Early Lessons in the Wilderness

Soon after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea (Sea of Suf), they had to begin learning to trust the Lord for their daily provisions.  Their first lesson was at Marah (bitter).  This place was so named because the water there was bitter.  After the people complained about the water quality, the Lord told Moses to put a tree in the water so it could be made sweet.  At that time, the Lord gave the people a statute and an ordinance and He tested them.  He told them if they were obedient, they would not experience the diseases of the Egyptians.  He then revealed Himself as the Lord who heals them.

Exodus doesn’t tell us what these commandments were but the Targum does:

“And there did the Word of the Lord appoint to him the ordinance of the Sabbath, and the statute of honouring father and mother, the judgments concerning wounds and bruises., and the punishments wherewith offenders are punished; and there he tried (them) with the tenth trial, and said, If you will truly hearken to the Word of the Lord your God, and do that which is right before Him, and will listen to His precepts and keep all His statutes, all those evil things that I laid upon the Mizraee I will not lay upon thee: but if thou wilt transgress against the word of the law, upon thee shall they be sent. If thou convert, I will remove them from thee; for I am the Lord thy Healer.”[1]

The healing of the water at Marah was a picture of Christ.  When Jesus died on a wooden cross, it fulfilled Isaiah 53:5 which says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”  NKJV 

The wooden tree Moses put into the water removed the bitterness and purified the water.  As a result of Jesus death on the cross, we can be purified and healed both physically and spiritually.  He will take away our heart of stone filled with bitterness, hatred, and evil desires and replace it with a heart of flesh so we can obey and serve the Lord with joy.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says it this way, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”  NKJV 

The Israelites moved on and camped by the waters of Elim where there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees.  Then they traveled to the Wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai.  By that time, the people were so hungry they began complaining against Moses and Aaron.  They seemed to have forgotten the power with which the Lord had brought them out of Egypt.   At that point, the Lord promised Moses that He would provide meat (quail) in the evening and bread from heaven (manna) in the morning. 

The Lord gave commands regarding the collection of the manna.  By the way, the word manna comes from “man hu?” which means “what is it?”   The Israelites were instructed to collect an omer (approximately 2 quarts or liters) of manna per person per day but twice as much on the 6th day of the week.  They were not to allow any to remain until morning unless it was being held for the 7th day (Sabbath).  This meant the Israelites would have to rely on the Lord to provide for their needs each day. 

These instructions were not only to teach dependence on the Lord for daily sustenance but they were also a test to see if the people would obey the Lord’s law for the Sabbath or not.  It didn’t take long for them to fail the test.  Apparently, some people went looking for manna on the 7th day even though the portion for that day had already been given on the previous day.  Moses had to emphasize that the 7th day of the week (Saturday) had been given to them as a day of rest.  Moses told them not to collect manna or leave their place on the Sabbath.  This wasn’t a punishment.  The Sabbath was a gift of rest they were expected to enjoy.  This is something they would have to learn how to do because they were so accustomed to working all the time.

Do we fail tests God gives us too?  Do we always see His commands as hindrances in our lives?  Do we know how to rest on the Sabbath which is the 7th day of the week?  Maybe we’d be more cooperative if we understood the significance of it.

First Corinthians 10:1-5 says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”  NKJV

If we are Christians, we are under the Father’s grace.  We’ve passed through a sea of clean and unclean people in order to approach the Lord and have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We eat the bread and wine of the marriage covenant which represents the body and blood of Christ each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus is the Living Water and the Bread of Life that came down from heaven so we can be raised up to have eternal life with Him (John 4:10, 6:32-40, 7:38; Rev. 7:17).  If we do not partake of (accept) Jesus, the Bread of Life and Living Water, we cannot experience the future Sabbath God has planned for us (John 6:5; Heb. 4:1-3).  Please understand that those who ate manna, drank from the rock, and rested on the Sabbath in the wilderness practiced God’s plan or pattern for the future without realizing it. 

When we don’t properly observe the Sabbath, we’re attempting to change God’s pattern.  This is what the Antichrist will do when he attempts to change times and law (Dan. 7:25).  When we don’t properly observe the Sabbath, we’re unknowingly following the plan of the Antichrist.

Instead of following the Antichrist, we should seek shelter from the Rock or Horn of our Salvation and remember He’s our Deliverer, our Fortress, and Our Strength (Psalm 18:2-3).  Our Rock will take care of us and make sure we enjoy our coming Sabbath rest.  Put your trust in Him!


[1] Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Section XVI. Beshalach.   http://targum.info/pj/pjex13-17.htm

 

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Crossing The Red Sea

 

As Exodus 13 begins, the Lord commanded that the firstborn of the womb of man and beast to be consecrated to Him.  This command is really given as bookends in Exodus 13:1-2 and Exodus 13:11-16.  These bookends point toward the Lord’s command to remember and celebrate the day the Israelites came out of Egypt.  According to 1 Corinthians 5:8, we are to celebrate “not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  Because Jesus was our Passover Lamb, we can all be redeemed and consecrated to the Lord as we trust in the atonement of Christ our Savior.  We are expected to live a life of dedication to the Father just as Jesus did.  We are also to be a kingdom of priests with Jesus as our High Priest from the line of Melchizedek. 

In celebrating the feast, the Israelites were to remember that the Lord killed the firstborn men and beasts of Egypt but He redeemed the Israelites and forced Pharaoh to expel them from Egypt.  When the Israelites left, they were armed for battle but God did not want His people to face war at that time because they might have returned to Egypt.  To avoid that, God led them around the desert road toward the Sea of Suf (or Sea of Reeds) which is often translated “Red Sea.”  This was most likely a more northerly route compared to the road through the Philistine country and opposed to the southern route that is traditionally suggested by many.  The Bible tells us that the Lord went ahead of them guiding them in a pillar of cloud during the day and in a pillar of fire by night.  

The Israelites camped at Pi Hahiroth by the sea opposite of Baal Zephon according to God’s command.  It seems God wanted to draw the Egyptians out in order to destroy them.  Upon seeing the Egyptians, the Israelites were very afraid but Moses assured them that the Lord would fight for them.

The Lord commanded Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites could go through the sea on dry ground because the Lord intended to gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army and through his chariots and his horsemen.  This would cause the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord.  It was at that time that the Angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them to position Himself between the armies of Egypt and Israel.  In other words, He became their rearguard. 

I’m sure the Israelites were amazed as they walked across the sea on dry ground while a wall of water was on their right and left sides.  Can you imagine the wonder of it all?  After everything God had done in Egypt, the Egyptians failed to fear the power of the Lord.  Certainly, they realized God was performing a miracle by separating the sea and creating walls of water on the right and left side.  Do you ever wonder if they considered for a moment that those walls of water might fall as they began pursuing the Israelites into the sea?

Eventually, the Lord caused the Egyptians to panic by causing their chariot wheels to come off.  The Lord commanded Moses to put his hand out over the water again so the water returned and came crashing down on the Egyptians and their chariots like a flood.  The Israelites later saw their dead bodies lying on the shore and sang a song of praise to the Lord.  This song is in contrast to the son of the Lamb that will be sung in the future (Revelation 15).

The Exodus of Egypt shares parallels with the vision John recorded in Revelation 12:1-9.  The woman about to give birth in this passage is Israel.  She was clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head.  She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.  These labor pains are comparable to the pain caused by the plagues of Egypt that took place prior to the 12 tribes of Israel being expelled from Egypt.  These will also be analogous to the coming seals and trumpets of Revelation.

As Revelation 12:3-4 continues, Pharaoh and his armies show similarities with the red dragon who swept a third of the stars out of the sky.  These represent Satan and his demonic host who have always desired to destroy the 12 tribes of Israel.  As we already know, Satan tried to destroy Jesus within two years after His birth.  Since that strategy failed, Satan must have been delighted when Jesus died on the cross but was furious when He rose from the dead.  Satan knows Jesus is destined to rule all the nations with an iron scepter.  Satan doesn’t want that to happen so he must prevent it somehow.  To accomplish this, he needs another scheme.

Revelation 12:14-17 provides us with his next game plan:  “But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  

Revelation 12:6 and 14 is prophetic of the woman (Israel) who will flee into the desert at some time in the future to a place prepared for her by God so she can be taken care of for 1,260 days (42 months OR a time and times and half of a time of tribulation).  This is the final time period prior to Jesus’ return.  This prophecy should remind us of how the Israelites fled into the desert after their Exodus from Egypt where they would spend the next 40 years being cared for by the Lord.  It is also comparable to how the Jews fled Jerusalem just prior to the destruction of temple in 70 C.E.

Revelation 12:15-17 specifies Satan’s future strategy will be a flood which will spew from the mouth of the serpent to destroy Israel.  I don’t know exactly how or when this will take place but since the Lord destroyed Pharaoh and his army with water crashing down on them like a flood, Satan will consider that to be a good means to destroy God’s people and attempt to do the same.

When God causes this to fail, Satan will wage war against those who trust in Christ who are living throughout the world.  Fortunately, when the appointed time finally comes, Jesus will return to deliver His people from their enemies and they will rejoice.

As we celebrate the past, let’s remember to look forward to the physical and spiritual deliverance God has planned for His people in the future and praise Him!

Passover – The Final Plague of Egypt

As Exodus 11 begins, the Lord told Moses that there will be only one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt.  This is the one that would cause Pharaoh to not only let God’s people leave Egypt, but they would be driven out of Egypt.  It was time to plunder the Egyptians by asking them for their gold, silver, and clothing. 

Strange as it may seem to us, Moses was considered great in Egypt by Pharaoh’s servants and the people.  Perhaps this was because they had seen the power of God demonstrated through him.

With this final plague, God reminded everyone that He makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel.  Moses warned Pharaoh that all of the firstborn whether male or female, servant or free, animal or human would die and that there would be a cry in Egypt unlike anything in the past or the future.  He said that all of Pharaoh’s servants would bow down to him and tell him and his people to get out.  Moses was very angry when he left Pharaoh’s presence.

When Jesus returns in the future, He will make a distinction between the righteous and unrighteous too.   Our Messiah will make the real squatters and invaders in Israel leave and they will be angry.  Many of the unrighteous will die in battle but there will still be people who did not go to war that will remain on earth for His millennial reign.  You can be sure that every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord at that time. 

I find it interesting that Moses was angry when he left Pharaoh.  I believe this was a righteous anger considering Pharaoh had repeatedly refused to heed the word of the Lord.  Anger is an emotion that many of us have been taught is wrong but it is an emotion that God gave us and one that Jesus experienced and acted on.  After all, who would dare say Jesus sinned in His anger when He drove the moneychangers and merchants out of the Temple?  Some believe that anger is wrong depending on how you express it.  That makes me recall Phineas, the son of Eleazar who took a javelin and thrust it through a man of Israel and a Midianite woman at the same time at Baal of Peor (Num. 25:6-13).  The Lord said this demonstration of zeal for God turned back His wrath.  We would have considered Phineas’ action to be an impulsive murder and way out of line.  This leads me to believe that a righteous reason for anger is important to God when determining the appropriateness of an action and/or determining if someone has sinned in their anger or not.  We can be sure that those who will be angry when they are cast out of Israel will not be justified because of their lawlessness and unbelief.

Moses may have been angry with Pharaoh but God forewarned him that Pharaoh would not listen or obey him so that the wonders of the Lord could be multiplied in Egypt.  Certainly, what happened in Egypt would be heard throughout the known world and would put fear into the hearts of those who would encounter the Hebrews in the future.

Before that could happen, the Lord also had to prepare His people for the last plague.  Previously, God had made a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel that did not require anything from His people.  This time would be different because He would require faith demonstrated by obedience to God’s commands. 

The Lord explained this month was the first month of the festival year.  It was the month in which the barley was ripe (Aviv/Abib).  It would be later known as the month of Nissan.  The congregation of Israel was commanded to take either a male lamb or goat in its first year on the 10th of the month and set it aside.  It was to be examined over the next several days for any defects.  It was to be killed at twilight (between the evenings) on the 14th of the month.  Its blood was to be smeared over the top of the doorframe and on the two doorposts using a bunch of hyssop.  The animal was to be roasted in the fire and eaten with matzah (unleavened bread) and maror (bitter herbs).  Anything that remained until morning had to be burned in the fire.  They were to eat it quickly with a belt on their waist, sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand.  It was the Lord’s Passover.

On that night, the Lord passed through Egypt and killed all the firstborn, both people and animal.  If the Lord saw the sign of the blood on a house, He passed over it and did not kill anyone that was dwelling there.

This day has been celebrated ever since as a memorial according to the command of the Lord.  The 14th of Nissan is known as the Preparation Day or Passover Eve (Erev Pesach).  The next 7 days are known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Passover.  The first (15th) and last day (21st) of the feast are considered High Sabbaths and there is to be a holy convocation or assembly held on those days.  The only work that can be performed on those days is the preparation of food.  Unleavened bread is to be eaten from the 14th through the 21st day of the month at evening.  No leavening agents are to be in the house during that time.  Anyone, whether they are a foreigner or citizen of Israel who eats what is leavened, will be cut off from the congregation of Israel.  This would be the equivalent of losing your salvation. 

God still expects us to observe and teach our children this as an ordinance forever.  All Jewish or foreign males must be circumcised in the flesh in order to observe the feast.  As we abstain from eating leavened foods, it should remind us of the need to avoid sin in our lives.  We should always strive to be obedient to the Lord, thereby showing our love for Him.  As we do so, we should remember that God loved us so much that He gave His Son to be our Passover Lamb so that we could have eternal life.

Do not forget that at midnight, the Lord did as He promised.  He came into the land of Egypt and struck all of the firstborn of man and animals throughout Egypt.  As a result of this, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron by night, told them to take the children of Israel along with their flocks and herds, and leave Egypt.  Not only that, Pharaoh asked for a blessing.  Even the Egyptians were encouraging the people of Israel to leave because they feared for their lives. 

The Israelites were so excited to leave that they had no idea what would happen to them in the near future but that is a discussion for another day.

This coming Monday is Erev Pesach.  Will you be observing the feast of Passover this year and in the future?  If you have never done so, you can get a Messianic Haggadah that you can use to lead you and your family through a Passover Seder.  Please keep the feast and allow God to bless you as you experience greater depth in your walk of faith in Jesus, our Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:8).

As you celebrate, remember the Lord’s death until He comes.  Jesus was a sinless lamb led to the slaughter.  He tasted wine mixed with bitter gall but wouldn’t drink it.  His feet and hands were nailed to the cross and He wore a crown of thorns on His head to picture the blood of the Passover lamb that was put over the lintel and doorposts of the homes in Egypt.  After He died, His body was buried according to the handling of the ashes of a red heifer (Num. 19:9-10; Matt. 27:57-60).  He was leavened or raised to life after 3 days and nights.  He became firstfruits from the dead and lives to intercede for us before the Father (1 Cor. 15:20). 

As you avoid products with leaving agents during the feast, let it be a reminder to purge and avoid lawlessness in your life.    As you do so, may you be richly blessed.

The Plagues of Egypt Begin

As the plagues of Egypt began to take place, no one knew how similar the coming events would be to those which will take place in the latter days.  As we review the events leading up to the Passover, let’s also consider what will happen in the last days.

As Exodus 6 ended, the Lord told Moses to go back to Pharaoh and say whatever He told him to say.  If you recall, Moses said he had uncircumcised lips and he didn’t think Pharaoh would heed him.

In the beginning of Exodus 7, the Lord reminded Moses that He had made him as God and that Aaron would be his prophet.  They were to say everything that God commanded them to say.  The Lord warned Moses ahead of time that Pharaoh would not obey.  God intended to harden Pharaoh’s heart and to execute judgment on Egypt so the Egyptians would know He is the Lord when He finally brought the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Moses and Aaron obeyed the Lord.  We are told that Moses was 80 and Aaron was 83 years old when they spoke to Pharaoh so they were not young men.  They had years of experience behind them but they needed to learn so much more including dealing with their fear.

Moses and Aaron were much like the two witnesses of Revelation 11 will be when they prophesy for the 1260 days prior to Christ’s return.  These witnesses are the two olive trees and menorahs (lamp stands) standing before the Lord and they will have authority and power similar to that of Moses and Aaron.

Aaron performed the first miracle before Pharaoh and his servants by casting down his rod so that it became a snake.  The magicians of Egypt, Janis and Jambres did likewise but their snakes were swallowed by Aaron’s.[1]  They did not yet know who they were dealing with.

Second Timothy 3:8 warns us there will be people in the last days like Jannes (Janis) and Jambres who will oppose truth.  They’ll have a form of godliness but deny its power.  We must live godly lives realizing the power of God and knowing what awaits those who refuse to put their trust in the Lord.  Our hearts must remain soft and pliable.  We must not allow our hearts to become like Pharaoh’s.

Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he refused to let God’s people leave Egypt.  The Lord commanded Moses and Aaron to meet Pharaoh by the riverbank when he went to the water in the morning, to tell Pharaoh to let His people go, and to strike the water with his rod so it would turn to blood.  By doing so, Moses was to prove to Pharaoh that He was the Lord.

Not only did Moses and Aaron turn the water of the Nile into blood but the water that was in streams, rivers, pools, and various containers was also turned into blood.  The fish in the river died, the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink the water.  This did not impress Pharaoh because his magicians copied Moses’ plague in Goshen.[2]

This plague should remind us of the second and third bowls (plagues) of Revelation 16.  The water in the sea, rivers, and springs turned to blood and every living thing in the sea died.  The angel said the wicked deserved it for killing God’s people and prophets.  Certainly Pharaoh deserved this plague for treating God’s people cruelly and killing many of them.

Consider the enormous contrast between this plague and when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2).  The master of the feast didn’t know where the wine came from.  He only knew it was better than what had been served first.  By doing this, Jesus blessed everyone who drank this wine, He manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him because their hearts were not hard like Pharaoh’s.

The battle between Moses, Aaron, and the magicians continued with a plague of frogs.  Pharaoh asked Moses to have the Lord take away the frogs and promised to let His people go so they could make sacrifices to the Lord.  Moses said the frogs would depart the next day and only would remain in the river so Pharaoh would know there is no one like the Lord our God.  The Lord did according to Moses’ word but Pharaoh was quick to harden his heart again.

The plague of frogs in Egypt can be compared to the frogs in Revelation 16.  The sixth angel poured out his bowl (plague) on the great Euphrates River.  The water dried up so the kings of the east might be prepared.  John saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, beast, and false prophet.  These frog-like spirits were demons which performed signs to gather the kings of the earth for the day of God Almighty – for the Battle of Armageddon.

As our story In Egypt continued, Pharaoh was in a spiritual and physical battle with the Lord but He refused to acknowledge that the Lord, He is God.  In the last days, the kings of the earth will not realize they are in a spiritual and physical battle with the Lord.  They will fight until the bitter end. 

The third plague the Egyptians experienced was when Moses and Aaron turned the dust of the earth into lice.  The magicians could not copy this plague and told Pharaoh that this plague was the result of the finger of God.  Despite this, Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.

From this point on, God made a distinction between the Egyptians and His people.  We see a similar distinction in Revelation.  The first five seals and first four trumpets affected both believers and non-believers in an attempt to get them to repent of their sins.  The seventh seal, the fifth and sixth trumpet, and all seven plagues (bowls) of God’s wrath and judgment fell only on those who were loyal to the beast.  

The fourth plague in Egypt was swarms of flies.  Pharaoh offered to let God’s people make sacrifices in the land of Egypt but Moses said the Egyptians would consider it to be an abomination to them and they would respond by stoning God’s people.  Moses insisted on going a 3 day journey into the wilderness to do so.  Pharaoh agreed as long as they didn’t go too far away.  He then asked Moses to intercede for him.  Moses promised to do so but warned Pharaoh not to be deceitful any longer.  The Lord made the flies go away but Pharaoh hardened his heart again and did not keep his promise. 

The fifth plague in Egypt was pestilence against the livestock.  It killed the cattle, horses, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep.  This should remind us of the prophet Habakkuk who described God coming in the future from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.  Habakkuk said that pestilence went before Him and fever followed at His feet (Habakkuk 3:5).

For the sixth plague, Moses took ashes from a furnace, threw them in the air, and caused boils to break out on the Egyptians and their beasts.  This plague reminds me of the first bowl (plague) of Revelation 16:2:  “…disgusting and painful sores appeared on all the people who had the mark of the beast and worshipped its image.”

The seventh plague in Egypt was a hailstorm that killed any man or beast that did not heed Moses’ word and remained in the field instead of being sheltered at home.  The hail was also accompanied by thunder and fire.  It destroyed the herbs, flax, and barley and broke every tree of the field.  In Revelation 8:7, the first trumpet brought hail and fire mingled with blood.  A third of the trees were burned up and all of the grass was burned up.

The eighth plague in Egypt brought locusts on an east wind that ate everything the hail left.  These natural locusts should remind us of the locusts mentioned in Revelation 9.  These locusts were not the same kind of locusts in Egypt.  They were not to harm the grass, plants, or trees but only the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads.  They weren’t allowed to kill people, only to inflict pain on them for five months.  Joel described these locusts as God’s army and as a nation that comes against His people so that His people repent, fast, and call a sacred assembly in preparation for the Day of the Lord.

The ninth plague is that of a darkness that could be felt and it lasted for 3 days.  Surely if this darkness could be felt it was not only a physical darkness but a spiritual darkness as well.  Perhaps this darkness is similar to the three hours of darkness that took place the day Jesus died on the cross – a time when spiritual darkness ruled.  Darkness is also mentioned in Zephaniah 1:14-18:

“The great day of the Lord is near; It is near and hastens quickly.  The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; There the mighty men shall cry out.  15 That day is a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, 16 A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers.  17 “I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the Lord; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse.”  18 Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the Lord’s wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.”

I would not want to be in the land of Israel at that time.  I would want to be safely hidden away in some other place.  We are nine plagues down and one more to go.  Please come back next time for a discussion of the last one…

 

[1] Targum Pseudo-Jonathan http://targum.info/pj/pjex6-9.htm

[2] Ibid.


Moses’ First Encounter With Pharaoh

As Exodus 5 begins, Moses and Aaron have finally come to Pharaoh to inform him that the Lord, the God of Israel says to let His people go so they can celebrate a festival in the desert to honor Him.  Pharaoh knew of the vast number of gods of Egypt but Pharaoh didn’t know the Lord, the God of Israel.  Since he didn’t know the Lord, he wouldn’t let Israel go. 

Moses and Aaron explained that the God of the Hebrews had met with them.  They asked permission for the Hebrews to go three days’ journey into the desert in order to make sacrifices to the Lord their God.  They warned that if they didn’t go, the Lord might strike them with a plague or with the sword.  It is here that Pharaoh is first warned of what will eventually happen if he refuses to cooperate.  Unfortunately, he didn’t know who the Lord was.

Pharaoh could only see that Moses and Aaron desired to take the people away from their work.  Pharaoh punished the people for Moses’ and Aaron’s request by making the Hebrews find their own straw which was needed to make bricks and by requiring them to meet the same quota of bricks as before.  The people suffered greatly under this shift in work policy and placed the blame on Moses and Aaron.

I’m sure Moses and Aaron felt terrible about the turn of events and certainly felt responsible for the increased misery experienced by their brothers.  Exodus 5:22-23 says, “So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.”

Consider your circumstances.  Do you feel God has called you to a task but the people you are ministering to resent your presence and work?  Are you questioning your call?  Are you seeking the Lord?  Are you doing exactly what He wants you to do and not what your flesh thinks you should do?

Didn’t the Lord warn Moses ahead of time what was going to happen before His people would experience deliverance?  Don’t expect things to always go according to your expectations.  Sometimes things get worse before they get better.

Doesn’t the Lord always keep His promises?  We must remember He always does so according to His timetable and not ours.  In addition, He carries out His plans His way and not ours.

Exodus 6:6-8 told Moses:  “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the Lord.'”

Even though Moses passed this message on to the children of Israel, they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage.  They simply could not hear or receive these incredible promises.

Could it be that in your given situation you can’t hear or receive the Lord’s promises or answers to your prayers because of anguish of spirit that is being experienced by yourself or those around you?  Could it be a result of spiritual or physical bondage in your life?

The Lord told Moses to go again to Pharaoh and demand that he let His people go.  Moses thought that if his own people wouldn’t heed him, Pharaoh wouldn’t either since he was a man of uncircumcised lips.  Moses didn’t consider himself worthy of his calling yet the Lord still gave him and Aaron a command for the children of Israel and for Pharaoh, to bring His people out of Egypt.

Do you feel like a failure sometimes and think you are so unworthy that God can’t use you to fulfill His will?

We need to understand that no one is really worthy to do anything for God.  Strange as it may seem, God chooses to use ordinary jars of clay to accomplish His purposes.  This is so the glory will go to the Lord and not His servants.  When we feel like failures, we need to stop groveling over our circumstances, stand up, resist the thoughts that hinder us, and be cleansed vessels of honor that God can use for His glory.  Believe me, I’m speaking to myself just as much as to whoever is willing to listen to me.

We must accept the fact that we will not always be respected or believed by those we associate with, serve, or lead.  We may not always behave appropriately either.  We are human and we are prone to making serious errors in judgment.  We can’t let these things be an excuse to give up.  That would give Satan a victory.  Instead, we must keep our eyes focused on the Lord and obey Him with the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We must remember that it is not us but it is God who makes everything work out according to His plans.

God fully intended for Moses to lead a mixed multitude that consisted primarily of the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel out of Egypt.  A lot still needed to happen before that particular day came.  Even so, it would only be the beginning of learning to depend and trust the Lord.

Remember, no matter what God calls you to do, it won’t always be easy.  We must continually depend on and trust in the Lord.  We must seek Him in all things, be obedient, and keep taking steps of faith each day of our lives.