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“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes.  And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.’ ” Exodus 19:10-11

Two days ago we considered God’s expressed desire to have for himself in the children of Israel as a kingdom of priests. It’s important to note, though, that this was a hope and plan that has never been fulfilled for him in the history of the world, either by the Jewish people or by the Christian Church.

At the time when God expressed this desire only Moses was permitted to approach God’s presence and even in that he wasn’t able to see God’s face or even the extent of his glory. The people in general weren’t even allowed to approach Mount Sinai, where God was enthroned, though on at least one occasion Moses, and Aaron, and the elders were called by God onto the mount where from a distance they saw God seated upon his throne.

The point I’m trying to make is this. God wanted all of Israel to be a kingdom of priests for him but they weren’t ready at that time. In fact, they, themselves, were in need of a priest to intercede on their behalf.

But what Moses had was not something that God wanted to be exclusively his. God desires that all of his people be able to draw near to him, to commune with him, and to know him.

But the people of Israel, as a nation, couldn’t. They weren’t ready even to approach the mountain God was dwelling on let alone God himself and there was a danger that in their immaturity of belief and understanding they’d rush in where they, as sinners, could not go and that many of them would die.

So God had them build a barrier between the camp and the mount to keep them apart. Then he called the people to approach the barrier and He descend the mount to them.

Today, God’s people still can’t physically approach God. Sometimes it feels like we’re held at a distance with our sins rising up like a giant barrier between us and Jesus. I’m comforted to realize that at this time when I’m incapable of getting any closer to God he, himself, is at that time drawing closer to me.

He understands my limitation, and yours, and he knows just how close he can come, and just how much of himself he can reveal.

There’s a great deal of work in us that needs to be done before Jude 24 is fulfilled and we’ll be ready to stand faultless before the presence of God’s glory. But as the apostle testifies, it’s God who makes us ready and he’s able, if we’ll let him, to do all that he promised.

“Then all the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ So Moses brought back the words of the people to the Lord.” Exodus 19:8

As a pastor, I try to make it a priority to visit people that are, because of circumstances of health and age, “shut in.”

This group of people often feel forgotten by the church and have a great sense of loss for all the activities they once were active in taking part in, and often leading out in, but now miss out on.

I generally enjoy these visits. Many times these “shut-ins” share exciting and interesting stories with me that I would have never heard had I neglected these visits. Often I leave feeling very blessed and thankful to have been able to make that call that day. When I leave I always promise that I’ll try and come back and visit soon.

And I mean it when I say those words. But here’s the thing, often several weeks, and even months, pass before I get back to visit with them. I’m not avoiding them; it’s just that sometimes there’s a lot asking for my time: other things I need to do, other things I want to do. And sometimes it’s not that I’m so busy it’s rather that I’m forgetful. I forget about the shut$ins, and my promise to them, when I’m making my plans so I don’t give them enough priority to get back to visit with them more often.

In short, when it comes to visiting shut-ins, my actions don’t match my words or my intentions.

In our focus text the children of Israel make a promise to Moses, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

That’s a big promise and Israel wasn’t lying when they made it but they, like me, weren’t able to live up to their word. The Old Testament is a litany of various times that Israel fell far short of being obedient to God’s commandments and the fulfillment of their promise.

I take great comfort in the fact that the Old Testament is also full of all the times that God was patient with Israel and all the ways that he rescued them and sought to restore them when their disobedience led them far from where he wanted them to be.

Friends, failure isn’t inevitable. But with sinners, like we are, it does seem to be predictable. It’s good to know that in Jesus we have a Savior that’s willing to suffer long and go the extra distance so that he can over come our weaknesses and save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

Good Morning Church Family,

This Sabbath, February 17 is the 1st of 4 Days of Prayer and Fasting. The focus of our Prayer and Fasting is “Interceding for Our Family.” Satan is investing in destroying families. When families are broken, people are often left in despair, sadness, anger and hopelessness and at times may disconnect from God and the church. We will seek God to intervene and help make families stronger.

Things to keep in mind regarding fasting:

While not everyone is able to skip food, you can also choose to fast from something during the morning and afternoon of this special day. Possible types of fasting could include: water fast, juice fast, dessert or rich food fast, social media fast, etc… Pray and ask God to indicate what type of fast He wants you to undertake. However, even if you choose not to fast, please be encourage to be a part of the day’s prayer activities. Remember, God knows the heart, and the decision to fast or not fast is between a person and God, not dictated by anyone.

Purpose:

The whole purpose of the Day of Prayer and Fasting is to lay aside as we intercede for others. As we seek the Lord with humility of heart, and as we put away earthly distractions, we will have a more receptive frame of mind to what God wants to do in our life and through our prayer.

We will break the fast around 2:30-3:00 pm with a potluck luncheon of soup, salad and bread. Please free to bring an item to share and join us in fellowship afterward. We look forward to spending time with you in prayer and fasting on Sabbath.

God Bless,

Elders Reid and Rose

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6

If you where asked to describe yourself to someone else what would you tell them?

If you’re like me you’d find this difficult. Not that there’s nothing to tell. Quite the opposite. There’s too much to tell and, since you know you can’t say everything, you’ve got to decide what to tell, what not to tell, and where to start.

If I were to list just four one word descriptors of myself in order of their importance to who I am this is what they would be; I’m a christian, husband, father and pastor.

The reason I’ve chosen these four is because I believe that these are essential parts of who I am that God has called me to. I didn’t chose them. God chose them for me and I chose to follow where he was leading.

God chose the children of Israel. Because he’d chosen them they were his people and our focus text tells us God’s plan for them was that, if they’d obey him and keep his commandments, they’d be to him a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

The Jewish people, as a nation, never lived up to God’s calling for them. What that means is that they didn’t listen to God and they didn’t obey him. The New Testament of the Bible records the coming of Christ and the transfer of the ministry of God’s covenant of salvation to the world from the people of the Jews to the Christian Church. The only thing is that as a whole Christians haven’t been any better than the children of Israel were when it comes to listening to God and keeping his laws.

The problem is that, like Israel, most of us have never really embraced the identity God’s called us to. We see ourselves as human beings, as men and women, as Americans, or whatever nation we identify with, as carpenters, businessmen, teachers, painters, musicians or a plethora of other important but completely earthly ways of seeing ourselves and don’t really ever lay hold of the identity God’s called us to.

We’re a holy nation, a royal priesthood and we become this because we listen to God and obey his commandments.

The twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation describes a remnant of God’s people that finally fulfill the call of God. This people keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. This mean that they’re obedient to God and they listen to him. And because of this they can be who he’s called them to be and go where he’s called them to go and do what he’s called them to do.

God’s calling all of us to be that remnant, that chosen generation, that holy nation, that royal priesthood. Will you chose to listen and obey.

“So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.’ ” Exodus 18:17-18

I’ve observed that when it comes to leadership that there are two pits that leaders are commonly in danger of falling into. The first, and most common one, is the pit of trying to do too much all by yourself. The second pit is the pit of doing nothing yourself but instead delegating everything to someone else.

This second pit is less common but is still very dangerous because in this pit the leader essentially abdicates any real responsibility and authority he or she may have and gives it to others and becomes a meaningless figurehead. In this scenario the people looking to the leader are robbed of the leadership they could have been given.

Moses appears to be a leader prone to being in danger of being caught in the first pit. Nothing is delegated to another. He carries the entire weight of leadership by himself.

When Jethro, Moses father-in-law, saw this he strongly counseled Moses that this was not good and that if he continued in this way that he would wear himself out and he would wear the people out as well. Then he advised him to choose “able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” These men would hear and judge the small cases and if anything was too much for them then it was brought to Moses and he would judge only those cases.

Moses followed Jethro’s counsel and both he and the people were blessed.

Leaders would do well to follow this same course. It ensures that the leadership the people rely on you for remains in place and your meaningful contribution continues to be made while at the same time lightening your load as you share it with others.

An additional advantage is that this second plan gives opportunity for people to gain experience that prepares them for future responsibility. Eventually we all need to be pass the reins of leadership to someone else it’s always better if they’re actually prepared to take them.

God hasn’t called any of us to work alone. Whether in the home, the church, or business, God’s plan is that each person only carry a reasonable portion of the load. If this pattern is followed everyone is better served.

“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.  But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” Exodus 17:11-12

For a few years when I was in college I was an avid weightlifter. I still like working out but not like I did when I was between 19 and 21 years of age.

There was one lift, though, that I hated. I hated doing the squat lift. I didn’t like the way it felt. It felt dangerous. I felt like I was out of control and that the bar and all that weight was going to crush me. It didn’t matter that all the books and magazines extolled the squat lift as being the king of all lifts. It didn’t matter that whether you were a bodybuilder or a powerlifter you couldn’t achieve the highest possible result without mastering the squat. I was afraid of it and I hated it.

But there was one day when things were different. I was working out alone, I never had a lifting partner so I’d just ask someone else in the gym to spot me if I needed one. It was leg day and I was getting set up to do some squats when Andy stepped up and asked if he could do squats with me.

Now Andy was big. At least two inches taller and fifty pounds of solid muscle heavier. Andy could have easily squatted my weight and the weight of the bar I was lifting.

Having Andy spot me that day was like someone had wrapped be in a security blanket. I was absolutely unafraid and that day I was able to lift far more than I was ever able to lift at any other time. Andy didn’t lift a single pound of the weight but his help gave me confidence to make me stronger.

I’ve found that same principle true in a lot of other situations as well and it’s led me to the conclusion that God hasn’t designed us to perform at our best when we’re alone. God’s designed us to work best when we work with others.

Our focus text today illustrates that reality. Moses alone was unable to to give Joshua’s army the support needed to achieve victory but with help his faith could find expression in action and he could prevail.

God hasn’t called us, the members of his church, to work alone. If he had he wouldn’t have prayed that the Father would make us united in the gospel of John, chapter 17. We all need companions, partners, mentors, coworkers, and supporters. We may be able to work well by ourselves but if we work together we’ll work even better.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ ” Exodus 17:5-6

What evidence do you have that your parents love you?

If we take the time to stop and think about it most of us can generate a long list of events and actions that give proof to the reality of the love our parents have for us. This list would include sacrifices they’ve made, gifts they’ve given, things they’ve said to us, the way they’ve cared for our day to day needs, and even the way they’ve disciplined and corrected us when we needed it.

Granted, nobodies perfect, so none of our parents have been flawless in their parenting efforts but, nevertheless, there’s still plenty of opportunity for us to find evidence of our parents love.

In the Exodus God more than adequately demonstrated that he loved the children of Israel, and that he was up to the task of anticipating their needs and providing for those needs even if such a fulfillment required supernatural intervention. Given all the evidence they’d received confirming God’s love and watch care you’d have thought that they would have learned to not immediately panic when difficulties arose but that wasn’t the case.

In the verses leading up to our focus text we find that, once again, they’ve run short of water and now they’re in such a state of unrest they’re threatening Moses with violence.

Scripture says that Moses “cried out to the Lord…” and God answered him by instructing him to take the elders and go and stand before a rock and to strike the rock with his staff and God promised that he would give them water from the rock.

Now, in addition to the cloud of the Lord’s presence that led them everywhere they went, they had two more evidences that God was with them and providing for them: the daily harvest of the manna and the continual flow of the water from the rock.

It occurs to me that it shouldn’t take an obvious miracle for us to believe in and trust in God’s care for us. It’s spiritual immaturity on our part to look for flash and fireworks when all around us, everyday, we have more than amble evidence to give proof of God’s love for us. If God’s love is there then we ought to respond by trusting him and not just with the normal everyday things but especially with the big things.

Friends, there’s going to come a time when all you’ll have to hold onto is you faith and trust in God. It’s past time we started noticing all the ways he cares for us and start developing that reflex action of trusting him in everything.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.’ ” Exodus 16:28-29

In our discussion of Israel’s petitions to Pharaoh we didn’t talk about their request to keep the Sabbath. This was one of their first requests and Pharaoh became so angry about it that he called them lazy and commanded that they had to gather their own straw for making bricks and that they had to make just as many bricks as they had before.

This episode with the bricks is the first mention of the Sabbath in the book of Exodus. The second occurs in chapter sixteen and is associated with the giving of the manna.

God had given them very specific instructions regarding what to expect with the manna and those instructions came in such a way that they were virtually guaranteed to make an impression. On days one through five no matter how much time they spent gathering they always collected one omer of manna per person but on the sixth day when they gathered the one omer became two.

When they showed it to Moses he told them it was because the seventh day was the Sabbath and no manna would fall so God had provided for them a double portion on the sixth day.

Everyone had experienced the double portion. Everyone had heard the explanation. Yet still a good number of people went out on the seventh day to collect manna and were dismayed to find no food.

When God gave his rebuke through Moses he said, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments…” You would have thought that after all their experiences Israel would have learned that God means what he says and that he has reasons for all his laws and instructions and that those reasons always include their well being and best interests.

As the reprimand continues it says, “the Lord has given you the Sabbath….”

Nowhere in the book of Exodus is God recorded “giving” the Sabbath to the people of Israel. There’s a lot of time devoted to the sabbaths importance and quite a bit of instruction on how to keep it but these are all reminders of God’s gift of the Sabbath not times in which he gives it to them.

It’s the book of Genesis that records the time when God gave the Sabbath and it was at the same time as when he gave the seven day week. At creation. He gave it to everyone.

In our pursuit of a new, a more scientific, a more educated and intelligent world and way of living we need to be careful that we don’t abandon the best gifts God’s given. One of those gifts is the Sabbath. In it he gives us rest and in it he gives us time with him. The question is, will we remember?

“Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ” Exodus 16:23

Most people know their blood type because at some point in their lives a sample of their blood has been sent to a lab and tested.

I don’t know the history behind the testing process we use but I do know what the process is. When I was in college I took Anatomy and Physiology and in one of the lab portions of the class we all collected and tested our own blood to find our blood types. The process is really quite simple.

Three samples of your blood are mixed with three different substances: type A antigen, type,B antigen, and RH factor. If any of these substances causes your blood to react by clumping, or sticking, together then that substance is added to the name of your blood type: A for the A antigen, B for the B antigen, and + or – for the RH factor. If your blood doesn’t react to type A or B they label it type O.

My blood type is AB+ which means that it sticks together with all three substances. If a person’s blood doesn’t stick together with any of the substances then their blood is called O-.

Because I took that Anatomy and Physiology Lab I know my blood type because I actually saw the testing myself. I have an experience that demonstrates the truth of my blood type.

Because of the falling of the manna the Jewish people have, as a part of their history, an experience that demonstrates the truth of God’s sabbath. The timing of the Sabbath wasn’t just something they were told and believed, it was something that they were shown and they experienced week after week for more than forty years. Every sixth day when they were able to gather twice as much manna they knew that the next day was the Sabbath and every seventh day when the extra manna they’d gather didn’t rot and no new manna appeared on the ground they knew that the sabbath had come.

The manna doesn’t continue to fall but God is still here and his sabbath does continue to come to us every seventh day. God knew that his people were prone to forgetfulness and that’s why the fourth commandment, of the Ten Commandments, begins with the word “Remember.”

But the experience of God’s sabbath isn’t limited to one people group. God promises anyone that if they will keep his Sabbath he will give them a special blessing of his presence. And just as the manna gather on the sixth day was multiplied so that it would provide for the seventh God continues to promise that if we will keep his sabbath he will bless our labors so that all seven days are provided for.

That’s an experience we can all have and a promise I think any of us would like to hold on to.

“So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground.  So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.” Exodus 16:13-15

I’ve never really been hungry; at least not in the sense that I thought that I might die. There’s never been any danger of that. There’s always been some kind of food in the house or the ability to get it.

Israel, as they follow the cloud into the wilderness has run out of food. As they look around they see that there’s no food available, at least not enough to provide for the whole camp. Anticipating death by starvation they cry out their complaint to Moses.

Their complaint communicates two messages: the first is obvious, we’ve run out of food; the second is more subtle, Moses is the one leading us and not God.

In his answer to their food problem God endeavors to impress upon the people the reality that He is the one leading them. He answers them, through Moses and Aaron, “In the evening when I give you meat to eat you’ll know that I, the Lord, am leading you and when I give you bread in the morning you will know that I hear your complaint.”

Our focus text tells us that at evening the Lord blew an enormous flock of quail into camp and the people had as much as they could eat. In the morning, when they came out of their tents, they discovered a small round substance covering the ground. Bewildered they came to Moses and asked him, “What is it?” Which in Hebrew is the word, manna. And Moses answered them, “This is the bread from heaven that God promised he would give.

Through the quail and the manna God was trying to impress upon the people that he was leading them, that he heard their complaints, and that they could trust him to provide for their needs.

Trusting and relying on God is perhaps the most difficult thing that God has to teach us.

When it comes to our needs and wants we tend to forget all the ways that God has provided for us in the past and rush strait toward a critical complaining that is in fact the anticipatory blaming of God for the disaster we believe is about to destroy us.

I’m not sure Israel ever really got to the place where they responded to problems by remembering all the ways that God had already provided for them and thanking him for being able to trust him to see them through this need as well.

However, you and I can learn from their experience, and our own, and begin cultivating the habit of trusting God when difficulties and trials come.

“If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

I was briefly a ninth through twelfth grade Bible teacher, at Maplewood Academy, in Minnesota. Being a teacher gives a person a very different perspective when it comes to the scenario of a someone not following clearly communicated instructions.

I can honestly tell you that I don’t personally know a single teacher that doesn’t want all his, or her, students to succeed. Most teachers will go far more than the extra mile to help a student accomplish the goals of a class. I know of many instances in which teachers have scheduled time for extra classes to help students prepare for tests and projects. Others have set up regular tutoring sessions for their students adding still more time to a very long work day. Most times the only compensation that the teacher receives for their gift of time is a thank you and the success of their student.

But what do you do if a student doesn’t study, doesn’t follow instructions, and doesn’t ask for help?

Every teacher has had gifted students that didn’t apply themselves and as a result didn’t succeed. We’ve also had students to whom even the humblest of grades came with the utmost of effort. And we’ve all had to stand helplessly as they didn’t study, didn’t ask for help, and didn’t accept the help we offered. And in the end who was it that had to give the grades at the end of the term. We, the teachers, had to assign a grade to the performance of the students. And we where the ones that labeled them A’s, B’s, C’s, D’S, and F’s. I remember having a lot of regret assigning some of those grades.

God had given all the people of earth instructions on how he had designed them to live. The apostle Paul, in Romans chapter one, makes it clear that God has revealed himself, and his will for mankind, to the world but in general people have rejected God’s instructions.

God has blessings he wants to give but he’s promised that he’ll only give them if certain conditions are met. He’s also promised that certain punishments will fall if we don’t do as we’re commanded. Our disobedience forces our loving God into a position where he must withhold blessings from people he wants to prosper and punish people he wants to shelter from pain and hardship. If God doesn’t do as he’s said he would do then he makes truth a lie and his own word nothing.

In Exodus 15:26 God is pleading with Israel and with us, “I don’t want to have to deal with you the way I’ve had to deal with the Egyptians. I gave them so many chances, I saved them from famine, I gave them the godly example of Joseph and still they rejected me. They enslaved my people, ignored my demands for justice, and did not heed my warnings. Israel, listen to me, be obedient to my commandments and instructions, give me the opportunity to have the relationship with you that I want. Let me be the God that heals you.”

“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.  And the people complained against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ ” Exodus 15:23-24

The children of Israel seemed to be good a doing only one thing: complaining.

There’s no record in all of the exodus accounts of them trying to do anything to help themselves, at least not one that has them cooperating with God and Moses, but it seems that every time they encounter any kind of hardship or difficulty the same same four words record their reaction, “And the people complained.”

As regards to complaining the apostle Paul gives this very simple instruction to Christians in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without complaining…”

In my opinion complaining is an extremely ineffective way for a person to communicate their desire for something to be different than it is. Complaining is more capable of generating defensiveness, anger, and half hearted effort than true cooperation.

A far simpler, more effective, and less aggravating way for gaining cooperation would be to just ask for what you want or, if the relationship is right, tell people what you want them to do.

Let’s consider a common situation at home. Dinner has just been completed and everyone begins to drift away from the table to other activities. Frequently this leaves one person, often mom, to see to putting away any leftovers and washing the dishes.

She could start grumbling under her breath about ungrateful people until she generates enough steam to fuel a full fledged scalding as she directs her complaints at her husband and children. This onslaught will most likely drive them into a defensive posture where they begin protesting about the productive things they have to do and reciting a recent history lesson on all the ways they’ve already been helpful. In the end the dishes do get done but only after tempers have flared and feelings have been hurt.

An alternative course would be for mom to simply tell someone capable of following through what she wants them to do. She may get some push back at first but if she resists complaining as she responds to it she’ll find that cooperation is achieved with far less aggravation and unhappiness.

Paul’s full statement about not complaining tells us that it yields a harvest greater than merely less stressful cooperation. It makes us, the ones not complaining, into more Christlike people. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Do you want to be more like Christ and do you want others to see the your different? Exchanging your complaining for more cooperative ways of communicating is a good place to start.

“Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying: ‘I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.’ ” Exodus 15:1-2

All night long Israel has traveled on dry ground through the midst of the sea. The hand of God parted the sea, dividing it so that a wall of water stood on either side of the pathway provided.

The Egyptians would have pursued them and over taken them except God, in the pillar of cloud, interposed himself between the two camps and prevent the Egyptians from following. When the final Israelite had passed beyond the reach of Pharaoh God withdrew and permitted the Egyptians to follow and they charged into the causeway in the sea. Then God commanded Moses to raise his staff once again and the waters swept over Pharaoh and his army and destroyed them all.

As Moses and the people looked out over the Red Sea where the Egyptian army had been and now was no more they knew with a certainty that they were free.

Moses and the people then raised their voices and sang a song of triumph to the Lord.

“I will sing to the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

We call the song from which these few bars are taken “The Song of Moses” and the Jewish people have sung it for thousands of years, ever since that day at the Red Sea.

Revelation 15:3 tells us that after the second coming the redeemed of the Lord will stand beside another sea and sing a song of triumph to God, the Song of Moses and the Lamb.

The apostle John records a new verse to the song, one that reflects the new reality that has come because Jesus has come and set his people free.

Where are you planning to be on that day when they sing the song of Moses and the Lamb?

I imagine that many, on that day beside the Red Sea, were surprised at the deliverance they’d experienced but the righteous at the second coming won’t be surprised because they’ve followed the instructions of Matthew 24 and 25 and have been watching and they’re ready.

Only those that are ready will be prepared to sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. Israel followed God as he led them in the cloud and because of that they were ready. The redeemed, at the last day, follow the Lamb wherever he goes and because of that they’ll be ready.

Will you follow the Lamb so that you can sing his song in heaven?

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’ ” Exodus 14:13-14

Everything has gone just has God has said it would. Pharaoh has done exactly as God has foreseen and God himself has led the people as he has promised he would. Moses, Aaron and the children of Israel have had to do only two things, Listen to God’s Instructions and follow him as he led them.

Now the children of Israel are camped on the shore of the Red Sea. In front of them is nothing but water, rugged mountains block their way to the south, and behind them is the wilderness they’ve just crossed and coming across that wilderness is the Egyptian army, led by Pharaoh, in full pursuit.

The people’s response is panic and in their panic they blame Moses; they’ve yet to learn to acknowledge God’s leading in their lives and to have faith in him regardless of how things appear.

Moses has learned to have faith in God and he calls out to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

Friends, I believe that very soon God is going to deliver his people from this sin broken planet. The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation foretell that before that time Satan will rally the nations of this world to wage war on those that wholly give their loyalty to Jesus and demonstrate it by accepting his salvation and keeping his commandments.

The righteous have, like Noah before the flood, and Moses before the Exodus, sought to warn and prepare everyone for what God was going to do. Rather than looking to their own goals, and plans, and safety their sole focus is to know what Jesus is doing and to “follow the lamb wherever he goes.”

God’s leading took Israel to the sea where they witnessed God’s salvation as he parted the waters before them. God’s leading will take us to the place where we’ll look up and see our salvation coming as our Savior sends his angels to gather us to him in the sky.

Friends, God doesn’t call us to fight for the Gospel or his kingdom. His message is, “The Lord will fight for you.” We’re called to be witnesses, like Noah and Moses, and follow the Lamb as he calls his people to himself and prepares them to meet him when he comes.

“Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ ”Exodus 13:17

We all need to take detours from time to time.

When I was in college, at Andrews University, the bridge crossing the St. Joseph River was condemned and abruptly closed one day causing a fairly large number of people traveling to and from Berrien Springs, on old US 31, to take a fairly lengthy detour. Some of the faculty and students literally had their commutes to and from campus double, or more than double, in length.

I forget how long it took for them to replace the bridge, one year, maybe two years. During that time the old bridge was still in place and people could walk or ride their bicycles across it but no one could drive across, it wasn’t safe.

Detours are an inconvenience but most of us will agree that when the added time and distance ensures that you don’t take a forty foot plunge into a river that it’s worth it.

God led the children of Israel out of Egypt via a longer and more lengthy route through the wilderness. Why choose this route? Philistines.

The Philistines were a warrior people that had invaded the land of Canaan during the time that Israel had been in Egypt and the Israelites were not yet ready to face the kind of fighting they would have to meet if they entered Canaan through the land occupied by the Philistines. So God’s plan was to go into Canaan along the wilderness route and avoid the Philistines.

Sometimes it feels like our lives are stuck on a detour. Getting where we’re going is taking a long time and the miles are so slowly passing by and with every twist and turn we don’t seem to be getting any closer to our destination.

It’s easy to become impatient, frustrated, and disappointed when life feels like that but did you ever think that just maybe this detour is taking you around trouble that’s too much for you to tackle?

Our perspective on life is extremely limited. There’s only just so much that we can see and anticipate the rest is left to guess work and ignorance. God isn’t so limited. He can see life’s road from beginning to end and he’s able to chart a course that will give us the best combination of challenges and smooth sailing to make the route both interesting and survivable.

If we want to follow God’s route we just have to learn two things. First to listen as he gives directions and second to be patient and content as we navigate the detours.

“Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, ‘This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.’ ” Exodus 13:7-8

It’s good for us to remember and recall the good and great things the Lord has done for us. Do you remember when you gave your life to Christ and in obedience to his instructions were baptized as a witness of the new life you’re now living in Christ Jesus?

Mine was when I’d just turned 10 years old.

The founder of Amazing Facts, Joe Crews, was preaching a series in Lansing, Michigan, and my family attended nearly every meeting. Additionally, my father, who was the principle of the local Adventist Church School, arranged to have Sid Mills, a Pastor and musician working with Joe Crews, come to our school and conduct a week of prayer for us. After that week Pastor Mills conducted a baptismal class for any of the school children wanting to be baptized. My twin brother and I, along with a few other children, were part of that class.

The day we were baptized was such an exciting day for me. I’m not sure that I understood all that was happening but I did know that what I was doing I was doing for Jesus and I wanted my life to be his.

There’ve been other special events as my life with Christ has grown; like the day a few years later when I got myself in trouble which resulted in my realizing that I needed a relationship with God not dependent on my parents, and the day in college when I got a letter from someone concerned about my relationship with God because they’d seen me and could tell that I wasn’t living like I had before I went to college.

All of these events have been important to me in growing me up in my relationship with God. They’ve all, together with other experiences been instrumental in setting me free from the sin in my life and opening my eyes to the life God so desperately wants to bless me with.

Too little do we remember and recall the providences of God in our lives that guide us closer to him. God wanted Israel to remember the exodus. He well knew our tendency to forget so he instituted a feast to recall and remind them of the life he’d brought them from, of the strength he’d had to accomplish it, and of the life they now had because he’d intervened.

I think it would be good when birthdays, or communion services, are celebrated for us to recall the day we were baptized and to recount different times when God’s come near and demonstrated that he’s still drawing us closer to himself.

We could also pause at other times, like right now, and remember and be thankful to God that he’s set us free.

“On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb … Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year … And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.” Exodus 12:3-7

One after the other plagues have fallen on the land of Egypt and still Pharaoh’s heart is hardened. What will it take to break through? What’s already happened has demonstrated the impotence of Egypt’s gods, the helplessness of the Pharaoh, and the might of the God of Heaven. The final plague must be one that reaches Pharaoh both directly and profoundly.

The Angel of the Lord will pass through land and all the first born in Egypt will die.

Up until now the children of Israel have been shelter from the full impact of the plagues but not on this night. No one will be shelter because of who they are or because of who their parents were. Only one thing will shelter anyone from the blow that will fall that night: obedience to God’s instructions as you find shelter in a house covered by the blood of the Passover lamb.

In the book of Revelation seven plagues of judgement are foretold that will fall on the beast and those that receive the mark of the beast. At the time when these plagues fall there will only be two groups of people remaining in the earth: those who have the mark of the beast, and those who have the seal of God. Revelation chapter fourteen describes those having the seal of God as being those that keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. It also says that before the plagues fall this same group will proclaim a warning of God’s judgments together with the everlasting gospel.

What saves the righteous from the judgments falling from heaven is the seal of God which they’ve received by believing in the Lamb that was slain, Jesus Christ.

Political prominence, personal accomplishment, pedigree, and anything else you might be tempted to boast of and substitute in place of Jesus will be powerless to protect you. Only by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, Mediator, Lord, and God of your life can you have any hope at all.

In Moses day the plagues fell so that God could free a people so that they could become the nation through whom he would fulfill his promise to send a Savior. In the end of days the plagues will fall so that God can set his people free from this world so that the Savior can fulfill his promise to come and receive us unto himself that where he is there we may be also.

Now, as it was in Egypt on that first Passover, our only hope lies in finding shelter within the blood of the Passover Lamb. If we will be set free we must by all we do and all we are place our trust, our hope, and our lives only in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

“So the Lord said to Moses: ‘See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.’ ” Exodus 7:1-4

There was a song that I used to hear from time, it was sung by Amy Grant, some of the words of the chorus explain a reality that was being demonstrated in Pharaoh’s reaction and response to God’s calls to let Israel go, “The same sun that melts the wax hardens clay and the same rain that drowns the rat will grow the hay…”

God foretold that Pharaoh would not heed his demand for the release of the children of Israel. The same signs and wonders that had been enough to convince the elders of the people that God had not forgotten or abandoned them would only serve to harden Pharaoh’s resolve to not relent. Even the plagues when they fell one by one only served to motivate Pharaoh to push back harder against the pressure God was exerting to subdue his stubborn heart.

The thing is that there was no question as to the source of the miracles and disasters that came upon Egypt as signs of God’s authorship of the call for the Israelite slaves to be released. Pharaoh knew that he was wrestling with God and he was determined that he would not give in, even if it destroyed everything. And it very nearly did destroy everything. Crops, property, and cattle lost as a result of the plagues. All the first born dead, from the son of Pharaoh to son of lowliest slave, to the offspring of the livestock. Finally, Pharaoh had had enough and he gave in. Israel could go.

But after his initial grief had cooled it was transformed into anger. Israel would not go free. The army was called up and Pharaoh himself led them to go and compel the slaves to return to their labors. Everything God had done had only served to harden Pharaoh’s heart against God and against Israel.

Revelation foretells that the same is true of the devil and the wicked that God will finally have to destroy so that he can make an end of sin. Everything God has done, both the blessings and the cursing, has been so that he could in some way convince the people to stop opposing him and choose life, but for some all those efforts will not be enough. Instead they drive them to wage war with God.

But the difference isn’t God. It’s us and our response to him. We’re not predestined to oppose God; Pharaoh got to choose for himself and we each get to choose for ourselves.

Will you choose God? Will you choose life?

“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses’ feet, and said, ‘Surely you are a husband of blood to me!’ ” Exodus 4:24-25

When I was a teenager I developed a habit of using profanity. I knew it was wrong but friends thought it was funny and I was careful to not use it in front of people it would bother so no big deal. Right?

Well it was a big deal. A few years into college I decided that if I was going to be a Pastor, and I knew God was calling me to follow that path, I needed to become more serious and intentional about my walk and relationship with him and one of the things I knew I needed to set right was my habit of using bad language.

But stopping wasn’t easy. I could knuckle down and self control it most of the time but the words were always there, ready to come out, and it took constant vigilance to keep them from getting into my conversations. But even with my best efforts occasional words would still slip out here and there and I knew that it wasn’t just the saying of the words that God wanted out of my life we wanted me to stop having the impulse to say them.

Then one day I noticed that there was a correlation between my language problem and another part of my relationship with God. I noticed that when I was faithful with my prayer life and personal devotions that I didn’t have the problem of having the impulse to use profanity. Being more deeply connected in my relationship with God turned out to be the key to breaking my bad language habit.

Our lives are a reflection of our relationship with God and our relationship with God is in fact a matter of life and death to us. If we foster disobedience in our lives, or allow it to remain unaddressed, we’re, in fact, choosing to hold onto something that will distance us from God and result in our deaths.

Centuries before the event recorded in our focus text God had instructed Abraham to circumcise himself and all the males in his house. At that time God told him that this would be a sign between his descendants and God that they were his people. I’m guessing that Moses knew all this and that God had been convicting him regarding his neglect of this practice, as it pertained his sons, for quite some time and that Moses had been putting it off, probably to keep peace between himself and his wife. On this day God made it clear that in choosing to obey or disobey Moses, and Zipporah, were choosing life or death for Moses.

Is there something God’s been convicting you about that you need to set right?

Friends, don’t delay in choosing to submit to the leading of God and obey. Nothing that touches your relationship with God is a small thing. Every time we choose to harbor sin we’re choosing to push God away and every time we choose to obey we’re choosing to keep Him close. And having God close is a matter of life and death.

“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ ” Exodus 4:10

God’s commanded Moses to go back to Egypt and lead the people as they return to Canaan. Moses initially didn’t raise any objections, instead, asking questions like: What do I tell the people if they ask me what your name is? And what if I tell them and they still don’t believe me?

God was patient with Moses’ questions and gave him answers to them telling him his name and providing him with miraculous signs to demonstrate his legitimacy. God even told Moses that he would do other signs and wonders because he was sure that Pharaoh wouldn’t believe and set the children of Israel free but that in the end he would let them go and they would be sent out with gifts.

It’s at this point Moses raises an objection about his ability to speak in public. So God assures Moses that, as the Creator, he’s able to give him the ability to over come any deficiency but Moses still tells God to send someone else.

Scripture now says that God became angry with Moses but God doesn’t lash out in his anger, like we might do, instead he tells Moses that his bother Aaron is on his way and that Aaron will be a mouth piece for Moses even as Moses is a mouth piece for God.

I think it’s sad that knowing that God was with him, and leading him, and equipping him, was not enough for Moses. I’m also deeply comforted that God, even though Moses faithless insecurity angered him, didn’t punish or set Moses aside because of his doubts and slowness, instead he made allowances enabling Moses to, in spite of his fears, begin the tasked he was called to.

God’s calling us. He’s coming soon and he has a people trapped in slavery to a false system of religion and we’re his mouth pieces sent to them to say, “Come out of her my people.” God won’t give us any special signs, more than enough to give credibility are recorded in scripture. Additionally, we’re promised the Holy Spirit and he, along with the message of the gospel and our obedience to God’s word, are enough.

We’re called individually but we’re not called to labor alone. A whole church is called to work together to take this message to the whole world.

God won’t allow anyone who might be saved to be lost for want of having been called and he’s telling us to be his voice. Will you accept his commission? Will you receive the Holy Spirit and all the equipping he provides? Will you add your voice to all those already giving the invitation to come?