Exodus 23-24 B

“So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” (24:8‬)

I had to stop myself from my usual nodding along and get real about this moment. If I ever heard of a friend involved with some religious practice where everyone made promises, and then the leader sprinkled blood on everyone to seal the deal, I’d yell, “CULT! CULT! Run for your lives!”

It’s weird what can seem normal after awhile. Enough times hearing a story and you stop asking questions.

But the Bible begs you to stay engaged, to keep asking why and to keep remembering the answer.

Why don’t we oppress foreigners?

Because that used to be us, and we know how it feels to be oppressed.

I’m a little too squeamish to be getting into many blood oaths, but they do have a special way of underlining the gravity of a promise.

We live in a society very separated from death (someone else handles the body when a loved one dies) and increasingly noncommittal. We feel its better to keep our options open.

The LORD was preparing Israel for a major thing and they needed to be one hundred percent committed. He was, after all, committed to them, because of His promises to Abraham.

How seriously do we take our commitment to the LORD? Do we think about our relationship with Him in terms of covenants, blood oaths, promises, etc? Why or why not? Is there a line you can think of which marks off just how far you’re willing to go with Him? Talk with Him about it today.

-Bethany

Exodus 19-20 B

After all the numerous hikes up and down Sinai, I had to flip back a few chapters and recall, “how old was Moses at this point?”

“Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.” (7:7)

What a life. Granted, Moses went on to live forty more years and we can’t really understand how aging was back then, but I think sometimes it’s good to slow down and read all the sweat between the lines. I think I counted 4 trips up the mountain just in chapter 19.

This won’t be the last time Israel makes him tired. He becomes the true go-between for the LORD and the people. Something not originally by design. Notice how the LORD set out to meet all of them.

“Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’” (20:19‬)

I think there’s a tendency in Christian leadership to get used to having to spoon feed the people, because the LORD looks too intimidating for them.

If what Peter says in his letters is true, we should all be priests by now. A kingdom of priests, finally fulfilling Israel’s design. One of my favorite prophetic prayers is when Moses says,

“Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers‬ ‭11:29‬)

After some guys come to “tell on” other Israelites who were prophesying. He says, “are you jealous for my sake?”

Do you see yourself as a priest? Do you handle yourself as one? Do you rely on others to tell you what God wants? Do you represent Him to others fairly? This is a pretty serious job. That’s why Israel was hesitant to take it on and Moses was desperate to share it. Ask the LORD how you can grow in this role, today.

-Bethany

Exodus 15-16 B

“The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.” (‭‭15:2‬)

After escaping through the Red Sea, seeing the corpses of the Egyptians washing ashore and realizing they were really out of there, the first Jewish worship song was born. Praise was a natural and immediate reaction.

However, this group of people had only just met their God, and the relationship was young. Directly following the songs of praise: crying and groaning in despair. They panic because there is no water. He provides, and they’re momentarily satiated. Then panic returns because there’s no food. He provides again.

Later on, Israel will poetically remember theses days as their infancy. They were like children with the LORD, and He was patient and provided. His discipline came when necessary, but generally these days are remembered fondly by the prophets, poets and scribes.

What is your relationship with the LORD marked by in this season? Praise, because you just saw Him do something stupendous? Panic, because you don’t feel sure about Him as a provider yet? Are things feeling dry, because it’s been awhile since anything changed? Are you feeling hopeful, because there are about to?

He is in every season with you. Ask Him about it today. In what ways are you still acting childish? In what ways have you grown?

-Bethany

Exodus 11-12 B

Much of Israel’s foundational identity is formed in these chapters. It’s the beginning of what they will be marked by as a people group, not unlike Abraham’s call to be a blessing and circumcised. It’s exclusive and specific, yet open. A foreigner can join, but only by serious commitment.

Neither Moses nor Pharaoh knew how many plagues the LORD had planned for this event. They didn’t know what would be the last straw. Even with all the horrible plagues, a nation isn’t going to say goodbye to over a million slaves.

Israel gets on board. Somewhere along the way, they went from being annoyed with Moses to being ready to follow him out of their home. 430 years is a long time for a people group to inhabit a place. Imagine if in the year 2050, anyone who could trace US heritage back to the Mayflower left.

After 430 years and 10 plagues they all suddenly left in a hurry. No waiting for dough to rise. In the middle of the night it suddenly became time to leave. Right that minute. Everything changed in an instant.

This is something the LORD wanted them to remember with all these serious observational holidays and no leaven eating. There was suddenly no more time.

These laws and festivals always make me wish I marked more anniversaries of the LORD’s faithfulness. He did something really amazing, all those years ago.

I just realized, today is the 23rd anniversary of my appendectomy. The way I can know, is my appendix ruptured on the way home from a friends wedding and it was discovered five days later. Five days ago, those friends celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary. Hereby, May 17th is the anniversary of me being alive against all odds. The LORD spared me. I decided in the hospital in the week that followed that my life was to belong to the LORD in a more profound way. I would keep following after Him, because He was keeping me alive. All to Him I owe.

Is there a moment in your history with the LORD deserving a holiday? Ask Him about it today, and rejoice in His salvation!

-Bethany

Exodus 7-8 B

Anybody else ready to watch the Prince of Egypt right about now? I love the Steve Martin and Martin Short classic pairing for the roles of Pharaoh’s sorcerers.

I always wondered how those guys were able to mimic some of the LORD’s miracles. Turing a staff into a snake, is something we’d all pay real David Blaine money to see. Turning water to blood is also no small feat. I think I assumed it must have been an illusion before, but now, considering that perhaps the earth was filled with lessor gods, sorcerers had real power–as I’ve come to realize as an adult, they still do–but it’s much less power than the LORD’s (7:12).

They somehow go on to create frogs (8:7), but are finally stumped by the gnats (8:18). I’m sure this being their stopping point is significant, but I don’t know why that is. Please share if you have an idea. At this point, the magicians announce, “This is the finger of God.” (8:19), but Pharaoh wasn’t ready to make such a declaration.

Consider these ideas as you read:

  • The Exodus is Israel’s first introduction to the LORD. They wont get the book of Genesis until later.
  • The LORD had allowed lessor spiritual beings to exercise power on the earth, but now He is revealing His Supremacy over them.
  • The plagues targeted Egyptian gods (I talked a little about this when I covered 9-10 last time).

Another quick thought I had while rereading this time: Jesus is very explicitly depicted as the promised Second Moses (if you have no idea where I’m getting this, let me know and I will direct you to some further reading). What I observed this time around, is how Moses and Aaron turn water to blood. The life-source of Egypt becomes a source of death. The difference between Egypt and Canaan is that Egypt was entirely irrigated from the Nile and Canaan relied on rain. Therefore, the Nile was a god in Egypt and Ba’al (a god who supposedly controlled the rain) ruled Canaan. In any case, this is something Moses did very early on in his “career”. In a perhaps paralleled observation, Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding. In one story: the life source was found to be death. In the next: the life source became an abundant life source. Yeah? Thoughts?

What did you notice today?

-Bethany

Exodus 3-4 B

By the end of Deuteronomy, Moses is a real hero. He is remembered as one of the greatest prophets of all time. He joins Jesus and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration. While we know, by Elisha’s testimony, that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot, we sometimes assume (although there are no witnesses) that something similar happened to Moses, because no one ever found his body. The LORD worked powerfully through Moses and he grew to be an incredible man.

Now is when we remember his humble beginnings. A murderer, hiding in the desert, is called to do something Great for the LORD and he is sure he is the wrong person for the job. I’m going to see if I can list all his reservations.

  1. “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the songs of Israel out of Egypt?” (3:11) To which the LORD responds, “Certainly, I will be with you.”
  2. “What if they do not believe me or listen to what I say?” (4:1) The LORD gives Moses three powerful signs.
  3. “I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (4:10) The LORD reminds Moses who made his mouth.
  4. “Please, LORD, now send the message by whomever You will.” (4:13) And the LORD gets angry, then agrees to have Aaron help.

I wonder which direction this story would have gone if the LORD had just killed Moses and found someone else. So much back talk! Then I remember, Moses didn’t just not know himself, He didn’t know God. This was their first meeting. He was very familiar with the power of Pharaoh and Egypt’s gods, but the LORD was an unknown, though I assume he had heard a story or two about how the Hebrews ended up in Egypt in the first place?

Still, the Exodus story is how the LORD introduces Himself to His people and the nations. While I want to call Moses an idiot for resisting, I need to remember, he didn’t know the end of the story like I do.

Furthermore, as one who has studied Scripture and the Exodus story numerous times, do I still hesitate when I feel the LORD prompting me to do something? Do I still make excuses or suggest He use someone else? Why YES! I’ve done that! I’ve had plenty of arguments with the LORD throughout my life, protesting the way He made me, complaining about the tasks He’s given me to do, and always suggesting there is someone else He could be using (hello, a man, probably?). What is my excuse?

What is your excuse? Is the LORD prompting you do follow Him in obedience about something? If He was calling you to do something, what would be your reasons not to follow?

He asks Moses what is in his hand (4:2) and it seems insignificant–a staff–a normal thing for a shepherd to be holding. This very thing is what the LORD uses as His first sign to Pharaoh. What is in your hand?

-Bethany

Jonah B

I hear a lot of people frame this story as if Jonah was afraid to go to Nineveh, but fear wasn’t his main deterrent for bringing the LORD’s message.

After all the mayhem with the storm, his near drowning, his salvation through the fish, his eventual obedience leading to Nineveh’s repentance and forgiveness, we find out his clear motivation:

“Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (4:2)

He goes on to ask the LORD to kill him, because that would be better than to witness the salvation of his enemies. He would have rather the LORD let him drown in the sea than see the Ninevites receive mercy.

I love the LORD’s reply: “Do you have any good reason to be angry?” (4:4) “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (4:11)

The attitude of Israel to keep the LORD to themselves is something too easily mirrored in us. We shrug at the wrath of the LORD when it comes to our enemies, but we cherish His tender heart towards us. It makes sense. It feels good. We like to point to Romans 9 and say, “who are we to argue with a God who choose us and didn’t choose them?”. 

Yikes. The LORD has compassion on all His creation.

Let’s search our hearts to see if there is any of this grossness in ourselves. Is there someone, or some group of people, you would like to see the wrath of God come against? Sometimes I think we use the “come back Jesus” line as an excuse to not get involved, but is the LORD calling you to wade into the territory of your enemies? Ask Him about it today.

-Bethany