Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Exodus 15:22-18:27 – The Life of Moses

Last week we learned the story of God's deliverance - God's people delivered from God's wrath against sin, delivered by God's power, delivered for God's glory! 

Exodus 15:22-17:7 - God Provides Water and Manna

After God delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, Moses led them into the Desert of Shur.  They traveled for 3 days without finding water.  They finally found water, but it was bitter and they could not drink it.  The Israelites began to grumble against Moses saying, "What are we to drink?" - Ex. 15:24.  Really they were complaining against The Lord.  They had already forgotten what the Lord and Moses had done for them.  Moses turned to God for help.  God showed him a piece of wood and when he threw it into the water, the water became sweet.

Then God made a decree and a law for them.  If they would listen and do what was right in God's eyes, and if they would pay attention to His commands and keep all His promises, He would not bring any diseases that He brought on Egypt.  God said, "I am the Lord, who heals you." - Ex. 15:26.  Then they came to a place with 12 springs and 72 palm trees.  God provided as He always does. 

Where do you turn for help when all seems hopeless?
Do you remember what God has done for you in the past?
Do you listen to Him and obey His commands?

Abundant life comes from God.  He said, "I am the Lord, who heals you."  Why did they need to be healed?  They needed to be healed from a broken life as slaves and broken hearts from being oppressed.  We all have heart-break.  God can retrain our thinking to have the right perspective of Him.  He does not give us what we deserve.  He commands us to continually repent.  He heals us from our sins.

On the 15th day of the 2nd month (1 month after they left Egypt) the Israelites complained to Moses again saying, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death." - Ex. 16:3.  Again Moses turned to the Lord and the Lord said, "I will rain down bread from heaven to you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day they are to prepare what they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days." - Ex. 16:4-5.

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and He was trying to bring Egypt out of the Israelites.  He was retraining them.  God tested them by telling them to pay attention and following His instructions.  A test is used to strengthen the spirit.  It is a preparation for when trials come.  God wanted them to rely on Him.  Instead of praying they grumbled.  He knows you trust Him, but He wants you to know you trust Him.  Complaining is unproductive, praying is productive.  Praying shows belief. 

God was teaching them what it means to obey before He brings the Law.  Manna lasted 40 years, but God's Word is eternal.

Can you trust God for your daily needs?
How has God been testing you?
Have you been testing God or trusting God?

The Lord heard their grumbling and He said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread.  The you will know that I am the Lord your God.'" - Ex. 16:11-12.

Do you complain about your circumstances and blame others?  When you complain about anything, you are blaming and complaining against God.  He is the God of circumstance.  Our complaining is always against His ordering of our lives.  I hope you will stop and think before you complain next time.

Go gave them quail to eat in the evening and manna or bread in the morning.  Manna was an outright miracle.  It just appeared on the ground and was available year round.  It fed 2 million people.  The quail was temporary, but the manna lasted for 40 years.  Nothing in nature is like that.  Its attributes are like that of God's Word:  perfection, complete truthfulness, authority, and power to give life and change lives.  Manna was freely given to them.  They did nothing to earn it.  All they had to do was to gather it and they had to do it daily.  That's like God's Word.  He gives it to us freely and all we have to do it read and study it.  And it is best to do it regularly.  It is fresh every morning and will last forever.   

Manna is a symbol of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, "I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." - John 6:35.  "I am the bread of life.  Your forefathers ate the manna in the dessert, yet they died.  But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." - John 6:47-51.  Jesus is the source of life.  Without Him we will die  If we take Jesus into our inter beings, we will have eternal life.

The Israelites continued traveling in the desert and then they began to complain a 3rd time.  This time it was about water again.  Had they not learned anything?  They accused Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to die of thirst.  Moses told them they were putting the lord to the test.  They were looking to man and not to God.  They still lacked faith in God.  The Lord again provided for them.  It the presence of the elders God had Moses strike a rock and when he did, water came out.

In 1 Corinthians 10:4 Paul refers to this rock as a symbol of Jesus Christ.  In John 4 Jesus calls Himself living water.  "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." - John 7:37-38.

The Israelites grumbled and complained 4 times; in 15:24 they grumbled about no water; in 16:2 they grumbled about no food; in 17:2 they grumbled about no water again; and in 17:7 they tested God saying, "Is the Lord among us or not"?  Not once did they repent.

They had the habit of the sin of complaining.  They really needed God's cleansing power.  They needed to repent.  Repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God.  We all battle with sin throughout our lives and it's not easy, but with God the battle over sin becomes much easier.  Sometimes we are not even aware of our sin.  Ask God to reveal to you where you are sinning.  We can't hide our sin from God, because He knows them all.  Jesus died for every sin.  There is no sin He cannot forgive.

What sin do you need to confess and repent?
What things do you complain about?

Principle:  God cares for us despite our complaints and heals us of our bitterness.

Exodus 17:8-16  - God Provides Victory

The Amalekites attacked the Israelite at Rephidim and a battle was inevitable.  So Moses told Joshua to choose men to go and fight the Amalekites and that he would stand up on top of the mountain with the staff of God in his hands, which was usual done when praying.  Joshua was Moses assistant during the 40 years they were in the desert.  Moses then went up to the mountain along with Aaron and Hur.  Moses held his hands high with the staff of God during the battle.  As long as his hands were up Joshua was winning.  When his hands dropped, so did the troops.  Aaron and Hur helped Moses by keeping his arms steady and the Israelites were encouraged.  At sunset the Amalekites were defeated.

This raising of hands was a powerful, effective, and encouraged to the Israelites.  Prayer is necessary and important.  God told Moses to write down these things so Joshua and the people would remember and that it would be remembered for generations.  This is the first reference to actual writing of any biblical material.  When the battle was over Moses built an altar to the Lord and called it, "The Lord is my banner." - Ex. 17:15.

Are you dealing with struggles or disappointments?
Do you take them to God in prayer?
Who is your banner?
What kind of friend are you?
Do you support others when they need encouragement?

Principle:  Through prayer God empowers His people to experience victory in daily battles.

Exodus 18 - God Provides Judges

Moses had sent his family away.  We don't really know why, but he sent his wife and sons to her father, Jethro.  Maybe so they would be safe or maybe so they would not be a distraction to him during his encounters with Pharaoh.  Jethro heard all that God had done for Moses and the Israelites.  Jethro and Moses' wife and sons came to Moses in the desert.  Moses told him of God's power and Jethro praised God of all that had happened. 

Remember the Israelites were slaves and for such a long time they made no decisions for themselves.  Now they were free and needed someone to make decisions for them.  They needed direction.  Moses became the one they took their problem to.  Jethro saw Moses judging the people and was concerned that Moses would wear himself out.  Moses was working too hard trying to judge all the peoples' problems by himself.  Jethro suggested that Moses be the peoples' representative before God and to teach them the decrees and the laws and show them how to live and what duties to perform.  He is suggesting that Moses be their pastor and have a ministry of prayer, intercession, and seeking the wisdom of God on behalf of the people.

Then Moses should select from all the people capable trustworthy men who feared God and put them in charge over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens and to let them settle the disputes.  Then Moses could settle the more difficult problems.  Moses accepted Jethro's advice.

Are you willing to say something hard to someone that they need to hear?
Do you have a Jethro in your life?
Do you need to be a Jethro for someone?
Do you accept advice of other Christians or are you prideful?
Do you weigh their advice against God's Word?

Principle:  Wise leaders listen to godly advice.

Not letting others do things by trying to do it all yourself is pride, fear, and unbelief.  No one person in a church can do everything.  God gave each one a different gift and we are to work together.  In the New Testament leaders were appointed.  Jesus chose 12 apostles, deacons were called in Acts , and when Paul established churches he placed elders over the people.  Like the judges in the Old Testament, leaders today are to be trustworthy, honest, respectful, sincere, self-controlled, hospitable, able to teach, gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money, fear God, etc.  They are to be selected by the people.  See 1 Tim. 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9 for more qualifications.

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