Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Exodus 21-24 - The Life of Moses

Last week we learned the purpose of the law is to show God's character and awaken our own sinfulness.

Exodus 21-23:19 - The Book of the Covenant

God gave the 10 Commandments which is the moral law.  Now He is giving Moses the civil law for the nation of Israel.  Another name given for the civil law is the Book of the Covenant.  The people needed specific laws because they had been slaves for years and without any freedom.  They needed to know how to act and what to do in all kinds of situations.  God had to be very specific for them to live as His holy people.

Ex. 21:1-11:  Laws concerning Hebrew servants -

Slavery was not what it is today.  A poor person who owed a debt and unable to repay the debt it might put himself into slavery in order to be able to repay his debt.  God gave this law to regulate the slave institution that was in place.  There was to be no permanent servants.  After 6 years slaves were to be set free and the master was to provide the servant with possession to start a new life.  There was respect shown to the slave' family.  A wife could go with him when he was freed.  Also the slave had the right to choose to be a permanent slave suggesting that slavery was not always a bad thing.  If a daughter was sold to another servant, she was to have food, clothing, etc.  This law shows dignity for people and the value of families.

The Bible says we were slaves to sin and poor in spirit.  But through Jesus "You have been set free from and have become slaves to righteousness." - Rom 6:18.

Ex. 21:12-36:  Laws concerning personal injuries  -

These laws include a distinction between murder and manslaughter.  There is no distinction between classes of society even if they were slaves.  There were also laws concerning neglect of animals.

God values life.  Capital punishment is not murder.  It is judicial not personal.

Ex. 22:1-15: Laws relating to personal property  -

There is a distinction between losses that are done without malicious intent and losses that are involve negligence, theft or dishonesty.

Ex. 22:16-32: Laws concerning sexual and civic morality -

These concern the seduction of a virgin, sorcery, sexual relations with animals, worship of other gods, taking advantage of people, blasphemy, offerings, the firstborn, not eating meant of animals killed by other animals.  The most important verse is "You are to be my holy people" - Ex. 22:31.

Ex. 23:1-9:  Laws concerning justice and mercy -

These laws concern justice in the courts.

Ex. 23:10-19:  Sabbath laws and festivals -

Here there are laws concerning the Sabbath.  They were to work 6 days and rest on the 7th.  However they were to work the land for 6 years and rest the land on the 7th year.  All were in order that they and the land would be refreshed.

They were also to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which marked their exodus from Egypt.  They were to celebrate the Feast of Harvest.  They were to celebrate the Feast of the Ingathering, which is called the Succoth today.

God wants a relationship with us and wants us to apply the principles of His laws to our lives.  We are not to gossip, lie, be dishonest, go along with the crowd when we know what they are doing is wrong, be neglectful, and not murder.  We are to show respect to people, protect their rights, and keep the Sabbath. 

Do you respect the rights of others?
How do you spend your Sabbath?
In what ways are you resting on your idea of judgment rather than Gods?
How will you apply His principles to your life?
God calls us to apply the principles of His laws to our life.
Right relationships with others are based on a right relationship with God.

Ex. 23:20-33 - God's Angel Will Prepare the Way

Here God says He will send an angel ahead of them to guard them.  This angel is the preincarnate Jesus.  If they listen and do what the angel says, do not make a covenant with the people of the land, and do not let them live in their land, God promised several things for Israel.  He says "I will" 11 times.

"I will be an enemy to your enemy."
"My angel will go ahead of them and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out."
"I will take away sickness."
"I will give you a full life."
"I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter."
"I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run."
"I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way."
"I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate."
"Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land."
"I will establish your borders."
"I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you."

God said little by little He would drive their enemies out of the land.  He was developing them.  In the process they would develop a dependence on Him.  They are to make no comprises with the people of the land. 

We have the promise of eternal life without death and sickness.  We are not to comprise with the world, but stand firm in His truth and in His promises.

God was patient and took wise care of Israel.  He would give them protection against their enemies by confusing them and driving them out.  God helps us battle spiritual enemies, too.  Take your struggles to Him and He will give you strength and comfort in your situation.

Where do you comprise?
What is keeping you from total obedience to Christ?

God conforms us to the character of Christ as we take hold of His promises and obey His laws.
Obedience is the pathway to blessing.

Exodus 24 - God Confirms His Covenant
God called Moses to come up to the mountain and told Moses to give the people the laws.  Moses obeyed and told the people what the Lord had said.  They again said they would do everything the Lord said.  Then Moses wrote down all the Lord said.

The people wanted to obey and they meant it when they said they would.  God knew they could not as we will find out later.  None of us can keep the law perfectly.

Are you willing to do everything God has commanded you to do?
With what fear will you trust God's protection?

Moses then built an altar to God and set up 12 pillars representing the 12 tribes of Israel.  There they offered burnt offerings and sacrifices.  Moses took the blood and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words." - Ex. 24:8.  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and 70 elders went up and saw the God of Israel.  There they ate, drank and heard His voice.

I am sure they did not actually see God's face.  The Bible says in Ex.33:20 "No one may see me and live".  They probably received a personal revelation beyond anything any of them had ever encountered or could ever imagine and was beyond description.

Moses was the mediator of the old covenant.  Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant and He is the only way to God.  Jesus said, "This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." - Matt. 26:28.

God told Moses to come back up the mountain and He will give him tablets of stone with the law and the commands on them.  So Moses with Joshua up the mountain.  He told the elders to wait here until they returned.  "When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.  For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.  Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain.  And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights." - Ex. 24:15-18.

D0 you long to have a great experience as Moses and the elders had on the mountain?
Have you entered a covenant relationship with God?
Do you rejoice in His glory?
The blood of Christ cleanses us from sin and makes it possible to obey.
God calls us to live governed by His law, but Jesus covers us by grace.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Exodus 19-20 - The Life of Moses

Last week we learned that God provides cares for us despite our complaints and heals our bitterness.

Exodus 19 - Moses Prepares the People

Three months after the Israelites left Egypt, they entered the Desert of Sinai and camped in front of the mountain.  Moses went up the mountain where the Lord spoke to him.  He was to tell the people that they had seen for themselves what God had done and how He had carried them on eagles' wings and brought them to Himself.  If they fully obeyed Him and kept His covenant, they would be God's treasured possession, they would be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.

What does it mean, "I carried you on eagles' wings?"  God protected them like a mother eagle protects her young.  They were carried out of danger showing He cares and guards them and for us.  He hovers over us all the time like a mother eagle constantly protects her young.  He drew them to Himself.  His ultimate purpose is to draw us to Himself.  We need His strength to lift us up.  He gives a conditional covenant.  He gives His blessings, but along with that He gives responsibilities.

God recounted His love for them and how He rescued them.  Now Moses was to prepare them to receive His Law, the 10 Commandments.  Moses went back to the people and told them what God had said and they agreed to do everything the Lord said.  They meant what they said, but God knew they would not be able to keep all His commandments.  He knows that we cannot keep all His commandments so He sent Jesus.

How hove you responded to God's blessings?

God said He would bring a dense cloud to the people so they would hear Him talking with Moses and put their trust in him.  The Lord told Moses to consecrate the people.  They were to wash their clothes and be ready by the 3rd day, because that's when He would come down in the sight of the people.  The people were not to go up the mountain or even touch the foot of it or they would die.  Only when the trumpet sounded a long blast could they go up the mountain.  So Moses did just as the Lord said.

Washing of clothes is only an outward sign, but on the inside their hearts needed to be clean.  It showed the people the holiness of God and their own need for holiness.  It was a matter of denying self and focusing on God.  We can prepare ourselves for His presence by dealing with jealousy, prejudice, etc.  Confess it so you can have a relationship with Him.  Get rid of anything that keeps you from focusing on God.

On the  3rd day the mountain was covered with smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire.  There was a trumpet that grew louder and louder.  Moses went up the mountain and God said for him to go down and warn the people to not force their way through to see Him or they would perish.  Even the priests must consecrate themselves.  God put limits around the mountain because it was set apart as holy.

He warns them several times not to go up or touch the mountain.  Now, because of Jesus we can approach Him without fear.  We learn that God is holy and we are to be in awe of Him.  He also calls us to be holy.  "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written:  'Be holy, because I am holy.'" - 1 Peter 1:15-16.  God has made a provision for sinful people to come into His presence.  Because of His love for us, He sent His son, Jesus, to die for us while we were still sinners.  Now we are not held guilty.  He gives us His grace.

How are you prepared to hear from God?
What things do you need to do to be able to hear Him?
How do you live differently based on Scripture?

Principle:  God calls us to live in a way that demonstrates His holy character to an unholy world.

We are to live differently than the rest of the world.  We are His royal priesthood.  He calls us to be obedient, but salvation is not based on obedience.  Salvation is based on our belief in Jesus Christ.

What area are you blending in with the world?
Do your words reflect God's holiness?

Exodus 20:1-17 - God Gives the 1o Commandments

Then God spoke the Law to Moses.  We call this the 10 commandments.  God is the God that redeemed them and He is the one who sets the standards.

The 1st 4 commandments apply to the people's relationship with God.  They either give a warning or a promise.

#1  "You shall have no other gods before me." - Ex. 20:3. 

God demands our exclusive worship with only Him.  We are to put God first in our thoughts, our relationships, our work, our leisure, and every part of our lives.

#2  "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything....You shall not bow down to them or worship them..." - Ex. 20:4-6. 

Images dishonor God.  They mislead and can be harmful.  Nothing is all of creations can adequately represent the glory of God.

#3  "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God..." - Ex. 20:7.

The name of God represents the nature of God.  Jesus taught us how to pray in the Lord's Prayer by saying, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." - Matt. 6:9.  Hallow means to set apart as holy.  When we misuse God's name we are dishonoring Him.  There are many names for God: Yahweh, The Word, The True Bread, The Good Shepherd, The Lamb of God, Creator, Our Comforter, Redeemer, Savior, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, A Living Stone, High Priest, and the list goes on.

Today there are many people who misuse the name of the Lord.  Almost every TV show, movie, commercial, your acquaintances say, "O my god!"  It is common language and a bad, bad habit.  I  cringe every time I hear someone say that.  Don't they know they are misusing God's holy name? 

#4  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy..." - Ex. 20:8-11. 

God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day.  He wants us to rest on the 7th day, too.  We work had all week and we need a day to be refreshed and remember God and how He has provided for us.  We are to remember Him and worship Him and Him alone.  We are to set aside a day whether it be Sunday or Saturday or whatever and make it different from all the other days of the week.  We are to worship God.

The last 6 commandments apply to relationships with other people.

#5  "Honor your father and your mother..." - Ex. 20:12.

This command tells us that family is important.  If the family is strong, then the culture is strong.  Do you honor your parents with your conversations?  There is no age limit for honoring parents.

#6  "You shall not murder." - Ex. 20:13.

This not only means do not kill, but also has another meaning.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, "Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” - Matt. 5:21-22.  Words can damage others.  Gossip, slander, showing jealousy, etc. are words of murder.

#7  "You shall not commit adultery." - Ex. 20:14.

Today sex is glamorized.  It is portrayed as normal to live together without marriage.  Sex scenes are all you see on TV and in movies.  We as Christians should not bow to this standard.  We are to hold the standards of the Bible.  We cannot do it alone.  We need to admit our weaknesses and keep our focus on Jesus.  Be careful what you read and watch.

#8  "You shall not steal." - Ex. 20:15.  Do you take credit for what someone else has done?  Do you cheat on your taxes?  Do you steal from your employer by wasting time or not giving your best?

#9  "You shall not give false testimony...." - Ex. 20:16.  This includes all forms of slander, gossip, and any distortions of the truth.  Do you sometimes stretch the truth?  Even a partial truth is a lie.

#10 "You shall not covet..." - Ex. 20:17.  We are to be satisfied with what we have.  Today the world is obsessed with materialism.  It's not wrong to want to improve your situation in life, but it is wrong to want something simply because another person has it.  Coveting always leads to other sins.

Principle:  Obedience to God's commands is always the best choice.

Exodus 20:18-26 - God Gives Sacrifice Instructions

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet, they were afraid.  They no longer wanted to hear from God.  They recognized they were a mess and were afraid.  Moses feared and moved.  He focused on God.  The people feared and it paralyzed them.

God told Moses to tell the people to not make any gods alongside Him or any gods of silver or gold.  They were to make an altar for God and offer sacrifices.  They were not to make it with dressed stone.  If they had done that, it would probably take away their focus on God and put their focus on the altar itself or the one who carved it.

Principle:  God's commands reveal our need for Jesus Christ as Savior.

The purpose of the law is to show us God's character and awaken our own sinfulness.  We cannot keep all the commandments, but through the blood of Jesus we are held sinless and not guilty.  Sin requires a sacrifice and the penalty for sin is death.  Jesus is our sacrifice.  His life death, and resurrection made those who believe in Him righteous in the sight of God.  Righteousness comes only through faith in the One and only perfect sacrifice, Jesus.  He is our Savior.

What is your response to Jesus?
Will you allow your holy fear draw you near to Him?
Will you fear God enough not to sin even when no one is looking?

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