Category Archives: Exodus

Put things in the right order

Exodus 34:23-24

Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel.  I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God. NIV

I’ve had an atypical morning.  I had a very early appointment, and, somehow, I didn’t factor that in when I set my alarm last night.

So, out the door I dashed this morning … no make up, no cell phone, no COFFEE, and, most importantly no quiet time.

It’s been quite some time since I have started a day without first opening the Bible.  It has become a habit … one that has benefitted me tremendously.  Someone told me, I can’t remember who, that it says somewhere in the Bible that God calls us to spend time with him in the early morning.  By nature, I’m a morning person, so that really works for me.

But, here it is lunchtime, and I’ve just finally made time in my day to get into the Word.  And, I believe, the verse I found there would not have meant as much to me at 6 a.m. as it does now.

God is good.  So obvious, but so true.

This verse is part of the broader story of Moses receiving the ten commandments.  Last night, a dear friend was speaking about Moses, and she said, “He broke every single one of the Ten Commandments.”  Of course, I began an inventory in my head … thou shalt not … and then she delivered the punch line … “right there on the ground,” she said, miming throwing down the tablets, “he broke them all at once!”  I laughed.  I had never heard that joke before.

So, at this point, Moses has broken the tablets and he’s gone back to the mountain for round two.

God tells Moses that the people should celebrate the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering, and then He begins this verse, “All your men are to appear before the Master, the God of Israel, three times a year.  You won’t have to worry about your land when you appear before your God three times each year, for I will drive out the nations before you and give you plenty of land.  Nobody’s going to be hanging around plotting ways to get it from you.” MSG

You won’t have to worry about your land … that’s really powerful.

I think that God is saying to put Him in His rightful place, first among all things here, and then everything else, all our possessions, all our earthly obligations, will fall into place.

God wants our best.  He wants the first fruits of our labor, and, I believe, He wants the first minutes of my day.

If I will be faithful, He will provide for me.  I won’t have to worry about the rest of it.

That’s worth thinking about … I’ll do that as I finish up this topsy turvy day.

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Filed under Exodus, Old Testament, Worry

Exodus 15:2

The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.  NIV

Strength is the opposite of a weakness.  Worry is a weakness.  This morning, I looked up “strength” in my concordance, and I found this verse.

It is part of a song that the Israelites sang to the Lord after He had obliterated the Egyptians by closing the Red Sea in over the heads of the warriors.

I love this verse … not only do they recognize God as their strength, but also as the source of rejoicing.  I also love that “he has become my salvation.”  There’s that fresh recognition that they have been saved from a horrible fate by the Holy Father.  In my experience, that recognition is a combination of relief that the peril has been removed, and delighted astonishment that God would care enough to have removed it.  I’m not certain why those two feelings come together … as I think about it, the second likely stems from a lack of trust.

I also love the last part.  The Israelites had other Gods to choose from, but, they chose the God of Abraham.

The Message translates the first part of this verse as an exclamation, “God is my strength, God is my song, and yes! God is my salvation.” MSG

What a perfect thought to start the day.

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Filed under Exodus, Old Testament, Strength

Exodus 14:31

And when the Israelites saw the great power of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him … NIV

I admit that this verse does not say “fear not.”  But, it is included under both “fear” and “trust” in my concordance, and so it drew my attention, as these are two themes I am exploring during these 365 days of searching out reminders not to worry.

When I looked up this word “fear” in my Hebrew dictionary, I found that it means, “honor, respect and awe.”  The people saw the power of the Lord when He parted the Red Sea for them so that they could walk through on dry ground and then, when the Egyptians tried to follow them, He closed the sea back up and they all were drowned.  The people were, understandably, in awe.

When they saw the power of God, demonstrated on their behalf, they put their trust in Him.  This verb, “to put trust,” is translated, “to believe, trust, have confidence.”  It is interesting to me that they “put” their trust in God, which implies that they could have chosen to put it somewhere else.

That is a mistake that I often make.  My belief in God is at the center of my life.  But, my belief and my trust must be aligned if I am to stay in balance.  If I put my trust in Him, my centers of gravity line up and all is right with the world.  When I take my trust off of Him and put it somewhere else … in my own abilities, in other people, in things or money … everything gets out of kilter and unbalanced.

On a daily basis, I must make the choice to trust God, and to walk forward in the confidence of His love and His provision for my life.  “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5

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Filed under Exodus, Fear, Old Testament, Trust

Exodus 20:20

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid.  God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” NIV

This verse comes from the list of “fear nots” in my concordance.  It is interesting to me that even though the King James Version of the Bible uses the word “fear” twice in this sentence, it is two different Hebrew words.  The first word means “to frighten,” while the second is translated, “reverence.”  This is consistent with how The Message translates this verse, “Don’t be afraid, God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that yo won’t sin.” MSG

I’ve never thought much about tests from God.  But, I’ve recently begun working through The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.  In it, he posits that our life here on earth is three things: a test, a trust and a temporary assignment.  He goes on to say, “you will be tested by major changes, delayed promises, impossible problems, unanswered prayers, undeserved criticism and even senseless tragedies.”  When I read this a couple of days ago, it didn’t make me feel very good.  It was not consistent with my image of who God is, and it caused me to question Warren’s thinking a bit.

But, this morning, here is a verse that would seem to an example of Warren’s point … right here on my “fear not,” list.

I think that the rest of what Warren had to say about tests from God was pretty interesting.  He notes that tests in life are “a growth opportunity to deepen your character, to demonstrate love, or to depend on God.”

I’m thinking about all of that today … if tests are a part of life, and if God admonishes me not to worry, but to trust Him and to see His presence in all things, and to praise Him and to be reverent of Him, that’s a pretty good road map.  An excellent one, in fact.

As I continue to earnestly seek God’s will for my life, I am heartened by I Corinthians 10:13, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” MSG

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Filed under Exodus, Fear, Old Testament

Exodus 14:13-14

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” NIV

I love this story.  This is just before Moses parts the Red Sea with God’s help.  The Israelites are about to walk through on dry ground.  It is a miracle of epic proportions.

Because I know the whole story — I’ve read it countless times, and it was very popular in Sunday School when I was a little kid — it is very easy for me to become frustrated with the Israelites.  In the verses just before this one, they actually tell Moses that they would have been better off to have stayed in Egypt as slaves than to be out here in the desert where they are certain that they will die.

When I’ve read these verses in the past, I’ve had very little patience for their attitude of disbelief in the miracle that was about to occur.

But, here’s the thing.  They didn’t know the miracle was coming.

They became frustrated and worried and frightened over their view of their present circumstances.  They did not have God’s perspective, nor did they have mine, where I’m reading the story, but, I already know how things are going to turn out.

For the Israelites, their situation was unfolding moment by moment, and the only thing they had to compare their current circumstances with was their past.  The people had been slaves in Egypt for something like 400 years, I think.  They had no other viewpoint than one of bondage.   And, even though they were now free, they were ready to trade that freedom for the safety of the known bondage, instead of considering that a miraculous provision was about to be made for them.

I think that there is a lot here to learn.

On our own, we can only look back.  God is not bound by time or by physics or by any of the other things that I am bound here on earth.  God can do whatever He pleases to achieve His purposes.  God will fight the battles, I need only to be still, and to trust, and to know that He is God.

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Filed under Exodus, Old Testament