Tuesday, 21 January 2014

(22) January 22: Exodus 1-3 & Matthew 15v21-39

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note the reasons God gives for helping Israel.

To ponder:
As Exodus begins, the first stage of God’s promise to Abraham (ch 17) has been completed: Israel has become a nation, filling Goshen (v5-7). God is ensuring his purpose in creation is fulfilled (v7 with 1v28). Today’s events take place about 400 years after Joseph, around 1500 BC (15v13). God is already with Israel, ensuring his promise is not thwarted: The more she is oppressed the more she multiplies under blessing. And the midwives who refuse to kill the children out of fear of God receive blessing too (1v20-21). Do we stand up as boldly for God’s people?
            Moses, however, is the great sign God has not forgotten his people. His salvation parallels Noah’s, hinting that God is bringing about a new dawn. And consider how he is at work: Moses is rescued by Pharoah’s daughter and so educated before fleeing to the desert for forty years. So he has been trained as both the ideal lawgiver and shepherd of the people in the desert. God shapes us all through our experiences. None are wasted.
            By killing the Egyptian and driving away the shepherds, Moses shows himself the rescuer. But with irony he is rejected by a Hebrew: “Who made you a ruler and judge over us?” We know the answer. But the rejection patterns that of later Israel and challenges us as to our own response to God’s ministers; and especially to Christ our ruler and judge (Acts 7v27, 51-53).
            We are repeatedly told God is coming to Israel’s aid because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But the language is personal: He “heard,” “saw” and was “concerned” (2v24-25, 3v7, 9, 16). This reflects God’s care for us as his covenant people too.
            Mount Horeb may be Mount Sinai or close to it (24v13). God’s holiness is his supreme majesty and purity that cannot tolerate sin (Isaiah 6v1-5). The non-consuming fire may picture him restraining that holiness as he would have to with Israel. His promise to "be with" Moses shows what’s necessary for Israel to be redeemed - his presence. Moses’ experience patterns their future.
God’s name: “I AM WHO I AM” (Yahweh) stresses he is the true and unchanging God who cannot be fashioned according to our preferences like the gods of Moses’ day. By giving his name, the LORD affirmed he could be called upon. It signalled his willingness to be in relationship with Israel “forever” (3v15). His promise of the land “flowing with milk and honey” portrays it as Eden-like. The LORD affirms his ability to achieve it: He will compel the mighty Pharoah to release Israel, perform wonders before the Egyptians and even cause them to give Israel their wealth. To reveal his glory, it’s as if God purposefully promises what seems impossible.

Praying it home:
Praise God for his love for the world that moved him to send Christ to redeem us. Confess how you’ve sought to fashion God according to your preferences rather than accept him as he is.

Thinking further:
Essentially God’s covenant with Abraham promised a kingdom (ch. 17): God’s people (a great nation) obeying God’s rule (keeping the covenant) enjoying God’s place (the land) under God’s ruler (kings we now know will come from Judah). It’s fulfilment structures the Old Testament. God forms his people in Genesis 12-50, establishes his rule in Exodus-Leviticus and grants the land in Numbers-Joshua. Judges-2 Chronicles then recount the rise and fall of Israel’s kings.
The Jews considered “Yahweh” too sacred to speak and so used “Adonai” (Lord) instead. For this reason our translations always translate “Yahweh” as “the LORD” (capitals). Whenever we read this we must understand “Yahweh” (I AM WHO I AM) was originally used.

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