Category: Panorama of the Bible

Lessons from Joshua that you don’t often hear

Lessons from Joshua that you don’t often hear

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In our Panorama of the Bible, we are in the Book of Joshua. We will cover some of the more familiar stories in the next lesson but, today, we are sharing two PDF documents that were provided by and used with the permission of the Thru the Bible Radio Network (http://ttb.org). Both of the pdfs, found in the links above, deal with lessons not often taught from the Book of Joshua, and I think they will be helpful for you. I am grateful to Dr. McGee and Thru the Bible for these excellent resources.

Understanding Deuteronomy

Understanding Deuteronomy

 

Key Concepts

  • One God, one people, one sanctuary and one law.
  • God’s law impacts every area of life, and all law is rooted in the Ten Commandments.
  • Obedience is only the beginning of what is expected of God’s people—he wants his people to be in relationship with him.
  • God’s people are to love him.”

 

Key Word:

Covenant—The primary theme of the entire Book of Deuteron-omy is the renewal of the covenant. Originally established at Mount Sinai, the covenant is enlarged and renewed on the plains of Moab.

Key Verses:

Deuteronomy 10:12, 13; 30:19, 20

“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (10:12, 13).

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (30:19, 20).

Key Chapter:

Deuteronomy 27 The formal ratification of the covenant occurs in Deuteronomy 27 as Moses, the priests, the Levites, and all of Israel “take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the LORD your God” (27:9).

Key Terms

Covenant—The covenant here is laid out in a form similar to how international treaty relations were structured in the ancient world. Thus the covenant formalizes the relationship between God and his people. Through this formalized agreement, God continues to reveal himself to his people.

Law—Sometimes called the Torah (erroneously), the law refers to God’s guidelines for his people to stay in relationship with him, to preserve his presence among them, and to imitate his holiness. The Law/Commandments are actually the mitzvot and the Rabbis enumerate 613 of them.

Christ in Deuteronomy

The most obvious reference to Christ in Deuteronomy is found in 18:15: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” (See also 18:16–19; Acts 7:37.) Moses spoke these words in his final address to the children of Israel.

How was Moses a type of Christ? He was the only biblical figure other than Christ to fill the three offices of prophet (34:10–12), priest (Ex. 32:31–35), and king (as ruler see 33:4, 5). Both Moses and Christ were in danger of death during childhood. Both were saviors and intercessors. Both were rejected by their brethren.

Summary

Deuteronomy is basically the last will of Moses. In this will, he challenged Israel to remain faithful to the covenant, reminded them of their past history, and pointed to their future of blessings or cursings in the land of Canaan, depending upon their belief and behavior. Moses’ speeches (31:24), the recitation of the Song of Moses (31:30–32:43), and Moses’ blessing on the tribes (33:1–29) largely constitute the Book of Deuteronomy. The account of Moses’ death was most probably written by Joshua after the death of Moses.

B’mid’bar (In the Wilderness)

B’mid’bar (In the Wilderness)

 

This week’s lesson will be a little different as the book of Numbers is not all that easy to condense into a bite size lesson…

Approximate Timeline

1446 b.c.: The Exodus, Law given
1443 b.c.: Kadesh-barnea, wilderness wandering begins
1406 b.c.: Israel enters Canaan

 

CHRIST IN NUMBERS

Perhaps the clearest portrait of Christ in Numbers is the bronze serpent on the stake, a picture of the Crucifixion (21:4–9): “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). The rock that quenches the thirst of the multitudes is also a type of Christ: “they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). The daily manna pictures the Bread of Life who later comes down from heaven (John 6:31–33).

Balaam foresees the rulership of Christ: “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel” (24:17). The guidance and presence of Christ is seen in the pillar of cloud and fire, and the sinner’s refuge in Christ may be seen in the six cities of refuge. The red heifer sacrifice (Num. 19) is also considered a type of Christ.

KEYS TO UNDERSTAND NUMBERS

Key Word:

Wanderings—Numbers records the failure of Israel to believe in the promise of God and the resulting judgment of wandering in the wilderness for forty years.

Key Verses:

Numbers 14:22, 23; 20:12—“Because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it” (14:22, 23).

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them’” (20:12).

Key Chapter:

Numbers 14—The critical turning point of Numbers may be seen in Numbers 14 when Israel rejects God by refusing to go up and conquer the Promised Land. God judges Israel “according to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection” (14:34).

The Tragic Transition (10:11–25:18): Israel follows God step-by-step until Canaan is in sight. Then in the crucial moment at Kadesh they draw back in unbelief. Their murmurings had already become incessant, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it” (11:1). But their unbelief after sending out the twelve spies at Kadesh Barnea is something God will not tolerate. Their rebellion at Kadesh marks the pivotal point of the book. The generation of the Exodus will not be the generation of the conquest.

Unbelief brings discipline and hinders God’s blessing. The old generation is doomed to literally kill time for forty years of wilderness wanderings—one year for every day spent by the twelve spies in inspecting the land. They are judged by disinheritance and death as their journey changes from one of anticipation to one of aimlessness. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who believed God, enter Canaan. Almost nothing is recorded about these transitional years.

 

OUTLINE

  1. ISRAEL AT SINAI: PREPARATION (Numbers 1:1-10:10)
  2. A census of the people (Numbers 1)
  3. Assigning campsites around the Tabernacle (Numbers 2)
  4. Census of Levites, their duties assigned (Numbers 3-4)
  5. Stan2 Nazirites (Numbers 6)
  6. Offerings for the Tabernacle from Israel’s leaders (Numbers 7)
  7. Dedication of the Levites (Numbers 8)
  8. Fiery cloud, silver trumpets (Numbers 9:1-10:10)
  • FROM SINAI TO KADESH: FRUSTRATION (Numbers 10:11-20:13)
  1. Departure from Sinai (Numbers 10:11-36)
  2. Complaints and solutions (Numbers 11)
  3. Miriam and Aaron criticize Moses (Numbers 12)
  4. Rebellion at Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 13-14)
  5. Additional laws (Numbers 15)
  6. Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Numbers 16)
  7. Aaron’s staff buds (Numbers 17)
  8. Duties of Levites (Numbers 18)
  9. Purification by the ashes of a red heifer (Numbers 19)
  10. Moses strikes the rock (Numbers 20:1-13)
  • FROM KADESH TO MOAB: ANTICIPATION (Numbers 20:14-36:13)
  1. Edom denies passage to Israel (Numbers 20:14-21)
  2. Death of Aaron (Numbers 20:22-29)
  3. Bronze serpent (Numbers 21:1-9)
  4. Israel defeats Sihon and Og (Numbers 21:10-35)
  5. Balak and Balaam (Numbers 22-24)
  6. Israelites seduced by Moabites (Numbers 25)
  7. Second census of the people (Numbers 26)
  8. Joshua to succeed Moses (Numbers 27)
  9. Regulations for worship and vows (Numbers 28-29)
  10. Regulations for vows (Numbers 30)
  11. Israel defeats the Midianites (Numbers 31)
  12. Settlement of Transjordan tribes (Numbers 32)
  13. Review of the wilderness journey (Numbers 33)
  14. Settlement of Canaan described (Numbers 34-36)

 

The Five Levitical Sacrifices

The Five Levitical Sacrifices

As we continue the Panorama of the Bible, we have the Levitical Sacrifices. This lesson is a guest post from bible-history.com

The Five Levitical Offerings

The Sacrifices

The sacrificial system was ordained by God and placed at the very center and heart of Jewish national life. Whatever the Jews may have thought of it at the time, the unceasing sacrifice of animals, and the never-ending glow of fire at the altar of sacrifice, there is no doubt that god was burning into the hearts of every man, an awareness of their own sin. An object lesson that would make your skin crawl was to be an age long picture of the coming sacrifice of Messiah. The sacrifices pointed to Him and they were fulfilled in Him.

There are many instructions for sacrifice throughout the Pentateuch, but Leviticus chapters 1-7 is completely dedicated to the 5 Levitical offerings which were the main sacrifices used in the rituals. They describe 5 kinds of sacrifices: The burnt offering, the meal offering, the peace offering, the sin offering, and the trespass offering. Each of the sacrifices were uniquely fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

 

The Burnt Offerings

The burnt offering was a sacrifice that was completely burnt. None of it was to be eaten at all, and therefore the fire consumed the whole sacrifice. It is also important to note that the fire on the altar was never to go out:

Lev 6:13 ‘A fire shall always be burning on the altar; it shall never go out.

The common Israelite worshipper brought a male animal (a bull, lamb, goat, pigeon, or turtledove depending on the wealth of the worshipper) to the door of the tabernacle.

Lev 1:3 ‘Let him offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it of his own free will at the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD.

The animal had to be without blemish. The worshipper then placed his hands upon the head of the animal and in awareness that this innocent animal was standing in for the sinner he would seek the Lord for forgiveness and then killed the animal immediately.

Lev 1:4-9 ‘Then he shall put his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. ‘He shall kill the bull before the LORD; and the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood and sprinkle the blood all around on the altar that is by the door of the tabernacle of meeting . . . and the priest shall burn all on the altar as a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD.

The priests were also responsible to wash various parts of the animal before putting it on the altar:

Lev 1:6-9 ‘And he shall skin the burnt offering and cut it into its pieces. ‘The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay the wood in order on the fire. ‘Then the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire upon the altar; ‘but he shall wash its entrails and its legs with water.

Later In Israel’s history there were burnt offerings made twice per day, one at morning and one at evening (when the first star appeared:

Num 28:3-4 “And you shall say to them, ‘This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to the LORD: two male lambs in their first year without blemish, day by day, as a regular burnt offering. ‘The one lamb you shall offer in the morning, the other lamb you shall offer in the evening”

The Burnt offering was performed to atone for the peoples sins against the Lord and was a dedication offering of ones life before the Lord continually.

The Meal Offerings

The Israelites offered meal (cereals) or vegetables in addition to the animals. Leviticus chapter 2 mentions 4 kinds of cereal offerings and gives cooking instructions for each. The sinner could offer dough from wheat flour baked in an oven, cooked on a griddle, fried in a pan, or roasted to make bread (as in the offering of the first fruits). All meal offerings were made with oil and salt and no honey and leaven were to be used (oil and salt preserved while honey and leaven would spoil). The worshipper was also to bring a portion of incense (frankincense).

The meal offerings were brought to one of the priests, who took it to the altar and cast a “memorial portion” on the fire and he did this also with the incense. The priest ate the remainder unless he was bringing the meal offering for himself where he would burn the whole thing.

The purpose of the meal offering was an offering of gifts and speaks of a life that is dedicated to generosity and giving.


The Peace Offerings

The peace offering was a meal that was shared with the Lord, the priests, and sometimes the common Israelites. The worshipper was to bring a male or female oxen, sheep, or a goat. The ritual was closely compared to the burnt offering up to the point of the actual burning where the animals blood was poured around the edges of the altar. The fat and entrails were burned and the remainder was eaten by the priests and (if it was a free-will offering) by the worshippers themselves. This sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving was most of the time a voluntary act.

The Peace offerings included unleavened cakes. The priests ate all except the memorial portion of the cakes and certain parts of the animal on the same day the sacrifice was made, and when the worshipper joined in and the offering was free-will the worshipper could eat for 2 days of the whole animal except the breast and the right thigh which were eaten by the priests.

Jacob and Laban offered a peace offering when they made their treaty (Gen 31:43 ff). It was required to make offerings while making a vow of ones life to God and thanking Him with praise while free-will offerings were voluntary.


The Sin Offerings

The sin offering expiated (paid the debt in full) the worshippers unintentional weaknesses and failures before the Lord.

Lev 4:1-4 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a person sins unintentionally against any of the commandments of the LORD in anything which ought not to be done, and does any of them, ‘if the anointed priest sins, bringing guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD for his sin which he has sinned a young bull without blemish as a sin offering. ‘He shall bring the bull to the door of the tabernacle of meeting before the LORD, lay his hand on the bull’s head, and kill the bull before the LORD.

Each class of people had various ordinances to perform:

Sins of the high priest required the offering of a bull and the blood was not poured on the altar but sprinkled from the finger of the high priest 7 times on the altar. Then the fat was burnt, and the remainder was burned (never eaten) outside the camp “unto a clean place” where the sacrifice was made and the ashes were poured out.

Lev 4:12 ‘the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire; where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.

Sins of the leaders required the offering of a male goat. the blood was sprinkled only once and the remainder was poured around the altar as with the burnt offering.

Sins of the common Israelites required female animals, goats, lambs, turtledoves, or pigeons and in the case of the very poor an offering of grain was acceptable just like a meal offering.

Unintentional sins were difficult to identify and could happen at any time and therefore the priests worked closely as mediators with God and the people and were there to instruct the people as they sought the Lord. In case any sins were not brought before the Lord there were offerings for the nation and for the high priest which covered them all in a collective way. On the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) the high priest sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for his own sins and the sins of the nation.


The Trespass Offerings

The trespass offering was very similar to that of the sin offering but the main difference was that the trespass offering was an offering of money for sins of ignorance connected with fraud. For example if someone unintentionally cheated another out of money or property, his sacrifice was to be equal to the amount taken, plus one-fifth to the priest and to the one offended. Therefore he repaid twice the amount taken plus 40 %.

Lev 6:5-7 “He shall restore its full value, add one-fifth more to it, and give it to whomever it belongs, on the day of his trespass offering. And he shall bring his trespass offering to the LORD, a ram without blemish from the flock, with your valuation, as a trespass offering, to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD, and he shall be forgiven for any one of these things that he may have done in which he trespasses.”

Jewish Tradition – The Treatment of Animals

Even though the Lord prescribed the slaughtering of animals for sacrifice and for food, the treatment of animals is of the utmost importance in Judaism. The Talmud describes with minute care and detail how an animal is to be slaughtered for food, and the regulations are given mainly because of the desire to inflict as painless a death as possible. The slaughterer could not be a deaf-mute, or a minor, and he must be of sound mind (Chul. 1. 1). The knife must be perfectly smooth without the slightest perceptible notch and “the knife must be tested as to its three sides upon the flesh of the finger and upon the nail” (ibid. 17b).

There are five causes of disqualification (ibid. 9a). [1] Delay (Heb. shehiyah), there must be a continuous forward and backward motion of the knife without any interruption. [2] Pressure (Heb. derasah), the cut must be made gently, without the exercise of any force. [3] Digging (Heb. chaladah), the knife must not be inserted into the flesh instead of drawn across the throat. [4] Slipping (Heb. hagramah), the cut must not be made except through a prescribed section of the neck. [5] Tearing (Heb. ikkur), the cut must be done without dislocating the windpipe or gullet. Any one of these actions would render the animal unfit for consumption, because it would have inflicted pain upon the animal.

Judaism teaches proper care of animals and a love and respect for them.They were to be properly fed (p. Jeb. 14d), and “a man must not eat his meal before giving food to his cattle (Ber. 40a). This was taken from the Scripture:

Deut 11:15 “And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and then you shall eat and be satisfied.”

Judaism teaches man to praise the animals because they are models for humans to imitate. “Had the Torah not been given to us for our guidance, we could not have learnt modesty from the cat, honesty from the ant, chastity from the dove, and good manners from the cock” (Erub. 100b). The Lord taught Moses to care for sheep before he would care for and lead his fellow man (Exod. R 11.2)

A Type of Christ

Every offering is a clear picture of Christ. Each of the 5 Levitical offerings were a finger pointing to Christ and He was each of them. This topic is further discussed in BKA16 The Five Levitical Offerings which is in the process of being upgraded. (1/98)

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)

Then God spoke all these words, saying,

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

Here, the Lord replays His qualifications for the giving of the Law: He is the LORD God and, besides that, He is the one who redeemed Israel from their bondage in Egypt.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This first commandment established the exclusivity of the relationship between YHWH and His covenant people.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Two things come to mind when thinking about this commandment. First, since God is completely indescribable, any attempt to make an image of Him mars His glory and, thus, is a staggering insult. One of the clearest images, of God, that we see in the Bible comes from Revelation 4 and, there, it is extremely likely that we are only getting a description of God’s Throne and His Crown. Secondly, if we circle back to God “laying out His resume,” we see that YHWH alone was able to redeem Israel and to make them a covenant people. YHWH declares that He is a jealous God but not just for His Name; He is jealous for His chosen. Anything that would compete for with Him for His people’s love is an affront to Him.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”

This could also be rendered as, “you shall not misuse the Name of the Lord.”  Many people this this refers only to blasphemy/slander against the Name of the Lord. It also encompasses using the Lord’s Name to seal an oath (swearing to God, etc.). Further it would also prohibit any behavior that would intentionally dishonor the Name of God.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

This commandment is not as complicated as it may seem . Our Sabbath rest is a time to gather for corporate worship and to enjoy fellowship as God’s people.

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

Many times our human relationships are pictures of our relationship with God. Our parents give us life, shelter, love, and tend to our basic needs; this is a picture of our relationship with God and the honor we give our parents is a picture of the honor we have for God.

“You shall not murder.”

In murdering, the killer puts himself in the place of God, the only One who actually has the authority to give life or take it away.

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Marriage is symbolic of our relationship with God (the Church is the bride of Christ). God is an ever faithful husband and it is our responsibility to demonstrate that faithfulness in our relationship to our spouse.

“You shall not steal.”

Not only does stealing deprive your neighbor of his goods, it insults God by implying that He will not provide you with good things to enjoy.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

The primary reason to bear false witness would be to deprive your neighbor of that which is his, whether property, liberty, or something else. This is unholy behavior and also disrupts the wholeness of the community so God prohibits it.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

This commandment is specifically designed to protect the  shalom or wholeness of the community.

10 Plagues: YHWH Destroys the Pretenders

10 Plagues: YHWH Destroys the Pretenders

By the time we get to the book of Exodus, the Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for about 400 years and in that time had lost faith in the God of their fathers. They believed He existed and worshiped Him, but they doubted that He could, or would, break the yoke of their bondage. However, God did, indeed, hear their cries and raised up a deliverer for the House of Israel. Let’s pick up the story in Exodus 1

8 Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. 10 Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.” 11 So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. 13 The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; 14 and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them.

15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; 16 and he said, “When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and let the boys live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife can get to them.” 20 So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. 21 Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.”

(Exodus 1:8-22 NASB)

Now the Egyptians, like many pagan cultures, worshiped a wide variety of nature-gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them. There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc. Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidences of their gods’ powers and good will. When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2). Bad move; Pharaoh was not only refusing to hear the word of the Lord, he was being obstinately stupid. He was about to find out what the Lord told to Isaiah several hundred years later, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols. (Isaiah 42:8 HCSB). In what can only be described as the most superlatively stupid move a king has ever made, Pharaoh not only defied the Living God, he actually had the audacity to challenge Him. YHWH answered Pharaoh with 10 judgments designed not only to show YHWH’s supremacy but to completely obliterate any of Egypt’s pretenders to God’s throne. (These are commonly called the 10 plagues).

We will learn from our dear friends at gotquestions.org:

“The first plague, turning the Nile to blood, was a judgment against Apis, the god of the Nile, Isis, goddess of the Nile, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile. The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when the river flooded. The river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national economy, was devastated, as millions of fish died in the river and the water was unusable. Pharaoh was told, “By this you will know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 7:17).

The second plague, bringing frogs from the Nile, was a judgment against Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of birth. Frogs were thought to be sacred and not to be killed. God had the frogs invade every part of the homes of the Egyptians, and when the frogs died, their stinking bodies were heaped up in offensive piles all through the land (Exodus 8:13–14).

The third plague, gnats, was a judgment on Set, the god of the desert. Unlike the previous plagues, the magicians were unable to duplicate this one and declared to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).

The fourth plague, flies, was a judgment on Uatchit, the fly god. In this plague, God clearly distinguished between the Israelites and the Egyptians, as no swarms of flies bothered the areas where the Israelites lived (Exodus 8:21–24).

The fifth plague, the death of livestock, was a judgment on the goddess Hathor and the god Apis, who were both depicted as cattle. As with the previous plague, God protected His people from the plague, while the cattle of the Egyptians died. God was steadily destroying the economy of Egypt, while showing His ability to protect and provide for those who obeyed Him. Pharaoh even sent investigators (Exodus 9:7) to find out if the Israelites were suffering along with the Egyptians, but the result was a hardening of his heart against the Israelites.

The sixth plague, boils, was a judgment against several gods over health and disease (Sekhmet, Sunu, and Isis). This time, the Bible says that the magicians “could not stand before Moses because of the boils.” Clearly, these religious leaders were powerless against the God of Israel.

Before God sent the last three plagues, Pharaoh was given a special message from God. These plagues would be more severe than the others, and they were designed to convince Pharaoh and all the people “that there is none like me in all the earth” (Exodus 9:14). Pharaoh was even told that he was placed in his position by God, so that God could show His power and declare His name through all the earth (Exodus 9:16). As an example of His grace, God warned Pharaoh to gather whatever cattle and crops remained from the previous plagues and shelter them from the coming storm. Some of Pharaoh’s servants heeded the warning (Exodus 9:20), while others did not. The seventh plague, hail, attacked Nut, the sky goddess; Osiris, the crop fertility god; and Set, the storm god. This hail was unlike any that had been seen before. It was accompanied by a fire which ran along the ground, and everything left out in the open was devastated by the hail and fire. Again, the children of Israel were miraculously protected, and no hail damaged anything in their lands.

Before God brought the next plague, He told Moses that the Israelites would be able to tell their children of the things they had seen God do in Egypt and how it showed them God’s power. The eighth plague, locusts, again focused on Nut, Osiris, and Set. The later crops, wheat and rye, which had survived the hail, were now devoured by the swarms of locusts. There would be no harvest in Egypt that year.

The ninth plague, darkness, was aimed at the sun god, Re, who was symbolized by Pharaoh himself. For three days, the land of Egypt was smothered with an unearthly darkness, but the homes of the Israelites had light.

The tenth and last plague, the death of the firstborn males, was a judgment on Isis, the protector of children. In this plague, God was teaching the Israelites a deep spiritual lesson that pointed to Christ. Unlike the other plagues, which the Israelites survived by virtue of their identity as God’s people, this plague required an act of faith by them. God commanded each family to take an unblemished male lamb and kill it. The blood of the lamb was to be smeared on the top and sides of their doorways, and the lamb was to be roasted and eaten that night. Any family that did not follow God’s instructions would suffer in the last plague. God described how He would send the death angel through the land of Egypt, with orders to slay the firstborn male in every household, whether human or animal. The only protection was the blood of the lamb on the door. When the angel saw the blood, he would pass over that house and leave it untouched (Exodus 12:23). This is where the term Passover comes from. Passover is a memorial of that night in ancient Egypt when God delivered His people from bondage. First Corinthians 5:7 teaches that Jesus became our Passover when He died to deliver us from the bondage of sin. While the Israelites found God’s protection in their homes, every other home in the land of Egypt experienced God’s wrath as their loved ones died. This grievous event caused Pharaoh to finally release the Israelites.”

To call the 10th plague a showstopper would be the understatement of millennia. YHWH established, once and for all, that He alone has power to make alive and power to kill. He showed, also, that He has total control of all of nature. Everything bows to Him and one day, the whole of the created order will bow to his Son, Jesus, and declare Him to be Lord to the glory and pleasure of YHWH.

Until next time, Grace to you.

God reveals His Covenant Name: I AM

God reveals His Covenant Name: I AM

 

Exodus 3:13-15Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

13 Then Moses asked God, “If 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?’ what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.[a] This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, 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 forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

Footnotes:

Exodus 3:14 Or I AM BECAUSE I AM, or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE

 

This is absolutely delicious. When asked for His Personal Name, God answers with a verb phrase. If I could geek out for a minute…

When God reveals His Name, it is in the first person singular imperfect tense, imperfect being not complete rather than deficient.

I have to wonder if Moshe (Moses), upon hearing that Name, scratched his head and something akin to, “you are Who?” I AM WHO I AM is beautifully ironic; it is, at the same time, a totally sufficient answer and an open door to discover the Lord. Later, Iesus (Jesus) would give the final exegesis of the Father in His I am statements but in the meantime, the Lord God, the First Person of the Trinity, made several revelations of Himself via compound Names throughout the TaNaKH (Old Testament). They follow:

  • Yahweh Jireh (Yireh): “The Lord will provide.” Stresses God’s provision for His people ( 22:14).
  • Yahweh Nissi:“The Lord is my Banner.” God is our rallying point and our means of victory; The Lord God, the King of Heaven is the one who fights for His people ( 17:15).
  • Yahweh Shalom:“The Lord is Peace.” The Lord is the source of our peace and rest ( 6:24).
  • Yahweh Sabbaoth:“The Lord of Hosts.” A military term; the Lord is the commander of the armies of heaven (1 Sam. 1:3; 17:45).
  • Yahweh M’Kaddesh/Yahweh Mekoddishkem: “The Lord your Sanctifier.” The Lord as our means of sanctification or as the one who sets believers apart for His purposes ( 31:13).
  • Yahweh Ro’i: “The Lord my Shepherd.” The Lord is the Shepherd who cares for His people as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his pasture ( 23:1).
  • Yahweh Tsidkenu: “The Lord our Righteousness.” The Lord is the means of our righteousness. This righteousness is imputed to the justified believer ( 23:6 and Epistle to Romans).
  • Yahweh Shammah: “The Lord is there.” Portrays the Lord’s personal presence in the millennial kingdom ( 48:35).
  • Yahweh Elohim Israel: “The Lord, the God of Israel.” Identifies Yahweh as the God of Israel in contrast to the false gods of the nations ( 5:3; Isa. 17:6).

 

No matter how you portray it, Beloved, YHWH has always been and always will be. He will be the same eis ton aionos tou aiono (unto the age of the ages/forever and ever/eternity).

 

Let us pray:

 

YHWH our God, your Name is beyond splendid. There is nothing to equal it and no superlative adequate to describe the glory of Your Name. Teach us who You are in each Name so that they are written on our hearts then You will be our God and we will be Your people. May Your name be glorified with majesty upon majesty and every homage that can be imagined. Amen.

 

Until next time, Worship Vigorously, Serve Actively, Teach Faithfully and may mercy, grace, and peace be multiplied unto you

People You Should Know: Abraham, Isaac,  Jacob, and Joseph

People You Should Know: Abraham, Isaac,  Jacob, and Joseph

In the Old Testament, we find 4 very important people: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Here is a brief overview of what we can learn from them.

Where can I find their stories?

Abraham: Genesis 11-25

Issac: Genesis 17:15-35:29

Jacob: Genesis 25-50

Joseph: Genesis 30-50

What are they known for?

Abraham:

  • Had faith that pleased God
  • “Father” of the Jewish People
  • Well respected in the land and was known for protecting family at any cost
  • Known for Great Hospitality
  • He was a wealthy land owner with much livestock

Isaac:

  • Miracle child born to Abraham and Sara in old age
  • First descendant in fulfillment of God’s Promise to Abraham
  • Twin sons, Jacob and Esau: Isaac favored Esau and tried to move the line of God’s Promise through Esau
  • Nearly sacrificed on Mt. Moriah (Calvary in the NT) as part of a test of faith

Jacob:

  • Father of the 12 Tribes of Israel
  • Worked 14 years to marry Rachel
  • Shrewd business man

Joseph:

  • Sold into slavery by his brothers and then rose to become ruler in Egypt
  • Well known for personal integrity

Was there a major failure

  • Under pressure from foreign leaders, Abraham distorted the truth
  • Isaac played favorites between his sons and alienated his wife
  • Jacob tended to try to rely on his own resources instead of seeking help from God
  • Joseph’s youthful pride caused problems with his brothers

What lessons do they teach us

Abraham

  • God desires dependence, trust, and faith in Him
  • God chooses a people as a channel to reveal Himself

Isaac

  • God’s plans and promises are larger than specific people
  • God remains faithful even though we are faithless

Jacob

  • All human actions, good or evil, are woven into God’s plan and under his control
  • Security does not lie in our own wealth but in God

Joseph:

  • Life’s circumstances do not, per se, matter but our response to them is of great importance
  • No matter what situation we find ourselves in, God is Sovereign and in control
Wash All The Sinners Away: The Flood Judgment

Wash All The Sinners Away: The Flood Judgment

Before we begin, I want to point out that we are all familiar with the Flood Narrative and in this lesson, we are looking more at the background and cause of the Flood Judgment.

Text: Genesis 6-9

Who are the players in this story?

  • Noah, a righteous man and preacher of righteousness
  • the Lord God
  • the “Sons of God,” who these are remains a mystery to this day. Some say they were the offspring of the righteous Seth while others think these are angels and perhaps fallen angels
  • The remainder of humanity

Words you need to know

bənê hāʼĕlōhîm (בְנֵי־הָֽאֱלֹהִים) the sons of Elohim (God)

There is no real consensus as to who these are. There are two major interpretations among scholars.

  1. The Offspring of the righteous line of Seth
  2. Fallen Angels: Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Commodianus believed that the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 were fallen angels who engaged in unnatural union with human women, resulting in the begetting of the Nephilim. Modern Christians have argued against this view by reasoning on Jesus‘ comment in Matthew 22:30 that angels do not marry, although it only refers to angels in heaven. Others saw them as descendants of Seth.

Saint Augustine subscribed to this view, based on the orations of Julius Africanus in his book City of God, which refer to the “sons of God” as being descendants of Seth (or Sethites), the pure line of Adam. The “daughters of men” are viewed as the descendants of Cain (or Cainites). Variations of this view was also received by Jewish philosophers.

As David Guzik points out,

The sons of God saw the daughters of men: It is more accurate to see the sons of God as either demons (angels in rebellion against God) or uniquely demon-possessed men, and the daughters of men as human women.

i. The phrase “sons of God” clearly refers to angelic creatures when it is used the three other times in the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1, and 38:7). The translators of the Septuagint translated sons of God as “angels.” They clearly thought it referred to angelic beings, not people descended from Seth.

ii. Jude 6 tells us of the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation. Jude goes on (Jude 7) to tell us they sinned in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh. Here in Genesis 6, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, there was an unnatural sexual union.

iii. It is useless to speculate on the nature of this union. Whether it was brought about by something like demon possession, or whether angels have power permanently to assume the form of men is not revealed. But we should understand the occult is filled with sexual associations with the demonic, and there are those today who actively pursue such associations.

iv. Jude 6 also makes it clear what God did with these wicked angels. They are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness from the judgment of the great day. By not keeping their proper place, they are now kept in chains. Their sinful pursuit of freedom has put them in bondage.

v. 1 Peter 3:19-20 tells us Jesus went to these disobedient spirits in their prison and proclaimed His victory on the cross over them.

vi. An objection offered to this understanding is found in Matthew 22:30, where Jesus said angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; but Jesus never said angels were sexless, and He was also speaking about faithful angels (angels of God in heaven), not rebellious ones.

vii. From the book of 1 Enoch, which is not inspired scripture, but may still contain some accurate accounts: “And it came to pass that the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children … [They] took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments … And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants … And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.”

What happened

Approximately 1100 years (more specifically around 1056) after Adam’s ejection from the Garden, God looked and saw that man’s thoughts were continually evil and He was “sorry that He created man.” Why? What was happening on the earth that caused God to feel this way?

Looking to Matthew Henry for a moment:

The charge was exhibited and proved against them, v. 5. The evidence produced was incontestable. God saw it, and that was instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickedness that is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and, if it be not repented of, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now what did God take notice of?

1. He observed that the streams of sin that flowed along in men’s lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams: He saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with what goes before: the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown; and, then, God saw that the wickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed when the most notorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad when bad men are not only honored notwithstanding their wickedness, but honored for their wickedness, and the vilest men exalted. Wickedness is then great when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is, abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its own nature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; it was committed daringly, and with a defiance of heaven, nor was any care taken by those that had power in their hands to restrain and punish it. This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge. Those that are most conversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that which is; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in his judgment.

2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men’s hearts. Any one might see that the wickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God’s eye went further: He saw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually-a sad sight, and very offensive to God’s holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence and oppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption of nature; lust conceived them, Jam. 1:15. See Mt. 15:19.

(1.) The heart was naught; it was deceitful and desperately wicked. The principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil.

(2.) The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment or opinion, and this was bribed, and biased, and misled; sometimes it signifies the workings of the fancy, and these were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider’s web or hatching the cockatrice’s egg.

(3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs and devices were wicked. They did not do evil through mere carelessness, as those that walk at all adventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately and designedly, contriving how to do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination was so. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, and strong, and constant; and God saw it; see Ps. 14:1-3.

So, man was so corrupt, that God decided to destroy them. On a side note, here we see the Doctrine of Total Depravity  on full display in the Old Testament.

The Flood Narrative is one that we hear quite often and sometimes it is easy to be trite and to miss the cause of the Flood Judgment, that human society had become so corrupted and evil that their very existence was such an insult to a Holy God that their entire destruction was necessary.

Discussion Questions

  1. What parallels are visible between our society and the society of Noah?
  2. What does God expect from you in such a wicked world?

Final Thought

For the glory of God’s justice, and for warning to a wicked world, before the history of the ruin of the old world, we have a full account of its degeneracy, its apostasy from God and rebellion against him. The destroying of it was an act, not of an absolute sovereignty, but of necessary justice, for the maintaining of the honor of God’s government.

Covenant: What is it and Why does it matter?

Covenant: What is it and Why does it matter?

Before we begin, it is important to note that Exploring the Truth is not in agreement with all aspects of Covenant Theology. While we agree in regards to the doctrines of grace (Calvinism), we do not agree with Covenant Theology in regards to the relationship between Israel and the Church, and in regards to the end times. We are Dispensational in that we believe that there is an everlasting covenant with National Israel and that they as yet have a future redemption assured to them and a future role in Redemptive History.

What is a covenant? It is an agreement between two or more parties. In the case of the Bible there is agreement between the Godhead (Covenant of Redemption) and there is agreement between God and Man (Covenant of Works and Covenant of Grace)

Additionally, a covenant is a sovereign pronouncement of God by which He establishes a relationship of responsibility:

  • between Himself and an individual (Adam in the Edenic Covenant, Genesis 2:16.),
  • between Himself and mankind in general (in the promise of the Noahic Covenant never again to destroy all flesh with a flood, Gen. 9:9),
  • between Himself and a nation (Israel in the Mosaic Covenant, Exodus 19:3.), or
  • between Himself and a specific human family (the house of David in the promise of a kingly line in perpetuity through the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7:16).

A covenant of one category may overlap others; i.e. the Davidic Covenant, where a continuing kingly house is promised with ultimate blessing, not only to David but also to the whole world in the reign of Jesus Christ.

The covenants are normally unconditional in the sense that God obligates Himself in grace, by the unrestricted declaration, “I will,” to accomplish certain announced purposes, despite any failure on the part of the person or people with whom He covenants. The human response to the divinely announced purpose is always important, leading as it does to blessing for obedience and discipline for disobedience. But human failure is never permitted to abrogate the covenant or block its ultimate fulfillment.

The nature of God’s covenantal relationship with his creation is not considered automatic or of necessity. Rather, God “chooses” to establish the connection as a covenant, wherein the terms of the relationship are set down by God alone according to his own will.

Having created man in His image as a free creature with knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, God entered into the Covenant of Works whereby the command was “do this and live” (Romans 10:5, Galatians 3:12). When man failed, God instituted a Covenant of Grace which is the overarching covenant until Christ delivers the Kingdom up to the Father.

Let’s look a little further at the 3 Major Covenants

Covenant of Redemption

The covenant of redemption is the eternal agreement within the Godhead in which the Father appointed the Son to become incarnate, suffer, and die as a federal head of mankind to make an atonement for their sin, this is why we refer to Him as the second Adam. (During His incarnation, Jesus fulfilled the Covenant of Works perfectly and the perfect accomplishment was imputed to us.)  In return, the Father promised to raise Christ from the dead, glorify Him, and give Him a people.

Covenant of Works

The Covenant of Works was made in the Garden of Eden between God and Adam who represented all mankind as a federal head. (Romans 5:12–21) It promised life for perfect and perpetual obedience and death for disobedience. As our Federal Head, when Adam failed to fulfill this covenant, that failure was then passed to all of his posterity. To a degree, we see the covenant of works continuing to function after the fall as the moral law.

Covenant of Grace

The covenant of grace promises eternal life for all people who have faith in Christ. He also promises the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to His Elect to give them willingness and ability to believe. Christ is our substitutionary covenantal representative (Federal Head) fulfilling the covenant of works on our behalf, in both the positive requirements of righteousness and its negative penal consequences. When speaking theologically, we commonly describe this as Christ’s active and passive obedience. This is the historical expression of the eternal covenant of redemption. Throughout Reformed Theology, Genesis 3:15, with the promise of a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, is usually identified as the historical inauguration for the covenant of grace.

The covenant of grace runs through the Old and New Testaments, and is the same in substance under both the law and gospel, though there is some difference in the administration. Under the law, the sacrifices, prophesies, and other types and ordinances of the Jews foreshadowed Christ, and men were justified by their faith in him just as they would be under the gospel. These were done away with the coming of Christ, and replaced with the much simpler ordinances of Believer’s Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

There are three universal and general covenants, which are: the Adamic, the Noahic, and also the Edenic in that the whole human race is represented as present in Adam in his failure. All the other covenants are made with Israel or Israelites and apply primarily to them, although with ultimate blessing to the whole world.

There are eight major covenants of special significance in explaining the outworking of God’s purposes with man. (I would encourage you to research each of them.) They are: the Edenic (Genesis 2:16); the Adamic (Genesis 3:15); the Noahic (Genesis 9:16); the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:2); the Mosaic (Exodus 19:5); the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:3); the Davidic (2 Samuel 7:16); and the New Covenant (Heb. 8:8).

Discussion Question:

  1. In relationship to redemption, what is the significance of Jesus perfectly fulfilling the Covenant of Works?