God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would become the fathers of a great nation. These men had faith that God would keep His promise. What started out as one man (Abraham) and his small family had grown to enough people to “fill the land” (Exodus 1:7). God kept His promise. Israel is becoming a large nation and will continue to get larger. Notice that God never told these patriarchs how He would make Israel a great nation. None of these three men had any clue that their family would face severe famine and have to move to Egypt. God doesn’t give us the details. He gives us the promise. Its up to us to believe and act on that belief.
At one point Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt. He had found favor in the eyes of Pharaoh due to his wisdom and ability to manage the famine crisis. But by Exodus 1:8 all that is over. Pharaoh had died and a new king came to power who didn’t have the same point of view on Joseph. This king fears the now large Israelite population so he enslaves them. Power and fame are fleeting. They are only last as long as one’s admirers. We shouldn’t chase after them because not only won’t they last but, even worse, they often lead us away from God. In Joseph’s case he handled power and fame well. But for most people, these are very dangerous things.
The new Pharaoh is so afraid of the Israelites that he orders all baby boys killed. This was intended to limit their future military power. But notice how the Egyptian midwives “feared God”. They probably didn’t worship the true God of the Israelites but they had seen, and had heard stories of, how the Israelits had been blessed by God and they didn’t want to mess with Him. So they disobeyed Pharaoh’s orders and let the boys live. When our leaders tell us to do something that goes against God, we have every right, and obligation, to disobey. Our leaders are only human. Not all of their choices will be correct. We should have no fear in dismissing any commands that are not in line with God’s will.
In Exodus 2 we read the beginning of the life of Moses. Notice how Moses’ parents are unnamed. Moses came from humble beginnings, not from a famous family. Yet God will use him to do some awesome things. God works the same way today. God uses those who are not well known or powerful so that He will get the glory. If God used a famous person instead, the masses would give the glory to that person and would not attribute it to God. Not to mention that “successful” human beings (as defined by the world: rich, powerful, famous) probably don’t recognize God to begin with.
In Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks His disciple who they think He is. Peter answers “You are the Messiah”. The Jews knew that their Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) foretold of a coming messiah (savior). The Jews at this time believed that the Messiah would be a military leader who would liberate Israel from the occupying Romans. Just a few verses later Jesus tells them that He will suffer at the hands of the Jewish leaders and be killed. This obviously confused them because they thought the Messiah would be a conquerer.
In verses 24-26 Jesus talks about the cost of being a disciple. The cost of being a disciple is everything – our entire lives. We must put away our own ideas and selfish desires. Nothing is worth more than our soul, not even the entire world! That is because our souls are eternal and the world is temporary. Even if we could gain the entire world in our lifetime, we would lose it when we die anyway.
Jesus predicts His own return to earth in the future in verse 27. The Bible is about 21% prophecy, some of which has come true, such as over 100 prophecies about Jesus that came true when He first came to earth, and some which has not, including the ones about Jesus’s future return to earth.
In Matthew 17 we have the cool story of the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus took His closest disciples up on a mountain, and before their eyes, shed His earthly body and showed them His heavenly glory. This was not a miracle. The miracle was the fact that God placed Himself in a human body to begin with. This was the temporary cessation of that miracle to reveal His true appearance to these lucky disciples. The disciples certainly got to witness some cool stuff.
Notice Matthew 17:7 where Jesus tells the three disciples not to be afraid. This was just after God spoke. This happens repeatedly in the Bible. God speaks and those who hear Him are afraid. But Jesus tells us not to be afraid. There is no reason to be afraid of God. He isn’t out to scare us or hurt us. He is out to bless us if we only let Him.
Again in verse 9 Jesus predicts that He will be raised from the dead. From this point on Jesus will be preparing His disciples for His death.
In Psalm 21 today we see that a “king” rejoices at God’s strength. Kings are pretty powerful. They have armies and great military strength. But the king in this Psalm rejoices not in his own power and strength but in that of the Lord. We should live the same way. Our success in life is not from our own skill and intelligence. We have success because God gave us the skill and intelligence to succeed.
I think it is pretty cool that there are so many ways that we should celebrate God. One of those ways is with music and singing (Psalm 21:13).
Proverbs tells us that immoral temptation is “sweet” and “smooth”. But the reality of immoral behavior is “bitter as poison”. What seems like a good idea may very well not be. How do we know? We measure everything against God’s word to see if it is “moral” or not. That is why reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible is so important.