Friday, January 19, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 19th

This is from today's readings Exodus 21-25

Exodus 21

Today we look at what many have seen as the awful demands of the Old Testament, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, in God's plan of justice for Israel (Exodus 21:23-24).

It may seem extreme but in times past people did not get equal justice. A tooth was lost and someone with greater power took a hand. A life was taken and the criminals entire family was wiped out. What God called for here seems radical in a culture that has been taught the value of mercy, but in this time the law is revenge, not equal justice. What God called for was equal treatment for everyone, no matter their station in life. It was a radical concept at its time and maybe still today.

The truth is, most people then and now don't want an eye for an eye. You took fifty dollars, I want a hundred. You embarrassed me in front of a few I want to destroy you in front of thousands. You attacked me, now I want to destroy your entire family or nation.

What God demanded then was a concept of fair retribution for wrongs in the context of their day. It was preparation for a more radical idea, mercy.

Look at your own life. Do you want what is fair when you are mistreated? or do you want more? Are you willing to go further and extend something else? to give what Jesus gave? Mercy?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 18th

This is from today's readings of Exodus 16-20.

Exodus 16

Today I was tempted to write about chapter 20 where God speaks the ten commandments from the mountain, however, I wanted to take a step back and look at God's faithfulness and his provision.

This chapter begins with the complaints of the Israelites aobut being without food. God answers with both quail and manna. The manna is the what I wanted to look at particularly. Jesus, as we will see in the New Testament, refers to himself as the bread of life and in the Lord's supper he takes the unleavened bread and says it is his body.

The manna the Israelites received come regularly until the time they enter the promised land. For use the bread of life, Jesus is with us to strengthen us until we also enter the promised land. What we see here is God's faithfulness even to a people who weren't always faithful to him. This brings me comfort because there are times I know that I have failed the Lord and he has been faithful in forgiving me and giving me the bread of life. Strength to carry on.

Why? because God is good...

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 17th

This is taken from today's readings in Exodus 11-15

Exodus 11

There is a lot of great material about the Passover and the picture of Jesus being the Passover lamb in the coming chapters, however, there is a key here is chapter 11 that I really want us to notice. God uses man's sin and stubbornness to show his power. 

"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, yet the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land." Exodus 11:9-10

Often people look at this and comment that it wasn't fair of God to harden Pharaoh's heart and then punish him for it, but the question may be first why was God able to harden his heart? My answer is God didn't change Pharoah's heart but his power caused it to do what it did. Like the old saying goes, "the same sun that melts butter hardens bricks." The difference wasn't the sun it was the material exposed to the sun. When Pharoah's heart was faced with God's power it hardens. He had before believed he was a god. The plagues one after another attacked and showed the powerlessness of the Egyptian gods on by one. 

There were two "gods" left and both powers that took human life, the Egyptian god of death and Pharoah's army. Soon God would show his power over them as well, however, the entirety of the Exodus plagues was to show that God was God and there was no other. Unfortunately, the Israelites didn't learn there lesson very well, but that is a later conversation. 

What I want to point out here is that God can and does use the stupidity of mankind to demonstrate his power and wonder. The greatest example of this is found in the cross of Jesus. Truly this was a demonstration of man's evil and stupidity, yet God knew all along that is was going to be the way of salvation for all of man, the exodus from the life of sin to God's new life. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 16th

This is taken from today's reading of Exodus 6-10.

Exodus 8 

Have you ever noticed that the sinner and the saint seem to face the same problems? Sickness, old age, poverty, prejudice, and everything from the flu to cancer.  What is the benefit of serving God if the same thing happens to everyone? 

 The reverse question was asked by Satan about Job, "Does Job serve God for nothing?" We will look at that later but the question does remain what is the benefit of serving God. 

When we look into the New Testament, Jesus talks about the rewards that come by following him, but in the middle of it, he also talks about the dangers and trials. So what is the deal, and more importantly for our reading plan what does this have to do with Exodus chapter 8?

The answer to that is found in verse 22-23. Before these verses, the same plagues that fell on Egypt also fell on the children of Israel (kinda like most of our lives). However, in verse 22-23  God says things are going to change, “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land. “I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”’

There comes a time when the differences between the saint and the sinner become clear. There is a time when all the trials, pain, and plagues stop for the Christian, when God says, No more. I believe these times come more often then we realize because the separation isn't as clear as it was in the days of the Exodus. One day we will see them clearly, in heaven, but sometimes we can see them now if we are willing to look. 

Sometimes we don't recognize the difference because our focus is all on the wrong things. We miss the peace in the lives of believers because we don't see wealth. We see the frailty but not the support that others seem to lack or the peace of mine. 

There is coming a time when it will all be clear, but just because we don't see it now doesn't mean there isn't a difference. There is and as we remember the life of Joseph, we know that sometimes there is a lot of suffering before the reward, but God will work it together for good (Romans 8:28)

Monday, January 15, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 15th

Take from  today's readings in Exodus 1-5

Exodus 1

Does God bless liars?

The obvious answer is no, in Revelations 21:8 we see all liars have their part in the lake of fire. Yet here in Exodus chapter one we see a story about women who lied to Pharaoh, their government, God prospered them. This isn’t the only place in scripture where God blesses someone who lies, so what is the deal? Is deceit always wrong? Or are there higher principles involved?

First, I want to look at the ten commandments. The commandments as someone once said are just that commandments, not suggestions. All of them are reaffirmed in the New Testament except the law of Sabbath even that isn’t abolished completely (more about that later). So, what is the command? Do not lie? No, do not bear false witness against your neighbor. The idea here seems to be that what is being said will bring harm to the neighbor. This specifically looks at the idea of testimony about someone which is false and will hurt them. I am also assuming will help you in some way.

Does this mean that if I tell a “white lie” that it is okay? No, Proverbs (I will not list them all now) tells us that God hates lying lips. So, what is the key?  

I believe the deception we see God blessing first, protects, second, endangers, and ultimately fulfills. The first is protects. Protection is that the deception saves the (physical) live of another person. Second, the deception endangers the one telling it. The midwives in danger (except from God later) was in letting the children live. Their lie actually put them in very great danger. Pharaoh a man of his day (and many others) had no idea about woman and childbirth, so he believed them. If he hadn’t then there is no doubt he would have had them placed in prison or killed. The truth is that the danger they placed themselves in didn’t end it followed them, yet they did endanger their very lives to save the children they were called to protect. Side note: Lying to your spouse about their hair, clothes, or your children about the bird and the bees so to “protect them” (or yourself) isn’t even close to what these women did. Finally, their action fulfilled the ultimate purpose of God, in this case, to see the children of Israel grow and be blessed.

The danger, of course, is when we try to use the few exceptions to justify our own untruthfulness. The greatest danger in lying is actually to protect ourselves. This is where 99.9% of all lies take place. The danger is when we start making excuses to lie, it becomes more natural and instead of a tongue that tries to bring life, it becomes a tongue that lies. People lie to save the feelings of others, yet what they usually have is a problem with telling the truth in love. They lie for the greater good but in truth, it is for self-preservation.

At the end of this, what do we see a small exception on deception? It is like some medicines, at the right time and in the correct doses they can save a life, however, the rest of the time they bring only destruction and eventually death. The lesson: don’t use it unless there are no other choices and the only under the command of the Great Physician. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 12

Today's reading will end our time in Genesis. We will read Genesis 46-50.

Genesis 50

This is one of my favorite chapters in the Old Testament. Here we see the love and forgiveness of God demonstrated toward those who don’t deserve it. Now that Jacob was dead, Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph will finally take revenge on them for what they did. However, Joseph has nothing even close to that in mind.

To me, Joseph seems saddened by his brothers’ fear. Joseph doesn’t say that what his brothers did wasn’t evil, he says in fact that they did mean evil. However, Joseph realizes that God had the final word on what happened. Joseph reminds his bothers of this, pointing out that everything has turned out well.

There is also no offer of forgiveness given by Joseph, but his attitude clearly demonstrates that he did not hold any feelings of unforgiveness. Joseph doesn’t give a mouthed “I forgive you,” but shows his trust in God through it all. Joseph’s words showed his brothers that as far as he was concerned there was nothing to forgive, because of that trust in God. 

This is a great example for us. Jesus tells us that we need to forgive those who do wrong to us if we want forgiveness. Here we see why, God has the final word. Paul confirms this in Romans 8:28 when he reminds us that God will work all things together for good for those who trust and follow him. This being the case, we like Joseph, need to be willing not just to forgive those that ask but to forgive everyone who does us evil.

Let us treat those who wrong us with the attitude of Joseph, they meant it for evil (we don’t deny that), but we know God will work it to good.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Jan 11th

Today's reading Genesis 41-45

Genesis 41

Read the beginning of the first verse again “ at the end of two full years.”  By this time, Joseph has been away from his father and family for over 13 years. After having a chance for someone to argue his case failed, he has waited two “full” years. I can only imagine. God had been given him an interpretation of a dream and then nothing. God seemed to have giving him hope and then making him wait. We know God was putting all the people into place, but for Joseph, like many of us, it may have seemed like God failed.

Earlier in Genesis, we see time and time again people trying to manipulate the circumstances rather than trusting God, but not Joseph. We see no complaints, just faithfulness. This is evident throughout the story, but no place more than in Genesis 50, which we will cover later.

The lesson we can see is the hardest one, waiting is difficult but necessary. The second lesson is your not alone, others have been there too.