Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Shepherd Thing Among Other Things

As Moses took on the responsibility of helping the children of Israel through the wilderness, the 40 years he spent herding sheep and living under austere conditions, unlike his first 40 years, enabled him. Was this a great leadership training program? Actually it was life and opportunities to believe God for his own life. He wasn’t around any Israelites anymore. It was him and God. Because he listened, as exemplified by the burning bush event in his life, he learned what God wanted him to learn. His future involved motivating God’s people, challenging and defeating the enemy, and practically moving 2 million people up and out of bondage, despite their shortcomings and lack of believing. How do you teach someone that? God worked with Moses.

We live in a newer situation and relationship than Moses did. Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd is now our Lord, appointed by God. If you want to understand what this means read John chapters 13-17. The gospel of John has 5 chapters about the things Jesus said to his disciples to prepare them for life after the resurrection.

The word ‘shepherd’/’pastor’ is used 18 times in the New Testament. Most of the uses (15 uses) are in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. ‘Pastor’ is used once in the church epistles (Romans-Thessalonians), once in Hebrews and once in Peter.

Jesus Christ  had some amazing qualities. He was the great shepherd:

20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Hebrews 13:20 

I Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

He was also called an apostle and prophet. There’s no doubt he was an evangelist and teacher. When you think about these labels on a person, they convey the multiple ways of helping and serving others. In operation, it is the ‘hand of God’ and just like our physical hands there are 5 fingers each of which is unique. Each  believer has the potential to operate the gift of holy spirit and serve others in these categories also. In Ephesians 4:10-12 Paul writes about the Messiah:

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

right hand

An apostle will get something started , but he doesn’t run the whole show. Once something is started a prophet will continue to keep heart of the Word in the forefront. A teacher will teach in detail and an evangelist will spread the good news to others. A pastor will guard and protect.  I’m not sure where the microphone, podiums and pews got started (Can we blame this on Nicea also?).

The workings of the ministry call for under-rowers not overlords. There is no need to carry a neon sign. As believers mature in their relationship with God and His word, the capacity to serve increases. The service glorifies God and fruitful lives weave in and throughout life knitting for the Master, sometimes recognized, often not.

Almost every building on the corner with stained glass windows has  a person with an official title of ‘Pastor’. Do you think there might be others with similar spiritual DNA sitting in the pews? The Corinthian church had several prophets as Paul suggested in I Corinthians 14. He exhorted them to not all speak at once. Back during the time of Exodus, Moses actually told a young man that it would be really great if they were all prophets (Numbers 11:29). A prophet speaks what’s on God’s heart. In order to do that well, the prophet needs to be listening to God’s heartbeat.

The spirit of God in Christ in us is unique to every individual. Each of us offers something that someone else needs. That is how the whole church (not by bricks and mortar) fits together. It was designed this way. It is our job to grow into genuine service by feeding on the Word of God. God directs our steps and gives us all the enablements to carry the works of His hand.

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Songs of Moses

In Exodus 15, a song of Moses is recorded. It was the song of redemption for God’s people, a great victory after a mighty show of God’s power (the plagues, the passover lamb and ultimately walking through the Red Sea) . There was much to be thankful for:

2 The Lord (Jah) is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God (El), and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God (Elohim), and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

In verse 1 of this same chapter, ‘Jehovah’ is the word used for Lord. It is God in relation to those he has created. ‘Jah’ (verse 2) is a similar name for God in the specific sense of redemption. ‘El is God’s name emphasizing His omnipotent power or ‘The Almighty’. ‘Elohim’ refers to the almighty God in operation!

There is another song of Moses right before his death recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43. An interesting read to go along with this song is in Romans 10-11. There are 5 titles of God used in this song: Jehovah (God’s relation with His created), Elohim (God Almighty in operation), El (God in all his strength and power), Eloah (God in connection to His will tied into worship), Elyon (God as possessor of heaven and earth).

In the final book of the Bible, in Revelations 15:3, a song of Moses is mentioned again. God is faithful:

And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2 And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (should be nations).

Moses was a servant of God as he lived in a time before Christ. Today we celebrate and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was our passover (I Corinthians 5:7) because in this day and time we (including both Judeans and Gentiles) can confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead and becomes God’s sons.

MTLxBRGTa

The resurrection of Jesus Christ has nothing to do with bunnies and eggs and blessed easter baskets all of which originate from a compromise between Christianity and pagan celebrations.  The real meaning of the Pascha or Passover is absolutely about the greatest event ever written about. It is not dead history or anything having to do with compromise, it is is about real life that we can live today and forever.

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The Right Hand of God

In the song of Moses in Exodus 15:6, the phrase ‘right hand of God’ is used twice. It is used again in verse 12. It is a figure for the effectual power of God.  It is the seat of His administrative authority.

Exodus 15:6 Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.

Exodus 15:12 You stretched out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them.

Moses understood the ‘right hand of God’ and had the authority to  carry out God’s desire for His people. As I started to investigate this phrase I was thrown back into Genesis and started working my way through it again and then on to Exodus to get the fulness of what God intended for this. The right hand of God is something to sing about and the deeper one digs into that phrase the greater the gold.

Photo on 2014-04-13 at 09.54

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ has ascended to a unique magnificent position of ultimate authority. He is not literally sitting on God’s right hand. As a child I used to think of this scene as containing big fluffy clouds and Jesus Christ sitting on God right side physically.  This phrase means so much more than that. It is not static, it is a dynamic position.

who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Romans 8:34

Jesus Christ not only intercedes for us, he is the way of access to the Father through the gift of holy spirit.

This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. Acts 2:32-33

This has an important  relational significance for us:

 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Why? The Word says it beautifully in Ephesians 1:18-23:

18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

When we realize the fullness of this, we, like Moses and the Israelites, we want to sing about it!

♪♫♪♫

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It Helps To Know The God of The Universe When You Need To Walk Through The Red Sea

In Exodus 14, God’s solution for the Israelites became the problem for the army of Pharaoh:

By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. Hebrews 11:29

Moses stretched out his hand and the waters parted miraculously and the Israelites crossed the Red Sea area on dry land. It was a miracle. It was communication between God and his man that pulled this off.

Obviously God and Pharaoh had no such communication. In fact what was driving them at the time was summed up in Exodus 15:9:

9 The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.

After all the miracles and signs, Pharaoh refused God and continued on his own vendetta. It was his undoing for himself and those that followed him.

For Moses, his charge from God was to “go forward” and God took care of them. Can you imagine all of them walking on the bed of the Red Sea, side-glancing up at the walls of water standing on either side of them. Do you think that maybe some of them if not most of them thought: ‘When is all this going to come crashing down on us?’ It is a very human thought! (How about Peter walking on water incident?) The walls of water didn’t come crashing down on them, they got through to the other side! Good lesson for us today! Moses and the Red Sea was a big event, as was Peter walking on water, but the principle still applies to even life’s littlest pressures. (How many ‘Red Sea trips’ do we rack up in a day?)

It is not surprising that Moses had a song to sing when they got to the other side.

The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Exodus 15:2

bible_moses_red_sea

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