1500.) Exodus 19

January 30, 2015
The mountain traditionally assumed to be Mount Sinai, known locally as Jebel Musa.

The mountain traditionally assumed to be Mount Sinai, known locally as Jebel Musa.

Exodus 19   (NRSV)

The Israelites Reach Mount Sinai

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness;

It took them three months of trusting God to get to this place, but they finally arrived. They saw God’s deliverance from Egypt, received His guidance on the way to go, saw His glorious victory at the Red Sea, received God’s miraculous gifts of food and water, and they saw a prayerful victory won over the Amalekites.

Israel stayed in the Wilderness of Sinai until Numbers 10. More than 57 chapters of Scripture are devoted to what happened to Israel in the year they camped at Mount Sinai.

The word conventionally translated ‘wilderness’ is not a sandy desert, but grazing country, not settled by man.

–David Guzik

Israel camped there in front of the mountain.

I offer this interesting idea for you to consider: 

There is good reason to believe that the traditional site of Mount Sinai –- on the Sinai Peninsula -– is not the correct location of the mountain where all this came to pass.

According to Exodus 2:15, 3:1, and 3:12 this mountain was in the region of Midian, which was on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Sinai Peninsula. The ancient land of Midian is in the modern nation of Saudi Arabia.

In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul clearly described Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. Though some claim that this can also be understood as extending to the Sinai Peninsula, this isn’t the normal understanding of where Arabia is, either in the modern or the ancient understanding.

There is significant evidence – both historic and archaeological -– to associate the Arabian mountain Jebel al-Lawz with the site of Mount Sinai.

–David Guzik

Certain scholars reject that hypothesis, but it is a tantalizing proposition and you are welcome to investigate it for yourself!

3Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: 4You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Bald Eagle soaring, in flight against snow capped mountains of Kachemak Bay State Park, Homer, Alaska.  Photo by Carl Donohue.

Bald Eagle soaring, in flight against snow capped mountains of Kachemak Bay State Park, Homer, Alaska. Photo by Carl Donohue.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “On Eagle’s Wings”  written in 1979 by Michael Joncas, a Roman Catholic priest.

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5Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”

1 Peter 2:5 (New Living Translation)

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.  What’s more, you are his holy priests.Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

7So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

9Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.”

The People Consecrated

When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, 10the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

Meeting with God requires preparation.  God is awesome and perfectly holy.  When the children of Israel were to meet with Him, God commanded them first to take two full days to prepare.  Once the people were ready, however, God spoke to them with thunder and lightning, with smoke and fire and the sound of loud trumpets.  It was through this encounter that God revealed such marvelous truths as the Ten Commandments, establishing the standard by which God expected His people to live.

You cannot spend day after day in the world without its affecting your mind and will and heart.  It doesn’t take long to become disoriented to the ways of God.  The world has a dulling effect on your spiritual sensibilities.  God established the Sabbath so His people could take an entire day to refocus on Him and His will for them after spending six days in the world.

How do you prepare for your times of worship?  What fills your mind the night before?  Often the last thing you put into your mind at night is still on your mind the next morning.  Genuine worship requires spiritual preparation.  Your experience of worship reflect your spiritual preparation.  Prepare yourself now for your next encounter with God.

–Henry T. Blackaby

12You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. 13No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.”

14So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. 15And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.

19. smoke on mountain

Psalm 104:31-32 (New International Version)

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-

he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

19As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.

Mark 9:7 (New Living Translation)

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”

20When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

View from Mt. Sinai.  Photograph by Stephan Edelbroich.

View from Mt. Sinai. Photograph by Stephan Edelbroich.

21Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. 22Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.”

23Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’“

24The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.”

25So Moses went down to the people and told them.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Mount Sinai.   http://www.st-katherine.net/images/pgsMusa01.jpg
Donohue.   http://www.skolaiimages.com/stock/albums/eagles/baldeagle_a_049.jpg
smoke on mountain.   http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/17076469.jpg
Edelbroich.   http://www.photo-exhibits.com/africa/egypt_photos/images/sinai_mt-sinai_view_col.jpg
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1499.) Exodus 18

January 29, 2015
"Jethro Advises Moses"  copper engraving by Dutch artist Caspar Luiken, 1712

“Jethro Advises Moses” copper engraving by Dutch artist Caspar Luiken, 1712

Exodus 18  (NRSV)

Jethro’s Advice

Ex18 support-advice

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, 3along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been an alien in a foreign land”), 4and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses’ sons and wife to him. 6He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.”

7Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent. 8Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them.

Psalm 105:37-43 (New Living Translation)

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold;
and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they were gone,
for they feared them greatly.
The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering
and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.
They asked for meat, and he sent them quail;
he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven.
He split open a rock, and water gushed out
to form a river through the dry wasteland.
For he remembered his sacred promise
to his servant Abraham.
So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
his chosen ones with rejoicing.

9Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians. 10Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. 11Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.” 12And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

"Jethro and Moses"  watercolor by James Tissot, 1900

“Jethro and Moses” watercolor by James Tissot, 1900

13The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. 14When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

15Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.”

17Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; 20teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do.

Reflection:

Jethro told Moses to focus on the two important things that only Moses could do: he should pray (speak to God on behalf of the people) and teach (show them how to live before God).

In the early church, the apostles came to a similar conclusion.  They decided not to undertake tasks that others could do, in order to do what only they could do:  “We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word — Acts 6:3-4 (my emphasis).

Are you spending your time on the things that only you can do?  Can you delegate some of your responsibilities to others, to free yourself to spend more time in prayer and in the Word of God?

21You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.”

24So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

18. advice post-it

Proverbs 16:20 (New International Version)

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

25Moses chose able men from all Israel and appointed them as heads over the people, as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26And they judged the people at all times; hard cases they brought to Moses, but any minor case they decided themselves.

Ex18 judge

This was good for Moses. He could focus on the most important things and not be overwhelmed and overstressed by many smaller tasks.

This was good for the leaders Moses chose. Capable men were given real responsibility and had the opportunity to serve God’s people in meaningful ways and further God’s work.

This was good for the congregation. Prayed for and taught by Moses, they were able to settle more things themselves. When they did need a dispute settled, they received quicker attention and better attention from the delegated leaders than from Moses himself.

–David Guzik

27Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went off to his own country.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  Jessica Wise sings (so beautifully) “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”  “We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens share . . . “

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Luiken.   http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1712BiblA/00002350.jpg
advice and support.   http://www.gambleaware.co.uk/img/ctas/support-advice.jpg
Tissot.    http://uploads2.wikipaintings.org/images/james-tissot/jethro-and-moses-as-in-exodus-18-1900.jpg
advice note.   http://blog.atrinternational.com/Portals/128828/images/advice.jpg
judge.   http://www.chabad.org/media/images/66/xuar666327.jpg

1498.) Exodus 17

January 28, 2015
Water flowing over the rocks at Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada

Water flowing over the rocks at Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada

Exodus 17   (NRSV)

Water from the Rock

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”

17-water_bottle

Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”

4So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

5The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (Amplified Bible)

For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud [in which God’s Presence went before them], and every one of them passed safely through the [Red] Sea,

And each one of them [allowed himself also] to be baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea [they were thus brought under obligation to the Law, to Moses, and to the covenant, consecrated and set apart to the service of God];

And all [of them] ate the same spiritual (supernaturally given) food,

And they all drank the same spiritual (supernaturally given) drink. For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them [produced by the sole power of God Himself without natural instrumentality], and the Rock was Christ.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a throwback! — Burl Ives sings “Cool Water.”

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Art:

“Moses brings forth water out of the rock”  by Filippino Lippi, c. 1500 (National Gallery, London).  Click  HERE .

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Amalek Attacks Israel and Is Defeated

8Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

10So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Jewish tradition is that Hur was the husband of Moses and Aaron’s sister, Miriam.

11Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. 13And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.

17-12-cartoon

14Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

15And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. 16He said, “A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Psalm 20:5 (New International Version)

We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rock Falls.   http://www.canada-photos.com/data/media/11/rock-waterfall_387.jpg
water bottle.   http://onwardstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/water_bottle-300×300.jpg
Joe McKeever cartoon.  http://www.joemckeever.com/images/toons/exodus/cExodus-17-12.jpg

1497.) Exodus 16

January 27, 2015
"Gathering of Manna"  by Nicolas Poussin, 1640's (The Louvre, Paris)

“Gathering of Manna” by Nicolas Poussin, 1640’s (The Louvre, Paris)

Exodus 16   (NRSV)

Bread from Heaven

_________________________

Music:

“Bread of Heaven” — also known as “Guide Me, O, Thou Great Jehovah” — is a great hymn for the church, dating from the 1740’s, from Wales.  HERE  is true encouragement!

_________________________

The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.

Well, this is surprising!  Bread does not usually rain down from the sky!  But this reminds us that God may provide from resources that we never knew existed.  Sometimes He provides from familiar resources, and other times from wonderfully unexpected resources.

In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

We think our complaints are reasonable, certainly harmless.  Is that truly so?

Acts 5:3-4 (New Living Translation)

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.  The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“

10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“

A Valley quail in California, photograph by Tim Bentz

A Valley quail in California, photographed by Tim Bentz

13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Psalm 105:40 (New International Version)

They asked, and he brought them quail,
and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’“

17The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.

"The Israelites gathering Manna"  by Ercole de' Roberti, 1490's (National Gallery, London)

“The Israelites gathering Manna” by Ercole de’ Roberti, 1490’s (National Gallery, London)

19And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”

20But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them.

21Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed;

Ex16 daily-bread

Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.

Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.

Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?

Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon / Alistair Begg

but when the sun grew hot, it melted. 22On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’“

24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

The implication is that the weekly Sabbath was normally kept by Israel before Sinai.  The Sabbath ordinance in the Ten Commandments was a codification of Sabbath observance, not its inauguration.  (The Reformation Bible)

27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.

31The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

"Manna from Heaven"  by Jonathan Kania

“Manna from Heaven” by Jonathan Kania

Psalm 78:23-25 (New International Version)

Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;

he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.

Men ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.

John 6:47-51 (The Message)

“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”

32Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’“

33And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.”

34As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. 35The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36An omer is a tenth of an ephah.

Reflection:

How do you eat the “true bread from heaven”?  Here are some ways to consider:

  • believe in Jesus, who said “I am the bread of life,” and obey Him
  • take  Holy Communion / the Lord’s Supper
  • read and meditate on the Word of God
  • praise God in  friendship and conversation with other believers
  • pray for the hunger of the world to be satisfied in God’s will and purposes

Reader Steve added these:

  • read and meditate on the Word of God in Scripture 
  • meditate on the preaching of the Word in worship

Do you have other suggestions?  Share them with us — click on “Leave a Comment” below!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Poussin.   http://www.abcgallery.com/P/poussin/poussin39.html
Bentz.    http://i1.treknature.com/photos/93/quail5-16-04e.jpg
Roberti.   http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/work?workNumber=NG1217
daily bread.    http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/ecards/scripture-cards/daily-bread-550×320.jpg
Kania.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/57453-manna-from-heaven-jonathan-kania.jpg

1496.) Exodus 15

January 26, 2015
"Praises"  by Mike Bennett

“Praises” by Mike Bennett

Exodus 15   (NRSV)

The Song of Moses

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

“I will sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider
he has thrown into the sea.
2
The Lord is my strength and my might,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
4
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he cast into the sea;
his picked officers
were sunk in the Red Sea.
5The floods covered them;
they went down into the depths like a stone.

“Notice, the song is all of God; there is not a word about Moses. Read this song through, and neither Moses, nor Aaron, nor Miriam are in it: God is all in all.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is a song from Vacation Bible School!  “Pharaoh, Pharaoh” with clips from the Charlton Heston-Yul Brynner movie classic, The Ten Commandments, 1956.

_________________________

6″Your right hand, O Lord,
glorious in power—
your right hand, O Lord,
shattered the enemy.

This idea of the right hand is used in the Scriptures more than fifty times, including these passages:

  • Psalm 45:4: God’s right hand teaches us
  • Psalm 48:10: God’s right hand is full of righteousness
  • Psalm 77:10: Remembrance of the years of the right hand of the Most High
  • Psalm 110:1: The Father invites the Son to sit at His right hand
  • Habakkuk 2:16: The cup of God’s judgment is held in His right hand
  • Ephesians 1:20: Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father

–David Guzik

7In the greatness of your majesty
you overthrew your adversaries;
you sent out your fury,
it consumed them like stubble.
8
At the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up,
the floods stood up in a heap;
the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.

Psalm 78:13 (New International Version)

He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand firm like a wall.

9″The enemy said,
‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil,
my desire shall have its fill of them.
I will draw my sword,
my hand shall destroy them.’
10
You blew with your wind,
the sea covered them;
they sank like lead
in the mighty waters.

11“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like you,
majestic in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
doing wonders?
12
You stretched out your right hand,
the earth swallowed them.

13“In your steadfast love you led
the people whom you redeemed;
you guided them by your strength
to your holy abode.

Psalm 77:20 (New International Version)

You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

14The peoples heard, they trembled;
pangs seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15
Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
trembling seized the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan melted away.
16
Terror and dread fell upon them;
by the might of your arm,
they became still as a stone
until your people, O Lord, passed by,
until the people whom you acquired passed by.
17
You brought them in and planted them
on the mountain of your own possession,
the place, O Lord, that you made your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established. 1
8
The Lord will reign
forever and ever.”

Revelation 15:2-4 (New International Version)

And I saw what looked like a sea of glass mixed with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They held harps given them by God and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb:
“Great and marvelous are your deeds,
Lord God Almighty.
Just and true are your ways,
King of the ages.
Who will not fear you, O Lord,
and bring glory to your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship before you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

19When the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his chariot drivers went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

The Song of Miriam

15-miriam-tamborine1

20Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. 21And Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
horse and rider
he has thrown into the sea.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Miriam’s Song” written and performed by Debbie Friedman, who was an aluma of Highland Park High School in St. Paul, MN, and a faculty member at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Sacred Music in New York.

_________________________

Bitter Water Made Sweet

22Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

25He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

Reflection:

Ex15 the_healing_of_the_water

Even true believers, in seasons of sharp trial, will be tempted to fret, distrust, and murmur. But in every trial we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour out our hearts before him. We shall then find that a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. Moses did what the people had neglected to do; he cried unto the Lord. And God provided graciously for them. He directed Moses to a tree which he cast into the waters, when, at once, they were made sweet. Some make this tree typical of the cross of Christ, which sweetens the bitter waters of affliction to all the faithful, and enables them to rejoice in tribulation.

–from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible, written in 1706

What bitterness might there be in your life?  Could the wood of the cross of Christ help change the bitter to sweet?  The promise is this:  “We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him ” (Romans 8:28, CEV).

There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

Exodus 15:26 (The Message)

“I am God your healer.”

Luke 8:47-48 (New Living Translation)

When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

photograph of Elim, 2005

photograph of Elim, 2005

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Bennett.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/15-bennett-praises4.jpg?w=450
tambourine.   http://www.judaica-mall.com/products/19917m.jpg
cross in the water.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/ex15-the_healing_of_the_water.jpg
Elim.  http://www.greatcommission.com/egypt/459.jpg

1495.) Exodus 14

January 23, 2015
"Crossing the Red Sea--Rays of Light"  by Yoram Raanan, 2002

“Crossing the Red Sea–Rays of Light” by Yoram Raanan, 2002

Exodus 14   (NRSV)

Crossing the Red Sea

Controversy abounds:  the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds?  Where did they cross?  Who knows?  It is a fact, however, that the Red Sea today has some of the best diving in the world.  With around 1000 species of fish and 150 species of coral, the Red Sea is rich in marine life.

Controversy abounds: the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds? Where did they cross? When did it happen?  Who knows? It is a fact, however, that the Red Sea today has some of the best diving in the world. With around 1000 species of fish and 150 species of coral, the Red Sea is rich in marine life.

Then the Lord said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea. 3Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.’ 4I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” 6So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; 7he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. 9The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

Pharaoh’s overtaking the apparently helpless Israelites camping by the sea and shut in between the two is probably the origin of the popular idiom for a terrible dilemma:  “Between the devil (Pharaoh) and the deep blue (Red!) sea.”

–William MacDonald

10As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. 11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Psalm 106:7-12 (New International Version)

When our fathers were in Egypt,
they gave no thought to your miracles;
they did not remember your many kindnesses,
and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.

Yet he saved them for his name’s sake,
to make his mighty power known.

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up;
he led them through the depths as through a desert.

He saved them from the hand of the foe;
from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.

The waters covered their adversaries;
not one of them survived.

Then they believed his promises
and sang his praise.

13But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (New American Standard Bible)

We are persecuted, but not forsaken.

Moses told the people of Israel to stop. This is often the Lord’s direction to the believer in a time of crisis. Despair will cast you down, keeping you from standing. Fear will tell you to retreat. Impatience will tell you to do something now. Presumption will tell you to jump into the Red Sea before it is parted. Yet as God told Israel He often tells us — to simply stand still and hold our peace as He reveals His plan.

–David Guzik

15Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. 16But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. 17Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. 18And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”

19The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. 20It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea.

Ex14 map

Where, exactly?

Other passages (such as Exodus 13:18 and 15:14) identify this body of water as the Red Sea.  The Hebrew phrase for Red Sea is yam suph, which clearly means “Reed Sea.”  Scholars and archeologists have attempted for years to positively identify this body of water.

Much recent research has proposed an alternative route for the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, one that sets Mount Sinai in the Arabian Peninsula instead of the Sinai Peninsula.  This alternative route puts the crossing at the Red Sea’s Gulf of Aqaba.  Crossings have been suggested at the northern tip (at Ezion Geber), in the middle (at Nuweiba Beach), or at the southern end (at the Straits of Tiran).

–David Guzik

from Rebecca:  I myself am no expert in this field, but if you are interested in where the crossing took place, I suggest you research it!  There is a lot of information and opinion out there!

The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. 22The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Psalm 77:16-20 (English Standard Version)

When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep trembled.
The clouds poured out water;
the skies gave forth thunder;
your arrows flashed on every side.
The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
your lightnings lighted up the world;
the earth trembled and shook.
Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.

You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

The Ratner Museum, Bethesda, Maryland

The Ratner Museum, Bethesda, Maryland

23The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 24At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. 25He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”

The Pursuers Drowned

26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained.

The Ratner Museum, Bethesda, maryland

The Ratner Museum, Bethesda, Maryland

29But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Hebrews 11:29 (Contemporary English Version)

Because of their faith, the people walked through the Red Sea on dry land. But when the Egyptians tried to do it, they were drowned.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “O, Mary, Don’t You Weep No More”  sung by Bruce Springsteen.  He’s not called “The Boss” for nothing!  And the band — well, listen for yourself!

_________________________

Resources:

Bruce Feiler: Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses (Book II, Chapter 3 “A Wall of Water”).

_________________________

14-run-swim-cartoonphp_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Raanan.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/14-raanan-crossing.jpg?w=450
Red Sea diving.   http://www.eastcoastdiverllc.com/egypt3.jpg
map of alternate route for Red Sea crossing.    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/images/map2.gif
Ratner – Opening.   http://ratnermuseum.com/?page=exodus#
Ratner – Closes.  http://ratnermuseum.com/?page=exodus#
cartoon.   http://www.reverendfun.com/?date=20001018

 


1494.) Exodus 13

January 22, 2015
Exodus 13:21, by Kevin Ohlin

illustration of Exodus 13:21, by Kevin Ohlin

Exodus 13

The Lord said to Moses: 2Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine.

from the commentators:

Consecrate could either mean ‘sacrifice’ or merely ‘consider as belonging to God’. Instances of both meanings could be found in the Pentateuch.” 

“Not that the rest were exempt, but the first-born were, like the Sabbath day and the first ears of corn, a pledge of the dedication of the whole nation.”

The Festival of Unleavened Bread

Ex13 matza
3
Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. 4Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month. 6Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. 7Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. 8You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9It shall serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the Lord may be on your lips; for with a strong hand the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 10You shall keep this ordinance at its proper time from year to year.

The Consecration of the Firstborn

"The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born.  They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord."      Luke 2:22 (Contemporary English Version)

“The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born. They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord.” Luke 2:22 (Contemporary English Version)

11“When the Lord has brought you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your ancestors, and has given it to you, 12you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your livestock that are males shall be the Lord’s. 13But every firstborn donkey you shall redeem with a sheep; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. Every firstborn male among your children you shall redeem.

14When in the future your child asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall answer, ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from human firstborn to the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that first opens the womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16It shall serve as a sign on your hand and as an emblem on your forehead that by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

The Pillars of Cloud and Fire

Ex13 Pillar-of-Cloud-Pillar-of-Fire

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.”

The coastal route (the Via Maris, known as “the way of the sea”) was the shortest and most common way to go from Egypt to Canaan. Yet it was also the road where Egypt’s military outposts were. God knew the people of Israel were not ready to face this yet, so He led them a different way.

18So God led the people by the roundabout way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.

Reflection:

“God led the people by the roundabout way . . .”

And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
–Matthew 2:12

Do you cheerfully follow the Lord even when the way seems winding and uncertain?  God is a faithful guide!

The Israelites went up out of the land of Egypt prepared for battle.

19And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, “God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here.”

Hebrews 11:22 (New Living Translation)

It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left.

20They set out from Succoth, and camped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “We Are Marching in the Light of God” to give you a little get up and go!

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Ohlin.   http://payload.cargocollective.com/1/1/51414/609464/exodus%2013-21_905.jpg
matzo.    http://restoringtheway.org/RTW/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/matza.jpg
Presentation of Jesus.  http://www.holyhillcross.com/PRESENTATION%20IN%20THE%20TEMPLE.jpg
pillars of cloud and fire.   http://kirbymuseum.org/blogs/kirby-vision/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2010/01/Pillar-of-Cloud-Pillar-of-Fire_Isaacb2.jpg