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.

Advertisements

Within Herod’s Courts – Matthew 2:1-12

In the days of the Roman Empire, there was a conundrum. The Empire stretched from Britain to India. How do you, as Caesar, rule a people that are thousands of miles away? If someone in modern day Pakistan rebelled, what do you do? It takes weeks just to get there… Here is where Caesar established authorities over the various regions of his empire. Over Judea was Herod, who was half Edomite and half ‘Jew’ (some debate this).

In the recent history of the Jews, they would have Antiochus Epiphanes oppressing them, and the Maccabees rising up in rebellion during this time. God was with the Maccabees, and they were victorious to throw off the oppression of Antiochus. This was when Greece ruled the world. After Greece came Rome, and with Rome came more oppression upon Israel and the Jews. This time, there is no deliverer… yet. The people are wondering if there would be a messiah, the promised one like Moses, who would rescue the people from their oppression and rule as King of the Jews, as all the prophets declared should come.

When we enter Matthew 2, we read of these “wise men” or “magi” who come up to Herod and ask, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” At this time, Herod was ‘king of the Jews’. Rome had put him in that authority. As any good psychopathic and paranoid ruler would think (name me one ruler who wasn’t…), I’m certain that the question running through Herod’s mind was, “Who is this person that is now on the top of my death list?”

For this reason, you have the very next verse speaking of Herod being troubled. But, here is the kicker: so is all of Jerusalem with him. Jerusalem, the city of God, where God put His name, chosen out of all of the world for the Tabernacle and Temple to dwell, where the King of the Jews rules, and where God sends forth His light into all the world, and all the nations are around about this one central place… THAT Jerusalem is now “troubled” or “vexed” at the coming of her king? How can this be? What kind of Jerusalem is it that so identifies with Herod that it despises the day of her true King’s coming?

In this day, Herod taxed the people about 80-90% of their income. I blanket Herod as the one who taxes the people so harshly, but be assured, Jerusalem has a lot to do with it. You’re either rich in Jerusalem, or you’re homeless. Only the religious elite could afford to be there, who were at the Temple, and who were getting wealthy off of the severe taxes that the Temple now began to enforce on the people. Herod taxed you. Herod’s workers taxed you. You had to tithe to the Temple. You had to buy your offerings. You then had to pay tax on those offerings. You had to pay taxes to Caesar. You had to pay taxes because Caesar is God, and Herod is his authority over you. By the time that you get through the dozens of taxes each person and family had to pay, you end up with almost nothing for yourself and your family. People were losing their family homes. They were taking up occupation that they had never known in towns they had never known.

While the people continue to get poorer and poorer, they in Jerusalem are getting richer and richer. The Pharisees were getting rich off of all of the taxes, but what might surprise you is that the Pharisees were not the ones who were employed by the State. You see, every year, the High Priest was chosen by Herod or some other Roman official, and every time it was given to a Sadducee. The Sadducees were Roman officials, paying tribute and homage to Rome above and beyond anyone else. This is why you find mention of the Pharisees at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin, but not before Pilate. The Pharisees were too pious, and wouldn’t have ever entered into the court of a Gentile.

These peoples were things that at the time of Matthew being written would have been understood. 2000 years later, we think that Jesus despised the Pharisees, because they were religious bigots who crucified Him. This is not entirely true. The Pharisees were devout to God, and desired to see the coming of Messiah, but what caused their downfall (mostly) was their tedious and meticulous analysis of the Scripture, and their unbearable weight that they put upon the people to follow that Scripture. It says in Deuteronomy that we should not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Therefore, don’t eat cheese with meat. No cheeseburgers. No pizza. No salad with meat and cheese. No chili cheese dogs.

Jesus comes and begins to speak a message entirely contrary to this. You see, it is interesting to me that it isn’t just the words of Jesus, but even His birth that is at utter enmity with the world and its kingdoms. We find here that everything that Herod’s kingdom represents is being cast aside. Herod is known for his great monuments and accomplishments. He rebuilt the mountains in the desert so that when a rain occurs, the water would flow directly to his house on top of the mountain that he built for it to sit upon. Within this house, archaeologists in the 60’s discovered some canned dates. They opened the can and ate them… and then visited the royal bathroom. (That last part was a joke.)

Everything that Herod did was massive and incredibly technologically advanced. He built a stadium that has over 500,000 seats in it, and more of it is still being dug up. And here is the whole point. What is it that you’re world revolves around? Are you the people in Jerusalem making it rich, because you’re the elite of your field, and you work for the guy who is doing everything huge and in massive ways? Is your world revolving around the monuments and money that can be achieved? What is your king? Is it money? Prestige? Monuments? Palaces with pools so big that you have to take a boat across? Who rules you?

For the people outside of Jerusalem, who aren’t making the big bucks, they are being taxed more and more and more. They are being robbed of their family homes, inherited from Joshua. Generations have lived on this family land, and now it comes to you, or your father, and suddenly you can’t keep the land. Can you imagine the shame? Can you imagine the hurt? Does that sound like “the Gospel” to you? Does that sound like freedom? Does that sound like peace, hope, and love?

With the coming of Jesus, and the magi even mentioning that His star has risen, we find that what God is proclaiming is an end to Herod’s system. This kingdom that builds its empire off of oppression and slavery, is about to collapse. The real King has come, which means that Herod is not.

In Numbers 24:17, Balaam prophesied of a “star” that is “not now” and “not near”, but shall come from Judah, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel. It is possible that this is what Matthew is alluding to, and also possible that this is an actual occurrence (a star moving across the sky in an abnormal way, which is actually what caused for people to believe that Julius Caesar was ‘ascending to the gods’). It doesn’t have to be either or, by the way.

Thus, Herod seeks counsel from they who are supposed to know where the “King of the Jews” is to be born. The answer is a quotation of Micah 5:2, which says specifically that the Messiah shall come from Bethlehem. Yet, notice that when you go back to Micah 5, you have this statement continuing in verse 3: “Therefore he (messiah) shall give them (Israel) up, until the time that she who is in labor has given birth (Isa 66:8, Rev 12:1-5); then the remnant of his brethren (Israel that has been cast off) shall return to the children of Israel.” If you have a different way of interpreting Micah 5:1-3, please let me know, but it seems like this is the most plain translation that I can give.

Matthew is using this verse specifically. It might have been that the religious leaders used this verse, but what Matthew is pointing out to us is that there is something going on beyond just that verse. It isn’t merely that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. No, Matthew wants us to catch the context, because it answers for us a lot of questions we’re going to be faced with later. Why is it that Jesus would say that “the kingdom shall be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit”? Because the tax collectors and prostitutes are believing, but the Pharisees and Sadducees are not. But, the point needs to be remembered, they who are believing in Matthew’s Gospel are all ‘Jews’, and the quotation here of Micah 5:2 should remind us that they shall not be cast off forever, but ‘until’.

It is interesting to note that Matthew, most likely writing to Jews, mentions the Gentiles coming to honor Jesus’ birth. Yet, Luke, most likely writing to Gentiles, mentions the Jewish shepherds coming. What they bring before Jesus has been prophesied in Psalm 72:10-12, 15, and in Isaiah 60:6. I don’t believe that Isaiah 49:23 is fulfilled here, because there are a couple things not mentioned by Matthew, and the context of Isaiah 49 doesn’t permit it. However, there is no reason to doubt the allusion to the psalm and Isaiah 60:6 mentioned above.

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?

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.

Finger of God – Exodus 8:16-19

Within this passage, Aaron stretches out his rod over the dust of the earth, and the dust becomes lice. For the first two plagues, the magicians could replicate it. Yet, this time, they are without power to do the same miracle. This third plague comes without warrant, that is, without warning. It is because of this that the magicians declare, “This is the finger of God!”

When we turn the Gospel of Luke, we have the exact same phrase repeated. It is the finger of God that the psalmist declares created the heavens and the earth (Ps 8:3). Now this very finger is producing a plague against the Egyptians that is most likely unbearable. Whether we see these insects as gnats, mosquitos, or lice, all three are pests that we all can’t imagine the severity of what it must be to have them swarming in terrifying masses.

In Luke 11, Jesus is being questioned by the Pharisees. They claim that He casts out demons by the prince of demons. Jesus responds by claiming that you must bind the strongman in order to dispossess him. He asks by what means the Pharisees and their sons cast demons out. In between those two statements are the words, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

What is Jesus saying?

He is pointing back to this event, specifically this statement of the magicians, and making the connection that God revealed to the Egyptians that their gods are not gods. It is the God of Israel who is God, and their gods are unable to stand before Him. This statement is more than just to admit that God is real, or that God has worked this. It is an acknowledgement that the gods of Egypt have not been able to do these mighty acts, and that next to this plague, it is obvious that Israel’s God is truly a God indeed.

The demons cannot stand against the power of God. It is through the Spirit of God, according to Matthew 12:28, that Jesus does this. Here it is that we have the finger of God, the Spirit of God, and the Kingdom of God being paralleled with one another. The act that was taking place in Exodus was the establishment of the Kingdom. The act that Jesus is performing is equally an establishing of the Kingdom. To then equate that with the kingdom of darkness is to blaspheme the Spirit, which shall not be forgiven (Matt 12:31-32).

I find this text incredibly interesting. It has a lot of concepts strung together, which makes it difficult to perceive all of the layers. However, there is a lot that is easy to perceive. We see meat to the mature, and milk to the babes.

Fruits of the Flesh – Galatians 5:19-21

Lets begin by looking at the first statement, then the last, and then listing out the “fruits” of the flesh. So, first off, notice that Paul is asserting that the fruits of the flesh are “evident”, or “obvious”. It isn’t any mystery as to what acts are of the flesh and which acts are spiritual. This isn’t rocket science, nor something debatable. If you know even the most elementary things of Christianity, you shouldn’t have to ask many questions before you come to these.

With that said, let us not be surprised at what is listed. And, let us not be surprised that “those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God”. How can they? They do the very things that are the antithesis of the Kingdom of God. This would be like an American who wants to destroy America. If you hate America so much that you forcefully battle in all of your ways against the very foundation of what America is and stands for, then you have no reason to be within America. Now, this isn’t about patriotism, but the Kingdom of God. If the Kingdom of God is about certain things, such as love, hope, faith, peace, and righteousness, then how can you expect they who hate to be a part of that Kingdom? If the Kingdom is righteous, then would it really be heaven for the unrighteous to dwell there? If the Kingdom is of self-control, will the impulsive and undisciplined actually find it to be heaven?

Adultery
Jesus defined this pretty sharply when claiming that to even look at a woman with lust is to commit adultery. Essentially, what Jesus is getting at is that the act of adultery doesn’t begin with intercourse, but way before that there was a moment when your heart went from recognizing the beauty of the other person to desiring them. It was at that moment, when you went from recognizing the beauty to desiring them sexually that you not only committed adultery, but began to see them as an object for your own pleasure and satisfaction.

Fornication
Just like adultery, this act doesn’t begin with the pre-marital sex, but with the moment that you go from simply being attracted to the other person to pursuing more than mere “attraction”. Now, here is the interesting thing: Often, the act of sexual intimacy isn’t condemned in the Bible. Fornication isn’t simply the act of having sex outside of marriage, but having sex for pleasure. When you will have sex with someone, only to then move on to the next person, you have committed fornication. Once again, this gets back to the heart of seeing people as objects instead of people. I think the biblical response to a couple who were attempting to remain pure, but got carried away in the heat of a certain moment, is that we allow them to get married. Don’t tell them they sinned and now need to break up. Instead, if they can’t keep their hands off of one another, let them express such things in the bonds of marriage. These are two completely different circumstances and dispositions of the heart, and therefore need to be treated as such. (BTW, not condoning pre-marital sex, but simply trying to help give better advice than the kind of condemnation that will lead to people forsaking Christ. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of people in my generation who probably have already had sex, or performed sexual acts, before they’re 20. How about we think through what we’re saying to them.)

Uncleanness
In Leviticus, uncleanness was never treated the same as sin. Sin meant that you needed to repent and offer these sacrifices in order to be made right before God again. Uncleanness simply required washing yourself and then at the evening sacrifice you were made clean. Certain things did require an amount of time to be made clean (like the purification after child birth – Lev 12), but most of the time it was an issue of doing something, or having something happen to you, that defiled your body, and therefore wasn’t specifically sinful. It’s on this list because from a New Testament perspective it isn’t what goes into a man, nor what is necessarily a “defect” or sickness, that makes a man unclean, but rather what comes out of the man (Matthew 15:11).

Lewdness
What is lewdness? Is it not the very thing of the heart that has already been expressed through adultery and fornication, only the outward display of it? It is lewd to be sexually profane, whether in word or in action, but it’s also lewd to display any kind of indecent or profane behavior. Once again, it comes from the heart that is bent toward injustice, objectifying people, using people for selfishness, and bigotry.

Idolatry
Idolatry in the Old Testament is often the spiritual counterpart to adultery. Whereas adultery is the physical act of cheating on your spouse, idolatry is the spiritual act of following other gods. Idolatry is manifest in any thing that you devote yourself to in order to find satisfaction, relief, and/or happiness – especially, but not exclusively, when that is found in a religious context. When you’re relieved from the sense of shame through “things” that you do, you have committed idolatry. This could include even religious things, like tithing. It isn’t through tithing that you’re saved, but through faith in Christ Jesus. It isn’t by sports that you find the deep satisfaction of your soul, the calling upon your life, but by being what God has created you to be in Christ.

Sorcery
There is a verse in the Old Testament that claims rebellion is worse than witchcraft. Some have taken this to mean rebellion IS witchcraft, but I’m not so quick to endorse that. There are obvious examples of sorcery and witchcraft in the New Testament, Simon the sorcerer of Acts 8 being one of them. Sorcery endorses the wisdom of demons, and the power of demons, in order to accomplish signs and wonders. I can say that this happens within the “church”, especially when healings, miracles, demonic deliverance, etc are being promoted heavily. It isn’t through God’s wisdom and compassion that such things take place, but through a carnal grasping of things that the Bible says, and therefore an unholy boldness in “naming and claiming” through the supposed “power” of those Scriptures and Jesus’ name. It’s sorcery at its finest.

Hatred
Hatred doesn’t begin with a condemnation toward another human being, but with being angry at your brother/sister for no warrant. Jesus said that anyone who says, “Raca” shall be condemned to hellfire, but why? Raca is the term used to say someone is worthless. You feel as though there is nothing that this person can contribute to society, nor the world in general, and therefore you hate them. To consider someone worthless is to hate, and that doesn’t begin with the feeling of “worthlessness”, but rather with the anger and bitterness that should be processed and overcome. When you can go from acknowledging someone on the road, being angry with them cutting you off, and then go from there to blowing past them without even considering that person at all, you have begun the process of hatred.

Contentions
Contentions are brought about by moments that should be overcome. A brother/sister offends you, and so what do you do? Biblically, we should go to them (and them alone), and should strive to work out our differences. If they won’t listen to you, then take someone else with you to talk to them. Reason with the other person. If they caused offense, what is it that they did that specifically offended? If they won’t listen to that, then they don’t have a tender heart (another way of saying their heart is still hardened, and possibly unchanged by the Gospel). Contentions arise when we won’t consult one another to work things out, but rather gossip or let things fester.

Jealousies
Once again, jealousies arise when we see “worthlessness”. This time, it isn’t another who is worthless, but self. Why be jealous of what another has, whether physically or spiritually? Has God not created you to be different, and therefore not have the same things? Why, then, jealousy? They don’t have what you have, and you don’t have what they have. Rejoice in that, because God builds all things together according to His wisdom and not out own.

Outbursts of Wrath
This is the expression of hatred, contentions, and anger. If you are not willing to deal with these issues like healthy adults, then it will explode at some time in some way. Whether in physical violence or verbal/emotional violence, it makes no difference. Both require that hatred, contentions, and anger fester instead of being dealt with.

Selfish Ambitions
This doesn’t mean that we should have no goals or hopes or ambitions. What it means is that our ambitions should be loving enough to consider others. Why does Paul say to seek prophecy? We have thought we should seek tongues, but Paul doesn’t say to seek tongues. He says to seek prophecy, or if you do seek tongues to also seek the interpretation of tongues. Why? Because it is the loving thing to do. Above all, seek love, which then leads straightway into “seek prophecy”. Why? Prophecy edifies the whole Body, and interpretation of tongues edifies the whole Body, but the gift of tongues only edifies you. Do you see how this is an example of selfish ambition?

Dissensions
This is similar to contention, but doesn’t specifically have to result in anger or offense. It could be that you are jealous, that you gossip, that you don’t like someone, or even that you disagree doctrinally. Doctrinal differences aren’t to result in church splits or denominationalism. Is there not one truth? If there is one truth, then why split churches? Should we not wrestle together until we come to the same conclusions?

Heresies
Heresy is not simply false teaching. Heresy is the renunciation of all truth. It is the establishment of lies in the place of truth. Heresy demands that you have said something so contrary to the truth that there is absolutely no way that you are in Christ, but rather are antichrist. You’ve rejected truth on such a fundamental level that the only satisfactory response is damnation.

Envy
This is likened to jealousy. What do you have that you have not received could be changed to, “What do they have that they have not received?”

Murders
Jesus’ point in Matthew 5 was that murder starts with the heart. It begins by saying someone is worthless, and then progresses to even further extremes. Not only are they worthless, but actually a hindrance to society, and the world would be better without this person. Have you ever heard someone say something like that? They might not have actually murdered someone, but they haven’t done any better by expressing “young earth creationists”, or Christians/Jews in general, are a hindrance to the progression of society.

Drunkenness
This comes down to self-indulgence. One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control. When you can’t even control yourself enough to know how much you can drink before getting drunk, you haven’t only sinned against your own body, but against the very drink itself. Alcohol isn’t forthright condemned in the Bible, but drunkenness is. You can treat the alcohol with respect, knowing that wine has some medicinal properties, and that alcohol itself can relax your muscles. I can add to this the very lack of self-restrain that obesity demands. It isn’t genetics, nor a sickness, but self-indulgence that brings about obesity. These things are not fitting for the Kingdom, and they who struggle with them need to be encouraged with a godly encouragement.

Revelries
This is like partying, which if you’ve ever been to a college party, you know exactly why this is condemned. Hollywood exaggerates, this is true, but that doesn’t mean that the mentality doesn’t exist or pervade many of the college parties. That mindset can be very much alive without the need for a “party”.

Let My People Go – Exodus 5

I find it interesting that the chapter opens to Moses and Aaron going to Pharaoh, inquiring that he let the people of Israel go three days journey into the wilderness to have a feast. What is interesting about this is that there God tells Moses that He will deliver Israel, and they shall come back to Sinai and worship the Lord there. When we read later of that journey, it takes 50 days to get there. It causes me to wonder what a three day journey into the wilderness meant.

What I find equally interesting is that Pharaoh’s response  invokes the reaction that God has visited the Israelites, and that they want to harken unto His voice, lest He bring forth curses and plagues upon them. Once again, when we look at what God has said, He has decreed plagues upon Egypt – even declaring that He would take Pharaoh’s firstborn. So, I wonder where this comes from. Why are they appealing to Pharaoh in this manner?

The Pharaoh then responds by enforcing a harsher slavery upon the people. He claims that the reason these people are crying out to their God is because they are idle without anything to do. How ludicrous does this sound to you? They’re in such terrible oppression they can’t do anything but cry out to the Lord, the Lord hears their cry, and now Pharaoh thinks that they’re just lazy. It’s so obviously a mock that it’s almost humorous. Pharaoh can’t be that ignorant.

What happened to the original plan? Wasn’t the plan to go to Pharaoh and show forth the signs, and let him know that God means business? Yet, there is no mention of this, and even with the end of the chapter, you find Moses crying out to God because all that has taken place is worse bondage than before. It is precisely here that my mind questions where the steadfast Moses is that we will come to know and love later? Why is he so manipulated by the people’s jaunts and complaints, and why is he so quick to doubt what the Lord has told him?

I admit that I see this passage as having end time significance. It is a pattern. The people Israel are held in bondage by a Pharaoh that is not simply “pharaoh”. Just as I discussed last time that the political infrastructure called “Egypt” was ruled by the principalities and powers, so too do I claim that the Jerusalem that we currently see, which represents rabbinic Judaism to the uttermost, is a Jerusalem of bondage. The law, as it is so called, is an object of oppression, seizing the one who attempts to live according to it through the flesh, salvation by works.

Yet, it is to that Israel, the one in bondage, the one who doesn’t yet obey the Lord, the one who grumbles and declares, “The Lord judge between us”, that God has called “my people”. He goes to the Moses, who is the deliverer, and He tells this Moses to go unto Pharaoh. Now, here is where we have a bit of a double meaning. The deliverer is Christ Jesus, who made a public spectacle of the principalities and powers through triumphing over them by the cross. Yet, it is not to Jesus alone that this call goes, but to all who hold to the testimony of Jesus, and who obey the commands of God. Who could that be but we Christians? We are the deliverer unto Israel.

It is our mandate to go unto the pharaoh of this world, wrestling with the principalities and powers, declaring to them boldly in the authority of our God, “Let my people go!” Yet, if we don’t really believe them to be His people, then how can we make such a demand? And, if we don’t really believe that we have the authority, then how can we say such things with confidence? To this we find Moses, who questions the Lord here, as he has done time and again in the past up to this point. It is like the prophet Ezekiel who looks at the valley of dry bones, and God asks, “Can these bones live?” The prophet doesn’t say, “Yes”, but “you know, Lord”. The question demands a faith beyond the prophet, and yet it is the prophet who is told to prophesy.

Why is it that when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, anything but the peace of Jerusalem comes? Are we not praying hard enough? It isn’t understood by most that there must be hard times. It must happen that Pharaoh reacts the way he does. It is for this reason that we read in Exodus, as well as in the prophets, that Israel “scatters” (Ex 5:12). In Exodus 5, they scatter throughout Egypt. In the last days, they shall scatter through the whole world. Jesus has predicted it, that when  you see the abomination of desolation that they in Judea shall flee to the mountains. Why? Because when the armies surround Jerusalem, its desolation is near.

There is a parallel happening here. The prophets used a language that suggests a last days exodus for the people Israel. They are sifted (scattered) through the wilderness of the nations, completely groping as one who walks in the darkness, while God has declared that He has prepared a place for them in that selfsame wilderness (Revelation 12:6). That preparation is His Church, for it is written, “and they shall take care of her 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6). Who is the “they” if not the church? For this reason, the result is that the dragon turns his focus upon “her other children”, who are they that hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).

The plagues of Revelation parallel the plagues of Egypt (at least some of them). It is a reiteration of this same story. In Exodus, it leads to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and it continues unto Joshua where they inherit the land. All things in their time: first the natural, and then the spiritual – just like Adam came before the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). First it was Israel to be redeemed from the physical Egypt and into the physical land, but at the end of the age it shall be from the spiritual “Egypt” and “Pharaoh”, who are Satan and the kingdom of darkness, to come unto the spiritual “land”, which is Zion.  That doesn’t discredit the actual physical land and sifting, but all the more heightens it. There is deeper spiritual significance here, and that spiritual significance doesn’t get annulled simply because Israel shall be redeemed spiritually at the end of the age. Indeed, just as the prophets have spoken, they shall be redeemed, and shall return unto the land of Israel, unto their messiah, and shall dwell with Him as His people forever.

The Plagues Overview – Exodus 5-12

This section of Exodus begins with Moses and Aaron going before Pharaoh, and ends with the Passover and the declaration to leave Egypt. It progresses from confrontation to freedom. In this section, the significance for you and I is to recognize the plagues as more than plaguing Egypt, Pharaoh, or the Egyptians. Here is where the rubber meets the road in Christianity.

We cannot believe in systems, whether governments, religious, or academic. A system is an institution, a machine established to produce a certain result. For businesses, the machine is worked through marketing, management, and “customer service”. The workers themselves are merely numbers, and expendable at that. The workers are simply means to the end – growth in the company as well as wealth. For government, a system is even easier to recognize. For we Americans, we just have to look at Washington D.C. and how far outside of actual American culture it is. The famous quote by George W. Bush makes it clear, “Not everyone would pick lettuce for $50/hour.”

Over these systems, the principalities and powers rage. What the secular/pagans don’t know is that they aren’t simply devoting their attention to science. It isn’t about saying that science proves truth, but about devoting your entire existence to demons. They who are so naive to think that if you can’t test it, it isn’t real only show forth blindness that goes beyond human capacity.

Organisms are not this way. The Body of Christ is exactly that – a body. A body is not something that is mechanical. Our church services might be, but the Church itself is not. If we are indeed connected to the Head, who is the creator of the universe, then we should not find the boring and mundane repetition that characterizes our services. Truly, the problem is that our buildings and programs are not run out of the authenticity of the life of God, but rather from the expectancy that the “show must go on”. There is an agenda. The people come for a certain kind of biblical teaching, they want to hear some sort of moving music that they can sing along with (and they want to either know the words, or learn the words quickly), and maybe they want to then know that there are certain programs or events in place that “benefit the community”.

That kind of Christianity is Egypt.

Egypt is the definition of system. It builds an empire for itself, amassing great wealth and prestige among the other nations, and yet builds this empire upon the backs of slaves. Modern Evangelical Christianity has enslaved the pastor, which is why the pastor has to pay so much in insurance, is stressed almost daily, many pastors have been divorced at least once, and they are financially almost unable to stay afloat. We have erected a Christianity that is based upon self. I can prove this by the question you ask when you leave the meeting: “What did you think of the sermon? What did you think of the worship? What would you like to eat?”

Over Egypt are gods, which are not truly gods, but demons. It is these unseen powers that pervade our societies and cultures – including the Christian society and culture if we’re not careful. Whereas I thought for a long time that the principalities and powers was a subject exclusive to the New Testament, I am beginning to see it everywhere. Our understanding of what Paul is expressing as “the principalities and powers” cannot come from Ephesians alone, or from the handful of other passages that mention them either directly or indirectly. Where does Paul get his understanding? Is it strictly from the Holy Spirit, or is there a reference in the Old Testament that he would have been able to provide?

I think one of the places that Paul would have used is this very passage. In Exodus 5-12, we have the plagues of Egypt, but they are not sent in judgment upon the Egyptians, nor Pharaoh, for enslaving God’s people. Rather, these plagues are sent in judgment upon “the gods of Egypt” (Ex 12:12). Now, either the gods of Egypt are just wooden or stone carvings, not really anything at all, or they are indeed something. If they are nothing, which is certainly attested to in the Old Testament, then why would God send judgment upon them?

What is happening here we find explained in Deuteronomy 32:16-17. The idol itself is nothing. As Isaiah mocks, with half of the log they keep themselves warm, but with the other half they carve their idol. How can you be so ignorant to bow down to an idol that you yourself carved, even knowing that the other half of the log was used for firewood? What significance could your idol possibly have? Yet, what Moses is saying, and it’s ultimately God saying it here, is that the idol itself is only a representation of a demon that is truly being worshiped. That demon has the power to cause for titillations and “feelings” so that the worshiper will continue to bow down, completely convinced that they are indeed worshiping gods, because they can feel it.

Science is no different. Think of the many atheist scientists who are not willing to simply do their jobs. They have an agenda, and if you start to disagree with their beliefs, they must rise up in furor to defend “science”. That kind of zeal does not come from simply being devoted to your job, nor does it come from a love of your study. That kind of zeal only comes from a devotion to something beyond the physical world.

The Egyptians plagues are plagues against the demonic realm. We find this significance in multiple ways, not the least of which being that the plagues of Revelation mirror many of the plagues of Exodus. This is a pattern. God doesn’t combat the principalities by us “casting down strongholds” or claiming “in the name of Jesus”. This kind of dethroning only comes through plagues, which is attested to in 1 Kings 17-18 as well. For they who are desiring to overthrow the rule of the demonic forces at work in our nations, states, cities, or churches, we must understand that what we are asking for is a plague that neuters any possibility of that god being considered as having power.

Those Which Are Not Gods – Galatians 4:8-20

Within this passage of Scripture, Paul is conveying a connection with the kingdom of darkness and the “elements” that has already been defined as law. Notice where this passage comes. We’ve been noticing how Galatians 3 is Paul’s excursus on Genesis 12-17, and we’ve noticed that the conclusion of that exegesis is our adoption as sons and daughters through faith in Christ Jesus. Now Paul turns focus again upon the law and the notion of salvation through works, and identifies such a notion with demons.

It seems harsh, but is there something to this? For the sake of not putting forth too many words in this blog post, let me just put up some key passages for you to read at your leisure. Notice the theme here. All of them revolve around “law”, and all of them are letters of Paul:
Romans 6:7
Romans 6:11-14
Romans 6:8 (out of order on purpose)
Romans 6:23-7:6
Romans 7:7-12
Romans 7:14
Romans 7:21-25
Romans 8:1-4
Romans 8:7-9
1 Corinthians 15:25-26
1 Corinthians 15:51-56
Galatians 1:4
Galatians 1:13-16
Galatians 2:4
Galatians 2:14
Galatians 2:16
Galatians 2:19-21
Galatians 3:2-3
Galatians 3:10-13
Galatians 4:17-18
Galatians 4:4-9 (out of order on purpose)
Galatians 4:21-26
Galatians 4:31-5:5
Colossians 2:11-23

Aside from the list being rather large, it is neither thorough nor exhaustive. You’ll notice that not all of the passages use the word “law”, but there does seem to be a common interweaving of themes throughout all of these passages. It doesn’t take long before you begin to realize that Paul sees the law and the principalities and powers side-by-side. For Paul, the law is not simply about letters and commands written on stone at Sinai, but instead an entire system of religion that has been established in order to “do for God” what we think He requires. The law is about righteousness through our own ambition and ability; because we have zeal to memorize what the Law says, and because we have the gumption to attempt to live accordingly to it, we feel as though we’ve attained a certain righteousness through observance of the law.

Now, what Paul is not saying is that the law is the work of the devil. Nor is Paul saying that the law is not to be observed. Rather, the point is pressed that righteousness comes through faith, and through faith alone. To be under the law is to use the wisdom of the principalities and powers, which is to say, to use our own strength and endurance, in order to attain unto righteousness. However, it is a false righteousness. This is why Paul tells the Galatians not to submit again under the law, because the law is not simply the written words of the Old Testament, but a wisdom that promotes self-righteousness according to deeds and accomplishment. Through the wisdom of the principalities and powers, we formulate a conception of righteousness, and we thus pursue that end through our own strength, but the Law of Christ is freedom in the Holy Spirit – to walk according to the fruits of the Spirit.

This is why Jesus tells us that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. That sentence should strike fear into our hearts. Yet, we don’t fear because we don’t realize the absolute righteousness that the Pharisees had. If you wanted to know who to model your life after, you modeled it after the Pharisees. They were the ultimate example of godliness. Only the most elite and the most learned could possibly be considered a Pharisee. Then Jesus tells those He is speaking to – most likely common folk – that their righteousness needs to exceed that. It isn’t humanly possible, and that is the point. Our righteousness is not according to the works of the Law, but rather according to the Spirit.

How it is that the law is the wisdom of principalities and powers? What do I mean to imply?

We can look to passages like Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28 to find the fall of “Lucifer” (which is Latin for morning star). In both places, what is acknowledged is the pride of this ‘angel’s’ heart. The reason that law and self-righteousness through the law is the very mindset and pattern of demons is because it formulates a pride in the heart. It is thinking outside of the command of God; it is concluding that what I believe to be true and good must indeed be that which is true and good. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents this fully. It isn’t that God doesn’t want us to have knowledge, nor that He doesn’t want us to discern (such things are commanded of us even in the New Testament), but that this kind of knowledge is a humanly contrived knowledge rather than revelation.

In Colossians, the Greek word used representing these “basic principles” is stoicheia. It is a neuter plural from the root, which means “first principles”. When Paul uses this word, he seems to be drawing a parallel between the principalities and the basic principles of nature. Here we have “principalities” and “powers”. The prinipalities are the very demonic forces demanding worship through the medium of these unseen “forces” (powers) that dictate nature. Now, for the Hebrew, the forces that dictate nature are not simply contained to nature. The Hebrew mind sees emotion, societal culture, and aspects of daily life all under the same kind of “powers”. For the true Hebrew, it is God who is in control, who gives and takes away. For the idolatrous Hebrew of the Old Testament, they attribute such things to beings that are not god.

Ultimately, when we attempt to plunge into the depths of understanding the law in the mouth of Paul, we end up finding difficulty because it so heavily depends upon the principalities and powers, and the power of sin. Often Paul mentions the law and sin right next to one another. Sin and death are also mentioned side-by-side. The mystery being expressed is that the bondage of the law does not come from the law per se, but from the law of sin at work within the person. We are enslaved by these powers, whether powers of morality, powers of nature, or powers of religion. The powers demand worship, and many are still worshiping the powers that be. It is upon the freedom found in Christ Jesus that we find liberty from the oppression of these powers.

In the question of what it means that the law is the power of sin, we need to understand the problem. What is it about the law that binds us to sin? We don’t simply define sin as an action, but instead a condition that we cannot be made pure apart from Christ. If we say that the Law in itself binds us to sin, then we lie, because the Law is holy and righteous. Yet, if we claim that there is something at work behind the Law, what exactly is it that is at work? If we say that the law is the power of sin, and that the law is defined as a self-righteous system of religion that desires to perform certain religious acts and functions to “be right” before God, then we see quickly how this is binding. We are constantly enslaved to a system of performance. For example, if the gods are pleased with our sacrifices, and we end up with more wealth next year, then we cannot simply offer the same offering because it pleased them last year. We must show our gratitude by offering more. But what if the gods are angry and our crop is devastated? In order to please the gods, we then need to offer more.

Thus, whether we please the gods or whether we upset the gods, we must offer more – more to either keep them pleased or to stay their wrath. In this, we find what the power of sin is. It is that false mindset that tells us we are entrapped in a system of constantly offering more and more until we’re cutting ourselves and offering our children on altars. The Law actually tells us opposite of this – once you have offered the required sacrifices, you are considered right before God. Our sacrifices are fulfilled in Christ. This is our freedom.

But for those outside of Christ, they are entrapped in a system of continuing to offer more and more. Law is a tricky word, because on the one hand it means the true and holy words of God in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which are indeed freedom and life to those who are justified through faith. Yet, there is another law, which is aimed solely at the oppression and endless cycle of never appeasing the gods. The people who continue to work hours that lead to death are enslaved to that system. Work is their god. The people who continue to find their fulfillment in relationships with others, sex and relations are their gods. Of course, when you find fulfillment in something that does not give satisfaction, you find yourself giving more and more and more until there is nothing left to give – thus resulting in death. Whether our gods are drugs, work, sex, education, religion, or the State, we are entrapped in systems of bondage through that law.

How Long Will You Waiver – Exodus 4:24-27

Zipporah calls Moses a “husband of blood”. The story is that Moses and Zipporah begin to go to Egypt, and in going to Egypt Moses hasn’t even circumcised his own son. God comes in the night to kill the boy, which stems from what God said in Genesis 17:14, and Zipporah then circumcises this boy and rebukes Moses. There are a few things happening in the surroundings of this story, just as there are a few things happening within the story.

In my notes, I have the question, “Why is it that when the saints come to Egypt, judgment follows?” I cited Genesis 12:10, Genesis 37:36, Genesis 41:25-32, and Isaiah 30. Of course, these aren’t the only examples outside of Exodus. My mind thinks of when Jeremiah tells the Israelites to not go to Egypt, and they go anyway. There does seem to be some correlation here. When it happens only a couple times, we can assume that this is simply happenstance. Yet, when this happens over and over again in Genesis, and is now happening in Exodus, we’re now at whim to ask if there is a pattern.

Beyond the connection of the saints going to Egypt, and then judgment ensues, we have the connection between Moses and Joseph forming here. Joseph was taken by the hands of Midianites to Egypt, and now Moses is going from Midian to Egypt. Just as Joseph was not recognized by his brothers at first, so too was Moses rejected and not recognized as deliverer by the Hebrew slaves. It is upon the second revealing that the brothers of Joseph, as well as the kindred of Moses recognize God’s deliverance.

Both of these things go beyond these stories and unto our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus went to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15), and that He was not recognized “by his own” the first time (John 1:11). Something is definitely being proclaimed in these patterns, even if I’m not the one to fully comprehend what exactly it is that is being proclaimed.

Within the immediate story, I think that it is fairly reasonable to suggest that what is happening is that Moses is still struggling with his identity. We discussed back in Exodus 2 that Moses has to choose whether he will be recognized as an Egyptian, who will then continue in oppressing his brethren, or if Moses shall turn against Egypt by embracing himself as Hebrew. This kind of choice is put before all of us, and is not an easy one to make.

Do you consider yourself a child of God, or a child of your natural parents? The two don’t have to be pinned against one another in every circumstance, but certainly there is a disposition of the heart to latch onto one or the other. Does your identity come from your nationality, or ancestry? Are you known as being Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Canadian, or English, or German, or whatever other nationality you might be? And, maybe more importantly, is it a thing of pride to know your heritage and that you come from such ancestry? Such things are not always sin, but certainly if you’re English and can’t accept the Irish brethren there is a problem. Or, if you’re from the Middle East and find it hard to embrace the Jew, there is a problem.

At some level, we’ve all had this same difficult choice before us. Do you identify yourself as “white”, and therefore the orient, blacks, or hispanics are something vile in your eyes? Can I turn that question around? Are you black and find it impossible to accept the white neighbor, simply because of the racism and slavery of your people 150 years ago (which I’m not oblivious to the racism continuing even unto today)? And I have a hard time with the Native Americans. How is it that we as Americans and Canadians have scooted them onto reservations, raping them both physically, emotionally, and spiritually (truly in every sense we could), forcing them into some god-forsaken land that is dearth and crying out over the blood spilt, and yet have so little recollection of what we’ve done? It isn’t about politics, or the government apologizing. It isn’t about giving them some land that is actually cultivatable. It is about recognizing the sins of our forefathers, repenting over them, and therefore not forgetting the Native American people (especially since they are still within our own borders).

And what about the difficult question of the poor? It’s hard to see poverty when you live up on the hill with five televisions, more than enough food in your fridge, enough vehicles for each family member to have one, and a wardrobe that gives plenty of options to wear something different everyday. Again, it isn’t in these things that the sin lie. It is in the heart that has embraced such things, completely discontent with life, utterly seeking wealth and dependency, and yet unable to satisfy the underlying shame and nakedness that we all feel. Why else would you need to spend more than 3 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning? What are you hiding with all the make-up, and why are you so intent upon your hair being done a certain way, and why is it so taboo to simply put clothes on and leave the house after you’ve showered?

Even in this question I notice the fatal flaw. There are people in my city who haven’t the option to shower. What about them? Are they “bums” because they don’t have the same as you? Some are; I know this. Yet, how many videos need to be put on Youtube before we realize that some homeless people are just content to live with what they have, and they don’t need the hundreds of dollars in their pockets? You want to know what true contentment is? It is when you have come to the place where if you have much, you live with what you have, and when you have little, you live within your means with what you have. It is when you don’t complain over having little, or seek more when you have much. It is when you are able to accept what you’ve been paid (or not paid), enjoying the people, animals, and creation around you for all that it brings.

Moses has a choice he has to make. Does he identify with Egypt, and thus didn’t even circumcise his own son? Or, does he identify with God and the Hebrews? Of which kingdom are you subscribing to? The one of convenience and capitolism? The one of democracy and politics? The one of wealth and easy living? The one of painlessness and comfort? These things are death, and ultimately tactics of the devil to destroy you. The Kingdom of God is totally different. These things aren’t even important, and therefore we’re living for something entirely different that the world can’t even comprehend. We’re living for a living, and in living, we’re loving. That is what overcomes darkness, and that is what destroys our cliches of “pushing back darkness”. Light doesn’t “push back darkness”; it completely scatters it. In this way, love doesn’t merely cause people to feel accepted; it sets the captive free to the uttermost.