The Radiant Face of Prayer

Today’s reading: Exodus 33:12-36:7

My selection: Exodus 34:29-30

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.30 Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him.

My reflections: Moses face shone after being in the Lord’s presence. Others could see it and were afraid to come near him. But Moses himself did not realize how the skin of his face shone. It shone because he had been talking to God. Paul referred to this, in II Corinthians 3:7-18, contrasting the glory of the ministry of death and the ministry of the Spirit. Even that Old Testament ministry of condemnation, with law carved in letters of stone, held a frightening glory. The New Testament ministry of righteousness has a surpassing glory.

My challenge:   What do we know of this glory? Far too little, I am afraid.

In the gospel, all who believe are assured of acceptance before God and access to His throne.  Should that not drive us to prayer and result in radiant faces? In Christ, we are brought near to God. And this surpassing glory is permanent. It should produce in us boldness and freedom and progressive transformation into His image. Pray with me, “Lord, grow me in the knowledge and experience of your glory.”

 Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 36:1-38:20

Keeping the Sabbath

Today’s reading: Exodus 30:22-33:11

12 And the Lord said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.

 My reflections:

Q. If God told us to stand on the roof at sunset and gargle peanut butter, would you do it?

A. Yes, of course.

Q. So a divine command doesn’t have to be logical or rational in order for us to obey?

A. No, as long as God says to do it, we should do it. No questions asked.

God didn’t tell His people to gargle peanut butter but He did tell them to keep His Sabbaths on pain of death. Where do modern evangelicals get off totally disregarding the Sabbath? It is common for church goers to bolt out of worship and head for the restaurants. I hear of professing believers hitting the supermarkets or stadiums on Sunday afternoons or evenings without a second thought. Any suggestion that there may be something amiss with this will bring protests of Pharisaism.

This is not the place for a debate about keeping the Sabbath vs. keeping the Lord’s Day. My point is most church-going Christians are doing neither. Sadly, they are not only offending God’s law but also missing the blessing intended by keeping the Sabbath holy.

My challenge: What is your practice in keeping the Sabbath or the Lord’s Day? Are you overlooking one of His commandments? Is this why your life is frantic and you lack time for prayer, Bible study, and worship? Let us pray: Lord, awaken your people beginning with me to the priority of keeping your Sabbaths for worship, corporate and private, for rest and for service for your glory.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 33:12-36:7

Glory and Beauty

Today’s reading: Exodus 28:31-30:21

My selection: Exodus 28:40-41

40 “For Aaron’s sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. 41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

My reflections: All of the instructions for the tabernacle and furnishings were extremely detailed and orderly. The vestments of the priests were no less so. Aaron and his sons were to reflect glory and beauty in their dress, showing the solemnity of their office and work. They were to be ordained, set apart, for their service. They were marked as being the designated men to offer the sacrifices before God.

My challenge: Although the Old Testament priesthood was only a shadow of the priesthood of the Incarnate Son of God, it was to be carried out with the highest possible seriousness. In the New Testament, the believers are called a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5). Since the Reformation, evangelicals have referred to the “priesthood of the believer.” A priest mediates between God and man. As those who have been called to make disciples of all nations, you and I have a grave responsibility to reflect the Lord in our actions and speech.

Seek to reflect His glory and beauty today.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 30:22-33:11

The High Priest

Today’s reading: Exodus 26:1-28:30

My selection: Exodus 28:29-30

29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the Lord. 30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the Lord. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the Lord regularly.

My reflections: Aaron was the designated high priest of ancient Israel who would go into the Holy Place to bring to the Lord the names of the sons of Israel, all the tribes of God’s chosen people. He also bore the judgment of the people before God as symbolized by a breastplate which contained the mysterious Urim and Thummim through which the priest received oracles from God.

All this was a mere shadow of what would one day come when the true and perfect High Priest of a higher order than Aaron, the Lord Jesus Christ, would enter not an earthly tabernacle but the heavenly one bearing on His heart the judgment of His people, the true Spiritual Israel. There will be much more about that in the New Testament (Hebrews 4:14 ff).

My challenge: God had an amazing and wise purpose for laying out the details of the Old Testament priesthood. He was putting in place a graphic depiction of the ministry of His Son, Jesus. As Paul cried out in Romans 11:33

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

If you know Christ as your High Priest who bears your name and your judgment before God, give Him praise for the great salvation that is yours in Him.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 28:31-30:21

Acceptable Offerings

Today’s Reading: Exodus 23:14-25:40

My selection: Exodus 25:1-2

The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.

My reflections: The Lord ordered Moses to instruct the people to make contributions as their hearts moved them but these contributions had to be of certain specified commodities, for example: gold, silver, bronze, certain skins, yarns, and woods (vs. 3-7).

There was freedom to contribute for those whose hearts were moved to do so but only according to the list of items needed. Moses in vs. 9 was ordered to follow the pattern for the tabernacle and its furniture exactly as he had been shown.

God will not accept offerings on our terms.

1. Offerings must be from the heart (II Corinthians 9:7).

2. Offerings must be of the kind He specifies to build the tabernacle.

My challenge: We are foolish if we attempt to make offerings to God without regard for His Word and will. Do you give to the Lord from a sincere, cheerful heart? Do you give in order to build up His Church, which is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament tabernacle? Check your offering practices and attitudes. Be sure they actually comply with God’s Word.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 26:1-28:30

Words from Heaven

Today’s reading: Exodus 20:22-23:13

My selection: Exodus 20:22

22 And the Lord said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven.

My reflections: God talked with them from heaven. What an amazing thing for the Israelites to experience!

Yet we are not left out of this blessing.

The premise of Scripture is that God exists and communicates verbally with His people through His Word. His Word may not be ignored. His Word may not be twisted. It is good news that there is a God and that He is not silent. It is bad news for all who do not beieve and obey the message. He is holy. He is worthy of worship. Israel and all who hear their testimony recognize there is no alternative to obedience. Yet for the believer there is great joy and peace in believing.

My challenge: Give thanks to God for His Word. Obey it carefully today.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 23:14-25:40

One People of God

Today’s reading: Exodus 17:1-20:21

My selection: Exodus 19:3-6

The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

My reflections: God’s purpose for Israel in bringing them out of Egypt and slavery was to bring them to Himself so that they might obey His voice, keep His covenant and be His treasured possession among all peoples. Through this relationship and their response to Him they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Peter uses this same language in referring to the Church (I Peter 2:9). It was always God’s purpose in choosing Abraham to transform Israel, the Old Testament church which is continued in the redemption of people from every tribe and tongue, into the Church of Jesus Christ. There is one Church, one purpose. Here we see the unfolding of God’s purpose and the unity of Scripture that is emphasized in covenant theology, but, I believe, is missed in dispensationalism which erroneously maintains a separate purpose and plan for ethnic Israel and the true spiritual Israel.

My challenge: What God did for the Israelites in forming them into a nation was part of the plan which resulted in the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, His life, His atoning death, His resurrection and His ascension to the right hand of God the Father. Our hope is in Him who will come again to judge the living and the dead and to gather His one people to Himself for eternity. If this is your hope, give Him thanks today. Pray that His Kingdom will come fully and soon.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 20:22-23:13

Clear Leading; Hidden Reasons

Today’s reading: Exodus 13:17-16:36

My selection: Exodus 13:17

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

My reflections: God’s apparent zigzag direction had a purpose. The Lord led them but not by the most direct route geographically. He knew their hearts and minds. He knew they needed to make a clean break with the past and with Egypt. He reinforced that they could never go back by leading them through the Red Sea. The sea opened, they crossed and the sea closed behind them. “No turning back, no turning back.”

This closure was reinforced as the waters of the Red Sea swirled over and drowned the army of Pharaoh. God had left a marker of death in Egypt behind the Israelites with the slaying of the firstborn males and, now,the destruction of the army.

My challenge: God does not always reveal the reasons for His guidance but that does not mean He has no reasons. Believing disciples follow and trust His guiding hand even when it does not appear to be the most efficient or logical way.

Has God’s path for you seemed inefficient and inexplicable? Trust Him that He has a purpose in all things even the zigzag pathways of your life.  It is enough that we know what He wants us to do, even when we do not know why.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 17:1-20:21

Salvation Depicted

Today’s reading: Exodus 10:21-13:16

My selection: Exodus 12:23

23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

My reflections: All the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt were marked for death. Nothing was required in order for their executions to occur on the designated night. But those who heard and believed the message, the faithful Israelites, would be spared by taking action, offering Passover lambs and putting the blood on the lintel and two doorposts of their homes. There was sure death outside the blood marked doors but sure salvation within.

Observations:

1. All mankind is under the condemnation of death due to sin.

2. Nothing needs to be done for the sentence to be executed. Our sins of omission (what we fail to do that we should) and commission (what we do that we should not) add to our guilt but the reduction or avoidance of sin cannot remove the sentence.

3. There is sure salvation in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. There is certain destruction outside of Him.

4. The blood must be applied by grace through faith for salvation to be received.

My challenge: Give thanks to God for His giving us a picture of salvation in the historical passover of the Lord in Egypt. Praise God for His great salvation in His Son, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords. Take refuge in Him.

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 13:17-16:36

Seeing the same things; drawing different conclusions

Our reading for today: Exodus 8:1-10:20

My selection: Exodus 10:1-2

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

My reflections: On several occasions the Scripture says that Pharaoh hardened his heart in response to the plagues. Here God says He hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh was not a robot. He did what he wanted to do according to his own natural inclinations. He may have deluded himself with the thought of being a courageous leader of the nation, resisting the pressure of the enslaved Israelites to be released to worship the Lord. Whatever his thought processes, Pharaoh hardened his heart.

But it is also true that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, in that God left Pharaoh in his natural state so that his heart was hard and foolish.

The result would be that the Israelites would someday tell the stories of the plagues to their grandchildren. They would all know who the Lord is through these events.

God rules over the hearts of all. Unless He chooses to change a heart it will remain unresponsive, defensive, unrepentant, and unbelieving just as Pharaoh’s was.  Pharaoh saw God’s power but did not believe.  The Israelites saw and believed. As an agnostic friend once told me, “we see the same things, but draw different conclusions.”

My challenge: If God has given you faith in Him and a hatred for sin, give thanks to Him. He has not left you in your natural state. This is also called regeneration or the new birth (John 3:3; I Peter 1:23). Be sure and relate to your family and friends your testimony of God’s work in you which resulted in a soft heart that believes and not a hard one that rebels.

If you do not believe, ask God to give you the grace to believe and repent of your sin.  Keep reading the Bible and attending church where you will hear the gospel.  Concern about your spiritual life is evidence of God’s work in you.

Our reading for tomorrow: Exodus 10:21-13:16