Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 23 February 2022:
Exodus 2:1 – Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman.
God calls his people to continue to grow, to be fruitful, and to multiply even (perhaps particularly) during hard times. Despite living in bondage, the Israelites continued to have children and continued to remain strong as a people. In fact, it was their population growth and unity as a people which caused the Egyptians to fear the Israelites. How we respond to life’s continual challenges matters. Remain positively faithful and hopeful through all things, and continue to grow in Christ everyday no matter what is happening in your life.
Moses was a Levite, the descendant of Levi, along with Moses’ brother Aaron who became the first high priest of Israel. The Levites were set apart by God for a priestly role, but if you recall, the tribe of Levi began in violence when Levi and his brother Simeon murdered an entire town’s males to avenge Dinah, their sister who was defiled by and then married to Shechem. Remember, when Jacob gives his final blessings to his sons, he curses Levi for his anger (Genesis 49:5-7). Yet as we read on, we will see how God in His grace and mercy transforms the hearts of broken people for His noble purposes. How is God working in your life to equip you for your priestly role?
- 1 Peter 2:9-12 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Exodus 2:9-10: — And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, “Because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
No one could possibly understand that God’s plan was to ensure that Moses would get the best of Hebrew and Egyptian upbringing with special access to both communities for a great future mission. Only Moses would be able to speak to the Egyptian leadership as an insider while leading the Jews as a Jew.
Exodus 2:12 – He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.
Here Moses acts like a Levite, known for their violent treachery. You cannot fight for justice unjustly. Doing the wrong things in the wrong way for the right reasons is still wrong. As a Christian, you will be tempted to respond to people and situations the way you did before God made you a New Creation. Don’t do it! Do not be led by your old passions and desires; be led by the Spirit.
Exodus 2:13, 14 – When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.”
People observe your behavior more than you think they do. If you have damaged your credibility due to your actions, you have damaged your influence for Christ. Moses murdered and then tried to “preach” to others against unjust violence. When Christians don’t do what they say, they dishonor God and discredit the Gospel before men. Christians who don’t walk the talk are viewed as judgmental by others.
Exodus 2:12-15 – God’s plan included using a wanted criminal, a murderer, for His purposes. You never know what God is doing in the lives of others. Don’t presume to know, just proclaim Christ to all and demonstrate the love of Christ to all.
Exodus 2:19 – They said, “An Egyptian delivered us out of the hand of the shepherds and even drew water for us and watered the flock.”
God gave Moses a heart for justice and the heart of a deliverer, but He needed to learn humility, and He needed to know God. God IS justice. Justice comes from God and cannot be understood apart from God.
Acts 10:28, 34, 35 — “God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean…. Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
What an incredible moment in history (His-story) we read today in Acts 10! In this chapter, God tears down every man-made social stratification and all positions of human pride to distinguish between only two groups of people, those who fear and obey God and those who don’t. Some specific points to think about below —
“There was a man named Cornelius… a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.” One of the primary character traits of a true disciple is generous giving to the poor and needy (‘alms’ are gifts to the poor, above the tithe). Remember, just yesterday we read that Tabatha “was full of good works and acts of charity.” (Acts 9:36) Charity is the evidence of righteousness described of both Job and the Proverbs 31 woman. It is the mark of genuine worship and love for God, and it separates the true disciple from the hypocrite (actor). The generous giver is blessed by God. Twice today, Cornelius’ giving is praised — “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God…. Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.” (Acts 10:4, Acts 10:31) The kind of giving the Bible talks about is radical, shocking giving, hands wide open. The Christian sees the need and then meets the need. Cornelius was known by both God and the community as a generous giver. Are you? Is charity one of the primary character traits others would use to describe you?
Cornelius was also recognized as being a person who prayed continuously, and his prayers were heard by God (powerful). Again, the true disciple is known for prayer. How about you? Are you known as a person of prayer? Note that Peter’s special vision of revelation was received during his time of prayer (Acts 10:9-6). What is God revealing to you in your times of prayer?
“[Cornelius] called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him….” Everyone knew Cornelius was a believer, but Cornelius also knew who among both his servants and soldiers were believers to be trusted, and Cornelius “related everything to them.” Cornelius was a servant to Rome, but more importantly a servant to God who apparently had figured out how to do both at the same time, building ‘Christian’ fellowship groups within his work environment. Note that for this special assignment, Cornelius used his position and specifically assigned believers to carry out a mission directed by God for the Kingdom of God. Do you know who the believers are where you work? What are you doing together within your work environment to share the Gospel?
“When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him…. And he said to them, ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.’” (Acts 10:25-29) I don’t think our generation can fully appreciate the shocking significance of the events that occur in Acts 10: A Roman Centurion kneeling in reverence before a devout Messianic Jew who had agreed to enter his home despite Jewish law, all to mark the commencement of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles. A Jew visiting a Centurion, and a Centurion bowing down to a Jew would have created a shocking, unthinkable scene in that day, challenging the deep-rooted beliefs and customs of all involved. However, the god-fearing men put God’s commands above all else and obeyed without hesitation. The power of God destroys all barriers. God does not celebrate diversity; He provides unity in Christ. God created the ‘universe’ – the combination of two words, unity and diversity. God brings different things and people in perfect order when He is as the center. This is not a “Coexist” moment where Cornelius and Peter make a public political statement of social tolerance or say, “I’m ok, and you’re ok.” No, this is two servants of God surrendering to the will of God for the glory of God. The message is “none of us are ok, apart from Christ;” however, “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:43).” Race, ethnicity, gender, social status, etc. are not virtues. But nothing of man apart from God is virtuous – no man can boast. “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). “So let no one boast in men.” (1 Corinthians 3:21) “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” God shows no partiality; do you? In God’s economy, there are only two classes of people – saved and unsaved. Christians should reject all other social classifications or stratifications as measures of ‘worthiness’ or ‘unworthiness’.
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43) This is the Gospel we are called to preach. There is no other name by which a person may be saved but the name of Jesus. Who will hear the Gospel from you today? This week?
“’Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.” (Acts 10:47, 48) Baptism was immediate.
In Acts 10 we see a great example of the ‘tactical’ execution of the Great Commission given to us in Matthew 28 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Peter went to make disciples of ‘all nations’ (he didn’t have to go far to do that), he taught them what it means to “obey,” and he baptized them, all under the power and authority of Jesus which removed all human obstacles. How are you participating in the Great Commission in your town?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Feb 22: Find out who the Christians are where you work, fellowship with them, and pray that God will use you as a team to fulfill the Great Commission.