Sunday, 26 January 2014

(27) January 27: Exodus 13-15 & Matthew 19:1-15

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

To discover:­­
As you read consider what God is to be praised for.

To ponder:
With confidence that God would bring Israel to the land, she is urged to commemorate these events – and again, teach the coming generation (13v8). Importantly, this is the reason for the people to speak of and observe God’s law. Their obedience is a response to his grace, not a means of earning it. We too obey “in view of God’s mercy” (Rom 12v1).
            Israel’s firstborn sons (and animals) have not simply been saved – but redeemed. So they belong to God (13v1). To mark this, firstborn animals have to be sacrificed to the LORD – although a substitute should be made for donkeys (perhaps all unclean animals). Sons are to be bought back (redeemed) with money (Num 18:16). This would cause them to ask “why” and so hear of God’s mighty acts (13v11-16). Through Christ, we now belong to God in a special sense, and so are devoted to his service (Rev 5v9-10).
            Though armed, the Israelites are not yet ready for battle. So God leads them away from the Philistines. Whether by pillar of fire or cloud, he never leaves them (13v22). However he has more glory to gain for himself (14v4, 17, 18). By placing the people in a vulnerable position, he draws Pharoah out. The might of the Egyptian army is stressed (14v6-7). But after all God had done, Israel should have trusted him. Instead they are terrified and grumble. They want to return to slavery (14v10-12). As we face our great enemies - the world, the flesh and the devil, we may consider returning to slavery, thinking this an easier life. Moses displays his leadership by getting them to “stand firm,” just as Christ does through his ministers.
            A key point is that “the LORD will fight” for them (14v13-14, 25). His presence in the two pillars moved between Israel and the Egyptians. He sent a wind to part the sea, confused the opposing army, and brought the waters back down to drown them. The people therefore “feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses” (14v31). It is meditating on God’s great acts in Christ that should renew our fear of God and trust in his saviour.
            The parting of the waters recalls creation (1v9) and the drowning the flood. Again this portrays the Exodus as God bringing about a new humanity for a new start in a new Eden – a pattern of the reality we are part of.
            The songs of Moses and Miriam retell the events in prophetic and poetic (so not so literal) language. Throughout God is the warrior. He hurls the riders into the sea just as Pharoah hurled the Egyptian children into the Nile. The poem ends anticipating the glory he then receives as the nations hear and tremble, and with confidence that he will establish his people in the land.
            After all that, it is tragic (but human) to see the people grumble again. God mercifully turns the bitter water sweet. It’s another lesson. He did this when Moses obeyed his instructions. So Israel must “listen carefully” to his voice and “obey his commands” if she is not to suffer the plagues of Egypt (15v22-27). They are being prepared to receive the law.

Praying it home:
Praise God that he fights for us. Pray through the armour of God in Ephesians 6, so that you stand firm in God’s truth and obey him in godliness.

Thinking further:
The location of the Red Sea is uncertain. In Hebrew it is the sea of reeds. However it was substantial. In 1 Kings 9v26 Solomon could have his ships there. This miracle may have been done by wind, but it was a mighty act with a large body of water sufficient to drown an army. To see things on a map, click here.

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