Posts Tagged ‘God’

Exodus 6

Exodus 6 has Moses being reminded of just who he was talking with.  After all, it is God Himself, and He has a plan.  ”`”.  God is not intimidated by Pharaoh.  He knows exactly how to put him in his place.  And most importantly, we get clarity about why this is so important.  God says “I have remembered my covenant”.  This isn’t something that has just come up all of a sudden due to some fervent prayers.  This is about a covenant God made with Abraham decades ago.

Now it is time for God to act.  He tells Moses to “Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment….I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God”.  Here is the reminder of why this is happening.  God has promised such, and He will do what He says.

So Moses goes to his people and “they did not listen to Moses….because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery”.  After all, his track record isn’t too good.  He told them they were being set free and next thing you know their workload multiplied.  God tells them to go to Pharaoh and give him the message to let His people go.  But again, Moses argues with God.  He does not believe the message will be well received and has no interest in going back to face Pharaoh once more.  But God “gave them a charge” and sends them in anyway.

At least so it seemed.  “But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, I am of uncircumcised lips. How will Pharaoh listen to me”?  Moses has no intention of going back in there.  He’s seen what happens when you try and throw your weight around with Pharaoh.  It wasn’t a good outcome.  Being a messenger for God isn’t quite the same as being God.  And Pharaoh doesn’t know God anyway, nor care, so this won’t end where God intends.  At least from Moses’ perspective.  Problem is that Moses only sees a small piece of God’s plan.  We never know the whol thing.  We just need to obey what we’ve been told.

Exodus 5

Exodus 5 has Moses and Aaron going in to give their demand to Pharaoh.  “‘Let my people go”.  Pretty basic request, or more of a demand I guess.  Now God already knew this wasn’t going to work.  But He sent Moses and Aaron in so He could begin to show Himself strong to the leaders of Egypt.  Pharaoh gives a pretty expected kind of response.  “I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go”.  I can almost see it.  ‘Are you kidding me?  I’m in control here.  Who are you to come in and demand time off from work?

So Pharaoh orders his foremen to change the requirements of this enslaved workforce.  “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves”.  Previously God’s people had been provided the raw materials to complete the task they were assigned – creating bricks.  But now that is all changing because of the request from Moses and Aaron.  Pharaoh decides that if they have time to request three days off to go and worship God, they could get more done.  “Let heavier work be laid on the men”.

This is not going well for Moses.  He’s gone in and made the request God told him to.  But the outcome is far from what was hoped for.  In fact, it is exactly the opposite.  Pharaoh says no and increases the workload which punishes the people.  And the people aren’t happy.  They say “you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us”.  Not a good place for Moses to be.  Now he finally does the right thing.  He turned to God.

Moses asks God some important questions.  “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people….Why did you ever send me”?  It just isn’t making sense.  Moses went as God told him and requested freedom for his people.  But now, the pain has gone up with the increased work responsibilities and Moses is the bad guy.  It isn’t adding up.  Moses is frustrated “For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all”.  Something seems wrong to him.  But God has a plan.  God always has a plan, and it is a perfect plan.

Exodus 4

Exodus 4 is a chapter of excuses.  Moses has been called by God to return to Egypt to lead His people from slavery.  It seems a bit strange that Moses would question the call like he does.  After all, God just met with Him through a burning bush that didn’t burn – quite a miracle.  But how does Moses start the assignment?  “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say”?  He begins to make excuses.  What if can be two words that cause us to miss God’s blessing.  We spend far too much time playing theoretical games and far too little just obeying God’s commands.

So God tells Moses to throw his staff on the ground.  “So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it”.  Miracle number one.  He then tells him to stick his hand into his bosom and it comes out leprous, and reverses when he sticks it in again.  Miracle number two in the bag of tricks.  If that isn’t enough, Moses takes some water from the Nile and it turns to blood.  Three miracles ready for prime time.  Moses response?  “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past….for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue”.  Moses just can’t accept the fact that God has things ready to go.

God questions him.  “Who has made man’s mouth?  I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say”.  So we’ve got three miracles and the promise of God’s teaching.  Moses lays on the next excuse.  “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will”.  Moses just isn’t going to do what God asks.  “Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses”.  That is a bad place to be.  Even God has a patience limit.  God decides that Moses isn’t going to be obedient, so He brings along plan B – which is to use Aaron as the mouthpiece.  “I will teach you what you are to do….and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him”.  Moses isn’t getting off, but just giving up the speaking piece.  He still has the responsibility.

God tells Moses to “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead….When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go”.  The orders are clear and Moses is ready to go.  God tells Moses that Pharaoh is not going to agree to letting the people go.  So Moses will have to deliver God’s harsh news.  “You have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn”.  Tough news to deliver to the leader of a country holding your brethren captive.  But first, it was time to speak to their own people.  “Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses….He then performed the signs….the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped”.

Exodus 3

Exodus 3 begins with the story of the burning bush.  Moses is out pasturing the flock of his father-in-law minding his own business.  And then “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush….yet the bush was not consumed”.  That would have caught your attention wouldn’t it?  A fire, but the bush is not being burned up.  It was like an eternal flame.  Moses decides he needs to check it out.  “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up”.  Seems like a normal response to a miraculous event, doesn’t it?

But God sees it differently.  “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush”.  It sounds like God was testing Moses to see if he noticed.  I wonder how many times a day God does things around us we are oblivious to.  We are so consumed with our own agenda and the details of our own little bubble that we miss what He is doing around us every day.  I imagine it is far more than we realize.  So Moses stopping his tasks and seeing what was going on is a big deal.  We need to learn to do the same every day in our patch.

God calls to Moses and begins the conversation.  “Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God”.  He understands the circumstance he is in.  God goes on to tell Moses His mission: “I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians….to a land flowing with milk and honey”.  Sounds good so far – God is going to deliver His people from slavery to their own land.  But then the bomb gets dropped on Moses.  “I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”   But Moses said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh”?  He isn’t buying into this plan.

God goes on to reveal his plan.  “Go and gather the elders of Israel together….they will pay heed to what you say”.  Sounds simple enough.  This sheep herder is going to walk into the presence of the elders and tell them they are to go with him to tell Pharaoh to let them go.  Yeah, right.  But it gets worse.  God says “I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go….so I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles”.  He tells Moses that He knows Pharaoh will say no, but that is when God will get involved and take it to the next level.  Moses participation is key in setting up the miracles that God will do.

Exodus 2

Exodus 2 has the birth of Moses.  Remember that Pharaoh has ordered all boys born to be killed.  When Moses was born, his mom “she hid him for three months”.  Noble idea – hiding a baby – but it wasn’t going to work out as a long term strategy.  It’s pretty hard to keep a crying, growing young boy under the radar.  They tend to make their presence known.  “When she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile”.

As chance would have it, or not really chance at all, “the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile….and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her”.  This wasn’t an accident.  It is how God works.  He orchestrates things together to accomplish His plan.  Moses was central to God’s plan for His people.  And who better to rescue this boy than Pharaoh’s daughter.  “When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him”.

Wisely, Moses’ mom had his sister standing at a distance watching what would happen.  When Moses was plucked from the river, the sister came and asked if they might need a nurse to care for the baby, and when they said yes, she went and “called the child’s mother”.  Moses grew under the care of his mom and was adopted as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son.  Moses became a young man and witnessed an Egyptian beating one of his Hebrew brethren, and he killed the offender and buried him in the sand.  Later he saw two Hebrews fighting and stepped in to stop the fight, and realized they knew what he had done.

Word got out and Pharaoh “tried to kill Moses”.  But Moses got away and settled in Midian.  There he met seven daughters of Reuel.  He protected them at the well when they came to water their flock and the other shepherds were trying to drive them away.  He got invited to their home, then to dwell with them and was given Zipporah to be his wife.  And they have a son named Gershom.  During this time the king of Egypt died, and the bondage continues for the people of Israel.  They cry out and God hears their plea for help.

Exodus 1

Exodus 1 has a major change happening.  Jacob and all his sons have been living in Egypt under Joseph’s care and protection for several decades, but now Joseph and all his brothers are dead.  God has been faithful to His promise as “the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them”.  But things changed on the leadership side of Egypt as well.  There is a new king on the throne.  “Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph”.

It is a fact of life that so many things in this world are based on relationships – who you know and how you relate to the people around you.  Joseph and his family have had a very smooth and good run.  But now, the new kind doesn’t have any relationship with the family and the perspective changes.  “Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land”.  Fear begins to take root and a big change of attitude comes with that fear.

So they move the descendants of Jacob from being free men living peaceably in the land with them, to slaves.  They afflict them with hard labor and make them build cities.  The thinking was that by making this change, they would contain their growth as a people group.  “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel.”  You can’t change God’s plan with some scheme of man.  God is faithful to His word no matter what resistance man may put up.  They just keep expanding.

So even though “they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field”, God continued to multiply them and cause their numbers to grow.  So Pharaoh decides to try a new tactic – to have the midwives kill all the baby boys when they were born.  But these ladies were God fearing and did not obey that order, and the people continued to multiply.  Pharaoh commanded all the people to cast every son into the Nile and only allow daughters to live.  He was paranoid about the sons of Israel taking away his power.

Genesis 50

We wrap up Genesis 50 with Jacob’s death.  Joseph “fell on his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him”.  He was heartbroken to see him die after their reunion together.  Joseph has his servants embalm his father, which took forty days.  It is interesting that not only did the family mourn Jacob’s death but “the Egyptians wept for him seventy days”.  Joseph was part of the kingdom, well loved and respected.  And that carried to his family who had come to live with him there.

But now Joseph has to keep a promise he made to his dad.  So he goes in to talk with Pharaoh in order to make a huge request.  “Let me please go up and bury my father”.  Joseph had been sworn to take Jacob back and bury him with his parents and grandparents, and Joseph now has to fulfill those wishes.  Pharaoh gives permission and sends a small army of people with Joseph to make the journey.  “Only their children, their flocks, and their herds were left in the land of Goshen”.

Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah”.  With Jacob dead and buried, the brothers of Joseph now begin to worry about what he might do to them for their selling him as a slave many years ago.  After all, maybe Joseph has been nice for the benefit of their father, and now will turn against them and punish them for what they did. So they come up with a scheme to “’Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you” which they were going to say was Jacob’s request.  Another lie which this family has been far too good at making.

Joseph wept when they spoke to him”.  Even after all these years of taking care of his family, they still don’t trust him.  Then Joseph makes a powerful statement we all should cling to every day.  “Joseph said to them, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people. should be kept alive, as they are today”.  God is in control of all things.  Bad things may happen to good people, but they don’t happen without God’s knowledge and outside His plan.  He is in control.  He does take evil and turn it to good.  God has a way.  He will make a way through the wilderness if we only follow!

Genesis 49

Genesis 49 has a family gathering at Jacob’s death bed.  “Jacob called his sons and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come”.  Jacob does some blessing and vision casting for his boys.  It’s been quite a ride together as a family, and now Jacob has them all together for one last time before he passes away.  He brings them together and one by one talks about their future.  This is where he tells Rueben and Simeon that they have blown their place in the future of his lineage through their sinful acts.

Here is the list and words from Jacob:

  1. Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength….Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it
  2. Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords….in their anger they killed men, and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen
  3. Judah is a lion’s cub….The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples
  4. Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea
  5. Issachar is a strong donkey
  6. Dan shall judge his people
  7. Raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels.
  8. Asher’s food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies.
  9. Naphtali is a doe let loose that bears beautiful fawns.
  10. Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall
  11. Benjamin is a ravenous wolf

He talks individually to each of his boys, one by one, except for Simeon and Levi which he addresses together since they committed their sins as one.  Powerful way to say goodbye, as he gives direction for their future and lets them know what lies ahead.  As parents, we can learn much from Jacob’s example here.  We need to speak truth into our kids, even at an older age, and share what God has given us as a message for each of them.  Too often we aren’t very good about sharing God’s vision for our children when we may well be the messenger God wants to use to deliver it.

This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him”.  Jacob is ready to head to eternity with God, and gives one last command.  “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field at Machpelah”.  He wanted to go back home and be buried where his dad and grandfather were laid to rest.  Then he was ready to go to the Lord.  “When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people”.  Are you ready with your legacy?  Is it in place and has it been communicated?

Genesis 48

Genesis 48 is about legacy.  Jacob is about to die, and Joseph is told that his “father is ill” and comes to him along with his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim.  Jacob has carried the torch of God for 147 years, not without sin or failure to walk with God at times, but he is an example of a man who finishes well.  He is determined to pass the torch on to those who follow and does that here.  That is how we should live as well – finishing well and intentionally passing the torch to those who will follow us.

Jacob retells the story of God’s appearance to him and the promise that God would make him fruitful and a mighty nation.  He basically shares his testimony and the promises God had given and his experience walking with God.  And then Jacob adopts his grandsons as the ones who will carry on the lineage.  Jacob’s own two oldest sons – Reuben and Simeon – had disqualified themselves from a place of leadership in the family because of their sin so Jacob adopt’s these two sons of Joseph in their place.  From this time forward, most lists of the twelve tribes contain the names of Ephraim and Manasseh rather than Joseph.

If you look at the maps in the back of your Bible you will see a map that shows the areas given to the twelve tribes and you will notice something: There are twelve tribes but you don’t see the name of Levi (they were the priests and given land in each tribe) or Joseph, but you do see the names of Ephraim and Manasseh. In essence, Jacob is giving Joseph the double blessing that is generally reserved for the firstborn (Reuben).  The reason for this gift is that Jacob wants to honor the memory of his beloved wife Rachel, whom he lost early.  When she died a part of him died as well.

Then comes the blessing – a powerful thing for a father or grandfather to do.  “Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). And he blessed Joseph and said,”The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth”.  Have you blessed your children?  There is power in that act.

The chapter comes to an end with Jacob giving Joseph a piece of land.  This was a big ending for Joseph to make.  By giving his sons to Jacob, he was basically consenting to their rejection in respect to a future and position in Egypt.  All that he had worked for in that land would be given up as these boys became part of the sheep herding family that were his roots.  He had faith in God’s promises and was willing to pass the torch according to God’s design and put his boys in the place they could continue the legacy of Jacob.

Genesis 47

Genesis 47 has Joseph coming before Pharaoh to let him know his brothers and father had arrived from Canaan.  As Joseph had told them, Pharaoh asked what their occupation was and why they were there – and they answered honestly.  Pharaoh then invited them to live in Goshen on the best of the land in his kingdom.  “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock”.  Pretty good outcome considering they had sold Joseph off as a slave some 20 years earlier.

Then Joseph brings his father Jacob in to meet Pharaoh.  He too answers the questions of Pharaoh and then “Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out”.  Jacob describes his life as being few and evil – he had a hard life.  And now he will die outside the Promised Land as he finishes up his final seventeen years in Goshen.  Jacob dies at 147 years of age.  Here’s a summary of his life:

  1. He struggled with his brother even before he was born in his mother’s womb.
  2. His family was a mess – mom and dad weren’t on the same page at all about the boys
  3. He stole his father’s blessing from his brother
  4. He spent years serving his uncle getting cheated all along that time
  5. He planned to marry Rachel and ended up with four wives
  6. He finally fled from his uncle and had to develop a truce to allow him peace
  7. His only daughter was raped
  8. He lived in fear of attack when his sons killed the people who had raped their sister
  9. He lost the wife he truly loved at an early age
  10. His oldest son violated one of his women
  11. His favorite son was lost through deceit and jealousy of his other sons for decades
  12. He was on the verge of losing everything due to the famine happening in the world

Not an easy life indeed for Jacob.

Joseph continues to be wise in his administration of things for Pharaoh.  The famine continues:

-       “Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house

-       they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys

-       Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh’s

-       I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land….at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own

He collects all the money, livestock, and land over the years in exchange for food.  Now Pharaoh owns everything, and the people are slaves that will farm for him.  They get 80% of their efforts and have to give a fifth of their production to the Pharaoh, but that is how Joseph will create an ongoing and sustainable flow of food into the kingdom.  A brilliant plan through great leadership and strategy.

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