Daily Thoughts from Exodus: Don’t Delay

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your servants.”’”  And the LORD said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields. And they gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.  (Exodus 8:1-15 ESV)

Heqet…is an Egyptian goddess of fertility…represented in the form of a frog. To the Egyptians, the frog was an ancient symbol of fertility, related to the annual flooding of the Nile. (Wikipedia).  Who was God, Yahweh or Heqet?  Though the magicians of Egypt were able in a small way to duplicate Moses’ and Aaron’s calling up of frogs from the waters, Pharaoh obviously believed that their power was greater than his magicians and so he agreed to release the people to go worship Yahweh if Moses would remove the frogs.  He had had too much of his frog goddess.

Moses asks Pharaoh to set the time, and it is amazing that he chooses to wait a day, but Moses wants it to be clear that nothing happens to these frogs except at Yahweh’s command.  But once there is relief Pharaoh reneges on his promise, even as God predicted he would.  Pharaoh’s people suffer because of his hard heart, a common problem even to this day among leadership.

What are you putting off for a day?  What “respite” are you getting that hardens your heart to dealing with the problems  in your life?  Who is lord of your life, you or Yahweh?  You cannot duplicate the power of God.  Ask someone to pray for you that God’s power would release you from what you are putting off and then look for how He gives you His respite.

 

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

(2 Corinthians 6:2)

Daily Thoughts from Exodus: What You Were Meant to Do

Then the LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”  (Exodus 3:7-12 ESV)

Yahweh has a task for Moses.  He wants Moses to go to Pharaoh and somehow bring the children of Israel out of Egypt, bring them to this very mountain on which Yahweh has appeared to Moses, Mt. Horeb or Sinai as it is known.  God wants Israel to return to the land of the Canaanites, a place they left 400 years earlier under Jacob’s and Joseph’s leadership during famine, but that is now flowing with richness and abundance.

Moses, who was ready some 40 years ago to slay an Egyptian and mediate the conflict between Hebrews, no longer sees himself as leadership material.  “Who am I,” he asks.  God does not answer with how gifted Moses is or how special, or what a great leader he will be, though none of those things are wrong.  He answers with, “I will be with you.”  No matter how gifted we are or special, what is required for successfully serving Yahweh is Yahweh’s determination to make us successful and accomplish His purposes.

Yahweh has seen Israel’s suffering and is ready to respond.  It may bother us that He saw Israel’s suffering 40 or more years before and is only choosing now to act.  But He knows the right time and His response is genuinely motivated by His compassion for His people.  He hears our cries.  In His wisdom He responds when He responds, having laid out for Abraham 400 years earlier that this would be the timing for Abraham’s offspring to be enslaved in Egypt.  He sees the bigger picture so we must trust Him with the timing.

In one scene from the movie Superman, Clark Kent is upset after a football game in which he was reduced to being a manager. He possesses supernatural powers yet must hide them from peers who don’t accept him because he is not a star, only a team manager. Kent’s father slips an arm around the soon-to-be Superman and says, “Son, you are here for a special reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but I know one thing—it’s not to score touchdowns.”

Knowing what God has called you for is more than knowing your abilities and gifts.  It is listening to Him as He speaks into your soul what He wants you to do.  Maybe it is correcting something grossly amiss.  Maybe it is encouraging people who have no one in their corner.  Maybe it is providing leadership where there is none.  The point is, what He calls you to do He will equip you to do and be with you in the doing.

Ephesians 6:1-4 — Conversations with God

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

I can see, Lord, that You view children as having both a place of submission to their parents that leads to obedience and safety and a place of respect as those made in Your image.

They are, in Your view, unable to make sound decisions that will lead to healthy living so that it goes well with them and they live long in the land.  I suppose that it is possible that a parent or parents might give their children bad direction, causing them to make poor decisions that both result in unhealthy living and bring them into conflict with You.  I don’t suspect You would want children to obey such parents.  But normally, parents are concerned to help their children to live good lives, morally and spiritually correct lives.  And I thank You, Lord, for giving me parents who had that concern for me and my siblings.

But children are also, in Your view, worthy of respectful treatment.  Parents can’t treat their children as conveniences to push around at their will and still suppose themselves to be pleasing to You.  Parents can’t impose their authority on their children in such a way that they stir up anger instead of godly living.

It seems the way You are showing us to avoid such poor parenting is to make our goal bringing them up in Your discipline and instruction.  When my goal with my children is to show them Your ways that helps me exclude other goals I might have (like wanting them to fulfill my dreams, or making them my convenient slaves, or blaming them for my own failures, or demanding they be fully developed adults).

I know, Lord, that when I was a young parent I got off track at times in this area.  I would be angry at my kids for upsetting my peace, or not treating me with respect.  I would ask of them things they were not capable of doing.  I would not give them the time they needed to fill their hearts with security and love.  I provoked them to anger.  So thank You that You forgave me and protected them.

It speaks volumes to me, God, that You care this way for children and for parents, and so give us this instruction that we need.  You are an awesome Parent!

Ephesians 5:22-24 — Conversations with God

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Lord Jesus, I’m a husband and so are You.  My wife is to be subject to me as we, the church, are to You.  I dare say my wife has done a way better job of being subject to me than the church has to You.  That is as much a praise of my wonderful wife as it is an indictment of me as a part of Your church.  You have earned the right to have a submissive “wife” by becoming our Savior.  Forgive us for not being more submissive and obedient.

I don’t know, Lord, that I have earned my wife’s submission, but she has freely given it and trusted me beyond my trustworthiness.  Perhaps that trust has helped me become more trustworthy.  I want to be as wise and loving a leader of her as You are of us.

Being a follower of someone else, whose leadership might result in financial failures, unhealthy responses to stress, and less than godly paths, is an exercise in trusting You, really.  You are the one who put people in authority in our lives.  You know how subject to failure all leaders are, especially husbands.  Help my wife by helping me be a more stalwart “head” to her, and in so doing help me be a better, more submissive “spouse” to You.

Ephesians 4:11 — Conversations with God

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers…

You have always given generously to Your church, Lord Jesus.  The apostles You trained and gave to us and those You called after Your ascension have continued to provide a solid foundation upon which to build.  I love that they have been able to speak authoritatively for You without being overbearing or controlling.  The truths they were able to communicate in that first 60 or so years have faithfully guided us all these centuries.

Your prophets have been faithfully leading us all these centuries, as well, and those with prophetic gifts still serve to keep Your church on track.  Their insight from You has served as needed correctives and positive vision to lead Your church.

And the evangelists — what an extraordinary gift You have given us in men and women who faithfully proclaim the gospel and help people find an entrance into Your family and the church!  We need them and we need the pastors and teachers who faithfully, week after week, serve to train and equip us for ministry to each other and to a lost and dying world.

Lord, You have always supplied Your church with exactly what we need.  Please help us to recognize the gifted persons You have placed among us and not despise their gifts.  If You think we need them, we do.

Casting for Christians (Theology for Living from Philippians)

Bust of Menander. Marble, Roman copy of the Im...
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Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Paul’s letter to the Phiippians, chapter 3, verse 17)

One of our most ancient arts is casting, that is, the use of molds into which some liquified material is poured, allowed to set or cure, and then removed as a solid replication of the mold.  The mold, by necessity, is a work of art in itself and is able to be used over and over to turn out replicas.  Lifecasting is the art of taking molds directly from the human body. It is an ancient art form dating back to the time of the Egyptians where body casts were made as a means of transport to the next world.

One of the words used for mold is the Greek word tupos, sometimes translated as here in Paul’s letter, “example, model”.  Paul is urging his friends in Philippi to beware of false teaching that leads to wrong living.  But first he encourages them to imitate him and replicate the model he and his team have set for them.  They are the positive “mold” into which the Philippians may pour themselves to ensure they come out in the form desired by Jesus Christ.

Have you ever noticed that you become like those with whom you spend the most time or those whom you idolize or respect?  We have a proverb, “Bad company corrupts good character,” from the Greek poet Menander and quoted in our own 1 Corinthians 15:33 by Paul.  Paul is stating the corollary here in his letter to the Philippians.  Good company casts good character.

We need Christian casting.  We need not only teaching about how to live the Christian life, but molds into which we might be poured.  We need people with whom we might “hang” who know how to live for Christ and become our tupos, our example or model, and show us how to live.  This means we need to become tupoi (plural for tupos) ourselves, casting for other Christians who need a model or mold to fit into.

Are you in need of a Christian model?  Find one and hold on.  Do you need to become a Christian model?  There has never been more need for Christian casting than today.

The Quickest Way Up Is Down (Theology for Living from Philippians)

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

(Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, verses 9-11)

Here is the completion to the song/poem Paul shared with the Philippians as a teaching source on the humility that leads to unity.  It began with an astonishing description of Jesus’ willingness to give up the right to express His deity so that he might accomplish our salvation.  In humility of mind Jesus considered us more important than Himself and was moved to meet our needs above His own.

Now comes the startling and counter-intuitive exaltation of the humbled Jesus.  Because he was willing to humble himself God rewarded him by elevating him back to his position of glory he had shared with God the Father from all eternity.  And a declaration was made that he is indeed the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity, the Lord, Yahweh, of whom Isaiah said, “By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:  ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance’” (Isaiah 45:23).

Though Jesus humbled himself and no one could see his glory from his mere appearance, every tongue will one day be required to acknowledge who he is.  Those who can see who he is even in his humiliation have already acknowledged that he is Lord.  The demons currently must confess that he is Lord.  At the judgment, all knees will bow to him as their Sovereign.  Yet this great king first gave up his own rights, even as we must, in order to benefit the many.

Jesus himself taught us this lesson when he was here in his humbled state.  “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled,” he said, “and those who humble themselves will be exalted”  (Matthew 23:12).  He taught it and he lived it.  And now we must do the same.  Yes, there is inside us a desire to exalt ourselves, to make sure that people know what we did that deserves credit, to take care of ourselves even at the expense of others, to want our way no matter what, to be selfish and self-absorbed.  But this is the way of death.  This is the way that leads to the kind of humbling that God brings.

The Pharisees had trouble learning this lesson.  Politicians have trouble with it.  Pastors, too.  It is a danger of positions of leadership that we are tempted to think we are there because we are so great, rather than understand that God put us there to serve others.  The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.  The gospel will not advance outwardly (transforming hopeless people) or inwardly (transforming our residual sinful baggage and making us more like Jesus) unless we humble ourselves.

The quickest way up is down.