February 28

February 28.

Moses & Holding up his Arms — Israel’s warfare & Moses’ prayer (supported by others).

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 17:8-15

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 25:17-19

Reading 3: 1 Timothy 2:8

Today’s readings may be shorter than usual, but they are full of powerful truth and lessons for us all.

First we see that the enemies of God attack when God’s people are tired and vulnerable. In the verses from Deuteronomy, Moses tells us that they had “no fear of God” – a foolish omission on their part because God’s judgment will call for their destruction as a result. This may seem brutal and extreme, but this is the world of the original covenants that pave the way for God’s grace to be more fully and clearly expressed in future. To disobey and attack the God who has just demonstrated His power over the world superpower is either total foolishness or pure evil (or likely both)!

Second, we see the power of trusting God (symbolized by Moses holding the staff of God as he prays for the Israelite army). Imagine Moses holding up the staff over his head in both hands, like a banner. That would become tiring (and we see the significance of his helpers in a moment) – but it reflects trust in God that is confirmed by the name of God Moses applies to the altar he builds after the victory: Yahweh Nissi, God is my banner. This indicates that God fights for His people when they trust Him to do the fighting, obeying His instructions.

Third we see the significance of Aaron and Hur’s presence with Moses. Just as Joshua is not alone in fighting the battle, so Moses is not alone in fighting the prayer battle. It is almost unheard of in scripture for God to call an individual to prevail alone over God’s enemies. Even Jesus had only the 40 days in the wilderness alone, but worked with His disciples for the rest of His ministry until His lonely death in our place. This shows us that following Jesus (and obeying God) is almost never a solitary spiritual exercise. We are designed to work together, and called to help one another.

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 27

February 27.

Moses & Water from the Rock — Moses strikes the rock (i.e. Christ) for life-giving water.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 17:1-7

Reading 2: Psalm 78:12-25

Reading 3: 1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Today’s readings show us God’s patience with us, and His provision for us. They also show us ourselves, reflected in the attitudes and actions of the Israelites. How easily they complain and fail to trust God – it is almost as if they had not seen any of the miracles God did. And so for us – how easily we forget that Christ is our rock – our Savior. This world is not our home, and God has already promised to bring us through every trial we face. How then can we complain when things go wrong from our perspective?

Thank God that the water of Christ is living water and will wash us clean when we fail, refresh us when we lack, and carry us to our eternal home.

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 25

February 25.

Moses & the Manna — The bread from heaven & the Word of God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 16

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 8

Reading 3: Matthew 4:1-4

If you read today’s readings in a newer translation, the full contrast between God’s patient training and Israel’s sin-fuelled self-will is clear. Repeatedly the people of Israel show they are set on their own understanding, their own needs, and their own preferences, more than on obeying God’s instructions. And this is despite the supernatural deliverance from Egypt and the miraculous escape across the Red Sea.

They are much like young children, needing to be patiently trained in the right way; the chapter from Deuteronomy shows that most clearly. In our society we tend to see discipline as punishment to be avoided, but in God’s Kingdom discipline makes us disciples.

Even Jesus was tested by hard times in the wilderness! And He tells us that true life comes from hearing God’s voice and obeying God’s loving instructions, not from focusing on earthly needs that distract us from God.

Moses knew this too, when he told the people in Deuteronomy 8:18: “Remember the lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.”

Let’s take that advice to heart today, and watch God provide, direct, and disciple us.

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 24

February 24.

Moses & his Songs — Three of Moses’ songs in scripture.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 15

Reading 2: Psalm 90

Reading 3: Revelation 15:1-4

With all the drama of the past two days, we welcome a slight pause today to read the song that Moses and the people of Israel sang after they had crossed the Red Sea, along with a Psalm written by Moses and the song in the Book of Revelation which the Apostle John tells us is the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb (i.e. Jesus).

Worship is our only right response to God’s power. The people of Israel saw two great miracles within a month – they survived the supernatural death of all the firstborn in Egypt which prefigured the death of Jesus and achieved their freedom from slavery. Then a short time later they were supernaturally enabled to cross the Red Sea after their former enslavers tried to reverse their exodus; those pursuers were swept away by the same waters that Israel had seen parted for them.

So as you read and worship today, recall the circumstances in your own life where what seemed overwhelming to you actually overwhelmed the enemy in your life. And also recall how Jesus died to set you free from the slavery of sin. One lamb for so many slaves!

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 23

February 23.

Moses & the Red Sea — Moses’ faith at the Passover & crossing the Red Sea.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 13

Reading 2: Exodus 14

Reading 3: Hebrews 11:24-29

If you thought yesterday’s reading of the Passover and the death of all the firstborn was dramatic, today’s reading is perhaps even more dramatic!

God leads the Israelites on a circuitous path, bringing them to the exact spot where He knows He can get them across the Red Sea on dry land. At the same time the meandering will trick the Egyptians into chasing after them so that God can demonstrate that He is more powerful than the world superpower of the day, and that His people are protected while His enemies are defeated.

So God takes them around the wilderness to the Red Sea (likely the Gulf of Aqaba; see here), and then arranges miraculous circumstances to both bring the Israelites across the Sea, AND drown all the Egyptian Army in the same water!

What you are going through today may seem overwhelming, but God will both deliver you and do away with your enemies, if you will walk by faith and trust Him.

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 22

February 22.

Moses & the Passover — The origin of the Passover Lamb & Jesus our Passover Lamb.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 11

Reading 2: Exodus 12

Reading 3: 1 Corinthians 5:7

Today, God carefully completes the work He has been doing, to liberate every one of His people from slavery. The instructions for the Passover focus on the death of a young animal brought into the family and then killed. This death is necessary for the family to be saved as God passes over the nation and kills all the firstborn of families not submitting to God in this way.

Is God a bloodthirsty God? No; there is nothing in these instructions that suggests the blood and death is necessary to satisfy some thirst for vengeance in God. Rather, God has been very patient with Pharaoh, giving him multiple opportunities to obey and comply. Also, God is using this night of powerful liberation as a symbol to pre-figure what He is going to do in the future, as Jesus becomes our Passover Lamb. For the Israelites it cost them a valuable member of their flocks. For God it cost Him His only Son.

There are multiple symbolic messages in these chapters, and another is the exclusion of yeast. Anyone who has baked knows that yeast starts small but has a large effect, getting into the whole loaf and causing it to puff up with carbon dioxide, just as a little selfishness can puff up a person into a proud and stubborn resister of God. That is what happened to Pharaoh, it is also what happened to satan, and Paul writes to the Corinthians warning them to avoid such things happening to them.

We can celebrate today, that God is willing to go to such lengths to set us free from sin and pride, bringing us out into the promise of relationship with Him.

Have a great day!

Mark.

 

February 21

February 21.

Moses & the Miracles — God reveals Himself through miracles & plagues.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 7

Reading 2: Exodus 8

Reading 3: Psalm 105:23-38

We said yesterday that we were entering a power struggle, and today the power is unleashed full-force! God’s power is seen clearly and increasingly, yet Pharaoh refuses to give in. This is not just an example of stubborn refusal – the Egyptians believed the Pharaoh was a god and so this was his pride versus God Almighty!

Interestingly, there is also the power of magic and sorcery at play in this story. Occult powers can counterfeit some of God’s works, giving the appearance of power, but you see by the end of chapter 8 that the magicians and sorcerers concede that God’s power is greater.

Notice also how God sends Moses and Aaron to work together – Aaron obeying Moses and doing great and powerful things, to demonstrate and model the relationship God wants with us all – we do what He says, and He works through us for our blessing.

Power is a stubborn task-master, and Pharaoh still has some resistance left yet. We will see more next time.

Have a great day, and remember to do what God says!

Mark.

February 20

February 20.

Moses & Pharaoh — God’s message to Pharaoh & Pharaoh’s arrogant rejection.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 5

Reading 2: Exodus 6:1-13

Reading 3: Nehemiah 9:9-10

So the power struggle begins; the most powerful man on the earth and his nation, against God Almighty and His chosen nation.

As you read today, notice how Pharaoh’s responses reveal his heart, and ponder how power has corrupted him. He sounds a lot like satan in his proud ranting.

Also notice how God is patient with Moses, despite his misgivings, and leads Moses to lead the people. With the increasing burden the people don’t want to listen or obey any more, but God will not be thwarted.

This episode became a song or chant used by the Levites (the worship team) in the time of Nehemiah many centuries later after the rebuilding of Jerusalem. They led the people to sing: “You saw the misery of our ancestors in Egypt, and you heard their cries from beside the Red Sea. You displayed miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, his officials, and all his people, for you knew how arrogantly they were treating our ancestors. You have a glorious reputation that has never been forgotten.”

When God wins the victory, He does so FOR His people, and DESPITE His people, and THROUGH His people. But most of all it is for His glory.

Consider the ways God has proved Himself in your life, and give Him the glory today!

Have a great day!

Mark.

February 18

February 18.

Moses & the Burning Bush — God calls Moses & Moses gives various excuses.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 3

Reading 2: Exodus 4

Reading 3: Acts 7:30-36

Today’s reading is a contrast to some of the earlier chapters. For example, Exodus 1 covered a span of many years, and Exodus 2 covered more than 40 years, from the birth of Moses to his fleeing to Midian. Today’s chapters, recording how God starts His plan for rescuing the nation of Israel from slavery, take place over just a short time, when Moses is 80 years old.

There is another contrast with earlier stories too. We have seen how Abram fearlessly leaves his country and goes where God tells him. We have seen how Joseph consistently works diligently and rejects sinful temptations until God releases him into his destiny. But today we see a man who is used by God despite great insecurity and uncertainty. Moses tries every argument he can find to get God to use someone else!

From our viewpoint we can see how Moses was perfectly prepared for the task ahead. He knows Egyptian customs from personal experience, and he has spent forty years dealing with stubborn animals in the wilderness! But from Moses’ perspective the task ahead of him was more than he could handle. After several powerful encounters with God, he is persuaded and goes!

Have you ever felt unqualified and ill-equipped for the task God has given you? Today’s story teaches us that God wins the fight over who knows best!

Have a great day!

Mark.

 

February 17

February 17.

Moses & his Childhood — The faith of Moses’ parents & Moses flees Egypt.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: Exodus 2

Reading 2: Acts 7:17-29

Reading 3: Hebrews 11:23-26

The exiled Israelites have become a nation enslaved by fear and earthly power, but God is preparing a plan for His covenant to be fulfilled. That plan starts small (we have seen, and will continue to see, that God’s biggest plans have the smallest beginnings). A baby in a basket in the River Nile becomes a prince in Egypt, and learns all their ways and customs. What faith Moses’ parents displayed to trust God with their son, and it was that faith which opened the door to God’s plan.

As we read the rest of the chapter, and the explanations in Acts 7 and Hebrews 11, we see how faith continues to be the thread in this story, just as it was for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. That’s because this story is part of God’s One Story – to form a people of faith who will be His in eternity.

Early in Moses’ story we see a young man who thinks he can demonstrate God’s priorities in his own strength and with his own wisdom (that is also a pattern which is becoming familiar in the stories we have read). But God takes him into a desert place where his priorities and his faith can be formed and refocused. And while that is happening, the suffering of the Hebrews increases, preparing them for what God is about to do.

In our lives we often see such a cycle: immaturity leads to hardship and suffering, which helps us to learn and grow closer to God, whose plan is served by the lessons we learn. And in the end God’s plan wins, whatever the ungodly circumstances around it!

Have a great day!

Mark.