Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 1 Feb 18:
1. Exodus 13:3, 8 – “Remember this day…. You shall tell your son” Knowing human nature, God established rituals to teach future generations what He had done and to ensure that His people never forgot. How do you remind your family each year about what God has done in your life?
2. Exodus 13:7 — “Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.” Holiness and purity are all-or-nothing propositions. Just a bit of impurity spreads and ruins the batch.
3. Exodus 13:9 – “…that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth.” God expects His people to know and teach His word.
4. Exodus 13:13 – “Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem [with a lamb].” Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God was the perfect sacrifice who redeemed us once and for all.
5. Exodus 13:17 – “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’” If you are following God, He will not give you more than you can handle – “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil….” The Israelites equipped themselves for battle (v18), but God knew their limitations better than they did. They had not yet developed the faith for a fight. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Without faith, you are not ready for big victories.
6. Exodus 14:4 – “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” God’s plan for your life is the glorify Himself through your life. His glory takes priority over your comfort and security. However, God is faithful to save. God intentionally placed His people in an impossible situation, a totally vulnerable position that was impossible for Pharaoh to pass up. God left His people exposed and helpless (self-helpless). Why? Because He was about to use His people to reveal (glorify) Himself to a watching world (as well to His people). God glorifies Himself by doing what only God can do so there can be no doubt it was Him. Of course, by definition, the infinitely vast amount of what God does anyway is far outside the limits of what man can do, even far outside the limits of what man can even understand. We experience God whenever we have a glimpse of that continuous activity and appreciate that it is God’s power at hand. In the situation of the Israelites pressed up against the sea, God was going to leave no doubt for anyone to question His presence. No surprise, God’s people were overcome in fear by their situation and completely misinterpreted their circumstances, believing that God had left them to die. Most telling was that, in their desperation, the Jews longed for slavery again, that they might have the ‘protection’ of captivity. Doesn’t the bird in a cage get fed far more consistently than the free bird outside? Just like the slave and the caged bird, many Christians are happy to sacrifice the fullness of their joy for the comfortable captivity of worldly compromise, syncretism, and dependence on ungodly institutions – “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25). They problem for these slave-minded Jews is the same as that of the compromised Christian, they are totally out of touch with what God is doing and lack the courage to stray away into freedom and true joy – “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?” In the midst of what God was doing, Moses, who understood the ways of God, reminds the weak that God is God — “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13, 14) Translation: “Shut up, stand there, and watch God work.” While the weak were worried about what the weak always worry about – themselves; God was about His business doing what He always does – Glorify Himself – “the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” In order for God’s people to experience the power of God in their lives, they had to be freed from captivity and placed in a position of complete dependence on God, and they had to walk through the impossible (in this case the Red Sea in pursuit) with God. Having gone through the impossible, “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31) Jesus said, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives.” (Luke 4:18) However, freedom requires courage. Christian courage comes from faith, hope, and love – total trust in God, in God’s love, and in God’s word. Without faith it is impossible to please God because God will always take you outside the limited realm of your human understanding and capabilities to function where He operates for His purposes and for His glory. In the faith environment, God becomes ‘real’ to us, and we then can truly witness to what we have seen and experienced first-hand, rather than just recounting stories we have heard from others. Jesus warned his disciples though to carefully consider the cost of discipleship. To follow God means we will have to step into rushing waters, fiery furnaces, and lion’s dens; we will have to face the giants. Unfortunately, most will choose to die in a desert rather than to face the giants in the Promised Land. Most never see the big moments because they prove themselves unworthy with the little things. Ten thousand troops were willing to go to battle with Gideon, but only 300 proved themselves disciplined enough to go at the water hole. The commitment to deny ourselves, take of our crosses, and following Jesus is not just a one-time decision, though that initial commitment is essential. We continuously decide to follow one day at a time, one step at a time, in the face of continuous temptations to do otherwise. Discipleship requires discipline – continuous Spirit enabled self-control to resist our internal desires to return to comfortable captivity, the promised protection of prison. Before we can be chosen to face mighty evil armies, we have to handle ourselves well at the water hole. Will we prove ourselves worthy today?
7. Exodus 14:11 – “What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?” When the going gets tough, the unfaithful reveal themselves. When things seemed hopeless, the hidden disloyal hearts of the Israelites were revealed. Their hearts hadn’t changed, but it was easy for them to act loyal when there appeared to be an escape option. The fully committed eliminate all other options but obedience.
8. Exodus 14:12 – “For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Few people are willing to die in defense of the freedom to worship God. Many people prefer cowardice captivity than courageous freedom. It takes faith to live free.
9. Exodus 14:13 — “And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.'” Fear is the opposite of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Fear causes you to be more influenced by what can be seen than the God who cannot be seen. Faith trusts the unseen all powerful God and His word when what you see and feel seems to contradict it. What do you believe to be true?
10. Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” What a great verse to remember! Shut up and keep moving in faith. Verse 15 continues — “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” Quit worrying and whining and keep moving forward.
11. Exodus 14:21 – God reveals Himself by doing what is impossible for people to do.
12. Exodus 14:22 – “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” People, attempting to explain away God’s miracles, will say that the ‘Red Sea’ is a mistranslation of ‘Reed Sea’, which was a place of very shallow water and that what really happened was Pharaoh’s chariots were merely stuck in mud. However, the Bible makes is clear that the Sea became walls. And then the walls fell and covered the chariots completely (v28). What the Israelites saw caused them to fear God.
13. Exodus 14:30 – “Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” What happens when you put your trust in an ungodly leader?
14. Proverbs 1:1-7 – “To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning…. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” People often confuse knowledge with wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied, and knowledge cannot be rightly applied without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Our society is full of extremely knowledgeable people, but wisdom is harder and harder to find as society moves farther and farther away from God and people do what seems right in their own eyes rather than what God says is right. God is the only source of wisdom, and He is the only source of justice. As society drifts from God, it not only loses wisdom, it loses justice, not to mention mercy, peace, love, and hope.
15. Proverbs 1:20, 21 — “Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out.” The voice of wisdom competes with the noise of the world. Have you ever noticed that the scoffer has to shout their views, interrupting and shutting down any opposing views without listening? The world’s counter to wisdom is to drown it out, to shut it out, to subvert it, to create a false narrative that becomes a mantra. Since wisdom comes from the source of Truth, it must be countered with a lie repeated loudly and continuously until it is accepted.
16. Matthew 24:3 — “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The disciples ask Jesus two questions – one relating to the destruction of the Temple (70 AD) and one related to End Times.
17. Matthew 24:4 – Jesus emphasized a warning against deceptive leaders. “Christ” is not a name but rather a title meaning “The Anointed One” or “God’s Chosen Leader”. Many will claim to be the leader who has come to solve all of our problems, but we should only follow Jesus Christ. This is important for Christians to remember during political debates. The only person on earth who is worth following is the one who is closely following Jesus and pointing to Him rather than to themselves.
18. Matthew 24:11 – “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” Many will be led astray by ungodly political leaders and also by ungodly church leaders who deceive in the name of God.
19. Matthew 24:12 – “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Love is dependent upon obedience to God. You cannot really love while in disobedience to God. Disobedience and subsequent lack of love are signs of looming destruction in both a relationship and in a society.
20. Matthew 24:13 – “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Endurance is required. Not everyone will remain obedient over time. Many who call themselves Christians will compromise to the world. Obedience that is motivated by fear, pride, and even duty will ultimately fail. Only obedience that is truly motivated by love can endure.
21. Matthew 24:14 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” The Gospel is proclaimed as a testimony to everyone whether they believe or not. Final judgment comes after the Gospel has been proclaimed throughout the world.
22. Matthew 24:30, 36-45 – Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that His return will be sudden, unexpected, and unannounced. This is an important point.
23. Matthew 24:36 – Anyone who says they know the date for the End is a false prophet – never listen to them again.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 Feb 18: “For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:12) Consider where you might be a comfortable captive to sin, where you might be compromising your obedience to God because you have grown to depend on worldly comfort, security, or pleasure and have accepted compromise in order to maintain it. Consider where you have refused to obey out of fear of giving something up or losing something of value to you. Resolve to make God truly BOTH your Lord and Savior in those areas too.