Reflection on Exodus 33:12-33

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+33.12-33

Scripture

But if you go with us, everyone will know that you are pleased with your people and with me. That way we will be different from the rest of the people on earth.”

Observation

Moses asks the Lord who his assistant is to be and what His plan for the people is. The Lord replies, “I will go with you and give you peace.”

Then Moses replies, “I’m not going anywhere unless you go with us. If you do go with us we will be different to every other people.” The Lord says He will do this.

Moses asks to see the Lord’s glory. The Lord hides him in a crack in a rock so that Moses only sees a small part of His glory, otherwise he would die.

Application

The children of Israel are passing through the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land. The Lord leads them daily by means of a pillar of smoke and fire.

Moses is now saying to the Lord, “You have led us this far; don’t abandon us now because I’m not going anywhere without you.”

Israel was meant to be different from all the other nations. The powerful presence of the Lord directing the nation and individuals would set them apart as holy and righteousness.

Christians have something even more powerful. God with us, God in us, the Holy Spirit directing, leading and encouraging us.

We need to learn how to listen to the Holy Spirit, and to obey the Holy Spirit. The power and character of Jesus need to become evident in our lives so that everyone knows that christians are different from the other people in the world.

Prayer

Lord, teach me how to hear you and obey your voice. Show me how to follow the paths you want me to go down. Amen.

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Reflection on Exodus 32:1-14

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+32.1-14

Scripture

After the people saw that Moses had been on the mountain for a long time, they went to Aaron and said, “Make us an image of a god who will lead and protect us. Moses brought us out of Egypt, but nobody knows what has happened to him.”

Observation

While Moses is up on the mountain receiving God’s Law, the people come to Aaron to get him to make an idol for them. Aaron has a statue of a bull made, and the people worship it and carry on “like wild people.”

The Lord tells Moses to get back down to the people. He threatens to kill them for their idolatry and replace them with Moses’ offspring. Moses intercedes and the Lord relents.

Application

How easy it is to move from faith to idolatry. How quickly we can start to worship the “gods” we can see and touch rather than the true God whom we cannot see.

It is hard to believe, but the people of Israel had seen daily miracles, but still quickly pursued an idol when the opportunity presented itself

We are not so blatant about it, but there are many false gods around us that fight for our adoration– family, security, approval of others, money, sex, significance, worship, religion.

There are so many idols but only one Saviour.

For this reason, we must keep our eyes on Jesus all day every day. We must start our days in prayer, end our days in prayer and fill the days with prayer.

Regular reading of the Bible will help us to set our directions in accordance with the ways of Christ.

With so many temptations to worship the idols of our heart, we need to ensure that we worship only the Lord.

Prayer

Father, I confess that it is all too easy for my hear to seek pleasure in false gods. Please keep me safe in my worship of you alone. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 20:1-20

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+20.1-20

Scripture

The people trembled with fear when they heard the thunder and saw the lightning and smoke coming from the mountain. They stood a long way off.

Observation

Moses comes down from the mountain and tells the people what the Lord aid to him. He tells them the ten commandments. Their freedom from slavery in Egypt was to result in a people who were holy, set apart for God.

The people trembled with fear hearing the thunder and seeing the smoke and lightning on the mountain. They did not want to go in and urged Moses to be their representative.

Application

Scripture tells us in several places that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Here there is not a healthy fear of the Lord but a terror of approaching the Lord. They could see the power of the Lord, but they missed His love.

On the other hand, Moses was drawn in, always seeking a deeper knowledge, a more intimate experience of God.

The people wanted to stand back at a distance, but Moses wanted to press in.

People put up all kinds of boundaries in order to try and control how close God can get in. They keep Him locked in a cage that they visit on Sunday morning from the safety of the back seat. They may have n intellectual boundary where God can only speak through a theological framework. Some have a prayer life that excludes all possibility of miracles.

God wants us to go “all in”, not holding anything back. It is scary to pull down all the barriers we have erected to contain the Lord. It may cost us everything we have. But it brings us into the very presence of God.

The life of total pursuit of the Lord is exhilarating. There is nothing like it!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, please show me the ways that I try to limit your ownership of my life. Help me to let go of those barriers and trust you to lead me in all things. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 17:1-7

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+17.1-7

Scripture

Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?”

Observation

At the Lord’s command the people move from place to place, eventually stopping at Rephidim. There is no water, so the people demand that Moses do something.

Moses cries out to the Lord who orders him to take his staff and strike a rock at Mount Sinai. When Moses does this, water comes gushing out of the rock.

Application

When we are going through difficult times it can be easy to lose sight of God. The Israelites grumbled because they were thirsty. In a sense that is understandable. On the other hand, they were receiving food twice a day at the hand of the Lord. Why would the God who provided food this way not give them water also.

We can grumble and complain against God from a place of faith. It is OK to cry out to God when we don’t understand what is happening. We also need to recognise that Scripture tells us to rejoice always, even in suffering.

There comes a point when we may cross the line from faith to unbelief, from lament to testing. I think the point is where we start to doubt that God is with us.

The Israelites tested God by saying, “Is the Lord really here or not?” They had passed from doubting God’s goodness to doubting God’s presence, despite a pillar of fire that travelled with them.

In a time of grief or despair we might wonder why things happen the way they do. We might wonder where God is hiding in the mess we are living through.

We need to be careful, though, of the temptation to doubt that God is here with us. That is the place where our unbelief leads us away from Jesus.

Prayer

Lord it is easy to believe when every day we see prayers answered. I ask for grace to believe when prayers seem to be rejected and when all I see around me is dark. Please help me to stay focused on you. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 16:1-15

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+16.1-15

Scripture

As Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out to the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.

Observation

The community of Israel journeys into the wilderness of Sin. The people begin to complain against Moses and Aaron bringing them into the wilderness to starve. They make the ridiculous complaint that in Egypt they always had enough and sat around eating all day.

The Lord promises Moses that He will provide meat every evening and bread each morning. So each evening vast numbers of quails fly into the camp, and each morning a flaky substance which they call manna appears on the ground.

Application

Amidst the complaining and grizzling of the people in the wilderness, they could see the glory of God in the cloud.

Their fear and unbelief prevented them trusting the God who was gloriously present with them, shining from the cloud at the edge of the camp.

The issue was not that they doubted God’s presence- He was clearly visible to them. Nor was the issue that God was able to provide for them- they had experienced some awesome miracles in the previous few weeks.

The issue was this. Did God care enough to provide for their needs? Could they trust the Lord to bring them through?

This issue of the Lord’s love and our trust in Him is at the heart of all doubt, and indeed of all sin.

We don’t have the cloud of glory “out there.” We have the Holy Spirit in us, a far greater blessing than the children of Israel experienced.

This same question remains for us as we pass through our own wilderness experiences. Can I trust God in this wilderness?

Prayer

Lord I believe, help me in my unbelief. Help me to trust you in the wilderness times even more than in the good times. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 14:19-31

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+14.19-31

Scripture

And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Observation

The Israelites are fleeing the Egyptians and have arrived at the Red Sea. The angel of the Lord and the cloud of glory move from the front of the Israelites to behind them, between the Israelites and the Egyptians. Through the night the cloud brings darkness to the Egyptians and light to the Israelites.

At the Lord’s command Moses stretches his staff over the sea, and the Lord sends a strong wind to divide the waters. The people of Israel go through the sea on dry land with the waters gathered up on either side of them.

The Egyptians pursue the Israelites, but the Lord throws confusion over them. The wheels of their chariots fall off. The Lord again tells Moses to stretch out his staff over the water, and it collapses back on itself drowning the Egyptian army.

In response to this display of power, the Israelites put their trust in the Lord and Moses.

Application

This is an awesome miracle, a demonstration of the power of God, and it brought to the people of God the ability to trust Him.

There seemed to be no way, but God opened a way. The future of the people seemed closed up, but God provided a new way, a new hope, a new future.

This display caused the people to put their trust in the Lord– for a few days .Later they would become hungry, and their praise would turn to grumbling.

Spiritual maturity comes when we learn to trust God in the tough times as well as in the excitement of miracles. Do I still trust Him when my prayers seem to go unanswered, or when enemies triumph at my expense?

I must trust the Lord in every circumstance.

Prayer

Lord, please help me to trust you in the good times and also in the tough times. Amen.

Reflection on Exodus 3:1-15

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Passage: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+3.1-15

Scripture

Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Observation

Moses is out in the wilderness, tending his father-in-law’s sheep. He comes across a burning bush from which the Lord speaks to him.

The Lord tells Moses that He has seen the misery of His people and is going to set them free and take them to their own land. Moses is to go to Pharaoh and set God’s people free.

Moses then asks the question, “Who are you?” and the Lord says, “I am who I am. This is my covenant name for ever.”

Application

Moses turns aside to see a sign from God and he has a life-changing encounter with Him. The Lord says “This ground is holy.”

That particular patch of ground was holy because God’s presence was there in that moment. It hadn’t been holy the hour before, and as far as we know, it wasn’t holy after the meeting between Moses and Yahweh.

God’s presence makes all the difference to a place. In that moment of encounter, that place is sanctified, set apart for God.

We don’t have “burning bush” moments every day. But we do have the opportunity for God encounters. Another shepherd might have been too intent on watching his sheep, or, in our day and age, his facebook feed. But Moses took time to step away from his path to go and look and listen to God.

God moments and God encounters are waiting for us every day if only we will stop, look and listen.

We don’t need a flaming bush in the wilderness. God is with us everywhere we go.

Prayer

Lord, what special moment do you have for me today? Help me to listen to your voice among the clamour of my life. Amen.