Monday, October 29, 2012

Moses’ Fourth Objection To His Calling -- Exodus 4:10-12


Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  And the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes him dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
 
It is easy to look at Moses and say, “What on earth are you thinking man?  Give your head a shake.”  How could he possibly give God objection after objection (this is number four and there’s one more to go after this) to God’s call on his life?  But all we need to do is consider our own hesitancy to follow God’s plan for us, sometimes to the point of it becoming an actual act of disobedience when we flatly refuse to follow His call for us.  So, let’s not be that hard on Moses.

In this particular objection, Moses turns to his physical limitations and basically tells God that he was given a speech impediment, perhaps what today we would refer to as stuttering.  And he says to God, “Look, this has been an issue for a while even before you reached me and tapped me on the shoulder for this job.”  And further adding to what God already knew, Moses says, “I am slow of speech and of tongue.”

I don’t know about you, but if I were God, I would be getting pretty steamed at this point.  Not only was this objection number four, but also this mere human was telling God what God already knew.  And perhaps there was even an element of, “Hey God, you made me this way; you can’t expect me to carry out this task for which you didn’t properly equip me.”  That would be enough for me to have blown my stack.

Some commentators believe that Moses was not like this from birth and use the reference in Acts 7:22 in the New Testament that speaks of Moses being “learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians”, and that he “was mighty in words and in deeds” to make their point.  It was after killing the Egyptian who was beating up on a Hebrew, that he fled into the wilderness, and there started to be depressed, which brought on his stuttering.  I personally do not believe that the verse excludes the possibility of his being a stutterer from birth for one could be “mighty in words” without the ability to speak well.
Nevertheless, what does God do when Moses issues this objection?  He answers him with a series of questions more like a loving Father and less like an angry parent.  God basically asks Moses to think it through.  “Who made man’s mouth?” and implying his mouth in particular.  “Who makes a person dumb, or deaf, or blind, Moses?  I do, don’t I?”  The inference is clear – “Moses, don’t worry about that.  I’m fully aware of it and I’ll take care of it.”

We need to stop here for a moment because this introduces a very difficult concept for many to accept.  Why would a loving God make children that cannot hear, speak, or see?  I mean it does say that, does it not?  But why is that?  Well, first of all, we agree that God says it.  From there, for me at least, if God said, I accept it.  I am not prepared to challenge Him on what He does or does not do or say.  I believe He has His reasons that I do not understand.  If I understood everything that God did or said, I would not need any “faith” – it would all be logical, rather than supernatural, to me and I would not need even the faith of a muster seed.  Everything would be rational or obvious and thus acceptable.  Finally, is it not also possible that God here, in His anger, is really saying, “Moses, who allows a child to be born deaf, dumb, or blind?” while still taking responsibility for doing that?  I think so.  David Guzik suggests that this declaration is all about, and should be understood from the perspective of, the “sovereignty of God”.  He writes, “ . . . the point here is not to analyze the origin of evil, but to show that God is so mighty that He can even call the mute, the deaf, and the blind to do His work.  Moses' perceived inadequacies don't matter at all.”  Amen.

And then when God finishes setting Moses straight with respect to his fourth objection, He once again issues His call and now His command to him.  “Moses, just go now, and I, the Almighty, will be with your mouth and teach you what to say.”  God did not get angry.  He provided answers to Moses’ objection through rhetorical questions that Moses could easily answer for himself even though he might not like the answer.  And then God adds this wonderful reassurance that He Himself would be with “Moses’ mouth” and would “teach” him what to say.  Wow – what more could anyone ask for.  Not only does God promise to be with us, but also He is willing, if we let Him, to give us the words to utter in a difficult circumstance.  I do not know if you have ever been in that kind of situation where you need that kind of help, but I have, and to know that God will and does give us the right words is one of the greatest gifts that God gives to His children who seek to do His bidding.
And yet, Moses still has some doubts, and is about to issue his last and fifth objection, as we shall soon see.

What however, is the lesson for us so far?  I believe it is twofold.  First, I think that sometimes when we are looking for a message from God, we often miss it because the messenger He has chosen is not an eloquent speaker.  That really is a tragedy.  Oftentimes, one remembers the eloquence of the speaker or pastor or preacher much longer than the message he or she brings from God.  I can name more than one such speaker of years gone by in our city.   On the other hand, we tend to remember the message given to us, when the Spirit of God, lays it on our hearts, regardless of the lack of eloquence of the messenger He may use.  Extra-blessed is the man or woman who carries the message of God, and can also deliver it eloquently, but that is not a requirement to qualify as a messenger of His.

The second lesson for us is equally as important.  I think that oftentimes many Christians seek out the will of God but miss it because they are looking for a “perfect fit”.  We want something that we are absolutely confident we can handle and that we will enjoy.  Maybe something we have done before in our ‘secular’ work.  If we got that kind of an assignment, the question arises as to whether or not we would need God to be with us in performing it.  Whether we would move ahead on our own confidence or be reliant on Him?  Whether or not in the end we would take some or all of the glory and perhaps only give Him some honorable mentions or none at all?

What kind of calling from God are you looking for?  If you have been looking for a long time and still have not done anything, may I humbly suggest, you’re looking for a “perfect fit” when God wants to give you something that will build up your reliance on Him.  If any of us are there now, we need to prayerfully reconsider His existing, and still unanswered call, on our life.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

More Signs To Accompany Moses -- Exodus 4:6-9


And the Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.  So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow.  Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.”  So he put his hand into his bosom again; and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh.  “And it shall come about that if they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign.  But is shall be that if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Did God think that Moses’ throwing his staff on the ground, having it turn into a snake, then picking the snake up by its tail, and having it turn back into his staff was not going to be sufficient for convincing the children of Israel that he had heard from the God of their fathers?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps God was just showing a little bit of frustration here when He then told Moses what else he could do to prove that his authority was coming from on high.

Whatever the case for more proof, God told Moses to put his hand on his chest (one imagines through his outer coat) and then to take it out again.  As Moses obeyed, the hand became leprous and turned white.  We don’t know what Moses’ reaction to that was.  Was it fear similar to when he saw the snake?  Or was he now willing to expect and accept anything that God would do or could do?

It really does not matter, for God did not require him to dwell long on the situation and immediately told him to put his leprous hand back on his chest and to pull it out again.  Although, if Moses were as sharp as we believe him to have been, then what happened next was less of a surprise to him, and more of an re-assurance of God’s power.  The leprous flesh on his hand returned to its normal look, similar to that of the rest of his body.

And then God says something interesting, perhaps beating Moses to another question.  God says, “Look, and if they don’t believe this sign or the first one, here’s a third one.”  God then proceeds to tell Moses what he will need to do at that time.  In examining that statement more closely, I find its structure a little puzzling.  The ‘western’ mind would ask, “Why would God say ‘if they will not believe you’?  Did God not know whether they would or not?  Does God not know everything?  The ‘Judaic’-thinking mind, however, would have no problem with this.  Of course God knew and knows everything that has, is, and will occur.  Judaic-thinking would lead us to say that God here was projecting himself into the circumstance from Moses’ point of view.  Moses is really the one asking, “what if they don’t believe even this?” and it is just that God was asking it for him and answering it as well.

For his final display of proof that God had met with him, Moses was to get some water from the Nile River and pour it on the ground and it would turn into blood.

These three miracles that Moses was given warrant some further comment.  The first two – staff to snake and back again; and his own hand turning leprous and then back to normal – were indeed miracles of what David Guzik in his Study Guide on this text calls “miracles of conversion”.  The third – taking water from the Nile and turning it into blood but not back again into water – was a “miracle of judgment”.  Guzik says the first miracle also conveys to Moses that if he obeyed God, his enemies would be made powerless.  The second miracle, involving his own hand, was to convey to Moses and us who read of it, that his own sin (his own polluted body or self) could be made pure.  There is an inference here as Matthew Henry suggests, that the Israelites had polluted their lives in Egypt, turning to other gods and worshiping them.  Are we guilty of the same thing?   Here God is showing that they can become pure again.  If we ourselves have any doubt in God’s power to defeat our enemies and to make us pure, then there is no way we can minister to others, or on behalf of others.  So, God shows that to Moses (and through him, to us) first before Moses (and by inference, us) was to convince others of the same truths.

There is also a possibility here that the first miracle was somehow symbolic of how Moses was going to take the ‘governing power’ away from Pharaoh (when Moses first held this own staff), through God’s help, and vest it in himself (when the staff was given to him at the end of the miracle), in order to be able to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt.

With the second miracle, the leprous hand, there is also the possibility of a symbolic foreshadowing of some of the plagues that were going to impact the land of Egypt.  Matthew Henry points out that this second miracle might also have been intended to make sure that Moses understands that he could not boast about anything that results and that all the glory should always go to God – for his hand too was leprous.

But taking water from the Nile and turning it into blood was a little different.  It was not to be turned back into water.  Guzik writes, “if the miracles of conversion (the first two) did not turn the hearts of the people, then perhaps the sign of judgment will.”  Matthew Henry reminds us also that later on in our story of Moses, God does turn the entire Nile into blood, later making it a plague, and perhaps this miracle was a foreshadowing of that event.

Moses now had his three miracle-weapons intended to destroy both his own doubts, and those of the children of Israel.  And with that, Moses’ latest objection (number 3) is refuted.  [You will remember, objection number one was, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh?”.  Objection two was “What if they ask me your name?”]   Has he had enough?  That remains to be seen.  But let us focus on you and I for a moment?  How many ways, and how many times does God need to refute our objections to something He wants us to do?  If we each stop long enough to ask ourselves that very question as we read this, then I think that we have gained much from the text.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What Is That In Your Hand? -- Exodus 4:1-5


Then Moses answered and said, “What if they will not believe me, or listen to what I say?  For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”  And the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  And he said, “A staff.”  Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.”  So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.  But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail” – so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand – “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Matthew Henry says this is the chapter that concludes God’s discourse with Moses by the burning bush, at the time of giving him his great assignment – to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  As we delve into the fourth chapter of Exodus, we are again confronted with Moses’ own lack of confidence in both himself and God’s plan.  He asks God, “What if the children of Israel you’re sending me to don’t believe me or don’t listen to me?”  Here come the seeds of doubt.  God is asking him to do something the successful results of which would require an intervention of the Almighty, but Moses can only perceive it from a human perspective.  And so, he doubts its likely success. 

Sometimes I wonder if we all do not have a little bit of Moses in us.  We sense God telling us to do something, but we immediately forget Who it is that is telling us, and we consider the possibility from our own human limitations.  And that often results in our not venturing forth for and with God.  We are, in that sense, as Charles Price once said, “prophesying Christians, but practicing atheists”.

Moses thinks he can meet God’s argument with a fairly strong one of his own.  He asks Him, “What if the people say ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’?”

I remember a situation in my own activities that required a type of deliverance from someone who was being uncooperative and destructive on a team we were supposed to be working together on.  After prayerful consideration and attempts to reach out to the individual personally, as well as a failed effort to meet with them and one or two others, the matter then had to go before the whole team.  But the Enemy continued to try and work his way into my mind, saying, “What if the team does not believe you?  What if they don’t agree?  What proof do you have that your way is the right way here?”  That is not too unlike what Moses was thinking as he contemplated the meeting between himself and the children of Israel first, and then Pharaoh.

It is interesting to note here that the proof Moses believed the people would be looking for was evidence that God had appeared to him.  They wanted to know that God was in this.  As leaders, when we come up with a plan or a project or a decision, people want to know that somehow we have assurances that this is God’s will or God’s plan or the decision God led us to.  Moses knew that just like those we feel we have to satisfy today, his people needed to have signs.  God knew it too and He agreed.

But we also need to point out as Matthew Henry and others do, that this request for a sign for the people was perhaps unnecessary for Moses to make as God had already told him in chapter 3, verse 18, that “They shall listen to your voice.”  But before we criticize Moses for insisting on a sign, however, we need to ask ourselves how we may have acted.  Would we have taken God at His word the first time He said something like that to us?

So God shows Moses what was available to him to overcome the objections anyone might raise.  “Take that walking stick, that shepherd’s crook, in your hand and throw it on the ground.”  Notice the ‘stick’ was already in Moses’ possession.  He just had to use it.  God had already given him the means by which to show His presence in his life.  But it was in following God’s words that the tool became powerful.  As Moses threw it on the ground in response to God’s instruction to him, the staff became a serpent, a living creature, an object of fear.  Imagine a dry, dead stick had become a living thing.  Even Moses fled from it.  Just like the Israelites would do when Moses did this before them.  It was not the sight of the snake that would scare Moses or the children of Israel, but the fact that God changed a piece of ‘dead’ wood into a living organism.  This God of ours could take something that has no life in it at all and give it breath.

Sometimes when we use the tools that God has given us – prayer, fasting, His word – God brings about outcomes that amaze and surprise, often to the point of frightening, even us.  So much so that sometimes we want to shrink or treble a bit behind the results we had asked for.  Thus it was with Moses.

And God had a solution for that as well.  “Moses,” He said, “Stretch out your hand and grab the snake, by its tail.”  Oh no, not the tail – that’s the most dangerous way to grab a snake.  Moses, who had been a shepherd for many years, knew that.  Yet here he demonstrates his faith by reaching out and grabbing the snake in just that manner.  As Moses did that, the serpent became his walking stick again.   Yet he himself was not harmed in any way.   Moses here learns a lesson that we all need to learn – we can complete what God tells us to accomplish or undertake, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to us.  For me, going into that meeting with the whole team to confront the conflict in our group, could not be imagined to be a comfortable experience, yet if it were of God, as Charles Stanley says, “that trial does not make one a victim, it does not stop one from being a child of the King”.  Difficult? Yes.  Uncomfortable?  Yes.  Impossible?  No.
 
And then God said, “That’s how they’ll believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”  They want signs and miracles?  They’ll get them.  And God again used His all-time most common name, “the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has ”.  His name has not changed.

Let us also not lose sight of the fact that these miracles, as it was with the miracles in the New Testament, were done for a purpose – “that they may believe”.  If you and I are to expect miracles in our life, they need to be for that purpose and that purpose alone – that others may believe in the Lord.

Moses’ current objection is overcome, but will that be sufficient?  We would do well to ask ourselves the same question.  When God answers our first hesitation in such a powerful way, do we accept His direction, or do we put up more objections?



[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

God Continues to Share His Plan for the Exodus -- Exodus 3:19-22

But I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion.  So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.  I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed.  But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.”
Even though God instructs Moses in what to tell the Egyptian King, He also tells him the supreme ruler of the land will not let them go unless he is coerced into doing so.  As a result of the Pharaoh’s reluctance to let the Children of Israel go, God tells Moses He will foray the land of Egypt with “all the signs of wonder I chose to exhibit to them and then they’ll let you go.”

We are not to think that by saying, “all My miracles” God had no other miracles available to Him.  While He did not say at this time how many such ‘miracles’ He would inflict on Egypt, He did assure Moses that when He was through, Pharaoh would let his people go.  But wait, there’s more.  There’s also a bonus payment from their Egyptian masters upon separation.  God says that while the Egyptians may have feared the Israelites due to their numbers and thus responded with an imposition of strong control over them, He would now see to it that they found ‘favor’ in their sight and when it was going to be time for them to leave Egypt, the Israelites would be taking lots of gifts with them.

I note, and as we shall see later, that this ‘favor’ is not exactly esteem or support or kindness, but more a “Sure, sure, take what you need and get out of here; just go!” type of ‘favor’.  God told Moses that the Israelite women were to ask of their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and gold, and of fine clothes, with which to adorn and dress their own sons and daughters.  God Himself refers to the ‘favor’ He will grant to the Israelites from the Egyptians as a means of “plundering” the nation that kept them in captivity for so long.
How are we to interpret this?  Was God teaching them how to rip off the Egyptians?  I don’t think so.  Commentator Chuck Smith says, in his C2000 Series, on this verse, “But in reality what they were taking was really the wages that were due to them through the several years of slavery, and servitude in which they were not paid. And so it was just really collecting back wages for all of the years that they had been slaves to the Egyptians.”  My own take on this is that God sometimes brings legitimate circumstances about – in this case, the asking for jewelry and clothes – as a means to bring justice to acts of injustice.

I believe the lesson here for us today is that when God hears our cry for deliverance from something or someone that has enslaved us, we better be willing to let Him do it in His way and time.  And we need to be willing to do our part.

As I study this section of Scripture today I am aware of the ‘enslavement’ that many of us find ourselves in.  I read recently of one man that has hired a person to “slap his face” every time he goes on the social media called Facebook.  He was desperately trying to free himself of his enslavement to its addiction.  Others of us may have more serious enslavements.
Enslavement also occurs at a family, group, local church, or even national level.  I believe America is enslaved today from many sources – both internally and externally and many believers are crying to God for deliverance.  I am not as convinced that these same people are willing though to be delivered in the way and time that God wants to deliver them.   I believe many Christians that make up the Body of Christ are collectively enslaved by the manipulation of our spiritual enemy, the Devil.

But here’s the good news.  The same God that told Moses how He was going to deliver the Israelites and later did can deliver us from all our enslavement.  He has told us how in His Love Letter to us, the Bible.  And the bonus the Egyptians got is nothing in comparison to what is in store for all of God’s true children.  I pray it will be so for us all.
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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

“Here’s What To Tell the Israelites” -- Exodus 3:16-18


Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.  So I said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ They will pay heed to what you say; and you with the elders of Israel will come to the king of Egypt and you will say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’”

In the beginning of this section of Scripture, God repeats both what Moses is to tell the Israelites about Who He is and also his concern about them and their afflictions under the Egyptians.  And God says Moses is to tell them “God has decided to bring them out of Egypt and lead them to Canaan, the land of milk and honey.”

Now notice God’s word to Moses.  God says to him, “They will pay attention to what you say to them and their elders will join you when you go before the king of Egypt.”  Not only is God going to be with Moses, but also He will see to it that others will join him in his task for God.  Have you ever noticed that God seldom wants us to work alone?  He provides for us the helpmates that we need – be it our spouse, family members, board members of our church or mission, supporters of the cause, and prayer-partners.

God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh “God has met with us and we want to be allowed to go three days’ journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to our God.”  This instruction presents me with an ethical dilemma.  Was God telling Moses to lie to the Pharaoh, to be deceitful?  Or, do I simply not understand the text?

As I studied this, I learned that perhaps I did not fully understand the mind and character of a loving God.  Let me explain.  Wayne Jackson, in an article entitled “Did God ask Moses to be deceitful?” on his website, “Christian Courier” suggests that of course
God knew that Pharaoh ultimately would refuse the Israelites permission to go into the wilderness to worship, and eventually stubbornly resist their leaving Egypt.

Jackson continues,
“But one must bear in mind that knowing is not the equivalent of coercing. Second, Jehovah allows man the freedom of choice — to obey or to disobey (Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:15-16; John 5:39) — even though he knows what course the person will pursue. God’s love for humanity provides options of obedience — even in the face of resolute disobedience.
“It is entirely consistent with the love of God, therefore, to offer an incremental test of obedience, in preparation for more difficult challenges in the future. If Pharaoh had obeyed the Lord in such a small request (a three-day excursion to worship), he might have “softened” his heart, instead of hardening it, and thus been spared the heartache that followed — including the death of his son and the destruction of his army. Thus, as Old Testament scholar Walter Kaiser, Jr. observed, “Here we can see God’s tender love and concern for Pharaoh” (Kaiser, et al., Hard Sayings of the Bible, Downers Grove, IL, 1996, 138).
“But the king of Egypt [as we shall see later] stiffened his neck and declared that the people of Israel would not be released from their labor (of making bricks) — not even for only three days; instead, their burden would be increased. They would be required to gather their own straw in the making of bricks, with the production quantity not diminished (Exodus 5:1-9) . . .. It is hardly necessary, therefore; indeed it is entirely foolish, to accuse the “God of truth” (Psalm 31:5) with deception.”

The Question & Answer page of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church website adds this insight on this question:
“God came to Pharaoh by the mouth of Moses, leader of the Israelites, Pharaoh's Hebrew slaves. The Hebrew slaves were led by God, via Moses, to ask permission of their ruler to go three days journey and worship Jehovah-God. God directed the asking of a modest request. The Israelite request in the Name of their God also let Pharaoh know that their worship was different than the worship of Egyptians and other pagans. The Israelites were not allowed to act in a manner that encouraged anarchy, such as by just secretly marching off. Nor were they allowed to worship as fallen man willed. They had to go to meet with God at the appointed place and worship as God prescribed.
“Pharaoh refused all the requests and resisted all claims of God upon the Hebrew slaves. Was Pharaoh right? No! Was he innocent and being a just and wise ruler? No!
“It is a mistake to suppose God intended to deceive Pharaoh. God forbids the practice of deception and deceit. It ought rather to be seen that God entered into the desperate case of the Israelites. God did not enter into an earthly controversy over traditions, but into a religious issue with Pharaoh. God tells Moses to call Jehovah the God of the Hebrews, in Pharaoh's presence, because His grace and the true, restored knowledge of God as Creator, Provider, Judge, Savior, and Covenant-Keeping Author of the Covenant of Grace are peculiar to the Hebrews. All the rights of kings must give way before the religious rights of their subject people to worship God according to God's prescriptions.
“Pharaoh denied any need on his part to limit his rule when God has summoned His people to worship . . .. Jehovah sent Moses with a message that challenged Pharaoh's will in an orderly, non-anarchical manner.
“Pharaoh, step by step, hardened his heart and dealt deceitfully with Moses, Israel, and God until God used Pharaoh's greed to drown him and all his army between the walls of the Red Sea. God shed no saving grace upon Pharaoh, but rather hardened his heart. It was never an issue of 3 days versus an Exodus. From beginning to end it was an issue of whose will would be done—Pharaoh's or Jehovah's.
“Below is a quotation from the esteemed John Calvin (Harmony of the Law in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Leviticus, Vol 1, pp. 78-79) on Exodus 3:18, which also may be helpful:
““The sum of the message is, that they should seek permission from Pharaoh to go and sacrifice; but lest they might be thought to do so from mere unfounded impulse, they are desired to premise that God had met with them and had given them the command . . . .
When Pharaoh refused the reasonable request of the Hebrews, God brought his people out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, but that does not make the request to Pharaoh "deceitful." Pharaoh bore responsibility for his refusal, and in the process God's determinate will was accomplished. God was not deceitful, but kept his promises to Israel.””

Thank goodness for men and women of God who have been given insight into some very difficult passages.  Once again, we can see why while Scripture may sometimes appear to be contradictory – as in God never lies and He never expects us to, yet it ‘seems’ like here He is – through prayer and further study, the answer to our confusion emerges.  The lesson for us here is to have kept our trust in God’s Word through the exercise.  My prayer is that it be so for us.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, October 08, 2012

God Provides More Instructions About His Name -- Exodus 3:15


And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

In answer to Moses’ question about what he should tell the children of Israel when they ask, “what is the name of the god who sent you?” God told him that he is simply to say, “I AM WHO I AM sent me.”  Now, in this verse, God seems to be sensing Moses may have not felt that was a sufficient answer to pass along, so He adds more about Who He is.

God seems to be saying, “Look, My name is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  That’s My name forever.  That’s how I want to be known throughout history.”

As we have indicated elsewhere, we believe that this would have had a made a great connection for Moses, and for many of the children of Israel that were living in Egypt at the time.  Through storytelling from generation to generation and perhaps from what they heard in their worship events, they would have been familiar with the lives of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

But God is saying in this verse that He wants this to be His “memorial-name to all generations.”  That means, He wants us living in the twenty-first century to also know Him by this name, “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob”.  So, what does that really mean for us?

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob collectively are both the actual ‘forefathers’ of the people of Israel as well as Israel’s ‘symbolic’ foundation.  And God is saying, “I want to be known by that name, forever.”  End of statement.  Because of Who God is, then it is safe to assume that He will also be that God “of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” forever.  And that means, to me at least, that Israel continues to be His people, His children, even though many of them may have turned their back to him as we read in Isaiah chapter 1, verses 1-4.  Many people have children who are not walking in harmony with their parents.  They have not disowned them.  They grieve them.  The leave the door of their lives open wide to welcome them back – but in the meantime, they are still their own children.

The New Covenant, made possible through Jesus Christ, opened up God’s arms wider to allow each of us Gentiles, to become part of His original family, through the acceptance of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.  God did not set up a “new family”.  He invited us to His one and only family.  We often forget this.  We think we’re we’re special and better.  We’re not.  His original children, those who have turned their back on Him, are still His.  They may, if they lived once Christ had made His sacrifice for us or are alive now, now come back into His arms, through the same means, just as we read in the story of the Prodigal Son.  What remains to be discovered by the Church today, is how God will deal with those of His original family that had turned their back on Him, had died before Christ’s sacrifice was made, or had died after Christ’s sacrifice without accepting it as their means of redemption.  The verdict, in my opinion, is out on that.

“Why?” you may ask.  The answer is simple.  Good, learned men and women, on both sides of the argument have interpreted the relevant passages differently.  There is no dishonor, and I believe much humility, in simply admitting, “We do not know”.  The alternative is to argue it out with no one moving on the issue.  In the meantime, let none of us throw Israel under the bus.  God does not throw His children under the bus.  Let us pray that they may “come home”.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

I Sat Next To Your Dad Today


I went to church with my wife today as usual.  It was Thanksgiving Sunday in Canada (a whole month and a week before our American friends celebrate it because Canada’s harvest periods are generally earlier than those in the United States).

As I have come to expect in the large evangelical church we attend, the worship music stirred my soul as we sang about our God.  Today it focused on His faithfulness.  The message focused on our thankfulness.  But that’s not what drove me to my laptop this time to pen these words I wanted to share with you.

You see, before the service began, we took our usual place next to a well-dressed elderly gentleman that has always said ‘hello’ to us and shook our hand.  Today was no exception.  Next to him was a lady, not related, with whom he started to share how, for whatever reason, his children who are not church attenders would not be able to spend any time with him as they were all busy with various activities – none of which related to the original reasons our Canadian Parliament and the American Congress set aside one day a year for those living in our great countries with our families, to give “thanks” to the Creator for all His blessings.

My heart broke and tears came to my eyes as I heard him say “They say they wish they could be with me, they wish they could make me happy but somehow there’s no time.”  And, “If they really wanted to make me happy, why not on a day like this or even Easter or Christmas, why not come to church with me?”  I could hear his voice break doing all he could to hold back his own tears.

My heart broke again and even more tears came to my eyes as I realized that while I was in church alone with my wife today, I knew all three of my children, their spouses, and my five grandchildren were in their respective churches in their own communities.  I knew that later in the day I would be having dinner with those that were within driving distance and a real warm phone call from those that were not.

I don’t know what your dad ended up doing today.  He had muttered that he had some kind of plans, and although they didn’t sound too sure to me, I left him with those.  But I know one thing; he would rather have been with you!  Oh well, Christmas is coming.


[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

DIETRICH BONHOEFFER writing in 1932 for a 2012 audience. . .

“But Christ, [in Matthew 24:6-14] who knows that his path leads to the cross, knows that the path of his disciples also does not lead peacefully and safely straight into heaven; rather, they too must pass through the darkness, through the cross. They too must struggle.

“That is why the first sign of the nearness of Christ – strangely enou

gh! – is that his enemies become great, that the powers of temptation, of apostasy, of unfaithfulness become strong, that his church-community is led close to the brink of doubting in God.

“The first sign will be that his enemies hide behind the name of Christ and only under the guise of Christianity seek to lure us away from him. Oh, the name “Christ” doesn’t do it. And how easy it is in times of confusion like today to fight in the name of Christ against the real Christ.

“But then, once the spirits are confused, the power of the world will break loose openly, unconcealed. The powers that want to tear the disciples away from him, that try to show them that it is madness to go with him, that Christ has no power, only words, but that they, the powers of reality, speak the language of facts; and this language is more convincing than the language of Christ.

“The world gangs up on the spirit of Christ. The demons rise up. It is a rebellion against Christ. And one great power of this uprising is called war! The others are called pestilence and famine.”

Friends, I ask you to consider what Bonhoeffer said in 1932 about those that would “hide behind the name of Christ” [the third paragraph above] and the quotes we have heard recently from the American president when he says, “I went to Trinity United Church for ah, 20 years” and “I pray to Jesus” and much more, and then we see how much he and his administration have done that is against what Jesus would have condoned or what Scripture would have us do and believe.

I ask you to prayerfully do all you can to draw this to the attention of your family and friends, for their sake, for the sake of their children and their grandchildren, and for the sake God’s true Church, the Body of Christ.

Sincerely, Ken Godevenos.

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[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

“I AM WHO I AM” says God but What Does It Mean? -- Exodus 3:13-14


Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’   Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”  And God said to Moses “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

You need to know that I was not looking forward to studying this particular segment of Scripture.  If the truth were known, as a young man (many decades ago) I felt that God’s reply to Moses’ question here unsatisfying.  At worst, I thought it was a bit out of character for God.  I know now I was mistaken, but more on that later.

Here we have Moses still so lucid during his conversation with God, he is able to continue asking questions and as some would say, posing objections.  His first objection you will remember was “Who am I to go?”  God took care of that one, patiently.   Now he as much as tells God the people won’t believe him when he goes to tell them God sent him.  What I find interesting here is the idea that either Moses was serious at this point or he was being a little tongue in cheek.  Did he really believe that the people would ask, “What is His name?” when he already refers to Him as “The God of your fathers”?  This is another one of those interesting questions that we will never really know the answer to.  But it is very probable that by now the Israelites had so integrated themselves with the Egyptian culture that they had started to adopt the Egyptian false gods as their own and over generations, people could easily have mistaken one of those gods for the “God of their fathers”.  So, they needed to check out which one Moses was talking about.

“God, I need a name for you or this won’t work,” says Moses.   He seems to have recognized, given the way his fellow Israelites were living at the time, the opposition he would face with this possibility of being led out of Egypt.  Perhaps this was partly due to their loss of hope over all these years and not just their belief that it was impossible to even think about it being a possibility.  In any event, Moses wanted to be well covered with the potential responses to their questions and objections.
And it is here we now have God’s great and awesome and simple response – “Tell them I AM WHO I AM and I sent you to them.”

Chuck Smith in his commentary on Exodus 1-5 (C2000 Series) makes this comment: “Now this really is to Moses. God is declaring to Moses that relationship, "I am", I am what? "I am whatever you're going to need." The name of God, a verb, "to be". "I am", because God always wants to be to you whatever your particular need might be. "I am your peace, I am your strength, I am your help, I am your guide, I am your righteousness, I am your salvation, I am your hope." Whatever you might be, God will become to you whatever is the need in your life. How beautiful that is. "The Becoming One is named Yahweh, The Becoming One", as God becomes to you whatever your need might be.”

David Guzik, in his own study guide on this chapter, says that w
hen God revealed Himself to man in the days of the patriarchs it was often associated with a newly revealed name or title for God, and gives us several examples from stories in Genesis.  And here he suggests, therefore, a different reason as to why Moses would ask this question regarding God’s name. “It is logical to think they would ask, ‘what name did He reveal Himself to you under? What new revelation from God do you have?’"

Yet here if “I AM WHO I AM” is clearly a reference to the name YHWH, then God is not providing Himself with a new name to be revealed at this time.  The existing name of Yahweh appears more than 160 times in Genesis alone.  Although not mentioned in our Scriptures, Judaic Rabbinical documents indicate that Moses’ mother’s name was Jochabed meaning, Yahweh is my glory.  Guzik goes on to quote Cole (another commentator) in saying, “Moses and Israel knew the name Yahweh. God did not give Moses a ‘new and improved’ name of God, but the name they had known before. God called them back to the faith of the patriarchs, not to something new.’”


Is it possible that God says His name is I AM because God simply ‘is’, asks Guzik.  “There was never a time when He did not exist, or a time when He will cease to exist.”  Guzik, in his writings, goes on to give us some more insight into the possible meanings of the name “I AM” saying it “has within it the idea of aseity - that God is completely independent; that He relies on nothing for life or existence. (He) doesn't need anybody or anything - life is in Himself.”   And, “Also inherent in the idea behind the name I Am is the sense that God is ‘the becoming one’ God becomes whatever is lacking in our time of need. The name I Am invites us to fill in the blank to meet our need” and then shares how through His Son, Jesus Christ, meets whatever that need may be – “when we are in darkness, Jesus says I am the light; when we are hungry, He says I am the bread of life, when we are defenseless, He says I am the Good Shepherd.  God is the becoming one, becoming what we need.”   But that is not to imply that we can make God what we want Him to be for us at any given time.  No, God becomes what He feels He needs to be for our best interest.  And so it is, that Jesus Himself often took upon Himself that divine title of “I AM” and as Guzik says, “identifying Himself with the voice from the burning bush.”  You can check the references for that in John 8:24, 28, and 58; John 13:19; and John 18:4-6.

Have you met the great “I AM WHO I AM”?  He has come to us.  He has ‘become’ for us what we need.  Through His son, Jesus Christ, He is now with us.  We, therefore, can go and do His bidding.

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.
 

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.