Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Exodus 2:11-25 - The Life of Moses

When Moses was 40 years old, he visited his own people, the Israelites (Hebrews).  He saw their hard labor.  Then he saw an Egyptian mistreating one of them.  He went to his defense and avenged the Hebrew by killing the Egyptian.  Moses couldn't stand injustice.  He always looked out for the weaker person.  He became known as a great emancipator. Moses looked around to see if anyone saw what he was about to do, because he knew killing was not right.  He saw the cruelty and was compelled to take action. (Ex. 2:11-13).  He looked this way and that way, but failed to look up at God.

What Moses did was wrong.  He had no authority to pronounce a death sentence on anyone.   As Christian we are tempted to use the world's method to achieve results, but we should remember that we are to use God's weapons of the truth - the Bible and prayer.  Moses' heart was right, but his actions were wrong.

Principle:  God's work must be done in God's way and in God's time.

Moses had some bad character traits.  He was filled with hate, anger, vengeance, arrogance, and was short-tempered.  Yet he also had good traits.  He was concerned for the weak, compassionate, brave, bold, and self-confident.

What character traits, good or bad, do others see in you?

Moses thought his own people would see him as their deliverer.  After all Moses had status and surely they would see how important he was.  (Acts 7:25).  His people did not see him that way.  They rejected his leadership.  In Heb. 11:24-36 Moses chose a hard life with God's people and refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter.  By making this choice it cost Moses his status, power and wealth.  "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." - Heb. 11:26.

When the Pharaoh heard about what Moses had done, he tried to kill him.  Moses knew he could not survive in Egypt and had to flee the country.  He fled to Midian.  Midian was a desert land.  Today is Saudi Arabia.  While there, Moses sat down to rest by a well.  The priest of Midian had 7 daughters and they came to draw water at the well to water their flock.  Some shepherds drove them away, but Moses came to their rescue and helped them water their flock. (Ex. 2:15-17).  Moses was repaid with kindness and was invited to stay with Reuel (Jethro), the priest.  Since Pharaoh wanted him dead, Moses had nowhere else to go so he took him up on his offer.  Moses was then given his daughter, Zipporah as his wife.  Zipporah gave birth to a son.  Moses named him Gersham saying, "I have become a alien in a foreign land." - Ex. 2:22.  Moses felt like a foreigner.  He was home sick for Egypt.

The Israelites remained in Egypt in slavery.  "The Israelites continue to be in slavery and cried out to God.  God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.  So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." - Ex. 2:24-25.  This doesn't mean God had forgotten about the Israelites, because it is impossible for God to forget his people.  In Deut. 4:31 He tells us, "For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath."  Maybe they thought He had forgotten them.  God knew their pain and their situation and was preparing them for the rescue to come.  He was preparing their deliverer, Moses.  God was about to do something great to set them free!

Principle:  God listens, remembers, understands, and keeps His promises.

What do you do when you face difficulties?
Do you turn to God?
Moses spent the next 40 years alone with his thoughts as a shepherd in Midian.  During those years he learned humility.  He learned to be patient and his over-zealous temper was smoothed. In Midian God was preparing Moses to deliver His people.  God didn't forsake Moses just because he did wrong in Egypt.  God continued to love him and use him to do His work just as He loves us and uses us no matter what we have done in the past.  Mistakes do not disqualify us for God's service.

What is God teaching you?
Are you depending on Him instead of yourself?
Have you been set in a solitary place?  Take that solitude as God's gift to you and learn to know Him in your quiet times through Bible study and prayer.

God is able to work in us to overcome our failures and then work in spite of them.  He is actively involved in our lives.  He hears our cries, he remembers us, and He watches over us.  God remembers our faith, in spite of our failures.  Moses is praised for his faith 3 times in Heb. 11 and not once is his sin of murdering the Egyptian mentioned.  God says, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." -  Heb. 8:12.

Principle:  Go remembers our faith, in spite of our failures.

God took care of Moses and the Israelites.  How has God cared for you this week?

Moses wrote the book of Exodus.  He didn't tell all about his accomplishments.  He told about his sins and failures.  Moses' parents must have planted seeds in his heart to glorify God for him to choose his people over wealth and status.  He must have been sensitive to the Holy Spirit in his life and he made a choice to surrender to God.

What do you value in life? 
Do you value worldly possession or glorifying God?
Have you ever moved away from your comfort to serve God?

Principle:  God calls us to surrender our worldly desires to His heavenly plans.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Life of Moses - Exodus 1 - 2:1-10

Background of Egypt

Egypt was a fertile country and has been described as "the gift of the Nile".  It was extremely prosperous, wealthy, and sophisticated.  It excelled in art and music.  It had remarkable mathematical and engineering skills.  It was a pagan land and depicted its gods as animals like bulls, cows, birds, etc. 

Exodus 1 - The Plan of Persecution

This first chapter of Exodus describes how the Israelites became slaves to Egypt.  If you remember in our Genesis study, Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham and listened to God's voice.  Because of his wisdom and administration he was lifted to a high and honored office in Egypt.  There was a famine in all the land, but through Joseph's planning and God guidance Egypt prospered.  Joseph saved Egypt and the world.  He brought his family to Egypt where they prospered and lived peacefully as they increased in number.  God had promised Abraham that He would give them the Promised Land and that his descendants would increase and they would become a great nation.  That promise was coming true in Egypt. 

Now Joseph and all of his generation had died and the Israelites continued to be fruitful and multiply greatly.  They were now living under a new Pharaoh.  The Israelites had become so numerous that the new Pharaoh was afraid they would start to fight against him.  He did not know the history of Abraham and Joseph.  All he knew was "the Israelites have become much too numerous for us.  Come we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." - Ex. 1:9-10.  Pharaoh feared man, not God.  He was insecure and his ego took over.

Principle: Where fear of the Lord is absent, sin spirals.

What is fear of God?  Fear is to recognize God as Creator and Father.  We are His children and have a healthy respect for Him.  If you fear God, you fear nothing else.

What do you fear?
Who do you fear?
Do you fear consequences more than truth?
Do you fear God more than the cost of serving Him?

Satan hates the Jews because God promised to send the messiah through them.  That's why he stirred up Pharaoh against the Israelites to destroy the line of Christ.  He uses our fear, too.  We need to talk to God when we are afraid.  Name your fear to God.  Nervousness is fear.  Concern is fear.  Satan wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.  He wants to weaken our confidence so we will pass it on to the next generation. 

The Pharaoh came up with a plan of slave labor to control them.  He decided to make slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor.  But still they multiplied.  The Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.  They made their lives bitter with hard labor, but the Israelites multiplied even more. - Ex. 1:11-14.

Since the Pharaoh's plan didn't work, he came up with a second plan.  He wanted to kill every new boy baby born to the Israelites.  He told two Hebrew midwives (Shiphrah and Puah) when they helped the women in childbirth and in their delivery, if the baby is a boy they were to kill it.  They were to let the baby girls live.  This didn't work either, because the midwives feared God and bravely obeyed God rather than Pharaoh and let the boys live. - Ex. 1:15-19.  "So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous.  And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own." - Ex. 1:20-21.  Usually midwives were chosen because they could not have children, but God blessed them with children, because of their obedience to Him.

Shiphrah and Puah means beauty and splendor.  They risked persecution and even death, but they had faith and trusted in God.  The world exalts the great and despises the lowly, but God's way is different.  It is the exalted who are brought lowly and the lowly who are exalted, if they do the right thing out of reverence for God.  These midwives take their place beside other honored Gentiles like Rahab.  It is significant that God preserved their names, but not the name of the Pharaoh.

Are you humble and willing to be among the weak and despised of this world so God can work through you?
Do you glorify God in all you do?
Pharaoh had a third plan, since the first two didn't work.  He ordered every boy that was born to be thrown into the Nile. - Ex. 1:22.  Of course that didn't work either.  God had a plan and when He has a plan no one can stop Him.

How do you respond to your suffering?
Do you trust God that everything will turn out alright?

Where fear of God is present, there is wisdom and protection.
God is sovereign and in control.
God rewards those who obey and worship Him.
Healthy fear in God is revealed by trusting God.
Where are you trying to cling to safety?  Trust His protection.  The safest thing is to be obedient to God even if you have to take risks.

God has preserved the Jews throughout history.  The Nazis killed 6 million Jews thinking they had the final solution to the Jewish problem, but today more Jews are alive than ever before.  God has continued to protect them as a nation just as He promised Abraham.

Exodus 2:1-10 - Birth of Moses

Amram and Jochabed had two children, Aaron and Miriam.  This family was a believing family.  Even their names had spiritually meaningful names.  Then they had a baby boy named Moses.  Moses was a beautiful child and perhaps his mother thought he was  special baby.  "... they saw he was no ordinary child..." - Heb. 11:23.  They wanted to protect him and as any parent would, so they did what they could.  They hid him for three months, then they devised a plan to save him from being thrown into the Nile.  They trusted God more than they feared Pharaoh.  They made a basket and placed him in it and put him afloat in the Nile among the plants where it would not float away.  The place they chose was a place where to Pharaoh's daughter might find him. 

Moses' mother waited with true faith to see how God would save Moses.  Miriam watched at a distance until the he was found.  God is a God of every circumstance.  He guided the princess to the exact spot where Moses was.  She found him and instead of throwing him into the Nile as her father had instructed, she saw him crying and felt sorry for him.  He melted her heart.  She recognized him as a Hebrew baby and wondered how she would raise him.  Miriam ask if she could get one of the Hebrew women to nurse him for her.  That seemed like a good solution so Miriam quickly returned with Moses' mother.  Jochabed received her son again and was even paid to take care of him.  She had him until he was older and could be adopted by the princess.  The princess gave him the name of Moses meaning, "I drew him out of the water".

How can you exercise faith in God?
What situation do you face which you plan to trust God for the outcome?
How has God kept you safe and provided for you?

Nowhere in this story is God's name mentioned.  Yet we know He was there.  We don't always know or understand how God works in the world, but it is obvious that God is somehow at work in this story.  I love how God orchestrated the whole thing.  He was in charge of it all and brought His plan to be.

God protects and prepares His people to accomplish His plan.
God is a God of providence.
The root for salvation is fear of the Lord.
God protected Moses and had a plan.  He has a plan for our lives as well.  Do you believe this for your life?

A baby was born to a slave couple in dangerous circumstances, but turned out to be the greatest human emancipator and lawgiver the world has ever known.  His story was the story of the founding of a nation.  Moses is a type of Christ born of poor parents in a remote area then became the world's Savior.  In both Moses and Jesus, God brings deliverance and salvation.  There will be many miracles in the life of Moses and of God working through him to deliver the people.  There are more miracles in connection with Moses than with any other Bible character, except Jesus.  God is at work in your life even if you never recognize a miracle or answer to prayers.

Will you recognize His work and thank Him?
Will you trust God in all things, good or bad?
Follow my weekly posts as we continue the study of the Life of Moses.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Introduction to the Life of Moses

Why should we study the Bible?  It is the most valuable book in the world and of all time.  It's God's gift to us.  He has protected it down through the ages.  It is truth and its author is God.  "All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."  - 2 Tim. 3:16.  In other words it is the speaking of God.  God uses the Bible to reveal Himself to us.  The thread of how to be saved is in every single book.  God spoke through several men as they wrote different books of the Bible.  "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." - 2 Peter 1:21.

Its purpose is to lead us to belief in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is all through the Bible not just in the New Testament.  As we read and study the Bible, we need to apply it to our lives.  The Holy Spirit helps us to understand it.  We can't do it by ourselves.  Stop and ask God to give you the Holy Spirit to help you understand and hear God speak to you.

Are you willing to let the Bible influence your life?
Do you base decisions on what others tell you or do you seek God for answers?

God's Word reveals His character, His purposes, and His plans.
God's Word reveals His promises and His path to our redemption.
God's Word reveals His power in those who put their faith in Him alone.

Moses is a very important person in the OT.  His name is used 804 times in both the OT and the NT.  He was a humble, courageous, and a great leader.  God used Moses to lead Israel, establish the Hebrew people into a nation, and to lead them to the Promise Land.  Moses wrote the first 5 books.  The books of Exodus - Deuteronomy show the life of Moses.  Exodus means "to go out" or "exit".  God helped the Israelites to go out from Egypt. 

Moses was raised in the court of Egypt. He had the best of privileges and prestige and was exposed to the best educations and to the arts. This was all on the outside, but God knew his heart.  God put compassion in his heart for his people and used him to fulfill His plan in Egypt.  He had a heart full of faith.  Moses obeyed God though he did not know it all.  True faith recognizes its helplessness and has complete assurance of God's power.  God has something to teach you in the life of Moses.

Do you have a past you are ashamed of?  Moses had murder in his past.  God used Moses and He can use you, too.

Outline of Exodus - Deuteronomy
I.  Exodus - the first part of Moses' life; the Israelites trouble in Egypt; the events     and the plagues that led to the Israelites to leave Egypt; how God gave the Law to   Moses (the Ten Commandments); how the Israelites built the special holy   tabernacle; rules of worship.
II. Leviticus - laws and instructions for offerings, rules for holy living, the Sabbath, feast and seasons; conditions for God's blessings.
III. Numbers - Israel's year while camped at the foot of Mount Sinai; the journey from       Israel from Mount Sinai to the east side of the Dead Sea; the preparations for           entering and conquering Canaan (the Promise Land).
IV.  Deuteronomy - Israel about to enter the Promise Land, Moses reminded them of    their history of being God's chosen people; Moses reminded them of God's laws        including the Ten Commandments; Moses reminded them of the covenant with       God.

Exodus - God is redeemer of His people.  He dwells in our mists.
Leviticus - God is the Holy One and sets the standards for worship and how to live.
Numbers - God organizes and guides His people.
Deuteronomy - God is the Faithful Keeper.  He is Lord and is to be obeyed.

We will begin with the study of Exodus.  The book of Exodus emphasizes that God is holy and that He looks after His people.  God is Lord.  His Hebrew name is Yahweh.  His name means "the Person who lives for all time".  He called Himself "I Am" in Exodus 3:1-4.  We cannot understand His nature completely, but He shows Himself by His acts and commandments.  He loves and He forgives and He also punishes sin.  We gain more knowledge of Him through the His Word and through His Son, Jesus.

Follow my weekly posts for insights on the study of the Life of Moses.  We will begin with the book Exodus next week. 

Note:  Most of my posts will be a result of my studies through Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).