Tag: Exodus

Blasphemy & Death

To this point no punishment has yet been handed down for blasphemy despite it’s prohibition (Ex20:7;22:28. It would stand to reason, then, that it is likely to this point that no one HAS blasphemed the Lord.

Along comes this half-Egyptian/half-Hebrew fellow. Who does not simply blaspheme, but blasphemes AND curses! We’ll get to what those mean in a moment, but first it’s noteworthy that this man — whose father is never identified — gets into a fight with an Israelite man. We are never really told why this happens, but from the details we DO have, I think we can make some educated guesses.

Now we know that the man’s mother was from the tribe of Dan. And I suppose it’s likely that this man who chose to come with the Israelites wanted to settle with the tribe of Dan. But it’s also likely that the Danites were not open to this fellow’s inclusion. Remember that lineage came from the father. And this man’s lineage was not Israelite, but rather Egyptian. So it’s entirely possible that the man was not welcomed into the tribe of Dan as he had hoped. This probably was not a new development, but perhaps one that had not been resolved to this point and finally came to blows.

And during the fight, the fateful words spill out. Remember that words uttered in the heat of a moment are not lies, but concealed truths of the heart. And the truth was that this man blasphemed and cursed God.

The word blaspheme means to pierce, puncture, or strike through. And the word curse means to make light of or trifle with. This man had no respect or reverence for God and dissension in this nascent, previously lawless group now known as Israelites could not be tolerated. I know this seems barbaric by today’s standards, but the world was a different place four thousand years ago. Heck, the world was a different place TWO HUNDRED years ago. In 19th century England you could be hanged for stealing as little as a shekel (~$30 today)!

Today’s takeaway is this: the truth will find you out. Take heart in or heed of that as you will.

Feb 24 | Lev 23:1-25:23 | 055/365

Jesus’ Reflection

The Tabernacle is ready and so they go about setting it up. And it is amazing to me how all the furniture in the Tabernacle already points us to Jesus.

The Wash Basin was for the cleansing and sanctification of the priests, in the same way Jesus washed away our sins on the cross.

The Altar represented the judgement for sin, but Jesus took that judgement on Himself.

The Incense represented the priest’s intercession before God on behalf of the people. Jesus interceded in the most complete and final way.

The Showbread, of which there were 12 (representing the 12 tribes of Israel) was a reminder of God’s provision and care for his people. Jesus provided a way to escape death.

The Lampstand shone a light on the Showbread at all times. Jesus is the light of the world.

The Ark of the Covenant contains the 10 Commandments (representing God’s law and holiness), the Manna (representing God’s love and provision), and Aaron’s budding staff (representing God’s total power over life and death), and the Ark itself represents God’s covenant with the people. And we can see how this points to Jesus. He fulfilled God’s law because He was holy, He embodied love and provided a path to life everlasting, and conquered the grave in the process.

And the Mercy Seat atop the Ark represents God’s mercy. And truly there is nothing more merciful than sacrificing your life to save the life of another, especially an enemy — as we ALL are before we come to a knowledge of our sin.

When you read the Old Testament through the lens of Jesus, it is remarkable to see how everything God is doing points us to the future King. Be blessed today, friends.

Exodus 39:32-40:38; Numbers 9:15-23 | 045/365

Give ‘Til It Hurts

Exodus 38:8 says, “Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand from bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle.”

While this may not have blown your hair back in amazement, it’s still interesting to me that the women who served at the Tent of Meeting (we are not sure in what capacity) gave up their mirrors for the construction of the new Tabernacle. As servants who worked at the entrance to the Tabernacle, these women would have been seen by anyone or everyone and so their desire to be presentable was probably fairly high. I know mine would be. Yet, when God put out the call for “bronze” they offered up their mirrors. A sacrificial gift. It would have hurt to give these things up, yet they did so in service of the Lord.

Do we have anything that we would NOT be willing to give up? Are there any things in our life that — though we would never admit it — we value more highly than obedience to God? Would we be willing to hurt for God?

That’s between you and Him, and He already knows your heart.

Exodus 37:1-39:31 | 044/365

Black Sabbath

Exodus 35:2 (NET) says, “In six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there must be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of complete rest to the Lord. Anyone who does work on it will be put to death.”

Woah, coming in strong there!


Well, God is continually exhorting the Israelites not to make treaties and negotiate with other nations. Typically such treaties were sealed with marriages where a daughter from one side would marry a son on the other. This made a family bond. And families will be influenced by their members in both directions. This is just how it works.

And the Israelites seemed to be a special case. They did not even need any more outside influences. Moses was gone for 40 days and in that time they invented a new god to worship! Exceptional. So they have this Sabbath day, a weekly reminder of their covenant with God Almighty. And anyone who decides that they want to break covenant with God and the people of Israel is to be put to death. This — shocking as it might appear to us today — was for self-preservation. Israel had a difficult-enough time staying faithful to God with outside distractions and wandering minds, let alone if one of their own members was actively breaking the faith.

And while Sabbath adherence is not required under the New Covenant, it is still a good, valuable, and highly recommended practice. Work can become an idol. It can become our identity. That is a danger, and a real one, but simply having a day off will not protect our spiritual lives. Shopping, errands, kids sports and camps, birthday parties, and other commitments can eat up that day off to the point where we no longer “have time” for God. And our day of rest for the Lord become a day of service to ourselves.

Protect your time with God. As you press into the Lord, you will find clarity and direction in other areas of your life. And if you don’t, your heart will grow cold towards Him and ultimately you will turn away from Him and your path to the grave will be set. And in that way if we do not set aside time for the Lord, we will be put to death — ironically enough — by our own hand.

Exodus 35-36 | 043/365

Set Apart

The Israelites fall prey to their own impatience and the weak leadership of Aaron. The people couldn’t wait 40 days, they made a gold cow and worshipped it, Moses made them drink the cow, they got sick… suffice it to say it was a wild time.

Shortly after this series of events Moses would come before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting just outside the camp. There he would ask the Lord who was being sent with the Israelites on their journey. God says He will go with Moses. Moses rejects this proposal. Seriously. Just like Moses rejected the proposal to wipe out the Israelites entirely and become the new father of the nation of Israel himself. Moses was a leader who truly, genuinely cared about his people. Moses was a shepherd who fought for his sheep. Moses told God — basically — it is not enough that you go with me, you must go with us as a nation. If God will not lead the Israelites into the promised land, Moses would rather not go at all. God agrees to Moses proposal because he (Moses) has found favour with God.

A side note to pastors, elders, and other leaders… we should be interceding before God for our people with the fervour and resolve of Moses.

This leads to the sentence that most moved me this morning, as rendered in the NLT: “For Your presence among us sets Your people apart from all other people on the earth.”

This is still true today. Without the love and presence of the Lord in our lives, we look remarkably like everyone else. And more than that, we we claim to be children of the Lord, but there is no distinction between us and anyone else, that brings disrepute on the Lord. Here we are, claiming to be His special possession, but our lives bare no evidence of that?

Let’s press in to the Lord. Let’s seek his presence until we shine like Moses. Let us seek to be VISIBLY set apart from all the other people on the earth so that they can see the difference in us plainly and WANT to know the source of our joy.

Be blessed as you pursue the Lord today, brothers and sisters.

Feb 11 | Ex 32-34 | 042/365

Made For A Purpose

God has given Moses a long, heavily detailed description of the alter, ark, tabernacle, garments, incense, and other items (Did Moses have a notebook? iPhone? Palm Pilot?) that each require a significant amount of skill. And this is where the story gets interesting:

In Exodus 31 God tells Moses (not the other way around) that He has specially equipped a couple of guys for some of these specific tasks. Highly capable craftsmen. This would have been a skill they had possessed and developed all through their lives. But wait, it gets better! Exodus 31:6b says:

“Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make”

As a youth pastor I would often deal with students who were insecure and dealt with identity and confidence issues. “I’m not good enough” was such a common phrase that I wish I had been paid to hear it. But I became fond of telling these students — and I think it applies to all of us — that God has made you the way He needs you to be to accomplish His purposes. Let me say that again so you don’t let it go too quickly…

God has made you the way He needs you to be to accomplish His purposes.

Don’t measure yourself against a someone else who has an ability you wish you had. All that does is make you feel poorly about yourself. Rather, develop the gifts and skills that God HAS given you, so that when you get the call to use those skills you are ready to roll.

“[Because God has] given [you] special skill to [… do] all the things [He has] commanded you to [do].

Be blessed, walking in the confidence of a God who made you fearfully and wonderfully.

Exodus 29-31 | 041/365

Representative Value

God asks the Israelites to provide the finest materials they have to offer for the construction of the Tabernacle. Worth noting; this is the same fine material they got from the Egyptians when they left. So God is really just asking for some of the blessing He has bestowed on the people to be voluntarily returned to Him. Maybe one of the clearest pictures of the reality of tithing in the Scriptures.

Anyhow, the people do provide these materials and an elaborately ornate set-up/tear-down tabernacle is constructed. But I think what’s worth noting is the Priest’s chestplate. It is covered in stones, each of which represents a tribe of Israel. Those stones are: Ruby, Topaz, Garnet, Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, Jacinth, Agate, Amethyst, Beryl, Onyx and Jasper.

But what is interesting to me is the value of these stone. All told the priest was wearing approximately $772,828.25 CAD in gemstones over his heart.

Never forget that God sees you as incredibly valuable. He loves you deeply, and He always has. He loves better than we can. He loves deeper than we can. You are not alone. And that person you have been praying for? God loves them more than you do, too. Be blessed knowing that you are valued by God.

Feb 9 | Ex 25-28 | 040/365

Case Law & The Bible

Often when we read parts of Exodus and Leviticus we can find ourselves asking, “What does this have to do with me, today? I have no current or future plans to cook a goat in its mother’s milk.”

I get it. Some of these rules are confusing and even downright esoteric. I think in cases like these we can try to step back and look at what is happening overall. Who are these laws protecting?

Young women, foreigners, widows, orphans, the poor, even our enemies. These are people who are disadvantaged, even hated. Yet God calls us to deal fairly with them. Not to take advantage of a situation where we can gain at their expense (I mean, what are they even going to do about it?), not to take an opportunity for revenge, not to seek personal elevation where we have to step on someone else to achieve it.

As we read through passages like these, we should pray for God’s guidance as we both 1) look for principles rather than specific rules, and 2) look for modern analogs to these ancient situations.

It is also worth remembering that just because God has offered guidance on a situation, does not mean that he condones every (or any) action being addressed. A prime example being the seduction of a virgin girl. God is telling them how to deal with these things when they happen, not telling people it’s okay to get into these situations.

Exodus 22:16-24:18 | 039/365

God & Polygamy

It is often said that the Bible turns a blind eye to polygamy, and I admit that I find it troubling that God is not stronger on this issue, particularly in the Old Testament where such activity is rife, even among the men we consider “heroes” of the faith. While we can point to cultural realities and Progressive Revelation, these do little to alleviate the bitter taste in our mouths. I don’t have all the answers, but I am continuing to dig deeper into the more troubling passages.

Exodus 21:7-11.

A female slave should not be set free like male slaves. Unfair! — This is because the girl is given (for any number of reasons beyond the scope of today’s devotional) for the purpose of marriage.

If she is “displeasing”!? — The word means ‘evil’ or even ‘immoral’. This is not a fickle judgement, but a serious flaw that emerges.

So what then? — Well, since they are effectively engaged, he must allow her to be redeemed by her family (if they can afford it), but she can NOT be sold again to foreigners, because HE has be “unfair” (this word means unfaithful, treacherous, and even deceitful).

He then has the option to give her to his son in marriage, but if he does that, she is no longer a servant, but a daughter.

If he “takes another wife”? Boom! God’s loves polygamy. — Easy, cowboy. The word CAN mean an additional wife, but it can also mean a DIFFERENT wife (Lv 20:27; De 11:16; Jb 31:8).

Oh yeah, explain “conjugal rights” hot shot!? —  This word appears only a single time in the Bible. Here. And the meaning is quite unclear. What are “marriage rights”? Other documents from this time and region of the world have a similar list, but the third item is shelter/oil/things a wife would expect from her husband. Sex could be inferred by the reader, but it is not in the text.

And if he cannot or will not provide these things, she is to be released with no strings attached. Essentially this man has four options. 1) Marry her 2) Have his son marry her 3) Sell her back to her family 4) Release her free and clear.

I find no compelling reason to read an endorsement of polygamy here. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Exodus 20:1-22:15 | 038/365

They Had No Idea

After being rescued from the oppression of the Egyptians, the Israelites lack water, so they whine about it to Moses. Moses goes to God and He provides water. Some time later , the Israelites lack food, so they whine to Moses. Moses goes to God and He provides food. A flock of Quail descend of the encampment and died there. Meat! But God also sends what will become known as Manna. A food that more-or-less is dried dew. It was white and tasted like honey.

Actually, I think it may still be in the Ark of the Covenant (wherever that might be) and I very much would like to taste it. If anyone reading this ends up in possession of the Ark, reach out to me!

But what I find particularly interesting about this is the fact that the Israelites see this Manna in the morning, and have no clue what it is. They asked each other, “Hey, Al, any idea what this flakey white stuff is.” And Al replied, “I have no idea, Jim. I know that Moses told us the Lord would provide food for us, but that could not possibly be what this is. I was expecting bakery fresh bread!” Jim concurred, “Yes! And I was hoping for a delightful lentil soup!”

Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that, but the fact remains that the people had the blessing of God there before them, ripe for the picking, and couldn’t see it for what it was.

It’s not enough that we believe God will provide for us, we need to stop expecting God to do what WE want and starting asking Him to open our eyes to see what HE wants. God loves you, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. God has a greater, longer, more wholistic view and the way he meets our needs and answers our prayers gives us NOT the thing that we WANT, but rather the thing that we NEED. Pray that the Lord would open your eyes to see the blessings before you for what they are.

Exodus 16-19 | 037/365