Wednesday, January 27, 2016

'Passover and Exodus' (Exodus 12-14).

God promised Abraham multiple descendants and a homeland to bless the world (Gen.12:1-3).  Abraham’s descendants, Jacob and his twelve sons, end up in Egypt where they multiplied but they became enslaved. They cry out and God remembers His covenant (Exodus 1:6-12, 2:16-25) and called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord sent a variety of plagues to show His superiority over the gods of Egypt but the Pharaoh stubbornly resisted the Lord’s request to let the Israelites go. Yet, the Lord orchestrated the plagues to multiply His mighty acts and reveal Himself to both the Israelites and the Egyptians (6:6-7, 7:3-5). This takes us to the last plague so watch the video about the ‘Passover and the Exodus’ and read the comments below. 
 The Israelite households were to slaughter a year-old male lamb and put the blood on their doorframes. They were to roast the meat and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Then the Lord would bring judgment upon the ‘gods of Egypt’ by striking down every firstborn in Egypt. When the Israelites entered their ‘Promised Land’ they were to observe the ‘Passover’ throughout the generations and they were to teach their children that in ‘Lord’s Passover’ the Lord spared the Israelites when He struck down the Egyptians. When this happened there was loud wailing throughout Egypt because the Lord took the life of the firstborn in every Egyptian household from the house of Pharaoh to that of the prisoner. Pharaoh told Moses and the Israelites to take their flocks and herds and go worship the Lord. The Egyptians urged the Israelites to hurry and leave Egypt so they left before they could add yeast to their bread dough. The Lord caused the Egyptians to give the Israelites articles of silver and gold and so the Israelites plundered Egypt.  

After 430 years, the Israelites left Egypt with their families, their possessions and with many other people who accompanied them. The Lord led them on the longer route through the desert because the Lord knew that if they went directly through Philistine territory and faced war they may return to Egypt. Moses took Joseph’s bones with them as the Israelites had promised Joseph they would. The Lord led them out of Egypt by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Then the Lord challenged the Israelites by having the Israelites camp by the Red Sea and hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that Pharaoh would pursue them. Yet, the Lord would overthrow Pharaoh and his army to display His glory and to reveal Himself to the Egyptians. Pharaoh realized that their slave labor was gone so he sent his troops with their chariots to pursue the Israelites. Apparently he had forgotten the connection of the plagues to Israel and how the various plagues had left Egypt in ruins.

When the Israelites saw the Egyptians they cried out in terror and they questioned why Moses had led them out into the desert only to die at the hands of the Egyptians. They showed that they doubted God’s good intention towards them by telling Moses they were better off as slaves than corpses in the desert. Moses told the Israelites to stand firm and they would see the Lord deliverance. God through Moses told the Israelites that the Egyptians who they feared they would never see again. They only needed to be still and the Lord would fight for them, but they were not to sit immobilized in fear. The angel of the Lord, leading Israel, went behind them and the cloud went between Israel and Egypt bringing darkness on the Egyptians and light to the Israelites. Moses stretched out his staff over the sea and a strong east wind divided the sea. Then the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Pharaoh’s army followed the Israelites into the sea. But the Lord jammed the wheels of their chariots and threw them into confusion. Again Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the Lord swept Pharaoh’s army into the sea. None of the Egyptians survived and the Israelites saw their dead bodies washed up on the shore. The Israelites saw the Lord’s power in the destruction of their enemies and they trusted in the Lord and in the Lord’s servant Moses.

The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt until God manifested Himself in the plagues. In the final plague the Lord spared His people and brought judgment upon their oppressors. When the Israelites covered the doorframes of their houses with the ‘blood of the lamb’ the Lord passed them over when He struck down the firstborn of Egypt. So the Lord brought judgment on the ‘gods of Egypt’ and led His people by the pillar of cloud and fire. Yet, when they ended up pinned in by the Red Sea they were full of fear and they complained against Moses. Moses exhorted them to be still and he assured them that the Lord would deliver them. The Lord parted the ‘Red Sea’ so the Israelites could pass through on dry ground. Then when the Egyptians followed them into the sea the Lord fought for Israel (Ex. 14:14) and drowned their enemies in the sea. God is perfectly capable of overcoming any obstacle and delivering His people from any trouble. However, this doesn’t mean that the Lord promised to rescue us from every difficult situation. In this story God displayed his power when the way out was humanly impossible. God intervened and when the Israelites saw the power of the Lord they put their trust in the Lord and in the Lord’s servant Moses. In the same way, when we see the demonstration of the Lord’s power particularly in the death and resurrection of Jesus we are to put our trust in God and His servant the Lord Jesus (John 1:29, 1 Cor.5:7, Eph.1:19-21). 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 9 Plagues before the Passover (Exodus 7-11).

God promised Abraham multiple descendants and a homeland to bless the world (Gen.12:1-3).  Abraham’s grandson Jacob and his twelve sons end up in Egypt where they multiplied but they became enslaved. They cry out and God remembers His covenant (Exodus 1:6-12, 2:16-25) and called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. After spending 40 years as a shepherd, the Lord called Moses to rescue the Israelites out of Egypt.  Through His mighty acts of judgment the Lord would redeem Israel. Moses was to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go even though Pharaoh would not listen and through this process the Lord would show His superiority over the gods of Egypt and reveal Himself to both the Israelites and the Egyptians.  Pharaoh stubbornly resisted the Lord’s requests but the Lord orchestrated the plagues in order to multiply His mighty acts so that Israel (6:6-7), their children (10:1-2), Egypt (7:3-5) and all the earth (9:16) might know that the Lord is God. Watch the video or listen to the audio of the first six plagues then read the comments below.
1-3 ‘The Plagues of Blood, Frogs and Gnats’.
The Lord was concerned for the Israelites and sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Lord’s people go. The Lord wanted to free His people from slavery to Pharaoh so they could worship the Lord. In these first three plagues the Lord began to reveal that He alone was the ‘true Lord and God’ (Exodus 7:5, 16-17). The Lord sent Moses to confront Pharaoh to let the Israelites go to worship the Lord. Then the Lord turned the water of Egypt to blood and while the Egyptian magicians did the same thing by their magic arts they could only make the matters worse (7:22). But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he wouldn’t listen so Moses warned Pharaoh and then the Lord plagued Egypt with frogs. The Egyptian magicians again did the same thing but Pharaoh needed Moses to pray to the Lord to remove the frogs (8:10-14). Pharaoh hardens his heart and without further warning the Lord turned the dust of the ground to gnats. When the magicians couldn’t reproduce the gnats they concluded this was the ‘finger of God’, but Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he wouldn’t listen. (8:17-19) 

4-6 'The Plagues of Flies, on Egypt’s Livestock, and Boils'.  
In the next three plagues the Lord would show that He was in the land and that He deals differently with His own people, and makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt (Exodus 8:22-23, 9:4). Pharaoh is warned and swarms of flies pour into Pharaoh’s palace and throughout Egypt. Pharaoh summons Moses and tells Moses to go and worship the Lord but not to go very far (8:28, 32). Pharaoh wanted Moses to pray, Moses did and the flies left Pharaoh and his people but Pharaoh hardened his heart. Then after another warning the Lord sent a plague that killed the livestock belonging to the Egyptians but none of livestock of the Israelites died (9:6-7). Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he wouldn’t let Israel go. Then without further warning the Lord brought festering boils on the Egyptians. The boils were so bad that the Egyptian magicians couldn’t even stand before Moses. Yet, the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to Moses and Aaron (9:10-12). 
7-9 'The Plague of Hail, Locusts and Darkness over Egypt'.
In the next three plagues the Lord would send the full force of His plagues against Egypt so that it would be known that there is no one like the Lord in all the earth. The Lord could have wiped Pharaoh and Egypt off the earth but the Lord actually raised you up Pharaoh so that the Lord’s name might be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:14–16). The Lord has Moses confront Pharaoh to let Israel go or Pharaoh would have to face the most severe hailstorm ever seen in Egypt. The Egyptians are warned to shelter everything in their fields but only those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord sheltered their slaves and livestock. Moses stretched out his staff and the hail struck both men and animals and beat down everything in the fields. But it didn’t hail where the Israelites were staying in Goshen. The Pharaoh acknowledged that he had sinned and he wanted Moses to pray. Moses prayed, the hail stopped but Pharaoh hardened his heart and he would not let the Israelites go (9:33-35).

Then Moses was to go to Pharaoh, but the Lord would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that the Israelites could tell their children how the Lord struck Egypt with miraculous signs. The Lord would send the worst locust plague ever to occur in Egypt. Pharaoh’s officials pleaded with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go for they realized that Egypt was in ruins. Pharaoh tells Moses to go worship the Lord their God, but Pharaoh wanted to know who would go. Moses said that their young and old, their sons and daughters and their animals would all go, but Pharaoh would only let their men go. So Pharaoh had Moses driven from his presence. Then the Lord caused a strong east wind to blow a mass of locusts into Egypt that devoured everything remaining after the hailstorm. Then Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh admitted that he had sinned. Pharaoh asked for forgiveness and he wanted Moses to pray that the Lord would remove the locusts. Moses prayed and the Lord sent a strong west wind carrying the locusts into the Red Sea but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go.

With no further warning Moses stretched out his hand skyward and total darkness covered Egypt for three days, but the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Pharaoh summons Moses to let the Israelites go and worship the Lord with their women and children. But Pharaoh wouldn’t let the Israelites take their flocks and herds with them, but Moses said that they would need to use their livestock in their worship. The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and Pharaoh ordered Moses out of his sight and to never return again. The Lord would send one ‘last plague’ and this time Pharaoh would actually let the Israelites go. The Israelites were to ask their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and in this way they would plunder Egypt (Exodus 3:21-22). At midnight the Lord would strike down every firstborn son in Egypt from the firstborn of Pharaoh to that of the firstborn of the slave girl and even the firstborn cattle would die. There would be such loud wailing heard throughout Egypt like never before in their history. The Lord would make a distinction between Egypt and Israel so that not even a dog belonging to the Israelites would bark. Then Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the Israelites and their offspring would all know that the Lord is God and that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel (Exodus 7:5, 8:10, 22-23, 9:14, 10:1-2). Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go.