Archive for March, 2009

So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Exodus 10:22-23It is my tendency to forget significant details of an event and recollect only the trivial minutiae associated with it. Such is the case of my visit to a cave when I was a child. I cannot recall how old I was, who I was with, or even where this alleged cave was, but one detail I do remember—the dark.

The cave-guide asked, “Who has ever seen true darkness?” He (or was it a she?) then went on to explain that on the earth’s surface we are never in total darkness; there is always light seeping in somewhere. Then she (or he) flicked the switch and plunged us into a kind of darkness the likes of which I had never seen—no pun intended. My five-minute experience was frightening. I suspect that the ninth plague imposed upon Egypt; the three-day, epidemic of darkness was abundantly more terrifying.

But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. Exodus 10:23

There certainly is measurable calm associated with having illumination and God saw to it that His people were so equipped. And for those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior we see that parallel in our lives—the correlation that exists between possessing His light and being at ease as we traverse an extremely dark planet. Since no person is born a Christian, everyone who is reborn can bring testimony of the fear and anxiety connected with the dark place they once resided.

The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16

Not Going to Re-Invent the Light Bulb

It would be easy for me to rattle on regarding the issue, but why bother when God said it best in His Word. Consider these light passages:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life…You are the light of the world…My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” John 8:12, Matthew 5:14, Matthew 11:30

Don’t make the gaffe of believing that God has provided His Light merely so that we might be comforted and at peace with the world. The fact that we are so blessed by God is because He is abunadntly loving, gracious, and merciful–God is able! He is the ultimate multi-tasker, able to both conduct His orchestra and bless His musicians simultaneously. But make no mistake about it; the purpose of the Light is to bring Him the honor, glory, and praise. It’s always been about Him and it always will be, so hold that torch high.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 24:29-31

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Tomorrow: Not Always a Day AwaySo Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. And the magicians did so with their enchantments, and brought up frogs on the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Entreat the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” And Moses said to Pharaoh, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you, for your servants, and for your people, to destroy the frogs from you and your houses, that they may remain in the river only.” So he said, “Tomorrow.” …So the Lord did according to the word of Moses. And the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courtyards, and out of the fields. They gathered them together in heaps, and the land stank. Exodus 8:6-10, 13-14

Going to Heqt in a Handbag

In pre-Exodus Egypt frogs were considered sacred, so much so that the Egyptians worshipped a frog-headed, fertility goddess named Heqt. While this particular plague unleashed by God invalidates yet another false-god myth, Pharaoh’s reaction to the experience serves as a picture of the sinful nature we all possess to one degree or another.

When Would You Like Delivery?

When we buy something, common sense (and our nature) dictates that we want it immediately. Regardless of the fact that we may know going in that delivery is often delayed, nobody makes a purchase with the notion that they will purposely hinder receiving it. Can you imagine going to a doctor with a severe, perhaps life-threatening ailment and having this discussion:

Patient: “I’m in agony.”

Doctor: “Well you are very sick, but fortunately for you I have an immediate cure. Would you like it now?”

Patient: “No, I’ll be back tomorrow.”

That is a scenario that is not likely to occur, but yet this is Pharaoh’s response. Consequently this makes the frog-plague a picture of the sin in our lives that we are reluctant to give up. We can relate–anyone who has ever considered a ‘diet’ understands that the best time to begin watching what you eat is tomorrow.

Moses essentially replies to Pharaoh, “Ok, if that’s what want—tomorrow it is, ” but then as picture of Christ Jesus, pleads tearfully with the Father on the sinner’s behalf. Our Lord will not take away our ability to choose, but nevertheless our regrettable choices sadden Him deeply.Sin Stinks

They gathered them (the dead frogs) together in heaps, and the land stank. Exodus 8:14

As we determined earlier the frogs represent sin—any sin. The truth of the matter is that long after sin is gone and perhaps even dead to us, the toxic aftermath of selfish indulgence must be piled-up somewhere and as a result it’s going to stink. The aftermath of sin always creates a stench; therefore the person who audaciously proclaims, “I ‘m not hurting anyone but myself, ” is a bold-faced liar. We know that even if no one else is affected (an extremely rare occurrence) God is always grieved. Yes it is true, in Christ Jesus all our sins are forgiven, but with transgression always comes consequence.

As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly Proverbs 26:11

The Exodus passage continues that once the emergency was over; once there was relief, Pharaoh had forgotten the pain associated with sin and hardened his heart. The Bible records that God also hardened his heart, but let it be known that God only confirmed that which Pharaoh had already purposed in his own heart. God will not strive with man forever and we need to recognize that the next time we act as Pharaoh it might be our last chance with God.

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Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ’Show a miracle for yourselves, ’ then you shall say to Aaron, ’Take your rod and cast it before Pharaoh, and let it become a serpent.’ ” So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. But Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers; so the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For every man threw down his rod, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. Exodus 7:8-12Real or Imagined

We know the power behind Aaron’s feat was Divine, but what about Pharaoh’s performance? Were his magicians merely creating an illusion similar to that of say a David Copperfield or was there demonic influence? I submit to you that this was a work of satan [that] God had allowed for (at least) two purposes—so that the world would know that although it is limited, satan’s power is real ~and~ that when this power is employed it always makes matters worse. Think about it—satan brought about more venom, more toxic water, and later on more frogs–Nothing he did made things better and isn’t that always the case with satan. I find it ironic that in regard to the plague of lice, arguably the simplest thing to recreate from a magical standpoint, he failed.

A Third Application

Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. Exodus 7:12

The message obvious to us all is that God’s power is supreme to that of satan’s. The power of satan is restricted, he is only allowed to exhibit that which is allowed by God, and in the end God’s power is absolute. But there is another noteworthy insight being expressed here—in the conquest over evil; in the victory over tribulation, there is nourishment! Consider the report of Joshua filed with Moses after he returned from spying-out the Promised Land.

“The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ’a land which flows with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” Numbers 14:7b-9

Bread For Us

Joshua had affirmed that the Anakin; the wicked giants living in the land were but Wonder Bread for the twelve tribes of Israel, for in their consumption they could “Help build strong bodies 12 ways.” What the other spies saw as obstacles, Joshua (and Caleb) saw as nourishment. Why recoil from satan’s interruptions when there is sustenance in devouring them! Joshua understood this godly principle so well that when they divvied-up the land he wanted this specific region. “Keep the milk and honey, ” he might of said, “give me my Wonder Bread!”

Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11

Whether we realize it or not, people are watching us. The world has always examined the Christian community to see how we handle trials and tribulations. Sadly we have not always faired so well. When the world points this out (and they will), we would remind them they should look to Christ as the definer of our faith and not the Christian. But having said that, we are still called to embrace tribulation for there is growth to be had that brings honor, glory, and praise to our Lord. Surely we will stumble, but let it be known that satan takes no pleasure when we fall flat on our faces, but rather when we fail to rise.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried out to Pharaoh, saying, “Why are you dealing thus with your servants? There is no straw given to your servants, and they say to us, ’Make brick!’ And indeed your servants are beaten, but the fault is in your own people.” Exodus 5:15-16Woe is Me

Have you ever had a problem or issue so grievous, you felt compelled to plead your case to the most significant person you knew or could find? I have had a few of those in my life and I have handled them in a variety of ways. I have penned letters to editors, spoken to attorneys, and have even sought the assistance of local politician; anyone who might rally behind my cause.

I can now say without any prevarication that all those endeavors were humongous wastes of time and effort—especially those involving politicians. It would appear by today’s text that these early Jewish leaders would agree. They had a problem and soon discovered that presenting the case to Pharaoh achieved two negative results: the problem got worse and their recovery was delayed. What should they have done and to whom should they have brought their troubles?

“Woe to the rebellious children, ” says the Lord, “Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin… Isaiah 30:1

Reading the words of the Lord through His prophet Isaiah should give us pause. God has made it extraordinarily clear that we are to bring our issues to Him and He will give us guidance. Perhaps God might counsel us to go to another, but to do so without first seeking His blessing is sinful and with that comes consequence. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not a curse God imposes upon us, but rather one we bring upon ourselves. When we know what is right and act contrarily, there is always a cost—rebellion is an expensive luxury the Christian cannot afford. Let all our cries be brought before our Mighty Counselor.

“Present your case, ” says the Lord. “Bring forth your strong reasons, ” says the King of Jacob…For I looked, and there was no man; I looked among them, but there was no counselor, Who, when I asked of them, could answer a word. Indeed they are all worthless; Their works are nothing; Their molded images are wind and confusion. Isaiah 41:21, 28-29

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Then (Moses) you shall say to Pharaoh, ’Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met (Moses) and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, “Surely you are a husband of blood to me!” So He let him go. Then she said, “You are a husband of blood!”–because of the circumcision. Exodus 4:22-26
What in the World is Going On?

Moses has just been ordained by God to pronounce a very serious judgment against Pharaoh, essentially declaring that if he (Pharaoh) would not release His (God’s) children, God would kill his child. Quite the admonishment and quite the task considering the source! What seems puzzling is God’s subsequent action, “…The Lord met (Moses) and sought to kill him” (emphasis mine). What just happened? As the text divulges it’s what didn’t happen that is at issue here.

This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised…Genesis 17:10

There you have it! Moses had neglected his responsibilities at home. How could he possibly go to Pharaoh with such a momentous proclamation while his own home was in disorder. This is clearly not how our Lord operates. Fortunately, Zipporah his wife, fearing for her husbands salvation, steps-up and delivers. Her anger towards him likely served as a catalyst for Moses setting him on a proper course, although most certainly there were repercussions for his allowing this problem to persist for so long.

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17-19

A Couple Applications…

We already touched on one—God will not open one door until we walk through the last one. Or maybe the second door has been opened (as in Moses’ case), but we are prevented from progressing towards it because there is unfinished business to take care of. In either scenario the solution is always the same–reparation; i.e. returning to where we last heard God’s voice clearly and yielding to His authority. It could be as simple as lifting a prayer or as complex as witnessing to your unsaved mother-in-law.

The second application is specifically for the wife. If your husband (saved or unsaved) has dropped the ball and will not (or perhaps cannot) pick it up, it is your duty to do so. So was the case in my family. Back in the mid-nineties my wife became the spiritual leader of our family when I was negligent in my duties as head of the clan. She saw to the children going to church, youth group, and similar activities. I can barely begin to tell how grateful I am the she carried the burden in those days—I do not deserve such grace and mercy.

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So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Furthermore the Lord said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign. And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:2-10The Tools of our Ministry

In these eight verses from the Book of Exodus, God pictures the three ministry tools given to every believer for the furtherance of His kingdom. As we delve into the typology of these miracles and their prophetic parallels, take notice that in the Exodus snippet above, Moses only tries two of the three devices God had provided. Motivation aside, in his deviation there is a significant lesson for the body of Christ. But first, lets examine the fishing tackle.

Tool One: Talent

God tends to use us wherever He finds us. It matters not if we sell cars, sweep floors, or chair a major corporations—God can use our current aptitude for His honor, glory, and praise. Our Lord essentially said to Moses the sheepherder, “Is that a shepard’s staff in your hand? I can use that!” Our Father says the same thing to us, but first we are told to throw it down. Why?

Because God desires that we see our talent for the snake it likely is. Far too many of us give prime recognition to the job or the position within the job, rather than God. We are guided by flesh and not by Spirit. In so doing we are not serving God. Incredibly, this can even occur in our ministries! God tells us to throw whatever it is down and then to pick it back up by the illogical-end (everybody knows you do not pick up a snake by the tail). This faithful, irrational act reestablishes God as our head.

Tool Two: Testimony

In the Bible leprosy is a picture of sin. The demonstration of Moses revealing (first) his leprous hand from his heart and then a cleaned one is a depiction of the born-again experience. When we share our testimony, like Moses, we express what we once were and how through the cleansing, redemptive power of Christ we have gotten where we are today. Many times our mere behavior bears witness that our desire to sin has been replaced by our desire to serve Jesus.

Tool Three: Truth

And it shall be, if they do not believe even these two signs, or listen to your voice, that you shall take water from the river and pour it on the dry land. And the water which you take from the river will become blood on the dry land.” Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” Exodus 4:9-10

The people looked to the Nile’s water for life, but the spirit of God’s message to Moses was that this course of water; a picture of the road that they were on, only brings death. Moses had received the God-given authority to bring this powerful, no-holds-barred message, but he stuttered—not so much in his speech, but in his response. This is precisely where many of us pause and stutter as well.

We readily employee the first two tools of our ministry (just like Moses), but when it comes to plainly telling folks that they are on a road towards destruction, we stop cold. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone. The truth be told, there comes a time, after other tools have been utilized and ignored, that we must say to the non-believer, “The course you are on leads to death—you MUST be born again.” The other tools are important, but the implementation of this tool is critical and sadly the one we tend to use the least. Do we really know what we are declaring when we joyously sing, “I want to see Jesus high and lifted up?” It is time for the world to understand the implication of a ‘lifted up’ Jesus. Let us; let me stutter no more.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die.   John 12:32-33

I am convicted by own words. I confess that I am guilty of the very thing I preach—my propensity is to rely on devices that are easy to handle and to ignore the ones that require a steady, skillful hand. It’s clear as I write that this latter tool; the tool of truth requires practice and a thorough review of the owners manual in order to use it effectively. Checking-in with the Manufacturer on a regular basis is also highly recommended.

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Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives…”When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women…if it is a son, then you shall kill him…” But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt…said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?” And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.” Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them. So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.” Exodus 1:15-22Does God Honor Lying?

No. God does not honor, sanction, or turn a deaf-ear or blind-eye to any sin we commit. To suggest otherwise perverts the truth and these perversities set in motion the practice of manufacturing counterfeit gods; the world is filled with these man-made, Christian-like deities who wink at our sin. Sadder still is that the producers of these idols point to today’s scripture (and others like it) and erroneously surmise that sin; under certain circumstances, is acceptable. They could not be more mistaken.

What God Approves

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 13:6

The Exodus text is extremely clear, these women were blessed because they feared God–period. God is never mocked and we will always reap what we sow, but God, having weighed the impulse of their hearts, chose to focus on that which they did correctly rather than that which they did in error. We should never assume that because the consequences of their lies were not recorded [in the Bible] that there weren’t any. The truth be told, their lies had little impact–Pharaoh was merely determined to kill the babies in another way.

The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established….Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the hearts. Proverbs 16:1-3; 21:2

An Application For Us

Is there ever a situation where a lie would be justified? What about those who hid Jews in their attics during Hitler’s reign and then lied to soldiers who came looking to carry them off to concentration camps—did they sin? The answer is still the same—sinning is never justified and (not but) God weighs the heart. To our disgrace, there will always be consequences for sin and to God’s glory, there will always be blessings for our obedience. Consider this truth in 1 Corinthians 10:13…

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Understand the implication of the verse. It does not declare that ‘God will not give us anything we cannot handle, ’ but rather that He will not give us anything that He cannot handle.

Submission to Authorities

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

I am kind of back-tracking, but this verse often comes up in defense of the women who lied. It is common church doctrine that we are to obey all authority unless that authority is in contrast to God’s authority. The argument is often that these women, in defiance of an illegal order, were authorized to lie. No, they were not so authorized. A more accurate policy is that we are to deny the illegal directive and willingly suffer the consequences. Am I suggesting that under similar circumstances I would not lie? I knew you were going to ask me that. I hope I would proceed as Peter, but if I fail I know I have already been forgiven…that’s my answer and I am sticking to it.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this (Jesus) name?… But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men….And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Acts 5:27-29, 47

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You’ve Got to See This!

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes; And to Him shall be the obedience of the people. Binding his donkey to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, He washed his garments in wine, And his clothes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, And his teeth whiter than milk. Genesis 49:8-12

Israel Blesses Israel

Israel is on the verge of blessing his twelve sons, the offspring of which will become the twelve tribes of Israel the nation. Amazingly these blessings prophetically outline the nation’s entire history; from birth to its glorious restoration at Christ’s second coming in these the last days. These God-inspired prophetic illustrations are astonishing. Let’s look at all the blessings, saving Judah’s blessing, the fourth blessing out of the twelve, for last.

Reuben’s blessing prophetically speaks of the birth of Israel as a nation and their forty-year downfall in the desert. Simeon and Levi’s addresses the scattering of Israel and the two captivities they endured. Zebulon’s speaks to Israel’s exile as a result of rejecting Jesus and Issachar’s the continued prosperity of the nation despite their snubbing of Christ. It could be said that we are currently in this era of Issachar’s blessing.

Dan’s blessing entails the emergence of Antichrist and Gad’s speaks to the heightened persecution brought on by this global terrorist. Asher’s looks to the 144, 000 Jewish evangelicals who will come on the scene and Naphtali’s the sharing of that life-saving Good News message. Joseph’s blessing prophetically reveals Christ’s second coming and Benjamin’s to Israel’s victorious restoration following the Battle of Armageddon. Did you get all that? Read through Genesis 49 and compare notes.

Saving the Best for Last

I pulled Judah’s blessing out from the sequence so that we could spotlight it alone, for from Judah comes Shiloh, our Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Reread Genesis 48:8-12 and check-out the remarkable prophetic images of our Jesus. For the most part they are easy to recognize, but what can we make of verse ten?

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor a lawgiver from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes… Genesis 49:10

Eyewitness News

In 30 AD, in the eyes of Israel, a terrible thing occurred that caused the nation much despair – the Jerusalem Talmud records that Jews lost the power of capital punishment (40 years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD).

This was devastating news to the Jews because the ‘scepter’ of their authority, as prophesied by Jacob, had ‘departed’ and their ‘Shiloh’ (Messiah) had not yet come forth. Their perception had to be that Jacob’s prophecy, i.e. God’s Word to His people, was a lie.

However, their distress was unwarranted because Messiah had arrived. In fact, it was at this very time a 30 year old Jesus appears on the scene to begin His earthly ministry. Although Israel would go on to reject Him, we know by means of God’s true word, they will be restored when they come to see Him for who He truly is—their (our) Messiah.


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Sacrifice and PraiseSo Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac…Then he sent Judah before him to Joseph… Genesis 46:1 & 28

It Seemed Like the Right Thing to Do

I can scarcely begin to tell how many times I have advanced a decision to do something based exclusively on the notion that it seemed like the right thing to do. By God’s grace, not every choice was dreadful; sometimes things turned out well and other times, not so well. Our Father would rather our movements be in harmony with His and so, through His servant Israel He provides instruction, that if pursued will facilitate discerning His will before we leap haphazardly.

Digging Up the Past

Israel is about to enter Egypt and he stops. I suppose his memory drifts back to the days of his grandfather Abraham who found himself in a similar predicament—there was famine in the land and he too went to Egypt for resources. At the time, to Abraham it must have seemed like the right thing to do, but his grievous error was in not seeking God’s will. Despite the fact he returned a wealthy man, part of his yield included a slave girl named Hagar, who would bear him a son named Ishmael, the likes of which the world still struggles today.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Israel is unquestionably anxious to see his son Joseph and to obtain provision for his family, but he stops just short of entering in and inquires of God. While impatience, eagerness, and enthusiasm are my customary stumbling blocks, Israel demonstrates that selfishness will not stand between him and his relationship with his Father. Subsequently, God honors that sacrifice by authorizing and confirming Israel’s entry into Egypt.

“I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.” Genesis 46:3-4

Ready, Set, GO!

Not so fast. This is the stage where many of us would proclaim, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” as we geared-up to move forward with God’s blessing, but Israel’s reaction is quite different. Relaxed and poised he selects his son Judah to go before him and to greet Joseph. Why Judah? Because the name Judah (in Hebrew) means praise—Israel moves forth with praise and praise leads the way! Let us by sacrifice seek His will and then proceed with our praises toward Him.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalms 100:4

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And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:4-5God Can Use Your Biggest Mistake

For the believer and the nonbeliever, everything happens for a reason and nothing comes about by coincidence. Even this morning when I had a mini road-rage episode, God used the event to reveal some residual evil in my heart and to perform a little fine-tuning of my soul. It is in these moments I find myself thanking the Lord for answering my prayers (to make known to me my true heart), showing me what an idiot I still am, and for demonstrating His faithfulness and interest in this my sanctification process.

Joseph (a picture of Christ Jesus) is schooling his brothers in this doctrine. The brothers, led by Judah, had previously expressed their readiness to learn by the confession of their sin and as a result Joseph gives them pardon. The essence of Joseph’s actions were later summed-up in these words by Jesus on the cross.

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34

Do we fully understand the implication of Christ’s words? On this day, everyone within earshot of Jesus; every Jew, every soldier, every sinner heard the same exact message that Joseph told his brothers, “do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves…for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Had they confessed they would have received a gracious pardon. For those with breath still in their lungs, the offer remains.

Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Acts 3:17-18

For those presently in Christ the good news is that we can stop beating ourselves silly over the mistakes we make. God has foreknowledge of our corrupt manner and has designed a purpose that will bless both Him and us mutually. The progression continues when we acknowledge our wickedness and confess our sin to Jesus. Christ will never give His approval to our sin, but He will turn it around as a Kingdom-building mechanism that brings honor, glory, and praise to Him.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more… Romans 5:20b

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