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May 14 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 13, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 19

The Main Event

Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.
Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The LORD called to him from the mountain and said,
“Give these instructions to the family of Jacob;
announce it to the descendants of Israel:
‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians.
You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant,
you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth;
for all the earth belongs to me.
And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’
This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.
 Exodus 19:1-6

Intro: Before we jump into the story, here’s what you need to know

This is one of the most significant chapters in the Bible
– it does not reveal a whole lot about God,
• but the information it does reveal is essential
• God reveals himself–that is, his person–to Israel
◦ he also reveals who they will become
◦ Israel identity is derived from Yahweh and their relationship with him
– this chapter is a turning point
• it lays the foundation for all that will follow from this moment on
• Israel is given a new experience of Yahweh
◦ a new revelation and a new relationship
◦ the course of their lives will be sent in a new direction

1-2 The setting is described in terms of time and space

As usual, there aren’t many specific details–e.g., landscape, weather, vegetation, etc.
– in fact, there are so few details that today it is impossible to locate Mount Sinai
• the storyteller assumed his audience was familiar enough with the desert
◦ therefore he could continue on with the story
• still, the fact that this scene occurs in time and space is important
◦ both can be made sacred
“God blessed Sabbath and made it holy” (Gen. 2:3)
and “you are standing on holy ground” (Ex. 3:5)
– Mount Sinai will continue to be the (space) setting for remainder of book

The movement in the story is vertical
– God reveals his presence on the top of Sinai
• the people are present at the foot of the mountain
– Moses is busy going up and down, receiving and delivering messages
• the entire episode is enclosed in an envelope structure:
◦ it begins in verse 3 when Moses first goes up the mountain
◦ it is complete in verse 25 when he comes down from the mountain
• after that, a new section begins (the giving of the ten commandments)

Verses 3-8 are the theological and spiritual heart of the chapter

Corporations define their business, objectives and operations with
– vision statements, mission statements, and purpose statements
• these justify and explain why the company exists; its essence
• God gives Israel a rough draft of their vision statement
– there are three parts to it:
1. Recent history
2. Immediate responsibility
3. Future effect or result

Recent history: you have seen and you know
– what God did to the Egyptians was, he broke their power over Israel
• he took his people out of that oppressive system – all the way out
• my lifetime, seen lots of changes in civil rights,
◦ but we’re not all the way to equality or the end of oppression
◦ in a short span of time, God’s liberation of Israel was complete
carried you on eagles’ wings is poetic – he airlifted them to safety
brought you to myself – they were not lost in the desert
• nor were they still a long way from their destination
• they had arrived – they were now with Yahweh their God
◦ what a revelation that is!
◦ wherever I am, wherever you are, if we are “in Christ” we have arrived

read more…

May 6 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

May 6, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 18

Leadership Fatigue And Frustrated Followers

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the LORD had rescued them from Egypt.  . . .
So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the LORD had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians.
“Praise the LORD,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! I know now that the LORD is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians”
Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence. Exodus 18:1, 7-12

Intro: God sponsored Israel’s spiritual health with three prominent resources:

Prophecy, worship and wisdom – think: Isaiah, Psalms and Proverbs
– in this chapter we come across two of those resources
• but there’s an unusual twist
• the person who officiates worship and gives wise counsel is not Moses
◦ in fact, this person is not even an Israelite
◦ he is Moses’ Midianite father-in-law, Jethro

1-7 Jethro arrives with Zipporah and Moses’ two sons

The storyteller takes this opportunity to fill in a few details

  1. At some point Moses had sent away Zipporah back to father’s home
    • my assumption: he did this once he realized the danger and hardship they faced
  2. Moses had a second son who was not mentioned before
  3. Between last week and now, Israel had moved to Mt. Sinai
    • this would have brought Moses close to his old home

Moses greets Jethro with warmth and respect
– “welfare” is the Hebrew word shalom
• it is an optimumal state of health, prosperity and peace
– then they then retreat into a more private and homey space
• here Moses can catch Jethro up on all that happened

8-12 The theme of first half of chapter emerges

In verse 1, Jethro had received news of what had transpired
– there were two parts to the message he received:
everything God had done for Moses and his people
the LORD had rescued them from Egypt
– these are the same topics that Moses reports in verse 8 (with more details no doubt)
• and Jethro repeats them in his delighted response

Moses told his father-in-law everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and Egypt . . . and how the LORD had rescued his people from all their troubles (v. 8)
Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians (v. 9)
Notice the rescue theme again in verse 10, “Praise the LORD,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt.”

What happens next is a little surprising
– Jethro takes the initiative in presenting God a burnt offering and sacrifice
• his actions aren’t surprising, because he was the priest of Midian (v. 1)
◦ they would expect this expression of gratitude from a priest
• the surprise is that he’s not Israel
◦ yet Israel’s elders accepted his lead and joined him
– some commentators have tried to make Jethro a convert
• a descendant of Abraham who remembered Abraham’s God
◦ but that’s unlikely – the forever sign of God’s covenant with Abraham was circumcision
◦ remember Moses’ tension with Zipporah over their son’s circumcision?
◦ that would seem to rule out the possibility that God’s covenant with Abraham had been maintained by the Midianites
• Jethro’s confession also points in another direction, Yahweh is greater than all other gods
◦ he the priest of Midian’s god or gods
◦ but he had never witnessed anything like the works of Yahweh

The problem for some Christians is they cannot imagine Israel’s elders allow themselves to participate in a ritual performed by a non-Israelite
– what possible factors could have made this seem acceptable to them?

read more…

Apr 30 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 29, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 17

Desert Dangers

At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of [Sine] and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So once more the people complained against Moses, “Give us water to drink!” they demanded.
“Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?” But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” Exodus 17:1-3

Intro: Why are fastest speed limits in California and Arizona posted on our desert freeways?

Most travelers try to get through desert as fast as possible
– I would remind my children, we made desert journeys with out air-conditioning
• my parents reminded us of horse-drawn covered wagons
◦ not that they ever traveled that way, but to give us perspective
◦ it didn’t work
• we also learned that high temperatures made for short fuses
– I bring this up so that we can feel some sympathy for the Israelites
• their trek thru the wilderness led from one hardship to another
• their worst times, however, resulted when they lost sight of God

In some ways, our spiritual journey parallels their travels
– the Apostle Paul made this point in 1 Corinthians
• and that will be how we approach Exodus chapter 17 today
– there were two common experiences on this desert journey:
1. Going through periods of dryness
2. Coming under attack

Israel is on the move againAt the LORD’s command

“Command” is literally “mouth,” and I like the feel of that
– it makes God’s speech seem more direct and intimate
• it’s nicer to be nudged by a gentle voice, “Time to go”
• than be driven by a gruff command, “Get going!”
– Israel’s movements were constantly “from” place to place
• each camp site was the springboard for their next move

Life with God is never static
– Paul compares the human body to a tent (2 Cor. 5:1)
• a temporary shelter
◦ the book of Hebrews says we have no permanent residence in this world
• it’s like standing on the ocean shore, ankle-deep in water
◦ the sand keeps shifting under your feet, so you have to keep moving
– we are not in heaven yet
• but going from place to place is not so bad if, like Paul says,

we . . . are being transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18)

• God meets us where he finds us in this place at this moment
◦ and he walks us into the next place and the next moment

The first problem they ran into in this new place: no water

Of course they complain – and their complaint is routed to two departments
– it reaches Moses as a dispute, and reaches God as a test

The word test (also translated tempt) frequently occurs in the Bible. To get at its meaning, imagine that you inherited a ring from a dear old aunt. Wanting to know if the diamond in it is real, you take it to a jeweler who can test it for you. The test will not only confirm the genuineness of the diamond, but also reveal its quality and value. Tests in the Scriptures serve a similar purpose.

• God has tested the people of Israel two times
◦ in Exodus 15:25, he tested their faithfulness
◦ in Exodus 16:4, he tested them to see if they would follow is instructions
• God doesn’t learn anything from testing me — he already knows me
◦ but when tested, I learn something about myself

read more…

Apr 24 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 22, 2018 – Exodus Chapters 15 – 16

Basic Survival: Food and Water

I will sing to the LORD for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has given me victory.
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
 Exodus 15:1-2

Intro: These verses begin Israel’s first psalm of praise

However, it will be a long time before music becomes regular feature of their worship
– I am going to run through what follows quickly and then return to this song

Israel’s “other song” is their chorus of complaint (15:22-27)

They arrived at their first desert oasis, but the water there was undrinkable
– we naturally encounter “bitter” moments when traveling
• they went straight to complaint, grumbling or murmuring
• the Hebrew word suggests frustration or disappointment settled in the heart
◦ and then verbally leaking out
◦ they learned to complain while they were slaves in Egypt
– Israel was an infant nation – they had been dependent on their masters
• it did not occur to them that they could fend for themselves
◦ symbolically, the wilderness was more than a place, it was a state of mind
◦ uncertainty, unpredictability, chaotic and filled with unknown dangers
• God did not scold them for complaining or for criticizing Moses
◦ instead, he used this incident to test and train them (see vv. 25-26)
◦ he could take care of them and given their cooperation he would take care of them

Their next trek brought them to a true oasis, v. 27
– the significance of twelve springs and seventy palm trees:
• a water source and five palm trees (date palms) for every tribe
• God was taking care of them

Before long, the people were griping again (Chapter 16)

When forming an opinion about a situation or a person,
– nothing easier than finding something to criticize
• if you can’t find some flaw, it is easy enough to invent something

For example, when Daniel’s enemies could not find any fault or evidence of corruption in his administration or service to the king, they conspired to set the stage so he would be condemned for his righteous behavior (Dan. 6:4-5).

• criticism is not a skill we want to develop
◦ it tends to spoil everything in our lives
– note the symmetry in their complaint:
• it emerges in the contrast between Egypt and the wilderness:
“In Egypt we had food.
In the wilderness we are going to starve to death.”

Again, God does not fault them for their grumbling
– for now, he wants them calling on him whenever they have a need
• this is not exactly prayer and it was certainly not best possible way to ask
◦ in fact, their statement is rather snide, If only Yahweh had killed us back in Egypt
• but God is patient with them
– Moses, on the other hand, is obviously irritated

What have we done that you should complain about us? . . . What have we done? Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us (Ex. 16:7-8)

Then God did something special for Israel – 16:9-10
– he revealed himself to Israel and set food on the table
• the revelation of God’s glory is a self-manifestation

read more…

Apr 16 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 15, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 14

Stand Still and Watch

When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked. So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. . . . The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. The cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? . . .”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
 Exodus 14:5-14

Intro: Years ago I bought a book about getting to know God

The “Introduction” was inspiring and promising
– but the author quickly shifted from relational knowing to theological knowing
• his message as I understood it: we can know a lot of things about God
– later, another book was published
• this author’s impression of the first book was the same as mine
• however, he concluded we really cannot know God in the relational way we desire
• his message as I understood it: we can know a lot of things that we can do for God

If you desire God, many religious experts tell us to learn more and do more
– are you reading your Bible enough? studying your Bible enough? is your doctrine sound?
• praying enough? going to church enough? volunteering? (are you helping in the nursery?)
◦ are you tithing? supporting missions and other religious organizations?
◦ are sold out enough? (100% isn’t enough, you must be a fictitious 110% sold out)
• the implicit promise: learn and do all this and you will be rewarded with an intimate knowledge of God
◦ but that never happens – there’s always one more thing to learn or to do
◦ this is the reason thousands of evangelicals are disenchanted, burned out
– what you seldom hear, from the experts is Be still and know that I am God
• or Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today
• we do hear this, however, from Moses in this climactic moment of Exodus

Let’s run through the story

• 1-4, God led Israel into a trap
his intention: trick Pharaoh into pursuing Israel
his purpose: display glory and let Egypt “know” he is Yahweh
• 5-9, The Egyptians changed their minds about letting Israel leave
◦ the army was mobilized and chased after Israel
◦ note that the Egyptian army had “tanks” (chariots)
◦ an enemy with chariots was an Israelite phobia
• 10-14, The people saw the Egyptians and panicked
◦ they began whining to Moses
◦ Moses reassured them that Yahweh would defend them
• 15-30, God told Moses and the people to get moving
◦ he repeats his again intention and purpose
◦ God’s angel was present in column of cloud and fire, moving strategically
◦ Yahweh opened a path through which Israel escaped and in which the Egyptian army drowned
• 31, the effect that seeing this had on Israel – “fear” and “trust”

– that’s our bird’s-eye-view – now we’ll move in for closer look

The most dramatic moment is also the most instructive

read more…

Apr 9 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 8, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 13

What to Do with the Past

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites. The first offspring to be born, of both humans and animals, belongs to me”
So Moses said to the people, “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the LORD has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand” 
Exodus 13:1-3 

Intro: The Book of Exodus has an odd way of telling its story

After ten chapters of conflict and suspense, we come to the final showdown
– but instead of rushing into it, the action is interrupted with an interlude
(Ex. 12:43-13:16, which highlights Passover, the feast of unleavened bread and the dedication of firstborn males)
• this is hard on us Attention Deficit readers
• we feel bogged down with this “boring” stuff
– but the magic of Exodus is, that it is not merely telling a story
• it’s helping us to write a story – our own stories
• or perhaps more accurately, to re-write our personal narratives

So what part of our stories are we working today?
– chapter 13 has us looking at the past and what we can do with it
• preparing this message I was tempted introduce it with a poem
◦ something Dr. Seuss-like, “Oh the Fun we Can Have with Our Past”

Oh the fun we can have with our past!
We can grieve it and leave it
Or hold to it fast.
We can strum it and drum it
And have us a blast!
Oh the fun we can have with our past!
Make it a chain,
Pretend it’s a train
A chain on a train,
Oh what a pain!
We may claim it or blame it
And see how long that will last.
Oh the fun we can have with our past!

• however, I realized my time would be better spent reading commentaries
– verses 1-2 are God gives instructions to Moses
• in verses 3-16, Moses delivers God’s instructions to the people

Some things from the past we must never forget

This is a day to remember – there are defining moments in life
– turning points – we wouldn’t be here today if not for what happened back then
• in our spiritual journey, this include our God-encounters
◦ God was disappointed with Solomon because he forgot their encounters

The LORD was very angry with Solomon, for his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice (1 Ki. 11:9)

• if I refresh my memories of those events, I am reassured and encouraged
– “remember” is “to be mindful of,” to hold in our thoughts
• in a sense, remembering is to make presence in the here and now

Of course, the “day” Moses was talking about was long time ago
– but this is important too
• the first thing Moses said at the burning bush was, “Who am I?”
◦ this was a rhetorical question that implied, “I am a nobody”
◦ this a typical response to God’s call
“I am a nobody and come from a family of nobodies” (cf. Jdg. 6:15; 1 Sam. 9:21)
• I may have some special or cherished memories,
◦ but there’s nothing in my background big enough to produce greatness
– do you see what God is doing here?
• he ties us to a past that is bigger than our own
◦ it is not only my past that defines me,
◦ but God’s past, and his past with his people
• our story is a continuation of this much larger story
◦ our past includes the life of Jesus and all that he did and taught

How will we remember this past? with rituals and reminders
– that’s what this “boring” part of the chapter is about
• Moses repeats God’s instructions for an annual memorial
◦ this will refresh Israel’s collective memory
• but God adds another ritual that will refresh personal memory
◦ and this will occur with every birth of a firstborn male
Dedicate means to set apart as holy
◦ God marks a person or object, so that it belongs to him and one else
– those are the rituals
• the reminders bring us to our next point

Some things from the past provide an education (14-15)

Verses 8-16 are framed by four statements:
– tell your children, left Egypt, a mighty hand, and wear it
(on your hand and between your eyes)
• we have already gone over the importance of passing the story on
• so let’s look at that part about wearing it

This ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. It is a reminder that the power of the LORD’s mighty hand brought us out of Egypt (v. 16)

– in scripture, body parts refer to the functions they perform
• for example, “in the eyes of God” means “in God’s sight”
◦ eyes represent the entire range of sight, physical and mental
◦ perception of things, focus of attention, insight, understanding and so on
• the hand is a person’s power to do things
◦ the active agent of the will

read more…

Apr 2 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 1, 2018 – Luke 7:11-15

“Don’t Cry”

Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Luke 7:11-13

Intro: People were constantly coming to Jesus for a miracle

Some of them hoped he would heal them
– others begged him to heal a friend, a servant, a child
• in this same chapter a group of Jewish elders argued on behalf of a Roman officer,

If anyone deserves your help, he does, for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us (vv. 4-5)

• when John describes first miracle Jesus performed in Cana,
◦ it is as if his mother Mary practically had to coerce him to intervene
– however, when Jesus saw this widow, no one had to ask for his help
• his own heart compelled him to go to her
◦ he did not need to hear her story
◦ she did not need endorsements
• he could see her desolation
◦ and his heart would not allow him to leave her in that condition
◦ he was right there, he had to do something

We have all heard someone say, “Don’t cry”

What logical assumption would a person have for saying this?

  1. If crying weren’t necessary
    (the situation is not as bad as it looks)
  2. If your circumstances are certain to change
    (everything will soon be better)
  3. Or the opposite
    (if everything could be a lot worse)
  4. A lame attempt at comfort
    “I’m sorry, but I don’t know what else to say”
  5. If there is no use in crying
    (“It doesn’t help to cry”–although we knot that’s not true)
  6. If someone think’s the other person needs to toughen up
    (typically, these people don’t know the difference between tough and strong)

In this instance, the logic of Jesus is this:

“Don’t cry, because I am going to remove the cause of your sorrow”

– Jesus is only person in world who could say this to her

This year, March has been a harsh month

I met Bill Goodrich when he was caregiver to a quadriplegic man
– later we worked together
• Bill became a good friend to myself and my family
• he joined us on mission trips and Israel tours
◦ he worked the entire time that we travelled
◦ Bill and I also worked on lots of projects
(more than once working through the night)
– two weeks ago I learned he was killed in an automotive accident
• he’s been living in Thailand for the last couple of years
• the last time we corresponded he told me about his fiance
◦ together they were saving enough money to come to the States
◦ he asked if I would perform their wedding while here

RJ Prescott and his wife Polly were bikers
– one Sunday morning they rolled into the parking lot of our church
• they were the perfect illustration of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”
◦ the looked “biker bad,” but they were loving, generous people
◦ they were also very smart people
• RJ, Polly and their daughter Lindsey knew hardship and physical pain
◦ but through everything, they remained deeply devoted to God
◦ did a special favor for me by sharing their story publicaly
– Polly died last year, and RJ followed her last week

I learned Friday about another person,
– whose name I will respectfully keep to myself
• he was also involved in a church I once led
◦ his wife worked with us on staff
◦ my oldest daughter was close friends with one of his daughters
• he died unexpectedly a few days ago

I am grateful to put the month of March behind me
– but I will never forget those who have passed

A friend of mine sends me poems occasionally

read more…

Mar 27 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 25, 2018 – Exodus Chapter 12

Bigger Than Time

While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and ow much they can eat. The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.
Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire. Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eat before morning. Exodus 12:1-10

Intro: When I was a child, Dad would occasionally play one of his vinyl LP’s

A favorite was Tennessee E. Ford’s gospel songs album
– the first time I heard, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
• I thought, “No, I don’t remember! I’m only seven years old”
◦ I did not yet understand that sacred history can alter time
• we’ll learn something about this today
– in our journey through Exodus, we have come to the climax of the plagues
• but something odd happens
◦ the main event is overshadowed by a different sort of narration
◦ a bit of story telling is surrounded by a lot of instructions
• God has his own ideas about what is most important

1-13 What was about to happen had a meaning

Where the chapter begins: While Israelites were still in … Egypt
– but the narrative won’t stay here
• it will move forward in space and time (cf. v. 25)
• for now, they have not left Egypt; they have not been liberated
– Regardless, God’s instructions point to the future
• this moves them forward
◦ and they’re able to live in the reality of it, even here and even now
• there’s a way for us to do the same
◦ asking for something we know is God’s will, then give thanks
◦ if we can feel gratitude, it becomes real for us now

From now on…first month – this line is one of several indicators of newness
(spring is the beginning of nature’s new year)
– in previous plagues, they weren’t asked to do anything,
• other than keep themselves out of harm’s way
• now they’re not automatically protected just because they’re Israelites
– what God points to is bigger than the plague event
• it’s their salvation – a revelation and the beginning of a tradition
• God is creating a nation, a people
◦ at the heart of its origin and foundation is his salvation
“I’m not freeing you for the sake of freedom;
I’m buying your freedom for you to become Mine”

Instructions for their protection – a ritual that includes:

  • selection of a lamb or goat
  • killing it at twilight
  • apply blood to sides and top of doorway
  • preparing the meal (vv. 8-10)
  • what to wear (v. 11) – not dress-up, but for travel
  • what will happen (read vv. 12-13)

– two thoughts before moving on:
1. Liminal space (from: Latin for “threshold”)

read more…

Mar 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 18, 2018 – Exodus 9:13-chapter 11

An End to Oppression

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. Tell him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says,: Let my people go, so they can worship me. If you don’t, I will send more plagues on you and your officials and your people. Then you will know that there is no one like me in all the earth. By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose–to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth. But you still lord it over my people and refuse to let them go. So tomorrow at this time I will send a hailstorm more devastating that any in all the history of Egypt. . . .’ “ Exodus 9:13-18

Intro: At this point in the story, Israel is not yet a nation

They are a slave people – their identity is tied to Egypt
– oppressed and exploited, they cried out for relief
• Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, has heard them
◦ he has stepped into the world to rescue them
• at first he sent a request to Pharaoh to release them to him
◦ but Pharaoh responded by tightening his grip on his slaves
– now God has launched an assault on Egypt; the infamous plagues
• the first few plagues were annoying, the next were painful
◦ we observe this increase in magnitude and danger
• preparing Pharaoh for the worst, God reveals his purpose:

to spread my fame throughout the earth
Robert Alter points out, “The Exodus story is conceived as an establishing of the credentials of the God of Israel for all humankind.”

◦ of course, the story is more than Yahweh making his name known to the world
◦ the primary theme of Exodus is a complete salvation
(“complete” is not only out of, but is also into
i.e., a fuller, richer life and a better place in life)

9:13-35 The seventh plague: thunder, lightning, hail and fire

This time, God not only announces plague,
– but he gives the Egyptians instructions to avoid its deadly force
• they will be protected by finding shelter indoors
◦ in two previous plagues, God made a distinction

For example, God told Pharaoh, I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people (Ex. 8:23)

• in this instance, the Egyptians given opportunity to share Israel’s protection
◦ as a result, Egypt is divided — some are beginning to take Yahweh seriously
◦ the others paid no attention to the word of Yahweh
– in verses 27-28, Pharaoh makes a confession and requests prayer

This time I have sinned, he confessed, The LORD is the righteous one, and my people and I are wrong. Please beg the LORD to end this terrifying thunder and hail . . . .

• although this looks like a good sign, verse 34 exposes the truth

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn.

◦ confession and prayer alone do not effect change
• a person can say righteous words from an evil heart
◦ if I do not own my confession with my whole body and soul, nothing changes
◦ I remain the same obstinate person

10:1-21 The eight plague: An invasion of locusts

10:1-2, The men and women of Israel were just getting to know God
– what they learned through God’s display of power was foundational
• passing it on from generation to generation,
◦ would guarantee Israel’s life with God into the future
◦ it was in knowing God that they came to know themselves
(they would no longer be defined by slavery)
• as important as this knowledge is, future generations will need more than information
◦ they will need to experience this salvation for themselves
◦ we will get to that part next week

In verses 7-11, Pharaoh’s officials have had enough
– they went to Pharaoh and tried to reason with him

Let the men go to worship the LORD their God! Don’t you realize that Egypt lies in ruins?

• Pharaoh listened to them, but being suspicious, he asked Moses for details,

But who exactly will be going with you?

◦ the last thing he wanted to hear was, We will all go
◦ and to insure there was no misunderstanding, Moses specified,

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Mar 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Something Extra – Romans Chapter 6

I am providing these notes (Nancy!) as a supplement to the message from Sunday, March 18, 2018 (Exodus 9:13-chapter 11). In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul explained how God has given us access to himself through Jesus Christ and the grace we receive through him. In the following three chapters (6-8) of Romans, Paul details the necessity of breaking our addiction to sin, pointing out the difficulty of the struggle and finding supernatural help from the Spirit of God. These notes take us deeper into the point I wanted to make in the Exodus message.
I presented the first half of Romans 6 in typical Bible study fashion. The rest of the chapter, however, I presented as if it were an email from Paul, hoping to make it easier to follow the development of his thoughts. All things considered, Romans 6 is an important portion of scripture for Christian know, understand, and live. C. S. jr.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Intro: Paul develops the theme of this chapter by raising, then answering two questions

Verses 1 and 15, are responses to potential misunderstandings regarding his message of grace
– the questions are posed by an imaginary person as if in dialogue with Paul
• this person wants to know if Paul’s message means we are free to sin
• Paul answers both questions with a resounding NO!
◦ then he answers each question with an explanation
– the first question in verse 1 relates refers to a statement chapter 5:

. . . where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Ro. 5:20)

• so the first question is, Does this mean we can continue to sin so grace will increase?


Notice how quickly and forcefully Paul shuts the question down
– Grace does not condone, justify, or promote sin!
• Paul reveals a radical idea no one had ever heard: “We died to sin”
◦ if we’re dead, we cannot go on sinning
◦ but when did we die? we had not heard that we died to sin
•. Paul tells us, “Go go back & read the fine print”–it happened at your baptism
– Baptism is the initial rite-of-passage into the Christian faith
• the baptismal rite-of-passage takes us from the life of our old self in this world
◦ and into the life of the Spirit
◦ there is a supernatural dimension to baptism that people often miss
• Paul says baptism places us with Jesus Christ in his death and burial
◦ but the objective of baptism is life, not death
◦ resurrection life calls for dynamic language — we walk in the newness of life

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Romans 6:5-10

Paul knows he may have rattled his readers

So he further explains our union with Jesus, using a graphic Greek word, sumfutos
– the King James Version translates it, “planted together”—two trees that grow into each other
• Christians are joined to Jesus in such a way that where He goes, we go; His experience is ours

In verse 6, what, or who, is the “old self” that was “crucified”?
– Paul had traced our human ancestry back to Adam in chapter 5
• he also traced the outbreak of sin to Adam
◦ the spiritual DNA we inherited from Adam is the “old self”
• what is the result of its crucifixion? the body of sin is done away with
◦ the New International Version suggests an alternative translation: “rendered powerless”—disabled
◦ our internal engine that drives sin is desire

Think of the freedom we would enjoy if the desire for our pet sins was “disabled,” switched off. You may know of people who are addicted to doing things that do not appeal to you in anyway, such as gambling, gossiping or shoplifting. Others may agonize over the way they are controlled by these behaviors, but not you. Because you do not enjoy them and have no desire to engage in them, you are free. You avoid those addictions with ease. Freedom from the desire for sinful pleasures or pastimes is a wonderful psychological and spiritual state.

– if verses 6 and 7 emphasize death, verses 8-10 emphasize life
• Paul reminds us in verse 8 that we’re traveling “with” Christ
◦ his experience is our experience — he carried sin to the cross, then died to it
◦ the mastery of sin’s power is broken
• Jesus will not have to deal with sin or death ever again
◦ from now on, He lives to God without distraction

Is freedom from sin the experience of most Christians?

Yesterday I was reading in Psalm 34 and came across this line, “to those who fear Him there is no want.” What does that mean? “No want” means that nothing is lacking; it describes a state of contentment. The verse gave me the impression of an end to wanting. In Revelation 9:1, hell is referred to as a “bottomless pit.” That is exactly the nature of desire, a desperate and insatiable craving. A person could descend into desire forever without ever coming to the end of it. The words, “dead to sin” thrill me. The flip-side is “alive to God.”

– a problem with old school Christianity was its legalistic interpretation of Paul
• we were told it was our duty to kill our pet sins
◦ as if by sheer will power we can beat down our desires
• which do you find to be stronger, more attractive and compelling:
◦ your will power or desire?
– suppose one day you were suddenly confronted your strongest temptation
• a sin that soothed your agitation, eased the pain of living or relieved your boredom
◦ you consider it and for the first time it looks different
◦ you say, “Oh, that? I don’t want it any more”
◦ with a fully content heart, you turn and walk away
• “there is no want”—the hellish, bottomless desire is gone

Now, if this freedom came to us automatically with our baptism,
– or if we could achieve it through will power alone,
• Paul would not have to go on

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