Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Study Questions for Exodus 6:28-7:25

Exodus 6:28-7:25

Context? What’s been going on so far?

6:28-30—What does God say to Moses?
What does Moses say in response?
What does “uncircumcised lips” mean?
Does this section go with what has gone before or what is coming after?
One point to keep in mind is that there is no doubt that if this adventure is going to be going anywhere it is going to have to be all of God. Moses is a wimp and seems to be afraid of everything. God, will have to do everything if he wants it done at all. Left to men, it will flop.


Two things need to be brought out here: first, God will not let anyone live in sin indefinitely. He will not be mocked and his judgment will come out against ungodliness eventually. God is longsuffering and patient, but it will not go on indefinitely. Second, it isn’t a good thing to oppress God’s people. God promises to protect and bless his people, even if they sin and their oppression is a result of their own sin. God will always remember his people because they are called by his name and though we are unfaithful, he cannot deny himself and he is always faithful to his promises.

V. 1—What has God made Moses to Pharaoh?
What does that mean?
First, Moses gets his position from the hand of God. There is nothing in him that warrants this favor. Second, Moses will be all that Pharaoh sees of God in this whole affair. Moses will be God to Pharaoh. Moses represents God to the Egyptians.
What is Aaron to Pharaoh?
What does that mean?
The gift of prophet is not something that man brings on himself. He is a representative of God’s words to man. He has been called and appointed to deliver the message God gives him for the people. He may not even know what the message is about, but he is responsible to “get it right” and not “miss” the point. (Jer. 1:7, 17).

V. 2—What is Moses to say to Aaron?
What is Aaron’s job?
What is the ultimate goal?

V. 3—What will God do to Pharaoh’s heart?
What is a heart in the Bible?
The true man, who we are at our core. Whatever we do is a result of our heart. Whatever we say is a result of what is in our heart.
What does harden a heart mean?
Different words are used in the Hebrew for “hard” in these verses. Sometimes it means “to be/become strong (4:21; 8:19; 9:35), or to make strong (7:13, 22; 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17). Or it could mean to be/make heavy (8:15, 32; 9:34; 10:1), Unyielding 7:14; 9:7, Or to be severe (7:3; 13:15).

All 3 point to a fellow who does not want to submit himself to the will of God. “Rather than joyfully obeying the commands of God and learning the lessons he would teach, the hard heart is spiritually insensitive and so not able to function properly…The more such behavior is engaged in, the less inclination is there to do otherwise. Eventually in the sovereign determination of God the power to change and reform is lost altogether” (Mackay, p. 131-2).

What does God multiplying his signs and wonders mean?
What is a sign?
A wonder?

V. 4—After all the signs and wonders, what will be Pharaoh’s response?
Why will Pharaoh not listen to Moses and Aaron?
Who will eventually bring the people out of the land of Egypt?
Why does God seem so intent on being the one to bring the people out?
Why does God call the people “mine armies”?

V. 5—What will the Egyptians know when the story is all finished?
When will they know that God is the Lord?

V. 6—What did Moses and Aaron do?
What happened to all the excuses?

V. 7—How old was Moses?
How old was Aaron?
Why does Moses mention the ages of the men?
We’ve noted this before but it is important to bring up again and that is that no one is too old to serve the Lord and be of help to his Kingdom.
It is reputed that D.L. Moody once said that Moses spent forty years in Pharaoh’s court thinking he was somebody; forty years in the desert learning that he was nobody; and forty years showing what God can do with a somebody who found out he was a nobody” (Mackay, p. 135, 6).

It is important to note that this isn’t a battle between 2 men or between 2 nations. It is a battle between the seed of the serpent an the seed of the woman. Or between the gods of this world and the God of the universe. This is really a cosmic battle.

The focus throughout is on how God works to have his will accomplished in the earth. It includes how he judges sin, exalts the humble, throws down principalities and powers, lifts up his people and glorifies himself in all things.

V. 8-9—What did the Lord tell Moses and Aaron?
How did God know what Pharaoh would say to Moses and Aaron?
What would he say to them?
What were they to do in response?

V. 10—What did Moses and Aaron do in response to what God had said for them to do?
Is there some significance to the fact that they did what the Lord commanded?
What did Aaron do in response to God’s command?
What happened to the staff when Aaron threw it on the ground?
It is interesting that the text doesn’t say that Aaron had ever seen the staff turn into a snake before.

V. 11—What did Pharaoh do when he saw the first sign?
What were the wise men and sorcerers able to do?
Wise men—Gen 41:8, 24.; Dan. 2:2; 2 Tim. 3:8

V. 12—What happened to their snakes?
Snake is a different word here than in 4:3: 7:15. This word may mean something much more awesome than a simple snake (Psa 74:13; Isa 51:9).
The Egyptians could touch a snake in a particular place on its neck and make it freeze. They may have carted the stiff snakes in and when they threw them on the ground they woke up and began slithering around.
Is it significant that it says Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods?
The importance of the snake is found in the head dress of the Pharaoh, which is a snake and symbolized his sovereignty and status in Egypt.

V. 13—What was the result with regard to Pharaoh?
Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?
Did God know it would happen this way, or did it happen this way because God was causing it to happen this way? Or something else?
He was committed to his understanding and wasn’t going to be confused by the facts. “He was committed to his own reading of the facts” (Mackay p. 140).

The battle really heats up now. The 10 plagues begin (perhaps to show how totally God is in control and in command?). 3 sets of 3 and one last jim dandy of a plague when all the first born sons die.

The battle is over who is God. Num 33:3-4; Ex. 18:11; 1 Kings 18:36; Luke 4:36; Col. 2:15.

V. 14—What did God tell Moses?
What does the hard heart have to do with not letting the people go?
What does it mean that Pharaoh’s heart is hard?

V. 15—Where is Moses and Aaron to go next?
Why would they be going there?
Who will they meet there?
What are they to take with them?

V. 16—What are they to say to Pharaoh at the river?
Who sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh?
Whose God is YHWH?
What is his command to Pharaoh?
Why does he add, “so far you haven’t listened to me”?

V. 17—What are they to add?
What is Pharaoh about to learn?
Notice again how often God talks about being known.
How is he going to learn it?
The god of fertility related to the river Nile and its flooding of the land—Hapi.
What is going to happen next?

V. 18—What will happen to the fish in the river?
Why will they all die?
What will the river smell like?
Will the water be good to drink?
How long will the river be blood?
How far up stream will the water be blood?

V. 19—What was Moses to say to Aaron?
Where wasn’t the water turned to blood in all of Egypt?

V. 20—What did Moses do in response to the command of God?
And what did Aaron do?
How much of the water turned to blood?
Is there any significance to the river turning to blood?

V. 21—What happened to all the fish?
And how did the river smell?
And how was the water for drinking?
How much blood was there in Egypt?

V. 22—What was the response of the Egyptians?
What water was left for the magicians to change into blood?
The water may have been generally changed. Also it could be that there were some pockets of water underground that they had access to. See vs. 24.
Notice that the only thing the magicians could do was to make small amounts of water into blood. Notice too that this didn’t help the situation at all. Also, notice that they couldn’t change the blood back into water. They couldn’t do anything in the face of God and his awesome power.
What happened to Pharaoh’s heart as a result of the water changing to blood?
Who hardened Pharaoh’s heart?
What was the result of his hard heart?

V. 23—What did Pharaoh do after the events of that time?
How long did these things take?
What was his disposition toward the Israelites?

V. 24—How did the Egyptians get water after this?
Why couldn’t they drink the water after all these things?

V. 25—For how long did the river stay blood?

The emphasis on “knowing God” is supreme in this passage and in the Bible as a whole. See Jer. 24:7; Jer. 31:33-34, Hab. 2:14; John 17:3; 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 Jn. 5:18-20.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Did God Cause the Holocaust?

Anyone who believes in the God of Abraham, has only two choices when contemplating the Holocaust: (1) God was powerless to stop evil men from perpetrating the Holocaust and therefore allowed this unspeakable calamity to occur; or (2) He made it happen. Nobody with faith can adopt the first explanation. It violates every principle of an all-powerful God. Though it presents the fundamental question of how so many people could be made to endure such tragic suffering, we are left with alternative number two. As hard as it is to comprehend, God must have made the Holocaust happen. The rest of this article can be found here:

Pastor Lawyer, What do you think about this article?


The short answer is: Yep, God caused the holocaust. What's the problem? God can do what he wants with pots.

The issue of the Holocaust is huge, but suffice it to say that God told Israel that if they followed after other gods, he would curse them with destruction (cf. Deut. 28:15, 20-29; Jer. 6:19-25, 30; Hos. 5:3-7 and a ton of others). When they rejected the Messiah, God finally rejected Israel.

But the Bible is clear that he didn't reject all of them, nor did he reject them eternally. He has been saving Jews since the beginning, Paul is one of them and he mentions this in Romans 11. God's plan was to use the Jews to remind the Gentile believers that if he cut Israel off the tree, he could also cut the Gentiles off the tree. I believe he keeps Jews around, among other things, to keep the Christians humble and to be a constant reminder that what is happening to them because of their unbelief, can easily happen to us if we stop believing (which we are rapidly in the process of doing).

So, I believe the holocaust was a terrible thing and we should do whatever we can to see that nothing like this happens again in the earth, but the Jews could also have avoided it if they would repent and turn to God and embrace his Messiah. At the same time, God says that those who do such things will not escape judgment for what they have done. So, the German nation has been judged and is disappearing from the face of the earth. Islam is taking their nation and I have no doubt this is a judgment against Germany for 2 things: for killing the Jews and for abandoning the Christian faith. These are very difficult to separate, but I see this happening anyway.

So, God holds men responsible for what they do. If they sin, they are judged for that sin. If they repent, God forgives the sin. If the nation sins, the nation is brought down--usually by other nations (Isa 10:5-6; 45:1-6). Then, when that nation sins, she is in turn brought down (Isa. 10:19). God is not mocked. People will submit to him or die.

On the other hand, God is a loving merciful God who does what is best for his people, who repent and turn to him for life and peace. Even in the midst of all the passages of woah and doom in the Bible, God is continually begging his people to turn to him in humility, looking for mercy and grace. This is whey Jesus came. He came to take away the anger of God, to be our propitiation, to pave the way to the throne room of God so that we could enter in, cleansed from our sin and the filth we carried around with us.

The other question about God causing the holocaust is just as clear. In all the passages I've given reference to God was clearly acting in judgment on the people for their spiritual ery. He said in Deuteronomy, if you fail to observe these things, God will send up on you all these cursings (cf. 28). Then in Isa, Jer, and all the other prophets, God is sending the enemies of God to destroy sinful Israel. In the passage referred to above (Isa 10:19) on of the reasons God goes after Assyria is because they didn't understand that (1) he had sent them (v. 5), (2) that he had been their strength, (3) and that God was actually the one who did all their works of destruction on the land (vs. 12). God brought about the judgment on Israel the people (Egypt, Cyrus, Assyria, etc.) were only tools of God.

In another place God says, Does evil come upon a city and has not the Lord done it? (Amos 3:6). In another, "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good (Gen. 50:20). This pattern is repeated over and over again in the Bible in and in real life. God is in everything. He is not a bystander wringing his hands, wondering what to do and why don't these pesky people just get along. God is God, Lord of all the earth and heaven and time and eternity. Nothing just happens. Everything is in God's hand.

It is not an indictment against God (who would dare do that?) to say that he caused the holocaust, or the 10 million people Stalin killed in Russia. Its similar to our setting up our army men when we were little boys and blasting them with dirt clods. We can do that because we are gods to them. They belong to us. We can do with them what we want. Who are we to judge God for what he wants to do with his creation? Look at what Paul said about this in Romans 9:

Romans 9:14-24 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. 19 You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

The whole point is that God does what God wants for his reasons, and because we aren't God we don't always understand why he does what he does. But we also know that God is love. God does what he does for his glory. God never does anything out of vindictiveness or sinfulness. We cannot ascribe sin to God. He is God. When we sit in judgment on God we are leaning toward serious trouble.

I hope this helps,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Study Questions for Exodus 5:22-6:27

Exodus 5:22-6:27

What is the context we find ourselves in?
Moses seems to be speechless before the people’s questions, so he goes back to God for help.

Vs. 22-23 – Why is Moses going back to the Lord?
Notice that Moses does not call him YHWH but Adonai.
What is Moses concern?
What 2 questions does Moses ask God?
What has been the result of his ministry with the Israelites and Pharaoh?
Is there a ministry pattern here?
Often ministry leads to greater difficulties before the solution is given. God is still God and is still working to make the situation come out so that he will be the only one to get glory.

6:1—How does God respond to Moses?
While Moses questions and approach don’t seem to be all that respectful, God answers with grace and tenderness.
What is God preparing to do?
How will the Israelites get out of Egypt?
“Drive out” is the word we saw in 2:22 for Gershom.
It also indicates God’s complete control over Egypt. God is God over even Egypt.
Have we seen this sort of deliverance from Egypt before?

Vs. 2—Why does it say “and God spake unto Moses” a second time in 2 verses? Could be something like, “God also said to Moses.”
What is God’s answer to Moses?
I am God, is a typical response on the part of royalty (cf. vss. 6 and 7). Notice how many time in the book of Ezekiel this statement is made.
How is this response similar to God’s response to Job?

Vs. 3—Who did God appear to first?
Why does God start with Abraham instead of Adam or Noah?
Who did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob get to know?
Why did God not reveal himself as YHWH to these patriarchs?
God did not reveal himself to Isaac. (Gen 48:15).
God almighty is El Shaddai
The name YHWH is used earlier than here in Exodus (cf. Gen 4:26), why does he say no one used his name before now?
It has to do with the significance of his name, not that he name was unknown. John 17:6—importance of the Name.
In Hebrew thinking the word “know” has more to do with “experiencing for oneself the reality of the truth being conveyed” than it has to do with external knowledge (Mackay p. 119).

Vs. 4—What did God do with regard to his covenant?
Establish does not mean to create new, but to confirm and include them in something that was already in existence.
What is a covenant? Gen 12:7; 22:21)
What is God’s covenant?
Why is God pointing out this covenant thing?

Vs. 5—What has God heard coming from the Israelites?
And what has God done as a result of hearing his people’s plight?
Why does he tell Moses that he remembers his covenant?

Vs. 6—Why is the therefore there?
What does God say to tell the Israelites?
Why does he start with “I am the Lord…”?
What will God do for the Israelites?
Deliver (Rom. 11:26-27; Gal 1:4)
Redeem goes to relationship (Lev. 25:25; 47-55; Num. 5:8). (Job 19:25; Tit 2:13-14)

Vs. 7—What does all of this have to do with God and his relationship with the people? Gen. 17:7, 8
Why would God go to all this trouble for a bunch of slaves?
What does God want the people to know?
Remember that the sign God gave to Moses was that when they got to the land, they would know that it was God who had done it.
Why is all of this important? Have you seen this sort of promise any other place in the Bible?

Vs. 8—Where is God going to put the people?
What does it mean that God swore? (Gen 22:15-18; Heb. 6:13)
Why is he going to put them there?
How long will the people be allowed to live in the new land?
How do they know they can trust what he says?
Why does he say, “I am the Lord”?

Vs. 9—What did Moses do with the new information?
What was the people’s response to what God had to say to them?
Why do you suppose they reacted this way? Prov 14:29
They thought they would be released quickly, but no, they had to wait a little longer and in the mean time things got worse instead of better. This isn’t good.
Have you ever been in a situation where good news had no affect because of the situation of your life?
You’ll notice that the people are not mentioned again until just before the Exodus. Presumably they are watching everything from the sidelines, where all good armchair quarterbacks should stay.

Vs. 10—What did God do in response to the people’s reaction to the Good News.

Vs. 11—Where did God tell Moses to go? Why did he tell him to go there?
Where were the people to go this time?

Vs. 12—What is Moses response to God’s new commandment?
Why does Moses not want to go to Pharaoh?
What does it mean to be of uncircumcised lips? Can’t speak correctly. He is relying on himself again instead of on God who commands to go!
How much faith in God is Moses evidencing?

Vs. 13—What did God do this time?
What is “a charge”?

Vs. 14-27—Why is this genealogy here?
The Hebrews view of how God dealt with generations because of the covenant promises made genealogies very important. God had dealt with their fathers and he would deal with them. They are on the cusp of a grand adventure and it is important to know that they are indeed the people of God because God had promised it to their ancestors.
This is the second genealogy in the book so far (cf. 1:2).
What does all of this have to do with armies (other translations = hosts)?
Indicates that the people will not leave as a mob, but in a dignified and orderly way—as a force, a nation, an army.

Study Questions for Exodus 5:1-21

Exodus 5:1-21

Context: What is going on so far?

Verse 1—what did Moses and Aaron do when they go to Egypt?
Is it interesting that Moses and Aaron do not mince words at all? They just burst in and make their request.
This is the first instance of “thus saith the Lord….”
It also marks the first time that YHWH is used in public and the first time that Israel is considered a people, a nation, and in covenant with God himself.
The verb “let go” gives the idea of a person being sent away (BDB) or of being dismissed from “one zone of authority” to another (Mackay p. 104).
If Pharaoh had permitted the people to go into the desert to worship their god, he would have been admitting that he wasn’t God over all. And that the slaves were a people under another god than him. And if he had let them go because their god caused him to let them go, it would have meant that this other god was more powerful than he. Which god gets to decide how the people will live?

The apparent discrepancy between the fact that the people were really to leave and go to the promised land may well have actually been the way a middle eastern discussion (haggling) might have gone. From one level to the next as things progressed in a discussion.

Vs. 2—what was Pharaoh’s response?
Why did he respond this way?
He was god and there could be no compromise. The request was seditious, treasonous, blasphemous and rebellious (Mackay).
Who is the Lord brings the discussion right to where it needs to be. Who, indeed, is the Lord? (14:4, 18)
His answer shows that he understood the real request—they would not be back.

Vs. 3—What was Moses response to the Pharaoh’s questions?
Was there a difference in this request and the first one? Why?
Their response was much less of a demand and much more of a beg.
What were they afraid their God might do to them?
Was this a real fear?
Given what happened to him on the way to Egypt, it might well have been that Moses thought that if he couldn’t convince Pharaoh to let the people go that God would hold it against him or the people.

Vs. 4-9—How did the King respond this time?
What did the Pharaoh accuse Moses and Aaron of doing with the people?
Taking away = running wild and rampant (Mackay).
Why was that important?
Who went with Moses and Aaron to visit the Pharaoh? (3:18)
What did the number of people have to do with their resting from their labors?
Why did the Pharaoh make the people get straw?
Did he diminish the number of bricks the people were to make?
What did that have to do with their desire to go into the desert to worship God?
It was normal for slaves to not go to work on the pretense of offering sacrifices to their god (Mackay).
How was making the same with less supposed to help the situation?
In pagan systems making the people busier makes them less likely to rebel and escape.
Why did Pharaoh call what Moses said “vain words” (lies)?
Who is God?

Vs. 10-14—How did the Egyptian respond?
What happened to the Israelites when they slowed down, or didn’t reach their quota?
Spreading the people out to look for straw kept them from congregating in one area. It would be more difficult to rebel if they couldn’t get together.

Vs. 15-16—How did the Israelites deal with their oppression?
What is their attitude towards the Egyptians?
Who do the Israelites blame for their failure to make the required number of bricks?

Vs. 17-18—Pharaoh responds with what?

Vs. 19—What was the result?

Vss. 20-21—When they were leaving the palace, who did they run into?
What were Moses and Aaron doing outside?
Who is in charge at this point? Who is really in charge?
What did they say to Moses and Aaron?
What was the result of the Israelites not smelling good to the Egyptians? Gen 34:30
Whose fault was it?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sitting by the Cab

The key is not found in trying read these things in certain kinds of philosophic categories (ontological vs. covenantal), but to read it straight through. Romans 8 tells us that those who have been chosen by God cannot fall away from his pleasure (28-35). Then in Romans 9 we are told that not all Israel is Israel (6). And in Romans 11 we are told that those who were not truly Israel were cut off from the tree of life, or removed from the Kingdom of God (7-10).

What this means is that the true nation of Israel was always to be defined by those who had faith, not simply those who were descended from Abraham. The bible says this everywhere, even in the warnings of the Old Testament. And the same goes for the Christian church which according to Romans 11, again, is simply the tree of God containing both faithful Jews and believing Gentiles.

We put all of this together by saying that not all Christianity is Christianity, or the whole church is not the whole church. Those whom God has chosen for salvation and who he has granted faith and a changed life will be saved eternally in the end. They cannot fall away, they've been saved to the uttermost.

These faithful members, who are faithful because of God's faithfulness to them, join together in small clusters called local churches. These churches attract both other true believers and those who falsely claim faith. Now the small cluster is made up of both true Christians who cannot lose their salvation and false Christians who never had salvation.

Then, when the false Christians live out their natural proclivities, they are removed from the church and we are able to recognize them as false believers. But until then, we are called to bring all men to the throne of God in Christ and not to make distinctions between men. We cannot see into their heart to see if they are truly saved, members of the eschatological church, or not.

You're right that only God really knows the difference. But he has said several places in the bible how we can know if we have salvation. The book of 1 John is full of assurances of our salvation. For example, we know that we have come to know him if we keep his commandments (2:3), ...anyone who practices righteousness has been born of him (2:29), we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brothers (3:14), we know that we know love if we lay down our lives for our brothers (3:16), everyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (4:8), etc.

The problem is that we want to have some kind of solid assurance like a certificate of ownership or something that makes it a requirement for God to save us unconditionally. We want salvation no matter what we do. But life doesn't work that way. God calls us to live a life of faith trusting in him for our every movement and our very lives. This trust does not allow us to do whatever we want with impunity. We are Christians, we are owned by Christ and that makes our lives different, if we have true faith. The funny thing is why would anyone want to live for eternity in Heaven with God if they don't want to live with God now? Actually, they don't want God for eternity, they want not to spend eternity in Hell. They are their own god and they simply want what they want.

There is a story of a father who told his 3 young sons they were going to go for a trip to visit grandma in the pick-up. They were taking a bunch of gifts and so the boys would have to sit in the back. They were excited about this because they could see everything from there and it was thrilling to have the wind blow and feel the bouncing.

The father realized as they were loading up that the tail gate had fallen off the week before and he hadn't had time to fix it yet. So he told the boys to make sure that they sat way up by the cab so they wouldn't fall out. The boys all assured the father that they would do just as he said and would be careful to sit up front.

Pretty soon the trip was under way and the boys, thrilled with the adventure, forgot what their father had said and soon they were all sitting on the of the bed with their feet dangling off the end. The soon had a contest going to see who could sit closest to the end without falling off. One boy put his feet on the edge, one hung his legs off to the knees and not to be outdone the last boy sat with all of his legs hanging off into space.

When the other boys saw how daring the last boy was and how safe he appeared to be, they too scooted down until they were just hanging by their tushes. As you might guess, as they neared their grandmother's turn-off the road got bumpy and at the first big bump, all the boys fell off the truck and splatted on the hard road.

The Bible tells us that if we want to live in Christ we need to walk with Christ—to sit up by the cab. If we sit by the cab there will be no doubt about our salvation. Doubt comes as we ignore the commands and start sliding toward the back of the bed. We have lots of Christians in our churches who are dangling their feet off the end of the bed, trusting in their own devices for their eternal safety. But God says to walk with him, to trust him, to rejoice in him, to sit up by the cab.

Those who dangle their legs off the end have no reason to believe that when the bumps of life come they will stay in the bed of the truck. We know that true Christians forget what they are doing and in the excitement of the moment slide back to the end of the truck, but because they are truly saved, they will be brought back to their senses and will work their way back to the cab. The others will just fall off the truck into the ditch.

Having said all of this does not mean that God is not involved in keeping his sons in the truck. He does and he will not let any of his own fall out. But we know that we are his if we continue to sit up by the cab. When we sit there we know that we are living by faith in the Son of God and are assured of his keeping us safe until the last day.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Study Questions for Exodus 4:1-31

Verse 1— What is the question that Moses is answering in verse 1? What has been happening in the previous chapters?
What is Moses afraid the people will do about what he has to say to them?
Why will they say this?
Why would Moses think the people would think that God had not shown himself to Moses?

Vss. 2-9 — How did God respond to Moses reaction? What 3 things did God give Moses to convince the people that God had sent him?
Why did he turn the staff into a snake? What was Moses reaction to the snake?
Snake is the same word for the serpent in Genesis 3. It is a sign that God has control over evil in general. The Egyptians worshipped a snake (the snake was a symbol on the official seal of Egypt and it symbolized “all the might, dominion and magic which the gods had endued the divine Pharaoh.”), take a look at their head dresses. So God in creating and then destroying a snake is showing that he is really the one in charge of Egypt.
Why did he turn Moses hand to leprosy?
Why would he turn the water to blood?
What do the signs show?
How sure did God sound that the people would believe the signs?
Why do you suppose God didn’t remind him that in 3:18 he had said that the people would listen to him?

Vss. 10- 12 – What was Moses response to the signs? Why do you think he went on to the fact that he wasn’t a very good speaker? Notice Acts 7:22.
God speaker here meant that he was slow of wit (out of shape for dialog at the expected level), not that he had a physical problem or that he had forgotten Egyptian.
Moses uses the word for “slave” instead of another word that would have made him a simple servant (cf. 32:13).
Notice that so far Moses has not referred to God as Lord.
How did God answer him? What was God’s promise and provision to Moses?
What do you think of God’s approach to Moses? Lk. 12:11-13
What was Moses trying to do? What about all the passages about how godly Moses was in the New Testament? Were they wrong?
Compare 2 Cor. 12:10

Vss. 13 What did Moses say to God’s answer? Moses just didn’t want to go. He has crossed from reluctance into disobedience/sin.

Vss. 14 – What was God’s response to Moses’ wimpiness?
How did God’s anger differ from man’s anger?
How would Moses have known that God was angry? And what would he have done knowing that God was angry with him?
How long ago did God plan to involve Aaron in this plan?
Why would Aaron be excited to see Moses?

Vs. 15 – What will God do with Aaron and Moses since Moses couldn’t speak clearly?

Vs. 16 – How would the arrangement of speaking work?
What did it mean that Moses would be as God to Aaron?

Vs. 17 – What was Moses to take with him back to Egypt? Why?
What do you think of Moses’ task? What you have been thinking had God told you to go to Egypt and tell them to let all their slaves go free?

Vs. 18 – What did Moses do about his obligations to his father-in-law?

Vs. 19 -- What did God tell Moses to do? Why do you suppose God told Moses again to go?

Vs. 20 – So What did Moses take with him back to Egypt? How many sons does he have at this point? 18:4

Vs. 21 – What did God tell Moses to do when he got back to Egypt?
What did he say would happen as a result of the signs before Pharaoh?
Why was God going to harden Pharaoh’s heart?
Why do you suppose he wanted Pharaoh to not let the people go?

Vs. 22-23 – What was Moses to say to Pharaoh because he would not let the people go?
Why would Pharaoh not let the people go to worship God?
When he called Israel his first born son, what did he mean by that phrase? Gen. 27:19; 43:33, 49:3; Deut. 21:15-17.
Hints that there might someday be other sons. Adopted perhaps…

Vss. 24-26 – What happened one night on the road? Why do you suppose God tried to put Moses to death? Possibly by illness.
What did Zipporah do with the knife? Why do you suppose she did this? Perhaps because Moses was not totally ready to lead his people if his son was not circumcised according to the law of God. Zipporah may have been against the Jewish custom, hence her reaction, but the act was necessary for Moses to be made well and for the mission to continue. See 18:2
Why did she call Moses a bridegroom of blood?
What does God trying to kill Moses have to do with circumcising the boy?

Vs. 27-28 – what happened with Aaron finally showed up? How did Aaron respond to the news Moses gave him?

Vs. 29-31 – What did Moses and Aaron do when they got back to Egypt? What was the result? How did the people react when they heard the news that Moses gave them? Do you suppose there is any connection between worship and belief? What is it?
Who are the people worshipping?

Isa. 40:8

The Objectivity of the Covenant in Real Life

One of the great things about viewing people through the lens of Scripture is that we don’t have to try to look into people’s hearts to see if they are truly saved or not. The Bible doesn’t do that, it simply accepts people’s profession of faith and their baptism and assumes they are members of the community in which salvation is found. From there it encourages people to draw near to God, to rest in Christ, to walk with God, and to strive to be like him.

On the other hand there are warnings everywhere against falling away from God, from grace, and from fellowship and these are in contexts where you wouldn’t expect them to be otherwise. For example, the letter to the Romans is written to “the beloved of God, called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7). The text goes on to say that the Roman Christians’ faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. So this letter was written to Christians. We know that there are problems in the church right off the bat when Paul criticizes the Jewish contingent in the second chapter for their attitude in judging Gentiles when they are doing the same things (Rom. 2:1). Then the Apostle proceeds to present the Gospel to the Roman Christians in a way that makes it clear that they had elements in their church who needed to know how it all worked together. There were folks who thought that since Grace covered a multitude of sins they should sin all the more (Rom. 6:1-2). But the letter culminates in chapter 11 (at least with regard to this point) when Paul tells the Roman Christians that if the Jews of the old Covenant could be cut off from the Tree of life, that is Christ, so could the saints of the New Covenant (cf. Rom. 11:21-22).

We find the same sort of thing in 1 Corinthians. The letter was written to “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Then in 6:11 Paul told the Corinthian church, “you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” These people were Christians in every sense of the word and according to everyone’s definition. Then in chapter 10 Paul throws a clinker into our understanding of what a Christian is. He said, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12). Now it is important to read the context. In the first 10 verses Paul recounts the events following the Exodus from Egypt. The Israelites were called the people of God and yet after they crossed the Red Sea and followed the cloud in the desert and drank water from the rock they created a golden calf and worshiped it. God said that because of their unbelief they would die in the desert. 3,000 died that day and eventually, except for 2 s and the small children the whole nation eventually died without ever seeing the promised land because of their unbelief.

The book of Hebrews has many warnings against falling away. It also has several passages, when comparing the Old Covenant with the New that let us know that just as there were blessings and cursings in the Old Covenant, so there are also blessings and cursings in the New Covenant. Even the New Covenant Christian needs to beware least he drift away or crucify again the son of glory because it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the holy God we serve.
But how does this work out practically? Let’s take a look at a few particularly “sticky” issues in 1 Corinthians 7. Suppose you have a professing and baptized Christian man married to a professing and baptized Christian woman, both members of your church. Based on the understanding of what makes a Christian a Christian in this situation we have 2 Christians married to one another. Let’s add another element to the mix, suppose both Christians are Roman Catholic Christians who have just come to your church. How are they to live together? The pastor should call them to live up to the faith to which their baptism claims they belong. If they want to live like non-Christians, they need to be confronted with all the warning texts (like the ones discussed above) and diligently brought back to living according to the faith they profess.

If they won’t return, they are to be sought according to Matthew 18 and if they won’t repent, they are to be put out of the church and proclaimed to be a non-believer, or non-Christian. Does this mean they’ve lost their salvation? NO! It is a proclamation that while they were members of the Church of Christ, they were never of Christ and thus never had salvation in the first place.

God saves us because of Christ and it shows up by our believing and living faithful lives.

Do you have to make judgments regarding a person’s salvation in this? No. If a person professes faith in Christ and is baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit you assume that they are saved. You do this until they die or until they sin in such a grievous way that they must be cast out of the church.

Covenant membership is objective when you view it the way the Bible does. If a person professes Christ and is baptized, they are a covenant members and thus should be treated that way. If they live in such a way that they negate what their baptism signifies, they should be treated in accord with the Scriptures and if necessary should be removed from the Covenant. Until a person is removed from the Covenant their salvation is not questioned. When they are excommunicated their lack of salvation is proclaimed and then it isn’t questioned either. It was assumed they had it before and now they definitely and definitively do not have it.

It can be said of Christians in other churches who are living in sin that based on how they are living their lives we have no reason to believe they are saved. We can go further and say that if they lived that way in our church they would be confronted gently and an attempt would be made to bring them back into fellowship and failing that they would be excommunicated. Otherwise the most we can say is they are unfaithful Christians who appear to be in danger of losing their soul in Hell.

If a Christian comes along who is living in sin but not a member of our church, our constitution allows us to excommunicate them from Christ’s Church based on the authority of the Church in general. We haven’t done this yet, but there might be a situation where we may need to do something like this. We would probably do it in a case where the Christian husband is beating his Christian wife but won’t repent. We would excommunicate the husband and then tell the wife to divorce him.

Now back to 1 Corinthians 7. Suppose the husband in the Christian couple begins thinking he can have a friend and a wife at the same time. He should be approached as a Christian who is living in an unfaithful way, both to his wife and to his God. He should be gently restored to fellowship and failing that (through the steps of Matthew 18) should be excommunicated.

The wife was free to divorce him at any time after the ery was found out whether or not the husband is excommunicated. ery breaks the bonds of marriage and the wife is free to divorce him or to forgive him and live with him that way. For more on this subject you can read Jay Adams’ book Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage in the Bible.

An important point to make here is that ual immorality doesn’t automatically put the person in the non-Christian category. The unfaithful husband is being unfaithful to his wife which breaks the marriage covenant, but he can repent of his sin and still be divorced by his wife. The two are not automatically connected.

Suppose, however, that the sin is something like gambling. Now you have a Christian wife living with a non-Christian man. The man has been excommunicated for not loving his wife by spending all their money on gambling. In this case the wife cannot automatically divorce her non-Christian husband. She must apply a whole bunch of other passages while living with a non-Christian who is content to live with her (1 Cor. 7:13-15; cf. 1 Peter 3).

The other instance of divorce for Christians is when a Christian married to a non-Christian and the non-Christian doesn’t want to live with the Christian anymore. This one can get sticky and require a lot of wisdom. Suppose the non-Christian is just grumpy and the Christian isn’t having a good time living with the non-Christian. I would say that this isn’t grounds for divorce. There are plenty of passages in Scripture that tell us how to live in difficult situations. The Christian in a hard place needs to draw near to Christ and win their unbelieving spouse to the Lord by their godly attitude and behavior.

If the non-Christian wife is beating her Christian husband, this might be warrant for divorce. Being willing to live with the Christian may mean that she isn’t causing bodily harm to her Christian husband. But this is a wisdom call, not automatic. Suppose the wife is getting up in the middle of the night and hitting her husband with a pan, but when she wakes up because of his yelling, she realizes that she’s been sleep whacking. She probably needs some other kind of help than being divorced.

The objectivity of Covenant membership makes how you think of people much easier. You don’t have to pretend to be God and try to see into people’s hearts. You only have to see if Christians are living godly lives or not. If they are you encourage them to more faithfulness. If they aren’t you call them back to living lives faithful to their baptisms. It really takes a lot of stress off. God gets to make the big decisions and it isn’t up to us anymore.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Opening Prayer

Psalm 99:1-3 — The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The LORD is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is he!

O Lord you do reign and therefore we come to you this morning trembling. But we know that we have a holy and righteous advocate who has gone before us. It is on that basis that we come to you now with our prayers and petitions seeking mercy and grace in our time of need. It is in the name of Jesus that we come to praise your great and awesome name, Amen.