Today begins the story of the life of Moses. At this point in the story Moses is about 40 years old (we know this from Act chapter 7). Moses knew he was not an Egyptian (verse 11). While visiting his own people he kills an Egyptian who is beating one of his Hebrew brothers. There is some symbolism here depicting Moses as a deliverer but although his intentions are good — he was outraged at injustice — Moses clearly breaks both Egypt’s law and God’s law. As a result, he has to flee from his cushy life in Pharaoh’s palace to the desert. In Genesis we saw how Abraham and Isaac both had issues with lying. As we study Moses’ life we will see that he has a problem with anger.
In Midian Moses again acts as a deliverer when he rescues some young female shepherds from a bunch of bullies. Moses again demonstrates that he has a heart for the oppressed. God is definitely speaking to you and me through the life of Moses. We need to stand up for those who are mistreated and have no voice of their own: the unborn, victims of human trafficking, abused children, etc. The list goes on. As long as there are humans there will be egos. As long as there are egos there will be oppression. Those of us who have our treasure in heaven should not be afraid of taking a stand on this earth against what God tells us is wrong. But we need to do it God’s way. Pray first. Receive instructions second. Act third.
When Moses’s son is born he names him Gershom because he (Moses) is a “foreigner in a foreign land”. Moses seems to know that Midian is not his destiny. Midian was not part of the land that God promises to Abraham. Moses certainly knew this as he was raised by Hebrew parents (even after Pharaoh’s daughter found him). Do you ever get the feeling that maybe your life is not in the right place occupationally, geographically, romantically, or some other way? I am dealing with this very issue regarding my career and geographic residence right now. Sometimes we are not where God wants us to be. But nevertheless, while we are there He can train us and grow us so that when we are where He wants us we will be more usable.
Verses 23 and 24 remind us that no matter how bad things get, God is looking down on us. He never leaves us alone. And while things may seem bleak, God’s perspective is wider. He sees the whole picture. We only see a small part of it. Its interesting that the Israelites did not pray to God. They groaned. They complained. They didn’t seem to have faith in God at this point. But even so, God is faithful. He made a promise to Abraham and He begins to put a plan into action to fulfill that promise. God is always at work in our lives. Not because of our faith or obedience, because we fail here big time. But rather because of His faithfulness to us.
Another 40 years goes by and Moses is now 80 years old when God calls to him from the burning bush (Exodus 3). Here God calls Moses to go back to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of there. Forty years earlier Moses was questioned by two Hebrews who asked “Who gave you any authority?” (Exodus 2:14). Moses asks God essentially the same question in Exodus 3:11. God doesn’t really answer Moses; He just states that He will be with Moses. It doesn’t matter who Moses is. It only matters who God is. And who is God? In verse 14 God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that “I AM” has sent him (Moses). God “is”. He “is” so many things. He “is” the God of the Israelites. He is their Deliverer. He is their Creator.
The rest of our reading in Exodus today is prophecy which came true shortly thereafter. God accurately predicted how Pharaoh would behave and how He would respond. God gives us the end of the story before the beginning even happens: The Israelites will leave Egypt with much wealth.
Jesus heals a boy of seizures in Matthew 17 today after His disciples had tried to heal him but had apparently failed. Notice the boy’s father calls Jesus “Lord”, a term essentially subjugating the speaker. This happens many places in the Gospels but nowhere is it recorded that Jesus ever stopped anyone from doing so. Many people attempt to claim that Jesus was not God but was only a “good and moral teacher”. But would someone who wasn’t God and knew it really be moral if he allowed Himself to be exalted above his peers? No. He is not just a teacher. Jesus was God.
We’re told that the reason the disciples could not expel the demon from the boy is that they did not have enough faith. Faith must always be placed in something. So the disciples faith was not placed where it should have been… in Jesus. The modern world tells us to have faith in ourselves; we should “believe” in ourselves. True faith is not directed inward. It is directed outward, toward God. Jesus was God in a human body. It was by faith in God that Jesus performed miracles. If we have enough faith, and that faith is placed in the right object, Jesus, then we can solve any problem.
Matthew 17:27 is a very interesting verse. Did you know that most likely all 12 disciples, with the exception of Peter, were teenagers? The Bible doesn’t tell us that explicitly, but there is anecdotal evidence of it and this verse is one. The temple tax was to be paid by men 20 years and older. Notice in this passage that only Peter and Jesus pay the tax. The others do not. Most likely the other 11 were 19 years of age or younger. Isn’t it cool that Jesus would use the youth and inexperienced ones to carry His message forth to the world? This is a great lesson for kids in high school and junior high today. God exists and is willing to use them to do great things.
Notice in this passage (Matthew 17:25-26) that kings don’t collect taxes from their own people; “citizens are free” Jesus says in verse 26. Jesus is our King. We are His citizens. He collects no tax. His love, compassion, and salvation are all free for all who want them! Isn’t that great?!
I’m sure all of us can relate to Psalm 22. The author of this Psalm is clearly in distress and is wondering if God has abandoned him (this is never true as we learned earlier today). The author recalls that God came to the rescue of his ancestors (verses 4-5). Even though he is not hearing from God, he apparently still believes that he will get an answer.
Notice in verse 16 that the enemies are described as a “gang” or “pack”. Evil almost always travels together. I guess this is a way of justifying one’s bad behavior (“if other people are doing it, then it can’t be all that bad”). But righteousness often travels alone. It isn’t easy trying to do what is right. Remember the two roads we learned about earlier this year… the road to hell is wide and many will travel on it while the road to heaven is narrow and few will find it.
How many of us enjoy discipline? None of us. But it is necessary. If we try to avoid it we will end up in anguish, as Proverbs tells us today. Verse 12 is so right. We will look back at our lives realizing that discipline for a short while is much better than the long term affects of ignoring the discipline. We have this harsh connotation of discipline, but really just means “training that corrects”. When done correctly discipline will create wisdom, not resentment.