Today's Bible Commentary

EXODUS Daily Bible Readings
  Commentary, Cross Reference Bible, and Bible Dictionary
Books on Exodus from Amazon.com
 

 

GENESIS | 1 Corinthians | EXODUS | 2 Corinthians | LEVITICUS

DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary
Jan 19-23: 1 Corinthians
Jan 24:Exodus 1-3* Slavery in Egypt, D Bass
Jan 25:Exodus 4-6 * Answering the LORD's Call, N Sween
Jan 26:Exodus 7-8 * Hard Hearts and Plagues, B Mendelsohn
Jan 27:Exodus 9-11 * Who Is The LORD?, N Sween
Jan 28:Exodus 12-13 * Passover, Chabad.org
Jan 29:Exodus 14-16 * Obedience School, N Sween
Jan 30:Exodus 17-19 * Organizing and Setting Boundaries, N Sween
Jan 31:Exodus 20-22 * Commandments, D McCune
Feb 1:Exodus 23-25 * Book of the Covenant, N Sween
Feb 2:Exodus 26-27 * Blueprints for Moveable Worship, N Sween
Feb 3:Exodus 28-29* The Priests, N Sween
Feb 4:Exodus 30-31 * Concluding His Testimony, N Sween
Feb 5:Exodus 32-34 * That We May Know The LORD, N Sween
Feb 6:Exodus 35-36 * Weekly Rest and Tabernacle Work, N Sween
Feb 7:Exodus 37-38 * Tabernacle Details, N Sween
Feb 8:Exodus 39-40 * Holiness To The LORD, N Sween
Feb 9-11: 2 Corinthians

Slavery in Egypt
Jan 24:
Exodus 1-3
Exodus Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
Exodus: 1st day quiz,
from Daily Bible Study
Thought to apply today: Oppression and disaster only SEEM to defeat God's method for salvation.
PROMISE: God said to Moses, "I AM Who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you." (3:14)
Special thanks to Douglas Bass of the Belief Seeking Understanding blog for today's commentary
Exodus 1:1. The roster of Israel's decendants who went down to Egypt is provided in Genesis 46.

1:8 Exodus 12:40 shows that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt, and Genesis 15:13 says that they would spend 400 years in slavery. Therefore, the king that didn't know about Joseph enslaved the Israelites 30 years after the Israelites arrived in Egypt. While it may not seem like a very long time, exactly how often do you think about the person who was Vice-President of the United States in January of 1974? Do you know who was Vice-President of the United States in January of 1974? (It's a trick question. Spiro Agnew resigned in October of 1973, and Nelson Rockefeller wasn't confirmed until December of 1974). But I never think about that, and I don't think many people do. So it's not particularly mysterious that the king wouldn't know about Joseph.

1:14 Many commentators consider the Israelites' experience in Egypt as a picture of the natural man, the slave to sin, sin that makes people do things that are wrong, and things that make them miserable
1:15 This would not be the last time a genocide campaign would be mounted against the Israelites. The same thing happened in the book of Esther many years later, only with greater scope.
1:17 There are many Christians throughout the world who engage in Christian activities (Bible study, fellowship in houses, evangelism, literature publication), which are illegal in their countries. Some people say this is in direct violation of the verses requiring submission to civil authority, others say like Peter to the Sanhedrin that they must obey God rather than men.
1:19 Not only did the midwives disobey a direct order from the king of Egypt, they told a lie to cover up their disobedience. Many commentators have talked about how fearing God doesn't mean being in terror of God, but rather having an awareness of God, that there are actions He loves, and actions He hates, and living life accordingly.
1:20-21 So not only did God not punish them for their disobedience and lying, He blessed them with families. Many today are concerned about overpopulation, but children were (and are) a blessing from the Lord.
1:22 This is just a change in tactics for the genocide campaign started in 1:15

2:1-2 Moses' parents are in the Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 for hiding the infant Moses from the king's cruel edict. They saw something different about this child, and acted on what they saw and believed. Faith is action based on recognition. Faith without works, without corresponding action, is dead. Here's another act that God commends, that was in direct violation of civil authority.
2:3-8 Many commentators have noted that Moses' mother nursed him, and was paid by Pharaoh's daughter at the same time. This must have been beyond the wildest expectations of Moses' mother. What did she say to baby Moses as she nursed him? No doubt she told him that he was a special child, and that God was going to use him is a great way.

2:11 Fast forward forty years. Moses is aware that he is a Hebrew. He sees the cruelty with which his people are being treated.
2:12 Just as Abraham and Sarah wanted to help God out by Abraham having a child with Hagar, Moses, full of himself, wants to help God out, but God had other ideas.
2:14 In Stephen's defense in the book of Acts, he emphasizes this verse. "Who made you ruler and judge over us?" Well, God did, but that was later. Sometimes we reject with extreme prejudice the very thing that God wants to use to deliver us from what ails us.
2:15-22 These few verses cover a period of forty years. Forty years of regret. Forty years of "Hmm, killing that Egyptian wasn't such a hot idea after all." Forty years of thinking that God's Plan A of deliverance for the Hebrews was completely fouled up. Forty years of being emptied of himself. Forty years of silent preparation.
2:23 The cries of all who are oppressed go up to God.
2:24 It's not like God had forgotten his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but he had already told Abraham that the Israelites had to be slaves for 400 years. It's not like He wasn't concerned for their sufferings before then.

3:1 Mount Horeb is also known as Mount Sinai.
3:2 Many commentators consider the term "the angel of the Lord" to refer to a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, because the angel of the Lord is in the bush, but God is speaking to Moses.
3:3 God wants to be a fire in you and me, a fire that burns in us, yet does not consume us. God wants people to look at us and say, "What is it about you that gives you such energy? How do you keep from burning out?"
3:4-6 It had been roughly 400 years since God had last spoken to Jacob
3:7-10 Given how long it's been since God spoke, it's natural that God goes out of His way to show that he cares. He says that He's seen the Israelites' suffering. He says that their cry has come before Him. He says He's concerned over their suffering. He says He's going to do something about it, and not just get them out of slavery, but into the land flowing with milk and honey
3:12 They did worship God on that mountain after they came out of Egypt.
3:14 A person could think about this for a very long time. God is self-existent. No one created Him. No one is setting the agenda for Him. When Jesus said "Before Abraham was, I am," His listeners remembered Exodus 3:14
3:15 God is more than a philosophical abstraction. He is working in human history with actual people, people who had their good points and their flaws.
3:16-22 God shows Moses what's going to happen between the time He is speaking to Moses, and the time the Israelites leave Egypt. God just doesn't give people something to do, and then leaves them. He gives people something to do, and a strategy, a battle plan, a timeline.

Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved, by Douglas Bass

Answering the LORD's Call
Jan 25:
Exodus 4-6
Exodus Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
We Too Were Slaves
TorahBytes
Thought to apply today: Obeying the LORD usually doesn't resolve life's troubles immediately
PROMISE: "Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.'" (6:1)
Over the years since leaving enemies in both his adoptive and extended natural families in Egypt, Moses has lost his self-confidence. In today's reading, the LORD continues speaking to Moses from the burning bush, answering his "what if"s and teaching him how to do certain signs to credential the LORD's message to the Israelites. Telling the Creator that he has a speech problem, Moses still sees physical problems as human flaws - not something created different for a purpose - and as yet doesn't see how the LORD's strength can work through man's weakness. When Moses begs the LORD to send someone else, we readers soon pick up on the strange (to us) phenomenon of the LORD doing so many things at one time there is no way they can be written chronologically. While talking to Moses, the LORD is also watching the situation in Egypt, working an unexpected solution to Moses's speech problem (no, not the healing you might expect), and calling Aaron the Levite (Moses's natural brother, and a good public speaker) to come out of Egypt to meet Moses. The LORD is adamant about using Moses back in Egypt.

Still in Midian, Moses gets permission from Jethro, his father-in-law, to leave for Egypt and take his family with him. On the way, Moses almost dies before he finally realizes that he hasn't circumcised his son. Now with Gershom in pain but the family in obedience, they go on until Moses and Aaron reunite in the desert as the LORD promised. Back in Egypt, Moses and Aaron speak before the Israelite elders who believe the signs and are extremely greatful to the LORD that he is concerned for their suffering. They figure that the LORD will now miraculously ease and end their suffering.

Instead, after Moses and Aaron appear before the new Pharaoh, the ruler is furious. He doesn't like the Hebrews (whom he calls the Israelites), and he certainly doesn't plan to obey their GOD. No way. So he changes the rules to make their slavery all work and no worship. He calls the Israelite foremen lazy, and demands more work. The foremen blame Moses and Aaron for misguiding them. Moses seeks the LORD. Why would obeying the LORD bring on even more trouble? When the LORD says He is concerned about his people being in misery, why doesn't it stop? When the LORD promises to rescue His people, why doesn't He rescue them right away?

Moses's accusations to the LORD don't anger Him the way Moses's begging the LORD back in Midian to send someone else did. Instead, the LORD reveals a little more about his plan and about Himself to Moses (and to us readers). Watch for Pharaoh to actually drive the people out of Egypt. Who says so?

"I AM the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant."
The LORD's word for Moses to give the people now is "I will".
"I will bring you out ... I will free you ... I will redeem you ... I will take you ... You will know that I am the LORD your God ... I will give it to you as a possession ..."
Ever focused on details from his point of view, Moses again questions the LORD why Pharaoh will ever listen to a stutterer. The story is interrupted briefly by this family genealogy:

Reuben
clans:

SONS
Hanoch
Pallu
Hezron
Carmi
Simeon
clans:

SONS
Jemuel
Jamin
Ohad
Jakin
Zohar
Shaul (of Canaanite mother)
Levi clans:
(Levi lived 137 years)
SONS: Gershon, Korhath, Merari
DAUGHTER: Jochebed
Gershon had two sons: Libni and Shimei

Kohath lived 133 years and had 4 sons: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
Amram married his aunt, Jochebed. They had two sons, Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.
Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab (of Judah) and sister of Nahshon. Elisheba and Aaron had four sons: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar. Eleazar married a daughter of Putiel and their son was Phinehas
Izhar's sons were Korah, Hepheg, and Zicri. KORAH's sons Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph formed the Korahite clans.

Uzziel's sons were Mishael, Elzaphan, Sithri
Merari had two sons: Mahli and Mushi
(6:28-30) So why would Pharaoh listen to Moses? Check back in tomorrow as the story continues ....

Hard Hearts and Plagues
Jan 26:
Exodus 7-8
Exodus Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
Experiencing God,
from TorahBytes
Thought to apply today: Hardening your heart against God has consequences.
PROMISE: "And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." (7:5)
Special thanks to Bob Mendelsohn of Jews for Jesus Australia
for this edited sermon on Exodus 7. (Read the unedited version of this sermon.)
The bottom line of all God's dealings with us as people is, may I quote, "then they shall know that I am Yahweh." This phrase is found here in Torah in both relating to the Jewish people and the Gentile nation who had enslaved us. It's found in Ezekiel 28 about the returning Israel and its future blessing, and it's found in Ezekiel's narrative 57 other times. More than any other prophet he wanted everyone to know that what happens and what would happen would be designed for one major purpose: for people to know that Yahweh is God. And no other. And this was downright evangelistic, in his day and in ours.

Knowing doesn't mean you know, you know? Information is often confused with knowledge. And knowledge confused with wisdom. And there's no way to keep up, is there?

In today's story, we see the central characters Moses and Aaron on the Hebrew side; Pharaoh on the Egyptian side. I sometimes feel that I'm watching ESPN or Fox Sports when I read this section. The sports commentators interview the parents of the stars on both sides. They tell us of their family background and what would make them good players.

Verse one tells us that the ministry of a prophet in God's perspective is one of mediation. "You will be as God... Aaron shall be your prophet" This means that Aaron will be more than a sidekick in a buddy movie; he will speak for the deity. He will mediate between Moses and Pharaoh. This was God's answer to Moses' excuse in chapter 4 of Moses' seeming inability to speak well.

We've spoken about the ordinariness of Moses before. He was not so great. Let me compare the celebrations I watched with Patty and Anne the other night. We went to the midnight show of the fireworks in North Sydney. Great views from McMahons Point. And for a moment the bridge was ablaze and the sky lit up. In fact for 20 minutes or so. And then the smoke drifted past and the ships again moved in the harbour. The crowds of 750,000 of my closest friends and I tried to catch the bus and the train back to our homes. It took about 90 minutes for me to make the usual 20 minute trip. What made the fireworks so spectacular included the making of an ordinary thing into an extraordinary thing. The bridge is ... well, a bridge, and as bridges go, it's pretty ordinary. A great feat, when it was built over 70 years ago, to be sure, but hey, it's a bridge of steel and concrete. Nothing to get 3/4 of a million people to come watch each night.

Maybe that's a subplot of this whole Exodus story. The unlikely hero Moses, the ordinary leader of the pack, takes the 3 million ordinary people out for a spin in the wilderness. Or at least, he is trying to convince Pharaoh that this should take place. Just a simple house party, that's all he wants. The whole point was not for the Jewish people to escape; the whole point for God was that all the world would know He was God. This is a huge point and one that we to this day, still miss. God is not content to get people off from prison or out of sickness or into good feelings, if that's their preference. He wants all people in all places to "Know that He is God" and that there is no other. Knowledge matters, not just to your school teacher or to Eddie McGuire. It's for you and me...and the object of our instruction is the Living God.

The point is our heart. Pharaoh hardened (literally "strengthened") his heart (verse 13) and as a result would not listen. The word speak (dabar is used 5 times in this text, Shema is used 4 times; tsiva (command) is used 4 as well) is not just a conversational devise by the author; it's a reminder of how this works. If you listen, you do. If you don't listen, you won't do. How simple is that? When Pharaoh hardened his heart, the result was 'he did not listen" (verse 13, verse 22)

OK, now the condition of your heart. It's not a permanent condition. What you have done in the past is changeable. You can harden it as Pharaoh did, or you can soften it. How, you ask? By admitting to the Lord you have hardened it, and asking Him to forgive you and to make your heart new in Him.

Ezekiel 36:26 uses the term "heart of flesh". This depicts what Moses in Exodus 7 and I'm trying to communicate. God wants you moldable and fleshy, not rocky and stone like. He wants you to yield to His purposes and to know Him personally. That's the message today. Next week we will speak about preparation from chapter 8, and maybe that will be one of your new year's resolutions. But let me hold back about that until next Shabbat.

What should you learn/hear today as a result of reading this text? Or what lessons do we learn from today's teaching?

  • 1. Hardening your heart against God has consequences
  • 2. Plagues are not God's original idea for the people of Egypt
  • 3. Mediation is a principle for a prophet and his main job
  • 4. The Egyptians should have been smart and copied the good things of Moses and Aaron and not the plagues!
  • 5. Jesus is God's ultimate answer and the one to whom we should be listening, with all our fleshy hearts.

    (Read the entire sermon on-line)

    Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved, by Robert Mendelsohn

  • Who is the LORD?
    Jan 27:
    Exodus 9-11
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    * "Prince of Egypt" movie review
    * 10 Plagues of Egypt, Graham Phillips
    Thought to apply today: The LORD's power includes His choosing exactly which rulers and people will live during particular events.
    PROMISE: "Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you - so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt." (11:9)
    From the comfort of wherever you and I choose to read our daily scripture readings, today we observe even more calamities -- ok, plagues -- happening to the leader and people of Egypt. Is the LORD getting your attention yet?

    In yesterday's reading we learned that the LORD said, "And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it." (7:5) Today, He says the plagues are happening "so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth." (9:14b) The LORD's control, believe it or not Pharaoh, extends beyond the Hebrews to Egypt. The LORD has raised this particular Pharaoh to power at this particular time during the lifetimes of these particular people, including Moses and Aaron, to show the LORD's power. People will be talking about the LORD of the Israelites all over the earth. Israelite parents will tell their children and grandchildren what they saw the LORD do for them in Egypt to be repeated generation after generation. And this is good.

    This Pharaoh and the judgements against him preview the vicious leader later Christians will call the "AntiChrist". Both times, some officials believed and will believe the LORD to follow His instructions and be saved. Some won't believe and obey, to their loss. The point is convincing - the earth is the LORD's whether you fear the LORD GOD or not. There is a participation between a man working against the LORD's will, not believing the LORD, and the LORD hardening that man's heart. Pharaoh's pride of power was so involved. Even with his country in ruins, he still demanded the upper hand in exactly who (the men) would be allowed to go worship the LORD. The LORD answered with the promised locusts. Pharaoh confessed. The LORD removed the locusts. Pharaoh didn't repent. The LORD directed Moses to act again and a deep, total darkness that could be felt covered Egypt for three days (see Revelation 16:10) "Go," said Pharaoh, "but leave your flocks and herds behind." Not good enough. Worship required sacrifices and burnt offerings. "Don't come before me again, ever!" shouted the Pharaoh. Right you are, but first know for sure that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Every first born son in Egypt will die tonight, and your officials will come begging Israel to leave Egypt. Totally angry, Moses left Pharaoh.

    The LORD now set in motion His exodus plan. Moses told the people to ask for and gather gold and silver items from their Egyptian neighbors. (The Egyptian people basically disagreed with their Pharaoh and approved of Moses and the Israelites.) The LORD told Moses, "Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you - so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt."

    Passover
    Jan 28:
    Exodus 12-13
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    * A Jewish Believer's Passover, M Glaser
    * Little Pesach on the Prairie
    Thought to apply today: The LORD kept vigil over Israel in Egypt on the first Passover night, so each year all Israelites are to keep vigil on Passover night to honor the LORD for all generations.
    PROMISE: "I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD." (12:12b)       (Which gods of Egypt?)
    * The Passover Lamb: AbideInChrist.com and BibleWheel/com for the Sedar: Passover Meal in the Christian home
    Special thanks to Bob Mendelsohn for the following part of "Passover: The Season of Our Redemption"
    "God's power is unstoppable! He led the Jewish people out of Egypt "with an outstretched arm and a mighty hand." There were supernatural events attending the Exodus: the plagues, the instantaneous slaying of the firstborn, the opening of the sea, the pillar of cloud and fire that led the Jewish people. There were miraculous provisions like water coming from a rock touched by Moses' rod. All these things happened because God intended to communicate his awesome presence."

    "That same God is with us today. The One who parted the Red Sea is ready to be involved in our daily lives to the extent that we give him a place there. We recite the Passover liturgy over the matzo, "Lo, this is the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Then we were slaves, now we are free." And in so doing, we attest to our integral link with all Jews who came before us. We are to see ourselves as having been in bondage in Egypt, and in the same way we are to see ourselves as having been redeemed from that bondage by an all-powerful Redeemer." (To the complete article)

    Special thanks to Chabad.org at www.chabad.org for the following article, currently posted as The Parshah in a Nutshell
    The last three of the Ten Plagues are visited on Egypt: a swarm of locusts devours all the crops and greenery; a thick, palpable darkness envelops the land; and all the firstborn of Egypt are killed at the stroke of midnight of the 15th of the month of Nissan.

    G-d commands the first mitzvah to be given to the people of Israel: to establish a calendar based on the monthly rebirth of the moon. The Israelites are also instructed to bring a "Passover offering" to G-d: a lamb or kid is to be slaughtered and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of every Israelite home, so that G-d should pass over these homes when He comes to kill the Egyptian firstborn. The roasted meat of the offering is to be eaten that night together with matzah (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs.

    The death of the firstborn finally breaks Pharaoh's resistance and he literally drives the Children of Israel from his land. So hastily do they depart, there is no time for their dough to rise, and the only provisions they take along are unleavened. Before they go, they ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver and garments, draining Egypt of its wealth.

    The Children of Israel are commanded to consecrate all firstborn and to observe the anniversary of the Exodus each year by removing all leaven from their possession for seven days, eating matzah, and telling the story of their redemption to their children. They are also commanded to wear tefillin on the arm and head as a reminder of the Exodus and their resultant commitment to G-d.
    -----
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    Obedience School
    Jan 29:
    Exodus 14-16
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Red Sea explanations:
    * Naum Volzinger * Graham Phillips
    Thought to apply today: I will sing to the LORD for He has triumphed gloriously.
    The LORD, my God, my strength, my song, has now become my victory!
    from the song of Moses
    PROMISE: "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD who heals you." (15:26)
    PROMISE: In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling." (15:13-14)
    The LORD has told Moses His goals - to gain glory and to be known as God the LORD. How will He accomplish this with people of freewill whose obedience has been shaped by Egyptian slave masters? How will He teach them to obey and follow His leadership?

    Since childhood, we have heard stories about what happened to the Israelites and Egyptians while the LORD used his glory to change the balance of power. WE know what's coming next, but at the time the Israelites and Egyptians mostly were going by appearance. The Israelites suddenly see the Egyptian army coming toward them in the distance. On orders from the LORD, the Israelites retreat to appear a bit confused. The Egyptians see this, and realize all the labor they will lose if the Israelite slaves leave Egypt. The Egyptians figure losing their firstborn sons and animals is the worst that can happen, and move to take advantage of the apparent confusion. The Israelites weigh the finest warriors of Egypt against their own strength, and are terrified. The Israelites have little personal experience with their leader, the LORD, who they see as a pillar of fire and cloud. They CAN see Moses but his leadership training has heavy doses of apparent failure - like his inability to change the mind of an implacable Pharaoh. The Israelites are at the mercy of the LORD who only speaks through Moses, then Aaron. Through the LORD, Moses does things that can't be duplicated. Moses participates with the LORD, doing whatever He says to do. The people aren't that confident the LORD will continue to direct Moses or that Moses is right to have led them out of Egypt. Weighing the known homeland with the unknown promised land terrifies them, too. The appearance of the situation heavily favors the Egyptians. Forget appearances. The LORD is victorious - Egypt is defeated as the Israelites move out of Egypt. Moses sings a new song that some of us still sing today.

    "I will sing unto the LORD for He has triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider thrown into the sea..."
    As Moses leads the people away from civilization and into the wilderness, both Israelites and Egyptians knew the God who is LORD.

    Are you watching? Are you listening? Check your understanding and expectations of learning how to follow the LORD. After such extraordinary experiences with Him, now it seems He doesn't know the people need water. But in fact, this shows the LORD teaching his people to come to Him with their needs. The LORD is central - the people are not. There are things the LORD needs and requires. He is unique, He is unfathomable, He is holy. This is not going to be a wish granting relationship. The people are not to stop when they realize their idea of the LORD is way too small to fit the truth of the LORD. Human parents teach their children to say "please" and "thank you". Now their LORD has more things to teach them, and like any teacher, there will be plenty of tests before the final exam. Will you follow instructions? Will you rely on grumbling and complaining, or on the LORD? How will you know and remember it was the LORD who brought you out of your slavery and bondage in Egypt? How will you see that grumbling against Moses and Aaron, your instructors, is actually grumbling against the LORD, your schoolmaster, and not them. How will you react to the LORD giving you quail for meat? Will you know that He is LORD? When you look at the unexpected answer for supplying your needs called "manna", do you see the glory of the LORD? What is this new idea of resting on the seventh day? The people hadn't even asked for a solution to that need.

    Organizing and Setting Boundaries
    Jan 30:
    Exodus 17-19
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Rashi Commentary, Exodus 18
    More on Exodus 13-34,
    from CoffeeSwirls
    Thought to apply today: The Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, assuming that if He
    were really with his people, He would supply all needs in advance and eliminate all irritations.
    PROMISE: "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (19:4-6)
    In the reading today, we follow the challenges of reorganizing the Israelite civic, military, judicial, legal, and law enforcement systems in the dessert. And the people learn for the first time how to prepare to hear the LORD speak to Moses. The Israelites expected Moses to treat them better than their Egyptian slave masters had, and they were not in the mood to camp at Rephidim with no water in sight. It was as though the only way they were sure that the LORD was with Moses - and with them - was if all their needs were met. With no water, they grumbled and quarreled with Moses, who went to the LORD for instructions. He was told to strike the rock at Horeb in front of some of the elders. He did, and water flowed out of the rock. (See 1 Cor 10:1-4) Esau's descendants, the Amalekites, were also not in the mood to have the Israelites camp at Rephidim. This was the battle where Joshua's army was winning when Moses held up his hands, and losing when Moses' hands came down. Aaron and Hur helped Moses keep his hands up, and the Israelite army defeated the Amalekites, thanks to the LORD.

    Word had spread about all the LORD had done for the Israelites, so that Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, had heard. Sometime before, Moses had sent Zipporah, his wife, plus his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, back to Jethro. Now they all came out to reunite with Moses near the mountain of God. The two men discussed all the LORD had done, all the hardships, and how the LORD continued to save them. Jethro saw that the LORD of Israel is greater than any other power since He came against people treating Israel arrogantly. Recognizing this, together they sacrificed a burnt offering to the LORD. The next day Jethro pointed out a division of labor plan for other trustworthy and honest men to be trained as judges using the oral laws and decrees the LORD had already given Moses to help settle disputes among the people. Judges would be responsible for various numbers of people. The most difficult cases would be brought to Moses. The plan worked.

    In the third month after leaving Egypt, the Israelites camped in front of the mountain of God, Mount Sinai. The LORD gives Moses detailed instructions for His plan to let the people audibly hear him speaking to Moses, what to do to protect the people, and how the people are to prepare for this holy encounter.

    Commandments
    Jan 31:
    Exodus 20-22
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Ten Commandment sites:
    Shavuot and Law of Moses
    Thought to apply today: Worshipping God alone (not other spirits) and being totally consecrated to God, I set my heart, soul, and strength to seek and love Him, and to rely on Him for all my life.
    PROMISE: "Wherever I cause My Name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you." (20:24b)
    Special thanks to today's guest commentator, Doug McCune, of CoffeeSwirls.com
    Something big was happening, indeed. Day 3 begins with Ten Commandments. I could go on about any one of these Commandments given to us by God, but I don't want to overload your inbox too badly! Suffice it to say that most of these rules are put there not to restrict us, but to protect us. If you think that adultery commandment is just a spoiler, ask a man who has had no contact with his ex-wife and children for a few years. If the misuse of God's name doesn't seem like such a bad thing, remember the importance of names. Has anybody ever said a variation of your name in a mocking way? How did you feel? I bet God feels the same way, and He's one guy I want to keep happy! Also note that there is no heirarchy in the original Ten. God doesn't say, "These sins up here are the bad ones that separate you from me, but those down there are just ones to watch out for." All sins are imperfections and God will only accept perfection...or redemption.

    I honestly don't feel qualified to write at length about the continuing laws, other than to say that they are a window to God's thinking. Honoring one's parents is pretty high on God's list, so are murder and kidnapping. Much like the Commandments, these are rules meant to protect the Israelites from each other. They set boundaries and a system of reparations when bad things happen, both by accident and on purpose.

    Copyright © 2004, All Rights Reserved, by Douglas McCune

    Book of the Covenant
    Feb 1:
    Exodus 23-25
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Laws of the Torah
    Thought to apply today: I am neither to follow the crowd in doing wrong nor to let myself be snared by worshiping other people's gods.
    PROMISE: "Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water." (23:25a)
    Today's reading continues with the people still waiting at a distance from the mountain as Moses approaches the thick darkness where God was. The LORD gives Moses many laws along the lines of "If this happens, do this" and "Anyone who does this, here's the appropriate result." Mixed in with the laws was information about moving into the promised land: "See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared." (23:20) God will not drive out all the people there during the same year "because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you." (from 23:29-30)

    When Moses returns to the people, he has instructions for the next step - to bring Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Aaron's 2 elder sons), and 70 of the elders of Israel with him to go back up to the LORD on the mountain. The people are to stay behind. Of the 74 people going up, only Moses is to approach the LORD while the others worship. But first, Moses reports to the people all the LORD has told him, and when they agree to obey them, Moses writes everything down into the "Book of the Covenant." The next morning, Moses leads worship with a burnt offering to the LORD for the 12 tribes of Israel, sprinkles blood from the sacrificed young bulls onto the altar, and reads the covenant from the LORD to all the people, who again agree to do everything the LORD has said. Moses then sprinkles more of the blood on the people - the blood of the covenant. Then the 74 men move up closer to the LORD and live, eating and drinking.

    The LORD calls for Moses to come up higher, nearer Him. Moses charges the elders to stay and wait where they are, arranging for Aaron and Hur to be "on call" for anyone with disputes to resolve. Then Moses and his aid, Joshua, set out higher up the mountain. They wait on the cloud-covered mountain 6 days until the LORD calls for Moses. From the plain below, the glory of the LORD on the mountain looks like a consuming fire. Moses entered the cloud and no man saw him again for 40 days and 40 nights while Moses receives the plans for building a tabernacle sanctuary for the LORD with specifically designed furnishings.

    Blueprints for Moveable Worship
    Feb 2:
    Exodus 26-27
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    * Tabernacle of Moses * Tabernacle
    Homepage
    * Setting up the Tabernacle
    Thought to apply today: The Lord provided the tabernacle sanctuary as a separate place for Him to meet with His people doing things His way.
    PROMISE: "Then have them make a sanctuary for Me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you." (25:8-9)
    The moveable tabernacle was to be central to the LORD's presence among the Israelites, where - because of the Covenant - religious practices unique to Israel would be offered to God. Anticipating and insisting on every detail, God's instructions to Moses for building the tabernacle had to be followed exactly. Donald Stamps points out in his "Full Life Study Bible" that "salvation and communion with God are possible only on His terms and according to His pattern and revelation. (see Mt 5:17)" The LORD has told Moses which skilled craftsmen to assign to make curtains, loops, and clasps of specified materials from fine linen to the hides of sea cows, with acacia wood frames for the tabernacle tent. Silver and gold would abound, and the tabernacle would look just as the plan God showed Moses on the mountain. Under the atonement cover, the Ark of the Testimony would be placed behind the curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

    The altar was to be built of acacia wood overlaid with bronze - just as Moses had been shown on the mountain. Measurements were exact. No detail was overlooked right down to the bronze tent pegs. In front of the Testimony would be the Tent of Meeting, where Aaron and his sons would be responsible to keep the lamps burning, using clear pressed olive oil given by the people.

    For a more thorough description of the tabernacle, its furnishings, and references to it in the New Testament, see David Guzik's study guide on Exodus 26 and Exodus 27.

    The Priests
    Feb 3:
    Exodus 28-29
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    The Urim and Thummim: * an end-time discovery
    * Catholic Encyclopedia
    Thought to apply today: The goal of serving the Lord by obeying and worshiping Him is that He will meet and speak to us. He is the ultimate.
    PROMISE: "So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their GOD. They will know that I am the LORD their GOD, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their GOD." (29:44-46)
    Woven into this section on special priestly garments to be made for Moses' brother Aaron and his sons to wear, are descriptions of both the clothing and the priests. The garments are to be created and separated, holy, for service to God. They are to be glorious and beautiful, dignified and honorable, skillfully made by men in Israel to whom the LORD has already given the spirit of wisdom in such matters. The breastpiece is to be designed so that when the consecrated chief priest goes before the LORD to serve GOD, the names of the 12 tribes go with him, engraved and memorialized over his heart as well as the Urim and the Thummim, for making judgements and decisions. Gold bells will be sown around the hem, giving a monitoring sound as he enters and leaves the Holy Place before the LORD.

    Some of the parts of the clothing will be for bearing the iniquity of others, from the previous guilt of gifts the Israelites will bring to consecrate before the LORD, to the priests covering their own nakedness in the tabernacle and coming before the altar in the Holy Place.

    No matter how well-intentioned, the priests will not consecrate themselves. Moses is to hallow, to consecrate, these first priests using the exact details the LORD gives for preparation and for the actual ceremony. Besides all the priestly garments, they will need 8 bulls and 2 rams to sacrifice, plus flour and oil to make unleavened bread, cakes, and wafers. Aaron and his sons will lay their hands upon the head of the bull and the rams, making them substitutionary sacrifices dying for the people's sins. Moses will bring Aaron and his sons to the Tabernacle tent entrance, and wash them with water. Then Moses will dress Aaron in the special priestly garments, then dress his sons. They will follow the specific consecration (ordination) instructions on what to do with the blood, the fat, and the bodies of the sacrificed animals, including where to sacrifice them. The LORD specifies how to make burnt, fire, fellowship, wave, grain, and drink offerings. During the 7 days of ordination, certain sacrificed meat is holy and only for the new priests to eat. Each day a bull is to be sacrificed outside the camp as a sin offering. The LORD instructs how to make atonement for the altar, sacrificing one lamb in the morning and one at twilight, to make it holy.

    Actually, the tabernacle will be consecrated not by animal sacrifices nor by men obeying all these instructions but by the glory of the LORD. (29:43) What GOD does, works. His people participate with Him by obeying His instructions, but don't be confused about Who does the consecration.

    Concluding His Testimony
    Feb 4:
    Exodus 30-31
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Sabbath rest: * Jewish Encyclopedia
    * 7th Day Adventist * Robert Beecham
    Thought to apply today: We are not made holy by obedience, but by the LORD through obedience.
    PROMISE: "Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you..." (31:6b)
    Moses and his aid, Joshua, have been on the mountain a long time while the LORD gave Moses all these instructions to obey. The final instructions are:
    * Instructions for constructing the holy altar for burning incense
    * Atonement ransom to be paid whenever Moses takes a census of Israelites. Remember the LORD makes atonement for your life. Moses is to use this payment for the service of the Tabernacle. Payment prevents plague.
    * Make a bronze basin for priests to wash hands and feet with water, for their protection.
    * Formula for making a uniquely fragrant anointing oil for exclusive use of priests.
    * Formula for making a uniquely fragrant incense for exclusive use in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting.
    * The LORD says He has already filled Bezalel and Oholiab with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts and artistic design
    * The Sabbath is given for Israel to rest from all their work on the seventh day as the LORD himself did. After creating the heavens and the earth in six days, the LORD abstained from work on the seventh day. When the Israelites rest on the Sabbath, they are to remember - as a sign between the LORD and themselves - that He is the LORD who makes them holy, and He is the Creator Who worked, then rested.

    All this the LORD spoke to Moses and wrote by the finger of GOD on the two stone tablets of the Testimony. Then the LORD gave Moses the two tablets.

    That We May Know the LORD
    Feb 5:
    Exodus 32-34
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Summary of today's reading from Chabad.org:
    * The 120-Day Version of the Human Story
    More on today's reading from Chabad.org: * The Parshah in a Nutshell * Parshah In Depth By Yanki Tauber: * Good as Gold * What is Sin? By Rabbi Schneerson: * Tammuz 16: The Day Before and * Sin and Sanctity
    Thought to apply today: Lord, if you are pleased with me, teach me Your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with You. (33:13a)
    PROMISES: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (33:14) "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," He said, "you cannont see my face, for no one may see me and live." (Ex 33:19b-20)
    While Moses spends 40 days and 40 nights with the LORD on the mountain, below the people are camped down on the desert in limbo until his return. When some began doubting that Moses would ever return, they came to Aaron who had been left in charge with Hur to settle the people's disputes.

    How will I apply what I find in this scripture? There is so much to think through in today's reading.

    Why the people become corrupt (the LORD's description, Ex 32:7-8) and turn back to idol worship is more understandable to me than Aaron's weakness to agree to make the golden calf idol by the people's demand, and then to lie to Moses with a cover-up story. (Ex 32:24) Aaron was one who had seen the LORD for himself and knew better. (Ex 24:9) Had the LORD gifted Aaron with public speaking but not leadership? Did the people see the comparison of the patience of the LORD waiting 400 years for them to increase in Egypt with their impatience to wait 40 days and nights?

    What does it mean that at first Moses pleads with the LORD not to kill the rebelling people, but after Moses broke the God-written tablets in view of the people (how did he dare do that?), he orders the loyal Levites to execute them, killing 3000 idolators. Sure the Egyptians would view the news of the deaths of 3000 Israelites killed by the Levites differently from the LORD killing all the Israelites except Moses' descendants, but how were their enemies hearing about events in the camp? Were there spies among or around them?

    Moses returns up the mountain to seek and ask the LORD to punish him as a substitute for the people who sinned. They all were coming to understand atonement from animal sacrifice, but the LORD is adamant that He decides who He will and will not forgive for sin, and who He will and will not accept for atonement. The people are now released to go to the Promised Land - but the LORD will not go with them. At this news, the stiff-necked people repent and mourn their loss. Still down with the people, Moses meets with the LORD just outside the camp at the Tent of Meeting, asking Him, "If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people." (33:13)

    Joshua, son of Nun, and Moses' young aid not only stays the 40 days and nights on Mt. Sinai while the LORD spoke with Moses, but Joshua always stays in the Tent of Meeting outside the camp (where the LORD appears to talk with Moses) even when Moses is not there. (Ex 33:11) But when Moses returns to the LORD on the mountain top for the second set of stone tablets engraved with the commandments, Joshua stays behind.

    The LORD tells Moses about his Spirit (31:3) and his Presence (33:14) as part of Himself yet also separate. Moses asks to see the LORD's glory, and this time in the LORD's presence, Moses is changed forever. His face becomes so radiant that when he eventually returns to the people and reads them the covenant commands from the LORD, he scares them. To protect the people, he now habitually wears a veil over his face whenever he is with them. When he is with the LORD, he is unveiled. For an intimate look at the LORD, be sure to read Chapter 34 of Exodus.


    Why study Exodus? US presidential candidate in 2000, Joe Lieberman gave one answer for studying the scriptures: Deeds not Words. Dovi Scheiner gives another: To Be and Not To Be. Paul of Tarsus agrees.

    Weekly Rest and Tabernacle Work
    Feb 6:
    Exodus 35-36
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Cherubim: Catholic Encyclopedia
    Keruvim: The Intimate Estrangement
    "Why was the Golden Calf the gravest of sins and the most perfidious of betrayals, while the golden keruvim were the epitome of holiness?" See the article Tammuz 16: The Day Before, Chabad.org
    Thought to apply today: When the Lord has a project to complete, He prepares supplies and workers for it an advance. ( Before giving Moses plans for building the tabernacle, the LORD had already filled the man Bezalel with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts, and the ability to teach others.)
    PROMISE: "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (33:14)
    The Israelites had left Egypt carrying out an abundance of wealth in building and clothing materials, livestock, and precious stones and metals. Having squandered some of the gold of personal jewelry for the golden calf idol, now it is time to bring a voluntary offering of treasures and talent to the LORD for building the Tabernacle.

    As the LORD had commanded earlier (31:1-5), Moses appoints Hur's grandson, Bezaleel (son of Uri of Judah) to follow the LORD's instructions and train skilled laborers to build and equip the Tabernacle. Bezaleel is an intelligent man with the ability to teach and organize others through his wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and artistic workmanship. The LORD has given Bezaleel the detailed craftsman skills of knowing how to produce items from gold and silver and brass, to cut and set stones, to carve wood, to engrave, to embroider, to weave. Scripture says (35:31) that the Spirit of God had filled Bezalel with all his craftsman skills.

    To help Bezaleel, the LORD has appointed Aholiab, son of Ahisamach of Dan, who has the same skills. Moses calls for other skilled volunteers and turns the people's offerings for the Tabernacle over to Bezaleel and Aholiab. Morning after morning the people continue offering more and more supplies until the workers report to Moses that they have more than enough. So Moses orders the people to stop bringing offerings for the project. The craftsmen make each part of the Tabernacle exactly to the LORD's specifications. (For the specifications, see the Feb 2 post above, for Exodus 26-27.) The cherubim (36:35 and 37:7) are not idols.

    Tabernacle Details
    Feb 7:
    Exodus 37-38
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    Tabernacle HomePage
    Thought to apply today: The Lord commanded very close attention to detail, obedience,
    and skill as some of his people built the Tabernacle for worship in the wilderness.
    A Memory Verse: "Wherever I cause My Name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you." (20:24b)
    Bezaleel, helped closely by Aholiab, follows the LORD's instructions to create the ark of shittim wood overlaid inside and out with pure gold. He makes the corner rings and staves for carrying the ark. He makes the mercy seat. He makes the winged cherubim of gold, and places them on either end of and facing toward the mercy seat. Again with the exact measurements from the LORD, Bezaleel makes the table of shittim wood, and overlays it with gold. To the table he adds moulding, rings, and staves for carrying.

    Matthew Henry, the 17th century English pastor, writes: "It may be thought strange that Moses, when he had recorded so fully the instructions given him upon the mount for the making of all these things, should here record as particularly the making of them, when it might have sufficed only to have said, in a few words, that each of these things was made exactly according to the directions before recited. We are sure that Moses, when he wrote by divine inspiration, used no vain repetitions; there are no idle words in scripture. Why then are so many chapters taken up with this narrative, which we are tempted to think needless and tedious? But we must consider, 1. That Moses wrote primarily for the people of Israel, to whom it would be of great use to read and hear often of these divine and sacred treasures with which they were entrusted." (Read more of this commentary.)

    Continuing into Chapter 38, Pastor Henry begins: "Here is an account, I. Of the making of the brazen altar (v. 1-7), and the laver (v. 8). II. The preparing of the hangings for the enclosing of the court in which the tabernacle was to stand (v. 920). III. A summary of the gold, silver, and brass, that was contributed to, and used in, the preparing of the tabernacle (v. 21, etc.)." He also comments upon the women who donated their highly polished brass mirrors for the priests' laver. (Read the rest of this commentary.)

    Ithamar the son of Aaron keeps a careful accounting of the valueable material used in making all these items for the Tabernacle. Then the 603,550 men of Israel, 20 years and older, are counted and make their offerings to also be used for the Tabernacle.

    Holiness to the LORD
    Feb 8:
    Exodus 39-40
    Exodus Commentary
    Dictionary, and Books
    "Why was the Mishkan called 'the Tabernacle of Testimony' (Exod. 38. 23)? Because it testified to the fact that Israel gained forgiveness and was received again into God's favour..." from Exodus Rabba 51
    Thought to apply today: The Lord's instructions provided a way for the glory of His presence to physically come among His people in the wilderness.
    A Memory Verse: "In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out" (40:36)
    As Bezaleel and his craftsmen finish making the parts of the Tabernacle according to the LORD's instructions, they write on the gold crown, "Holiness to the LORD". (Ex 39:30) With the preparation complete, they take everything they made to Moses, who sees that everything is done according to God's command. What a blessing. The LORD tells Moses to set up the Tabernacle for the first time on the first day of the first month of the second year since leaving Egypt. When Moses finishes the work, a cloud covers the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD fills the tabernacle so that Moses can't enter it. Israel stays put until the cloud rises. Then all of Israel breaks camp and follows the cloud by day and the fire by night.

    I am intrigued by the phrase "holiness to the Lord", and want to understand this better. Spiritual Growth Ministries deals with holiness partially from the kind of clothing we wear. Calvary Chapel looks at the same phrase but in Zechariah 14, focusing on the Messiah's return. When Methodism came to America in 1784, there was a Holiness Movement. The Catholic Encyclopedia, the Latter Rain Page, the Jewish Encyclopedia, and Wikipedia define holiness. Robert Longman has written a study, "Holiness and the Spirit". There is even a pledge for pursuing holiness, by the American Decency Association.

    Reading through the Bible in a year:
    Tomorrow's reading (Feb 9) is 2 Corinthians 1-6:2

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