to be around 30 Million and growing rapidly.

 

Maybe you feel like your faith in Christ has set you apart and alienated you from your friends, and that is probably very difficult for you to deal with.  Following Christ means dying to self and maybe that means you have to die to your social group and put up with some ridicule and rejection from society. It can be easy to be worn down by the world and give in and start following the gods of society, and many people do that.  But we need to have endurance to run the race to the end (2 Timothy 4:7).

-Chris Mattison

In His Word – the 1st 5

Deut 8 3

Can you imagine giving an algebra book to a preschooler and expecting the child to start solving intricate problems on their own?  I think some searching and new Christians (and even some old ones) may feel a bit like that preschooler when they think about reading the Bible.  They have heard and might even believe it can be helpful to their Christian walk.  But, it still seems like such a large, overwhelming book – they would prefer the pastor just tells them what they need to know.  The good news is that our little preschooler can learn to count, and then add, subtract, multiply, divide, replace numbers with variables and before you know it – they have grown in their math skills and are solving algebraic equations.  And, even better news, it doesn’t need to take 10 plus years to get better acquainted with God’s Word and benefit from the countless opportunities to grow in our knowledge, faith and relationship with our Heavenly Father through his words.  We can each continue growing today, no matter where we are in our current understanding of His Word, we can and ought to be dedicated to knowing God more and more as he reveals himself in His Word – daily.

 

A basic understanding of how the Bible is organized can help greatly in knowing the big picture of God’s story – which is profitable in also seeing how it applies to our daily lives as well since it is the same God at work.  The 66 books are divided into the Old Testament (39 books covering creation through Israel’s history up to 400 years before the birth of Jesus) and the New Testament (27 books detailing the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, the acts of the early church, letters to the various churches and church leaders, and finally, a vision of the end times and coming kingdom).  Each testament can be further subdivided into helpful divisions.  For example:
THE OLD TESTAMENT

Law (5 books)

History (12 books)

Poetry (12 books)

Major Prophets (5 books)

Minor Prophets (12 books)

 

Today we will give a quick overview of the 5 books of the Law

The Books of the Law were mostly written by Moses and for many years they were the only sacred scriptures of God’s word for his people.  These 5 books cover a great deal of the early years of the Jewish and Christian faith and it is here that God first reveals himself to his creation.  While the setting includes many ancient cultures – beginning about 6,000 years ago – which can seem rather foreign at first, it doesn’t take long before we recognize many human characteristics we still see in ourselves and our neighbors today: selfishness, greed, pride, envy, as well as faithfulness, dedication, patience, and compassion.  And, we also see GOD – the creative, all-powerful, jealous, wise, holy God of all the ages.  Too often the Old Testament is sadly regarded as too old to be useful.  However, Jesus knew much of the Old Testament, and in the Gospels he quoted from or referenced passages from all 5 of the books of Law.  They were important to Jesus.  These Scriptures helped him fight temptation, teach about God and live a holy life.  If the Son of God found them so useful – it seems well worth my time to look into them further.

These are some of the exciting things you can look forward to reading and learning from in the Books of the Law . . .

 

Genesis – A Book of Beginnings!

Starting with Creation, Adam and Eve and the Fall (first sin), Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.  Then, enters Abraham who would be the father of a great nation, and so begins the patriarchal family and the following generations, each with their own story to tell: Isaac, Jacob/Esau, and Joseph.  This book covers the beginning of the universe, life, mankind, marriage, family, sacrifice, sin, death, redemption and more.  This book of 50 chapters spans more years than the rest of the 65 books of the Bible put together – and in it we get our first predictions of the promised Messiah – Jesus.  God’s story begins.

Exodus – The Exit Out of Egypt!

Hebrews enslaved in Egypt.  Baby Moses saved in a basket – grows up in Pharoah’s house – leaves Egypt  – burning bush – back to Egypt to free his countrymen – 10 plagues – the first Passover – crossing the Red Sea – manna – the Ten Commandments (chapter 20) – other laws – golden calf – preparing the tabernacle

Leviticus – Holiness

Now that God’s people were called out to be a rescued people for him – with their own tabernacle where they were to worship him – they needed direction.  This book includes the rules for worship of a holy God and for the Levites – the tribe of priests who would serve in the tabernacle.

Numbers – Counting in the Desert

12 tribes of Israel counted, 12 spies sent into the Promised Land (10 were bad and 2 were good), faithless Israel listens to the majority and wanders in the wilderness 40 years

Deuteronomy – Repeating the Law

Moses reminds the Israelites of their history and God’s laws as they prepare to enter the Promised Land – Moses dies.

 

And – God is there – in it all!  Through the ups and the downs.  Just as He is with you, today – and yesterday and tomorrow.  If you are looking for one chapter to read today to sum up the books of the law – Deuteronomy 32 is a good choice – or Deuteronomy 30 – or 28 – or Exodus 20.  Maybe you can listen to a few chapters on your way to work, or during your bike ride.   God put good stuff in there just for you – thousands of years ago.  Thanks, God!

 

May I Find You There, God,

Marcia Railton

He’s Not Abstract

Psalms 103-105

psalm-103-2-940x705

Thursday, January 12

If you attend a church (and I encourage you to do so), you probably hear prayer requests and prayers. Sometimes, in the interest of time, I have been known to say prayers and thank God abstractly for “all the good you have done” or “for another day of life” or something along those lines. In many worship services, the songs we sing tend to reinforce that kind of language as we talk to God. As kids we learn “Jesus Loves Me” and “Zacchaeus”, but these songs, while teaching us Bible stories and abstract truths, don’t make life real.
The psalmists don’t let things stay in the level of the abstract. They would think the way we think about theology is rather silly. We use big words like “omnipotent” (all-powerful) or “omni-benevolent” (all-good) to refer to God. The authors of psalms 103-105 are focused on the tangible ways God is working in the world, the concrete way he interacted, is interacting and will interact in creation. When you read psalm 104, the created order that is being displayed there is beautiful. It is a different look at creation, one that is intimate and yet shows God working in creation. He gives water even to a wild donkey. The dangerous and powerful leviathan is a work of God. The creation of trees and valleys all point to the wonder of the Almighty. Psalm 105 tells the work of God in the covenant people of Israel. The psalmist retells (probably with music) the great movement of God with Israel. The Exodus is such a significant moment, because God defeated the gods of the most powerful empire and proved that God is the only true God. He saved Israel and led them through the desert. In psalm 103, the author (David?) is speaking to his own soul when he says “He forgives all your sin”(3) and “he satisfies you with goodness” (5). The author is declaring his own story, that God saves him and gives him good things. Even though we are sinners, God takes care of us and makes sure we have all that we need.
The point is that when we praise God, there are times to tell of his “omni-“ qualities and there is a time to get down and talk about what he did. For me, God not only gives me love, but he has given me a wife that makes me laugh and makes my heart sing because she is wonderful in every way. He has given me a daughter that is fun, joyful and sweet. God gives me hope, and He assures me that though I have lost loved ones, that there will come a day that I will see them again. I praise God not just because he is loving or hope-giving in some abstract way, but because in my life and in the world God has clearly shown that he cares. He is a God that moves in concrete ways.
Live it Out Challenge: After you read the psalms, think of 7 concrete and specific ways God has worked in your life. Don’t make them abstract (“He loves me”) but make them concrete (“He has given me a wife and a daughter that mirror His love”). Make them about you, and take your time. Work and meditate on them all day if you need to.
-Jake Ballard
(Photo credit: http://www.spiritradio.ie/the-word-for-tuesday-psalm-1032/)

Passover (Exodus 11-13)

At long last, the tenth plague comes.  Now, God will finish pouring out his wrath on this genocidal nation.  Although each of the nine plagues decimated and humiliated specific Egyptian gods, this last plague was against all of the gods.  This is how God explains it:

Exodus 12.12
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Yahweh.

I love how he ends this with “I am Yahweh.”  In other words, Egypt has it’s gods, but I am Yahweh and they are completely impotent to protect what is most precious to you, your firstborn sons.  This is God’s last act of war against Egypt and it will guarantee that they let his people go.  Even so, he will guard his own people so that not even “a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that Yahweh makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 11.7).  Even so, God is not going to make his protection automatic.  He wants his people to exercise faith by performing certain ceremonial actions.  He instructs them to kill an unblemished lamb and paint the blood on the door frame, roast it, and eat it that night.  These simple acts will prevent the destroyer from entering into the house to kill the firstborn.

Those who followed this command marked themselves out as the true people of God and those who ignored it suffered the consequences.  At midnight God struck down all the firstborn in Egypt from Pharaoh’s house to the firstborn captive in the dungeon as well as all the firstborn of the livestock (Exodus 12.29).  A great cry arose in Egypt because every house had someone dead in it.  Pharaoh summoned Moses and told him to take his people and his herds and go to serve Yahweh.  The Egyptians urgently sent the Hebrews out of the land saying, “We shall all be dead” (Exodus 12.33).  This one moment gets celebrated year after year, decade after decade, century after century, and millennium after millennium by Israel in their Passover dinner.  The question for you today is whether you have marked yourself out by the blood of the lamb so that you will be saved on judgment day?