The Role of a Believer. It May Surprise You.

Monumental spiritual moments don’t come every day. Though I wouldn’t mind if they did. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? The undeniable moments God makes his power and faithfulness so clear, you must cease what you’re doing to take it in. At times it’s simply been a verse leaping off the page of my Bible into the gaps of my anxious heart; filling me with assurance I’d prayed to gain the day before.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8
Key Verse: “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.” 1 Peter 2:9

Other times, it’s been an answered prayer, a protection, or a perfectly timed word of encouragement from a friend. A vivid reminder, my God is faithful. Perhaps I’ve jarred your memory to a few of your own monumental moments. Well, I think it’s safe to say Moses had a few as well – some more obvious than others. And I’m willing to guess one such moment took place at the beginning of chapter nineteen -with Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai.

Why was this such a big deal? Because Mt. Sinai is the mountain where God first called Moses. Also called Mt. Horeb, it’s where the burning bush took place. It’s where God soothed Moses’ anxious mind with the following promise: “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12).

A lofty promise. One only attainable by a sovereign God. But here in Exodus 19, it’s fulfilled. They’d made it, just as God said. With every Israelite young and old accounted for, God brought the people safely to the mountain, safely to himself (v.4). (Is there any better place to be?)

Then while all the people camped below, Moses went up to God. As though he was headed to the neighbor’s house to say hello.

(But honestly, isn’t that the goal? A relationship with the Father so embedded in my life it’s the most natural thing to knock on His door the instant I get home?)

And God said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

In other words, remind them Moses how faithful I’ve been. How I protected them. How I’ve provided. How I carried them, while they had nothing to do with it. And then say to them:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5-6a).

Freed from slavery it was time to talk about obedience. Time to talk about the guidelines, a.k.a. laws. But note God didn’t bring this up until after he saved the Israelites. If obedience to the law had been required for redemption, there never would have been a redemption.

Saved by grace to live for His glory, it’s important not to get the order confused. It wasn’t the law that saved them, it was God. But it was living according to the law that would bring them blessing.

Huge, wonderful blessings like being God’s treasured possession among all the nations.

Can we just sit in that for a minute? The world is God’s. The universe is God’s. Created by Him and for Him and through Him. Yet his most valued, most cherished belonging – is a heart fully devoted to him. Specifically, a people fully devoted to him. It’s why the church is the bride of Christ.

God loves it. It’s why His eyes “run to a fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Additionally, the other big blessing Israel would have (if they set their minds on obedience), is to be a kingdom of priests.

Not that it was God’s desire to have them all walking around in robes with an ephod on their shirt. But a kingdom of priests in the sense that every person declared the glory and goodness of God by what they talked about, how they acted, responded, and lived in a world always a little off kilter. Pointing people to the Creator with every breath they took.

With that definition in mind, can you imagine the effect on a broken world if and when there was an entire nation of God following priests?

Yet this was God’s desire! This was God’s plan! For Israel to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. That they might know the blessing of sharing God’s love with others. And be the pathway by which the rest of the world could experience their own monumental spiritual moments.

But did they do it? No, they didn’t. They forsook God for idols. They set aside His laws and made up their own. Getting pulled in by the world instead of pulling the world toward God.

Then the most amazing thing happened. The most glorious of all monumental spiritual moments – God himself hung on a cross and paid the penalty for their sins. Our sins.

That we too might be His treasured possession. “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.” 1 Peter 2:9

And it’s His desire as it was for Israel that we be a holy people, a priesthood, living day after day not in robes with an ephod on our clothing, but in such a way that we lead others to Him. Declaring day by day the marvelous majesty of a God who saved us out of darkness and brought us into the light!

It’s every believer’s job to preach in this world, but not necessarily from a pulpit, though God calls some to do just that. But from the kitchen table. From the grocery store checkout lane. From the family room. From the office. (You get the idea.) Living in such a way that holiness speaks louder than hell, we preach grace and peace and love and truth to a world in desperate need of knowing Him.

But the question is, are we doing it? Are we preaching the excellencies of Christ so not just we, but they, the world, may have their own monumental spiritual moments?

It’s a job God’s granted us because he knows there’s great blessing in doing it. And a position I think it’s time we recognize. We aren’t just a people sitting around with little to do. We’re the priesthood my friend. God’s treasured possession and we’ve got a job to do.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Whether we like it or not, everyone is preaching something. So by your actions and attitude what have you been preaching lately?
How does thinking of yourself as part of the priesthood make you want to change your behavior? Would you say you are a worthy member of the priesthood? Why or why not?

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You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Sometimes life piles on top of us, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the kids or work or the weight of ministry or let’s just say it, laundry. Life can be overwhelming! The other day, all at once, I had dinner burning on the stove, one child who was bleeding, another who could not find a single pair of underwear, two more in need of a referee, and a husband who needed me to answer the phone.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 18
Key Verse: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.” Exodus 18:18

It’s moments like that we moms need an automatic reply button. “I’m sorry, but I’m out of the office today. If you need anything please just do it yourself. If it’s underwear you’re looking for then either check the dryer or wear your brother’s. Thank you and have a great day.”

Oh it’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But not just for me, I think Moses could have used something similar. With one or two million people in camp, and only one man to settle disputes and answer questions about God’s will for this or that, Moses was a busy guy.   So busy in fact, when Moses’ father-in-law arrived he was a little stunned. “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” Sounds just like my day!

But with that many people, can you imagine the line? It was probably wrapped halfway around camp. “I’ve come to speak to Moses. Well get in line brother, so has everyone else.”

There’s no doubt Moses was left with little time to do what mattered most – commune with God. With just 5 people vying for my attention, I know how challenging it can be to carve out time with the LORD. I can’t even fathom millions!

Yet Moses trudged through, that is, until Jethro got there. “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (v. 17-18).

Jethro had come to bring Moses’ wife and sons back to him. At some point, perhaps after the circumcision incident on the way to Egypt (See Exodus 4:18-31 for a reminder), Moses had sent them back home. Most likely to protect them.

But now it was time to reunite. So Jethro, anxious to hear how everything had gone, brought them to Moses himself. Verse 9 says after Moses filled him in on the details, Jethro rejoiced “for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel.”  Then Jethro blessed the LORD, bringing a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; “and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (v. 12).

It was a blessed night. A sweet time of fellowship for Moses. But then morning came and it was back to reality. Back to the people; giving Jethro the opportunity to see how Moses usually spent his day. At the front of an endless line of upset people.

So he gave Moses some advice. “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times” (v. 21-22). Jethro goes on to say the difficult matters they can still bring to you Moses, but the small stuff, they can decide on their own.

In other words, “Moses, get some help!”

Oh the treasure to be had here my tired friend. We aren’t meant to bear the burdens of this life alone. Come what may – we can ask for help. Even in ministry! Yet how often we still try to do it alone! (And by the way mama’s – motherhood is ministry.)

With the mantra, “It’s my cross to bear,” we often trudge through on our own because it’s my kids to deal with or it’s my mess to clean up or it’s my God given calling or my path to walk. Thinking to ourselves, whether it’s big or small, “God chose me so I’m gonna have to figure it out.”

But what if your burden, is someone else’s blessing?

Scholars differ on the timing of Exodus 18, but it’s possible Jethro didn’t come to visit until after all was said and done at Mt. Sanai. (i.e. after the law had been given and the Tabernacle built). If so, Numbers 10 and 11 may add more to our story. And just look what God does for Moses! “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel…And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Num. 11:16-17).

Can you imagine the blessing for those men? The Spirit of God resting on them! What a confirmation of faith. Yet if Moses hadn’t reached out for help, they would have missed out on the blessing.

God draws wide circles my friend. Doing more with our messes than we can imagine. It’s one thing to figure something out on our own, but it’s quite another to share it with others!

This concept is all over the New Testament. In Acts 6 the disciples chose deacons to help bear the weight of ministry in the church. In First Thessalonians 5:11 we’re told to “Encourage one another.” In Galatians 6 we’re told to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). And thereby imitating Christ, who carried the weight of our sin all the way to the cross.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have a God who never intended for us to go it alone. It’s why He gave us His Spirit; the Helper. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). See, it’s OK, He knew we’d need help!

Yet more often than I’d like, instead of reaching out for the help of my gracious God and Savior, I get caught up in the frenzy of life and unravel.

But the bottom line is, we don’t have to do this life alone. “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). And you know what else? God likes it when we not only look to Him for help, but we do it together. Hand in hand, the body of Christ working together as one.

It’s all right tired friend, go ahead and ask for help. You never know when your mess might be a blessing in waiting for someone else.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you more often try to go it alone or with the help of the Father? How is the body of Christ a support for you to lean on?
Who can you encourage today? Is there an area of life you need to reach out for help?

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The Most Effective Use of Your Time

Mornings are my favorite. I get up before everyone else. And with a cup or two of coffee, I read and pray and study and write. Some days verses jump off the page at me as though God wrote them just for my heart. I treasure those moments. God speaking to me through His word and me embalming my fears and hopes and dreams and doubts with each purposeful promise.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 17:8-16
Key Verse: “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Exodus 17:11

It’s a sweet time. But then…the kids wake up. And I don’t know what happens, but at the first sign of fighting or whining because we’re not having french toast or complaining because we have this cereal and not that one, I blow up.

Gone is any trace of a quiet time.

In zero to sixty I go from spiritual to barely holding on. Feeling the stark contrast between my new nature and the old, my spirit and my flesh.

Paul understood the struggle. “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law, waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:21-23).

It’s an everyday battle. A battle I’m sometimes ready for but half the time not. A battle most scholars agree is typified right here in Exodus 17, in the battle Israel faced against Amalek.

Note when the battle takes place – after the water had fully and freely flowed from the rock at Meribah. After that which symbolizes the Holy Spirit had been given. Then the battle came. Because it’s not until we’ve been given the new nature that we have any fight with the old. And it came from the back no less. It was a sneak attack on the weak and weary; for it’s in my weakness I’m most vulnerable. Look what Deuteronomy 25:17-18 says:

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.”

There is no fear of God in the flesh, is there? Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the flesh is not wise. A lesson we most of the time learn the hard way.

So if “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do,” (Gal. 5:17) how do we win? How do we have victory when it’s a daily, draining hard fought battle? A battle Satan seeks to see us lose.

We pray.

As Joshua lead the Israelites down below in a sword fight, Moses watched from up on top a hill. But he wasn’t just watching and hoping everything turned out OK, he was interceding on behalf of Israel with his arms raised high, the staff of God in his hand.

1 Timothy 2:8 says, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” David said in Ps. 28:2, “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.”

I’m not saying our prayers don’t count unless our hands are up in the air. No, no. Moses’ hands raised heavenward was simply symbolic of an inner dependence on God. A dependence that takes place through prayer.

And it mattered. Moses’ intercession wasn’t a waste of time. In fact, it was the only thing that mattered. Verse 11 says, “When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

Moses’ hands had to be up. Joshua couldn’t win in the flesh, without the help of the Spirit. Thus when Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur sat Moses down on a rock and held his hands up for him. It was that important! It was that necessary!

It’s why Paul instructed us in Ephesians to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18).

And again in 1 Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing” (5:17). And why Jesus said in Luke 18:1 that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

Prayer is the avenue by which we gain the victory. It’s not an ineffective use of time, it’s the most effective use of time.

Is our country falling apart at the seams? Pray. Is our leadership struggling? Pray. Are the kids driving you crazy? Pray. Do you continually fight for control like I do? Pray. Does your mouth run ahead of you like mine does? Pray.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

The LORD didn’t tell us to pray at all times just so He could add something else to our to-do list. He knows full dependence on Him through prayer, is the only way we’ll come out on top. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

It isn’t when all else fails – pray. It’s before all else fails – pray.

Yet much of the time, we still try to fight the battle alone. Then finding failure at the end of a long day, it’s frustration we gain instead of freedom. Panic we keep instead of peace. But the victory is always and forever in Jesus and it comes by way of prayer.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is prayer a daily part of your life or is it a last resort? When have you seen the power of prayer in action?
For what battle do you need to pray about today? Is there someone you can come along side to help keep their arms up?

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When God Gives a New Song to Sing

On any given Sunday, you’ll find congregations of people around the world singing songs to the LORD. Beautiful songs with lyrics like, “Show us your glory.” “Open the eyes of my heart, LORD.” “Draw me close to you.” Raising our hands in sincerity to a God we know rules on high, we sing loud and with conviction.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 14
Key Verse: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14

But then Monday comes. Or Wednesday or Friday. And life goes a little askew. Hard things happen. Things we don’t quite understand. Overwhelming things. Unfair things. Things that take us by surprise.

And with no thought to what we just sang on Sunday, we wonder why is this happening? Why is God allowing this? I do my best to serve Him and this is what I get? Upset we lose site of an important truth we see throughout the Bible.

It’s often in the difficult things we best see His glory and come to know Him more.

But I’m not pointing fingers! When I’m up to my neck in circumstances, it’s not generally the splendor of my Savior I’m most concerned about. It’s my survival. Though I know I’d have more peace if I’d simply focus on the Savior.

Just as Israel would have if they’d looked to God when stuck between Migdol and the sea. Strategically speaking, they were doomed. With the sea on one side and the Egyptian army fast approaching on the other, things had suddenly taken a turn for the terrible.

When they looked up, it wasn’t the pillar of cloud they saw. It wasn’t God’s presence they focused on. It was an angry Pharaoh. Who’d sought counsel with his advisors and realized maybe it wasn’t such a good idea he’d just let his entire workforce go. After all, they had a nation to rebuild!

“So he [Pharaoh] made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them” (v. 7).

With every Egyptian chariot locked and loaded and headed straight for them, I can’t totally blame the Israelites for their over the top reaction.

Scared out of their newly tied sandals, “They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (v. 11-12).

(Sounds like one of those dramatic speeches I hear from my children when I tell them we’re doing chores Saturday morning. “No, it’s not fair! It would have been better for me to have school today than break my arm vacuuming.”)

You’ll be fine.

Which in short, is the same speech Moses gave Israel. Except a little more valiant. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” (v. 13). (Perhaps I’ll break into this speech next time my little loves complain.)

But in all seriousness, Moses gets major points here. Though his blood pressure had to be off the charts, he pointed the people to Jesus. Reminding them, it’s God who’s in charge. It’s God who fights for you. (Remember all those plagues you just witnessed?)

But keep in mind, Moses didn’t know either how God was going to get them out of this little predicament. Not until God told him anyway! “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (v. 15-16).

Ohhhh, so that’s how you’re going to get us out of this.

Then the angel of God (Jesus) who had been leading the way, went behind the people. (Reminds me of the verse, “You hem me in behind and before.” Psalm 139:5) And of course the pillar of cloud went also, because Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Providing light on one side so the Israelite’s could see and cross safely. (Literally, a light unto their path – Psalm 119:105). And darkness on the other so the Egyptian’s could see nothing as Moses raised his staff and the people crossed.

What a night! Could they see the fish in the walls of water? How tall was it? What did it sound like? An unimaginable experience, not even their sandals were muddy. God, in kindness, dried the ground for his people! Allowing each one of them to cross in safety before lifting the cloud so the Egyptians would follow in after, only to be swept away by a sudden, massive deluge of water.

“The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained” (v. 28). “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians” (v. 30).

Giving them a new song to sing! (See Exodus 15.) “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea” (15:1).

But they didn’t stop there. The Psalms are full of songs regarding this incident.

Psalm 66: 5-6 “Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him.”

Psalm 77:19 “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”

Psalm 106:1-2, 9 “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.”

And that’s just a sampling. There’s more!

My friend, to see God at work and experience the helping hand of the Almighty we may need to walk through some tough stuff. Sometimes he may part the waters. Other times, he may not. But if we look to Jesus, either way, He’ll walk us through it. And in the end, we’ll have a new song to sing! One that if shared could be sung for generations to come, both now and in eternity.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you seen God powerfully work in your life? Did He give you a new song to sing?
If you were to write a new song today, what would the first line be?

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When God Gives Us a Story to Tell

Do you ever get weary of saying the same things over and over to your kids? Me too. Stuck on repeat most of the day all I need is an automated recording of my voice that plays when the kids hit a certain decimal level and I’d be good to go. “Hey, come on guys, get along.” (28 seconds later) “Be nice.” (15 seconds) “Share.” (5 seconds) “If he had the toy first, you need to give it back.” All the while I’m outside enjoying some peace and quiet.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 10
Key Verse: “Then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” Deuteronomy 6:21

Now Exodus 10 doesn’t say it, but I’m just wondering if Moses was growing a little weary of saying the same thing over and over to Pharaoh. Because this time, with the eighth plague, the LORD adds a reminder. “Go in to Pharaoh…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them” (v. 2).

“There’s a purpose for all this Moses. So keep at it. Just think of the testimony you’ll be able to tell your grand kids.” (My paraphrase.) And in turn, they can tell their children.

Deuteronomy 6:20-21 says, “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”

With obedience rooted in salvation, they weren’t to forget how God rescued them. They were to tell their sons and daughters forever. Describing with detail the Nile of blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies. The death of Egypt’s livestock, the boils, the hail, and then the eighth plague, the plague of locusts.

Reciting each event with awe and gratitude, they were to tell of God’s gracious protection over His people. His power. His glory. His promise. And then the victory. The redemption.

In regard to the eighth plague, they were to tell how the Egyptian servants begged Pharaoh to give in, to look around at the already ruined land, and to say yes to the God of Israel. And how Pharaoh tried compromising by insisting the kids stay behind.

Can’t you just picture the wide-eyed faces of little Jewish boys and girls at this point in this story? “Leave us behind?” And hear the cheers when told Grandpa Moses didn’t give in! “No, no grandpa would never agree to that. Instead he stretched out his staff and a fierce wind ignited blowing in dense swarms of locusts.”

Go grandpa Go!

Darkening the land (v.15), the locusts ate anything and everything left after the hail. Including the wheat and emmer, Egypt’s last hope of avoiding widespread famine. The land already in ruins prior to the invasion (v. 7), I can’t imagine what it looked like after. A skeleton of what it once was, Pharaoh referred to the eight plague as a death for him (v. 17).

No longer was there crops to trade or food to eat. Egypt a wasteland, the average Egyptian had no hope at this point. The gods of the harvest failing them just as every other god had done, what were they to eat in the coming days, weeks, months? How would they survive?

Gloom and doom the banner overshadowing their every move, it appears the ninth plague, darkness, hit close on the heels of the eighth. Verse 21 says it was “a darkness to be felt.” Unannounced in its coming, for three days the people sat pummeled with pitch darkness. (So much for Annie’s “The sun will come out tomorrow.”)

Scared, no one moved (v. 23). After all they had been through, most probably leery of what might be lurking in the darkness. This the final blow to the gods of Egypt, because most, if not all, worshiped the sun god Ra or Re (depending on your source). Deemed creator of everything, he was the big guy in the sky. The god of all gods.

Sound familiar? We have a God of all gods, but it’s not the sun, it’s the Son. LORD of Lords and King of kings, Jesus is the Creator (Heb. 1:2). And the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3). In fact, in eternity, the new Jerusalem will have “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

Now I don’t know about you, but I smell a sultry pile of deception. Satan, a master at twisting the truth, was hard at work in the land of Egypt. Just as he is today, deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:3).

Though no people group sits without excuse, for God’s eternal power and invisible attributes have been made evident from the beginning of time (cf. Rom. 1:18-25), there is a roaring lion seeking to pull the wool over our little lamb eyes.

And he’s good at it. Taking Scripture out of context. Making it sound almost right, unfair, impossible, unimportant. Today’s standards overriding God’s ideals. Tempting us to think God’s grace is something of a past paradigm. Ineffective right now because otherwise my life wouldn’t be so hard.

But maybe it’s hard – so we’ll have a story to tell.

So we too can testify of God’s rescue, his grace and mercy, his authority. His deliverance from perils greater than me. His strengthening when I couldn’t walk the dusty road another day. His provision when I had nothing in and of myself to give.

Just think of the impact such a story could give. Maybe you’ve experienced it, the testimony of another encouraging your faith or opening your eyes for the first time to God’s undeniable grace. Or maybe right now, you’re the main character of a cliffhanger. One with an ending not quite written.

My friend, Israel’s story wasn’t quite written in Exodus 10 either. The promise of victory had been given, but they didn’t know exactly how or when it would end. The story wasn’t over. Yet God reminded Moses right in the middle, to keep at it, because the story matters. Not just for today, but tomorrow.

God gave Israel a tremendous story to tell so the next generation (and the ones after that) would know of His faithfulness. His active involvement in their lives. His sovereignty. His power. So they would trust, even when they couldn’t see. So they would believe, even when they didn’t know (their own story not fully written). So they would obey, their obedience deeply rooted in the foundation of God’s loving redemption.

If today, you’re holding onto God’s grace one day at a time, just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell. The glory you’ll be able to give to God when you get on the other side and realize, He was faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What is your redemption story? Have you shared it recently?
What story is God writing in your life right now? Which of God’s attributes can you testify to?

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Contrary to Popular Belief Our Redemption Has a Purpose

There’s a lot of inconsistency in the world. Like how I can fit into a specific size of jeans at one store, but am two sizes up at the next. Or how strawberries are delicious one week and terrible the next. Or how I can be roasting at Monday’s baseball game and donning my parka the next. Or how insurance will pay one bill but not the next. Or how my children are best friends one day and enemies the next. (You get the idea.)

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 9:1-12
Key Verse: “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

Yet other times, life is so consistent you can close your eyes and jump with both feet and have no fear of the landing, because you know the Chick-fil-a drive through will still have a line wrapped all the way around the building. The ­­­­­shortest distance between two points will still be a straight line. The baby will always cry the moment your hot breakfast is ready. And someone will inevitably need to pooh, when it’s time to leave for church.

You can count on it my friend, just as you can always count on it to rain after spending nine dollars on a car wash.

Honestly though, it makes me feel cozy. Confident even, having consistency in my life. Driving past the same potholes, on my way to the same stores, for the same foods. Getting up at the same time (relatively speaking) every day to talk to the same God who walked with Adam and Eve.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes change is good. There’s just something about rearranging the family room furniture that puts a skip in my step. But God knew we’d feel safe in consistency, just as our kids do. And He knew, with our inquiring minds, it’d be the least confusing route.

So, sin is still sin. Life lived apart from the Creator is still miserable. God is still the same he was an eternity ago. We are still saved by grace through faith, the same way Abraham was. And for the same purpose, to serve God.

Six times the LORD commanded Pharaoh, “Let my people go, that they may serve me” (9:1). Though each plague was uniquely different, God’s purpose remained the same. Whether it was frogs or flies or the death of “livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks” (v. 3), as we see in the fifth plague. Or “boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt” (v. 9), as we see in the sixth plague. It was all for the same purpose – so the Israelite’s would be freed to serve God.

But what struck me is not God’s consistency, because we’ve already established He’s good at that. What struck me is that God had a purpose. He wasn’t freeing the Israelite’s from bondage so they could go and live however they wanted to. Deciding for themselves what was right and wrong. What felt good and what didn’t. He was freeing them so they could serve Him!

Their redemption had purpose, and likewise, not surprisingly, so does ours. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Christ gave his life as a ransom not so we could say, “Hey thanks buddy” and then run off and live however we want. He redeemed us so we could be His. A people for his own possession, ready and willing to serve him (Titus 2:14).

Accordingly, Romans 6:22 says we’ve been freed from the slavery of sin to be slaves of God.  Not redeemed unto ourselves, but redeemed unto God. We are not our own, we’ve been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Indebted to God forever for the free to us (not free to Him) gift of eternal life we serve, to the best of our ability, wholly and fully devoted to Him. (At least that’s the goal, though I frequently get in my own way.)

Yet for fear of legalism, or teaching a works based salvation, purpose often gets set aside. Burying it under a beautiful pile of grace, we tend to flash our eternal security badge more often than we display our gold engraved name plate, exhibiting our position in God’s kingdom.

But it’s for the very purpose of service we’ve been redeemed! “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Not saved by our works (Eph. 2:8), but saved unto works, in order “that we may bear fruit for God” (Rom. 7:4).

Not by living according to the law, but by living according to the Spirit. That they, a world in desperate need of a Savior, may see Him in us and seek the message of reconciliation we bear witness to. Thereby, fulfilling our purpose.

I see it as a clever tactic of Satan to make us so fearful of preaching a message of works, that in the end, we preach no works at all. But God’s standards haven’t changed. Obedience is still at the forefront of his agenda.

We aren’t saved because we serve, we serve because we’re saved. With gratitude and grace paving the way because grace isn’t a license to sin, but is in fact the core reason not to.

With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God didn’t change the purpose, he simply fulfilled the promise. Just as he did in Israel, granting life and liberty and the ability to serve Him.

He still expects obedience, just as he did with the Israelite’s. He still honors loyalty, just as he did with the Israelite’s. He’s the same consistent God. A God who’s set His people free, so they can freely serve Him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What purpose is there in your salvation?
What good works has God specifically assigned to you, that others may see and glorify your Father in Heaven?
How can you give glory to God today?

photo by Pixabay

When Idols Don’t Make Sense Anymore

I won’t put myself above the rest. If I’d been an Israelite at the time of the Exodus, there’s a good chance I’d have purchased a few Egyptian gods for my shelf. As there were plenty to choose from. Perhaps eighty or so, with a few more popular than the others. Like Hapi, god of the flood. Khnum, guard of the Nile. Osiris, god of the underworld.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:14-25
Key Verse: “To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him.” Deuteronomy 4:35

Then there was Hathor the goddess of love, represented as a cow. (Interesting choice in my opinion.) Heqt, the god who helped with childbirth, represented by a frog. (Hmmm…) And Amon-Re, the sun god, a favorite of many in Egypt’s hot sunny climate.

But seeing as Israel had been enslaved for hundreds of years, with heavy burdens, and no sign of the LORD’s favor. Yet Egyptians were living the high life, prosperous and successful, why not try out a few of their gods? Maybe there was something to it. Couldn’t hurt, right?

This the mindset of an Egyptian influenced Israel, God had some work to do. But he was up for the challenge. Bringing a one-two punch with just the first plague by turning the Nile to blood. Their life source and greatest asset, the Nile offered not only food and transportation, but fertile ground, and need I say it, water.

The only reason the first plague didn’t destroy Egypt is because God lifted his hand after seven days. But it sure would have rocked their world. The equivalent is us going to the gas station only to realize we’d just pumped 20 gallons of blood into our mini vans. I can hardly fathom the crippling effect, but let’s try.

First, we’d be walking home AND staying there. Second, no tractors could run. Trucks would be unable to make deliveries. Crops would rot in the fields. Grocery store shelves would go empty. (You get the idea.) But then imagine you get the smart idea of siphoning the gas out of your lawn mower only to realize it too had been turned to blood.

I’m picturing some very confused mamas the morning of the first plague. Because it wasn’t just the Nile that reeked of blood. It was every bit of water in the land. Canals, ponds, pools, and even the vessels of wood and stone at home on the counter. (I know they probably didn’t have counters – just go with me here.) Up early to make pancakes and want does mom find? Blood.

How much do you want to bet kids all over Egypt got in trouble that morning for filling their mother’s pots with blood? “But mom, I promise I didn’t do it!” (Evidence this was a miraculous event and not just from natural causes like red silting of the Nile.)

Realizing the catastrophe at hand, Egypt would have turned to their Nile associated gods. And seeing as the Nile was so loved and adored, there were lots! Yet all of them were rendered powerless by one simple act of God because while Pharaoh’s magicians had no trouble mimicking the sign, they were not able to undo it.

The people were stuck. No matter how long or hard they called on their so-called gods, the water remained contaminated. It’s believed that Egypt’s priests daily washed their idols with water. Yet for seven days, there only choice was to wash them with blood.

The LORD was sending a loud and clear message to Israel and Egypt alike, that He alone is God and there is no other. To believe in the power of idols. To set your hope in something made of stone or wood, carved by human hands, with no power to save, no life, was to set your hope on death. Blood.

Yet to hope in the LORD God, to worship Him, is to hope in the One who made, sustains, and holds life. Is it any wonder then that God’s initial display of sovereignty in Egypt, a land full of idols, was to turn water to blood? While Jesus’ initial display of sovereignty in Israel, a land He filled with his awesome presence, was to turn water to wine!

In Christ, there is life in abundance. In anything else, there is death.

Yet did they understand? Did they take the warning to heart? We know Pharaoh didn’t. Did Egypt? By the end, with nothing left to their name, bearing the loss of their firstborn, I’m sure there were some. But what of Israel? Did it sink in that God was God and there was no other?

In Deuteronomy 4 toward the end of their 40-year hiatus in the wilderness, Moses urged Israel to remember how blessed there were because of what they’d seen and heard and experienced saying, “Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders…all of which the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (v. 34-35).

To you it was shown Israel that you might know there is none besides HIM. The blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies, the livestock, the boils, the hail, locusts, and darkness. And then the Passover. The riches of Egypt in their possession. The cloud by day the fire by night. God’s presence ever with them. Guiding them. Protecting them. Providing for them.

It should have been more than enough. Yet God’s made himself evident to us as well but has it been enough for us to turn from our idols? (It’s getting personal now.) The money we cling to. The dreams we worship. The people we idolize. The stuff we covet. The television we mediate on.

Still top priority, after all God’s done for us…

The cross. The tomb. The resurrection. The redemption. The gift of God. The adoption as sons and daughters. The inheritance. The hope. The Helper. The promise of His presence forever. “The riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:7b-10).

But is it enough for us to know and believe the LORD is God and there is no other? To leave our idols behind? To seek His glory? To seek His face? (Yes, it’s more than enough.)

God did wonders in Egypt that they might know. And God’s done wonders in us that we might too. So let’s set the other stuff aside. Let’s leave it where it belongs – in His hands, for His purposes. And let’s raise our hands to Jesus. Who proved himself worthy long ago by redeeming Israel and then proved it again by redeeming us.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How did God prove himself to Israel? How has God proved himself to us? How has God proved himself to you personally? Are there idols you need to set aside, things you’ve allowed on the shelf just in case God falls through? Ask the LORD and seek to set them aside, because it’s He alone who is God.

Why I’m Thankful God Hardens Hearts (I Know, Surprising)

“As the LORD had said,” is the last five words of verse 13. It refers to the LORD’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. And is the closing refrain to the hold-your-breath second encounter between Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh. The one where they obediently did just as God commanded, throwing Aaron’s staff to the ground so it could miraculously turn into a serpent and prove their legitimacy.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:8-13
Key Verse: “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Exodus 7:13

It’s a phrase we’re good with when it frames instances such as the birth of Isaac or the fulfilling of covenant promises. But when it’s attached to something like the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, we squirm. Causing at least me (and I’m thinkin’ a few others) to question the inevitable truths pouring fourth from its reality.

Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart? Or did he just predict it? I’d like to think he just predicted it, but there’s no denying God had something to do with it. In Exodus 7:3 God tells Moses, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” (Sounds pretty cut and dry if you ask me.)

And so with Aaron’s staff turned serpent slithering about the room, Pharaoh called for backup. His magicians, Jannes and Jambres, according to 2 Timothy 3:8, were able to mimic the same miracle without much effort. “For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents” (v. 12).

Taking the hissing slithering snake count from zero to three in a hurry. These were no garden snakes either. The Hebrew word used here for serpent is tannin which can also be used to refer to large reptiles like crocodiles. A possibility I wouldn’t rule out seeing as it was Egypt and not some place like Ohio. But the same Hebrew word is used in Deuteronomy 32:33 to refer to venomous snakes – something along the lines of a cobra.

Which is the direction I’m leaning for several reasons.

#1 The Bible says serpent. (So let’s not complicate things).

#2 The serpent was the symbol used by Egyptian Pharaohs to signify their sovereign, fierce, and undisputed power, typically displayed on a headdress they wore. (So I just think it makes sense.)

#3 This wasn’t just a diplomatic get together or a quarrel among men. But a spiritual battle of epic proportions against Satan, the ancient serpent (Rev. 12:9), who stood no chance of winning against the one and only Almighty God. Exemplified for everyone in the room when Aaron’s staff turned serpent easily swallowed the serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians. (Spoiler alert: Jesus wins.)

(And thus ends my three-part thesis as to why I’m going with snakes and not crocodiles. You can thank me later.)

I’m guessing tensions mounted quickly when the count went from one to three venomous snakes. Did anyone panic?  Did the guards flee? Were Moses and Aaron a bit taken back? I can’t help but wonder how long it took before Aaron’s staff swallowed theirs? Seconds? Minutes? Was it loud? Swift?

Inhaling for the first time in who knows how long, I’d have had a hard time not exhaling a big fat “What up now Pharaoh?”

But it wouldn’t have mattered. Pharaoh’s heart was hard, as the LORD had said, not only prior to this encounter, but all the way back in Midian when God told Moses, “But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21). A theme we’re going to see mentioned another 16 times before we’re out of Egypt. So apparently, it’s something God wants us to pay attention to.

But why? Doesn’t it put God in a bad light? If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, isn’t he the one responsible for Pharaoh’s sin?

Some explain the concept away by saying Pharaoh’s heart was already hard. God knew what was in his heart (which is true), so he just went ahead and made sure it stayed hard during the plagues. (A theory I won’t argue against.)

But this isn’t the only time we see God harden a heart. Psalm 105:25 says God turned the hearts of the Egyptians “to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” Deuteronomy 2:30 says the LORD hardened King Sihon of the Amorites so he would not let Israel pass through. Joshua 11:20 speaks of the LORD hardening the hearts of the Canaanites “that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction.”

Aye yi yi, is this the God we love and serve? Yes, yes it is. God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18).

“You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resister his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom. 9:19). (Paul’s words via the Holy Spirit, not mine, just so there’s no confusion.)

The truth is – we’re not going to understand it because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are far above our thoughts. But here’s where we can rest: “His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4).

If he hardens the heart of man (or woman for that matter) it’s done in holiness and faithfulness and perfection. It’s done in wisdom. It’s done without iniquity and is fully just. Desiring that all men come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God does not harden the heart of a man for pleasure (Ezekiel 33:11), but for purpose.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart that his power might be seen and his name proclaimed in all the earth (Rom. 9:9). Hence, we’re still telling the story today!

But you know who else God hardened? Israel. So the Jews of Christ’s day would put him on the cross. So the prophecies would be fulfilled. So every bit of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection could take place “as the LORD had said.” So we the gentiles, could have a chance. Could experience his mercy. Could be grafted in as sons and daughters of God; heirs of the promise of Abraham. (Anyone else besides me starting to feel differently about this hardening thing?)

My friend, if it weren’t for God’s ability to harden the hearts of men, we’d all be in trouble. Additionally, if He has the power to harden, He also has the power to soften. To not only turn the heart of the king (Prov. 21:1), but the hearts of my kids and my heart and yours and our neighbors and loved ones. Oh how thankful I am for God’s sovereignty over the hearts of men because it’s His mercy he continues to let in.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does the concept of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, or anyone for that matter, bother you? Or is something you readily accept?
How does the fact that God hardened the hearts of the Israelites, so that salvation could be available for all people, help you better understand the concept?

The Main Thing to Remember When Disbelief Sets In

You know what happens when life gets tough? Disbelief. That’s what. In my situation. “Why is this happening to me?” In people. “How could they do this to us?” In God. “I just don’t understand why God allowed this to happen.”

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 6:10-30
Key Verse: “The LORD said to Moses, “I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.”” Exodus 6:29

Pretty sure I’ve said all three. Multiple times. Multiple occasions.

So I feel for the Israelite’s. I really do. Finally, a word from the LORD. A ray of hope. Only to have all the clouds move back in and every bit of sunshine gone. “So much for gettin’ out of here. Instead, we’re all gonna die!” (My paraphrase.)

Their brick quotas suddenly insurmountable because of the decree from Pharaoh to gather their own straw, life looked bleak, to say the least.

Not even the amazing “I will” statements, the extensive promises God gave the people through Moses, helped. (Click here if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.) How do I know? Verse 9 goes on to say, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”


Are we really that quick to give up on Jesus? Afraid so my friend, afraid so.

Good thing Jesus isn’t so quick to give up on us! Undeterred by the people’s lack of faith, the LORD tells Moses to high tail it on over to the palace to let Pharaoh know what’s up. Moses, however, was not so eager.

“Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” (v. 12) Once again Moses’ insecurities were getting the best of him. (I hate it when that happens.)

Scholars differ as to whether Moses was merely referring to his lack of eloquence by using the phrase uncircumcised lips or if he was thinking back to the little circumcision issue that took place on the way to Egypt (Exodus 4:24-26).

Either way, I think it’s safe to say, Moses was feeling inadequate. After all, the people were upset with him. Pharaoh had scoffed at him. And nothing had gone as planned.

Furthermore, he was just an ordinary run of the mill kind of guy. Distinctly pointed out to us, in the latter half of this chapter, in the brief genealogy given for Moses and Aaron.

At first glance it might seem like an odd place for a genealogy. But God’s timing is always perfect, right? Nestled between bookends of Moses declaring his inability, it’s a final reminder of Moses’ humanity before things really get rolling. Before we see the power of God pour through Moses in ways that make children’s fairy tale books look boring.

But it wasn’t because Moses was something special. Nope. And what’s more, he had a sketchy family. Check out verse 20. “Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses.” Mmhmm, you read that right, Moses’ dad married his aunt. Sure things may have been different back then and it’s quite possible they were even close in age, seeing as women had babies much longer than they do today. (God bless them.) But I couldn’t help but bring it up.

Secondly, the genealogy makes it clear, Aaron and Moses are from the tribe of Levi. Which will be extremely important when we get to the Tabernacle. (The Levites were the priestly tribe.)

But what we need to see today, is that it wasn’t a descendant of everyone’s beloved Joseph that God chose to lead the people. It wasn’t even a descendant of Judah, the kingly tribe, from which David and Jesus descended. It was from the tribe of Levi.

Cursed by Jacob for his anger (Gen. 49:7), do you remember what Levi did? Killed all the men of Shechem, alongside brother Simeon. Because the prince of Shechem had raped their sister. It was bloody and messy. And a stain on Jacob’s family the rest of their lives.

This the family line Moses laid claim to. Yet, God chose him anyway because our past doesn’t disqualify us, it equips us. With a story to tell. Setting the stage for God to glorify himself. Yet much of the time, we think the opposite.

God can’t use me, just look at the family I come from.

Look at my past.

Look at my mistakes.

My inadequacies. My inexperience. My education. My lack of credentials. My reputation.

And before we know it, disbelief sets in.

But it’s not about our past, it’s about His presence. It’s not about our mistakes, it’s about His mercy. It’s not about our inadequacies, it’s about His supremacies. Nor is it about my lack of experience because all that really matters is His equipping.

God’s power is made perfect in weakness my friend. His glory shines best when I can’t, but He can. Moses couldn’t free the people. There was no way. But God could and God did.

The point? It wasn’t about Moses and his inadequacies. It wasn’t about the people and their disbelief. It wasn’t even about Pharaoh and his hard heart. It was about God and his power working despite humanity, on behalf of humanity, and in response to humanity.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him. An All-powerful, All-mighty, All-consuming, All-ready-got-it-taken-care-of God, who’s always faithful.

God’s reminder to Moses over and over was four words, “I am the LORD” (Ex. 6:28). Because that’s all Moses needed to remember.

Beloved of God. It doesn’t really matter if we can’t, what matters is God can. Every day, every hour, every minute He is the LORD, and He can.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What disbelief are you struggling with today? What steps can you take to trust the God who always and forever can even when we can’t?

The Gospel: God’s Plan A

Though it’s true I’m in charge of laundry and spelling words and school folders and pancakes and the weekly menu and getting us where we need to be, when we need to be there. The truth is, I’m not really in charge.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 6:1-9
Key Verse: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” Revelation 7:10

And neither is that cute guy who brings home the bacon. (Ha…literally.) The LORD is.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring…Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).

Which means, the pressure’s off, right? I’m merely a servant of the King. He’s the one calling the shots. Guiding the path of the faithful (and the unfaithful for that matter). Intricately weaving the details of life just so. Accomplishing his good and perfect will in my life and yours. (And all the people said “Amen!”)

Problem is, I tend to forget. And then I worry. Tying myself in knots because I just CAN’T SEE how it’s going to work out. Fretting as though there’s no great God, abundant in power, who’s near to all who call on Him in truth (Ps. 145:18). Whose kingdom is everlasting and “dominion endures throughout all generations” (Ps. 145:13). Thus, I quake at the enemy’s tactics.

And unfortunately, I’m not alone. Seems Moses, riled by Pharaoh’s unfair edict to make the Israelite’s gather their own straw, may have forgotten too. And as a result, he quaked and fretted and tied himself in knots.  So God graciously reminded him, “I am the LORD” (v. 2).

The one who appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The one who doesn’t forget a covenant. The one who heard the groaning of the people. And here’s what I’m going to do.

The LORD then gives seven “I will” statements that parallel our own story of redemption in Jesus Christ. Because God didn’t switch to plan B at some point. He didn’t get the Israelite’s out of Egypt only to realize they couldn’t keep the law after all.

He knew they couldn’t. He knew we couldn’t. Perfection’s not in the cards for any of us, and that’s what would be required to get to Heaven without Jesus. (Sorry universalism, but it ain’t gonna happen.)

And it’s OK. Because the LORD knew. He knew we’d never attain holiness apart from Him. He knew we’d forever fall short, yet desired to be with us anyway. (This the part that gets me every time.) So from the beginning – it was plan A.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins” (Rom. 3:23-25).

The blood of God’s own son was the answer. Every Old Testament sacrifice pointed to Him. Along with every detail of the Tabernacle. And the priests and their clothing. And the festivals held by the people. All of it pointed to Jesus.

Along with the Israelite’s story. Their rescue from bondage. Their need for a deliverer because they’d never get out of Egypt themselves. Thus, when God recapped the plan for Moses right there in the suffocating Egyptian climate, He recapped the gospel. Relating not just what He planned to do for the Israelite’s, but what He planned to do for us.

  1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (v. 6). It was all God! The Israelite’s had nothing to do with it. And neither do we. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).
  1. I will deliver you from slavery” (v. 6). Mmhhmm, but not just them, us too. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).
  1. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment” (v. 6). Yes, indeed! The greatest act of judgment ever done is Christ on the cross. When God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). With outstretched arms, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).
  1. I will take you to be my people” (v. 7). Forever and always His! Can you believe it? “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). Sheesh, that’s amazing!
  1. I will be your God” (v. 7). But not just their God, ours too. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15) “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16).
  1. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (v. 8). Safe and secure one day we’ll be there too. For “he has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13).
  1. I will give it to you for a possession” (v. 8). Otherwise known as a big, beautiful, inheritance. “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).

He’s got it all under control my friend; always has and always will. “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10). So take a deep breath. Relax. And remember, it’s not us who’s in charge, it’s Jesus. And he’s not on plan B or C or D or Z. He’s still right on track – with plan A.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How does Israel’s redemption from slavery parallel our own redemption story?
In what current situation do you need to remember God’s in charge, and not you? Rest in His sovereignty today friend. Just like your salvation, He’s 100% got it under control.