As I continue reading through the Bible this year using the F260 Plan these verses in Exodus 24 grabbed my attention. I can’t remember noticing them before though I am sure that I have read them many times.
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
As I think back on some of my most memorable meals there are several that come to mind:
At the Chart House in New Orleans at Jackson Square with my girlfriend Linda Tucker. It was the night I told her that I loved her. August 1979.
At The Three Musketeers Restaurant in Bratislava, Slovakia. Perhaps the best steak I have ever had. With my friends the Holloways who were missionaries there.
At the end of a mission trip to Botswana, Africa. Our team had a wild game meal where we got to try some critters that I had never eaten before… or since.
At an ancient castle in Tuscany Italy with my bride of 33 years when we were on Sabbatical 2 years ago.
But I don’t think that any of these would compare with the meal that Moses and his 73 friends experienced at Mount Sinai. This would have been a meal that they would be talking about for.e.ver. I know I would. They saw God! And they lived to tell about it. As I use my sanctified imagination to picture what this might have looked like this is what comes to mind…
Men filled with AWE as they beheld the God of Israel
Men filled with fear as they beheld the God of Israel
Laughter and delight as they talk about how blessed they are to be included in this gathering
Conversations that go something like this, “My wife will never believe me when I tell her about what happened.”
Copious amounts of food and drink that is beyond delicious
A commitment to do whatever the God of Israel says to do and a pledge to trust the leadership of Moses from this point forward.
I think that sometimes God gives us incredible memories so that we can…REMEMBER. Life is often hard and exhausting. But it is the memories of the blessed times that often fuel the hope within me for better days. Take some time today perhaps to remember. Maybe even like I just did to remember some of the great meals you have experienced. I’d love to hear about your favorites.
“The things we try to avoid and fight against—tribulation, suffering, and persecution—are the very things that produce abundant joy in us. “We are more than conquerors through Him” “in all these things”; not in spite of them, but in the midst of them. A saint doesn’t know the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it. Paul said, “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4).”
I have to admit that one of the things I get frustrated by is people making ridiculously stupid decisions. And I am doubly frustrated when these stupid decisions directly impact me – such as costing me time or money or well-being. If I had been living in Egypt back in the time of Exodus 8, I would have been VERY frustrated, yay even angry with the leader of my country. In verses 1-15 he makes four bonehead decisions that in my humble yet accurate opinion were nothing short of stupid.
Verses 1-6 – Pharaoh had already seen the devastating effect that the first plague (water turned to blood) had on his country but he seemed willing to roll the dice again with the threat of an ubiquitous frog infestation if he did not let the people of God go. The price he paid was frogs everywhere. Now I am not a frog hater but I would not have been happy to find a family of frogs in my bed and in my cupboard and in my drinking water that I worked so hard to get since I could no longer get it from the Nile. From where I sit, Pharaoh is a stupid man and a stupid leader. But he gets stupider!
Verse 7 – Pharaoh decides to show Moses and Aaron that they aren’t such hot stuff so he calls his magicians in to prove a point. So if I am Pharaoh I would have my magicians use their magic to GET RID of all the frogs. But to demonstrate to everyone that he is a stupid man and a stupid leader he has his magicians produce even more frogs. As a loyal Egyptian I would at this point seriously consider switching teams because all those folks up in the land of Goshen were living the frog free good life. But wait, Pharaoh gets even stupider.
Verse 8-11 – Pharaoh decides that he is finally sick of stepping on frogs so he calls the brothers in for a conference to let them know that he is finally willing to negotiate. Moses says OK, sounds good, just let us know when you want the frog supply to be cut off and it shall be done. Now again, if I am in Pharaoh’s sandals, I am sick of frogs and I would tell Moses that there is no time like the present time to send all those froggies back where they came from. But nooooooooo! Pharaoh says, “Let’s wait until TOMORROW.” I can picture the servants in Pharaoh’s court looking at one another at this point, rolling their eyes and thinking, “This is a stupid man. What’s wrong with TODAY!”
Verses 12-15 – So when tomorrow rolls around, the Lord fulfills His part of the bargain and all the frogs drop dead. Now there are mounds and mounds of frogs everywhere and they stinketh. A clear reminder of a stupid decision that had disastrous results that effected millions of people. So what does Pharaoh do? He makes yet another stupid decision. He reneges on his promise to let the Hebrew people go. Result: Gnats. Flies. Dead livestock. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. Death of the firstborn. Some people just never learn. Or as Forrest Gump says, “Stupid is as stupid does.”
It’s easy for me to sit where I sit and poke fun at Pharaoh’s stupidity. Until I think about how I can be just as stupid.
I too make bad decisions and in my pride am unwilling to admit that I am wrong.
I too think more about my own little kingdom than the people around me that are effected by my bad decisions.
I too put off until tomorrow things that I know I should be doing today. And then tomorrow never comes.
I too make promises that I do not keep and then pay the price for it.
So hopefully my pondering on this passage will teach me a thing or two. I don’t want my legacy to be “He was a stupid man.” Unfortunately for Pharaoh that is a legacy that is recorded in the best selling book of all time.
The problem with Prosperity Theology is not that it promises too much, but that it aims for so little. What God promises us in Christ is far above anything that can be measured in earthly wealth – and believers are not promised earthly wealth nor the gift of health.
Defining Moments. We all have them. Some of my defining moments would include:
The divorce of my parents when I was 6 years old
An invitation from my best friend to attend his church youth group when I was a high school freshman
Hearing God speak loud and clear as a freshman at Tulane University
Hearing God speak loud and clear as a junior at Tulane University
Without going into details, each of these moments in time had serious repercussions on the rest of my life.
In Exodus 2-3, we read about three incredibly significant defining moments in the life of Moses.
His adoption by Pharaoh’s daughter – This would define the first 40 years of his life. he was raised in the court of Pharaoh. He had royal privileges. He was given educational opportunities. He developed leadership skills. God used this time in his life to prepare him for the future. My guess is that it was also a confusing time for him as he dually spent time with his birth mom and his adoptive mom, a Hebrew and an Egyptian.
The killing of an Egyptian – This incident would define the middle 40 years of his life. As a result of this murder Moses was forced to flee the royal court and take refuge in Midian. Here he got married, had children, was mentored by his father-in-law Jethro, and learned how to shepherd sheep. And he spent a lot of time by himself out in the wilderness with these sheep. All of which was preparing him for how God was planning to use him.
The burning bush – This crazy moment is one that I have no doubt Moses kept coming back to in the last 40 years of his life. Especially when he was exhausted spiritually, mentally, and physically; when the burden of leadership was almost too much to bear; when he was clueless concerning what God was doing; when his “sheep” rebelled and wanted to go back to Egypt; when he felt like a failure and wanted to give up; when he realized that he would never get to enter the Promised Land himself.
Moses had to keep going back to the burning bush to remind himself WHY he was doing WHAT he was doing. It is no different for us. We need to know why we are doing what we are doing. If we do not then life can become a dull drudgery rather than a dutiful delight. Start with WHY. It will help you persevere through the difficult “whats” of life.
“Deny that the Bible is, without any qualifications, the very Word of God, and you are left without any ultimate standard of measurement and without any supreme authority. Grant that the Bible is a Divine revelation and communication of God’s own mind and will to men, and you have a fixed starting point from which an advance can be made into the domain of truth.”
“Almost all doctrinal error is really truth perverted. Truth wrongly divided. Truth disproportionately held and taught.”
Joseph is one of the most well known characters in the Older Testament. As I re-read about his life this week I was reminded again that he was not your average Joe. Here are some of the life lessons that we can learn from Joseph’s life. I’m sure this is not an exhaustive list. And each lesson could legitimately be turned into a sermon. But for the purposes of this blog I will merely mention the ones that caught my attention.
Joseph learned a very difficult lesson about how “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18) when he boasted about his dreams to his brothers. (Genesis 37)
Joseph was a man of integrity, especially it seems when sexual temptation was involved. We can learn a lot about dealing with strong temptation from how he responded to Potiphar’s wife. (Genesis 39)
A corollary lesson is this: Prosperity and success will test your character infinitely more than hardship ever will.
Joseph seems never to have forgotten that God was with him (39:2-3, 21, 23). It was this that enabled him to deal with the hardships he encountered and to realize that in ALL circumstances God is in control. (see also Genesis 50:19-20)
A corollary to this one goes like this: Make sure that your faith is in God and NOT in other people and in whatever your circumstances in life happen to be. People and circumstances will ultimately disappoint. God will not.
Joseph’s life also teaches us this – pursue excellence no matter what job you find yourself doing. People are always watching!
Joseph’s life clearly teaches us that God’s timetable in definitely not our timetable. He languished in prison more than 2 years during the prime of his life (41:1) – probably wondering what exactly God was up to.
And a corollary to this one – Use the “languishing time”, the times when it seems like nothing is happening in your life, to prepare yourself for when God chooses to use you. Because you never quite know when God might surprise you with an opportunity.
Joseph also learned a lot about forgiveness and the power that true forgiveness brings to heal broken relationships.
Ponder these things and may the Lord continue to teach you lessons about life as you intentionally pursue Him.
So many professing Christians are so spiritually undisciplined that they seem to have little fruit and power in their lives. I’ve seen men and women who discipline themselves for the purpose of excelling in their profession discipline themselves very little “for the purpose of godliness.” I’ve seen Christians who are faithful to the church of God, who frequently demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for the things of God, and who dearly love the Word of God, trivialize their effectiveness for the Kingdom of God through lack of discipline. Spiritually they are a mile wide and an inch deep. There are no deep, time-worn channels of communing discipline between them and God. They have dabbled in everything but disciplined themselves in nothing.