I think of some of the people that I have come across whose lives are utterly destroyed at yet seemingly they are oblivious to it. The mind/heart has a shrewd way of justifying itself even in the midst of desolation. Men that have lost absolutely every thing to drugs and alcohol living drink to drink behind a dumpster thinking that they are somehow better off this way, that it is everyone else that has the problem. God's mighty works are not simply finding ways to show off but, illustrations of just how far the human heart will go to avoid/disobey Him and His call.
A man may come to know that he has sinned. He may even come to ask others forgiveness. That does not mean how ever that he has come to see eye to eye with the Lord. He may as in this case be seeking to escape the consequences to come with little regret or repentance.
Hardness can be the mere thought of the Lord, what the Lord represents, what the Lord expects one to do. Once of this mind, anything said or done, even suggested, only goes to harden all the more. This Lord represents something other than what Pharaoh wants a lord to represent. His lords expect little from him other than to stand firm like their statues against any other. Reasoning and tangible proofs have little effect.
Think about now how far we've come. From Moses being embarrassed and chided even amongst his own people, thinking that he had done the Lord wrong, to a spot where everyone but Pharaoh sees what is going on. Remember that Israel has done nothing of it's own. It is not by their good works nor even a pressing faith that this is done; they have not been called by a proven obedience. This has been done solely by God to fulfill a promise made to Jacob/Joseph centuries ago. Moses has played a role as has Aaron but not even they knew what to do or how much that it was going to take. Not one of these works could anyone have done themselves.
This is the first plague where the people of Israel had to participate. Everything up to now they sat back and watched. Their action is to be reenacted yearly as a remembrance to all future generations and is very specific as the symbolism is exact and points to the coming Messiah. kjv@1Corinthians:5:7 describes Christ as our passover. He in every way fulfills the role of the lamb sacrificed (before the congregation) and the lamb's blood protecting/covering the chosen from a death otherwise meant for all. His death brings about our immediate release and exodus from the bondage of sin. Now the proofing of the believer begins.
Think of what the perception of God was before these acts. He was mostly full of promises. He had accomplished some necessary judgments (flood, Sodom), talked now and then to direct an individual. This is the first though that He had revealed with a mighty hand a entire people; first He had used one people to show forth His power to all other people and thereby spread the prophesy of the coming Christ. Now He will be right on top of these chosen people for a time to show us His precise nature.
It should be known by the way the Lord ritualized this event that He did not intend to continue doing this specific type of massive deliverance again, not for the Israelites, not for any other nation or tribe; it was a once and for all proclamation of the deliverance in Christ to come. There are not other Christs therefore there are not other pictures of His complete deliverance given for the nations. God will show smaller more general deliverances hereafter but those are pictures of more daily deliverances after the all in all deliverance of Christ is received and followed. He always did these fortellings leading up to Christ through Israel so that the nations would not confuse these accounts with any other god. This exodus account will be retold and reminded many times more throughout scripture.
The Lord had told Moses what was to happen. The question is whether Moses told the people. We are not told. God did not say 'tell my people'. It would be interesting (though maybe speculative) to ask how the people would have reacted if Moses had told them; probably much the same reaction. The point either way would have been that the Lord has to be trusted. Knowing or not knowing the details often in advance has little to do with our acceptance and willingness to undergo what must happen. This is a space that only trust, even trust in great big unimaginable miracles can fill.
I am sure that the Lord is always encouraging of prayer and communication. Crying out may not always be appropriate however. David for instance often cries out in his Psalms but, his desperation often leads him to the conclusion that God is truly great and a mighty deliverer in times of need. How often do we cry out however with desperation alone, seeking for answers that we are not prepared to follow, directions we are not observant to go, pleading for self strength without having established ourselves within His. We can not be too hard on these Israelites for they are experiencing God many of them for the first time. We should be harder on ourselves for having had their experience plus our own plus that of others and still yet crying out for the sake of crying out. Is there not reason to be communicating with God on a totally different level?
Honor at another man's expense is typically not a good thing. Honor if by the hardness of ones own heart after being given every opportunity to do otherwise and after having given one's oath not to pursue this any further... that is honor above and beyond, especially when it is the course of two nations and not just single men. The men that will die along with him have made their choices long ago to blindly and courageously serve regardless of Pharaoh's right and wrong. They by their personal honor/allegiance will die by their Pharaoh's utter dishonor. Make your choices wisely my friends!
There are a number of secular (even some theological) scholars that have gone to great lengths to explain how the parting of the sea may have happened in natural terms. None of these go to explain the prerequisite element of the Angel of the Lord and Pillar of Fire keeping the Egyptians at distance from the Israelites as they prepared to cross the dry land. If you are going to explain one thing by natural terms, you must be able to explain them all.
The emphasis of the word fear is not only on the sheer terror of this event but also on the reverence toward the controller of of such uncontrollable elements. That this happened in the manner that it happened for the people who were in this moment could only have been the hand of God. For us who now read of this event there is intellectual wiggle room and physical detachment from these occurrences that these many witnesses were not privy to. It is interesting to see how in the coming hours/days how this fear/reverence too wore down; a testament to the tendencies of the self justifying human reprobate will.
It is not that the Lord's hand has become anything different, it is that the people's experience and testimony of His hand has become stronger. How important is it that we know that the Lord never changes. He does not become more powerful or less powerful, He is always all powerful, even in ways that we have not experienced yet.
In this the Song of Moses it is easy to see the overwhelming jubilation and sense of God being able to do absolutely anything for the Israelites. In the very same chapter however we see that there yet remains a work that the Lord will have to do on them. Having the knowledge and the experience and the faith exhibited in this jubilation is one thing, having the heart to change from one's sinful nature and the heart to submit to His authority and obey quite another. The fact that it will take another 1500+ years before Christ arrives testifies to the gravity of the sin nature we possess to be exposed. We will see many a revival (many in recollection of this singular event) and we will see many similar jubilations, but, the weight of sin will in every case quickly blanket the spiritual exhilaration with grieving and bondage. Thus the need for Christ.
Have you ever wondered if the dry spell that you are going through now is a time where God is seeing whether you will obey His command or not? There may be a section of time in advance where your expectations are not met when you begin to murmur. And maybe you think you are murmuring at somebody (a boss or a spouse a pastor) but, really you are murmuring of God. The problem may be in your expectations. Then there is a second phase where God in His wisdom has provided an answer for you. Again it may not be what you expected; instead it is an intermediary answer as in this case to see if you will perform the steps mandated in the frame of heart that is needed. Again the problem comes with one's expectation. When following the deliverance of God one must expect that our own expectations and His may differ grossly. His offering may not be the final answer all at once, it may be a series of processes that lead us to His ultimate answer. In our own personal wilderness experience, not only do we need learn to trust/depend on Him, to be thankful for anything when do or do not have, but, also to obey what He has impressed upon us to obey.
How many of our prayers are not prayers at all but, murmurings? A couple? A few? Some? A lot? A whole lot? God hears hears our words. He knows what we need before we ask it. Often, He has to sift through all the complaints about what He hasn't done or needs to be doing. Often He has to see past the complaints about others we are making in prayer form. So do we not pray to Him at all? No. We pray to Him in a manner worthy of His Holiness. Prayers where we focus on who He is and what He is doing big picture and where we fit in His big picture and where He fits in ours. He will answer either way, the difference is that the exchange has benefited our appreciation and attitude all the more.
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but, it was forty years of Manna only because of their disobedience and lack of trust. Since the chapter began with God wanting to prove whether they would obey or no, we should know that almost immediately from outset onward the answer was no. For the manna obedience was somewhat locked in, it would spoil overnight and not grow on Sabbath. For the many other things God was doing the obedience was more voluntary. You have to remember also that these people were in a desert isolated from foreign influences and still had these disobedient tendencies. Is our nature any different? Where do we stand in our proving yet today?
There is a danger when a single individual is used as mightily as Moses that the people follow the person and not the Lord. The odder turn is that they don't seem to follow the Lord unless there be a mighty leader. The truest statement is possibly that they don't generally follow the Lord period and the individual is only complained and plotted against. In the wilderness they could not provide for themselves, that was the point. But, did they come to depend on their own contact and relationship withe the Lord or did they depend upon another's. Today, we are much the same depending the faith and workings of our leaders rather than our personal faith and the Lord's bountiful resources.
The Lord instructs us Himself one to one. He instructs through the counsel of others as well. Moses had taken too much upon himself. Not only was it bad for his health and endurance it was bad for the people he was trying to lead. Notice that the Lord did not tell him this, the Lord used his father in law. The Lord did not object. Perhaps Moses had been praying for an answer but was too busy/distracted to listen for it. Perhaps the Lord had told him but, he did not receive it for some reason. Maybe the Lord choose this method from the beginning to develop Moses in the areas of friendship and counsel that he needed developed himself. Regardless, the point for us to take is the importance of counsel, of grooming trust relationships, of allowing opportunity to receive, of being able to compare and line up with the known word of God and correctly decide. Not just any counsel mind you, not just the advice we want to hear, the right godly counsel.
I don't think we have been told that there were priest be fore this. These were probably the priests Israel had before in the captivity. Moses must confuse their physical proximity to God on the mountain (which had been forbidden) with their spiritual proximity which is always encouraged. This third day must had been a fearful day.
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