Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

28 March 2020

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
    he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him –
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness –
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
    and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
    and what they have not heard, they will understand.

53 Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Prayer: Almighty God, grant that we, who justly deserve to be punished for our sinful deeds, may in Your mercy and kindness be pardoned and restored; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

27 March 2020

Proverbs 6:12-15

12 A troublemaker and a villain,
    who goes about with a corrupt mouth,
13     who winks maliciously with his eye,
    signals with his feet
    and motions with his fingers,
14     who plots evil with deceit in his heart –
    he always stirs up conflict.
15 Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant;
    he will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy.

The worthless man considers himself cunning, able to get away with mischief. And yet, all he is doing is setting himself up for a great fall. But before we dismiss this proverb as applying to those worthless people, compare this description with the Apostle Paul’s list in Romans 3:10-18:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

The scary thing about Paul’s words is that he is applying them to all mankind. We are all under sin and are worthless under God’s penetrating eye. We must all repent before we are broken beyond healing, regardless of how we seem in the eyes of others. Thanks be to God, that he has provided us with the righteousness of Jesus Christ, whom we receive by faith. Let us strive to have a good reputation among men, but let us find our confidence of how we stand before God only in Christ.

 

Exodus 29

29 ‘This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so that they may serve me as priests: take a young bull and two rams without defect. And from the finest wheat flour make round loaves without yeast, thick loaves without yeast and with olive oil mixed in, and thin loaves without yeast and brushed with olive oil. Put them in a basket and present them in it – along with the bull and the two rams. Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the tent of meeting and wash them with water. Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breastpiece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skilfully woven waistband. Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred emblem to the turban. Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head. Bring his sons and dress them in tunics and fasten caps on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance.

‘Then you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

10 ‘Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 11 Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 12 Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. 13 Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the covering of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. 14 But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering.

15 ‘Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 16 Slaughter it and take the blood and splash it against the sides of the altar. 17 Cut the ram into pieces and wash the internal organs and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. 18 Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the Lord, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord.

19 ‘Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. 20 Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar. 21 And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

22 ‘Take from this ram the fat, the fat tail, the fat on the internal organs, the covering of the liver, both kidneys with the fat on them, and the right thigh. (This is the ram for the ordination.) 23 From the basket of bread made without yeast, which is before the Lord, take one round loaf, one thick loaf with olive oil mixed in, and one thin loaf. 24 Put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. 25 Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar along with the burnt offering for a pleasing aroma to the Lord, a food offering presented to the Lord26 After you take the breast of the ram for Aaron’s ordination, wave it before the Lord as a wave offering, and it will be your share.

27 ‘Consecrate those parts of the ordination ram that belong to Aaron and his sons: the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. 28 This is always to be the regular share from the Israelites for Aaron and his sons. It is the contribution the Israelites are to make to the Lord from their fellowship offerings.

29 ‘Aaron’s sacred garments will belong to his descendants so that they can be anointed and ordained in them. 30 The son who succeeds him as priest and comes to the tent of meeting to minister in the Holy Place is to wear them seven days.

31 ‘Take the ram for the ordination and cook the meat in a sacred place. 32 At the entrance to the tent of meeting, Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. 33 They are to eat these offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. But no one else may eat them, because they are sacred. 34 And if any of the meat of the ordination ram or any bread is left over till morning, burn it up. It must not be eaten, because it is sacred.

35 ‘Do for Aaron and his sons everything I have commanded you, taking seven days to ordain them. 36 Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. 37 For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.

38 ‘This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. 39 Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. 40 With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. 41 Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning – a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the Lord.

42 ‘For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; 43 there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory.

44 ‘So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 45 Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. 46 They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

26 March 2020

Proverbs 6:6-11

Go to the ant, you sluggard;
    consider its ways and be wise!
It has no commander,
    no overseer or ruler,
yet it stores its provisions in summer
    and gathers its food at harvest.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
    When will you get up from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
    a little folding of the hands to rest –
11 and poverty will come on you like a thief
    and scarcity like an armed man.

A little watching of TV, a little more time playing computer games, a little extra time… you add to the list your own time-wasting activity. We all need breaks from work and the best worker knows how to pace himself. But he paces himself in order to accomplish more. The sluggard works as little as possible, always seeking (and always finding) an excuse to avoid work.

Where are you in this description? When your alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you get up or catch a few more minutes of rest? Do you need that rest because necessity kept you up late or because your TV show kept you up? Do you need naps in the day because you fail to eat right and exercise? Do you not have time for exercise because you will not keep a schedule? Do you fail to keep a schedule because your goals are aimless and you prefer rest and entertainment to productive labor?

Learn to use your time wisely. There is more time for rest and relaxation than you may realize if you learn to work efficiently and productively. But then you must find value in work. If you do not, is it because you are not employed in the right endeavor or you do not like being employed? It is easy to choose the former reason, but examine yourself honestly regarding the latter. Most good workers work productively in whatever endeavor they are given.

Exodus 28

28 ‘Let Aaron your brother be brought to you from among the Israelites, with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so that they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honour. Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so that he may serve me as priest. These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so that they may serve me as priests. Make them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.

 

The ephod

‘Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen – the work of skilled hands. It is to have two shoulder pieces attached to two of its corners, so that it can be fastened. Its skilfully woven waistband is to be like it – of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen.

‘Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel 10 in the order of their birth – six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. 11 Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings 12 and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord13 Make gold filigree settings 14 and two braided chains of pure gold, like a rope, and attach the chains to the settings.

 

The breastpiece

15 ‘Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions – the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. 16 It is to be square – a span long and a span wide – and folded double. 17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. 21 There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

22 ‘For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. 23 Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breastpiece. 24 Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breastpiece, 25 and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. 26 Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. 27 Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. 28 The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod.

29 ‘Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord30 Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.

 

Other priestly garments

31 ‘Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, 32 with an opening for the head in its centre. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. 33 Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. 34 The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate round the hem of the robe. 35 Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the Lord and when he comes out, so that he will not die.

36 ‘Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: holy to the Lord37 Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. 38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.

39 ‘Weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen. The sash is to be the work of an embroiderer. 40 Make tunics, sashes and caps for Aaron’s sons to give them dignity and honour. 41 After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

42 ‘Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. 43 Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.

‘This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants.

25 March 2020

Proverbs 6:1-5

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbour,
    if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
    ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbour’s hands:
go – to the point of exhaustion – 
    and give your neighbour no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
    no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.

This counsel is not forbidding generosity, but rather risk-taking. A friend or family member approaches you to co-sign for a large loan. He appeals to your relationship; he promises that he can be trusted even though the venture is risky and he has not proven himself to carry through on his commitments. Indeed, that is why the co-signing is necessary. He has not shown the discipline necessary to build his own credit.

Understand that you are not doing him good to co-sign. You are enabling him to get into yet another bind, only this time you will have to make good for his promises. Where before you pitied him, now you despise him for getting you into financial trouble.

Do not act against a hesitant instinct. You may be worried that you are not trusting enough or caring enough. It is worthwhile to pray about the matter and seek counsel, but be sure to take these steps before committing yourself especially if others depend on you. A married person with children does not have the freedom to make financially risky commitments; and as stewards of God’s money we all have an obligation to use money wisely.

Whatever you do loan, do so as though you are giving money generously with no expectation of return. But give to what is helpful, not what enables dependency. Should you be more willing to give to family? Yes, but still with an eye on what is for the other person’s good and not to get him off your back.

The generous giver is still to be a wise giver.

Exodus 26-27

26 ‘Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim woven into them by a skilled worker. All the curtains are to be the same size – twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

‘Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle – eleven altogether. All eleven curtains are to be the same size – thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. 10 Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. 11 Then make fifty bronze clasps and put them in the loops to fasten the tent together as a unit. 12 As for the additional length of the tent curtains, the half curtain that is left over is to hang down at the rear of the tabernacle. 13 The tent curtains will be a cubit longer on both sides; what is left will hang over the sides of the tabernacle so as to cover it. 14 Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of other durable leather.

15 ‘Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. 16 Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, 17 with two projections set parallel to each other. Make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. 18 Make twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle 19 and make forty silver bases to go under them – two bases for each frame, one under each projection. 20 For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames 21 and forty silver bases – two under each frame. 22 Make six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, 23 and make two frames for the corners at the far end. 24 At these two corners they must be double from the bottom all the way to the top and fitted into a single ring; both shall be like that. 25 So there will be eight frames and sixteen silver bases – two under each frame.

26 ‘Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, 27 five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. 28 The centre crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. 29 Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold.

30 ‘Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

31 ‘Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. 32 Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. 33 Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. 34 Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. 35 Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.

36 ‘For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen – the work of an embroiderer. 37 Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them.

 

The altar of burnt offering

27 ‘Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece, and overlay the altar with bronze. Make all its utensils of bronze – its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans. Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar. Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze. The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried. Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.

 

The courtyard

‘Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, 10 with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. 11 The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts.

12 ‘The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. 13 On the east end, towards the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. 14 Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, 15 and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases.

16 ‘For the entrance to the courtyard, provide a curtain twenty cubits long, of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen – the work of an embroiderer – with four posts and four bases. 17 All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases. 18 The courtyard shall be a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide, with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits high, and with bronze bases. 19 All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.

 

Oil for the lampstand

20 ‘Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. 21 In the tent of meeting, outside the curtain that shields the ark of the covenant law, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

24 March 2020

Proverbs 5:20-23

20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
    Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?

21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
    and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
    the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
    led astray by their own great folly.

Think what you are doing. If fear of what you may lose does not deter you; if the pleasure of your wife does not entice you, at least understand that you live before the eyes of the Lord. You get away with nothing. The Lord ponders all your paths. He sees everything, even into your heart. You will get caught, and when you do you will have no one to blame but yourself for your lack of discipline and your folly.

Live consciously under the watch of God. You are living under his watch whether you wish to acknowledge it or not. Anytime you are tempted, understand that your Lord is watching you at that moment.

In the midst of such sobering warning, heed this counsel. When you are tempted, and when you give in to temptation, yes, you should be convicted and repentant for your sin. But also give thanks and praise to God. For is it not wondrous that when we come before God we find him sitting on the throne of grace? For our Lord Jesus Christ is our sympathetic High Priest interceding for us and covering us with his righteousness. His righteousness! Nothing will give you greater strength to battle against the temptations of illicit sex than to revel in the grace and mercy of our God that comes to us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing will give you greater resolve to live for the glory of God than to enjoy the pleasures of his grace. There is no passion greater than the passion that springs from redemption. And what we need is not so much daily determination to be good, as it is to daily re-awake to the goodness of God shown to us through Jesus Christ. He is the Door not only to go near, but to pass through to the abundant and truly passionate life.

 

Exodus 25

25 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.

‘Then let them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

 

The ark

10 ‘Let them make an ark of acacia wood – two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold moulding around it. 12 Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you.

17 ‘Make an atonement cover of pure gold – two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upwards, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking towards the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

 

The table

23 ‘Make a table of acacia wood – two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. 24 Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold moulding around it. 25 Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold moulding on the rim. 26 Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are. 27 The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table. 28 Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them. 29 And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings. 30 Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

 

The lampstand

31 ‘Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 32 Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand – three on one side and three on the other. 33 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 34 And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 35 One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair – six branches in all. 36 The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

37 ‘Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. 38 Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. 39 A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. 40 See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

23 March 2020

Proverbs 5:18-19

18 May your fountain be blessed,
    and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer –
    may her breasts satisfy you always,
    may you ever be intoxicated with her love.

The answer to illicit pleasure is legitimate pleasure, that which rightfully and delightfully belongs to the one who is married. I find this embarrassing to read publicly because it is so uninhibited in expressing the passion of legitimate, marital, sexual pleasure. Passion, even sexual passion, is not only not bad; it is greatly to be desired within the appropriate boundaries.

This instruction is calling you to devote yourself to your spouse, family, whatever is good. Do some of you think, if only you knew my wife (or husband)? You would like to rejoice in your spouse if only he or she were desirable or would cooperate. First note the reality that the proverb recognizes here. Even the husbands and wives of desirable and cooperative spouses will yield to sexual temptations. Many a newly married person has been startled to learn that the same temptations that plagued him or her as a single remain in the marriage. It is true that the temptations grow stronger if the marriage is not pleasurable, but the answer is not in wishing that your spouse would get with the program. Rather it is in you being attentive to loving your wife or husband. Turn your attention to blessing your marriage.

If you are single, take the same principle and focus on taking delight in good, legitimate pleasures. Contrary to the foolish propaganda of the world, sex is not the only pleasure and passion of life; it does not even rank first. What does? I can think of a few things. Better than having sex is making a real difference in someone else’s life for the good. Do you want to feel good about yourself and have happy memories that build up your self-worth? Then do good deeds. The world will say that such good deeds are substitutes for missing out on sexual passion. We say the world turns to sex as a poor substitute for missing out on a meaningful life. C.S. Lewis would say that turning to sex is a cheap alternative to having the passion for God which is placed in us as his creatures. The point is that we are created to desire after something. We do need to have passion for something, and the foolish world says it is sex. Say what anyone will about love, the world means sexual love at best or the mere animal act. But we know that we were created to have a passion for God.

But even here be careful. God has made us physical beings and created us to live in a physical world. Our goal should not be to become spiritual beings who take no interest in physical pleasures; rather we delight in God through delighting in the legitimate physical pleasures he has given. Thus, the godly spouse will delight in physical intimacy with his or her spouse. The godly married person and the single will delight in the beauties of the created world, in doing good, in the joy of meaningful relationships. The answer to sexual sin is not mere restraint but pouring ones desires and passions into whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable (cf. Philippians 4:8).

Exodus 23-24

23 ‘Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.

‘Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favouritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.

‘If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.

‘Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

‘Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.

‘Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

 

Sabbath laws

10 ‘For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unploughed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 ‘Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

13 ‘Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

 

The three annual festivals

14 ‘Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.

15 ‘Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt.

‘No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

16 ‘Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.

‘Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.

17 ‘Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord.

18 ‘Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast.

‘The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.

19 ‘Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.

‘Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

 

God’s angel to prepare the way

20 ‘See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. 22 If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. 23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away disease from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

27 ‘I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

31 ‘I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.’

 

The covenant confirmed

24 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.’

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, ‘Everything the Lord has said we will do.’ Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LordMoses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.’

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.’

13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his assistant, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, ‘Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.’

15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

21 March 2020

John 15:1-17

15 ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: love each other.

 

Prayer: We beseech You, Almighty God, look on the heartfelt desires of Your servants, and stretch forth the right hand of Your power to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

20 March 2020

Proverbs 5:12-14

12 You will say, ‘How I hated discipline!
    How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
    or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
    in the assembly of God’s people.’

These verses are echoed in song, “Yesterday, When I Was Young”:
So many wayward pleasures lay in store for me,
And so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.
I ran so fast that time and youth, at last, ran out,
I never stopped to think what life was all about;
And ev’ry conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me, and nothing else at all.
I used my magic age as if it were a wand,
And never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.
The game of love I played with arrogance and pride,
And ev’ry flame I lit too quickly, quickly died;
The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away
And only I am left on stage to end the play.
There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung,
I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue;
The time has come for me to pay for yesterday
When I was young.

The tragedy of the words spoken in these Proverbs verses and in the song is that they speak of regret that knows no hope. It is shocking to wake up to a ruined life which is the result of foolish living; it is bitter to know only regret and no redemption. Pity the blind fool who someday must face his folly. Pray that he will come to his senses while there is time to repent. Pray that he will repent and turn to the Lord who alone can redeem his soul and turn his ruin into a foundation for a meaningful life…while there is time.

If you are one now who has awaken to your folly, the time is not too late for redemption. Whether you are “at the brink of utter ruin” or the only on “left on stage to end the play,” now is not too late to turn to your Savior. You cannot go back in time to recoup what you have lost, but you can do what is even better, you can go to the Savior who will redeem what you have squandered and will turn your present and your future into true treasure. He is, after all, the Lord of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

 

Exodus 21-22

21 ‘These are the laws you are to set before them:

 

Hebrew servants

‘If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

‘But if the servant declares, “I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,” then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the door-post and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

‘If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

 

Personal injuries

12 ‘Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death. 13 However, if it is not done intentionally, but God lets it happen, they are to flee to a place I will designate. 14 But if anyone schemes and kills someone deliberately, that person is to be taken from my altar and put to death.

15 ‘Anyone who attacks their father or mother is to be put to death.

16 ‘Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.

17 ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.

18 ‘If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, 19 the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.

20 ‘Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

22 ‘If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

26 ‘An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

28 ‘If a bull gores a man or woman to death, the bull is to be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. 29 If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull is to be stoned and its owner also is to be put to death. 30 However, if payment is demanded, the owner may redeem his life by the payment of whatever is demanded. 31 This law also applies if the bull gores a son or a daughter. 32 If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull is to be stoned to death.

33 ‘If anyone uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34 the one who opened the pit must pay the owner for the loss and take the dead animal in exchange.

35 ‘If anyone’s bull injures someone else’s bull and it dies, the two parties are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. 36 However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and take the dead animal in exchange.

 

Protection of property

22 ‘Whoever steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.

‘If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed; but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.

‘Anyone who steals must certainly make restitution, but if they have nothing, they must be sold to pay for their theft. If the stolen animal is found alive in their possession – whether ox or donkey or sheep – they must pay back double.

‘If anyone grazes their livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in someone else’s field, the offender must make restitution from the best of their own field or vineyard.

‘If a fire breaks out and spreads into thorn-bushes so that it burns sheaves of corn or standing corn or the whole field, the one who started the fire must make restitution.

‘If anyone gives a neighbour silver or goods for safekeeping and they are stolen from the neighbour’s house, the thief, if caught, must pay back double. But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, “This is mine,” both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.

10 ‘If anyone gives a donkey, an ox, a sheep or any other animal to their neighbour for safekeeping and it dies or is injured or is taken away while no one is looking, 11 the issue between them will be settled by the taking of an oath before the Lord that the neighbour did not lay hands on the other person’s property. The owner is to accept this, and no restitution is required. 12 But if the animal was stolen from the neighbour, restitution must be made to the owner. 13 If it was torn to pieces by a wild animal, the neighbour shall bring in the remains as evidence and shall not be required to pay for the torn animal.

14 ‘If anyone borrows an animal from their neighbour and it is injured or dies while the owner is not present, they must make restitution. 15 But if the owner is with the animal, the borrower will not have to pay. If the animal was hired, the money paid for the hire covers the loss.

 

Social responsibility

16 ‘If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.

18 ‘Do not allow a sorceress to live.

19 ‘Anyone who has sexual relations with an animal is to be put to death.

20 ‘Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed.

21 ‘Do not ill-treat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

22 ‘Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.

25 ‘If you lend money to one of my people among you who is needy, do not treat it like a business deal; charge no interest. 26 If you take your neighbour’s cloak as a pledge, return it by sunset, 27 because that cloak is the only covering your neighbour has. What else can they sleep in? When they cry out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.

28 ‘Do not blaspheme God or curse the ruler of your people.

29 ‘Do not hold back offerings from your granaries or your vats.

‘You must give me the firstborn of your sons. 30 Do the same with your cattle and your sheep. Let them stay with their mothers for seven days, but give them to me on the eighth day.

31 ‘You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.

19 March 2020

Proverbs 5:7-11

Now then, my sons, listen to me;
    do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
    do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honour to others
    and your dignity to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
    and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
    when your flesh and body are spent.

Keep away from the “forbidden woman”! If she is in your travel route, take a detour a wide detour. Instead of matching your wisdom against her folly, just stay away. She will not listen to you. As Proverbs 18:2 explains, A fool takes no pleasure in understanding. And 15:14 adds that the mouths of fools feed on folly. The more likely scenario is that she will lead you astray and to your ruin.

What happens when you yield to the forbidden woman? You lose your honor, your good name. Perhaps you are young and earning a good name. You are accomplishing much good. Perhaps you are effectively ministering for Gods kingdom, but you yield to the enticements of the forbidden woman and become publicly shamed and thus disqualified for your work. You lose your years of a fruitful life. The years of a meaningful, productive life are taken away as you waste them indulging in folly or suffering the consequences of your folly. Many good, talented men and women have had their talent wasted because of going near the door of her house. You lose your possessions. Strangers those who have no interest in you reap your possessions. The lovers of money take from you your money. Understand that our society is saturated with sexual temptations, not because of mere sensual impulse, but because sex is a lucrative business. Like casinos, the sex industry is all about becoming wealthy off of your giving in to temptation. And of all the temptations, illicit sex is the easiest to exploit because sexual impulses makes fools of us all. And you lose more than money. You may lose your spouse. You may lose your family and your friends. You may lose your job. What was dear to you ends up with someone else. And you lose your health. It is impossible not to connect rampant venereal disease with rampant sexual promiscuity. But there are other tolls on your health anxiety, depression, the dangers connected with linking up with fools, to name a few.

Keep away and embrace the Wisdom who will strengthen you with the gospel of Christ.

Exodus 19-20

19 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on that very day – they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said.’ So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’ Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

10 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Make them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, “Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.” Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.’

14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, ‘Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.’

16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, ‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.’

23 Moses said to the Lord, ‘The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, “Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.”’

24 The Lord replied, ‘Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.’

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.

 

The Ten Commandments

20 And God spoke all these words:

‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

‘You shall have no other gods before me.

‘You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

‘You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 ‘Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 ‘You shall not murder.

14 ‘You shall not commit adultery.

15 ‘You shall not steal.

16 ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

17 ‘You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.’

18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.’

20 Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.’

21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

 

Idols and altars

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites this: “You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23 do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

24 ‘“Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you. 25 If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26 And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.”

 

18 March 2020

Proverbs 5:1-6

5 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
    turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
    and your lips may preserve knowledge.
For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
    sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
    her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Interestingly enough the first characteristic of the forbidden woman is the way she communicates. This happens in each section where she is brought up: 2:16 she is the adulteress with her smooth words; 6:24 the smooth tongue of the adulteress; 7:5 the adulteress with her smooth words. We can see then the contrast being set up. It is between vying ways of life that offered by wisdom and the other offered by sensuality, or rather, folly. What seems to be a choice between stoicism and sensual pleasure is really between deeper, lasting pleasure and bitter delusion. The forbidden woman’s speech seems sweet and smooth, and for awhile she may seem to deliver on her promises; but in the end her taste is bitter and even deadly. Why? Because she herself is a fool, and as Proverbs 10:10 notes, a babbling fool will come to ruin. Unlike the wise and the righteous, she does not ponder the path of life. She does not contemplate what truth is and what does bring real life. Indeed, she is oblivious to where her life choices are taking her. And as Proverbs 13:20 warns, the companion of fools will suffer harm. Join up with the forbidden woman, and you will join in with her destruction.

Who is the forbidden woman? She may well be a woman tempting you to adultery. She is also the sex industry trying to draw you in so your money will be taken. She is the secular society trying to lure you into her world. She lures both men and women. And she is effective because of her smooth words.

Do not underestimate her persuasiveness; nor overestimate your willpower to resist. Seek the wisdom of Scripture; appeal to the Holy Spirit for understanding and strength to obey God’s commands. Follow your Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Exodus 17-18

17 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, travelling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarrelled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’

Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?’

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’

Then Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.’

The Lord answered Moses, ‘Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.’ So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarrelled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

 

The Amalekites defeated

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.’

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.’

15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.’

 

Jethro visits Moses

18 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land’; and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, ‘My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.’

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, ‘I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.’

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, ‘Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’ 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood round him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand round you from morning till evening?’

15 Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.’

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21 But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Let them serve as judges for the people at all times, but let them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.

17 March 2020

Proverbs 4:24-27

24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
    keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
    fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
    and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
    keep your foot from evil.

Just don’t do it. Don’t try to fit in with the speech of the unrighteous. Don’t talk behind the backs of others under pretense of seeking justice or their good. Don’t visit places of temptation in order to understand the needs of sinners. Don’t try to fit in with the unrighteous by telling their jokes, speaking their language, and living by their morals.

Keep your eyes on Christ – on his sacrifice for you, on his love for you, on his commands to follow him, on the hope of his return and reward. Follow the example of the apostle Paul: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).


Exodus 15-16

15 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

‘I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.

‘The Lord is my strength and my defence;
    he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a warrior;
    the Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
    he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
    are drowned in the Red Sea.
The deep waters have covered them;
    they sank to the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, Lord,
    was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
    shattered the enemy.

‘In the greatness of your majesty
    you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
    it consumed them like stubble.
By the blast of your nostrils
    the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
    the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy boasted,
    “I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
    I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
    and my hand will destroy them.”
10 But you blew with your breath,
    and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
    in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
    is like you, Lord?
Who is like you –
    majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
    working wonders?

12 ‘You stretch out your right hand,
    and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
    the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
    to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
    anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
    the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
16     terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
    they will be as still as a stone –
until your people pass by, Lord,
    until the people you bought pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
    on the mountain of your inheritance –
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
    the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.

18 ‘The Lord reigns
    for ever and ever.’

19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them:

‘Sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.’

 

The waters of Marah and Elim

22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they travelled in the desert without finding water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24 So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What are we to drink?’

25 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.

There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26 He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’

27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

 

Manna and quail

16 The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat round pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.’

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, ‘In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?’ Moses also said, ‘You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.’

Then Moses told Aaron, ‘Say to the entire Israelite community, “Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.”’

10 While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked towards the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.

11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.”’

13 That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: “Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.”’

17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.

19 Then Moses said to them, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.’

20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.

21 Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much – two omers for each person – and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23 He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord commanded: “Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.”’

24 So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25 ‘Eat it today,’ Moses said, ‘because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26 Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.’

27 Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29 Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.’ 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: “Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.”’

33 So Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.’

34 As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, that it might be preserved. 35 The Israelites ate manna for forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

36 (An omer is one tenth of an ephah.)

 

16 March 2020

Proverbs 4:20-23

My son, pay attention to what I say;
    turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
    keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
    and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

“Where did that come from?” we will ask when we have surprised ourselves with an inappropriate remark or action. It came from the heart, what was lurking deep within. Jesus taught as much when he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him” (Mark 7:20). In like manner, we may be surprised how we have risen to the occasion and spoken or acted in some generous manner. Our proverbs explain that we are to take care of the heart through diligence in studying the wisdom of God’s Word. Just as our body is impacted by the flow of blood pumped through the heart, and thus we are to care for the physical heart, so our lives are impacted by what flows out of the spiritual heart, and we need to provide good care for it.

Thus we need to daily read and meditate upon God’s Word. We need to continually be instructing our heart by that Word. But instruction also includes Word-informed teaching. And so we should be reading sound Christian books, listening to biblical preachers and teachers, and listening to solid Christian music. By being attentive to such words and keeping them within our heart, we shall not only find life and healing for ourselves, but become a source for springs of life for others.

 

Exodus 14

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to camp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, “The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.” And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.’ So the Israelites did this.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, ‘What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!’ So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. The Egyptians – all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops – pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord11 They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’

13 Moses answered the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.’

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.’

19 Then the angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‘Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’

26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.’ 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing towards it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen – the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

14 March 2020

Esther 8:1-10:3

8 That same day King Xerxes gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman, the enemy of the Jews. And Mordecai came into the presence of the king, for Esther had told how he was related to her. The king took off his signet ring, which he had reclaimed from Haman, and presented it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed him over Haman’s estate.

Esther again pleaded with the king, falling at his feet and weeping. She begged him to put an end to the evil plan of Haman the Agagite, which he had devised against the Jews. Then the king extended the gold sceptre to Esther and she arose and stood before him.

‘If it pleases the king,’ she said, ‘and if he regards me with favour and thinks it the right thing to do, and if he is pleased with me, let an order be written overruling the dispatches that Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, devised and wrote to destroy the Jews in all the king’s provinces. For how can I bear to see disaster fall on my people? How can I bear to see the destruction of my family?’

King Xerxes replied to Queen Esther and to Mordecai the Jew, ‘Because Haman attacked the Jews, I have given his estate to Esther, and they have impaled him on the pole he set up. Now write another decree in the king’s name on behalf of the Jews as seems best to you, and seal it with the king’s signet ring – for no document written in the king’s name and sealed with his ring can be revoked.’

At once the royal secretaries were summoned – on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai’s orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language. 10 Mordecai wrote in the name of King Xerxes, sealed the dispatches with the king’s signet ring, and sent them by mounted couriers, who rode fast horses especially bred for the king.

11 The king’s edict granted the Jews in every city the right to assemble and protect themselves; to destroy, kill and annihilate the armed men of any nationality or province who might attack them and their women and children, and to plunder the property of their enemies. 12 The day appointed for the Jews to do this in all the provinces of King Xerxes was the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar. 13 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies.

14 The couriers, riding the royal horses, went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa.

 

The triumph of the Jews

15 When Mordecai left the king’s presence, he was wearing royal garments of blue and white, a large crown of gold and a purple robe of fine linen. And the city of Susa held a joyous celebration. 16 For the Jews it was a time of happiness and joy, gladness and honour. 17 In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.

9 On the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, the edict commanded by the king was to be carried out. On this day the enemies of the Jews had hoped to overpower them, but now the tables were turned and the Jews got the upper hand over those who hated them. The Jews assembled in their cities in all the provinces of King Xerxes to attack those determined to destroy them. No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them. And all the nobles of the provinces, the satraps, the governors and the king’s administrators helped the Jews, because fear of Mordecai had seized them. Mordecai was prominent in the palace; his reputation spread throughout the provinces, and he became more and more powerful.

The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, killing and destroying them, and they did what they pleased to those who hated them. In the citadel of Susa, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred men. They also killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai and Vaizatha, 10 the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. But they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

11 The number of those killed in the citadel of Susa was reported to the king that same day. 12 The king said to Queen Esther, ‘The Jews have killed and destroyed five hundred men and the ten sons of Haman in the citadel of Susa. What have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces? Now what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? It will also be granted.’

13 ‘If it pleases the king,’ Esther answered, ‘give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.’

14 So the king commanded that this be done. An edict was issued in Susa, and they impaled the ten sons of Haman. 15 The Jews in Susa came together on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar, and they put to death in Susa three hundred men, but they did not lay their hands on the plunder.

16 Meanwhile, the remainder of the Jews who were in the king’s provinces also assembled to protect themselves and get relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of them but did not lay their hands on the plunder. 17 This happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

18 The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the thirteenth and fourteenth, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.

19 That is why rural Jews – those living in villages – observe the fourteenth of the month of Adar as a day of joy and feasting, a day for giving presents to each other.

 

Purim established

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 that they should celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote to them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back on to his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews – nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

29 So Queen Esther, daughter of Abihail, along with Mordecai the Jew, wrote with full authority to confirm this second letter concerning Purim. 30 And Mordecai sent letters to all the Jews in the 127 provinces of Xerxes’s kingdom – words of goodwill and assurance – 31 to establish these days of Purim at their designated times, as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had decreed for them, and as they had established for themselves and their descendants in regard to their times of fasting and lamentation. 32 Esther’s decree confirmed these regulations about Purim, and it was written down in the records.

 

The greatness of Mordecai

10 King Xerxes imposed tribute throughout the empire, to its distant shores. And all his acts of power and might, together with a full account of the greatness of Mordecai, whom the king had promoted, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Media and Persia? Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Xerxes, pre-eminent among the Jews, and held in high esteem by his many fellow Jews, because he worked for the good of his people and spoke up for the welfare of all the Jews.

 

Prayer: Almighty God, You see that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: keep us outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all harm that may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts that may attack and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

13 March 2020

Proverbs 4:18-19

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
    shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
    they do not know what makes them stumble.

Consider in two ways how the light of dawn comes. The path of the righteous is lighted for them as they walk in obedience. Isaiah 58:6-8 says:

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

 

As the righteous practice justice and righteousness, so the Lord promises to be their guide: “And the Lord will guide you continually” (v. 11). But the very obedience of the righteous becomes itself light, which shine brighter and brighter. It breaks through the darkness of injustice and wickedness, exposing what is unjust and revealing what is good, right, and true.

 

It is such light by which Christians are to walk and which we are to display, as instructed in

Ephesians 5:8-14:
…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

That last line reveals where our light comes from. We were the people characterised in Matthew 4:16 (which translates Isaiah 9:2):

…the people dwelling in darkness
    have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
    on them a light has dawned.


The light of Christ has dawned on us. Now we are to shine forth his light through our obedience to him. Will you shine forth Christ’s light in the darkness of this world at your workplace or school?

 

Exodus 12-13

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ‘This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door-frames of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire – with the head, legs and internal organs. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

12 ‘On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 ‘This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord – a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.

17 ‘Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18 In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.’

21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the door-frame. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the door-frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.

24 ‘Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, “What does this ceremony mean to you?” 27 then tell them, “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.”’ Then the people bowed down and worshipped. 28 The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

 

The exodus

31 During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32 Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.’

33 The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. ‘For otherwise,’ they said, ‘we will all die!’ 34 So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35 The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36 The Lord had made the Egyptians favourably disposed towards the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.

40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honour the Lord for the generations to come.

 

Passover restrictions

43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘These are the regulations for the Passover meal:

‘No foreigner may eat it. 44 Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45 but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.

46 ‘It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47 The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.

48 ‘A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49 The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.’

50 All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

 

Consecration of the firstborn

13 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.’

Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites – the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey – you are to observe this ceremony in this month: for seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LordEat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.” This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

11 ‘After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12 you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord13 Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.

14 ‘In days to come when your son asks you, “What does this mean?” say to him, “With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.” 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.’

 

Crossing the sea

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’

20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

12 March 2020

Proverbs 4:16-17

16 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
    they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
17 They eat the bread of wickedness
    and drink the wine of violence.

Here we are given insight into the psyche of the wicked. When we come across crime, especially something like vandalism, we ask how someone could do such a thing, as though the perpetrators’ conscience should be troubling them. Not only are they not troubled, they are delighted by their mischief. They feel powerful; their self-esteem is strengthened as they accomplish a goal through their ingenuity and skill.

They delight in taking advantage of others. Violence is one means; deception and theft are others. Cheating is honored. For the wicked, these things are achievements. All the more reason to avoid the wicked, both in terms of being victims and in associating with them.

Can the wicked change? God can change anyone. But don’t be foolish enough to think that if you hang around in a wicked crowd, you will be the good influence that changes them. More likely they will change you before you realize what is happening, or you will get caught in a compromising situation, or you become their victim.

Exodus 10-11

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.’

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians – something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.”’ Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

Pharaoh’s officials said to him, ‘How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realise that Egypt is ruined?’

Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. ‘Go, worship the Lord your God,’ he said. ‘But tell me who will be going.’

Moses answered, ‘We will go with our young and our old, with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we are to celebrate a festival to the Lord.’

10 Pharaoh said, ‘The Lord be with you – if I let you go, along with your women and children! Clearly you are bent on evil. 11 No! Let only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for.’ Then Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence.

12 And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over Egypt so that locusts swarm over the land and devour everything growing in the fields, everything left by the hail.’

13 So Moses stretched out his staff over Egypt, and the Lord made an east wind blow across the land all that day and all that night. By morning the wind had brought the locusts; 14 they invaded all Egypt and settled down in every area of the country in great numbers. Never before had there been such a plague of locusts, nor will there ever be again. 15 They covered all the ground until it was black. They devoured all that was left after the hail – everything growing in the fields and the fruit on the trees. Nothing green remained on tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.

16 Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me.’

18 Moses then left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord19 And the Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up the locusts and carried them into the Red Sea. Not a locust was left anywhere in Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go.

 

The plague of darkness

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand towards the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt – darkness that can be felt.’ 22 So Moses stretched out his hand towards the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

24 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, ‘Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.’

25 But Moses said, ‘You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshipping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.’

27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, ‘Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.’

29 ‘Just as you say,’ Moses replied. ‘I will never appear before you again.’

 

The plague on the firstborn

11 Now the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbours for articles of silver and gold.’ (The Lord made the Egyptians favourably disposed towards the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)

So Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord says: “About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.” Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, “Go, you and all the people who follow you!” After that I will leave.’ Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.

The Lord had said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you – so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.’ 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.

11 March 2020

Proverbs 4:14-15

14 Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
    or walk in the way of evildoers.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
    turn from it and go on your way.

Can the instruction from Scripture be any clearer regarding our attitude toward wickedness? Why then do we delight in entertainment that glorifies violence and immorality? Why do we put ourselves in compromising situations? Why do we flirt with danger? We excuse ourselves claiming we know what boundaries not to cross or that we hope to be good witnesses or understand the world better.

Scripture is clear – don’t go there! As sinners, we will stray into the way of the evil if we take a look. We are weaker than we appear to ourselves; our heart is more corrupt than we take it for. Even if we are called to minister to those caught up in wickedness, all the more precaution we are to take in protecting ourselves from getting entangled. Many a Christian has yielded to the very sin he has tried to rescue others from. Don’t trust in your own willpower.

Flee from sin and flee to Christ!

Exodus 9

9 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’ If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field – on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.”’

The Lord set a time and said, ‘Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.’ And the next day the Lord did it: all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.

 

The plague of boils

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and let Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.’

10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.

 

The plague of hail

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.”’

20 Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand towards the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt – on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.’ 23 When Moses stretched out his staff towards the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; 24 hail fell and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. 25 Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields – both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. 26 The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.

27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. ‘This time I have sinned,’ he said to them. ‘The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.’

29 Moses replied, ‘When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.’

31 (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bloom. 32 The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)

33 Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands towards the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land. 34 When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: he and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.

10 March 2020

Proverbs 4:10-13

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
11 I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go;
    guard it well, for it is your life.

All that the father here can do is instruct, admonish, and exhort. He can provide words. But the son must accept those words. The son must walk in the wisdom and knowledge taught him. He must keep hold of instruction and guard her.

As a high school principal and teacher, I discovered that the biggest barrier to learning is the student’s own attitude toward learning. The student not motivated to learn will do poorly regardless of ability; conversely, the motivated student will rise to the occasion. Profiting from instruction is a heart issue. That is why God will not accept ignorance as an excuse for sin and for unbelief. If you desire God; if you seek true wisdom, then you will hold on to the instruction in God’s Word.

The result of such motivation is life. To let go of instruction, be it out of rebellion or laziness, is to end up with death. Hold on to instruction; hold on to the Truth that is Jesus Christ.

Exodus 7-8

7 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.’

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

 

Aaron’s staff becomes a snake

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a miracle,” then say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,” and it will become a snake.’

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned the wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

 

The plague of blood

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: by this you will know that I am the Lord: with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.”’

19 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt – over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs – and they will turn to blood.” Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.’

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

 

The plague of frogs

25 Seven days passed after the Lord struck the Nile. 

 

8 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.”’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.”’

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.’

Moses said to Pharaoh, ‘I leave to you the honour of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.’

10 ‘Tomorrow,’ Pharaoh said.

Moses replied, ‘It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.’

12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

 

The plague of gnats

16 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron, “Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,” and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.’ 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God.’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

 

The plague of flies

20 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, “This is what the Lord says: let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

22 ‘“But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.”’

24 And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.’

26 But Moses said, ‘That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.’

28 Pharaoh said, ‘I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.’

29 Moses answered, ‘As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.’

30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

9 March 2020

Proverbs 4:1-9

Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
    pay attention and gain understanding.
I give you sound learning,
    so do not forsake my teaching.
For I too was a son to my father,
    still tender, and cherished by my mother.
Then he taught me, and he said to me,
    “Take hold of my words with all your heart;
    keep my commands, and you will live.
Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.”

Ah, a father passing on to his son the words passed to him by his father on the subject of how to handle a woman! If only fathers would be so diligent to speak about this woman. They would surely pass on a lasting legacy that would bless their sons. For Wisdom is truly to be treasured. She cannot be prized too highly; she cannot be given too much attention. For the more she is embraced, the more blessed is our friendship with others. The more we love her, the more we will love God and our neighbor, including our closest loved ones. Honoring her leads to honor.

Today and every day, pray to get Wisdom. Contemplate her beauty; strive after her. Study the Word that you might know her more deeply. Observe your circumstances, looking for her in your experiences. Above all, fear and love the Lord, which is the beginning of Wisdom.

 

Exodus 5-6

5 Afterwards Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.”’

Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.’

Then they said, ‘The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.’

But the king of Egypt said, ‘Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labour? Get back to your work!’ Then Pharaoh said, ‘Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.’

That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people: ‘You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, “Let us go and sacrifice to our God.” Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.’

10 Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, ‘This is what Pharaoh says: “I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.”’ 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, ‘Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.’ 14 And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, ‘Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?’

15 Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: ‘Why have you treated your servants this way? 16 Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, “Make bricks!” Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.’

17 Pharaoh said, ‘Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy! That is why you keep saying, “Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.” 18 Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.’

19 The Israelite overseers realised they were in trouble when they were told, ‘You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.’ 20 When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, 21 and they said, ‘May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.’

 

God promises deliverance

22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.’

6 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.’

God also said to Moses, ‘I am the LordI appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

‘Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”’

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labour.

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 ‘Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.’

12 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?’

 

Family record of Moses and Aaron

13 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

14 These were the heads of their families:

The sons of Reuben the firstborn son of Israel were Hanok and Pallu, Hezron and Karmi. These were the clans of Reuben.

15 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman. These were the clans of Simeon.

16 These were the names of the sons of Levi according to their records: Gershon, Kohath and Merari. Levi lived 137 years.

17 The sons of Gershon, by clans, were Libni and Shimei.

18 The sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. Kohath lived 133 years.

19 The sons of Merari were Mahli and Mushi.

These were the clans of Levi according to their records.

20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, who bore him Aaron and Moses. Amram lived 137 years.

21 The sons of Izhar were Korah, Nepheg and Zikri.

22 The sons of Uzziel were Mishael, Elzaphan and Sithri.

23 Aaron married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab and sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

24 The sons of Korah were Assir, Elkanah and Abiasaph. These were the Korahite clans.

25 Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas.

These were the heads of the Levite families, clan by clan.

26 It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, ‘Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.’ 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt – this same Moses and Aaron.

 

Aaron to speak for Moses

28 Now when the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, 29 he said to him, ‘I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.’

30 But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?’

7 March 2020

Esther 7:1-10

7 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, ‘Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.’

Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have found favour with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life – this is my petition. And spare my people – this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.’

King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, ‘Who is he? Where is he – the man who has dared to do such a thing?’

Esther said, ‘An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!’

Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realising that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banqueting hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

The king exclaimed, ‘Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?’

As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, ‘A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.’

The king said, ‘Impale him on it!’ 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake You fasted forty days and forty nights: give us grace to use such self control that, our flesh being subdued to the spirit, we may always obey Your will in righteousness and true holiness, to Your honour and glory; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore. Amen

6 March 2020

Proverbs 3:35

The wise inherit honor,
    but fools get only shame.

The wise inherit the honour often received for showing good judgment, rendering fair decisions, and coming up with good solutions. It is one thing to be famous, yet another to be liked, and another to be honoured. Fools can be popular and liked (as can foolish activities such as TV programs) even as they are recognised as fools (often because they are foolish.)

But the true honour which the wise inherit, and for which they strive, is the honour received from the Lord. Is there any greater honour than to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? Is there any greater glory than that bestowed by the King of Glory?

Fools see only what their eyes can see, only what is temporary. The wise see what is unseen, what is permanent. Thus they look to an inheritance that is eternal, that cannot be destroyed or stolen, and for which they are guarded, because in the wisdom granted them they have become not mere servants, but the sons of God who inherit eternal life. He will guard them so that they will receive that inheritance.

 

Exodus 4

4 Moses answered, ‘What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, “The Lord did not appear to you”?’

Then the Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’

‘A staff,’ he replied.

The Lord said, ‘Throw it on the ground.’

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.’ So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. ‘This,’ said the Lord, ‘is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has appeared to you.’

Then the Lord said, ‘Put your hand inside your cloak.’ So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, the skin was leprous – it had become as white as snow.

‘Now put it back into your cloak,’ he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

Then the Lord said, ‘If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground.’

10 Moses said to the Lord, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’

11 The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’

13 But Moses said, ‘Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.’

14 Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. 15 You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. 16 He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. 17 But take this staff in your hand so that you can perform the signs with it.’

 

Moses returns to Egypt

18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, ‘Let me return to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive.’

Jethro said, ‘Go, and I wish you well.’

19 Now the Lord had said to Moses in Midian, ‘Go back to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you are dead.’ 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

21 The Lord said to Moses, ‘When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so that he may worship me.’ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.”’

24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. ‘Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,’ she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said ‘bridegroom of blood’, referring to circumcision.)

27 The Lord said to Aaron, ‘Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.’ So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.

29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshipped.

5 March 2020

Proverbs 3:34

He mocks proud mockers
    but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

The difference between God’s scorn and that of the scorners is that God’s is just and directed towards those who deserve it. The scorners in this proverb are those who scorn what is good. You see this everywhere in the world where the righteous and the moral are mocked. The Ten Commandments are ridiculed. The biblical standards for sexual relations and for marriage are belittled. Students and business people laugh at those who will not cheat. But God is not bemused by their humour and he will hold them accountable.

Those who do follow God’s laws do so out of humility. They understand that there is a law above themselves. And like children who trust their father to know what is best, they humbly obey him. Thus God bestows his favour upon them.

From whom would you rather receive favour, and from whom are you more willing to receive scorn?

 

Exodus 1-3

1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.’

11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour, the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.

15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.’ 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, ‘Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?’

19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, ‘Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.’

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: ‘Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’

 

The birth of Moses

2 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river-bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’

‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.

 

Moses flees to Midian

11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, ‘Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?’

14 The man said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?’ Then Moses was afraid and thought, ‘What I did must have become known.’

15 When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16 Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

18 When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, ‘Why have you returned so early today?’

19 They answered, ‘An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.’

20 ‘And where is he?’ Reuel asked his daughters. ‘Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.’

21 Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, ‘I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.’

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

 

Moses and the burning bush

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.’

When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’

And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’

‘Do not come any closer,’ God said. ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.’ Then he said, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey – the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’

11 But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’

12 And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you[f] will worship God on this mountain.’

13 Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

14 God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”’

15 God also said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites, “The Lord, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you.”

‘This is my name for ever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.

16 ‘Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, “The Lord, the God of your fathers – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites – a land flowing with milk and honey.”

18 ‘The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.” 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

21 ‘And I will make the Egyptians favourably disposed towards this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22 Every woman is to ask her neighbour and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.’

4 March 2020

Proverbs 3:33

The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
    but he blesses the home of the righteous.

Rewards and trials fall on us throughout our lives. Consider then by what manner you most want to receive them and from whom.

One minister of a large, popular church has received many rewards. He has one of the largest congregations in the country and is one of the most recognised religious figures. His church and ministry empire flourishes; he is blessed with material prosperity and gives the appearance of being a happy man. His trials would be that of receiving criticism from other Christians who disapprove of his teaching. He would also be criticised by nonreligious people as well. And no doubt there are trials associated with running such a large operation. Nevertheless, he believes he is blessed by God.

But what will he say to God when he must give account of his ministry? How will he explain that he rarely taught scripture, and when he did, he twisted it to mean what it does not say? How will he react when he learns that the crowds came to him, not out of blessing by the Lord, but because their sinful desires for worldly success were encouraged by him?

What is the blessing that God gives to the righteous? He may or may not give physical health and prosperity. The proverbs teach that the righteous typically can expect better health, longer life, and greater prosperity; even so, those are the natural results of godly living. The righteous, along with the wicked, do suffer illness, die early deaths, and struggle to pay bills. What then is the blessing they can expect that the wicked cannot have?

There is eternal salvation, eternal bliss living in the presence of God and his favour, eternal worship in the midst of multitudes of his saints, the freedom from all suffering, the freedom from ever committing, even contemplating, a sin.

There is the present blessing of this assured hope; the blessing of God’s revealed Word which fills us with knowledge of our God, of his salvation, and of his instruction for life; the blessing of possessing the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to please God and to resist sin; the blessing of the gospel of Christ which assures us of forgiveness when we do sin; the blessing of Christian fellowship and of ministering in the name of Christ; the blessing of knowing what is true, what is good; the blessing of seeing the beauty of creation and knowing the Creator.

The list can go on. The point is to know what is true blessing and from whom you want to receive it. Jesus spoke of the Pharisees who displayed their religiosity in public so as to receive acclaim. He said that they have received the reward they will get. Seek not after temporal blessing that ends in judgment. Seek the blessing of God that enters into the dwelling of your heart now and lasts through eternity.

Genesis 49-50

49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: ‘Gather round so that I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

‘Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

‘Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honour, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

‘Simeon and Levi are brothers –
    their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

‘Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness – who dares to rouse him?
10 The sceptre will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.

13 ‘Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend towards Sidon.

14 ‘Issachar is a scrawny donkey
    lying down among the sheepfolds.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labour.

16 ‘Dan will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backwards.

18 ‘I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 ‘Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 ‘Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 ‘Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.

22 ‘Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed supple,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 ‘Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.’

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

 

The death of Jacob

29 Then he gave them these instructions: ‘I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre in Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 31 There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave in it were bought from the Hittites.’

33 When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

 

50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

When the days of mourning had passed, Joseph said to Pharaoh’s court, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, speak to Pharaoh for me. Tell him, “My father made me swear an oath and said, ‘I am about to die; bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.’ Now let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.”’

Pharaoh said, ‘Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear to do.’

So Joseph went up to bury his father. All Pharaoh’s officials accompanied him – the dignitaries of his court and all the dignitaries of Egypt – besides all the members of Joseph’s household and his brothers and those belonging to his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen also went up with him. It was a very large company.

10 When they reached the threshing-floor of Atad, near the Jordan, they lamented loudly and bitterly; and there Joseph observed a seven-day period of mourning for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived there saw the mourning at the threshing-floor of Atad, they said, ‘The Egyptians are holding a solemn ceremony of mourning.’ That is why that place near the Jordan is called Abel Mizraim.

12 So Jacob’s sons did as he had commanded them: 13 they carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field as a burial place from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, together with his brothers and all the others who had gone with him to bury his father.

 

Joseph reassures his brothers

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?’ 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 “This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.” Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.’ When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

 

The death of Joseph

22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.

24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’ 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.’

26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.

3 March 2020

Proverbs 3:32

For the Lord detests the perverse
    but takes the upright into his confidence.

Do not choose the ways of a devious person, because in so doing you put yourself at odds with the Lord. The sinner forgets this all important factor. The person who loves to “stir things up,” who finds it amusing to take advantage of others must stand before the Almighty God who will not be mocked, who will act in justice. He sees all of our schemes, and as Psalm 2:4 explains, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” No one gets away with anything.

Note how our offenses are described. They are an abomination to the Lord. He does not find sin amusing, though he laughs in derision at our arrogance. Violence and devious scheming are an abomination to him. He takes sin personally as an affront to his righteousness and holiness. Pray for the wicked; pray they will come to their senses and repent; for judgment that they cannot escape awaits them.

But the upright, take heart that you are in God’s confidence. You are looked upon with affection; you are considered God’s friend.

And yet you say, “But I too sin and am as guilty as the most notorious sinner.” You would be guilty if not for the grace bestowed upon you through Jesus Christ who bore your sin and gave to you his righteousness. Through Christ, God remains “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). In Christ you are counted as upright.

Incredible? Are you unworthy? Yes! Yes! Give humble praise to your God now who has shown and continues to show his steadfast love through Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Genesis 48

48 Some time later Joseph was told, ‘Your father is ill.’ So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, ‘Your son Joseph has come to you,’ Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, ‘God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, “I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.”

‘Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath’ (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, ‘Who are these?’

‘They are the sons God has given me here,’ Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, ‘Bring them to me so that I may bless them.’

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, ‘I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.’

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right towards Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left towards Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

‘May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,
16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    – may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.’

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to him, ‘No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.’

19 But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.’ 20 He blessed them that day and said,

‘In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
    “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”’

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.’

 

2 March 2020

Proverbs 3:31

Do not envy the violent
    or choose any of their ways.

Do not envy a person who violates the law of God. Our society exalts violence. TV shows are as popular according to the amount of violence, promiscuity, and rancour that can be displayed. Reality shows are only as interesting as the producers are able to manipulate conflict among the contestants. Shows awarded for being cutting edge are shows that glamorise the mob, other forms of violence, and promiscuity. Notoriety is the preferred form of fame and the easiest path to take to popularity. Those who are notorious are hailed for their independence and their boldness. Radio and TV talkshow hosts reach success by being rancorous.

Do not envy such persons. Do not exalt them. And definitely do not copy them. Envy the man of peace, the person who strives to serve God, the individual who is marked by humility. Envy the person who possesses wisdom; the one who follows God’s royal command to love his neighbour as himself. Envy the person who is content.

Envy the person who loves Jesus Christ because he knows the peace of Christ.

 

Genesis 46-47

46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’

‘Here I am,’ he replied.

‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters – all his offspring.

These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:

Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.

The sons of Reuben:

Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

10 The sons of Simeon:

Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.

11 The sons of Levi:

Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

12 The sons of Judah:

Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).

The sons of Perez:

Hezron and Hamul.

13 The sons of Issachar:

Tola, Puah, Jashub and Shimron.

14 The sons of Zebulun:

Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram, besides his daughter Dinah. These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

16 The sons of Gad:

Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

17 The sons of Asher:

Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.

Their sister was Serah.

The sons of Beriah:

Heber and Malkiel.

18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Leah – sixteen in all.

19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:

Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.

21 The sons of Benjamin:

Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob – fourteen in all.

23 The son of Dan:

Hushim.

24 The sons of Naphtali:

Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel – seven in all.

26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob – those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives – numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.

30 Israel said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.’

31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, ‘I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, “My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.” 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, “What is your occupation?” 34 you should answer, “Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.” Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.’

47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.’ He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh asked the brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’

‘Your servants are shepherds,’ they replied to Pharaoh, ‘just as our fathers were.’ They also said to him, ‘We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.’

Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.’

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, ‘How old are you?’

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’ 10 Then Jacob blessed[j] Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

 

Joseph and the famine

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, ‘Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.’

16 ‘Then bring your livestock,’ said Joseph. ‘I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.’ 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, ‘We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes – we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.’

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allowance Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, ‘Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.’

25 ‘You have saved our lives,’ they said. ‘May we find favour in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.’

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt – still in force today – that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.’

‘I will do as you say,’ he said.

31 ‘Swear to me,’ he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.