Notes: Genesis to Deuteronomy

GENESIS 


1:1-3
‘Genesis’ means ‘beginning’. These opening verses challenge us to get our priorities right - (a) The priority of God (1). God comes first. Before anyone else is mentioned, He is there. (b) The priority of God’s Word (3). God is the first to speak. Before any human word is spoken, there is the Word of the Lord. (c) The priority of God’s Spirit (2). All was ‘empty’, all was ‘darkness’, yet the ‘Spirit of God’ was at work, and transformation was set in motion. Here, we have God’s priorities, set out in the Bible’s first three verses - Putting God first and listening to His Word, we are to pray for the moving of God’s Spirit, ‘hovering over’ our lives to transform them. For those who make God’s priorities their own, there is a promise of great blessing (Psalm 1:1-2). It is the great blessing of knowing Jesus Christ, our Saviour, as ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23).
1:4-13
God speaks, and it is done (3,6-7,11). God is pleased with what He has done (4,10,12). This is the pattern of God’s original creation. It is to be the pattern of our life as a ‘new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). God speaks to us and we say, ‘Your will be done’ (Matthew 6:10). We say, ‘let it be to me according to Your Word’ (Luke 1:38). God looks on such obedience, this ‘walking in the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16,22-23), and He sees that it is ‘good’ (Micah 6:8). In these verses we read of the separation of the light and the darkness, the separation of the waters and the dry land, and the fruitfulness of God's creation. There are lessons for us here. We are to ‘walk in the light’ (1 John 1:7). We are to let the Spirit's ‘living water’ flow in us (John 7:39-39). Walking in the light, letting the living water flow - this is the way of fruitfulness.
1:14-25
The Bible’s opening chapter is a great hymn of praise, emphasizing that all things have been created for the glory of God (Revelation 4:11). Nothing can be permitted to distract our attention from the Lord. He alone is worthy of worship. The creation of the ‘lights’ makes no reference to the sun and the moon. These were worshipped by neighbouring peoples. They are not gods. They are simply ‘lights’. Our worship is to be given to God alone. The waters teemed with living creatures. The land produced living creatures. Here, we have a picture of life. There is life where the living water of the Spirit is flowing freely among God’s people (Ezekiel 47:5-9). This water brings life to the land (Ezekiel 47:12). Moving with the flow of God’s Spirit, we are to pray that ‘the water of life’ will flow freely ‘for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2).
1:26-2:3
We now come to the creation of humanity, male and female. Our creation is described in a distinctive way - created in the image of God (26-27). We are different from the rest of creation. We have been given dominion over ‘all the earth’ and ‘every living creature’ (26,28). We are different from God. He is the Creator. We are His creation. Created in God’s image, we have been created by Him and for Him. Though we have sinned (Genesis 3, Romans 3:23), now - in Jesus Christ - we have begun to live as a new creation (Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9-10). The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is God (John 1:1) and that ‘all things were created by Him and for Him’ (Colossians 1:16). This is the Saviour who is at work in us, enabling us to live as a new creation! Creation has been ‘completed’ (2:1). Salvation will be completed (Philippians 1:6)!
2:4-14
We read of ‘the breath of life’, producing ‘a living being’ (7). Separated from God through our sin, we have become spiritually dead (Ephesians 4:18; 2:1). Through the Spirit, we have been ‘born again’. This new birth is brought about by the breath of life, the wind of the Spirit (John 3:5-8). As the river watered the garden (10), so our lives are to be watered by ‘the river’ which flows ‘from the throne of God and of the Lamb’ (Revelation 22:1). As we read of the ‘tree’ which features in our fall into sin (9; 3:2-6), our thoughts turn also to the ‘tree’ which forms the foundation of our salvation - Christ ‘Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness’ (1 Peter 2:24). In our hearts, we say, ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
2:15-17
We noted, in 1:1-3, the importance of getting our priorities right - God, God’s Word, God’s Spirit. Here, we emphasize the importance of these priorities. We are under God. We must remember that He is God (15). We are to obey God’s Word (16-17). Here, we learn that the act of obedience is an act of freedom. In Christ, we are set free to obey God. God says, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden’. He does not then say, ‘You are free to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. He says, ‘You must not’. The act of disobedience is not an act of freedom. By choosing the way of sin, we show that we are in bondage. We are not free. We are the captives of sin, and we need to be set free - by Christ (John 8:32,36). We come to know God, choosing good rather than evil, as we follow the way of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:16; Hebrews 5:14).
2:18-25
We come here to the creation of woman. Her creation is bound up with the creation of man. She is created from man’s ‘rib’ (21-22). The ‘rib’ is taken from his side, emphasizing that man and woman are to be together, side-by-side, not one in front of the other. The ‘rib’, rather than the head or the feet, emphasizes this togetherness rather than any superiority-inferiority relationship. The ‘rib’ is close to the heart. Woman is close to the heart of man. Both are close to the heart of God. The contrast between humanity and the animals is again clear. Among the animals, there was ‘no suitable helper’ for the man (20). The animals had been ‘formed out of the ground’ (19). Humanity has come from ‘the breath of life’ (7). Like the animals, we come from ‘the dust of the ground’, but there is more: the Breath of God, created in His image to glorify Him!
3:1-5
We have read about the beginning of creation (1:1). Now we come to the beginning of sin. In these verses, we have temptation. Note that temptation is not sin. It only becomes sin when we do what the tempter suggests (6). Temptation comes from ‘that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan’ (Revelation 12:9). Satan reverses the priorities of God, God’s Word and God’s Spirit. God is ‘our Father’ (Matthew 6:9). Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Satan quotes and questions God’s Word (1). He not only questions God’s Word . He contradicts it (4). Satan is spiritual, an evil spirit. We must be aware of his schemes, and , in Christ, we must take our stand against his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11). When Satan says, ‘Did God really say?’ (1), we must wage war for God, filled with His Word and Spirit (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
3:6-9
Once we were innocent. Now we are guilty. The story of Adam and Eve is repeated over and over again. This is our story as well as Adam and Eve’s story. Even in the face of sin, we see something else. We see the God of love, seeking to restore the fallen to Himself. In His words, ‘Where are you?’, we catch an early glimpse of the Gospel of salvation: ‘the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost’ (Luke 19:10). Adam and Eve had lost their way. Now, God was looking for them to bring them back to Himself. In the question, ‘Where are you?’, there is the searching question, ‘What have you done?’, but there is also the passionate appeal, ‘Will you not return to me?’. This is the call of mercy: ‘Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling, Calling, “O sinner, come home”’ (Sacred Songs & Solos, 414). Our loving Father is waiting patiently to welcome the returning prodigal (Luke 15:20).
3:10-15
Having chosen the way of sin, we are ‘naked’ and ashamed (10). The Gospel teaches us that ‘there’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin’. We can be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. We can bring the ‘filthy rags’ of ‘our righteous acts’ (Isaiah 64:6) to God, and we can exchange them for the perfect righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Putting our trust in Christ, we need not be ashamed in God’s presence (Romans 10:11). There must be no ‘passing the buck’ - the man blaming the woman, the woman blaming the serpent (12-13). We are to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9). This forgiveness comes to us through the Cross where the suffering Saviour becomes the victorious Victor and the subtle serpent became the defeated devil. This is the message of verse 15: through the Cross, God has provided for us a full salvation!
3:16-24
Sin has consequences. Human life could never be the same once sin had entered it. The effects of sin can be seen in the whole of life. The most profound effect of sin is summed up in verse 22. We cannot reach out our hands and take hold of eternal life. There is no way to heaven which begins with the word ‘I’. We must begin with God - ‘God so loved the world...’ (John 3:16). No sinner can open the door of heaven: ‘Christ only could unlock the gate of heaven, and let us in’. Sin leads not to heaven but to ‘death’. If we insist on trying to get to heaven by our own good works, we will earn our ‘wages’ - ‘the wages of sin is death’. Come as a sinner to Jesus. Come to Him, saying, ‘Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy Cross I cling’ ( Church Hymnary, 83). Look to Him alone for salvation, and know the truth of God's Word: ‘the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 6:23).
4:1-5
The name of Abel appears among ‘the heroes of the faith’ (Hebrews 11:14). The story of Abel is a story of grace, faith and obedience. Abel's sacrifice was a blood sacrifice while Cain’s was a fruit sacrifice (3-4). The blood sacrifice points forward - via the Old Testament sacrificial system - to the greatest sacrifice of all - ‘the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:12). The blood sacrifice points to salvation by grace - ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Hebrews 9:22). Abel’s sacrifice was an act of faith: ‘By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain did’ (Hebrews 11:4). The blood reminds us that true faith is always faith in Christ and never ‘faith’ in anything we can ever offer to God. Abel was obedient, bringing ‘the firstborn’ to God. ‘In the course of time Cain brought some...’.
4:6-16
In the story of Cain, we see the development of sin. Jealousy leads to anger, and anger leads to murder. In this story, we see ourselves in the ‘mirror’ of God’s Word. Here, God emphasizes our exceeding sinfulness - ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt’ (Jeremiah 17:9). Our sinfulness leads us away from ‘the presence of the Lord’ to ‘the land of wandering (Nod)’ (16). This is the work of Satan in our lives - Genesis 4 is an extension of Genesis 3. Even in the land of wandering, the hand of God is upon us. This is the meaning of ‘the mark of Cain’ - ‘so that no one who found him would kill him’ (15). Even in our wanderings, God is waiting in mercy for us to make our way back to Him by coming in faith to Jesus Christ our Saviour. Even when ‘sin’ is a good bit more than ‘crouching at the door’, it can be ‘mastered’ through Christ (6; Hebrews 7:25).
4:17-26
The story of Cain and Abel is a continuing story. Abel died, yet ‘by faith still speaks, even though he is dead’ (Hebrews 11:4). Cain ‘went out from the presence of the Lord’. He became ‘a restless wanderer’ (14,16). What a contrast there is between these two brothers! For Abel, there was glory in the presence of the Lord - ‘By faith he was commended as a righteous man’ (Hebrews 11:4), he was ‘justified by faith’ (Romans 5:1). Cain was quite different. Far from God, he had no peace. He was haunted by his sins. What does God’s Word say to us about Cain? - ‘Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother... because his own actions were evil and his brothers were righteous’ (1 John 3:12). Cain’s sinful influence continues. We must be on our guard. The chapter ends with hope: ‘At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord’ (26).
5:1-17
From the story of Cain - taking God for granted (the opposite of grace), approaching God proudly (the opposite of faith), rebelling against God (the opposite of obedience) - , we come to a list of names and numbers. In this first part of the chapter, there is nothing of any note. Perhaps, this is the significant feature of this long list of names. There is nothing considered to be worthy of special note, except the length of their lives. What a sad reflection on the value of a life when all that can be said is this: He lived, and he died! What we must remember is this: the quantity of our years is less important than the quality of our living. How long we live is less important than how well we live. We have been ‘created...in the likeness of God’ (1), yet so often we miss out on this spiritual dimension. We have been ‘blessed’ by God (2) - ‘Count your blessings’.
5:18-32
In this second part of the list, two names get a special mention - Enoch and Noah (22,24,29). The reference to Enoch is the more memorable of the two. Enoch's life was characterized by grace, faith and obedience. The life-story of so many others could be told without reference to God. Enoch's story was the story of God at work in his life. So many life-stories end with the words, ‘he died’. Enoch's life on earth points beyond itself (24). Enoch had ‘walked with God’ (22, 24 ). Building his life upon the God of grace, Enoch had, by faith, stepped out of this present world and into ‘what we hope for’, ‘what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11:5,1). What a testimony Enoch left behind him! Not much is said about him, but what power of the Spirit of God there is in these few words! The reference to ‘the Lord’ in Noah's life (29) prepares us for what is to come (chs. 6-9).
6:1-8
The story of Noah is the story of God’s grace - ‘Noah found grace’ (8). Noah lived in very difficult times (5-7), yet ‘Grace found Noah’. His testimony could be summed up: ‘Amazing grace...I once was lost but now am found’ (Mission Praise, 31). Expanding on the thought of 5:29 - ‘this one (Noah) shall bring relief from our work and from the toil of our hands’ - we may allow our thoughts to turn to Christ and say to Him: ‘Not the labour of my hands can fulfil Thy law's demands...All for sin could not atone, Thou must save, and Thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to Thy Cross I cling' (Church Hymnary, 83). In these two statements - ‘Noah found grace’ and ‘this one will bring...’, we see both salvation and service. We are saved to serve. Once we ourselves have been found by grace, we are to seek to bring others to Christ that they also may be saved by Him and become His servants.
6:9-22
To view the flood exclusively in terms of judgment is to see only one side of what God was doing. As well as judging, He was also saving - ‘In this ship a few people - eight in all - were saved by water’ (1 Peter 3:20). The ark points forward to Christ ‘who came back from death to life’, Christ who ‘saves’ us (1 Peter 3:21). God was working out His purpose of salvation. In Noah’s day, the remnant of faith was very small, yet the promise of God's love was given to them - ‘I will establish My covenant with you’ (18). Even when wickedness threatens to overwhelm us, we still have God’s promise of love, ‘the new covenant in Christ’s blood’ (1 Corinthians 11:25). ‘The blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin’ (1 John 1:7). Knowing that Christ loved us and died for us, we are to be like Noah (22). We are to walk with the Lord and serve Him.
7:1-24
Here, we pick up on the words of verse 16 - ‘the Lord closed the door behind them’. What was going on outside of the ark is contrasted with the haven of salvation inside the ark. What was it that made the ark a place of salvation? - The Lord. What is it that makes Jesus Christ the Source of our salvation? - God has given Him the Name that is above every name, the Name of our salvation (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 4:12). From the ark, we learn of (a) the one way of salvation - The ark had only one door. Jesus is ‘the Door’ which leads to salvation (John 10:9); (b) the eternal security of salvation - All were safe inside the ark. In Christ there is eternal security (John 10:28); (c) the absolute necessity of salvation - Outside of the ark, there was certain death. Refusal to come to Christ for salvation leads to judgment: ‘How shall we escape...?’ (Hebrews 2:3).
8:1-22
Following the flood, we have this simple yet striking declaration: ‘the ground was dry’ (13). Safe from judgment! This is the message which comes to us from the Cross: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). The judgment has fallen upon Christ. We are no longer swept away in the judgment. We can stand on solid ground: ‘On Christ the solid Rock I stand’ (Church Hymnary, 411). He is our Support in ‘the whelming flood’. God said to Noah, ‘Come out of the ship’ (15). We are in Christ. He is the Source of our salvation. God has brought us into Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). He does not bring us into Christ solely for our own benefit. We are sent out to be fruitful (17; John 15:16). We are to ‘abide in Christ’. This is the way of fruitfulness (John 15:4-5). We are not sent out alone. Strengthened in ‘the ship’ (in Christ), we step out with Christ and for Him.
9:1-19
‘When you see a rainbow, remember God is love’. The rainbow reminds us of the gracious promise of God (13-15). If the love of God is revealed in the rainbow, it is more fully revealed in the Cross: ‘We sing the praise of Him who died, of Him who died upon the Cross... upon the Cross we see in shining letters. ‘God is love’, He bears our sins upon the tree. He brings us mercy from above’. When we read the Old Testament stories, we must learn to see their place within the fuller Story, the Story of God’s salvation: ‘I will sing the wondrous Story of the Christ who died for me’. This is the greatest Story of all - ‘the Story of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love,... the Story of wonderful redemption, God’s remedy for sin’. ‘This is our Story. This is our Song, praising our Saviour all the day long’. This is ‘the Story to tell to the nations’ (Church Hymnary, 258,381,132; Mission Praise, 59,744).
9:20-29
What a sad episode this is! It teaches us that yesterday's victories can become today's defeats, if we do not keep close to God. We read, in Hebrews 11:7 of Noah the man of faith, but here we have a very different picture. The lesson is clear - ‘The arm of flesh will fail you; Ye dare not trust your own’. We must not look to our own strength to keep us in the way of faith and obedience. It cannot be done. We fail. ‘God can do anything but fail’. We must affirm our faith in God - ‘All my hope on God is founded’. In man, there is no sure foundation - only ‘change and chance’. There is nothing that will last - ‘only pride of man and earthly glory’ (Church Hymnary, 481,405). Can we be guided through change and chance? Yes, but we must learn from Noah’s fall - Past grace is no guarantee of present growth - , and we must keep our eyes on Jesus, ‘the Author and Finisher of our faith' (Hebrews 12: 2).
10:1-32
What a lot of names! Why is all this included in God’s Word? It may describe the historical context of God’s unfolding purpose of providing salvation for sinners, but what does it say to us? The inclusion of so many obscure names emphasizes that everyone - however obscure - is important. ‘God so loved the world’ (John 3:16) - not only the ‘important’ people but all people. Names are important to God. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls His sheep ‘by name’ (John 10:3). Among the many names there is an interesting reference to ‘Nimrod, the first mighty warrior on the earth...a mighty hunter whom the Lord blessed’ (8-9). First among ‘the cities of his kingdom’ was ‘Babylon’ (10). Alarm bells ring! - Babylon's rebellion! The privilege of God’s blessing brings the responsibility of maintaining His blessing. We must be ‘mighty warriors’ for God (2 Corinthians 10:4; Ephesians 6:10-20).
11:1-9
Human pride sets itself up against the authority of God. This is the oft-repeated story of the ‘Tower of Babel’. The end of godless men is sure - ‘Tower and temple, fall to dust’ (Church Hymnary, 405). Sin can be analyzed psychologically in terms of the human attitude of proud independence - ‘let us make a name for ourselves’ (5), sociologically in terms of sin’s pervasive influence on a whole society (this was the sin of a whole society), and theologically in terms of the divine judgment which human sin brings upon itself (5-9). What a contrast there is between the Tower of Babel and the great declaration of Proverbs 18:10 - ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower’. In Babel there is scattering (9). In the Lord, there is safety - ‘A righteous man runs to it and is safe’. Do not imagine yourself to be strong (Proverbs 18:11). True strength is in Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:27).
11:10-32
Another list of names! Again, there is something here for us - God is moving on. These many names summarize the times between Noah and Abraham. We must look beyond this list of names. We must see them in connection with His Story. History can be tedious, until we see it as His Story. From the human standpoint, things seem to have come to a dead end: ‘Now Sarai was barren; she had no child’ (30). There are, however, no dead ends when God is at work. From verse 30, we move on to 12:1-3. We read on though the story of Abraham. We learn of the faith of Sarah and the faithfulness of God (Hebrews 11:11-12). We follow the Story on to Christ, who is the fulfilment of the promise given to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Galatians 3:16). This is the Story of ‘the God of Abraham’, the ‘God of love’. Through Christ our Saviour, we will ‘sing the wonders of His grace for ever more’ (Church Hymnary, 358).
12:1-20
This is a divine Story, carried forward by God’s grace and power. God’s very great promises (1-3) find their ultimate fulfilment in the coming of God’s eternal Kingdom (Revelation 21:10). We have not reached our heavenly destination. We are still caught in the tension between obedience (4) and disobedience (11-13). We are conscious of our human failure, yet we rejoice in the divine faithfulness. We read of Abraham’s sin (10-20), yet we look beyond this to God's salvation. This is not simply the story of Abraham. It is the Story of Abraham's God. This becomes clear in the change of name. Abram (‘exalted father’) draws attention to the man. Abraham (‘Father of Many’) points to God’s purpose (17:5). Like Abraham, we are to worship God (7-8). We are to say, ‘He is exalted’. We are to say, ‘Christ must increase, and I must decrease’ (John 3:30).
13:1-18
Life is full of choices. Lot made a selfish choice (10-12). He allied himself with ‘the men of Sodom (who) were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord’ (13). Abraham made a godly choice, and he was blessed by the Lord (14-17). The lesson of Abraham’s choice is the lesson of Matthew 6:33 - Seek God’s glory and find His blessing. We read later of Lot’s restoration (19:29). This is ‘amazing grace’! How much better it would have been if Lot had chosen the Lord’s way in the first place! The choices we make reveal the people that we are. The worldly man, Lot, thought only of himself. The spiritual man, Abraham, concerned himself with doing the Lord’s will. The worldly man takes for himself (11). The spiritual man receives from the Lord (15). Our sin comes from ourselves. Our salvation comes from the Lord. Confess your sin. Receive God’s forgiveness.
14:1-24
Following an account of military conflict, we come to a passage that is full of Christ (18-20). In Melchisedek, we see Jesus. In Hebrews 7:3, we learn that Melchisedek resembles the Son of God. We read on, in verse 4, ‘See how great he is’, and, in our hearts we say, ‘How great is our Lord Jesus Christ’. Melchisedek is ‘the King of Salem (peace)’ (18), pointing to Christ through whom we have ‘peace with God’ (Romans 5:1). Melchisedek brings ‘bread and wine’ (18), pointing to Christ whose body was broken for us and whose blood was shed for us (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Melchisedek spoke of the divine deliverance from enemies (20), pointing to Christ's victory over Satan (Colossians 2:15). In this episode we see the origins of tithing. It is not a legalistic practice. God had been good to Abraham. In grateful worship, Abraham responded, giving the tenth to Him (20).
15:1-21
God is greater than our circumstances. God had given great promises to Abraham, yet there appeared no sign that His promises were being fulfilled. The circumstances seemed bleak, and Abraham felt despondent. Abraham was full of questions. In verse 2, he asks, ‘What can you give me...?’. This is the question of salvation. What does God give? He gives salvation. In verse 8, he asks, ‘How can I know...?’. This is the question of assurance. We ask for assurance. God gives it - the assurance of salvation, the assurance that salvation has been given and received. Where are we to look for answers to these questions? Are we to look to our circumstances? Are we to look to our feelings? No. We look to the ‘Almighty God’ (2,8). Trusting in Christ, the ‘Passover Lamb...sacrificed for us’, we receive a sure salvation (6:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7; John 20:31; 1 John 5:13).
16:1-16
From salvation and the assurance of salvation, we turn to Satan and the activity of Satan. Sarai came with temptation (1). Abraham yielded to temptation (2). Temptation becomes sin when we yield to it. In Abraham, we see the conflict between ‘the old man’ that he was and ‘the new man’ God was calling him to become (17:5; Galatians 5:17). He chose the way of unbelief. Listening to the voice of Satan, speaking through Sarai, he walked straight into immorality. Unbelief and immorality belong together (Romans 1:18). We must guard our hearts with respect to both what we believe and how we behave. We must not imagine that Satan will win the victory over the Lord and His purpose of salvation. Satan will try to overcome God's gracious purpose, but he will not succeed (Revelation 20:10). ‘Hallelujah!... the Lord our God the Almighty reigns’ (Revelation 19:6).
17:1-27
Amazing grace - this is the marvellous theme of this chapter. Abram became Abraham (5). Sarai became Sarah (15-16). What they were belonged to their sinful past. What they became was the work of God's grace. What a contrast there is between human sin and divine grace. We look at ourselves. We see sin, and we lose hope. We look at the God of grace, and we say, ‘Sin shall not have dominion. Grace is victorious’ (Romans 6:14). Abram and Sarai appeared to be hopeless cases. They had failed the Lord, but He did not fail them. He made them new people. They became the father and mother of nations. To those who do not deserve His love, God still renews His ‘covenant’, His promise of love (2). He still says, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). In the Cross of Christ, we have the greatest ‘sign of the covenant’ (11; Romans 5:8).
18:1-15
Is anything too hard for the Lord? (14). We need to hear these words as God’s call to greater faith. Sarah, like Abraham, had heard God’s promises, yet ‘she laughed to herself’ (12). We can hear God’s Word, and still remain, in our hearts, men and women of unbelief. The Word of God does not benefit us when we do not receive it with faith (Hebrews 4:2). God knows what is in our hearts, just as He knew what was in Sarah’s heart (13-15). He knows the human heart, ‘deceitful above all things’ (Jeremiah 17:9), yet He continues to love us. He does not give up on us. He perseveres with us. He could have given up on Sarah as a hopeless waste of His time, but He did not. ‘The evil heart of unbelief’ is always with us, but God is constantly at work to create in us ‘a clean heart’ ( Hebrews 3:12: Psalm 51:10). 'Soften my heart, Lord’ (Mission Praise, 606).
18:16-33
In the face of the threatened judgment of God upon Sodom and Gomorrah, we find Abraham engaging in mighty intercessory prayer. He is not concerned only about himself and his own salvation. He is prayerfully committed to seeking the salvation of others. This is a mark of spiritual maturity - a deep concern for the salvation of sinners, leading to earnest intercessory prayer for them. Abraham drew near to God (23; James 4:8). He pleaded with the God of grace to have mercy on the city (23-25; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 1:15; John 3:17). With a deep love for the people, Abraham prays with boldness and persistence (27,32; Hebrews 4:16). A great many people refused to honour God, yet His purpose was not hindered. The remnant seemed impossibly small. It was the beginning of blessing for all nations. ‘To God be the glory, Great things He has done’ (Church Hymnary, 374).
19:1-29
In Genesis 3, we read of humanity’s fall into sin. Here, we see the awfulness of human sin and the awesomeness of divine judgment. We must take God with the utmost seriousness. If we refuse to take Him seriously, He will continue to take us seriously - in His judgment! Sin leads to judgment - that’s the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is sadness in the story of Lot. A compromised believer for whom the world had no respect, he chose Sodom. This choice brought him nothing but sin and shame - ‘and now he wants to play the judge!’ (9). The amazing thing is that God did not give up on this ‘backslider’ - ‘the Lord was merciful to them... He brought Lot out of the catastrophe’ (16,29). What a great thing it is to have God’s salvation: ‘everything we need for life and godliness’ to ‘escape the corruption in the world’ (2 Peter 1:3-5).
19:30-20:18
These are stories of deception and deceit. Lot is deceived by his daughters (30-38). Abraham deceives Abimelech (1-18). Even with the divine provision for godliness, we need to be constantly on our guard. Even those to whom we had looked for help can turn out to be a hindrance. Lot was drawn into incest. This had drastic effects - ‘the father of the Moabites, the father of the Ammonites’ (37-38)! Devotion to the Lord needs to be renewed day-by-day. Otherwise, we will be vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy and overcome by him. Abraham concealed the whole truth by telling a half-truth (12). Abraham was regarded as ‘a prophet’ (7). He ought to have lived the life of a prophet, a true life. We are to be true - the people of God.
21:1-21
We have here the contrast between Isaac, the child of promise, and Ishmael, the fruit of unbelief. Ishmael was born as a result of impatience, the failure to wait upon the Lord. In the birth of Isaac, the initiative belonged with God, and the glory belonged to Him. In Christ, we are the children of promise - ‘children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God’ (John 1:13). God did not forget Ishmael. There were blessings for him (17-21). The difference between Ishmael and Isaac is the difference between common grace and saving grace. Many people know much of the grace of God in ‘the common things of life’ (Church Hymnary, 457). There are so many blessings for them to count. Still they fail to appreciate God’s greatest gift - His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thank God for this and that and... Jesus!
21:22-22:14
Here, we see Abraham in his relationship with the world (22-34) and his relationship with the Lord (1-14). Abraham deals honestly and wisely with the pagan king, Abimelech, who acknowledges Abraham's closeness to God - ‘God is with you in all that you do’ (22). We are to be honest and wise in our relationship with the world (Romans 12:17; Colossians 4:5; Ephesians 5:15; 1 Peter 2:12). Our relationship with the world is to be grounded in our relationship with God. In the testing of Abraham, we catch a glimpse of ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Christ is the Lamb whom God will provide (8). In verse 14, we read, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided’. On Calvary’s hill, Christ died to bring us to God, so that we might learn to live for Him in this world (1 Peter 3:18; 2:24).
22:15-23:20
After the renewal of God’s promise (15-18), Abraham went to Beersheba (19). He returned to the place where he had ‘called...on the Name of the Lord, the Everlasting God’ (33). This is a good ‘place’ to be, the ‘place’ of calling on the Name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. As we read of the death and burial of Sarah, we must remember this: the Lord is the Everlasting God. The death of Sarah took place in God's time. Her death signified that her work had been done. She had mothered the child of promise. Beyond the death of Sarah, there was the continuing purpose of God. The cave at Machpelah (23:19-20) became the burial place for Sarah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Leah. We see the continuity of history, and we thank God for His continuing faithfulness down through the generations.
24:1-21
The servant was sent on a mission. He was ‘to get a wife for... Isaac’ (4). When Christ entered Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11), He was on a mission. He had come for His Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 21:2-3). The servant was not to ‘get a wife... from... the Canaanites’ (3). The Church is to be made ‘holy,... a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless’ (Ephesians 5:26-27). The servant carried out his mission carefully and prayerfully (12-14). Jesus was careful to fulfil the words of the prophet - entering Jerusalem 'on a donkey' (Matthew 21:2-7). In His journey to the Cross, Jesus was concerned with this one thing - ‘to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work’ (John 4:34). The servant prayed, and the answer was given (15-16). Not my will but Thine, Lord!
24:22-49
The detailed account of Isaac's marriage highlights the guidance of God. He directs the life of His people. This is our testimony - ‘the Lord... has led me on the right road’ (48). The great lessons of this story are stated in verse 27 - (a) the ‘steadfast love’ of the Lord; (b) the ‘faithfulness’ of God; (c) the guidance of God - ‘the Lord has led me’; (d) worshipping the Lord - ‘Blessed be the Lord...’. We are to seek God’s guidance, rejoicing in His love and trusting in His faithfulness. Looking to Christ, who went to the Cross for us, we are to say, with Him, ‘I have come to do Thy will, O God’, ‘I will praise Thee’, ‘I will put my trust in Him’, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given Me’ (Hebrews 10:7; 2:12-13). To those who do His will, praising Him and trusting Him, God will give much blessing - ‘an overflowing blessing’ (Malachi 3:10).
24:50-67
In verse 60, we read of the blessing of God upon Rebekah - ‘Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the gates of their enemies’. This refers to the long-term fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. Through the death of Christ, the Lamb of God, ‘a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation,’ will sing the song of salvation, ‘Salvation belongs to our God ...and to the Lamb’ (Revelation 7: 9-10). This is what we must pray for in our own community. In homes where Christ has not been honoured, there will be transformation. The Lord’s messengers will be received - ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ - and the Lord’s Name will be praised - ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ (Matthew 21:9). Such blessing will be given to those who spend time with God (63; Joshua 1:8).
25:1-18
What will we leave behind us? What will we pass on to the next generation? In this passage of many names, there is a challenging contrast between the influence of Abraham and Ishmael on the next generation. In verse 11, we read, ‘After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac’. In verse 18, we find that ‘Ishmael’s descendants lived in hostility toward all their brothers’. In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, there is a great prophecy concerning the death of Christ. We read of His suffering, as He becomes ‘an offering for sin’. We learn also of His glorious future - ‘He will see His offspring and prolong His days’ (53:10). Unlike Abraham (175 years) and Ishmael (137 years), Jesus did not live a long life on earth (33 years), yet ‘He shall see the fruit of the travail of His soul and be satisfied’ - ‘many’ will be ‘accounted righteous’ (11).
25:19-34
Esau was a fool. He chose his own way rather than the Lord’s way. Jacob was a ‘heel’! ‘Born with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel..., he was named Jacob (Heel)’ (26). A crafty twister, a manipulating cheat, there was nothing about him that merited God’s blessing. He was not superior to Esau. Like Esau, Jacob was a sinner. Esau was not inferior to Jacob. Both were guilty before God. Why, then - in God’s purpose - does ‘the elder’ (Esau) ‘serve the younger’ (Jacob) (23)? The answer is grace, the ‘amazing grace’ of God. Grace lifted Jacob. The glory belongs to God. Grace could have lifted Esau. By grace Jacob valued the birthright (God’s blessing). His way of seeking God’s blessing was devious. Nevertheless, he was seeking for God - and God, in His grace, found him and made him a new man (32:28). ‘Wonderful grace of Jesus, Greater than all my sin!’
26:1-35
‘History repeats itself’. Sin has a ‘like father, like son’ quality about it - Isaac is like Abraham (7; 12:13, 20:2, 12-13), Jacob is like Isaac (7; 25:31,27:19). Grace repeats itself. God is faithful. He gives forgiveness and victory over temptation (1 John 1:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13). He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Deceived by ‘the father of lies’ (the devil), ‘man’ denies the truth (John 8:44). ‘Let God be true, and every man a liar’ (Romans 3:4). In verses 19-22, there’s ‘the story of the three wells’ - ‘Dispute’, ‘Opposition’, ‘Room’. Things went from bad to worse, then there was progress. There is room for both, when there is no more quarrelling. Isaac worshipped God, and was recognised as God’s man (25,28). We are to be recognised as God’s people, but remember - verse 34 - even the Lord’s people can make mistakes!
27:1-40
The deception of Isaac by Jacob (prompted by Rebekah) is a sad episode, yet God - in grace - really bestows His blessing on Jacob. Beneath Jacob’s deceit, there was a real desire to be blessed by God. To Esau (the late arrival), Isaac says, ‘I have blessed him - yes, and he shall be blessed. I blessed him, and blessed he will remain’ (33). Once the blessing had been given, it could not be recalled. The blessing could not be undone. Power bestowed by God could not be removed. This had nothing to do with ‘Jacob’s righteousness’. It had everything to do with God’s faithfulness. The good work begun by God, will be completed by Him (Philippians 1:6). This was true for Jacob (28:15). It is true for us - ‘All the promises of God find their Yes in Christ’. To this, we say ‘Amen’ and ‘To God be the Glory’ (2 Corinthians 1:20)!
27:41-28:9
What a tangled web! Jacob has cheated Esau. Now, Esau is saying, ‘I will kill my brother Jacob’ (41). What are we to make of all this? We must look beyond the human scene. Behind it all, there is ‘God Almighty’ (3). God will fulfil His promises. Nothing will distract Him from His ultimate purpose of salvation. We look at the complex series of events involving Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob and Esau. God looks beyond all of that to Jesus Christ. He looks beyond the nation of Israel. His purpose concerns ‘the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). ‘The blessing of Abraham’ refers not only to the ‘land’ (4). There is also ‘the promise of the Spirit’ (Galatians 3:14). We are to live ‘by the power of the Spirit’, and not ‘according to the flesh’ as Esau did when ‘he went to Ishmael (the child of Abraham's unbelief...)’ (9; Galatians 4:29).
28:10-22
Just another night (11)? No! - this was a night to remember, a night Jacob would never forget. God came to him with His wonderful promise of love: ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you’ (15). At Bethel (‘the house of God’), powerfully transformed by the presence of God - ‘Surely the Lord is in this place’ (16) - , Jacob consecrated himself to the Lord. ‘If’ (20) means ‘Since’. See Romans 8:31 - ‘If (Since) God is for us, who can be against us?’. Giving the tenth (22) - this is not legalism, a kind of repayment scheme. There can be no ‘salvation by works’. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our giving must always be a heartfelt expression of thanksgiving to the God of grace: ‘Loving Him who first loved me’. We are saved ‘to do good works’ (Ephesians 2:10) - not because we do good works!
29:1-30
The tables are turned on Jacob. The trickster is tricked! The ‘trick’ was according to the ‘custom’ that the elder daughter should be given in marriage before the younger one (23,25-26). Seven years became fourteen years (18-20,27,30). Jacob did receive his heart’s desire, but there was a lesson to be learned: Going God’s way is better than getting your own way. ‘All things work together for good to those who love God’ (Romans 8:28) - this doesn’t mean that we always get what we want. We must learn to ‘let go and let God have His wonderful way’, and to say, ‘This God - His way is perfect’ (Psalm 18:30). Out of love for Rachel (18,20), Jacob served Laban for an extra seven years. We would serve Christ better if we loved Him more. Jesus still asks the question, ‘Do you love Me?’ (John 21:15-17).
29:31-30:24
Leah progressed beyond her own concerns (32-34) to the most important thing: ‘This time I will praise the Lord’ (35). Of the many children, the most significant, in terms of God’s purpose of redemption, was Joseph (22-24). An answer to prayer, it was the work of divine grace (22). ‘Rachel was barren’ (31) yet the Lord gave her this testimony: ‘God has taken away my disgrace’ (23). We move from one Joseph to another - the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We see an even greater work of grace: the birth of our Saviour. Rachel was to have a second son, Benjamin (24). Through Christ, God has many sons and daughters (Galatians 4:4-5). Rachel rejoiced in the gift of a son, her son. We rejoice in the gift of the Son, God’s Son. Through the Spirit of God’s Son living in our hearts, we are God’s children and He is our Father (Galatians 4:6).
30:25-31:21
Jacob was still a complex character, trying to arrange his own prosperity (37-43). There is, however, another, better reason for his prosperity - God had promised to bless him, and God did bless him (28:15). Inner desire, favourable circumstances, the divine Word - all three were present in Jacob’s decision to leave Laban and ‘go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan’ (18). (a) Inner desire - Jacob had been badly treated by Laban, and he did not want to work for him any longer (2); (b) Favourable circumstances - Jacob had grown ‘exceedingly prosperous’ (43). He didn’t need to keep on working for Laban; (c) The divine Word - Inner desire and circumstances were not enough to confirm God’s guidance to Jacob. He needed God’s command and promise (3). Let God ‘guide’ by His ‘light and truth’ (Psalm 48:14; 43:3).
31:22-42
As we try to unravel the complexities of Jacob’s dealings with Laban, we must remember this one thing: ‘If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac (the God before whom Isaac bowed in reverence) had not been with me...’ (42). This is the spiritual dimension. We must not lose sight of this. Life can be complicated at times, but we must not forget this: God is with us. Jacob, who was renamed ‘Israel’ (32:28), confessed his faith: God is with me. Later on, the nation of Israel confessed its faith in God: ‘If it had not been the Lord who was on our side...’, it would have been disaster. ‘Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth’. The Lord is with us still. With the Psalmist, we say, ‘Blessed be the Lord’. He is the God of our salvation (Psalm 124).
31:43-32:21
Jacob and Laban were not exactly the best of friends. Nevertheless, they came to an agreement that they would not continue feuding with each other (52). Jacob prepares to meet Esau (1-21). From verses 9-12, we learn some important spiritual lessons - (a) Make sure that God is your God, and not only the God of your father and grandfather (9). (b) Confess your unworthiness of ‘all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness’ of God (10). (c) Pray to God for salvation - ‘Save me I pray...’ (11). (d) Stand on the promises of God - ‘You have said...’ (12). Jacob, soon to be renamed Israel (32:28), was preparing to meet Esau. There is, in his prayer, the way of being prepared for a more important meeting: ‘Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!’ (Amos 4:12). Confess your sin, pray for salvation, stand on God’s Word - make it personal!
32:22-32
At the place called Peniel, Jacob ‘saw God face to face’ (30). We see ‘the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Jacob wrestled with God and became an overcomer (28). Christ wrestled with the powers of evil, and has won a mighty victory for us. When He cried out from the Cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), this was not an admission of defeat. It was the declaration of victory - the victory has been won, the victory is complete. ‘Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 15:57). For Jacob, crossing the Jabbok involved a spiritual ‘crossing over’. Jacob became Israel, a new man (28). After he had been ‘touched’ by God, Jacob was ‘limping’ (31-32). This was a reminder of his own weakness. His true strength was in the Lord. Wait on the Lord, and renew your strength (Isaiah 40:31).
33:1-20
From Jacob’s meeting with God, we come to his meeting with Esau. Before we start thinking of this as a big ‘come down’, we should note Jacob’s word to Esau: ‘truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God’ (10). Jacob is describing his meeting with Esau in terms of his encounter with God at Peniel: ‘I have seen God face to face (32:30). Before we dismiss Jacob’s words as ‘a bit over the top’, we should remember Jesus’ words: ‘as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to Me’ (Matthew 25:40). We are not to choose between loving God and loving our neighbour. We are to love both (Matthew 22:37-38). We honour God. We are to honour other people. The two go together - reverence for God our Creator and respect for people, created in God's image (1 John 4:20-21).
34:1-31
This chapter is about sin - the name of God is not even mentioned! We might well say of this chapter: ‘the less said the better’. We should, however, notice that Jacob is still turning out to be a big disappointment. Despite all Jacob’s potential (28:15-17,20-22; 32:28-30), there is still, in him, a great deal of self and not very much of the Lord. We see this in verse 30: ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious... my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household’. Where is God in all this? It seems that Jacob has become so preoccupied with himself and his own interests that he has forgotten all about God. Amazingly, the next chapter begins, ‘God said to Jacob, “Arise...”’. God was still calling him to higher things. What love! God doesn’t give up on us. He keeps on calling us back to Himself.
35:1-15
‘God appeared to Jacob again ... and blessed him’ (9). The Lord’s blessing does not come only once. Again and again, He blesses His people, leading us on to a closer walk with Him. God knows what we have been - ‘Your name is Jacob’ (10). He knows how often we have failed Him, yet still, He loves us. Still, He holds out before us a new and better future - ‘Israel shall be your name’ (10). God is inviting us to enter into a future of fruitfulness (11): ‘I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that you fruit should abide’ (John 15:16). Special mention is made of ‘the place where God had spoken with him’ - ‘Bethel’ (the house of God) (15). We cannot expect to be fruitful witnesses if we are not faithful worshippers. Listen for God’s Word. Take His Word with you - and share it with others.
35:16-36:43
Two prisoners looked out from the same cell. One saw the sunshine and the other saw mud! There are two ways of looking at every situation - 'Benoni' (son of my sorrow), 'Benjamin' (son of the right hand) (35:18). Spot the missing name in chapter 36? - God. Many never think of God (Psalm 10:4). Esau’s hardness of heart was more than personal. It has continued for generations - ‘two nations... two peoples...’ (25:23). He has ‘spiritual’ descendants too. God’s Word warns us: ‘See to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God...like Esau’ (Hebrews 12:15-17). Salvation does not come to us because of our good works (Romans 9:10-13). Every attempt to save ourselves meets with the divine condemnation (Malachi 1:1-4; Romans 3:19-20). Thank God for your own salvation. Never feel superior because of it. Pray that hard hearts will be brought to Christ (1 Timothy 1: 12-17; Romans 1:16).
37:1-36 
Here, we have human sin and divine grace. We see jealousy (11) and its effects: ‘where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice’ (James 3:16). We see God working out His purpose: ‘you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good’ (50:20). In his dreams, Joseph was given a glimpse of the ‘new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19) God was about to do. Joseph’s situation seemed hopeless: ‘cast... into a pit’, ‘sold’ into slavery (24,28). God was in this situation. Each of us is in a ‘pit’, but we are not alone. Jesus has gone into the ‘pit’ for us, and He has come out of it victorious: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave where is your victory?’.  Slaves of Satan, we have been set free by Christ (Romans 6:17-18; Hebrews 2:14-15). God was with Joseph. He is with us.
38:1-30
‘Judah went down from his brothers, and turned in to a certain Adullamite...’ (1-2). This is the sad story of so many people: Drawn away by an unbelieving man/woman from the fellowship of God's people, the story then goes from bad to worse. A whole catalogue of disasters follows. God is mentioned in only two verses (7,10). Both speak of human sin and divine judgment. God’s Word is clear: Believers are not to be joined in marriage to unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Lower your spiritual defences at this point, and you are asking for big trouble! Satan is ready to sweep in and cause chaos. This sad story of sin and shame stands as a warning to us. Do not rush into sinful choices. Put God first, and let Him lead you in His perfect way: ‘Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well’ (Matthew 6:33).
39:1-23
In chapter 38, we read of unbridled lust. Here, we read of sexual restraint: ‘how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ (9). Sin brings complications, and so does obedience! There is, in fact, only one complication - sin. We live in a sinful world, which has no real interest in obedience to God. We must be realistic: ‘all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’ (2 Timothy 3:12). Obedience and persecution - we see both in the story of Joseph. He was tempted, but he did not sin (7-9). Temptation is not sin. God provides ‘the way of escape’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). Christ is ‘the way’ (John 14:6), God’s way of escape. We go to Him when we are tempted (Hebrews 2:16; 4:15-16). Joseph was put into prison, ‘but the Lord was with him, and showed him steadfast love’ (20-21) - ‘persecuted, but not forsaken’' (2 Corinthians 4:9).
40:1-23
God gave Joseph power to overcome temptation (chapter 39). Now, He gives him power to interpret dreams. Here, Joseph the dreamer (37:5-11) becomes Joseph the interpreter of dreams. Joseph may be viewed as a prophet: ‘Surely  the Lord does nothing, without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets’ (Amos 3:7). As a true prophet, he gives the glory to God alone: ‘Do not interpretations belong to God?’ (8). Joseph became the forgotten man (23). For Joseph, life had become very difficult. He had known prosperity (39:2-3). Now, he was suffering adversity.  God is in both our prosperity and our adversity. He uses adversity to produce in us a heart of humility. What was Joseph doing while he was in prison? He was keeping close to God, waiting patiently for his ‘time to speak’ (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
41:1-57
‘After two whole years’, Joseph was still the forgotten man. Then Pharaoh had a dream (1). This was the beginning of the next stage of God’s plan for Joseph. In the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph directs attention to God: ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favourable answer... God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do... God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do... the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass (16,25,28,32). Joseph spoke with divine authority because ‘the Spirit of God’ was living in him (38). God was at work in Joseph, enabling him to forget his hardship and to be fruitful in his affliction (51-52). This is the work of divine grace - a reversal of human expectations. By God’s grace, hardship and affliction lead not to bitterness and resentment but to a deeper love for the Lord.
42:1-38
‘Joseph’s brothers... bowed themselves before him’ (6). Remember Joseph’s dream (37:5-11)! God is fulfilling His purpose. This has nothing to do with the glory of Joseph. It has everything to do with the glory of God. Joseph was exalted to a place of honour because he was a man of God: ‘I fear God’ (18). All the glory belongs to God alone! Joseph’s treatment of his brothers seemed harsh. In verse 24, we see another side of him: ‘he turned away from them and wept’. Joseph loved his brothers. Behind his ‘harsh’ words, there was love. He wanted them to recognize their sin (38:18-33). He was paving the way for his reunion with them in brotherly love. God loves us. Sometimes, His ways seem harsh, but they are always for our best (Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-11). He shows us how much our sin hurts Him so that we might see how much He loves us.
43:1-34
The roles have been reversed. At the beginning of Joseph’s story, it seemed that the brothers had control over his destiny (37:19-20). Now, Joseph has the upper hand. Ultimately , it was the Lord who was in control. In all the events of Joseph’s life, God had been leading him towards the re-uniting of the family through which He would work out His purpose of grace. Joseph, the man at the centre of God’s purpose, knew the God of grace and desired that others might also know the blessing of the gracious God (29). Benjamin was Joseph’s only full brother. The others were step-brothers (29:31-30:24; 35: 16-18). Joseph had a special affection for Benjamin (30). In the love of Joseph for Benjamin, we see God’s love for us: ‘My compassion grows warm and tender’ (Hosea 11: 8); ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3).
44:1-34
God is fulfilling His purpose: ‘the brothers fell before Joseph to the ground’ (14; 37:7,10). God’s purpose is moving towards its ultimate fulfilment: ‘that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow’ (Phillipians 2:10). As God’s purpose moves forward, the brothers are being changed from men who sold their brother into slavery to men who will welcome him again as their long-lost brother (37:28; 45:15). God wants to change us - ‘Jesus, You are changing me, By Your Spirit You're making me like You. Jesus, You're transforming me, That Your loveliness may be seen in all I do.You are the potter and I am the clay. Help me to be willing to let You have Your way.  Jesus, You are changing me, as I let You reign supreme within my heart’ (Mission Praise, 389). Bowing the knee to Jesus Christ begins here and now.
45:1-28
In the reunion of Joseph with his brothers, there is a great testimony to the God of grace: ‘Do not be distressed... because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life... God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.  So it was not you who sent me here, but God... God has made me lord of all Egypt' (5,7-9). Joseph was the pioneer. He went ahead of the others. He paved the way for them. Jesus is ‘the Pioneer of our salvation’. He will ‘bring many sons to glory’. He will welcome us as His ‘brothers’ (Hebrews 2:10-12). Jesus is also the ‘Perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). He is leading us to ‘a better country - a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16). Let ‘every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord’ (Philipians 2:11). Let it begin here on earth.
46:1-34
Jacob goes to Egypt. There were three factors in Jacob’s guidance: Inner desire - He wanted to see Joseph;  Circumstances - Joseph wanted to see him and his sons were going to take him;  God’s Word - God told him to go.  With God’s command, there was also His promise - ‘I will there make of you a great nation’. There was no need for fear because God would be with him (3-4). Life would not be easy in Egypt - ‘every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians’ (34). We live in a world which does not honour Christ as ‘the Good Shepherd’ (John 10:11,14), ‘the Great Shepherd’ (Hebrews 13:20-21), ‘the Chief Shepherd’ (1 Peter 5:4). In Christ, we are ‘a holy nation’. Why has God made us His ‘own people’? - ‘that you may declare the wonderful deeds of Him... ’ (1 Peter 2:9). ‘The nations are waiting for us, waiting for the gospel we will bring’ (Songs of Fellowship, 539). 
47:1-26
Jacob and Joseph - the two stories are one. Christ and the Christian - our story is bound up with His story. Jacob reflects on his life - ‘What has it all amounted to?’. He does not sing his own praises (8-9). Let the glory be given to God and not kept for ourselves. Joseph provided food for his family (12). Jesus has provided for us something better than food (Matthew 4:4) - ‘an eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9:12). Grateful to Joseph for what he had done for them, the people said, ‘You have saved our lives... we will be slaves’ (25). Saved by Christ, we are to be ‘slaves’ of Christ (Romans 6:17-18). We belong to Christ. We are to serve Him. We look to Him to ‘give us seed (His Word)... that the land may not be desolate’ (19; Mark 4:14; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 126:5-6). We ‘sow’. We ‘reap’. ‘God gives the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:6-7) !
47:27-48:22
No more fear (46:3). No more pride (47:9). Now, no more doubt - God will bless (15-16, 19-21). Let it be confidence (Philippians 1:6), humility (John 15:5) and faith (Hebrews 11:1;  Philippians 3:14). Man's way is set aside - ‘his younger brother shall be greater than he’ (19). We are ‘saved by grace’ (Ephesians 2:8). There is one way of salvation - God’s way (John 14:6). Israel was promised a ‘land’ (21). In Christ, we are being led on to ‘a better country... a heavenly one’ (Hebrews 11:16). Jacob said, ‘I am about to die’ (21). Jesus says, ‘I died and... I am alive for evermore’ (Revelation 1:18). He says, ‘I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also’ (John 14:3). No more fear, pride, doubt - Christ saves ‘to the uttermost’ (Hebrews 7:25).
49:1-27
Jacob blesses his sons, ‘blessing each with the blessing suitable to him’ (28). The most significant blessings are reserved for Joseph (22-26). This is not simply the blessing of Jacob. This is the blessing of ‘the Mighty One of Jacob... the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel... the God of your father... God Almighty' (24-25). God blesses us ‘with blessings of heaven above, blessings which are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills’ (25-26). He does this for us in Jesus Christ, the fulfilment of the divine purpose within which Joseph was privileged to take his part. ‘God... has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 1:3). What blessings He has given to us - the forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, eternal life (Ephesians 1:7,13-14)! ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits’ (Psalm 103:2).
49:28-50:26
It was a time of ‘very great and sorrowful lamentation’ (10). Jacob had died (33). Soon, Joseph would be gone (26). God was still there. He had been there in the past (20). He would be there in the future (24-25). Times are hard. We rejoice: ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases’. An earthly life has ended. We say, ‘His mercies never come to an end’. We cannot cope. We discover that ‘His mercies are new every morning’. Everything seems to be changing. We trust in God’s unchanging love: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’. It seems hopeless. We say, ‘I will hope in the Lord’ (Lamentations 3:22-24). ‘Bad’ things are happening to you. Do you need to be ‘reassured... and comforted’? - ‘God meant it for good... Do not fear’. The Lord ‘will provide for you’ (20-21). Whatever happens,  remember this - God is in control, and He loves you (Romans 8:28)!
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EXODUS

1:1-2:10  -  Things were difficult for Israel yet ‘the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied’ (12). Difficult times can be the making of God’s people! Pharaoh (and Satan!) is murderously anxious about the growth of God's people (15-16; John 10:10). God is about to move in saving power - His ‘midwives’ are preparing for the ‘birth’ of His redeemed people (17,20). Moses was preserved in ‘a basket made of bulrushes’ (2:3). Born again, we are preserved through God’s Word and Spirit - ‘the living and abiding Word of God’ (1 Peter 1:23). Moses was drawn out of the water (2:10). Israel was drawn out of the bondage in Egypt (6:6-8). Like Israel, we have been redeemed by blood (12:13; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Redeemed by the Lord, we are to be consecrated to Him. In 20:1-2, ‘the Ten Commandments’ are introduced by a declaration of God’s salvation. Our obedience to God is to be grounded in this: He has redeemed us!
2:11-3:22  -  Salvation, service, personal faith, life among God’s people - God has much to teach us. Moses sins (2:12). God graciously forgives (Micah 7:18-19) - this is salvation. His sin forgiven, Moses is called to service. He is called by the eternal God, the God who draws near to His people (3:14-15). Saved by Christ, we are called to serve Him, the eternal ‘God’ who ‘became flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:1-14). Saved, we belong to God’s people (1 Peter 2:10). Serving, we play our part within the ‘one body’ of Christ (Romans 12:4-5). Moses was to serve God’s people, the people whose prayer God answered - delivering them from bondage and leading them on to great blessing (2:23-25; 3:8). Moses was a key figure, but he did not stand alone. The work of God made progress because the people of God went forward together. In God’s work, we are to be participators - not spectators!
4:1-31  -  Two great obstacles had to be overcome - Moses’ sense of inadequacy and Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance. Moses had to learn that ‘our competence comes from God’ (2 Corinthians 3:5). Part of God’s provision for Moses was Aaron (14-16). We are not called to go it alone. What encouragement there is in the support of our fellow-believers. Weak believers need strengthening. Stubborn unbelief (Pharaoh) is ready to overwhelm us. We need strength if we are to ‘attempt great things for God’ and ‘expect great things from God’ (William Carey). Concerning Pharaoh, God says, ‘I will harden his heart’ (21). This was also Pharaoh’s own choice - ‘Pharaoh hardened his heart’ (8:15,32; 9:34). God sent circumstances into Pharaoh’s life which led him to harden his own heart by rejecting God's Word. Pharaoh’s resistance did not hinder God’s salvation - he was ‘compelled by a mighty hand’ (3:19). God is at work - make sure you don't miss out on His blessing!
5:1-6:13  -  In 4:29-31, we see Moses, the elders and the people worshipping God. Pharaoh opposes them - ‘Who is the Lord, that I should heed His voice...?’ (2) - , and ‘the foremen of the people of Israel’ start complaining (19-21). What does Moses do ? - He prays. Notice the honesty of his prayer - he asks the ‘Why ?’ question, and he protests, ‘You have not rescued Your people at all’ (22-23). God gives His answer - redemption will be given (6:1,6-8). Redemption - this is God’s answer to our suffering. He gave His Son to suffer for our sins. Through Christ, we receive salvation. Moses had to learn to wait for the fulfilment of God’s promise. God’s own people were not listening to him. How could he expect the unbelieving Pharaoh to listen to him (6:9,12)? It was not easy. Nevertheless, this ‘charge’ had been given - ‘bring the people out’. It shall be done!
6:14-7:24  -  This list of names emphasizes that God is concerned with the ‘little people’, and not only ‘the big names’ like Moses. Gifted individuals have their important place in carrying forward God’s purpose. Such individuals are used by God for the blessing of the whole people of God. The forward movement of God’s work is often preceded by great difficulties. We must ‘walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7). Adverse circumstances must not defeat us. The Lord is calling us on to greater faith. God’s purpose of grace moves forward according to His power and not our weakness. Moses spoke ‘with faltering lips’ (30). God worked miracles (8-24). Turning to ‘sorcerers’ and ‘magicians’, Pharaoh, the servant of Satan, ‘would not listen’ to God’s servants (11,13;7:22). ‘Our God is marching on’ - to glorious victory (Church Hymnary, 318)!
7:25-8:32  -  God’s work is ‘in the midst of the earth’. He claims His own people for Himself  (22-23). To ‘all the ends of the earth’, He says, ‘Turn to Me and be saved’. Concerning His own people, He says, ‘In the Lord all the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory’ (Isaiah 45:22,25). In the plagues, we see God’s power and Pharaoh’s pride. There is a conflict between the reality of God and Pharaoh’s fantasy. Conflict is God’s training ground for spiritual growth. We take our stand on the reality of God. Those who oppose God live in a fantasy world, imagining that they can successfully oppose the mighty God of salvation - ‘To pluck from His hand the weakest, trembling soul, it never, never can be done’ (Sacred Songs and Solos. 508). Pharaoh was neither the first nor the last to oppose God - and fail! Put to death by men, Christ was raised by God (Acts 2:23-24) - Hallelujah!
9:1-35  -  Today, we highlight three lessons: The importance of trusting Christ as your Saviour, the folly of refusing Christ’s salvation and the danger of professing conversion without really meaning it. Each of us must choose: Will you step into Christ or remain outside of Him? Will you flee to Him and take refuge in Him or will you neglect Him and remain under judgment? ‘Flee from the wrath to come’. ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (20-21; Luke 3:7; Hebrews 2:3). You can enter into salvation through faith in Christ or you can, in unbelief, remain outside of Christ (Hebrews 4:2-3). Pharaoh ‘confessed’ his sin, but didn’t really mean it. He had had ‘enough’ of God’s interference. That was his ‘reason’ for admitting his sin. This was not real repentance - only a dislike for suffering! Make your decision for Christ, and make it real!
10:1-29  -  The conflict between God and Pharaoh is a conflict between light and darkness. We are to shine as lights - for God, the ‘Light’ in whom there is ‘no darkness at all’ (Matthew 5:16; 1 John 1:5). God’s purpose is moving forward. Pharaoh becomes more determined in his rebellion. Pharaoh’s stubborn unbelief becomes his own undoing. Pharaoh doesn’t want God. God confirms him in his unbelief (28-29). God says, ‘You can go your own way, but you will be spiritually dead’ (Psalm 106:13-15). God says, ‘Do not harden your heart. You may be very close to the point of no return’ (Hebrews 3:8; Proverbs 29:1). Before you lose all inclination to return to the Lord, let Christ’s love touch your heart. Only His love can ‘create in you a clean heart’. Only His love can ‘put a new and right Spirit within you’ (Psalm 51:10).
11:1-12:28  -  Here, we focus attention on two verses which emphasize the importance of being saved by the Lord and going on to live for Him: ‘when I see the blood, I will pass over you... you must eat unleavened bread’ (13,20). In verse 13, we are directed beyond the Passover to Jesus Christ, whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of sins (John1:29; 1 John1:7). In verse 20, we have the call to holy living. In 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:7-9, Paul uses ‘leaven’ as a symbol of ‘sin’, which holds us back from ‘running a good race’. We are to live as a new creation, who feast on ‘the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’. Forgiveness of sins and holy living belong together. We are not to rejoice in God’s forgiveness and then gloss over His call to holy living: ‘justified by faith’, we are to ‘walk in newness of  life’ (Romans 5:1; 6:4)
12:29-13:16  -  God delivered His people from their bondage (3,14,16). There is, in the Exodus, a great picture of the Gospel, which sets us free. Christ sets us free. He does this by His Word of  ‘truth’ (John 8:32,36). The Gospel says, ‘Sin will have no dominion over you... You have been set free from sin’ (Romans 6:14,18,22). Through ‘the Spirit of God’, we have received ‘not... the spirit of slavery... but... the spirit of sonship’ (Romans 8:14-15). Israel’s deliverance from the land of bondage was also deliverance for a new life in ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (5). We look back in grateful remembrance. We look forward in eager anticipation. We have received ‘the first fruits of the Spirit’. There is more to come - ‘the glorious liberty of the children of God... the redemption of our bodies’ (Romans 8:21-23).
13:17-14:31  -  Sin may be ‘near’, but God never leads His people into it (13:17, James 1:13). Following Christ means walking a narrow road (Matthew 7:13-14). We are surrounded by many temptations. Pray that your feet will not slip (Psalm 37:31; 17:5; 44:18). Sometimes, the Lord leads us ‘by way of the wilderness’ - a way of apparent fruitlessness. Why? - So that ‘equipped for battle’, we might learn to serve Him better (13:18). The Lord does not leave His people in the wilderness. Pursued by their enemies (the Egyptians), they were guided by the ‘cloud’ and ‘fire’ (13:21-22). God was with them, and He was about to reveal His saving power in a mighty way (13-14). There is judgment as well as salvation (30). Looking to neither the ‘right’ nor the ‘left’, we must look to the Lord (14:21-22). Rejoicing in ‘the great work’ He has done, our faith ‘in the Lord’ grows strong (31).
15:1-21  -  This is a song of redemption - God has redeemed His people; a song of thanksgiving - we  give thanks for God's redemption; and a song of hope - we look forward to the complete fulfilment of God's redemption. This is not only a ‘song of  God’s people’. It is also the song of Moses, a personal song. This is worship - not a mere formality, but worship which arises from the depths of Moses’ heart. Deeply moved by the grace and glory of God, Moses pours his heart out to God in worship: (i) He praises the God of grace - ‘my strength... my song... my salvation’ (2). (ii) He praises the God of glory - God triumphs ‘gloriously’ (1). His ‘glorious’ power is demonstrated in His ‘glorious’ deeds (6,11). (iii) Worshipping this God of grace - the redeeming God (13) - and glory - the reigning God (18) - , we say, ‘You are my God, and I will praise You’ (Psalm 118:28). Let us worship God - personally as well as publicly.
15:22-16:36  -  God allows His people to suffer difficulties. Why? -  To strengthen our faith (15:25; 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2,16; 1 Peter 1:6-7). He chastens us, to teach us repentance (Revelation 3:19). Don't forget God’s love. He is faithful: ‘He didn’t bring  us this far to leave us’. He shows us His glory (7). He assures us that He is God (12). He provides us with ‘daily bread’ (4). Yesterday’s ‘bread’ is insufficient for today’s challenges (19-20). ‘Morning by morning’, the ‘bread’ is to be gathered (21; Lamentations 3:22-23). Jesus is the Living Bread (John 6:32-35,48-51). Feed on Him each day. Don’t invite spiritual starvation by missing days. If you miss some days, don’t let it continue. Remember: ‘Seven days without prayer makes one weak’! ‘How long has it been since you talked with the Lord?’  Too long? It is time to pray and feed on Jesus!
17:1-18:27  -  Worldly people create problems (17:3). Moses asks, ‘What shall I do...?’ (17:4). Indecision asks, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ (17:7). He gives victory (17:8-9,13). Joshua is being equipped for special service - ‘in the ears of Joshua’ (17:14). God’s great concern is that His people move forward together. The work is not to be left to the few (18). God is looking to faithful servants who will ‘bear the burden’ together (21-22). There is much to be done, but we must never forget this: ‘prayer and the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:1-4). You may not be a Moses or a Joshua, but you can play your part. We rejoice in who God is and what He has done for us. Assured of His presence with us, let us worship Him: ‘Blessed be the Lord...’ (18:10-11).
19:1-25  -  Before law, there is Gospel - what God has done for us (4). We are to obey in the Spirit of grace, as those who have been redeemed by His mercy (5-6; 1 Peter 2:9-10). God’s Word is not only for the leader. It is for the whole people of God (3,7,9,11). God speaks to us concerning possession, consecration and reverence. Possession - We are His 'own possession' (5). In love, He has claimed us for Himself. We belong to Him. Consecration - God is holy. We are to be holy (10,14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Reverence - Don’t rush into God’s presence, presuming on His blessing. We must not take God’s blessing for granted. That would be arrogance (21-22). We must come to Him with this humble confidence: God will bless those who truly call upon Him (2 Chronicles 7:14-16). May God help us to say, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do’ (8).
20:1-20  -  God does not want to see sin in us (20). He wants to see Himself in us. Sin robs us of His great blessing. He wants to fill us with love (Mark 12:28-31; Galatians 5:14; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Before our love for Him, there is His love for us. He is the God of redemption. He has redeemed us. We are His people. This is His doing. All the glory belongs to Him (1-2). We are to live as His people. He is to have first place in our lives (3). The ‘law’ is ‘holy’ and ‘good’, but it cannot make us holy and good - without ‘the new life of the Spirit’ (Romans 7:12,6: 8:2; 2 Corinthians 3:3). ‘Moses’ cannot save! There is only one Saviour - Jesus! Not under law, we yield ourselves to the God of salvation (Romans 6:13-14). Our obedience comes from faith in Christ - not legalism (Romans 1:5-6)! Our holiness comes from the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
20:21-21:32  -  So many instructions - Don’t get bogged down in details. Remember this: We do not live by an ethic of legalism. This is an ethic of redemption (20:1-2). Forget the God of redemption, and you have nothing but a lot of rules and regulations. Become obsessed with rules and regulations, and there will be no room for the Redeemer and His redemption. ‘Earmarked’ for Jesus, we are to ‘serve Him for life’ (6). No turning back! We are bound to Him by love - not law! What love He has for us! Verse 30 speaks of  ‘ransom’ and ‘redemption’: What great words of the Gospel (Mark 10:45; 1 Peter 1:18-19)! ‘Eye for eye...’ (24) - This limits vengeance. Remember: Love is the answer - not vengeance (Leviticus 19:18)! Let Christ’s love give you strength - to keep on serving Him (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:6). 
21:33-22:31  -  We travel from grace to glory - from ‘Egypt’ to ‘the promised land’. In the wilderness there are many pitfalls. We can become careless in our obedience to Christ. Do not ‘leave a pit open’ - you may cause a brother to stumble (33; Romans 14:13). Restitution (1-17) - Be faithful in practical matters (Luke 19:8; 3:10-14). Read of ‘the thief’ (8). Think of the Lord - and be ready for His return (1 Thessalonians 5:2; Matthew 6:19-21). All our human problems are to be brought ‘before God’. Never forget Him (8-9,11). God is 'compassionate' (27). We are to be 'consecrated' (31). God loves us. Will we continue to live as those who have never known His love? - ‘God forbid! How can we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:2).
23:1-33  -  God is love: He loves ‘the stranger’ (9). God is holy: He ‘will not acquit the wicked’ (7). He wants to reproduce His love and holiness - in us. Not holiness without love: that is self-righteous legalism. Not love without holiness: that is spineless sentimentalism. To Israel, He sent 'an angel...' (20). To us, He has sent Christ: He is the Way to the place prepared for us (John 14:2-3,6). Through the Holy Spirit, Christ continues His ministry among us (John 14:25-26). ‘Pay attention’ to the words of Christ. ‘Listen’ for the voice of the Holy Spirit (21). Do not ‘quench’ or ‘grieve’ the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30). It may take time - ‘little by little’ (30) - but God will work through his obedient people - ‘I will... you shall...’ (30-31).
24:1-18  -  Moses was alone with the Lord - receiving the Word of the Lord (1-2). Moses went to the people - speaking the Word of the Lord (3). There was also a written ministry of the Word (4). At the heart of our worship, there is ‘the blood of the covenant’ (8; 12:13; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:22; 10:4; 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7). Moses worshipped on ‘the mountain of God’ (12-18). We worship ‘in spirit and truth’ (John 4:19-24). We come to the Father through Christ and in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). We come on the basis of Christ’s blood shed for us (Hebrews 10:19-22). We come as those to whom the Spirit has been given (John 1:33; 3:34). With ‘the Spirit of God’ living in us and helping us as we pray, let us feast on Christ, the Truth, the living Word, to whom the written and spoken words point us (Romans 8:9,26; John 14:6; 1:1,14; 17:17).
25:1-40  -  This is full of Christ! We don't ‘read into’ the Old Testament things which aren’t really there. We read this part of Scripture in the light of the full revelation of God. We see Christ as the Central Theme. Above everything else and everyone else, there is Jesus Christ our Saviour. God dwells among His people (8). Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27). God is merciful to us (17-22; Psalm 103:8-12; Micah 7:18-19). Through Christ, we have received ‘mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4-7; Titus 3:4-7). From ‘mercy’ we move on to 'testimony' (18). The two are vitally related (1 Timothy 1:12-17). The ‘bread of the Presence’ (30) turns our thoughts to the Cross. The ‘lampstand of pure gold’ calls us to shine brightly for Christ, who ‘came... to save sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15).
26:1-37  -  From the outside, it was a ‘tent’. On the inside, the tabernacle was a place of great beauty. Many look at Christ, and see ‘no beauty that we should desire Him’ (Isaiah 53:2). The believer looks at Christ, and says, ‘You are beautiful beyond description, too marvellous for words, too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard’ (Mission Praise, 788).The ‘veil’ has been removed (2 Corinthians 4:3-4,6). Our sin had separated us from God, hiding His face from us (Isaiah 59:2). When Christ died, ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two...’ (Mark 15:37-38). He has changed everything (Hebrews 9:7-8,11-12). Once, we were ‘separated... alienated... strangers... far off’. Now, we are ‘in Christ Jesus’ - ‘brought near in the blood of Christ’ (Ephesians 2:12-13; Hebrews 10:19-22).
27:1-19  -  We highlight two interesting phrases - (a) ‘as you were shown on the mountain’ (8); (b) ‘towards the sunrise’ (13, New International Version). We need both ‘the Scriptures’ and ‘the power of God’ (Mark 12:24). Our faith is based on divine revelation - ‘according to the Scriptures’ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). We are ‘not’ to ‘go beyond what is written’ (1 Corinthians 4:6). Face the risen Son - We may not always be facing the rising sun, but we should always be facing the risen Son! The revelation, the resurrection, the Scriptures, the Son - these are the great focal-points of our Christian Faith: God has revealed Himself, Christ has risen. Encouraged by the Scriptures, and empowered by the Son, we face the risen Son and we say, ‘I will proclaim the glory of the risen Lord’ (Romans 15:4; Matthew 28:18-20; Mission Praise, 14).
27:20-29:9  -  The ‘lamp’ was ‘set up to burn continually’ (27:20) - ‘May we be a shining light... Let the flame burn brighter...’ (Songs of Fellowship 389; Mission Praise, 743). A ‘royal priesthood’, we have been called by God - to let His light shine (1 Peter 2:9). He has called us to serve Him (28:1 John 15:16; Acts 20:28; 13:2; 9:15; Hebrews 5:4). The divine call is accompanied by a divine empowering - ‘the Holy Spirit sent from heaven’ (1 Peter 1:12). We are precious to God - Our ‘names’ are written on His heart (9-12,21,29-30; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; John 10:3). In Christ we are cleansed (29:4 1 John 1:7), anointed (29:7; 1 John 2:27) and robed (29:5-6,8-9; Isaiah 61:10). In Christ, we have ‘the best robe’ (28:2; Luke 15:22; Revelation 7:9-10,13-14). In Him, we are ‘consecrated’ by the Word and ‘anointed’ by the Spirit (28:3,41; John 17:17; 14:16-17, 26; 16:13-14).
29:10-46  -  There is a great contrast between the many sacrifices of the Old Testament and the one sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 9:25-28; 10:1-4, 10-14). Looking to Christ, we focus attention on verses 42-46. For God’s people, ‘the tent of meeting’ was a special place concerning which God said, ‘I will meet with you, to speak there to you. There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by My glory’ (42-43). Let us pray that, in both the pulpit and the pew, there will be the glory of God. Aaron and his sons were ‘consecrated to serve’ (44). We look beyond them to Christ who ‘came... to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). He dwells among us (45; John 1:14). He has provided for us a ‘better’ redemption than the redemption of Israel from Egypt - He is ‘much more excellent’ (46; Hebrews 8:6; 9:23-24).
30:1-38  -  The Word of God (‘the testimony’) declares the mercy of God, leading to our meeting with God (6). We highlight several features of our worship: (a) ‘the blood of the sin offering of atonement’ (10) - This points to the ‘how much more’ sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for us (Hebrews 9:13-14); (b) ‘washing’ (18) - Christ ‘has washed us from our sins in His blood’ (Revelation 1:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Titus 3:5-6); (c) ‘holy anointing oil’ (25) - We are to be ‘consecrated’, ‘most holy’, servants of the Lord, ‘making holiness perfect in the fear of God’, living in the power of the Holy Spirit (29-30; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Zechariah 4:6); (d) ‘incense’ (35) - We are to be ‘the aroma of Christ’, spreading His ‘fragrance’ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Christlike living is grounded in prayer (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 5:8; 8:3-4; Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
31:1-32:14  -  Called’ by God and ‘filled’ with His Spirit (31:1-3), Bezalel had the support of Oholiab and ‘all able men’ (31:6). Few may be called and equipped to lead, but many are required for God’s work to be done - effectively (1 Corinthians 12:4-10). ‘All’ of us receive our strength from the ‘Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 12:11). We offer ourselves in service with this faith, ‘Jesus is Lord’. Faith is God’s gift: ‘no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit’. There are many gifts. They are varied expressions of one gift - the faith which confesses that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3). The people fell into idolatry and immorality (32:6): a ‘warning’ to us (1 Corinthians 10:6-12). We have God’s help - to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10: 13). Moses sets for us a godly example: he spent time with God, hearing His voice and prevailing in prayer (32:1,7-14).
32:15-33:23  -  In Moses, we see the holiness and love of God: a deep hatred of sin (32:19), an intense longing for sinners to be forgiven (32). Filled with ‘the fear of the Lord’, Moses was fearless before men. God’s Word to sinners is clear: He warns them (Proverbs 29:1); He calls them to repent (Acts 2:38); He invites them to return to Him (Hosea 6:1). Moses’ faithful and fearless preaching emerged from his closeness to God: ‘The Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend’ (11). Moses prayed; God heard; God answered (33:17). Moses prayed for a revelation of God’s glory (33:18). God revealed Himself as the good God, the God of grace and mercy (33:19). Let us go up to God and bring down all that is needed to build the Body of Christ that God may take pleasure in it and that He may appear in His glory (Haggai 1:8).
34:1-35  -  God gives His promise (33:19). God keeps His promise (5-7). The glory of Christ is revealed to those who are learning to love Him (John 14:21). We are not yet ready for the full glory (33:20). When Christ returns, ‘we shall see Him as He is’ (1 John 3:2). There is to be ‘no other god’ but the Lord (14). We are not to be squeezed into the world’s mould (Romans 12:2). ‘No molten gods’, ‘no graven image’ - We are to be remoulded by God, ‘conformed to the image of His Son’ (17; 20:4; Romans 12:2; 8:29). Moses’ face was shining - Other people noticed (29)! Let others see Christ in you. Never take pride in your own spirituality - ‘If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not know (the Lord) as he ought to know (Him)’ (1 Corinthians 8:2). Keep your eyes on Jesus. The glory comes from Him. No glory for me - All glory to Him (2 Corinthians 3:18)!
35:1-36:7  -  The work of God is shared by many different people with many different gifts. The work is done according to (a) the Lord’s command (35:1,4,10; 36:1,5); (b) heartfelt obedience (21; 36:3,5-7); (c) the God-given abilities (24-25; 36:2,4,8). There is something for ‘everyone’ to do - everyone ‘whose heart is stirred whose spirit is moved’ (21). Many gifts are needed (31-35). Underlying them all, there is this: ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ (31). In God’s work, there is to be ‘full’ obedience. When we are fully obedient, there will be ‘an overflowing blessing’ (Malachi 3:10). ‘The people bring much more than enough...’. There ‘was sufficient to do all the work, and more’ (36:5,7). God is ready to bless. Are we ready to obey? ‘If my people... I will...’(2 Chronicles 7:14). ‘Always abounding in the work of the Lord’ (1 Corinthians 15:58)!
36:8-38  -  Moses may have been the leader among God’s people, but he could not do all the work by himself! Two of his helpers - Bezalel and Oholiab - are named (1-2). Most - ‘all the able men’ - remain anonymous (8). Anonymous yet indispensable - Without them, the work of God would have been left undone! To those who are full of their own importance, God says, ‘No-one is indispensable. I will find someone else to do My work’. To those who, without fuss, get on with doing His work, God says, ‘You are my servants, through whom My work will make good progress’. Building Christ’s Church is a long process, involving suffering and disappointments as well as hard-fought victories. In so many ways, the tabernacle pointed to Christ: ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:23). May God help us to lead many people to Christ!
37:1-29  -  Pure gold (2,6,11,16-17,22-24, 26); Jesus Christ is ‘pure gold’. He is ‘God with us’. His body was broken for us. We feed on Him, the living Bread. His light is shining. He spreads the fragrance of His holiness, and the aroma of His love (Matthew 1:23; Luke 22:19; John 6:35; 8:12; 2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Read about the ark, the mercy seat, the table, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the holy anointing oil... Think of Christ: He is the ‘mercy seat of pure gold’ (6). ‘The Lord is merciful and gracious...’: In mercy, He withholds His judgment from us - He is ‘slow to anger’. In grace, He pours His blessing on us - He is ‘abounding in steadfast love’ (Psalm 103:8). We deserve judgment. We receive salvation. Why? Christ took our judgment that we might receive His salvation. This is the Gospel - and it is ‘pure gold’!
38:1-31  -  We read, in verse 8, of  ‘the ministering women...’. See also 35:25-26,29 - ‘all women ... all the women... All the men and women...’. Male and female - We need each other. We are ‘one in Christ Jesus’. In Him, ‘there is neither male nor female’ (Galatians 3:28). There should never be a competitive spirit. We are to complement each other. In verse 25, we read of ‘the silver from those of the congregation’. God’s work does not depend entirely on those who have been called to be leaders. Each of us must play our part. There should be no pulling in different directions. We belong together. We are to work together. Let’s pull together, pooling our resources, pulling our weight. Among God’s people, there is ‘gold’ - but it must be ‘used for the work’ (24). Will you be worth your weight in gold - for God?
39:1-43  -  ‘As the Lord had commanded...’ (1,5,7,21,26,29,31-32,42-43): Obedience to God - this is the most important thing. ‘And Moses blessed them’ (43): Where there is obedience, there is blessing - there’s a vital connection between the two. In Jesus, we see perfect obedience: ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish His work’ (John 4:34). Jesus was fully obedient to the Father’s will: ‘He became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross’ (Philippians 2:8). Through His obedience, there is blessing for us: ‘by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous’ (Romans 5:19). We look beyond the Old Testament priesthood to Christ, the ‘High Priest of the good things that have come’ - By ‘His own blood’, He has secured for us ‘an eternal redemption’ (Hebrews 9:11-12).
40:1-38  -  Here, we highlight three lessons: (a) The work of God begins with the Word of God:  ‘The Lord said to Moses...’ (1). Before we can do anything for God, we must be taught by God. (b) The work of God must proceed in the way of God: ‘Thus did Moses; according to all that the Lord commanded him, so he did’ (16). If we are to accomplish anything for God, we must do God’s work in God’s way. (c) The work of God must lead to the worship of God: ‘The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle’ (34). If we are really seeking to work for God, we must seek to give Him the glory for all that is accomplished. Making these our priorities - the Word, way and worship of God - , we will look for ‘the cloud and fire’, the presence and power of God among us:  He will be our Guide ‘throughout all our journeys’ (38).
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LEVITICUS

1:1-2:16 -  Jesus Christ, ‘the Lamb without blemish’, has ‘made atonement’ for sin through the shedding of His ‘precious blood’ (1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:18-19). This offering of Christ – He ‘loved us and gave Himself up for us’ – is ‘a pleasing odour to the Lord’, ‘a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’ (1:9,13,17; Ephesians 5:2). Read of the ‘cereal offering’ in which there was to be ‘no leaven’ (2:11). Think of Christ – ‘Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed’: ‘Let us celebrate the festival (the Lord’s Supper)… with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (1 Corinthians 5:7-8). May our worship – ‘frankincense’: an expression of worship (Matthew 2:11) – be filled with ‘the oil of gladness’, ‘with the Holy Spirit and with fire’ (Psalm 45:7; Luke 3:16). Such worship is ‘most holy… to the Lord’ (2:3,10).
3:1-4:35 -  Christ is the real thing. Israel’s sacrifices are only ‘copies of the heavenly things’, ‘a shadow of the good things to come’ (Hebrews 9:23-24; 10:1,5-10). As you read of the ‘peace offering’, rejoice in this: ‘we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). We look to Christ, and we say, ‘He is our peace’ (Ephesians 2:14). Christ is ‘our sin offering’ – ‘offered… to bear the sins of many (4:3; Hebrews 9:28). The ‘blood’ has been shed – We have been ‘washed… in the blood of the Lamb’ (4:5-7; Revelation 7:14). Christ went ‘outside the camp’ for us: He ‘suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through His own blood’ (4:12; Hebrews 13:11-12). For Christ, there was suffering. For us, there is forgiveness – ‘he shall be forgiven’ (26,31,35).
5:1-6:30 -  Christ’s sacrifice covers every sin. No matter what your sin may be, you can bring it to Him for forgiveness. ‘If any man sins’ – Take your sin to Christ: He has ‘made atonement for sin’ (5:1,6,10,13-14,16; 6:2,7). ‘Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit’ (Mark 3:28-30) does not refer to some specific, identifiable sin, which lies beyond God’s power to forgive. It refers to your persistent refusal to bring your sins to Jesus Christ for forgiveness. The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Let Him show you your sin. Let Him lead you to your Saviour. ‘It is a thing most holy’ (6:17) – Never forget God’s holiness. Christ’s death speaks of both holiness and love. In holiness, God pronounces His judgment on sin. In love, He provides forgiveness for sinners.
7:1-38 -  As we read about the sacrifices, rejoicing in Christ – the perfect Sacrifice for sin – , let us bring our sacrifice of ‘thanksgiving’ (12-13,15). ‘Let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God’ (Hebrews 13:15). Let it be ‘a living sacrifice’, the sacrifice of our lives – this is ‘our spiritual worship’ (Romans 12:1). God’s salvation is ‘to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:6). ‘We bring the sacrifice of praise… We offer up to You the sacrifices of thanksgiving… the sacrifices of joy’. ‘Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God, In every part with praise… Not for the lip of praise alone nor e’en the praising heart, I ask, but for a life made up of praise in every part’ (Mission Praise, 722; Church Hymnary, 457). Still ‘in the wilderness’ (38), let us learn to worship as we travel to ‘the promised land’!
8:1-36 -  ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to be done’ (5): For us, it must be ‘as the Lord commanded’ (4,9,13,17,21,29,36). God calls us to serve Him (Hebrews 5:4-5). Obedience to God, love for God – These are to be our priorities (1 Samuel 15:22; 1 Corinthians 13:3). Christ is to be our ‘first love’ (Revelation 2:4).  Washed, robed, anointed (6-7,12): Our robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, we have this anointing – ‘to preach the Gospel…’ (Revelation 7:14; Luke 4:18-19).   Ears, hands and feet: Consecrated by the blood of Christ to hear the Word of the Lord, do the work of the Lord and walk in the way of the Lord  (24), we must pray for a change of heart – ‘O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free; a heart that always feels Thy blood so freely shed for me’ (Church Hymnary, 85).
9:1-10:20 -  Aaron had to make atonement for himself and for the people (9:7). Christ did not need to make atonement for Himself – He was ‘without sin’ (Hebrews 4:15). In Christ, we are ‘accepted’. In Him there is blessing, glory and joy (9:22-24; Ephesians 1:6,3; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 Peter 1:8). God has given us ‘holy fire’. Let us not try to do His work with ‘unholy fire’ (10:1-2; Acts 2:3-4). To those who seek to live ‘as the Lord has commanded’ (9:7; 10:15), God promises to reveal His holiness, nearness and glory (10:3). Do you want to draw near to God, to become ‘mature’ in Christ? – Learn ‘to distinguish between the holy and the common… the unclean and the clean… good and evil’ (10:10; Hebrews 5:14). God reveals the glory of His holiness. Let us confess our sins, be forgiven and be obedient. (Isaiah 6:3-8).
11:1-47 -  God sees only two types of people: ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. All of us are ‘in Adam’ (sinners). Not all are ‘in Christ’ (saved) (Romans 5:12-21). How about you? – Are you cleansed, forgiven, born again, saved, committed (1 John 1:7,9; John 3:7; Acts 16:31; 2 Timothy 1:12)? Or, are you still in your sins, guilty of neglecting God’s great salvation, not far from – yet still outside of – God’s Kingdom, almost persuaded but still uncommitted (John 8:24; 9:41; Hebrews 2:3; Acts 26:28)? Before the call to holiness (45), there is the call to salvation. Give your heart to Christ. This is where holiness begins (Mark 7:14-23). Holiness is not our own achievement – ‘God is at work in you’ (Phillipians 2:13). Remember: Our holiness is grounded in His redemption (45). Feed on His Word – and let holiness grow (Psalm 119:9-11).
12:1-13:46 -  How can I be made clean (12:8)? – This is the vital question to which the Gospel gives its emphatic answer. We ask, ‘What can wash away my stain?’. The answer is given, ‘Nothing but the blood of Jesus’. We ask, ‘Has atonement been made for my sin’ (12:8)?’. The answer is clear: ‘Christ has for sin atonement made’. You can be ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’. What water cannot do, Christ does for us. The water used in baptism – ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’! – cannot wash away our sin. It can only point beyond itself to Christ’s Cross, where we hear the Good News: ‘There is wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333,615,309,288). Confess your sin – ‘Unclean, unclean’ (13:45). Christ will change you – beginning with your ‘heart’ (12:3; Romans 2:28-29).
13:47-14:32 -  We read about skin disease.  Remember: there is also the sin disease – and we’re all suffering from that!.  Sin is a deadly ‘cancer’ for which there is only one treatment: ‘Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; no other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus’ (Redemption Hymnal, 333).  The new birth – like physical birth – is a unique, once-for-all, experience: it is the beginning of the Christian life (John 3:3-6).  Many times over, we will need to be ‘washed a second time’ (58).  Justification (Romans 5:1) happens in a moment: ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. Sanctification (Romans 6:13,19). lasts a lifetime: ‘Take time to be holy…(Mission Praise, 708,625). God loves us: He will help us to ‘be holy’ (1 Peter 1:16).
14:33-15:33 -  You can get ‘dry rot’ in people – as well as houses (14:34; Hebrews 12:15)!  Sin is like ‘a wasting disease’ (Psalm 106:13-15).  It will only get worse – unless something is done about it!  Sin spreads. and spreads, and…  Can anything be done about this sad situation?  Look into yourself, and you will find that the situation is hopeless (Romans 7:14-20).  Look to Christ, and there is hope: ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more’ (Romans 5:20).  Sin is not to be taken lightly.  Don’t underestimate the power of sin.  Little by little, it will lure you away from Christ.  Keep close to Jesus, rejoicing in this: ‘He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).  God calls for holiness: ‘your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit’;  ‘present your bodies…to God’ (1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 12:1).
16:1-34 -  God is ‘holy‘. We cannot ‘draw near’ and ‘come’ to Him without a ‘sin offering’ (1-3).  We cannot bring ‘a sin offering’ to Him.  We can only bring our sin:  Our righteousness is ‘like filthy rags’ (Isaiah  64:6).  There is a ‘way’ for sinners to ‘draw near’ to God:  Christ is the true and living Way (John 14:6; Hebrews 10:19-22).  In verses 20-22, we have a great picture of Christ bearing the sin of the world: ‘Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood… Full atonement, – Yes it is! Hallelujah! What a Saviour!’ (Church Hymnary, 380).  Atonement has been made for us…We have been cleansed from all our sins (30):  What a perfect atonement!  What a perfect Saviour! – ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).
17:1-18:23 -  We are to be devoted ‘to the Lord’ (17:4-6,9):  ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price’ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Underlying Christ’s atoning death, there is this principle: ‘the life… is in the blood… I have given it for you… to make atonement…’ (17:11).  Christ has shed His blood:  He has given His life that we might have life.  God looks upon His Son, crucified for us: He ‘has commanded the blessing, life for evermore’ (Psalm 133:3).  We confess our sin, acknowledging that ‘without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins’ (Hebrews 9:22).  With grateful thanksgiving, we rejoice in our Saviour, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).  ‘Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power…’ (Mission Praise, 671).
18:24-19:37 -  Holiness and love – the two belong together (1,18,34).  God calls us to live a life of holiness, a life of love.  Through His Spirit – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love – , He enables us to live this life.  We need His promises.  We need His commands.  Take them both together – not one without the other!  Promises without commands – We take God for granted, we presume on His blessing.  Commands without promises – Our ‘obedience’ becomes a legalistic thing which has nothing to do with the Gospel of grace.  We are to ‘be holy… before Him in love‘ (Ephesians 1:4).  ‘The holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14) is to be accompanied by the ‘love’ without which we are ‘nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  The Lord has redeemed us: By His grace, we shall ‘be holy… in love’ (34,36).
20:1-27 -  The life of holiness is not an expression of our own moral virtue.  It is an expression of the holy character of God being reproduced in us: ‘I am the Lord who sanctify you’ (8).  God wants us for Himself – This is why we must not live the world’s way: ‘I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine’ (26).  God has a great purpose for us:  ‘You shall inherit their land… I will give it to you, a land flowing with milk and honey’ (24).  ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies… my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23:5).  ‘The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly… in Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 1:14).  This is the pathway to holiness:  ‘By grace you have been saved through faith… for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
21:1-22:16 -  We are sanctified by the Lord (21:8,15,23; 22:9,16).  It is His doing – God’s call to holiness is founded in His gift of holiness: ‘the Holy Spirit…has been given to us’ (Romans 5:5) – ‘every virtue we possess… every victory won… every thought of holiness, are His alone’ (Church Hymnary, 336).  When we are so conscious of our own weakness, God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (21:12; 22:2-3,8).  He is more than sufficient for our justification, sanctification and glorification. Between our justification (the forgiveness of our sins) and our glorification (heaven) there is our sanctification (‘conformed to the image of His Son’).  This is God’s doing.  From beginning to end, it is the work of God (Romans 8:28-29).  We lack faith, we lack holiness, we lack perseverance:  In this we rejoice – ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ (Jonah 2:9).
22:17-23:44 -  God says, ‘I am the Lord’ (22:30-33):  Let Him be ‘your God’ (23:14,22,28,40,43,).  We are to ‘worship in Spirit and in truth’ – ‘in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day’ (John 4:24; Revelation 1:10)  When Christ died – This was the day of atonement.  We worship Him, ‘our Passover Lamb’ (22:28; Exodus 12:13; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).  After ‘fifty days’ came the Day of Pentecost – What a day that was (Acts 2:4,16-21,41)!  Bring ‘the first fruits of your harvest’ (9):  ‘What can I give Him? – my heart‘ (Church Hymnary, 178).  Blow the trumpet (23:23; Joel 2:1,15) – It must be a ‘clear call’: ‘Get ready for battle’ (1 Corinthians 14:8).  On the ‘day of worship’ (3), God is preparing us for the rest of the week: ‘Be strong in the Lord‘ (Ephesians 6:12).  Pray for the ‘fire’ of God (8,18,25,27,36-37; Acts 2:3-4).
24:1-25:24 -  ‘Pure’ worship is to be offered ‘continually’:  This is what God is looking for (1-8).  ‘Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who shall stand in His holy place?’:  No-one else but Christ – He alone ‘has clean hands and a pure heart’, He alone ‘will receive blessing from the Lord’ (Psalm 24:3-5).  Our worship is offered to God – in Christ… to the praise of His glorious grace’ (Ephesians 1:3,6).  This is our worship, this is our joy – We have been reconciled to God ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:11).  The ‘jubilee’ – ‘fiftieth year’ (25:11):  Half a century is such a short time in the light of eternity (James 4:14).  God has been good to us.  How have we lived?  How much do we love God?  How much have we loved one another?  Rededicate yourself to ‘the Lord your God’ (25:17).
25:25-55 -  Moral conduct is to be grounded in divine redemption.  Throughout the detailed ethical instructions, there is the recurrent emphasis on God’s salvation:  ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt (Salvation) to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God (Sanctification)… For to Me the people of Israel are servants (Service) whom I have brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God’ (38,55).  Salvation; Sanctification; Service.  We do not begin with the questions, ‘How can I live a godly life?  How can I serve the Lord?’  We begin with the question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’.  God’s answer is clear: ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus …` (Acts 16:31).
26:1-46 -  ‘Every spiritual blessing’ is ‘in Christ’ (Ephesians 1:3).  The moment you begin to feel superior – ‘I am blessed because I am obedient’  (There is too much of ‘I’ in this!) – , remember: ‘in Christ‘.  We are blessed because God loves us and Christ died for us.  It is His grace which changes us.  Without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Our obedience comes from Him. Our disobedience comes from ourselves.  We do not deserve His blessing.  We deserve His judgment.  There is only one way to blessing: Humbly confess your sin, turning to the Lord in whom alone there is blessing.  We must not ‘be proud’ of our ‘obedience’.  There is only one thing about which we should ‘boast’: ‘the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Galatians 6:14).  Thank God for His ‘new covenant’ (42,44-45; Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 11:25).
27:1-34 -  ‘Every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord’ (28).  We are loved by the holy God.  We are precious in His eyes.  In love, He has reached out to us – through the Cross of Christ (Romans 5:8).  We are ‘greatly beloved’ (Daniel 9:23).  The Lord takes great joy in every sinner who returns to Him (Luke 15:7,10).  ‘Most holy to the Lord’ – This is how the holy God looks upon those who have ‘faith in Jesus’ (Romans 3:26).  We are to be ‘devoted’ to the Lord: The Lord must come first – ‘All the tithe… is the Lord’s’ (30).  The bringing of the tithe (tenth) to God was an outward sign of an inward commitment.  Do you love God? – Let it show in your living and giving.  Let it be Thanksgiving (I want to) – not Grudge Giving (I have to) or Duty Giving (I ought to): ‘God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Corinthians 9:7).
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NUMBERS

1:1-54  -  ‘Every man able to go forth to war’: This is the key phrase in verses 1-46. God is looking for ‘soldiers’: Soldiers of  Christ! To live for Christ is to be engaged in warfare. It is spiritual warfare. We need ‘the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-20). We must remember that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not worldly’. They have ‘divine power’. They are ‘powerful weapons from God’. They are ‘mighty through God’ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). The Levites were to lead worship (47-54). The battle is the Lord’s (2 Chronicles 20:15). We will never be strong ‘soldiers of Christ’ unless we are learning to worship the Lord. Worship lies at the very heart of the life of God’s people. Without worship, we are weak. Worshipping God, we will grow ‘strong’. We will ‘firmly resist’ the enemy. We will ‘take action’ for God (Daniel 11:32).
2:1-34  -  ‘The Lord said to Moses’: These words appear more than eighty times in Numbers. Let your life be centred on the Word of the Lord - Listen, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate! God’s people were ‘facing the tent of meeting on every side’ (2). There were to be no gaps in the ranks. We are not to pull in different directions. We are to pull together. Everyone has their place. All who are willing to serve the Lord will find a place in His service. Let us be united in worship and witness. Without this spirit of co-operation, the work of the Lord will fail. Each of us needs to be ‘in position’ (17) - on the Lord’s Day for worship and on other occasions, when we are called upon to ‘serve the Lord with gladness’ (Psalm 100:2). Let our ‘standard’ (17,31) be the Lord - not the world:  We are God’s people!
3:1-51  -  The Levites were to ‘minister at the tabernacle’ (5-8). Different people were given different responsibilities. They were not to compete with each other. There was to be no overlapping. One was not to interfere with the work of another. The call comes from God. ‘Every male from a month old and upward’ (15,24,28,34,39-40,43): Long before we even thought of serving God, He was calling us to be His servants. God is in control: He determines who will serve Him, and how we will serve Him. Each of us has a part to play. The important thing is the whole work of God. Let each of us be faithful so that the whole work can move forward. Never forget this: We serve the Lord as a ‘redeemed’ people, for whom Christ has provided ‘redemption’ - ‘we have redemption through His blood’ (44-51; Ephesians 1:7).
4:1-49  -  ‘The sons... from thirty years old up to fifty years old’ (2-3,22-23,29-30...): The service of the Lord calls for maturity. Long before we ever offered ourselves to God, He had His hand upon us. If, however, we are to prove worthy servants of the Lord, we must press on to spiritual maturity. Why is it that so many people upon whom God’s hand has been laid early in life never attain their true spiritual status? - They have been distracted. ‘Self’ has intruded where only God should be. Choose God-centred blessing - not self-centred rebellion. God is ‘holy’ (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8). Serving Him is a ‘holy’ calling (4,15,19-20). In all of our service, one thing must take priority: Worship. We can ‘put on a performance’. It can be very impressive. Without real worship, it means nothing!
5:1-31  -  ‘The Lord said...’ (1): Let us hear and obey His Word. God is holy: His people are not to be defiled (3). Sin is not merely moral. It is spiritual. It is not only a deviation from law. It is an offence against God - ‘breaking faith with the Lord’ (6). God is holy:  ‘Atonement’ is more than a provision for our need of forgiveness. It is a ‘restitution... to the Lord’ (8). Christ’s atoning death does two things: (a) It meets the demands of God’s holiness. (b) It meets our need of salvation. We must not do ‘the wrong’ and ‘break faith with the Lord’ (6-7). We are to obey the Gospel call for ‘faith in our Lord Jesus Christ’: This is ‘repentance’. We obey God’s ‘command...to repent’ (Acts 20:21; 17:30). No longer ‘trusting in ourselves that we are righteous’, we confess our sins and look to Christ for mercy  (Luke 18:9,13).
6:1-27  -  ‘Separate... to the Lord,... Separate... from wine and strong drink’ (2-3): These two thoughts are closely connected in the New Testament - ‘Do not get drunk with wine,... Be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). We are to be ‘holy to the Lord’ (8). ‘Consecrated to the Lord’, our whole life must be controlled by one thing: ‘Do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). Motivated by a desire for God’s glory, we will enjoy God's blessing (22-27). God’s blessing is not a ‘cheap’ thing, something that doesn’t matter very much. Remember Esau (Genesis 25:29-34). He couldn’t be bothered. He couldn’t care less. God’s blessing meant nothing to him. He didn’t want God’s blessing. What did God do? - He gave it to Jacob. ‘The Lord bless you...’: Do you want this? Or must God find somebody else?
7:1-47  -  Why do we bring our offerings to the Lord? - ‘that they may be used in doing the service of the tent of meeting’ (5). We give ourselves to the Lord - ‘Love so amazing, so divine, Shall have my soul, my life, my all’ - and we ask Him to put our gift to good use - ‘O use me, Lord, use even me, just as Thou wilt, and when, and where’ (Church Hymnary, 437,485). Why is there so much repetition here? - God does not look only at the total offering. He prizes each separate offering. Each gift expresses the giver’s love for Him. Let us ‘lay up... treasures in heaven’, bringing our offerings in faith, as an expression of our gratitude to God for His abundant grace. Which matters most to you? - ‘earth’ or ‘heaven’: ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also’ (Matthew 6:19-21).
7:48-89  -  At the end of this long chapter, we have Communion with God: ‘When Moses went into the tent of the meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat...’ (89). This is what it’s all about: We ‘draw near to the throne of grace’. We ‘receive mercy and find grace...’ (Hebrews 4:16). Listen for God’s Word. Speak to God in prayer. So often, the most important things get crowded out. We lose sight of God - His love, His grace, His mercy. Religion becomes a burdensome, legalistic thing. There is no joy in it. God comes to us in mercy - ready to forgive. In love, He offers us a new beginning. By His grace, we can live as the people of God. God is speaking. Are you listening to Him? God is listening. Are you speaking to Him? Nothing is more important than this!
8:1-26  -  The Levites were ‘set apart’ for God (14). They were ‘a gift to Aaron... to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting...’ (19).  We are to work together as a team. ‘Yield yourselves to God...’ (Romans 6:13): Help each other to be better servants of Christ. The ‘lampstand’ (1-4): ‘Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (Psalm 119:105). Without Christ, the living Word, we remain in darkness. With Him we ‘walk in the light’, in the joy of His salvation (John 8:12; 1 John 1:7). ‘Service for the people of Israel’ (19): As servants of Christ - He ‘came not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45) - , we are to serve others for ‘Jesus’ sake’ (2 Corinthians 4:5). To those whom we serve, we say, ‘We are your servants but you are not our lords’. Jesus is Lord: It is ‘as the Lord commands’ (22).
9:1-23  -  God’s people were ‘in the wilderness’ (1) - No longer in the land of bondage, not yet in the land of promise. This is our situation - We look back to what the Lord has done for us, we look forward to what the Lord will yet do for us. The Passover directs our attention to the death of Christ, ‘our Passover Lamb’ (4; 1 Corinthians 5:7). The Cloud directs us to the return of Christ - ‘He is coming with the clouds’ (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:30). God’s people are guided by the ‘cloud’ and ‘fire’ (15): Not one without the other, but both together. We need both grace and faith: Not grace without faith, not faith without grace. God is ‘able to keep us from falling’ (Jude 24) - This is grace. We are to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21) - This is faith. ‘Kept by the power of God through faith’ (1 Peter 1:5).
10:1-36  -  God’s Word - ‘the testimony’ (11) - reveals God’s purpose (29) and provides God’s guidance (33). The ‘cloud’ is like the presence of God’s Spirit hovering over us. Great things are about to happen. The Spirit of God is moving over the face of the people of God gathered for worship (11; Genesis 1:2). Through the Word, the Spirit draws our attention to the Lord who has promised good to us (29). Instructed by the Word and strengthened by the Spirit, we ‘journey’ with God (33). We are moving on with God, looking forward to the fulfilment of His good purpose. We have heard the trumpet sound, calling us to worship the Lord, to be His soldiers and servants (1-10). We hear the divine declaration, ‘I am the Lord your God’ (10), and we say, ‘Yes, Lord, You are our God’ (Psalm 63:1; John 20:28).
11:1-35  -  ‘The people complained in the hearing of the Lord’ (1) - Remember: All our words are spoken ‘in the hearing of the Lord’! There was ‘a rabble among them’ (4): What problems there are when such people are mingling with God’s people! What are we to do when this happens? - Pray for God’s help (10-15). God will not disappoint us - He gives people who will ‘take their stand with us’ (16), the Spirit who rests on God’s people (25), the Word, ‘strong meat’ to sustain our spiritual strength (31-32; Hebrews 5:12-14). The lure of  the world , the pull of the flesh - ‘the rabble’ wanted to go back to ‘Egypt’ (4-6):  This is the attack of  the devil. Standing in Christ’s strength alone, we ‘resist the devil’. Defeated by Christ, Satan can do nothing but ‘flee from us’ (Philippians 4:13; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8).
12:1-13:33  -  Miriam and Aaron complained (12:1-2). Caleb and Joshua encouraged (30; 14:6-9). Thank God for encouragers! How did Moses react to criticism? He ‘was very meek’ (3). He was like Jesus - ‘When He was reviled, He did not revile again’ (1 Peter 2:23). Moses - ‘a servant’ - was  ‘entrusted with all God’s House’: We look beyond Moses to Christ who is ‘faithful over God’s House as the Son’ (12:7; Hebrews 3:5-6). In times of difficulty, we draw our strength from Him. Where there is the encouragement of faith, the discouraging voice of unbelief is not far behind it. Unbelief sees nothing but problems - ‘We are not able...’ (30-31). ‘Not able’ or ‘well able’? The choice is yours. Choose faith. There must be no place for unbelief.
14:1-45  -  All the congregation raised a loud cry...’, ‘all the people of Israel murmured...’, ‘all the congregation said to stone them...’ (1-2,10). Was there any ‘light at the end of the tunnel’? Yes! - ‘The Lord... will bring us into this land’ (8). With the promise, there was also the warning: ‘Do not rebel against the Lord’ (9). Though angry, God remained patient: ‘How long will this people despise Me? How long will they not believe in Me?’ (11). He was waiting patiently for a change of heart. Moses prayed for mercy without presuming on it: ‘He will by no means clear the guilty’ (18-19). God announces His pardon (20). Nevertheless, there may be times when God says, ‘Enough is enough - It’s time for a new beginning’: Only Caleb, Joshua and the ‘little ones’ would enter the land (30-31): No one else! Not even Moses!
15:1-41  -  We read of offerings for ‘atonement’ (25,28). We think of Christ: He went ‘outside the camp’ for us (35-36; Hebrews 13:12) - to bring us forgiveness (25,28). We are to ‘be holy to our God’, the God of our redemption (40-41). Obedience to God is of the utmost importance: We need to be reminded of all His commandments (39). Our supreme motivation is redeeming love. This divine redemption creates a relationship. God is our God and we are His people. Out of this relationship is to come the obedience of faith (40-41). ‘E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die’;  ‘When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring, then anew this song we'll sing, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”’ (Mission Praise, 671; Church Hymnary, 380).
16:1-50  -  ‘You have gone too far!’: They regarded themselves as ‘holy’, yet they refused to go ‘too far’ with God (3)! What kind of ‘holiness’ is this? There is a ‘holiness’ which is more concerned with respectability than obedience to God. Faced with ‘the upward call of God in Christ Jesus’, we dare not say, ‘We will not come up’ (12; Philippians 3:14). We are to be ‘holy’: ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity’ (4; 2 Timothy 2:19). ‘Separate yourselves’ (20): This is not the false separation of the Pharisees - Spiritual ‘pride’ is ‘an abomination to the Lord’ (Proverbs 11:1-2). Maintain your high calling - Don’t get dragged down to the level of those who ‘will not come up’ to where God wants them to be - and remember: ‘By grace... not your own doing... the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2:8).
17:1-18:32  -  The call comes from God - to Aaron, to Christ (17:5; Hebrews 5:4-6). Christ is both the Offering for sin and the Great High Priest (Hebrews 5:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:25). We look at ourselves, and we say, ‘We perish, we are lost, we are dead’ (17:12). We look to Christ, and everything changes (John 3:16; Luke 19:10; Ephesians 2:1). ‘Service’ and ‘reward’ (18:31): The Lord blesses those who serve Him faithfully each day (1 Corinthians 15:58). Building on Christ, we seek to do work of lasting value - ‘gold, silver precious stones’. We dare not rest content with shallow superficiality - ‘wood, hay, straw’. There is ‘a reward’ for those whose ‘work’ is ‘built on the Foundation, which is Jesus Christ’ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
19:1-22  -  The sacrifice was to be ‘without defect’. There was to be ‘no blemish’ (2). Here, we have a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ - ‘without sin’, He offered Himself ‘for the sins of the people’ (Hebrews 4:15; 2:17). The gathering of ‘the ashes’ (9-10) speaks of the completeness of Christ’s work for us - ‘for all time a single sacrifice for sins’ (Hebrews 10:12). The danger of becoming unclean through touching a ‘dead body’ (11) - there is a warning for us here. ‘Dead in trespasses and sins’, we have been ‘made alive’ in Christ (Ephesians 2:1). We dare not look back (Luke 17:32; Genesis 19:26; Luke 9:62; 2 Peter 2:20-22). We have been purified ‘from dead works to serve the living God’ (Hebrews 9:14). Christ ‘saves to the uttermost’. How dare we ‘shrink back’ from Him? ‘Have faith. Be saved’ (Hebrews 7:25; 10:39).
20:1-29  -  No man or woman is indispensable. God’s work goes on, with or without us! (a) Miriam (Moses’ sister) served and worshipped the Lord (Exodus 2:7-8; 15:20-21). Now, her time had come. She was not to enter the land. She ‘died’ (1). (b) Moses had been the leader of God’s people. He sinned, and he was excluded from the promised land (12). Do not rest on your laurels. Yesterday’s grace is not sufficient for today’s challenges. A day-by-day walk with the Lord is called for. (c) Aaron (Moses’ brother) had stood alongside Moses in leadership. He ‘died’ (28) without entering the promised land. In the leadership of God’s people, the names and the faces change - but the Lord never changes. He remains unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love. When Moses, Aaron and Miriam had gone, God was still there!
21:1-35  -  In verses 5-9, there is an illustration of God’s salvation (John 3:14-15). There is sin and death (Romans 5-6; 3:23, 6:23). Christ prays for our forgiveness (7; Luke 23:34). Lifted up on the Cross, He dies that we might have eternal life. In love, He appeals to us, ‘Look to me and be saved’ (John 12:32; Isaiah 45:22). Enter, Destroy Possess (21-24, 33-35): Let Christ enter your heart, destroying Satan’s strongholds and taking possession of your life (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5). If we are to be victorious to the ‘praise and glory and honour... of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:6-8), we must ‘go by the King’s Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or the left’(22; 20:17). For the Christian, ‘the King’s Highway is ‘the Way of Holiness’: ‘This is the way, walk in it’ (Isaiah 35:8; 30:21).
22:1-41  -  Learn from the past. In 2 Peter 2:15-16, Jude 11 and Revelation 2:14, we are encouraged to learn from the events of this chapter. Each passage contains a warning. (a) 2 Peter 2:15-16  - Don’t leave ‘the straight way’ and follow the crooked way! (b) Jude 11 - Don’t let making a profit become more important than being a prophet! (c)  Revelation 2:14 - Make sure you don’t get drawn away from God into sin! What is God saying to us here? - ‘these things happened... as a warning... they were written down for our instruction... let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall’. With the warning, there is also the promise: ‘...God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape...’ (1 Corinthians 10:11-13).
23:1-30  -  Our words are to be an echo of God’s Word. We are to speak only what God says (8,12). Before we can speak for God, He must speak to us. ‘God’s Word is truth’ (John 17:17). God does not lie. He does not change His mind. What He says, He does. He fulfils His purpose (19). How does God carry forward His purpose of blessing? We receive His blessing. We share His blessing with others. We can only bring blessing to others when we ourselves seek blessing from the Lord. His blessing comes to us. His blessing reaches out through us. We speak His Word, yet - through our words - He speaks (20). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. ‘God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit uses the Word to convict us of our sin and lead us to our Saviour (Hebrews 4:12-16).
24:1-25  -  When ‘the Spirit of God came upon him’, Balaam’s ‘oracle’ was described as ‘the message of the man who sees clearly’. His ‘eyes are opened’. He sees ‘with far-seeing eyes’. He ‘hears the words of God’. He ‘sees the vision of the Almighty’ (2-4,15-16).  Balaam looks beyond his own time. ‘With far-seeing eyes’, he prophesies concerning our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I see Him, but not now’ (17). Balaam catches a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the ‘King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). This is what we must pray for: ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’. Pray that you will be ‘in the Spirit’, ready to ‘hear what the Spirit says’ (Revelation 1:1,10; 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). God is the unchanging God - Nothing changes Him (23:19). He is also the changing God. He changed Balaam. He will change us!
25:1-26:22  -  Read of Israel’s adultery and idolatry and remember God’s Word of warning: ‘Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould’ (25:1-5; Romans 12:2). God is looking for people who have the ‘same zeal’ as He has (25:11). Those who are zealous for God may be few in number, but we must not be discouraged. Glorying in Christ our Saviour, we must continue to be zealous for Him. In Christ we have ‘peace’, ‘atonement’ and a ‘perpetual’ salvation (25:12-13; Romans 5:1-2,9-10). We are saved to serve - This is the thought contained in the phrase, ‘all in Israel who are able to go forth to war’ (26:2). The wilderness wanderings were over. God was doing a new thing. He was looking for a new people, determined, by grace, to carry His work forward into the future. He is still looking!
26:23-65  -  There is real sadness in the final words of this chapter: ‘There was not left a man of them, except Caleb and Joshua’ (65). There is also a sense of expectation. So many had died in the wilderness. This was now a new generation. We’re living in changing times. God is equipping His people for new challenges. We must not stand still. We dare not say, ‘It’s never been done that way before’! A new generation has to be won for Christ. Will we rise to the challenge? Or, will we ‘die in the wilderness (65)? Taking possession of ‘the promised land’ would not be easy. Making advances for Christ will not be easy. We must lay aside those things which need to ‘die in the wilderness’. We must take hold of all that God has given to us - if there is to be ‘Good News for the next generation’!                                               
27:1-23  - The daughters of Zelophehad were concerned about the continuation of the father’s name (1-11). Our first concern must be the glory of God, our Heavenly Father. We are to honour our parents, loving them deeply. We must not allow such love to compete with our love for Christ. He must come first. We are called to a life of single-minded devotion to Jesus Christ. Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses as the leader of God’s people (12-23). Soon, Moses would be gone. The Lord was preparing His people for the future. God had His man - Joshua - waiting to continue the work which Moses had begun. For each place and time, God has His ‘Joshua’. The work of God will go on. His work requires more than a ‘Joshua’. What part will you play in God’s ongoing work? Will you take up the challenge?
28:1-31  -  The sacrifices, offered to God, were to be ‘a pleasing odour’ to Him (2,6,8,13,24,27). These sacrifices are no longer required. A greater Sacrifice has been offered and accepted. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has offered Himself as a Sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:23-26). This Sacrifice is ‘a pleasing odour’ to God. It is ‘good news’ for us. This is ‘good news’ - the Gospel of our salvation: ‘Christ died for our sins’ (1 Corinthians 15:3). How do we know that Christ’s Sacrifice is ‘a pleasing odour’ to God? - God ‘raised’ Him from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4). The ‘feast of weeks’ (Pentecost) turns our thoughts towards the Holy Spirit (26-31; Acts 2:1-4). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the ‘good news’ of Christ becomes real in our lives. He brings us to Christ and leads us on with Him (Acts 2:37-47).
29:1-40  -  Between the feast of weeks (Pentecost) and the feast of trumpets (28:26-29:6), there was the harvest. Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - has ushered in the time of  Harvest - the saved are being gathered in as men and women are being won for Christ. During this time of harvest, we ‘blow the trumpets’ of worship, rejoicing in the Lord (1), and ‘alarm’, calling on men and women to pay attention to the Word of the Lord (Joel 2:1). By blowing the trumpets for God, we prepare the way for the final trumpet, ‘the trumpet of God’ (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). We must get ready, and we must encourage others to get ready, for Christ’s Return. Atonement (7-11), Tabernacles (12-40): Christ has ‘tabernacled’ among us (John 1:14). He has made ‘atonement’ for us (Romans 5:11). Share the Good News!
30:1-31:20  -  Vows (30:1-16): Be careful what you say - You may live to regret it (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-6; Matthew 12:36-37; James 3:6-11). Learn from Balaam. Full of good intentions about speaking God’s Word (22:18; 23:12), he hoped to ‘die the death of the righteous’ (23:10). He did not live up to his good intentions. He sinned and he led others into sin (31:16). He ended up being slain among God’s enemies (31:8). Why were the Midianites destroyed (31:7-8)? They opposed the Lord, exerting an evil influence on His people. We must take care that we do not cause God’s people ‘to act treacherously against’ Him (31:16). Sin needs to be removed if we are to press on to a greater enjoyment of God’s blessing. ‘Put to death what is earthly in you... put off the old nature... put on the new nature’ (Colossians 3:5-11). This is what we must do.
31:21-54  -  If we are to be ‘soldiers of Christ’, we need to be ‘purified’, made ‘clean’. There is purification by ‘fire’ and ‘water’. Purification may be painful, but we have the promise of God’s protective presence. He says, ‘I will be with you’. He assures us, ‘the waters... shall not overwhelm you... and the flame shall not shall not consume you’ (22-24; Isaiah 43:2). From the Old Testament wars, we learn important spiritual principles: Enter the war, Destroy the sins, Possess the land. This is what we must do throughout life. Looking beyond Israel’s triumphs to Christ’s victory over Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8), we thank God for His victory and we claim this victory by faith (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4-5). The battle may be ‘fierce’. The ‘victory is secure’ (Church Hymnary, 479). Praise God!
32:1-42  -  Some look for an easy life. They know that there will be conflict on the other side of the Jordan. They opt out - ‘do not take us across the Jordan’ (5). They think they’ve travelled far enough. God says, ‘Let us go on to maturity’ (Hebrews 6:1). ‘My happiness’ - This is what concerns the self-centred person. Spiritual maturity is not about happiness. It’s about holiness. We find happiness when we aim at holiness. What is holiness? - ‘It’s the life apart from the world’s excess. It’s the Lord’s command, not the Lord’s request. It’s the only life that the Lord can bless’. Pretend to be more holy than you really are, and ‘be sure your sin will find you out’ (23). A small minority - Caleb and Joshua - ‘wholly followed the Lord’ (12): Better a minority with God than a majority without Him.
33:1-49  -  In the history of Israel - Set free by the power of God, failure to learn, wandering, the promised land - , there is a picture of the Christian life - conversion and growth to spiritual maturity by way of learning from our mistakes. We are not to remain in the past. That would be nostalgia. It is, however, a good thing for us to remember, with gratitude, all the way the Lord has led us. This will increase our appreciation of the goodness of God. It will deepen our sense of indebtedness to Him. Israel’s redemption was a mighty work of God. Our salvation is a mighty work of God. Think back over your life - ‘stage by stage’ (2) - and thank God for all that He has done. ‘These are the stages of’ what the Lord has done (1): You may see the Lord in places where you hadn’t noticed Him before!
33:50-34:29  -  ‘Drive out all the inhabitants of the land’ (52): We must drive out the enemy (Satan) if we are to enter more fully into our salvation in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:3-14). Idolatry is to be banished (52). It has no place among God’s people. God wants us to ‘possess the land’ (53) - a fuller enjoyment of Him. Idolatry is settling for ‘second best’ - letting something or someone else become more important to you than the Lord. Don’t let it happen! The setting of the boundaries of the land of Canaan (34:1-29) is a reminder that there are boundaries in the Christian life, boundaries set by God Himself, the boundaries of Holy Scripture. When we move beyond the boundaries of God’s holy Word, we move outside the sphere of God’s blessing. Live in the will of God - within the boundaries set by His Word.
35:1-36:13  -  Cities of refuge were provided for those who had killed someone accidentally. This is a good illustration of fleeing to Christ for refuge. He is our ‘strong tower’. We ‘run’ to Him and we are ‘safe’ (Hebrews 6:18; Proverbs 18:10). God gave Israel a ‘land’. They were not to ‘defile the land’ (34). God has given us a Saviour. We are not to dishonour Him. Christ is our ‘inheritance’. Our full enjoyment of Him is still to come (36:2-4, 7-9,12; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 3:24; 1 Peter 1:4). How can we enjoy our Saviour more fully? - ‘These are the commandments...’ (36:13). The names change. The places change. The principle remains the same: Obedience to God. We have been redeemed by God. Let us live in obedience to Him. There is nothing more important than this - if we really want to enjoy His blessing.
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DEUTERONOMY

1:1-46 -  With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the older generation – including Moses – was not to enter the land (34-38).  For the new generation, there was a challenge.  There must be no more failures.  One wasted generation was enough.  This was the time for real commitment to the Lord.  He loved them – He had ‘set the land before’ them.  They were to rise up in faith and ‘ take possession of the land’ (8).  We are called to go on with the Lord.  ‘You have stayed long enough’ at a low level of Christian living.  God is calling us on to maturity: ‘go in and take possession of the land; (6,8; Philippians 3:13-14).  Do not hesitate to move forward with God:  ‘do not fear… It is a good land which the Lord gives us’ (21,25).  Will we be the new generation, ‘a new creation in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) ?
2:1-37 -  During their wilderness years, God’s people had many problems.  God is greater than all the problems!  Israel’s journey began in the land of  ‘bondage’ (Exodus 2:23-25).  From there, He led them to the land of promise, ‘the land which the Lord our God gives to us’ (29).  This is ‘amazing grace’:  ‘Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home’ (Mission Praise, 31).  In the giving and taking of the land, we see both grace and faith: ‘I have begun to give… this land over to you; begin to take possession…’ (31).  We are not saved by grace apart from faith.  We are ‘saved by grace through faith’.  We are not saved by faith without grace.  We are ‘saved by grace through faith’.  Saved by the Lord, let us press on to a life of ‘good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10).
3:1-29 -  The promised land was near.  For Moses, it was ‘so near and yet so far’.  He was excluded.     Together with the sadness of Moses’ exclusion, there was the joy of the people’s entrance (27-28).  When we consider Moses’ sadness and the people’s joy, we must remember this: Nobody deserved to go into the land!  The land was God’s gift.  Without His strength, the people of Israel would fail.  With Him, they would be victorious:  ‘You shall not fear them; for it is the Lord your God who fights for you’ (22).  There is here a basic principle of Christian living: ‘not by might , nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts’ (Zechariah 4:6).  ‘In heavenly armour we’ll enter the land.  The battle belongs to the Lord.  No weapon that’s fashioned against us will stand. The battle belongs to the Lord’ (Mission Praise, 639).
4:1-43 -  The people of Israel were involved in the work of the Lord.  The work was based on God – not Moses.  Moses would not be in the promised land.  God would be there.  Moses would ‘not go over the Jordan’.  As God’s man. he was to prepare the people for their task:  ‘you shall go over and take possession of that good land’ (22).  Privilege involves responsibility.  Israel was a privileged people, redeemed by the Lord, delivered from bondage ‘by a mighty hand and outstretched arm’ (34).  Israel was a responsible people, called to obey the Lord: ‘Obey His laws and commands’ (40).  The Lord our God is ‘a merciful God’ (31).  He has saved us.  We are to serve Him.  Let Him reign in your heart.  Let there be ‘no other besides Him’ (35).  Flee to Christ for refuge (42-43), and live each day with ‘the attitude of gratitude’.
4:44-5:33 -  Obedience is grounded in salvation.  The Ten Commandments (7-21) are preceded by the divine declaration: ‘I am the Lord your God’ who brought you… out of the house of bondage’ (6).  He has redeemed us.  We are to live for Him.  The Word of God was spoken to Moses before it was spoken by him (27).  We cannot begin to live for the Lord until we begin to listen to Him.  The way of obedience is the way of blessing.  Our obedience is to be offered in a spirit of gratitude to God for His gracious salvation.  Never imagine it is because of our obedience that God loves us.  His love for us is always prior to our love for Him.  Remember what the Lord has done for you, and your love for Him will grow stronger.  Forget, and you love will grow weaker.  Loved by God, let us love Him – more!
6:1-25 -  ‘Hear’ and ‘do’ (1-3; James 1:22-25).  In our obedience to God, there is to be the fear of the Lord and love for the Lord (2,5).  Fear and love: the two belong together.  God is holy – fear Him.  God is love – love Him.  This is for every generation: ‘you and your son and your son’s son’(2).  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’ (5).  Teach the children well so that the blessing of God may be ‘prolonged’ among us (7,2).  Our promised land – heaven (John 14:1-3) – is far better than Israel’s promised land.  Through faith in Christ, we have received ‘eternal life’ (John 5:24; 6:40).  Never take the Lord’s blessing for granted.  Always remember to thank Him for all that He has done for you (10-12).  Teach the children what the Lord has done for them (20-23).  Then, and only then, tell them what they must ‘do’ for Him (24-25).
7:1-26 -  Enter, Destroy, Possess (1-2).  Don’t try to jump straight from entering to possessing.  Don’t forget to destroy.  We enter the Christian life through faith in Christ.  We will not ‘take possession of’ a fuller enjoyment of His salvation if we refuse to ‘destroy’ the obstacles to His blessing in our  lives.  Sin is like a ‘cancer’.  It will ‘kill’ us if we let it (Romans 6:23).  This is why we must fight it – with ‘the whole armour of God’ (Ephesians 6:10-17).  From beginning to end, our salvation is the work of God:  ‘…it is because the Lord loves you… that He has… redeemed you…’ (6-8).  The Lord’s love speaks of His keeping power.  He will complete the work He has begun (17-19; Philippians 1:6).  Saved and kept by the power of God, we travel from Christ’s Cross to our Crown (Romans 1:16; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2:24-25; 5:4).
8:1-9:21 -  The ‘wilderness’ was a place of ‘testing’.  God was ‘disciplining’ His people.  He was teaching them to ‘walk in His ways’ (2,5-6).  In the ‘wilderness’, we must remember this: ‘man does not live by bread alone… man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord’ (3).  Everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord – His warnings as well as His promises!  He speaks to us in warnings: ‘Take heed lest you forget the Lord your God…’ (11).  He speaks to us in promises:  ‘the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land’ (7).  ‘God forbid that I should glory…’ (8:17-18; 9:4-6; Galatians 6:14).  God gave Israel the land.  He gives us ‘the Kingdom’ (Luke 12:32).  As earthly kingdoms rise and fall, ‘the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed’ (Daniel 2:44).
9:22-10:22 -  ‘We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4).  Moses was an intercessor (25-29).  The ministry of the Word needs to be grounded in prayer.  Prayerfully seeking the Lord’s help, we are to place His Word at the centre of the life of His people (5).  God shows His mercy by providing His servants to carry His Word in a ministry of blessing to the people, a ministry which helps the people to ‘go in and possess the land’ (8,10-11).  In gratitude to God, our Creator-Redeemer, we are to give ourselves to Him in obedience (12-15).  Let your heart and life be changed by the Lord, never forgetting this: ‘He is your praise; He is your God, who has done for you… great… things’ (16-21).  ‘God… gives the growth’ (22; Corinthians 3:7).  Read Psalm 126:6 and pray!
11:1-32 -  God is at work among His people, teaching them many lessons.  Through His precious promises and strong warnings, He leads us in the way of obedience and blessing (31-32).  If we are to enjoy the Lord’s blessing, we need the whole Word of God – the warnings as well as the promises.  Obedience to God – This is the most important thing in the life of faith.  Obedience demonstrates the reality of faith.  By our obedience, we show our ‘love’ for the Lord.  We rejoice in ‘all the great work of the Lord’.  By ‘His mighty hand’, He has provided for us a great salvation.  Our enjoyment of His salvation increases as we live in obedience to Him (8-15).  Without obedience, there can be no blessing (16-17).  Teach others to obey God – especially the ‘children’ (18-21).  God is good.  He loves us (22-25).  Obey Him.  Choose blessing (26-28).
12:1-32 -  In our hearts, nothing else must compete with the Lord.  There is no room for idolatry.  ‘Destroy’ everything that threatens to take the place of God in your life. (2-3).  We are not to ‘do what is right in our own eyes’.  We are to worship as the Lord ‘chooses’ (5,8,13-14).  Remove every distraction.  Get rid of those things which keep you from crowning Christ as Lord of your life.  When you are tempted to put other things before the Lord, ‘be careful not to be ensnared’ in the ways of the world (29-31).  When we are tempted, we must take our stand on God’s Word.  ‘Everything’ He has given to us – This means more than our favourite passages!  Don’t ‘add to it’, making ‘the traditions of men’ more important than the Word of God.  Don’t ‘take from it’, ignoring the parts you don’t like (32; Mark 7:8; Acts 20:27).
13:1-14:21 -  Obedience to God involves an uncompromising attitude toward those who would lead people away from God.  Those who say ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (13:2,6,13) must not be permitted to exert their evil influence on God’s people.  God says, ‘You must not listen to them (13:3,8).  Temptations to ‘idolatry’ can come under the guise of ‘spirituality’ – ‘a prophet… a dreamer of dreams… a sign or a wonder’ (13:1; 1 John 4:1).  ‘Idolatry’ can come from within one’s own family.  The Lord must come first (13:6-11; Luke 14:26).  God’s judgment is upon ‘idolaters’ so that others may see their folly, turn from ‘idolatry’ and receive God’s mercy (13:12-18).  Remember God’s purpose of love (John 3:17).  In our worship and in the whole of life, we are to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’ (14:2,21).
14:22-15:23 -  ‘Tithing’ (Giving the tenth to God) emerges out of holiness: ‘You are a people holy to the Lord your God… You shall tithe’ (14:21-22). It is more than giving things to God. It is giving ourselves to Him. It also involves caring for others (7-11; Isaiah 58:6-7). We have been ‘earmarked’ as servants of the Lord (17). Being ‘earmarked’ for God involves listening to God (Isaiah 55:2-3). Bring ‘the firstling’ to God (19). ‘We are here to bring You the best that we can bring. And it is our love rising from our hearts’ (Mission Praise, 717). ‘Just as I am… to be the best that I can be for truth, and righteousness, and Thee, Lord of my life, I come’ (Church Hymnary, 448). No second bests – Only the best will do for God.
16:1-17:13 -  Blessed by God, the people of Israel had much to celebrate. They had been brought out of the land of bondage. They were about to enter the land of promise. The keeping of the feasts (16:1-17) was a response to God’s love, a way of celebrating His love. Why did God bring Israel to the promised land? It was because He ‘loved them’ (Psalm 44:3). The Passover was a continuing reminder of God’s mighty work of redemption. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of what God has done for us in Christ. In remembering His dying love for us, we remember what we were without Him and we give thanks for all that He has done for us. As well as ‘joy’ (45), there is to be justice (16:18-17:13; Micah 6:8). Note the effect of justice: ‘And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again’ (17:13).
17:14-18:22 -  Even the king is subject to God’s ‘law’. His supreme responsibility is this: Pay careful attention to God’s Word (17:18-20). Politically, he may be in an elevated position – a ‘king over’ others (17:14-15). Spiritually, he must not allow ‘his heart’ to be ‘lifted up above his brethren’ (17:20). There must be humble obedience to God’s Word. Priests speak to God for us. Prophets speak to us for God. We need both – ‘prayer and the ministry of the Word’ (Acts 6:4). In our worship, we must keep the Lord at the very centre. Anything or anyone who distracts our attention from the Lord is no help to true worship (9-14). ‘A prophet like Moses’ (18:15): Jesus is the ultimate prophet – to see and hear Him is to see and hear God (John 5:19; 12:49; 14:9). He preaches God’s Word.  He is ‘the Word of God’ (John 1:1).
19:1-20:9 -  Justice is concerned with (a) the protection of the innocent – ‘innocent blood will not be shed in your land’ (10); (b) the punishment of the guilty – ‘you must purge the evil from among you’ (19). Through justice, God is to be glorified among His people. We are to fight for the Lord without fear, confident of His glorious presence (20:1-4). In the service of the Lord, we must not be ‘fearful and fainthearted’ (20:8). We are to be ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:3). We need to give careful attention to the Word of God: ‘When you draw near to the battle, the priest will come forward and speak to the people, and say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel…’ (20:2-3). God’s Word is not concerned only with ‘Church work’. It sends us ‘back to our house’ – ‘dedicated’ to the Lord (20:5-9).
20:10-21:23 -  The offer of ‘peace’ is made (20:10; Romans 5:1). Some refuse to ‘make peace’. They choose to ‘make war’ (20:12). When the enemies of  Christ and the Gospel are raging, we must be resolute in our commitment to living ‘as the Lord our God has commanded’ (20:16-18). We are to ‘do what is right in the sight of the Lord’. This will involve ‘going forth to war against our enemies’. It will involve ‘purging the evil from our midst’ (21:9-10,21; Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Hebrews 12:1-2,11). Our life of holiness is grounded in the death of Christ who, on the Cross, was ‘accursed by God’ so that we might be saved by God (21:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). Through faith in Him, we have been declared holy (Romans 5:1,3-5,9-10).
22:1-30 -  Care for ‘your brother’ (1-4). Our caring is not to be selective  – ‘If the brother does not live near you or if you do not know who he is’ (2). When Jesus says, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ (Luke 10:27), He means much more than loving the people who live near us, the people that we know. The ‘Samaritan’ didn’t know ‘the man who fell into the hands of robbers’ (Luke 10:30,33). ‘Jews did not associate with Samaritans’ (John 4:9). Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Love your enemies with the love of the Lord – ‘when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son’ (Romans 5:8,10). Don’t love the ways of those who ‘live as enemies of the Cross of Christ’ (Philippians 3:18). ‘Purge the evil from the midst of you’ (21-22,24).
23:1-25 -  God sees us as we really are. He ‘looks on the heart’ as well as ‘the outward appearance’. We must live to please Him, praying, ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (14; 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 139: 23-24). God calls us to be holy: ‘you shall keep yourself from every evil thing’ (9). This ‘holiness’ is not to be a proud, arrogant thing. It is to be filled with compassionate caring. Don’t write anyone off, saying, ‘They’re not our kind of people’ (7). Don’t be out for all you can get for yourself without any thought of how your actions affect other people (24-25). Let your holiness be real. Don’t say one thing and do another. Don’t pretend to be more ‘holy’ than you really are. Choose to be holy – every day (21-23).
24:1-25:29 -  Justice for the vulnerable is grounded in God’s redemption (24:17-18). This is an important principle for us. God loves us. He has done great things for us. He cares. We are to care. Let His love be the guiding light in every part of your life. Scripture speaks of both salvation and judgment. Israel was given ‘the land’ as ‘an inheritance to possess’. The Amalekites were blotted out (25:19). The Christian life is a spiritual warfare. When we are ‘faint and weary’, we will be ‘attacked on the way’. If we ‘lag behind’ in our walk with God, those who ‘do not fear God’ will try to ‘cut us off’ from the Lord and His people. This is the work of Satan. We must not be ‘ignorant of his devices’. God is with us in the battle. He is leading us on to our eternal ‘inheritance’ (25:17-19; 2 Corinthians 2:11).
26:1-27:10 -  The people of Israel had a testimony. They had been redeemed by the God of love.   Thankful for His love and salvation, they brought their offerings to the Lord (26:5-9). The call to obedience is grounded in the gift of salvation. Redeemed by the Lord, we are called to be ‘a people holy to the Lord our God’ (26:16-19). There is no privilege without responsibility. Israel was privileged: God was giving them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Israel was responsible: God was saying to them, ‘Keep all the commandments which I command you this day’ (27:1-3). God blesses us. We obey Him. We enjoy more of His blessing. This leads us to obey Him more. Break the ‘vicious circle’. Get on to God’s ‘victorious circle’: He shows us His love. We love Him. He shows us more of His love. We love Him more… (John 14:21).
27:11-28:24 -  Through His strongly worded warnings, God calls us back from the way of disobedience (27:15-26;28:15-24). Through His promises of blessing, He calls us to the way of obedience, the only way to true happiness (28:1-14). God’s blessing cannot be taken for granted. Where there is disobedience, there is no blessing. Our ‘enemies’ will triumph over us (28:25). We need not be defeated. God has shown us His way of blessing. It is the way of obedience (1-2). We are not blessed because we deserve to be blessed. We can never earn the Lord’s blessing. The blessing comes from Him (8). He blesses us because He loves us – not because we are worthy of His blessing. You can be in ‘the promised land’ without enjoying the promised blessing. Don’t ‘suffer loss’ – ‘saved, but only as through fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:15).
28:25-68 -  There is nothing inevitable about the chain of events described in these verses. These are the consequences of disobedience. God is warning His people: ‘If you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God…’ (28:15). Why does God warn His people of the consequences of disobedience? He wants them to draw back from the way of disobedience and follow the pathway of obedience and blessing. These ‘curses’ were avoidable. They would only happen if Israel persisted in rebelling against the Lord. We can bring ‘curses’ upon ourselves. Don’t imagine that God doesn’t care how you live. He does. That is why He calls us back from the pathway of disobedience. That is why He exhorts us to choose holiness. Read Hebrews 10:26-31; 12:25-29. Pray for God’s mercy (Luke 18:13). Ask Him to make you more holy (Hebrews 12:14).
29:1-29 -  God has done great things for His people – ‘in the land of Egypt… in the wilderness’ (2,5). Acknowledging Him to be the Lord their God, they were to live in obedience to Him (6,9). The way of obedience is the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of blessing. Moses warns the people that they must not depart from the way of obedience (16-28). Turning away from the Lord leads to judgment – ‘anger and fury and great wrath’ (24-28). There are ‘secret things’. There are ‘things that are revealed’. Some ‘things’ we will never understand. These ‘things belong to the Lord our God’. There are many ‘things’ we have learned and have firmly believed. ‘The things that are revealed’ are found in ‘the Holy Scriptures’. Through God’s written Word, we are brought to ‘salvation’ and we are ‘thoroughly equipped’ for Christian  living (29; 2 Timothy 3:14-17).
30:1-31:13 -  For Israel, a real turning to the Lord with ‘all the heart and soul’ involved obedience to ‘His commandments… written in this book of the law’ (30:10). We are not left wondering what God wants us to do – ‘…the Word is very near you…’(11-14). Through His Word, God ‘sets before’ us a choice. He calls us to ‘choose life’ (15-20). Joshua was to succeed Moses (31:1-2,7-8). Conflict lay ahead. God’s people needed His Word of encouragement: ‘Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them’. Beyond the conflict, there would be triumph. God gave His Word of promise: ‘It is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you’ (31:6). Turning from the people to Joshua, Moses spoke the same words (31:7-8). Hear; Learn to fear the Lord; Be careful to obey His Word (31:12-13).
31:14-32:18 -  ‘Write this song, and teach it to the people of Israel’ (19,22). Moses did not delay his obedience to God. ‘Write… Teach…’: God is speaking to us about the renewal of our worship. Don’t say, ‘It’s never been done that way before’ – ‘the seven last words of the church’! Moses’ song was ‘a witness for God against the people of Israel’ (19). It can still help us, in this generation, to confess our sin – We ‘have dealt corruptly with Him’ (5) – and glorify our God – ‘I will proclaim the Name of the Lord’  (3). Modern music can help us to hear afresh the ancient message: ‘Ascribe greatness to our God…’ (3-4; Mission Praise, 40). Let us praise God ‘in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
32:19-33:17 -  Here, we have both the warning of judgment and the promise of salvation. Rebuking ‘a perverse generation’ – ‘They are devious people, children who can’t be trusted’ – God says, ‘I will hide My face from them’ (20). When, in our need, we look to Him for mercy, we have His promise: ‘The Lord will… have compassion on His servants, when He sees their power is gone’ (36). ‘This is the blessing…’ (1). For each tribe – Reuben (6), Judah (7), Levi (8-11), Benjamin (12), Joseph (13-17) – , there is a different Word from the Lord. Each of us is different. Our circumstances are different. God knows what we need to hear. He speaks the Word which is just right for each one. He ‘loves’ every one of us. We are ‘in His hands’. Let us ‘follow in His steps, receiving direction from Him’ (3).
33:18-34:12 -  ‘The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ (27): This is no guarantee of peaceful tranquillity. For Israel, there was conflict. ‘Saved by the Lord’, Israel had found true happiness. Still, there were ‘enemies’ to be ‘thrust out’ and ‘trampled down’ (27,29). Knowing the blessing of God’s salvation is no guarantee that life will be easy. When the enemies of the Gospel see a believer intent on glorifying the Lord, they do all they can to create problems. We have ‘enemies’ in ‘high places’ (29; Ephesians 6:12). Their argument is not with us. It is with God. If God’s work is to do well, there needs to be spiritual leadership. Moses had led God’s people in his day. Joshua was to take his place (9). Moses was important. Joshua was important. The Lord is more important  –  ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31).                                                                    

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