You Aren’t Wandering – Exodus 13:17-22

In this passage, it’s nice to know that it isn’t simply about Israel. While the obvious is true, there is the less than obvious that this is about that. Our story isn’t simply “our story”, is it? Have you ever noticed that you can tell someone of something that has happened to you, or that you experienced, and it brings hope or encouragement to the person you’re talking to? It isn’t about you in that moment, is it? It’s not like your story is the epitome of freedom. No, in that moment there is now a connection being made. They realize that your story is their story, and they are at some point in that timeline that you were expressing to them. Right now, they are in the place where they’re not sure where the end is, but here you come with the conclusion, telling them things of hope and things of chivalry.

The Bible is like that.

Just when you think you’re only reading about an historical account of Israel’s exodus, suddenly you realize it isn’t simply about them. It’s about all of us, both personally and corporately. We’re wandering through this seemingly God-forsaken dessert, where the mountains erupt out of the ground, to block our view and we can’t tell what’s around that corner. Let me show you a couple pictures:

sinai-peninsula-egyptMountains3Mountains2Mountains1

Can you see from these how there is a certain distance that you can see, but beyond that in all directions is only one of these infuriating mountains? And can you see how they almost just come up out of the ground? When God says that no one can touch the base of the mountain, I assume that there was a certain point where it was obvious, like you see in that second picture.

I think this applies to all of us, doesn’t it? We have a certain amount of foresight, where I can tell by certain circumstances what the outcome will be, but we never know what exactly is around that corner. Sure, I know that I’m supposed to talk to that person about such and such, because that’s what I’m required to do according to Jesus’ words. But I don’t know their reaction, and I don’t know what will happen after I say something. Almost everything about our lives are walking through these wildernesses.

It’s agonizing, I know.

But what doe the text tell us? We have this strange thought that the people Israel were “wandering” through the wilderness, as if they were lost and didn’t know where they were going. The first verse of this passage tells us that God did not let them go by the way of the Philistines, though that was closer. The second verse tells us that God led them around the Red Sea. It ends with telling us that God directed their path as a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. What more do we need to see that God is all and all in this?

I suppose that there are  many different ways of viewing it, but whichever we choose to pick, or if we decide to allow for a plethora of various meanings, I pray that this short post can at least give you some encouragement that you shall indeed reach your Red Sea, and shall cross it. And beyond that, finding freedom from your Egypt, I pray that you can be led like a bride through the wilderness (Jer 2:2) to come unto that Jordan, and cross into your inheritance at the end of the age.

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Consecrating Firstborns – Exodus 13:1-16

When we read this whole segment, you’ll notice that it begins and ends with regulations regarding the firstborn. However, sandwiched between this are verses regarding the first fruits. This has significance for a couple reasons. First, after Passover comes First Fruits, which is celebrated three days after the Passover – the day that Israel crossed the Red Sea, and that Jesus would have resurrected. Second, this is the season. It is early spring, when the flowers are blooming, the winter crops are being harvested, the animals are giving birth, and nature itself shows the reality of resurrection.

Therefore, I don’t see the consecration of the firstborn as something altogether separate and distinct from the rituals mentioned regarding first fruits and Unleavened Bread. The consecration mentioned in Exodus 13:2 is later expanded in Numbers 3:12, 8:16, and 18. The firstborn are seen at the Tabernacle performing Levitical duties. Here in verse 2, that which is consecrated is specifically that which was dealt with in the plague. Men were affected, and therefore they must be consecrated. Beasts were affected, and therefore they must be consecrated. God has spared the firstborn of Israel, and therefore the firstborn is considered holy unto the Lord.

Therefore, with verse 3, we have “Remember this day…” Why? It isn’t just the date that is commemorated, as if this event is a single event. This event is eternal. It is a pattern by which we can comprehend the glory of God, and His intentions throughout all generations. It is a prophetic perception, and not merely something that we “believe” that gives this kind of testimony. Passover is seen throughout the whole Scripture, and not just the actual event, but the eternal pattern of pesach.

Passover represents the coming out of darkness and into light, the coming out of “the house of bondage” (a phrase Moses uses frequently in Deuteronomy as well) and into the beautiful freedom of God’s House. Therefore the unleavened bread is more than just a sing of remembrance. It is more than a matter of leaven meaning “sin”. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees” was a warning regarding their doctrine, and not simply their practices. There is a spirit behind the words, and an attitude that conveys whether they are truth or only factual.

“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread…” Seven is the number of perfection, and not simply completion. Yes, I know that that the creation was completed in seven days, but it was also made perfect. There were seven nations “greater and stronger than” Israel that they must dispossess from the land. Why? Because there was completion? No, because the Land is perfect, and from it the glory of the LORD is to go forth, but the enemy has desired to take hold of that Land. This is a perfecting of the saints. We hold the feast of Unleavened Bread through the bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:6-8) – that is, from living, speaking, doing, and having all of our life governed by authenticity in Christ.

Notice the rest of that verse. it isn’t merely that we are forced to eat without leaven, and oh what a burden that is. We celebrate with a feast on the seventh day. It isn’t like God is trying to make us eat the bread of affliction (Deut 16:3), or that we’re required to eat the bread of adversity (Isaiah 30:20), or the bread of tears (Psalm 80:5), but that we’re to have a massive party and celebrate that God is not causing us to live in that any longer. The point isn’t oppression, but freedom.

In regard to explaining to the children, this particular verse is not directed at when the children ask. This is spoken to the parents to simply explain it, whether the child initiates the conversation or not. In the following verse (9), the wearing of tefillin is mentioned. The Jews have translated this verse as wrapping a leather cord around your arm (traditionally, the left arm, but it’s not specified), and a box upon your forehead. In the box are four verses, and this is one of them. Personally, I don’t quibble against the phylacteries (tefillin), but I believe that the command has to make sense in the context.

What is it about unleavened bread that has to do with the arm or forehead? It makes sense that in our mouth the command of God shall be – for we’re eating it in observance. When we’re released from bondage, it is a release from that which constrains. Therefore, the sign is upon our hand/arm because we are no longer held back, and upon our head because it takes the mindset of freedom to recognize freedom. If you hold an animal in captivity from its youth, even when you let it free, it won’t realize that it can move beyond whatever leash it was given in captivity. There must be more than a breaking of chains, but also a mental recognition and ascension unto freedom. And let us not forget the last bit of the verse, that it was “by the strong hand of the LORD” that we were let out.

In our final section (verse 11-16), we deal again with the firstborns. Here we have God again speaking regarding how the firstborn is His, not only now, but also when they inherit the Land. The means by which you can have your firstborn back is through what is called “redemption”. Redemption is not merely being free from sin, or being “saved”, or making it to heaven, or whatever other silly things we typically think. Redemption is deeply rooted in the patriarchal system. When a family member is injured, stolen, or lost, it is up to the patriarch of the family to “redeem” them – to bring them back into the family safely, whatever the cost, and whatever the need.

When we’re dealing with redemption from the Lord, we’re speaking specifically in flesh and blood manner. If you want to keep your firstborn son to continue your family name, then you must purchase him back from the priests/Levites for an allotted price. Once again, this isn’t to be “Ra ra fury fury”, but rather to in the Hebrew culture, this was an honor. It was a living means by which they could perpetuate the remembrance of what God has done for them, and such demand is a grace that should reveal to us that God is not an elitist. Yes, the Levites and priests are the only ones allowed to be near the tabernacle… except for the firstborns who are consecrated unto God.

I confess that I have not the sufficient insight to understanding why certain things are the redemption of certain animals. Nor do I fully grasp why you must break the neck of the donkey if you don’t redeem it. If any of you have some suggestions, I would be honored to hear them.

The Exodus – Exodus 12:37-51

Here it is, folks. The moment we’ve all been waiting for: freedom. The exodus from Egypt marks the moment when Israel is finally permitted to leave the land of bondage, a moment when they are finally able to find hope and release. We all probably already know the story, that there will come another attack from Egypt before they cross the Red Sea, however, let us take a moment to live in their shoes. Can you imagine what it must have been to take that trek from Ramses to Succoth (probably Tjeku, a day’s journey)?

It’s finally happening. My children aren’t going to have to suffer the same enslavement that I’ve faced.

And could you imagine what it must have been to see a mixed multitude go with you? According to verse 38, there were actually Egyptians that joined themselves with Israel in the exodus. The only mention of this later in the Bible is Leviticus 24, where a half-Egyptian man blasphemes the name of God. Even in this story, the point isn’t to show that he isn’t entirely Hebrew, but to show that he hasn’t truly separated himself from Egypt. There is a long history of people in the Old Testament who join themselves unto Israel, Gentiles being ‘grafted in’ to the commonwealth of Israel. Here is one of those moments.

What was displayed unto the Egyptians was so powerful that some of the Egyptians flat out rejected their own nation, religion, and people in order to follow the one true God. There was such a breaking in of the Kingdom of God that even pagans recognized it, much like the soldier who claimed at Jesus’ death, “Surely he was the son of God!”The powers of darkness have been defeated, and now we find the Kingdom of God being expressed.

It’s interesting to me that in every moment when the Kingdom of God is being established in a drastic way that there is a slaughter of children. Exodus begins with the slaughter of the Hebrew male children. Matthew begins his Gospel with Herod killing the male children of Bethlehem. Revelation 12 speaks of the dragon desiring to devour the male-child, and when the male-child is taken up to heaven, it then results in the dragon being cast down so that “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come…”

It’s also fascinating to me that we have the number 600,000 men are recorded as the number that left Egypt. This could make the number of total Israelites who left upwards at 2 million people! This is not a small herd of slaves, just like the beginning of Exodus proclaimed.

There is a question of integrity with the statement that Israel dwelt in Egypt for 430 years. Abraham was told that his offspring would dwell in a foreign land for 400 years. How do we solve this discrepancy? It’s actually quite simple when you read the text. Genesis 15:13 says, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them 400 years.” Notice there are three things required in that “400 years”: strangers in the land, serving the foreign peoples, and being afflicted. When Joseph came down into Egypt, he was a servant of Potiphar. However, when the whole of the children of Israel came into Egypt, they were not servants. It wasn’t until a few generations passed, and there arose a Pharaoh who didn’t know of Joseph that they were servants and afflicted.

So, we can assume that the Israelites dwelt in Egypt for 30 years before they were put into slavery. And then, on the very same day that they entered, now only 430 years later, the Israelites were leaving. This night that they left is Pesach – Passover. Therefore, this is one of the required feasts, and therefore all of Israel is to honor it, and if anyone does not honor the Passover, they shall be cut off from the children of Israel. God was so intentional with the dates that He separated this day as a day of redemption.

In the regulations for this holy night, God prescribes several details that are important to note. First, notice that foreigners are not allowed to eat this. For we who claim Christ as our Passover Lamb, how is it that we can embrace that Gentiles are permitted in this holy feasting of the Table of the Lord? Well, notice the next verse, where any man’s servant bought for money and circumcised is permitted to eat. You, as Gentiles in Christ, have been bought for something more precious than money – bought by the very blood of Messiah. We’ve been circumcised of heart, which is the true circumcision of which the flesh only reflected the reality of. Therefore, we’re permitted to eat, but only through Christ Jesus.

Second, notice that it says you shall not carry the flesh outside of your house, nor shall you break one of its bones. John actually takes that statement about not breaking the bones of the Passover Lamb and uses it for Jesus, that the reason the soldiers didn’t break His legs was to fulfill this verse. This verse isn’t a prophecy, though. It’s for this reason we need to be eternally minded. Such an eternal moment as this reverberates outward into all time. The Passover is not something that we should expect as just one moment, but an eternal reality. Therefore, we find Lot offering the two angels unleavened bread, in order to celebrate the Feast (Genesis 19:3).

It was on Passover that Joshua crossed the Jordan with all of Israel. I’ve heard some rabbis claim that Abraham even offered Isaac on Passover, though there is no Scriptural support for this. The point, however, is to show that this day is significant eternally, because God has eternally fixed that the earthly shall reflect the heavenly. There is an interconnection through the eternality of God.

With this, we finish our segment on the Ten Plagues.

Death of the Firstborn – Exodus 12:29-36

In these two verses are many thoughts that stir within me. First, I see that this plague comes at midnight, and think about how the ten virgins are all sleeping, but at midnight the groom comes (we know that five of them don’t make it in, but the point is connecting the two midnights here). Then I also have another end time consideration of how when Babylon falls, in Revelation 18, all the nations mourn for that fall. This is reflected in the prophets as well.

Typically the way that we read this passage is to see the death of the firstborn as the climactic end of Egypt. Finally Israel is set free and permitted leave. I have a different view, however. It isn’t that this isn’t a climax, for it is indeed the final plague upon Egypt. Yet, when we’re reading Exodus, we find that at the Red Sea is another conflict, and one of epic proportion. God is not yet finished, because Pharaoh is not yet finished. When we conclude the 15th chapter, it is finally at that point where Israel is truly free.

It does so happen in this passage, though, that Israel is liberated, and finally outside of the land of Egypt, headed toward that glorious Promised Land. As the LORD had spoken, she despoiled the Egyptians, asking her neighbors for silver and gold and articles of value. In Pharaoh’s response (verse 31), it is the first time that he addresses the people as “Israelites”. Every other time, if he even addresses them, it is “people”, which sounds much lower and lesser than an actual people. In the first verse of Exodus, the oppression was beginning to be explained with this term, and now finally at it’s close it is being used again. They are Israelites, and not merely slaves.

Because of the death of the firstborn, which will later be contrasted in chapter 13 by the blessing of the firstborn, all of Egypt fears for their lives. All the plagues up to this point have damaged property, killed animals, and caused bodily harm, but nothing has been so devastating as to kill in a moment a mass part of the Egyptians. With fear, the Egyptians send Israel out hastily. For this reason, in Deuteronomy 16:3 the unleavened bread is called “the bread of affliction”, which is contrasted later with the bread of heaven (manna) that Israel receives in the wilderness. These contrasts that are made show the vicissitude of the Exodus, just as much as the ecstatic ascent unto Sinai.

There is a melancholy, because they are leaving the land that provided much luxury for them, but at the same time a rejoicing at finally being rid of the slavery and oppression. Within the next few chapters, we’ll find the Israelites complaining and grumbling over and over again. Think of it this way, if you were forcefully uprooted from your home, sent into the heat and intensity of a desert, and not given the proper rations for food and water to make the journey, not knowing where you’re going or how to get out, and all that you have leading you is this Moses fellow who might or might not have been this way before, would you grumble? I would.

But this is Passover. We haven’t yet come to that.

Here we find emphasis being put upon the Israelites following the word of Moses. Why? What is so important about that?

Moses is the prophet, which in this case is more than just a man. He is the mouthpiece of God, and beyond that, he is God unto the people. Later we’re going to see that he has horns (like a crown) and a staff (like a ruler). Moses is the ‘king’ of Israel, which was a title for God alone. Yet, back in Exodus 4, God told Moses that he shall be “Elohim” unto Pharaoh. Here it is as well, that even unto the children of Israel, Moses is likened unto God. To follow the words of Moses is to follow the word of God, for the two have become one. So it is with the apostle and prophet, that when we follow their words, we follow the words of God. It is established by word and deed, for Paul confesses often that he didn’t just speak idle words, but gave demonstrations of power. If you think those demonstrations consisted of miracles and healings, then you have sadly mistaken what Paul is saying. It might well have, but let us not forget that with the anointing, the words themselves are demonstrations and events.

To hear the word of the apostle or prophet is to hear God. That kind of hearing, coupled with faith, will bring about salvation to the uttermost. It strikes life into the heart, and causes the listener to be quickened by the very same Spirit that is enabling the speaker. For Israel to obey the words of Moses is more than a statement of their disposition. This shows their obedience unto God, and the receiving of the same quickening that has come upon Moses at this point. We’ll see later that there is something greater imparted unto Moses, which will then be prayed over the elders and imparted.

Pesach – Exodus 12:1-28

This time I want to focus upon Exodus 12 in the context of Exodus 12. I’ve written much before on the Passover. You can find all of that here:
Behold the Lamb
What is the point of Passover?
Passover and the Gods of Egypt
The Matzah and the Veil of Christ’s Body
Christ in the Jewish Passover
Charoseth
A Passover Egg

In this blog, I want my focus to instead be upon more of a commentary regarding Exodus 12, and not necessarily an expounding of Passover. Of course, you can’t address Exodus 12 without also addressing Passover.

The Hebrew verb stem Sh-M-R is used seven times, breaking the passage into a sevenfold repetition. For those of  you who don’t know, Sh-M-R is the verb “to guard” or “preserve”. It is used in relation to Genesis 2, that Adam was told to tend and KEEP the Garden. That word “keep”, which is also used in Exodus later (and Deuteronomy’s parallel) for the Ten Commandments, is better understood as a preserving. To ‘keep’ the Law is to guard it, and to protect it from being disobeyed, or misunderstood even. Therefore, I find it greatly interesting that this word would occur seven times in this passage.

What is interesting to me is that the chapter begins with the statement that they are still in the Land of Egypt. Why? Because the Law is considered as something given at Sinai, but here we find Passover – which is arguably the most important part of the Law – enacted and commanded in Egypt. This doesn’t take place while the Israelites are free, but while they are still here in the land of bondage. What this signifies to you and I is incredible. Think of it this way: God tells you while you’re in bondage (we’ll call it sin and unbelief) that He is going to rescue you, and bring you out of bondage, and make you a part of His people. Most people would scoff at such a thing, but for this time (why not so many times before?) it brings you to repentance and hope – a first hope in the God you’ve never acknowledged or cared about. Now is the struggle, where you know that you are to do these things, and not those things, and that you don’t want to be associated with your past anymore, and  you’ve been made a new creation, bought and purchased with a price. Yet, why is it that you’re still in bondage? Wasn’t God supposed to bring you out? But there are these things happening in you life where you can’t deny God’s working. God is obviously bringing you forth with much growth.

Now we’ve reached a climax. This is the ultimate dark night of the soul. The moment in time has come. For some, this is in regard to that one last sin that doesn’t seem to be broken. For others, it is about a shift in thinking, that we are no longer in the kingdom of the world, and therefore the mindset and wisdom of the world, but are now in the Kingdom of God, and now are thinking as God things, and perceiving as God perceives. This is our “Passover”. While we’re still yet in the place of bondage, having not yet left to cross over our Red Seas and find the absolute victory, whether in deed, word, mindset, or otherwise, it is exactly there that God demands of us to take a Lamb into our homes, the most personal place where it will wreck everything. It is exactly there that God gives drastic commands, of cleaning the whole house so that there is no leaven, nothing that would be insincere, nothing that is perfunctory or desultory (the actual phrase that came to mind wasn’t ‘proper’ for Christian blogs lol).

Why in such a place as in the house of bondage? Doesn’t it make more sense to give the victory before giving these commands?

No

Such commands are necessary in the house of bondage. If we aren’t willing to take these drastic measures while we’re in bondage, then why would we be willing when we’re not in bondage? Are we expecting that out of the blue, because now we’re free, that we’re suddenly going to become something we’ve never before been? That isn’t reality.

For those of you who are stuck in bondage, whatever that might be, it is precisely there that we are called to give ourselves entirely to the purposes of God. Whether it feels like it or not, and whether we are benefited or not, we are to make the drastic decision of accepting whatever it is that Jesus says. If Jesus says it, then I perform whatever action necessary in response. In this, we take the Lamb in and determine whether it has any spot or blemish. It is about putting the words to the test in an ultimate way. It is about having the faith to believe, even when the words are too fantastic to believe. We take in that Lamb, trusting that the words He has spoken are ultimate reality, and therefore do all we can to live accordingly – spending all and being expended.

It is also for this reason that the calendar was changed. In verse 2, we read that this shall be the first month of the year. Rather than debating whether we’re supposed to follow the Hebrew calendar as Christians, I think the bigger point of this is that we find from this moment on, from that first choice to make a drastic decision in following Christ, we call that the beginning. It is no longer about my life before that moment. Now I’m in this new life, this new ‘calendar’.

The tenth of Nissan was an important date to the Israelites. It wasn’t only in Exodus 12 and subsequent Passovers that this date had significance, but even in the book of Joshua we find that they crossed the Jordan on the tenth of Nissan. Jesus entered Jerusalem that final time on the tenth of Nissan. In regards to tenths, Yom Kippur also falls on the tenth of the seventh month, and the Jubilee year was to be ushered in after that Yom Kippur.

It is in the act of sacrificing the lamb, taking it in for four days as Jesus was also examined by the religious leaders and people in Jerusalem, that Israel is in direct defiance of Egypt. There are Egyptian gods associated with the lamb, that if the Israelites will sacrifice these animals, it shall surely bring an uproar. This was why Moses said it shall not be that they sacrifice in Egypt back in Exodus 8:8. Yet, God not only requests the sacrifice of the lamb, but even tells the Israelites to put the blood on their doorposts. This is a blatant sign of disassociation from Egypt, and both Israel and the Egyptians know it. While God has up to this point been asking Pharaoh and the Egyptians if they believe yet, it is at this point that we find the first mention of God turning that question toward His own people.

The people were commanded to eat of the sacrifice, and leave none until morning. Jesus also told His disciples that they must eat of His flesh, or else they have no part in Him. Now, what makes this so difficult is that John also records in that same passage that Jesus tells His disciples to drink of His blood. You don’t drink blood as a Jew. God in fact commands against it. Yet, the offense is found in that Jesus would claim we must eat of His flesh – something altogether disgusting when thinking physically – and drink His blood. We know this is ultimately a reflection of the communion, that Christ took the bread and said, “This is my body broken for you”, and the cup saying, “This is my blood poured out for you”.

Here in Passover, it is the blood that is put upon the doorposts, and the flesh of the lamb to be eaten by every single person. Not one portion of that lamb was to be left in the morning. Anything that was left was to be burned. In Malachi 1:7, we read of the altar being called “the table of the LORD”. Here it is before us. Christ Jesus is the Lamb slain, of whose flesh we are to eat, leaving none until morning. In this, we take of the table of the LORD rather than the table of demons. We accept the consequences of taking that blood and putting it upon the doorposts of our lives for all to see. We accept the consequences of what the Egyptians might do, seeing us perform sacrilege in their midst. It is in this that we ‘take up our crosses and follow Him’.

We’re told in verse 6 to ‘keep’ the lamb for four days. This doesn’t mean that we’re to hold possession of it, but to protect it. Preserve the lamb from blemish. Keep that lamb spotless, because the powers of darkness are doing all they can to make it impure before God. We can use this in context of our own lives and testimony. In what you speak, how you act, how  you react, the lifestyle practices you’ve adopted – in all things, whether in eating or drinking, do unto the glory of God.

The blood was a demarkation between Israel and the profane world outside. We put it upon the doorposts of our own lives, taking full assurance and faith in that blood. By making those clear demarkation in our own lives, not willing to be one of the boys, acting a certain way, going certain places, endorsing certain things, or even spending money on certain things, we apply the blood upon the doorposts. Nothing impure enters this house, which is your body, which is His temple. Not by food, not by your own foul speech, nor by devoting yourself to lucre. It is not as though you must isolate yourself from any form of hearing language or coarse jesting, for such things would require leaving the earth itself. Rather, we make sure that which is profane remains outside.

Later in verse 17 we find the ‘guarding of matzah’. Within the context, God has been expressing how for future generations the people of God are to celebrate a feast of unleavened bread, which we find further explained in Leviticus 23. It is imperative to note, though, that this is not some sort of special command independent of the first. We shouldn’t read this passage as altogether distinct from the slaughtering of the lamb and putting the blood upon the doorpost. This is all mentioned together, and for millennia later it was tradition that there would be these three feasts lumped together with the ‘preparation’ for Passover. You have the disposal of all leaven, the preserving of the lamb, and the forward outlook to the feast of first fruits. Just as it was that you have the lamb slain, and the seven days of not having leaven available to the Israelites, the first fruits were revealed in that Israel crossed the Red Sea and made the inheritance and ‘first fruits’ of all nations as God’s people.

Verses 21-28 are another reiteration, where we find the guarding of this pattern and narrative in remembrance in verse 25.

It is in verse 22 that the words of David run through my mind. When the psalmist is repenting before God, he asks to be cleansed with hyssop to be made pure (Psalm 51:7). It is interesting to me that this kind of cleansing is, physically typified in the smearing of blood on the doorposts of the house, is actually a seal. Just like the Israelites are told that they shall not be visited by the destroying angel when the angel sees the blood, so too are we told of a sealing in the end times, both in Ezekiel 9 and Revelation 7. There is a seal to ensure that the people of God are not taken away in the plagues.

I hope that with this, though there be much here for expansion and cogitation, that you might find this last verse to be especially applicable to you. “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.” I pray that you, too, might now go, and do as the Lord has commanded.

Death of the Firstborn Forewarned – Exodus 11

In Exodus 11, God speaks to Moses regarding the death of the firstborn. It catches me interesting that Moses speaks this plague to Pharaoh, and doesn’t even allow Pharaoh to respond this time. He leaves in anger before he even gets to hear what Pharaoh might say. Why the anger, and why does this chapter have the sole purpose of warning Pharaoh, but nothing else? Previously, we’ve experienced that there is warning, and then the plague. But here, we find warning, and then with chapter 12, there is an interlude before the plague. This distinction that God is going to make is much different than the distinction between the Egyptian cattle and the Israelite cattle, or the fields, or the darkness.

This chapter consists of three declarations. The first and last are by God to Moses, and the middle declaration is Moses’ word unto Pharaoh. God’s speaking are no longer to Pharaoh – only indirectly. He now is addressing Moses on behalf of the Israelites. Everything is focused upon Israel being exodused, and upon the Israelites having favor enough to “despoil” the Egyptians. Moses’ words are charged with intensity, as if with every word attempting an offense.

Whereas it would seem logical that the Israelites were to leave Egypt in haste, being cast out from the face of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, it seems like God has another plan. They aren’t to leave as fugitives, but as kings and queens. Pharaoh will do what he has to do, and God will harden his heart to ensure it, but the Egyptians themselves give silver and gold unto the Israelites, almost in a begging attempt to have them leave. It is interesting to note this, because God seems to use this as the paradigm for the end times as well. Over and over again in the prophets, it is declared that when Israel returns to the Land of Israel the final time, after being sifted through the nations according to God’s judgment, they are brought back by kings and queens (Isa 49:22), and riches will be given them from even the most prestigious of the nations (Isa 60:5, 61:6).

Moses speaks unto Pharaoh the total judgment. No one will be exempt, for all have participated in Israel’s suffering. This is an utter devastation to the psyche of the Egyptians. In Exodus 2, the Israelites raised “a loud cry” unto God. Now, it is through Moses that God is saying unto Pharaoh that the Egyptians shall raise “a loud cry”. When the LORD heard the cry of His people, and came to rescue them from their oppression, and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Egyptian gods do not hear the cry of the Egyptians, and they have no power to rescue them. This is a calculated offense.

The choosing of midnight is significant. It is often associated within Christendom with the return of Christ. Jesus returns at “midnight”, according to the parable of the 10 virgins. Here it is at midnight, while everyone would be at home, that this plague is to commence. Why not in the middle of the day, when people would be dropping in the fields, or the infants would be dying while sucking their mother’s breast? Why wait until midnight, when there is high likelihood that the Egyptians will be asleep? This is an affront to the mindset of the world, that looks for drastic measures in obvious places. God performs this at midnight, when those who do not keep watch will be sleeping. For this reason, we can parallel the words of Jesus with Passover. In Matthew 24, when He is warning His disciples to “keep watch”.

It was Moses who killed the Egyptian for being the “wicked servant” who beat the Israelites. And, it was Moses who stopped the Israelite, questioning why he beat his brother… Then you move to Jesus in Matthew 24 saying the “wicked servant” who beats his fellow servants shall be found not watching and taken by surprise. You have in Exodus the pattern that the Israelites must eat in haste with their sandals on and staff in hand. Then, Jesus speaks of the faithful servants who “keep watch”, and in Matthew 25, you have the wise and foolish virgins. Some of them had extra oil, and others had to ‘go to the merchants’. In this, some were prepared with sandals on and staff in hand, and others were unprepared.

In Moses’ words, we even have the servants of Pharaoh coming and bowing down to Moses. The declaration is made that they shall come down, and actually bow, in order to demand that the Israelites leave. Can you comprehend why this is such an offense? You mean these Israelites, who are but slaves and shamefully mistreated, shall have the Egyptians bow down to them? The people who are the least of all people shall have the greatest super-power bow down before them? There is not a chance. It is only possible when God has revealed His glory, and when the nations themselves, even while they have maintained a disbelief and utter rejection of God up to this point, acknowledge that the God of Israel is the true God, and that no other name under heaven or on earth is truly Lord.

Once again, as with in Moses’ generation, so with the end of the age. Do you comprehend what I’m getting at? It isn’t like Israel is deserving of this. The only reason that they shall have such treatment is because God has chosen them. If we balk against that, then we miss the genius of God. It is the scandal of specificity. To reject Israel as God’s chosen is to reject God Himself, because it refuses Him the privilege to choose whom He shall choose. Who are you, o man of little faith, to tell the potter that He is  not allowed to choose that people, because they have been wayward since their inception? Doesn’t God know that the Church is where it is at, and that we have slaved for Him all these years, but that He hasn’t even given us so much as a goat?! Why the celebration and the grand fattened calf? Why does God cherish them so much more?

And here is the revelation of the heart. To carry on like that is to show that you have altogether rejected God. It is not up to you to decide who is truly God’s people, and who is actually just claiming it in name only. That is God’s prerogative, and to refuse Him that prerogative refuses Him as being God. The nations shall bow down to that people, and as Jesus says to the churches in Revelation, it shall be no different to we who have been grafted in. Don’t balk against the roots, for they are the very support by which you stand.

Here it is. We have finally seen the paradigm of God. This is what He effectually works toward for all generations. In Moses’ day, it was a display against Egypt and the principalities that ruled Egypt. In Jesus’ day, it was a display against Herod, the religious leaders, and Rome, and against the principalities that ruled and governed those systems of government and religion. In our own day, and in the future, it is a display unto the whole world, and the usurping powers of darkness that cannot comprehend the wisdom of God. He comes at midnight, because they think that they are the crafty ones, and yet they who walk in darkness shall not comprehend when the Master shall come. But you, oh children of God, are not in darkness, but walk according to the light, so that that Day shall not come like a thief to you. You have been warned, and told to keep watch, just as the Israelites in Exodus 12, and to you it is given the privilege of coming out from all nations to be established as God’s nation, through great miracles, signs, and wonders.

Darkness You Can Feel – Exodus 10:21-29

For three days there is darkness in the land of Egypt, even a darkness that can be felt. This corresponds to the “three day journey” that Israel requests to make into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD their God. The Egyptians god Ammun Ra was the highest of all the gods. This plague would have been more than devastating to the religious system.

The word for “felt” in Hebrew is more than just a darkness that affects the inward man and hope. This kind of “felt” is the Hebrew word that signifies touch. There is a darkness over the land of Israel that can somehow be touched, and in that manner be felt. The Jewish commentary has somewhat dropped the ball on this, as with most all of the plagues. It attempts with all of its might to push away the emphasis of these plagues. It reasons them out, saying that the plague of darkness was the result of a massive sandstorm that comes every March. Because of the former devastations, this one would have been peculiarly intense.

My contention here is that these plagues are given by God, and even if God uses the natural elements around, that doesn’t then give us the right to word it away as “natural phenomenon”. This isn’t just something that takes place every March. This was a calculated affront to everything the Egypt represents. For this reason, the words of Pharaoh are harsh and direct toward Moses, that if Pharaoh sees Moses’ face again, Moses shall die.

At the beginning of the Bible, there is darkness upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovers over the waters. From that point onward, God seems to have a positive relationship with darkness. While we know that God is light, and that His Kingdom is the Kingdom of Light, and that Jesus is the Light of the World, and anyone who walks according to the darkness is not truly a follower of God, still we find somehow that God isn’t embarrassed or afraid of the darkness. There is a personification happening here, and darkness itself is an embodiment of something quite tangible.

When we go to Exodus 10:22, we read of this “thick darkness” that covers the land of Egypt. Then, a few chapters later (20:21), we find that God is dwelling in “thick darkness”. It’s the exact same phrase. How is it that the Spirit of God hovers over the darkened waters? How is it that God dwells in the “thick darkness”? How is it that God makes darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies (2 Sam 22:12)?

Darkness itself is a representation of mystery. What I mean is that the power of darkness is found in that it conceals, or hides. God did not eliminate the darkness at the beginning, because God uses the darkness to “hide” Himself in order to fellowship with humanity and His creation. There is a certain sense in which God cannot fellowship with us without this cloaking of darkness, because to see God face-to-face would kill us in our mortality.

But the serpent, who was craftier than any other beast of the field, usurped the darkness, manipulating it into something it was never intended to be. The darkness was simply meant to be a means by which God could fellowship. Satan used it to hide information from the woman, thus deceiving her. There is a manipulation happening here, and therefore our thoughts of darkness have become negative. The original intention of darkness was not something negative at all, though it was separated from light, and though it was kept guarded by “rulers” (Gen 1:16-18).

When we come unto Exodus 10:21, the darkness that can be felt is something altogether an anomaly. It is as though God is taking off the ruse, allowing for Egypt to experience – tangibly enough to even be felt – the exact spiritual state that they are in. They believe themselves to be following the gods of these phenomenon, keeping them satisfied, but ultimately they are worshiping demons. It’s a sad testimony to perceive.

I heard a story of a man who is within a prominent ministry. He had a dream that this ministry was hosting some sort of end-times teaching seminar at the fairgrounds. There were tons of people there, and they were having a great time discussing the subject matter. The people were breaking off after the messages and asking questions, and ultimately it seemed like everything was perfect. It was precisely at this point, during one of the messages, that serpents started raining from the sky and biting people. There was blood and death everywhere. The serpents were consuming the people, and pandemonium ensued. No matter how much the teachers or listeners tried, they could not command in the name of Jesus to get the snakes to cease. They had no authority over these serpents. The speaker then talked about how this dream shows him that he needs to begin to pray that God gives them authority over the serpents for when this happens.

I’m sad to be the one to bear bad news, but the reality is that this dream was not a “future” dream, but a “now” dream. This ministry, with all of its hype, and all of its impressive stature is currently at a place where people think that they are the pinnacle of Charismatic belief. If you want to know what ministry really has it all together, you point to this one. Even those outside of the Charismatic movement find it to be quite impressive. Yet, the truth is, the serpents didn’t “suddenly” start devouring people. The truth is, their eyes were “suddenly” opened, and they saw what was happening. The serpents have been devouring the people for quite some time, which I suppose is why I’ve never been impressed, though it is all the rage and hype within the denomination I was saved in.

The same is true here in Egypt. Yes, this was a physical judgment. Yet, please realize that the judgment was equally an unveiling of the reality that they were in. Egypt was already in this kind of darkness before the physical darkness ever was shown. This is the danger of what we can become. We can be a people who think ourselves to be shining with radiance unto the nations, and thinking that we’re the “light of the world”, and yet ultimately be the very land that dwells in darkness. How is it that you can know whether you are or are not in this kind of state?

I believe the answer to that question lies within something very simple. Pharaoh continues to harden his heart, and continues to refuse to consider what God is demanding. It comes down to this final time, when God Himself hardens the heart of Pharaoh. I think one simple question will answer for me whether you are in this place or whether you are a child of light. Are you willing to read all of the words of Scripture, seeking to understand what it is that God commands, and to simply obey what it says? As soon as your mind jumps to various passages that you think  don’t apply anymore (*cough – Leviticus – cough*), you have forfeited any possibility of not being in this kind of darkness. To refuse to even consider a large portion of God’s word because it is “law”, or it is difficult to understand, or it is boring, or it makes demands that no one can live up to, the game is up, and you are ultimately left without any hope of freedom from this darkness.

I’ve written before somewhat extensively on law and whether we’re supposed to obey it. The lack of our willingness to even consider it, which ultimately leads to the fact that so few even know what Leviticus or Deuteronomy actually says, only shows that we are precisely within the same haze that Egypt was. We have a god named Jesus, who we claim to be the God of the Bible, and yet we care very little about what this god says or requires. It’s a religious idolatry, relinquishing us from responsibility and from psychological condemnation, but it doesn’t actually bring us the freedom from law and sin that we claim to have. It might psychologically relieve our conscience, but that in no way demands that we have truly died with Christ and been raised in power.

The children of Israel were in Goshen, where there was light. Are you?

Hail and Locusts – Exodus 9:8-10:20

I’ve been attempting to put a post for each plague, but it was when I began to dread coming up with something to say that I realized I need to figure out a better tactic… So, I’m doubling this one, and hopefully I’ll have something to write. For those of you who don’t know, this blog is pretty well a platform for me to just write out my thoughts as they come, and so there is never a “second draft” that ends up coming up. Instead, all of the grammar or spelling mistakes are evidence of the “first draft”.

With the Ten Plagues, what has caught me is that these were all somehow related to battling one of the gods of Egypt (see this post). This morning I read of how the Philistines captured the ark of God (1 Sam 4), how they put it with their god Dagon (1 Sam 5), and other various cities, and the Philistines received plagues. Therefore, they sent the ark back to Israel (1 Sam 6). This got me wondering whether that might be another instance where God plagued the Philistines according to their gods, just like we find again with Elijah praying for there to be no rain…

Within the Bible, when we find hail as a plague, it is specific to devastating an entire empire. I think of Joshua 10-12, where they are fighting the five kings, and God sends the hailstones that kill more people than Israel did. The final time of hail is mentioned in Revelation, but not just once. We find in Revelation 6:12-17 that part of the sixth seal (which I believe is the return of Jesus) has hailstones. In Revelation 8:5, we find hail again. In Revelation 11:15-18 (which I believe to also be the return of Jesus), we have hail mentioned again. Again in Revelation 16:17-21, we find that part of the seventh bowl is hail. We trace the same description, thunderings, lightning, and hail, throughout the whole of Revelation. It is my understanding that these are not separate storms, but the same one, the events leading up to it being retold through different language and symbolism each time.

It is interesting with the hail in Exodus that God gives the command of warning. Moses tells the Egyptians to bring their animals inside, and don’t allow your family or servants to go outside. They who heed the warning are saved, but they who are foolish and don’t believe are killed. Is that not exactly how God does things? Even with the serpent on the pole, you had to look up to the serpent in order to be saved. Those who are unwilling, because of unbelief, don’t get healed of the plague of snakes. The truth is that the snakes (spiritually) were already there devouring the children of Israel in their unbelief. Similarly, the Egyptians were already devastated and destroyed, through the worship of these gods that are not God. The hail was only a physical “guerrilla theater” to make manifest the spiritual reality.

When we come unto the locusts, we have another instance where we find locusts having an end time significance. Of course, Deuteronomy 28 talks about the enemies of Israel swarming into the Land and eating the fruit of the children of Israel like locusts, and this is a plague for disobedience unto God. Joel picks that up in the first two chapters of his book, and so we find these “locusts” that come into Israel and have horses and destroy much more than just the crops. In fact, the “locusts” of Joel are said to be part and parcel of the Day of the LORD!

The prophetic mind sees these similarities. He intuits the plan of God, that these sorts of plagues and judgments are not simply “one time events”. It’s not, as the commentators suggest, a plague of locusts that invaded Israel during the time, or soon after the time, of Joel. And, to the other commentators who are smart enough to catch it, it is not as though Joel is prophesying the invasion of Babylon, and therefore it’s over and been fulfilled. The plague in Egypt is an eternal phenomenon. It resounds outward through history even unto the present age. The Israel, like modern Israel, that has become Egypt in all her practices shall face the same plagues – locusts not being excluded. There is an immanent storm coming, just as all the prophets foresaw, and that “immanency” doesn’t mean it has to happen within a certain timeframe. Imminence in the Bible is a matter of spiritual condition. Because you are spiritually already in this place, the physical outworking is only a matter of time.

Therefore, we can string together the Egyptian plague of locusts, realizing that it is the judgment of God upon a people who trust in their crops as their provision, the locusts of Joel 1-2, and the locusts of Revelation 9. They are interwoven, because God deals with His people in cycles and patterns. God sends judgment upon Sodom, and then in Ezekiel 16 tells Judah that they saw Sodom’s fate, and they saw northern Israel’s fate, and yet they persist in their disobedience as if God won’t judge them… Here it is that Israel has seen Egypt’s plague, they have seen the locusts in the time of the Old Testament prophets, they saw the significance of the locusts as being an invading army, and yet still they persist in their unbelief and iniquity. This is sadly the case of many Christians as well.

What other option is there, but to send again the plagues forewarned, but this time, as it says in Leviticus, seven times more fierce?

Notice Exodus 10:7. The servants ask Pharaoh, “Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” Is this true? Was Egypt already destroyed? Why, then, does God not relent? And why does Pharaoh not yet relent? I think that the servants were correct, but once again, it was not the physical statement yet being made. Something happened in Egypt, which history attests to, where it caused for the death of Pharaoh, his son, and the demise of Egypt altogether. When we consult the history books, we find that there was a time when the wife of Pharaoh actually sent to the Hittites looking for a husband to carry on the dynasty of Egypt. At that time, the Egyptians threw away their gods and started a whole new religious system. If interested, you can find the info here.

I suppose the question is now to turn toward ourselves, eh? Are we following the LORD in a manner distinct from the majority of Israel? Is our relationship with God much more paralleled with the saints of the Old and New Testament, or is it true that we are very much shallow and not even close to expressing the same faith? And, maybe the most pressing question, what are we going to do about it? Will it take plagues from God before we begin to reform our ways?

Boils – Exodus 9:8-12

This is another plague that we find featured later in the book of Revelation. To help give some reasoning to why these Egyptian plagues continue to recur, I think that what we need to understand is that the plagues of Egypt were not singular, isolated events. What I mean by this is that God speaks to Israel in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 that He shall send these selfsame plagues upon Israel if they are disobedient. So, for example, when you read in Deuteronomy 28:27 that God will sent this exact same plague (boils) upon disobedient Israel, we shouldn’t be surprised.

These are the judgments of God. Upon the false gods of Egypt does God send judgment, but let us not forget that over and over again Israel’s disobedience is due to their forsaking God. It isn’t simply that Israel is disobedient because they don’t keep the kosher diet. Throughout the whole of the Old Testament we have cycle after cycle of Israel casting aside their LORD to embrace other foreign deities. These plagues against Egypt were to speak against the gods of Egypt. The plagues against Israel were to speak against the gods of Israel.

Thus, when we come to Revelation, we need to have this sort of comprehension. Why do we find replicas of the Egyptian plagues in the book of Revelation? It is because Revelation revolves around Israel, not just the land, but the people. Israel is being judged, and specifically the Jerusalem that will embrace an antichrist figure (namely, the beast) over and above her true King.

We’re stuck between the rock and hard place. On one side we see the Egyptian plagues being for the sake of Israel’s deliverance. On the other side, we see the Egyptian plagues repeated in Israel’s history, and even prophesied as coming upon them at the end of the age. If we take this too far, we are liable to expecting that the Jew is simply cursed, and that there is no means of salvation upon them. If we don’t take it seriously enough, we will embrace the modern state of Israel in a manner that the Jew and Israel can do no wrong.

Let us be clear: God has bigger plans than simply plaguing the Egyptians within these passages. Let also be clearer: God has bigger plans than sending judgment upon disobedient Israel. There is never a mention of God desiring to destroy Egypt within the book of Exodus. Instead, there are statements of the Egyptians coming to know Him, Pharaoh coming to know Him, and judgment being sent upon the gods of Egypt. Similarly, the prophets never prophesied destruction of Israel. Instead, they prophesied of a remnant to survive, and that remnant coming to know the LORD their God.

With these boils, we need to be careful how we treat the text. If we simply clap our hands at how far God will go to deliver His people, we do much damage. If it is only analogy, only a spiritual assuaging of the kingdom of darkness, then what significance is there at all? We often place ourselves in the text far too quickly. Israel itself is in the midst of this, watching as the Egyptians are receiving these plagues. At the same time, there is indeed a spiritual phenomenon taking place, and it does indeed have application to us in our present day.

Boils themselves are mentioned as coming upon Job as well. This man was not being judged, and yet Satan buffeted him. Are the boils themselves something that only God sends? No. These boils are so crippling that the magicians can’t even show their faces before Moses. Job despised them and their torment so much that he literally scraped them off of his skin with broken glass and pottery.

What might it be that you and I can find within this? Is there hope? Do you feel sympathy for the Egyptians? Are they mere innocent victims? Why would God say that He is sending judgment upon their gods, and then so ruthlessly affect the people themselves?

It is precisely here that we have a question worth an answer. Why would God inflict the Egyptians if His desire is to inflict the gods of Egypt? When you examine the cultures around the world, the culture is influenced and manipulated by the demonic forces at play behind them. There is an unseen realm, what Paul calls the principalities and powers. To what degree are people given over to those demonic powers, and to what degree are they acting of their own volition? That itself is the question of the mystery of iniquity. Just as the incarnation of Jesus revealed to us the freedom of God to reveal Himself to humanity, and the freedom of humanity to receive that revelation, so it shall be revealed at the end of the age just how manipulated humanity is by those demonic powers, and how much humanity itself has been “depraved”.

These aren’t happy thoughts, but they’re necessary. I’m not sure I have sufficient answers to the questions raised. I only have my own intuition, which is questionable to say the least.

Pestilence – Exodus 9:1-7

In the previous plague, there was the allusion to the sacred animals of Egypt – specifically the lambs. Now we find that the animals are plagued, receiving “pestilence”. We see that this plague comes from “the hand of the LORD”, in contrast with “the finger of God” (8:15). The hand is the symbol of power, and this is exactly the point. The plague is so severe that the Pharaoh must send to the Israelites to see if it reached them or not. This is obviously a sign of his lack in self-confidence at this point, but even so, he still is hardened and refuses to concede.

Within the plague upon Egypt, we have another parallel in the New Testament. Jesus Himself prophesied that at the end of the age there should be pestilence (Lk 21:11).

Again, though, I confess that I’m at a loss as to the deeper significance of pestilence. Just like with the frogs, when something is found toward the beginning and the end, I assume there is a greater significance. Why is the only mention of frogs in the whole Bible found in the plagues and in Revelation 16? Why, here with pestilence, is there such significance given of pestilence as a plague at the beginning and end?

It is not as though this word is uncommon, though. It occurs 49 times in the Old Testament, and every time it is something that is sent from God. This kind of ‘sickness’ or ‘disease’ is not brought about by improper living, like HIV or something. This disease comes from the hand of God, and from the hand of God alone. While HIV is transmitted even by birth, and so there are some who have the disease that are innocent, that is simply not the case with this ‘pestilence’. Over and over again, we find that God sends this as a judgment, first upon Egypt, and then as judgment upon Israel for her waywardness.

When Jesus speaks that there should be “pestilence”, the Greek word only shows up in one other place. We find it solely in Luke 21:11, and then again later (at least a derivative) in Acts 24:5. Paul is called a “pest”, or a “petulant man”, for stirring up against the Jews according to the sect of the Nazarene. This man Paul is being likened unto the pestilence that we would expect only saved for the most severe judgment of God against His people…

In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, the word chosen for “pestilence” is thanatos. Now, normally this word is translated as “death”. For example, in Revelation 6:8, we read that the fourth horseman will kill people with sword, famine, “death”, and wild beasts. It is the same Greek word. What is most likely is that John is pulling from the LXX in order to suggest that this fourth horseman is plaguing with pestilence, likening his vision with the story of the Exodus.

So, we’re still left with an impasse.

What are your thoughts? What is it about this ‘pestilence’ that has such deed significance?