A Bible Study  

Waiting for God's Word    11 - 225
Stage Two of God's Plan    31 - 431
Moses .v. Pharaoh 
      Introduction Miracle 
      1.  Water becomes Blood 
      2.  Frogs Everywhere 
      3.  Gnats 
      4.  Flies 
      5.  Livestock Die 
      6.  Boils on Men and Animals 
      7.  Hail 
      8.  Locusts 
      9.  Darkness 
      10.  Death of all Firstborn 
  51 - 1421
The Passover    121-28,  42b-51
Crossing the Sea - Safely 
      Moses Sings and Miriam Dances 
  1317 - 1521
Lessons in the Desert Journey 
      Marah and Elim 
      Food and Water 
      The Amalekites 
      Jethro Visits Moses 
  161 - 177
The Law or Idols? 
      Moses on Mt Sinai with God 
      The Ten Commandments 
            1. No other gods. 
            2. No idols. 
            3. Not misuse the name of the Lord. 
            4. Keep Sabbath day holy. 
            5. Honour father and mother. 
            6. Not murder. 
            7. Not commit adultery. 
            8. Not steal. 
            9. Not false testimony. 
          10. Not covet. 
  191 - 4056

Waiting for God's Word  11 - 225              

Genesis ends with Joseph embalmed in a coffin,
      and his last words ringing in their ears.  Gen 5026
      God will surely come to your aid
            and take you up out of this land to the land he promised.
  Gen 5024
But then there was silence from heaven for over 3 centuries.
      It appeared that God had retired into the distance.
      And worse, the Hyksos Pharoahs of Joseph's day had been overthrown,
            to be replaced by native Egyptian Ahmose, Thutmose Pharaohs.
            The Israelites of Goshen lost all their privileges and became their slaves.
      There arose a new king who did not know about Joseph.  Exd 18
They built Pithom and Ramses as store cities for Pharaoh.
      But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread;
            so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.
      They made their lives bitter with hard labour.
The Egyptians even tried to curb their growth by killing all the male children.
      This is not only cruel, but surely it would have been more effective to kill
            the baby girls, and keep the boys for slaves?
The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt
      had told them to do; they let the boys live.
      That took some courage.
      They told Pharaoh that the Hebrew mothers gave birth before they arrived.
      God was kind to the midwives ... he gave them families of their own.  120,21
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born
     you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live."  122
What an order!
      It's satanic origin is the same as was given at the Nazi gas chambers.
            And for the same reason.
      Satan hates the Jews because they are God's choice.
      Christians are also the object of his hatred.
There must have been so many tears and broken hearts in Goshen.
      Could there be any hope?
      Was there anything they could cling to in these dark painful days?

At least one family remembered the promise of God to Abraham:
      They will be enslaved and ill-treated 400 years ...  Gen 1513
They believed that God always kept his word
      and the 400 years were now over! They 'expected' a deliverer was due
There was no assurance from God that their first son, Aaron, was the deliverer.
But with their 2nd 3 years later they saw that Moses was a fine child.  Exd 22 77
      By faith Moses parents ... saw he was no ordinary child.  Heb 1123
In his parent's eyes no child is ordinary, but Moses was different.  Act 720
      They received the assurance of God and made plans - God directed plans.
      They called him Moses = 'one who draws forth' (from Egyptian slavery).
      Their assurance (faith) proved to be well founded.
      It was no accident that the baby Moses was 'discovered';
            they planned to have him 'found' by the young Egyptian princess.
            She agreed that they should seek a Hebrew woman to nurse him.
            They 'found' his mother (and she was even paid to nurse her own boy!)
      Then for 40 years Moses was educated as a prince of Egypt.
      God's ways are amazing.
            [Note 'Pitch' used here on Moses' boat/basket is ordinary black tar.
                  Heb.  'Zepheth', not 'kopher' = atonement as in Gen 614]

Moses' murder of an Egyptian did not spoil God's plan.
      40 years as a shepherd in Midian taught him much useful desert-craft.
      God knew the Israelites would reject their God, worship a golden calf
            and thus be 40 years in desert.
Meanwhile back in Egypt the Pharaoh had died
      and the Israelites groaned in their slavery ...
      God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant ...
God had never forgotten the Israelites.
      Not a single tear was shed or groan uttered that he ignored.
      'Remembered' means that God began to act on the next stage of his plan.

Stage Two of God's Plan  31 - 431              

In stage one God chose Moses, saved him from being drowned in the Nile,
      and for 40 years made him a prince in Pharaoh's court.
      Then another 40 years Moses was a shepherd in the wilderness of Midian.
      All that time the Israelite's suffering only increased and they groaned.
            Many would ask why God didn't come to their rescue more quickly.
            And today many ask, "If God really cares why doesn't he stop all war?"
                  Why is there so much disease, hunger, 'natural' disasters ...?
            May I recommend the following link to Colin Salter's website:
            He looks at 12 aspects of suffering from personal experience,
                  and from reading the book of Job.

Moses was caring for Jethro's sheep at Horeb, the mountain of God.
      (It's whereabouts remains uncertain)
God met him at a bush that was on fire, but it wasn't being consumed!
      He called Moses, told him not to come any closer and to take off his sandals.
      I am the God of your father
            The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.
      At this Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord Almighty then outlines his plan:
      I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt ...
      I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.
Moses does not respond: 'O good, I have always wanted to be used by God.'
      He makes a series of excuses that it is a thoroughly bad idea!

1.  "Who am I?"  311
God in effect says, 'and who am I?!!'
He actually said, "I will be with you,
      and this will be the sign to you that I have sent you: when you have brought
      the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."
What sort of 'after' sign is that?
But several months later Moses did worship God on Mt Sinai.  191-25
      God fulfilled his promise, ans also gave Moses the 10 Commandments.

2.  "Suppose I go ... and they ask me what is his name, what shall I tell them?"
God says, "I AM WHO I AM ... I AM has sent me to you."  314
Jesus uses the same name when he told the unbelieving disciples:
      I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!  Jn 858
'Suppose I go' suggests he is most unwilling to be obedient!
God instructed him to assemble the elders of Israel and tell them:  316-22
      I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt.
      I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt
            into the land ... flowing with milk and honey.
      The elders of Israel will listen to you ...
      The king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him.
      So I will stretch out my hand ... after that he will let you go.
      And I will make the Egyptians favourably disposed towards this people,
            so they will not leave empty-handed ... so you will plunder the Egyptians.

3.  "What if they do not believe me?"  41
God gave him three signs (then and later when with the elders):
      His staff when thrown on the ground became a snake.
            When picked up by the tail (normally foolish) it became his staff again.
      His hand when put inside his cloak became leprous, like snow.
            When put back into his cloak it was totally healed.
      Take some Nile water and pour it on the ground. It will become blood.

4.  "O Lord I have never been eloquent."  410
The Lord then asked Moses, Who gave man his mouth? ... Is it not I, the Lord?
      Now go; I will help you to speak and will teach you what to say.  412

5.  "O Lord, please send someone else to do it"  !!  413
The Lord was not pleased with Moses.
      This last excuse was one too many and showed he did not believe God.
Yet even in his anger, the Lord said, What about your brother Aaron ...
      I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you ...

So, having asked Jethro who said, "Go, and I wish you well."  418
      Moses set off on his journey
He met Aaron at the Mountain of God.
      He had no GPS or even maps; no agreed meeting place.
      Why did Aaron leave Egypt?
      How was he allowed to leave?  Levites were not exempt from slavery.
      God's directions are far better than emails or text messages!

Together they returned to Egypt, met the elders, performed the signs,
      Just as the Lord had told Moses, they believed.
      And they bowed down and worshipped.  431

Moses .v. Pharaoh  51 - 1421              

It hardly seems a fair contest. An exiled shepherd and a 'super-power' ruler.
But the Lord Almighty was with Moses and was directing him.
This is a battle between God who is the Lord Almighty
      and Satan who always longs to destroy God's people - Jews and Christians.
There is no doubt about who will win,
      but the timing and method may surprise us.
      It got worse before the deliverance, 10 major plagues affected all Egyptians,
            Egypt's army are drowned, the Israelites survive 40 years in the desert,
            and Canaan is ethnically cleansed!
      Obviously God's ways are not ours.
            He is wise; we are foolish, and our knowledge is very limited.

Afterwards Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh ...  51
      How did they get an interview so quickly and easily?  God arranged it.
The two Hebrew brothers did not 'pussy-foot' about either.
      This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: "Let my people go ..."  51
They were not two powerful Union bosses making demands of Government.
      Just two slaves and one of them a despised shepherd.
      It reminds us of the prophet Elijah marching into Ahab's presence and saying,
            "No more rain until I say so!" And it didn't rain for 3½ years.

Pharaoh just says, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?"
      This is a quite legitimate question. But his conclusion reveals
      First arrogance:  I do not know the Lord 
            There is no hint that he wanted to know this God of the Hebrew slaves.
      Then comes his fatal conclusion:  I will not let Israel go.  52
      Having decided this, it would be a great loss of face to change his mind.
      He would soon experience the awesome power of God.
      His stubborn pride would cause him and his country much grief.
Pharaoh decided they were lazy and needed to be taught a lesson.
      The slaves would have to find their own straw to add to the clay;
            but they would still have to maintain the daily quota of bricks.
They failed. So the Hebrew foremen were beaten.
      They complained to Pharaoh and to Moses.
      Moses asks the Lord, "Why have you brought trouble upon this people ...
            You have not rescued your people at all."  522
      We too often expect easy answers
            and are disappointed when relief or success are not immediate.
            God's 'delays' always have a purpose.  Lord, please open our eyes.
      At this time God would reveal his eternal purpose for his chosen people.

Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh:
      because of my mighty hand he will let them go.
I am the Lord.
I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as Lord Almighty.
I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan,
      where they lived as aliens.
Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites.

Deists say that God has created the world but that now he has left us alone.
This story and the rest of Scripture/history shows this to be untrue.
God is very much involved in every age with all life on earth.

God give Moses four life changing promises: 66-8
      These are the basis of the 4 cups that are drunk at Passover each year,
            when Jews all over the world celebrate God's deliverance and gifts.
See 'Passover' notes for Exd 12
God reveals his eternal and glorious plan to Moses
      before any of the plagues are pronounced.
God's response to Moses' complaint  You have not rescued your people at all.
      Moses was given confidence in God upon whom he would always rely.
            Almighty God his strength, his rock in times of both trouble and joy.

Moses reported this to the Israelites but they did not listen to him
      because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
How sad.  But it did not halt God's rescue plan.
      Just as in the days of Jesus the extreme opposition of the religious leaders
            could not prevent his planned perfect sacrifice for sin.

The Lord said to Moses, "Go tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let my people go."
      The Israelites belonged to God, not to Pharaoh or any slave master.  610,11
But Moses said to the Lord, "If the Israelites will not listen to me,
      why would Pharaoh, since I speak with faltering lips?"
      This was the last time Moses objected to his commission.
            Many times he had to plead with God on behalf of the Israelites,
                  and many difficult times he had ask God for help and directions.
God repeats his instructions, adding more detail.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it."  71-5
The Lord Almighty knew exactly what Pharaoh would do,
      and that although Pharaoh's power seemed great,
      it was nothing beside the power of God.

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them.  76
      No more buts, what ifs, no more excuses.
      This verdict of obedience must have gladdened the heart of God.
            The blessing of obedience:  Gen 622  Exd 4016  Jn 1510,14  Ro 519  Heb 58

Introduction Miracle  78-13              
Pharaoh asks Moses for a miracle.
      The Pharisees and Scribes asked Jesus for a sign too. Jesus replied:
            A wicked and adulterous generation asks for miracles ...  Math 1238,39
            Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.  Jn 218,19
God tells Aaron to throw his staff on the ground.  It became a snake.
The Egyptian sorcerers and magicians did the same by their secret arts.
      But then Aaron's staff swallowed up all the Egyptian staffs!
Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them,
      just as the Lord had said.  713
What makes men so stubborn?
      Pride! They have to lose face and admit they were wrong.
When the sealed tomb was opened and Jesus rose from the dead,
      the Pharisees refused to believe Jesus had done what he said he would do.
So God began to inflict upon Pharaoh a series of devastating plagues.
      I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt.  1212  Num 334
      And the Lord Almighty proceeded to do exactly that.

[See summary of Judgement on gods of Egypt]

1.  Water becomes Blood  714-24              
Plagues start with the Nile river - vital to all life in Egypt.  No other fresh water.
God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh and wait on the river bank.
      The Lord, the God of the Hebrews has sent me to say to you:
      "Let my people go ... But until now you have not listened.
      By this you will know that I am the Lord ... the water of the Nile
      will be changed to blood. The fish will die and the river will stink."
When Aaron struck the river it turned to blood - not just red silt.
      And so did the water in the canals and their wooden buckets.
The Egyptians had to dig new wells for drinking water.
The magicians did the same things by their secret arts -
      only with small amounts of water; the rest was already blood.
Pharaoh hardened his heart, he refused to listen, just as the Lord had said.

2.  Frogs Everywhere  81-15              
After 7 days the Lord told Moses to go to Pharaoh again.
      This is what the Lord says, "Let my people go ...
      If you refuse I will plague your whole country with frogs."
Pharaoh refused. The frogs came.
Again the magicians did the same by their secret arts.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron to pray and take the frogs away.
      And I will let you go to offer sacrifices.
Moses asked when he would like this to happen.  Pharaoh said, "Tomorrow."
Moses cried to the Lord and all the frogs died except those in the river.
      The heaps stank.
But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief he hardened his heart
      and refused to let the Hebrews go.
He was not the first or the last ruler to reverse a solemn promise.

3.  Gnats  816-19              
Then the Lord said to Moses,
      "Tell Aaron to stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,
      and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats."
And immediately it did so.
The magicians tried to copy this plague - and failed.
      They correctly concluded, This is the finger of God.
      Although they saw this truth they did not seek the Lord Almighty;
            neither did they repent of their evil arts.
But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.
      The Lord knows the heart of all men, all their thoughts and hopes.

4.  Flies  820-32              
The Lord said to Moses, "Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh ...
Let my people go ... If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials ... But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow."  820-23
With this plague God introduces a major change.
      In the first 3 plagues the Hebrews have had shared the disasters with Egypt.
      But in the next 7 God restricts the plagues to be only upon the Egyptians.
      This will make it obvious that Israel's God is the Lord Almighty,
            and all the Egyptian gods are only evil human imagination.
Dense swarms of flies entered Pharaoh's palace and all the Egyptian houses.
      The land was ruined by the flies.  824
Moses refused Pharaoh's compromising offer that they could sacrifice in Egypt.
      Pharaoh then suggested a 3 day journey only - and asked for prayer.
Moses prayed and not a fly remained.
      But Pharaoh then renegued upon his promise and stopped them leaving.

5.  Liveskock Die  91-7              
Moses told to warn Pharaoh - let my people go else plague upon your livesk;
      but no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.
Again the Lord God set a time - tomorrow.
      And the next day the Lord did it.
Unlike with the flies, this time there was nothing to stop;
      the cattle, horses, donkeys, camels sheep and goats had already died.
Pharaoh sends men to investigate Goshen - no Israelite animal had died!
      Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.
      It would take another 5 major plagues for him to back down.
      Such is the proud stubbornness of men.
      How does any man think he can do battle with Almighty God, and win?

6.  Boils on Men and Animals  98-12              
Moses is now instructed to throw dust in the air in the presence of Pharaoh.
Boils broke out on men and animals.  Pharaoh made no plea for healing.
The magicians couldn't stand before Moses.
In the first 5 plagues Pharaoh hardened his own heart;
      now, and in the remaining plagues, the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart
      and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

Pharaoh had made his own tragic choice - let all men beware of such folly.

7.  Hail  913-35              
It was another early start to the day for Moses -
      the Lord told him to confront Pharaoh:
      This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says:
      "Let my people go ...
      or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you ...
      so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.
      I could have ... wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up ...
      that I might show you my power...
      You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go.
      Therefore, at this time tomorrow
      I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt ...
      Bring your livesk and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter...
      (else) they will die."  913-19
God tells Pharaoh the score.
      Pharaoh and all the gods of Egypt are clearly shown to be powerless.
Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord
      hurried to bring their slaves and their livesk inside.

      Some of Pharaoh's officials were far wiser than their master.
God meant every word he had spoken - next day the hail fell on all Egypt.
      All the crops were beaten down and trees stripped.
      The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen.  926
Pharaoh summoned Moses and says,
      "This time I have sinned ... pray ... I will let you go ..."
      But it was not sincere.
Moses replies,
"When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord.
The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord's.
But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God."
Moses prayed.
The hail stopped.
Pharaoh again renegued on his word - just as the Lord said he would.
Some are so slow to learn;
      but it can only get significantly worse for such a man,
      and for all those under his regime.
At the end the stubbornness of wicked leaders will be the same.
      And so will the consequences - ever greater and greater disasters.
      Men must learn that God remains the Lord Almighty.
      The Egyptians were warned.  And today we have been warned too.

8.  Locusts  101-20              
God wanted the Egyptians to know that he is the only Lord,
      He desired that the Israelites should know it was so too.
      And not only those who saw the miraculous plagues,
            but all succeeding generations.
On God's instruction Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh again:
How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?  103
      This is the vital and timeless question for all men.
If you refuse to let my people go,
      I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow.
      He is told the plague will be far worse than any previous locust attack.
      Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.
      Each time God gives Pharaoh 24 hours to consider his word.
      This time even his officials asked Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go.
Pharaoh recalls Moses and tries to compromise;
      they could go if they left their women and children (to ensure their return).
      Moses and Aaron were then driven out of Pharaoh's presence.  1011
Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt,
      and the Lord made an east wind blow ...
      By morning the wind had brought the locusts; they invaded all Egypt...
      Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land.
      (Except in Goshen!)
Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and again insincerely 'repents'.
      He wanted to escape the consequences of his sin,
            he was not concerned that he had offended God,
            neither did he have any intention of obeying the Lord Almighty.
      But Moses did pray, and God did answer.
            He sent a very strong west wind.
            Every locust was driven into the Red Sea.
            But not a single Hebrew was allowed to leave Egypt.

9.  Darkness  1021-29              
The penultimate plague has a slightly different order.
This time Moses doesn't confront and warn Pharaoh.
      The Lord tells him to stretch out your hand towards the sky ...  1021
Total darkness covered all Egypt for three days ...
      Yet all the Israelites had light ... 1022,23
Again Pharaoh summoned Moses and tries to compromise.
      Go with your women and children, but leave your livestock.
      When would he learn that no man can bargain with God like that?
      Moses refuses the offer - it must be all or nothing.
Pharaoh said to Moses,
      "Get out of my sight ... the day you see my face you will die."
"Just as you say, I will never appear before you again," Moses replied.  1028

But before he left, the Lord told him about the last plague.
      After that, he will let you go from here ...
      He will drive you out completely.  111
And Moses tells Pharaoh.
      Every firstborn son in Egypt will die ... and all the firstborn of cattle.
      But among the Israelites not a dog will bark ...
      Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction
            between Egypt and Israel.
      All these (Egyptian) officials will come to me saying,
            "Go, you and all the people who follow you."
      After that I will leave
.  114-8a
What Pharaoh said is not recorded.
      He was certainly totally outclassed by the despised shepherd, Moses,
            whom God had chosen to lead the Hebrew nation,
            and through whom he was pleased to display his awesome power.
Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.  118b

10.  Death of all Firstborn  1229-42              
At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt ...
      There was loud wailing for there was not a house without someone dead.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Go..."
      This time there was no attempted compromising conditions - just "Go!"
      But it was not Moses who died but Pharaoh's son.  1028
The Egyptians, fearing their own death, urged the people to hurry and leave.
      They willingly gave the Israelites all the gold and jewellery they asked for.
            The Lord had made the Egyptians favourably disposed towards them ...
            So they plundered the Egyptians.
      This was God's way of giving just payment for years of unpaid slavery.
So all Israel finally left Egypt - about 600,000 men plus women and children,
      and all their livesk, with unleavened dough in their kneading bowls.  1237-39
      No time to mix in yeast.
They left Egypt at the end of 430 years to the very day
      because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt.
God fulfilled his promise to Abraham with punctuality and certainty.  Gen 1513,14

The Passover  121-28,  42b-51              

At the time it must have seemed a strange thing to do;
      to put lamb's blood on the door posts and lintel to avoid death.
Yet this, the Seder meal and the whole Passover festival would be celebrated
      annually for over 3,500 years by Jews all over the world.
      (And the Lord's supper for the last 2,000 years by Christians).
Why so important?
On this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil
      to honour the Lord for the generations to come.
"Do this in remembrance of me," said Jesus.  1 Co 1124,25

All men are under the domination of false gods or arrogant atheism.
Our glorious Creator, the Lord Almighty, desires to rescue us.
Passover reveals the means he has chosen to do this.
He told Moses of his 4-part plan before any of the plagues in Exd 6.
These 4 elements are celebrated with 4 cups at the Passover Seder meal:

1.  Freedom  I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
            And also from the yoke of sin that binds all men.
            Jesus won our freedom when he rose from the dead.

2.  Redemption  I will redeem you with an outstretched arm
            and with mighty acts of judgement.

            We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. It cost Jesus his life.
            His arms were outstretched on the Cross.

3.  Chosen  I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God.
            Why me?  There is nothing I have done or am that deserves such privilege.
            Our salvation is all of grace and mercy. Both are totally undeserved.
            God reveals the truth of what he has done for us. He gives us his Word.

4.  Land  I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand ...
            I will give it to you as a possession.  I am the Lord.

            All the earth is the Lord's - he created it.
            He chose to give just 1/5,000 of the land to the Jews.
            He has promised all believers a better land in heaven, a glorious kingdom,
                  where there is righteousness, justice, truth and love for ever.

God determined that this amazing rescue from Egyptian slavery
      should always be remembered by the Jewish nation.  1214, 24-27, 42 1310
      This month is to be for you the first month ... of your year.  121

His instructions to Moses were to be followed first in Egypt,
      and then as an annual remembrance celebration.
Each family (or group of families) must take an unblemished year-old lamb,
      selected on the 10th day of this month (Nisan)
      killed on the 14th day at twilight
      blood put on the door posts and lintel
      roasted that evening and anything left burned before morning
      eaten in haste with unleavened bread, staff in hand and sandals on feet.
While Jewish families were eating Passover, the Lord was in action!
I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn both men and animals
      and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.
      The blood will be a sign for you ... when I see the blood I will pass over you
      No destructive plague will touch you ...

Why the blood on the doorposts?
      Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  Heb 922

Our gracious God prepares for the coming day of Christ, our Redeemer.

      Only the high priest entered the inner room, ... and never without blood ...
      The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place
            had not yet been disclosed ...
      When Christ came as high priest ...
            he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood,
            having obtained eternal redemption. Heb 97,8,11,12

      It was not with perishable things like silver or gold that you were redeemed ...
            but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
            He was chosen before the creation of the world.
1 Pe 118,19

      Behold! the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  Jn 129

            Beneath the blood-stained lintel
            I with my children stand;
            A messenger of evil
            Is passing through the land.
            There is no other refuge
            From the destroyer's face;
            Beneath the blood-stained lintel
            Shall be our hiding-place.

            The Lamb of God has suffered,
            Our sins and griefs he bore;
            By faith the blood is sprinkled
            Above our dwelling's door.
            The foe who seeks to enter
            Doth fear that sacred sign;
            Tonight the blood-stained lintel
            Shall shelter me and mine.

Further rules for Passover:
      No foreigner is to eat of it.
      Slaves or aliens must first be circumcised.
      It must be eaten inside one house - no meat taken outside.
      Do not break any of the bones.
      The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.  1243-49
      In promised land eat unleavened bread for 7 days.  137
      Redeem every firstborn among your sons.  1313
      Tell your son what it means:
            With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt,
            out of the land of slavery.

All Israel did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

Crossing the Sea - Safely  1317 - 1521              

God led the Israelites in their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  1317,18
He led them south towards the Red Sea rather than the shorter coastal route.
He knew they would baulk at facing war with the Philistines;
      though the Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.  1318b
From the start of their journey the Lord went ahead of them consistently
      in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  1321,22

The Lord tells Moses to change direction - and tells him why:
      To gain glory for the Lord and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.
      To make Pharaoh think the Israelites are lost and don't know where to go.
      The loss of all the slaves was too great.
The plan succeeds and Pharaoh pursues Israel with 600 of his best chariots
      to try to regain their slaves.  He will deeply regret this decision!

The Israelites are terrified when they see the Egyptian army.
      They cried out to the Lord - and complained bitterly to Moses.
Moses answered the people,
      "Do not be afraid.
      Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.
      The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.
            [Nor would anyone else!]
      The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still."  1413,14

The Lord tells Moses to raise his staff over the sea and divide the water.
      The Israelites will cross over on dry land.
      The Egyptians will follow and know who is Lord!
            So would the Israelites; but for a different reason.
That was not all.
      The 'Pillar of cloud' moved from in front to behind.
      Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side
            and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long.
      The Cloud was more than just darkness, it was the Lord himself.
            Even if the Egyptians had had satnavs or compasses
            none of them could have come anywhere near the Israelites.
Meanwhile Moses stretched out his hand over the sea,
      and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind
      and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided,
      and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground,
      with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
  1421, 29
This was some very special wind!
      It held back several feet of water, not just a few inches.
      The wind was from one direction but the water walls were on both sides.
      The wind lasted all night; there was light only for the Israelites.

The Egyptians followed and suffered two major problems!
      The army was confused and the chariot wheels came off.
      Moses stretched his hand over the sea,
            which immediately flowed back - from both sides.
      The water covered the horses and chariots. (So water walls were several feet.)
      Not one of them survived.
This event could be described as the original watershed!

      That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians ...
      The Israelites saw the great power of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians,
            they feared the Lord and put their trust in him
            and in Moses his servant.
How long would they trust the Lord, or Moses?  And how deep was it?
Trust is easy as you see the Lord's solution unfolding;
      But what happens when you see no possible solution to a crisis;
            when there seems no escape from the consequences of sin?
            when surrounded by war or natural disaster?
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vine ...
      yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
  Hab 317,18
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  (Red Sea Exd 14
when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  (Jordan Josh 3)
When you walk through the fire you will not be burned ...  (Daniel 3)
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.  Is 431-3

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
      the righteous run to it and are safe.
  Prov 1810  also 2Sam 223 Ps 182

In the last days when gross wickedness seems to prevail,
      let us be strong in the Lord and confident in his word;
      he cannot fail, he is the Lord Almighty.

Moses Sings and Miriam Dances  151-21              

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
      I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.
      The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea.
      The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
      He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him.
      The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.
      Pharaoh's chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea ...
      Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power.
      Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.
      In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you.
      You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble.
      By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up ...
      The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue, I will overtake them.
      I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them ...'
      But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them ...
      Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
      Who is like you - majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
      You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.
      In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.
      In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
      The nations will hear and tremble; ... terror and dread will fall upon them ...
      The Lord will reign for ever and ever.

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand,
      and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.

She echoed the same song that Moses had sung.
What a great song of thanksgiving to a wonderful Lord.

At the end of time, after the 7 plagues, the angels will sing this song.
      Great and marvellous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.
      Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.
      Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?
      For you alone are holy.
      All nations will come and worship before you,
      for your righteous acts have been revealed.
  Rev 151-4

Then, as now, wicked men boast and blaspheme.
      But their reign is short, their words hollow and their end disastrous.
      The harlot of Babylon will boast:
            I sit as queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn.
            Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
            death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire,
            for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.
  Rev 187,8

      Woe! Woe O great city, O Babylon, city of power!
            In one hour your doom has come.
  Rev 1810

Moses proclaims that God is their Saviour;
      he had brilliantly saved them from sure destruction and slavery.
Egypt had not only opposed Israel, but they had opposed the Lord Almighty.
God was angry!  He hates the arrogant boasting of evil men.
His love is love is unfailing, unending, faithful in all circumstances.
God's victory would become known worldwide;
      it would fill the Canaanites with dread.
      40 years later Rahab of Jericho would confirm that this was still so.
This Red Sea event is a salutary warning to all men who harden their hearts -
      like Pharaoh,  or the Harlot.
      Men who consider it to be just an old insignificant Jewish myth
            will learn (probably too late) that they have made a disastrous mistake.
This event has profound political implication for our M.E. policy today.

The Lord Almighty has declared:
I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding people reeling.
On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her,
      I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all nations ...
      On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem ...
      On that day I will set out to destroy all nations that attack Jerusalem ...
I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to fight against it;
      the city will be captured ...
      Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations ...
      On that day men will be stricken by the Lord with great panic ...
      And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite
            in the house of the Lord Almighty.
  Zech 121-9  141-3, 13, 21

The Lord Almighty will not allow Israel to be destroyed.
No one can claim that God has not clearly warned us.
      Just as he warned and revealed to the Pharaoh 3,500 years ago.
Why do modern men, with so much knowledge and power, ignore God's word?
Why are their hearts hardened against God,
      who still offers all men peace, forgiveness and life for free!

Lessons in the Desert Journey              

Marah and Elim  1522-27  

Several years ago in UK Evangelicals inspired the 'March of 1000 Men'.
      The domestic organisation was considerable.
      In the desert the Israelites had no friendly supporters offering hospitality;
            just empty desert, and there were well over a million of them!
Visitors to Israel in summer are instructed to drink an extra 5lt (or 10 lbs) / day
      of water to avoid dehydration.
      The atmosphere is so dry you don't realise how much you sweat.
The Israelites didn't have convenient light-weight plastic bottles.
      They travelled for 3 days and found only bitter water at Marah.
      So the people grumbled against Moses.

What could Moses do?
      God had chosen a wise man to lead them; he cried out to the Lord.
      The answer was simple.
      The Lord showed him a piece of wood!
      He threw it into the water and the water became sweet.
It must have been a very special piece of wood.
      Like his staff that had wrought so much in Egypt.
      Moses didn't question God's instruction.
            To him, it didn't seem a silly thing to do.
            He was expectant and obedient.

This was the second of many 'tests' or lessons God gave to the Israelites.
      Sadly, they would fail them all.  They scored 0 out 10.  Num 1422

But the most gracious God did not condemn them at Marah.
      Not only was the water made sweet,
            but he gave them a promise, a conditional decree:
If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.  1526

And there was more:
      Then they came to Elim,
      where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees,
      and they camped there near the water.

The Israelites would have been much relieved and blessed there;
      but they could not stay there for life.
      They were on a journey.
      Elim was good, but their destiny was far better.
      "A ship in harbour is safe,
            but that is not what ships are built for."  William Sheed
We are pilgrims journeying to a better country.
      Let us never forget this as we try to make our present nest more cosy.

Food and Water  161 - 177              

How long they stayed at Elim we are not told; probably about a week.
Exactly one month after Passover they were in the desert between Elim and Sinai.
      The whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.
      "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt!
      There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted,
      but you have brought us out into this desert
            to starve this entire assembly to death."
Had they so quickly forgotten how harshly they were treated?
      Didn't they recall how they cried to the Lord in their anguish and suffering?
The compassion and purpose of their release from slavery,
      the clear revelation in the plagues, at the Red Sea and at Marah
            that their God was the Lord Almighty,
and their destiny was to be the land God promised to Abraham
      was forgotten.

The Lord's patience was again demonstrated; he told Moses:
      "I will rain down bread from heaven for you."  164

Moses told the people:
In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt,
      and in the evening you will see the glory of the Lord,
      because he has heard your grumbling against him.
You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.

At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread.
      Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.

That evening quail came and covered the camp,
      and in the morning ... thin flakes like frost ...

Now that is grace!
Each gathered what he needed for the day.
But with his grace and compassion there would also be a test.
      God told them to eat it the same day that they gathered it
            and on the 6th day to bring in twice the amount.

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses (or to God).  1620
      In the morning it was full of maggots. 
      Moses was angry.

On the 7th morning the extra that was gathered on the 6th day was still fresh.
Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the 7th day to gather it,
      but they found none.
Then the Lord said to Moses,
      "How long will you refuse to keep my commands ...?

Israel had failed the third test.
      But the Lord continued to give them daily manna for the next 40 years.  1635
      An omer jar of manna was kept in remembrance of God's faithful provision.

The Amalekites  178-16              

Who were they?  Amalek was the grandson of Esau.
      Esau despised his birthright, the glorious promise of God.  Gen 2534
      This 'modern macho man'  saw no need for God; he was a proud fool.
      His descendants were of the same God-hating character.
      Herod the Great, the Bethlehem baby killer, was a descendant of Esau.
      Evil men, moved by Satan have always wanted to kill the righteous.
      At the end of time they will continue this trait. Dan 721,28 824 Rev 136,7
At Rephidim, true to their enduring character, they sought to destroy the people
      God had chosen and rescued.

Moses, the man of God, knew what to do.
      He didn't try to compromise or make peace. They had to be fought!
      He told Joshua to choose some men and go out and fight them.
      Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.
The battle was hard.
      It required not only the courageous swords of Joshua's men,
            but also the determined, persistent prayer of Moses.
      There was a strong spiritual component; without God it could not be won.
Aaron and Hur supported Moses, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
      So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.  1712,13
If only today the Israeli leaders would follow the example of Moses.

What was God's verdict concerning this battle?
      Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered
            and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out
            the memory of Amalek from under heaven ... The Lord will be at war
            against the Amalekites from generation to generation. 1714,16
Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.
      He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord."  1715

Many years would pass before the last of the Amalekites were destroyed.
      Saul defeated them in 1Sam 15, though Samuel had to kill king Agag.
      David destroyed the Amalekite town of Ziklag. 1Sam 30
      Under Hezekiah, Simeonites destroyed the remaining Amalekites.  1Ch 441-43
Though the direct descendants were destroyed,
      the satanic Amalekite spirit continues in evil, blasphemous men.

Jethro Visits Moses  171-27              

Jethro had heard the news about Israel's escape from Egypt.
      He went to see Moses who told him the whole glorious story.
      Jethro admitted that the Lord of Israel is greater than all other gods.  1811
      But that is a big step away from saying he is the only God;
            and that all other gods are but satanic human imaginations.
      Even the Egyptian magicians admitted the plagues were 'the finger of God'.
      Jethro brought a burnt offering to the Lord.
            The heart of 'the priest of Midian' was moving in the right direction.
            Scripture is silent as to whether he abandoned the 'other gods'
                  that he had previously served as a priest.

Jethro witnessed  the huge workload of Moses in settling all the peoples' disputes.
      So he frankly told Moses, "What you are doing is not good."  1817
      It is too much to be Prime Minister, Lord Chief Justice and Archbishop!
      He advised him to deputise the tasks and not wear himself out.
            1. Select capable men
            2. Men who fear God
            3. Trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain.  1821
      It was excellent advice -
      Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.  1824

Just imagine if all leaders in Church, commerce and government
      were selected with these criteria:  Capable, God-fearing and honest.
      Think what life would be like without spin, corruption and injustice;
            when greed is replaced by generosity, and pride by humility;
            when personal desire for power is abandoned and all war is history.
            When the truth of God is revealed and believed, without compromise.
Think - the kingdom of God and the rule of Christ on earth!

The Law or Idols?  191 - 4036              

All the 2nd half of Exodus concerns the Law that God gave to Moses.
      But the Law also reveals the very heart of God and the heart of man.
      Whom will we love?  God, ourselves, or false gods?
At first sight the Law can seem cold or even harsh;
      something at best only unwillingly obeyed,
      though more often men devise excuses to avoid obedience to most of the Law.

In high contrast king David delighted in God's purpose in giving us the Law.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
      they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
By them is your servant warned;
      in keeping them there is great reward.  Ps 197-11

David saw the glorious truth of God's kindness to men.
      God coming to his earth to save and redeem us,
      and to enable us to live and enjoy living in obedience to all his laws.
How different is the enlightened heart that rejoices in the Law of God
      from the many who see it as restrictive, a definite detriment to pleasure.
In truth the Creator gave us the law because he knows what is best for us.
      But those who deny God designed and created all things, reject his laws;
            they cannot see the kindness of God in his laws.
      They hate his discipline and the obligation to obey anyone.
Yet David here describes the Law as:
      perfect, trustworthy, right, revealing, pure, sure, precious and sweet.
And further, they fulfill the good desires of men:
      reviving the soul, make wise, give joy and light, endure, and make righteous.
Aren't these the very things that men lack and spend their life seeking?
Why do so many reject them?
      Because all are born with hearts that are naturally against God.
      God intends that our attitude to his Law will reveal this.
      Even if we desire to keep them, we cannot, and thus need a Saviour.  Ro 718-25
In his kindness the Law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.  Gal 324

I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
      my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
      He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
 Ps 181,2

When the Pharisees asked Jesus to summarise the Law, he told them:
      Love the Lord your God  
            with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
 Deut 65
      This is the first and greatest commandment.

      And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.  Lev 1918
      All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.  Math 2237-40

How different from the common view that the Law is a whole raft of rules
      that say you must do this and you mustn't do that - mostly the latter!

At the Last Supper Jesus told the 11 Apostles:
      If you love me, you will obey what I command.
      And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor
            to be with you forever - The Spirit of truth.  Jn 1415,16

To truly love God requires a new birth, a new heart and spirit.  Jn 3
      Only by his great grace are we thus enabled to obey.
The parable of 'the talents' (Math 2514-30) is often taken to refer to abilities.
      In truth it seems to be more about the Law and obedience.
      The 'one talent man' thought God was hard and unreasonable. Why?
            Because he had struggled with the Law and was unable to keep it.
            He needed a new heart to enable love and obedience.
            Failure caused him to 'bury' God and his Law while he got on with life.
            It is no surprise that his just destiny was so disastrous.
The law is not supposed to be a hard, autocratic authority,
      but a gracious, loving 'schoolmaster to bring us to Christ'.  Gal 324 (KJV)
It first points to our need for change, for a new birth, for faith in Christ.
      Only then can the love and life of God in us see the Law as David did.
      Obedience is then a delight - and made possible.

Jesus linked the Law and the Prophets  -  Why?
      Because they have a common purpose.
      Both speak of all men's need for Christ as Saviour and Redeemer.
Like the feasts, they reveal what God has done and will do to achieve this.
      They reveal the longing of God's heart for his fellowship with men.
            Transformed men who are made truly holy and righteous.
Each reveal how God planned the means and paid the price to achieve this.

Moses on Mt Sinai with God  191-25              

Some 10 weeks after leaving Egypt the Israelites arrived at Mt Sinai.
Moses went up the mountain and God spoke to him.
      He did not begin by reciting a whole raft of laws,
            but revealed his heart and the reason for his creation.
You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt,
      and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.  194

This perfectly summarises the gracious purpose of Almighty God;
      to have fellowship with the Hebrew nation, even though
            they did not understand the significance of Passover
            and were ungrateful at being released from painful slavery.
            Though miraculously saved from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea,
            they repeatedly grumbled against Moses, and God.
            They did not see the Lord as he stood by the Rock of Horeb.

God's purpose was unchanged:
      Moses is instructed to tell the people this amazing truth.
      It was God's introduction to the Law.

He was also told to say:
      Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant,
            then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
      Although the whole earth is mine,
            You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  195,6

The people all responded together,
      "We will do everything the Lord has said."  198
But such a response is easier to say than to keep, unless the heart is changed.

A generation later, at the end of Joshua's life he told the people:
      "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, ...
            as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."  Josh 2415
Then the people answered ...
      "We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God."  Josh 2416,18
Joshua saw that they wanted to serve God and continue to worship other gods;
      that there was little if any repentance in their hearts.
      So he told them straight:
            "You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God."
      He told them to throw away their foreign gods
            and to yield their hearts to the Lord.
            There is no record of the people doing so.
Joshua then placed a large stone under an oak saying:
      "It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God." Josh 2427
            With only rare exceptions, the people remained untrue.
            The stone would stand as a sad witness to their unfaithfulness.
            What is said and what is done is often very different.

Our day is little different to the days of Moses and Joshua.
      Broken promises and abandoned resolutions abound.
But the Lord God remains utterly faithful;
      his purposes and promises are unaltered.
      His desire that men should be one with him remains unchanged;
            to be 'his treasured possession',
            and live as 'a holy kingdom of priests'.
The Law will reveal what needs to be changed in man -
      and who alone can make that life-giving change!
After Moses had told the people God's desire to bring the Hebrews to himself,
      he goes up the Mt again and tells him what the people said.
      Of course the Lord Almighty already knew! And had made preparations.
The people must learn that they could not just enter his presence as they were.
When God comes down on the third day,
      Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.  1912
From the start, the Law is intended to make us ask the vital question,
      How can the sinful be made holy?
      And so be permitted to enter the presence of the holy and mighty Lord.
The people washed their clothes, abstained from sexual relations,
      and the priests consecrated themselves.
      But still the people cannot come up Mount Sinai.  
      All the efforts of men are totally inadequate to cleanse us.
            Nothing we do can enable us to enter God's presence, and live.
The whole mountain was covered with smoke,
      because the Lord descended on it in fire.
      The whole mountain trembled violently
      and  the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.  1918,19
The Lord wanted all the people to know just how mighty he is.
      That the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Prov 910
      Through love and faithfulness [of Jesus] sin is atoned for;
            through the fear of the Lord a man avoid evil. Prov1427 166  Is 336
The people stayed at a distance and trembled.  2018,21
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you,
      so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.  2020
      This will always remain true while we walk this earth.
      Many times God tells us not to fear the circumstances,
            but to trust him and know he is present.  
                  [see website '99 Reasons not to be Afraid']
      Having confidence in the atonement of Jesus,
            Believers should have no fear of death or punishment,
            for perfect love drives out fear. 1Jn 418
      But the fear of the Lord is good and keeps us from sinning.
      Being casual with God is both unbecoming and dangerous.

Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.  2021
      The same 'darkness' that kept Israel and Egypt separated at the Red Sea.
      Moses approached with solemn footsteps up the mountain.
            There is a time for rejoicing and tambourines, but this was not one of them.

The 10 Commandments  201-17              

The single sentence preamble to the Commandments tell us:
      Who God is - The Lord your God.
            He is the Sovereign Lord, the Creator of the whole universe.
            He is thus the rightful and eternal King; and he is our God!
      What he has done - Brought you out of Egypt, the land of slavery.
            His Son has delivered us from the slavery of sin.
            He has bourne the just punishment and the wrath that we deserve.
            He brings us to the promised land, to heaven and life with him.
Before telling us what we should do; God tells us what he has done.
      Grace and salvation must precede obedience.

1. No other gods.
2. No idols.
3. Not misuse the name of the Lord.
4. Keep Sabbath day holy.
5. Honour father and mother.
6. Not murder.
7. Not commit adultery.
8. Not steal.
9. Not false testimony.
10. Not covet.

Simple!!   Or is it?

Who gave the world these eminently sensible rules for living?  And why?
Why do all men consistently choose to disobey some, if not all, these laws?
They are each obviously good for every individual and for all societies.
Are they just an ancient, now irrelevant code of conduct for the Hebrews?
How much do, or should, a nation's laws be based on these laws?
Are the 276 words (NIV) complex theology or difficult to understand?
What is the consequence of disobeying them?
Are they easy to obey?  Do we need help or a completely new heart?

Some quote You are not under law, but under grace. Ro 614
      And If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.  Gal 518
The context of both these indicate that being saved by the grace of Jesus,
      who bore the punishment we deserve,
      we are no longer under the condemnation of the law. Ro 81,2
      They do not mean that the Commandments are null and void.
            Far from it. It means that believers in Christ are enabled to obey them.

Others hope that by obeying the law they will be able to please God.
      But no man can obey the law without Christ; he will always fail.
      The 'One talent' man in Math 2514-30 tried and failed. He paid a high price.
            He had given up and thought God was a hard taskmaster
            The Law is not a 'taskmaster', but a 'schoolmaster'
                  one who leads us to Christ, who alone saves and enables. Gal 324 (KJV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
      The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
      who loved me and gave himself for me.
      I do not set aside the grace of God,
      for if righteousness could be gained through the law,
      Christ died for nothing.  Gal 220,21

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -
      and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -
      ot by works, so that no one can boast.  Eph 28,9
The ladder that Jacob saw in his dream at Bethel was not a ladder for Jacob
      to climb up to heaven, but a stairway for the angels. Gen 2812
No man by his own efforts can enter heaven, however hard he may try.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;
I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Math 517-19

God's Commandments are carefully to designed to protect and preserve
      the freedom he had just gained for the Hebrew people.
      Would they abuse their new-found liberty?
      Would they abandon Almighty God who had set them free
            and promised to give them a better land?
But they needed more than guidelines to become a light for all nations.
We all need Christ with his mercy and grace, for he is the Light of the World.
The Sovereign Lord is God, not only in Egypt, but in all the world.

The first four Commandments concern our relationship with the Lord Almighty.
They are summarised by:
      Love the Lord your God
            with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
      This is the first and greatest commandment.
 Deut 65 and Math 2237,38


1.  You shall have no other gods before me.

There is only one God.
All others are the result of satanic human imagination!
      Although this may sound harsh in today's multi-faith world, it is true.
There can only be one Creator, who designed and then made it all from nothing!
      He did not transform it from what already existed.
      Genesis begins with this incredible story.
      God wants everyone to know how it all came into being.
            (And how it will end!
                  Rev. tells us of Satan’s destruction and a new creation)
Genesis then tells us how man became sinful when they listened to Satan.
      All the rest of scripture is the story of how God planned a rescue mission.
            He completed it by coming to earth and being crucified on a cross.
      No other god or being could have done this - Only Jesus Christ, who said,
            "I am the way and the truth and the life.
                  No one comes to the Father except by me."  Jn 146

No other gods.
Allah, Buddha, Hindu gods and all others are false gods. Delusions. Deceptions.

All who encourage multi-faith activities, some politicians and even Bishops,
      should read again this 1st Commandment of Almighty God - and shudder!
Some falsely argue that if there is only one god,
      then all the different gods are the same god, just with different names.
      They say that all religions are like spokes in a wheel that lead to one god.
This Commandment reveals the error of such ideas.

'Before me'  = Before my face.  i.e. No other god before my face, or in my sight.
      It does not mean that God can be the first of many gods. God is exclusive.
      No servant can serve two masters ... You cannot serve God and money
      We cannot serve God and anyone or anything else.

Let us strive to reveal God's truth in scripture
      concerning sin and salvation through Jesus Christ offered to all.

Seek first the kingdom of God ...
What is first in your life? What would you die or live for?
God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
      who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light ...  1Tim 615

At a the time of a critically low ebb, it was said of Israel,
      They worshipped the Lord, but they also served their own gods ...  2Kgs 1733
      These 'other gods' caused the northern tribes of Israel to be exiled for ever.
      It was no small sin; no insignificant disobedience to God's 1st Commandment.


2.  You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Why do men make idols?
a.  They hope to gain some rich reward from their god.
            Baal was supposed to give good weather and harvests.
            Astarte was supposed to give sexual satisfaction and a large family.
            A good shiny car is supposed to evoke the envy of others.
            Riches are supposed to indicate ability, prowess and power.
                  But greed or covetousness is as idolatry.  Col 35
            Muslims journey to Mecca falsely hoping for forgiveness and heaven.

b.  They hope to avoid the anger of their god.
            Molech was thought to demand child sacrifice to avoid disaster.
            Many 'touch wood' to avoid some catastrophe.
            Some pay a penance to gain a priests' absolution for sin.

Foolish men worship 'Mother Nature' instead of God who created all things.
      This demotes the one true God rather than promoting a false god.

Satan desires to be worshipped like God.
      He hates men to worship God and will do anything to stop it.

Jeremiah ridicules idols:
      They are like a scarecrow in a cabbage patch, their idols cannot speak;
            they must be carried because they cannot walk.  Jer 105

When the Philistine put the Ark of God in the Temple of Dagon,
      in the morning they found the image had fallen flat on its face.  1Sam 5
The following morning it had fallen again with its head and hands broken off.
What use is a god who falls over and has to have it's head put back on!!?

When Moses was up the mountain the Hebrews became impatient,
      they demanded an idol, so Aaron made them a golden bull calf.
      They wanted to worship the one who delivered them from Egypt.
      How utterly ridiculous to think a gold image could do what God had done.
      Can a lump of gold divide the Red Sea, and then drown all the enemy?

Images of Mary, crucifixes and false relics are contrary to this commandment.

Any image of God insinuates to us that God has a finite body;
      but he is an infinite Spirit. An image thus teaches us lies. Hab 218
      Any image of God also detracts us from the amazing truth of Christ,
            'incomprehensibly made man.'  How can the Infinite become Finite?
An image is not only a physical object, but can be an inadequate mental picture.
      This also demotes God to our level of understanding.
      See God as the Sovereign Lord, the Lord Almighty, the great Creator.

"Pride makes a god of self, covetousness makes a god of money, sensuality makes a god of sex; whatever is esteemed or loved, feared or served, delighted in or depended on, more than God, that we make a god of."  Matthew Henry

"Most pastoral problems boil down to idolatry."  Nathan Fisher

If God did not care if his subjects were committed to him,
      he would as contemptible as a husband who did care if his wife was faithful.

The OT is studded with examples of when Israel disobeyed these Commands.
My people have committed two sins:
      they have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
      and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.  Jer 213


3.  You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his ame.

Obviously men insult God if they should use such common expressions as:
      "God help us ..." when they are not actually seeking God's help.
      or as an emphasis, "Good God no!".
Many also thoughtlessly use the name of Jesus as a swear word.
      They are unaware that such insulting misuse has grave consequences.
      How much does such misuse cause us pain?

Hypocrisy always was, and remains, a problem. Jesus quoted Isaiah,
      These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
      They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.  Is 2913
In various rituals such men make a profession of God's name,
      but their normal daily actions do not honour God.
      They obey God's laws when convenient or profitable;
            they want to make a good impression and be well thought of.

Let our worship be real, reverent, whole-hearted - not distracted empty words.
      He deserves the best, come prepared and be on time.

In court men swear by the Word of God
      'to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'.
      But often they speak an 'economy of the truth', if not outright lies.
In heaven's court, if not on earth, such men will be found guilty.
Throughout history judges have also often been corrupt for personal gain.
      In doing so they corrupt the name of the Lord.

What do we do with the Word of God?
      Do we honour it, hear it and determine to obey it?
      Or is it 'In one ear and out the other'? Insignificant, unimportant?
      Beware of flippancy or claiming “God told me to ...” to justify my decision.

False prophets and many 'Televangelists' dishonour the name of the Lord,
      and do so in a very public manner. By their deeds you shall know them.

But this Command is not only negative;
      it also instructs us to hold the name of the Lord with the very highest esteem.
      e.g. "Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name ..."  Math 69


4.  Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Of all the Commandments, this has always been the most controversial.
      Not just between Christians and unbelievers, but between various Christians.

Jesus kept all the Commandments perfectly; but the Pharisees didn't think so!
      After the return from exile in Babylon, many 'Sabbath' laws had been added.
      So instead of just one Commandment they had 1500 laws!
      They wanted to define 'work', exactly what was allowed and what was not.

Perhaps most significantly we have forgotten the basis of the Sabbath Law.
      For in six days the Lord made ...  but he rested on the seventh day.
Today, evolution theory has been substituted for truth of God's creation;
      so the Sabbath command completely loses its 'raison d'etre'.
Back in the 4th Century Emperor Constantine emphasised celebration on Sunday.
      He discarded the Jewish Sabbath.
      He changed the 4th Commandment from celebrating creation to resurrection.
      No mere man has the authority to do this.
            Especially a man who named Sunday after his 'Sun' god.
      Early Christians kept the Sabbath and also celebrated the resurrection of Jesus.

Successive UK governments during the last 50 years have rejected this Law.
      The education curriculum teaches evolution as truth, not just theory.
      God's amazing design and his power in creation is ridiculed.
      Sunday Laws have been completely revised.
      Almost everything is now 24/7 - except Almighty God.
            He is now omitted by the majority!
      By popular demand the 4th Commandment has been discarded as irrelevant.
The UK 'Keep Sunday Special' campaign was timid and half-baked;
      fearful of making known the demands of the Sovereign Lord.
      The consequences of disobedience were not spelled out by the church.
      The Sabbath is much more than just a 'special day'.
      The Sabbath rest is not a wise suggestion, but the wise command of Almighty God.
      And he says it should also apply to the alien within our gates !

We each need to learn what God means to keep the Sabbath holy -
      separate, different, a day to look forward to,
      a day to praise God for his amazing grace and Creation.
And what does God mean when we are instructed to rest?
      What did Jesus do, and not do, on the Sabbath?
      God did not just put his feet up and sleep when he finished his creation!
Let us endeavour to find some honest and practical answers.
      And not despise others whose answers may be slightly different from ours.

God commanded that not only should we have a weekly Sabbath rest,
      but also the land should have a Sabbath rest in the seventh year.  Lev 251-7
This law was rarely, if ever, kept by the Israelites.
      But it was, in part, the reason for the exile to Babylon. 2Ch 3621  
      Orthodox Jews often let their land secular Jews, or even Arabs,
            in the 7th year as a way around this law.
            God cannot be fooled and is not impressed by such hypocrisy.
Very few Christians have ever even attempted to keep this law.
      A law that teaches us that we cannot take, take, take from the land;
            but we should give it respect and a time of freedom.
Interestingly it is linked in Lev 258-55 to the year of Jubilee - and freedom for all.
      The year when any sold land is given back to its family owners;
            the year of rejoicing when all slaves are set free.
Perhaps it is not surprising that this law has never been kept either.
But God's purpose remains to redeem men and give us real freedom and joy.
      One day we will see what we missed
            by ignoring the Sabbath day, the Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee.
Our God is so much more gracious and generous than his subjects.

The work ethic is good, but some say, "You are what you do".
      But a greater truth is, "We are what God made us".
      The Sabbath reminds us of this.
            "All work and no worship makes man a fool!"

Ezekiel reveals another aspect of the Sabbath:
I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us,
      so they would know that I the Lord made them holy.
 Ezek 2012
The Sabbath belongs to God and he chose to give them to us as a gift.
      How insulting it is to leave such a precious gift unwrapped on the floor.
It is also a sign. Not of what we do for God, but of what he is doing for us.
      He is making us a holy people; righteous in his sight.
      He gives us a new heart that rejoices in all his commands and promises.

Commandments 5-10 are simple to understand.
      They are the basis for any stable, just society.
      Why then are they so regularly disobeyed and discarded?
They affect our human relationships and are summarised by:
      Love your neighbour as yourself.  Lev 1918 Math 2239,40


5. Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

In the UK a high proportion of couples just live together
            and of those who marry over 50% are divorced within 5 years.
Families are becoming increasingly unstable;
      the majority of children are now reared by single parents or step parents.
      Few secondary school children live at home with their own Mum and Dad.
This commandment has become complicated, to say the least!
      But it remains a Commandment that needs to be obeyed;
            both when we are children and when adults and our parents are old.
Some parents do a demanding job really well.
      Others fail, often due to their own tragic experience when children.
      This naturally increases the downward spiral of disrespectful children;
            and parents who don't know how to inspire secure, happy family life.
As one young man remarked, "When I was 16  my Mum and Dad were incredibly ignorant.
Now I'm 26, married and have 2 children and am amazed how much they have learned in the last decade!"

Housing costs and financial strain in an 'image' demanding society don't help.
      Worse is any nation or parent that teaches that not only is God irrelevant,
            but personal happiness is the one goal - and blow any moral restraints!
To honour parents with a record of selfishness, greed, unfaithfulness, abuse ...
      necessitates the grace of God to obey,
      the mercy of God to forgive
      and the wisdom of God to help change for the better.
To honour includes to obey.
      Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Col 320
      Though like a soldier given an illegal order is entitled to disobey,
            in exceptional circumstances a child may have to learn how to disobey -
                  and do so with respect!

Keeping this Law has a good reward - a strong and stable family and nation.
      Acceptance of good authority is far better than independence and rebellion.


6. You shall not murder.

Motives:  Revenge, offence, jealousy, hatred, greed, power ...
Jesus takes the law a step further.
      Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement.  Math 522
      Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
            and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.  1Jn 315  
But anger can be justified; though it must be controlled and limited in time.
      In your anger do not sin: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,
            and do not give the devil a foothold.  Eph 426,27
      An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth ...  Exd 2124  Math 538 (KJV)
            Not two eyes, or two teeth. Justice, not excessive revenge.
            But justice also demands that it should also not be no teeth!
      Everyone should be quick to listen,
            slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 119
Jesus was justifiably angry at injustice and stubborn hearts.  Mk 35  Lu 1315
      It was never motivated by revenge, impatience or self-interest.
This commandment does not forbid judicial execution and war,
      but it does apply to abortion and euthanasia that deeply afflict us all today.


7. You shall not commit adultery.

Adultery is the lust that betrays and replaces
      the faithful enduring love of one man or one woman.

It is the breaking of a solemn promise of lifetime faithfulness
      for a few minutes of indulgent pleasure that has catastrophic consequences.

It is the wanton destruction of a special relationship.
Loyalty, truthfulness and steadfastness are characteristics that God commands,
      which are the cement in family life and stability;
      and also in the relationship with our Lord and Saviour.

Jesus widens this Law to include lustful thoughts,
      which means that almost all men and women need cleansing.
God knows that thoughts can become actions, and he desires to protect us.

Israel was described as an adulterous nation
      when they ignored the Lord Almighty and began to worship idols.
      Ezek 69  Jer 36  Hos 12  Math 1239  James 44


8. You shall not steal.

Taking what belongs to another has many characters; it can be:
      by 'night' - burglary, sheep stealing, shop lifting ...
      by deceit - false tax returns, internet or credit card fraud, pretense ...
      by force - mugging, war ...
      by blackmail
      undetected - taking small items from a big employer.
      receiving praise when you know it truly belongs to another.

Plagiarism is stealing someone else's thoughts and ideas,
      pretending they are your own and original.
      Copyright laws try to prevent this
      Using internet searches are a brilliant resource that can be misused.
      It can be a sincere, but dishonest, compliment!

The Biblical penalty was restitution, not prison.
Although not in the same league as murder, which carried a death penalty,
      its inclusion in the Decalogue proves the importance in God's sight.
The damage to the heart caused by covetousness and deceit is very great.
      Learn to be content with what you have.  Heb 135
Every age has seen the avaricious grasping of men;
      it is far better to hold all things lightly and to willingly share and help others.
      It is more blessed to give than to receive!  Act 2035

Alongside this Law comes the 7 year land Sabbath, and the 50 year Jubilee.
      Both could do much to curb the desire for more and more.
      Yet sadly both have been untaught or practised by most Jews and Christians.


9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

In this Command motive is of prime importance.  Mk 721,22
Why should I want to testify falsely?
      Personal gain; money, reputation, politics, escape trouble, family loyalty ...
      Hatred of 'neighbour', revenge, competition, favouritism ...
Let us earnestly seek to be people of truth, integrity, honesty - whatever the cost.
It is better to honour, encourage and speak well of our neighbours
      than to spread debasing rumour and gossip - especially if untrue.


10. You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.

'The sting is in the tail'.
      This Commandment exposes the greed, envy and jealousy in us all.
      It kills righteousness.
      Envy can start small, but given free reign it will grow,
            and can quickly lead to hatred and even murder!
The lust of the flesh is powerful, whether hedonistic or sexual.  Jer 613
      Men and women will do anything for happiness and an easy life.
      Seeking personal pleasure can blind us to the needs of others;
            it can deaden compassion and care. Ezek 16 especially 1649
Learn to be content with what you have. Prov 308,9  Heb 135  Math 625
Envy can be of another's character, intelligence, good looks; as well as riches.
Even if we only have a little, generosity is a good antidote envy.
It is said that when one of the Rockefeller's was asked how much money
      do you need to make you happy, replied: "More, always a little bit more."
Coveting often leads to debt, and debt to despair when it cannot be repaid.
      God desires to spare men from this painful folly.

To disobey the 10th Commandment is to disobey the 1st.
      Coveting mean focussing our desire on things rather than upon God.
      When society abandons these two Commandments
            they create a moral vacuum and soon disobey the other 8.

Let us acknowledge the wisdom of God who gave us this and each Commandment,
      so that, with his abounding grace, we may learn to please him
      and live a holy and righteous life.