Monthly Archives: March 2014

Go Forward!

While through reading through Exodus 14, the reader needs to keep in mind Psalm 103:7:

7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

God could explain things to Moses; the rest of them had to see God’s actions with their eyes. We know that the spirit of God was upon Moses and that’s how he could hear God.

In Exodus 14, after God had finally gotten them to move out of Egypt and after all the signs, miracles and wonders that had occurred in the process, the Israelites started to complain when they saw that Pharaoh and his armies were following them:

Exodus 14:10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. 13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. 15 And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

The Israelites could only see what they could see! Human nature without the benefit of the spirit of God continues to grope in fear. God wanted all men and women to understand His ways as evidenced by the voluminous records in the Word and the sending of holy spirit. He provided a way for ‘whosoever’ (John 3:16-not just selected individuals), through the person of Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the means to ‘go forward’ instead of vacillating and wallowing in ‘whatsoever’.

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Flight in Exodus

During the plagues of Egypt, the Israelites went through a series of different effects. The first three plagues affected them, but in the 4th plague (Exodus 8:22) Israel was separated from direct effects. I imagine what was going on still disturbed them, but they grew in recognizing God’s power and finally with the 10th plague they received the instructions to leave and carried out his instructions. They were making a big change. There was a transition period. As with all transition, there’s an uncertainty that goes along with the change.

Things that go on in the world can affect everyone, just look at the news lately. We have high powered satellites, computers and television that can bring us into events occurring across the globe. The recent airline tragedy or the Russian/Crimean situation can enter our homes with a push of a button. The news seems to go on and on without a solution on the horizon. It is so unsatisfying and unnerving.

In the Old Testament people looked forward through the shadows to the coming of Jesus Christ. The spiritual escape from bondage to the freedom of the New Covenant is a parallel to the physical escape from Egypt. There are many specific parallels when you look at Exodus 12 in depth.

Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

The redemption factor from the Old Testament to the New Testament is the Passover lamb; Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 5:7). Jesus Christ was a male without blemish. He was killed on the 14th day of the month of Nisan before sunset. The blood was an important symbol of redemption as well as the body of the sacrifice. The blood was sprinkled across the lintel to spare them from the destroyer. The body was prepared and eaten for the Israelites well-being (Psalm 105:37, II Chronicles 30:14-20, and I Corinthians 11:23ff). No bones of the lamb were broken (Exodus 12:46, John 19:35-37). These little details are breathtaking! There are more when you dig deeper!

God’s solution to the evil and problems of this world and all the uncertainty that is so blatantly prevalent is in His son, Jesus Christ. We no longer look through shadows. The work has been done. Our eyes focus ahead with an inner anticipation and strength. We turn down the volume of the clatter of the world and enter the rest that God has provided remembering the details and the significance of the sacrifice of the Passover lamb.

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Division

In I Corinthians 1:12 Paul pointed out the spiritual immaturity of the Corinthians:

12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

They were following men, rather than God. Paul mentioned himself first. He did not want worship. Paul was instrumental in bringing the freedom of the Word to the Gentiles.  There were some Judeans that criticized his message, demeanor and behavior.

Apollos was popular because of his eloquence. In a Greek culture that thrived on intellectualism, he would appeal to many. He was a well-liked orator.

Then there was Cephas. Cephas (Aramaic for ‘stone’) is Peter.  Some Judeans would have been looking to him for leadership.

Paul even included a group that was of ‘Christ’. Maybe the other leaders were rejected by this group and a spiritual elitism dominated their thinking that they only followed Christ.

Factions and following men is a result of spiritual immaturity. God has given his word and His spirit for the ‘growing up’ process (Ephesians 4:15-16). Men and women may assist in this process as in the case of gift ministries and anyone who recognizes what reconciliation to God is all about (that is: -real honest-to-goodness discipleship), but the ultimate goal is that each individual become an expression of the heart of God.

Paul, Apollos and Peter were united by Christ, not divided. In verse 13, Paul says:

13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

There is so much available today to help someone start the process of getting to know God.  Ultimately it is the individual himself that needs to take on the responsibility of developing a relationship with God.  Paul expressed God’s heart, as well as his own, in II Corinthians 2:

4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

As a child grows up, he becomes less dependent on Mom and Dad. A baby learns to feed himself, crawl, walk, dress himself and so on. At some point during his growth, he develops the youthful attitude: “I want to do it myself!”  As an individual continues grows and matures, he hopefully becomes an avid learner and eventually develops his own independence that functions lovingly and wisely with others. The same is true with spiritual growth. It is the process of ‘growing up’ in Christ.

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Witnesses unto Me!

This morning, as I sat down to work on my project to study the huge polysyndeton(‘many-ands’ figure of speech) in Acts 2:41-47, I realized that it was bigger than I had imagined. The section records the effects of Peter’s great sermon on the day of Pentecost. Actually is wasn’t just Peter’s sermon that got the 3000 excited, it was everything that had been going on!  Each ‘and’ in Acts 2:41-47 signified a change in their lifestyle. How they lived back then and worshiped, is not something I can readily relate to, but it is about everything they did in response. It represents a shift from Judaism.
Then I spotted another polysyndeton (thanks to E.W. Bullinger in his book, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible) in Acts 1:8 that totally got me going this morning:

Acts 1:8  But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me (Jesus Christ) both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

coincentThis record is not just about one group of chosen people, it is for all. It starts with being ‘witnesses unto me’ in both Jerusalem and Judea, the capital of Judaic religion. It includes Samaria(Acts 8:5), the amended Judaic religion. The other group mentioned is the ‘non-Judaic’ gentile (Acts 10) world. The ‘ands’ represented the three groups. God has left no one out as He is willing to impart spiritual power to all:

John 3:14-16  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

This verse tied me back into Moses. I am continuing to work (very slowly) through  Exodus (which has to include Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy*). In Numbers 21:2ff, the record of the brazen serpent occurs which Jesus Christ referred to in John 3:14.  Considering Acts1:8 with this really shows how beautifully intricate God’s Word is!

* Exodus and Numbers advances the story of the Old Testament through Moses. In Leviticus there is a little history in chapters 8-10, but it basically complements Exodus. Numbers is an eyewitness account of the Israelites journey to the promised land and Deuteronomy complements it.

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Whatsoever Things are Honest… Asyndeton???

When you look at the list of things to think on in Philippians 4:8, the second entry is ‘honest’. What is the difference between ‘true’ (first on the list) and ‘honest’ (#2)? Of course, one could look up a commentary on this verse and find out what other people say about this word, but is that where the right definition is found? Not necessarily. Sometimes that helps, but it is a good idea to see how God has used that word before. The root word in Greek is ‘sebomai’ and is translated ‘devout’ or ‘worship’. Its definition lends itself to consider a ‘dignified seriousness’. The actual word found in this verse is ‘semnos’ and is translated here as ‘honest’ but in all other places it is translated ‘grave’ or rather ‘having gravity’.

One of the first things we notice about this verse is it’s pattern and the repetition of the words ‘whatsoever’ and ‘if there be any’ indicating a list. This is a figure of speech called Asyndeton (No-Ands) and each word recorded builds to the conclusion of things to think on. There is an emphasis on the end result. We are to read through this list to the culmination phrase at its end. It is not necessarily a checklist.’Truth’ and ‘dignified seriousness’ are tied together as are the other words in the list. What if you had the truth but were flippant about it, or disrespectful? Or what if you were very serious and reverent about something and it wasn’t something that was true? Putting these words all altogether, describes a good way to think about things for a peaceful outcome. Each of these words builds a total picture together.The same figure is in I Corinthians 13:4-8a about the love of God.

4 The love is long-suffering, it is kind, the love doth not envy, the love doth not vaunt itself, is not puffed up,5 doth not act unseemly, doth not seek its own things, is not provoked, doth not impute evil,6 rejoiceth not over the unrighteousness, and rejoiceth with the truth;7 all things it beareth, all it believeth, all it hopeth, all it endureth. 8 The love doth never fail; (Young’s Literal Translation)

What good is long-suffering if it isn’t kind or is envious? This is a total picture of why the love of God never fails.

It is interesting to check out  additional major concepts like ‘faith’ (Hint: Hebrews 11) and ‘hope’ (I Corinthians 15) for asyndetons! Figures of Speech by E.W Bullinger is a great resource. He suggests comparing the use of asyndetons with polysyndetons. That’s my project this week 🙂 !

Looking into some of these things can be very heady and it is good to keep that in mind. Practically, in doing this type of study, it is good to remember another great asyndeton also found in I Corinthians 13:13 –

13 and now there doth remain faith, hope, love — these three; and the greatest of these [is] love. (YLT)

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