I will redeem you with an outstretched arm….

9 02 2011

DAY FORTY : Exodus 4 v. 1 – 6 v. 12; Matthew 26 v. 11 – 46; Proverbs 4 v. 10 – 19;

EXODUS  4 – Moses needs some persuading. The trick with the staff turning into a snake, and back to a staff, is impressive. The miracle of the leprous hand being healed should also be convincing. Then there’s the promise of the water from the Nile turning to blood. What more could Moses need ?
He’s worried he won’t be listened to, and that he’s not eloquent enough, so he persuades God to involve another – 
(‘O God, please send someone else to do it.”) 
– his brother, Aaron. Together, God will speak through them.

En route to Egypt, God prepares Moses for the difficulties he will face with Pharaoh. “I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.” (elsewhere, it will be said several times that ‘Pharaoh hardened his heart’. Here, I think the point is being made that Pharaoh is not himself the incarnation of the supreme God, as believed by many Egyptians, and the point is that nothing happens without the will of God Himself, even for mighty rulers like Pharaoh).
Moses will have to use threats and warnings in his encounters with Pharaoh. It will not be easy for him. Moses and Aaron address the Israelite elders for the first time, and with the miraculous acts alongside, the people believe and bow down and worship the God who is showing such concern for their plight.

(v. 24 – 26 are difficult. One commentary says that Moses is about to call God’s people to risk their lives, dependent upon the God of the covenant, but that Moses hadn’t, himself, fulfilled the human side by circumcising his son. ‘To toy with God, especially in momentous hours, is to invite destruction’. Those to whom much is given, much is required).

EXODUS 5 – When Moses and Aaron have made their request to Pharaoh, he turns up the heat on the Israelites, making their work many times harder. Now they have to gather their own straw and make the same quantity of bricks. When the Israelites realise why Pharaoh has done this they complain to Moses and Aaron. It’s all their fault that their plight has worsened. An early hard and testing time for Moses and Aaron – a foretaste of how hard this exodus experience is going to be! Following God’s instructions rarely leads to an easy life, even amongst ‘His people’.
Moses brings his complaint to God.

EXODUS 6 – God’s reply, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh : because of my mighty hand he will let them go.”
God reminds Moses who He is, and sends him with a clear message to the Israelites – your release is imminent, freedom is coming. This time, because of the harshness of their conditions, they do not believe Moses. Moses blames his own ‘faltering lips’ for the fact that the message isn’t believed. How quick we are, at times, to be self-critical, when God is slowly, patiently, working His purpose out, and it isn’t always smooth running. Moses is doing great. He’s learning obedience at personal cost.

Today, we’ve learnt a lot about Moses. How he saw himself as a reluctant, unlikely leader. How he is being shaped by God through his obedience to a tough call. He is a great leader in the making. The key is always ‘availability, hunger for God, openness and obedience’. He’s getting there quicker than he thinks, and it’s all a great encouragement to us, on our own journey, our own exodus road to liberation, to true freedom.

MATTHEW – Jesus knows that although Peter is keen to never fail his Lord, he will deny even knowing Jesus when confronted before daybreak. The disciples’ commitment to Jesus is commendable, but it is about to be severely tested, and they will be so disappointed in themselves. Faith or fear?

Gethsemane – this passage is agony in the garden. We visited Gethsemane when on our trip in the Holy Land, and it is a beautifully peaceful, tended garden, which Jesus would have known well, very close to the road leading back into the city. Here, he is doing deep soul searching, casting Himself before God. The temptation before Jesus right from the beginning of His ministry is that there may just be a way to impact people without His need to suffer. His real struggle is with the ‘cup of suffering’ which He pleads with God to take away. Ultimately, to serve God wholeheartedly, Jesus’s response is the only one possible,

“Yet not my will, but Yours be done.”

(cp our covenant prayer, again, ‘I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what You will…..)

I have always been deeply touched by the disciples’ failure to stay awake – their spirit is willing, their flesh is weak. In contrast with the God who never slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121). It will be a sign for the disciples (even Jesus’s inner circle of Peter, James and John) that although they speak undying support with their lips, they will fail Jesus in His hour of need.
Jesus’s struggle in Gethsemane also highlights for me the depth of Jesus’ agony for each one of us.
What a redeemer, what a Saviour !

PROVERBS – todays verses instruct us to guard the path we take carefully : the path to destruction or the path to life?
“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter until the full light of day.”

My re-created thoughts :
I wrote the words of this song, “Call Me”, relating to Moses and others struggling with what You, Lord, were asking of them, ending with these words which seem relevant today:

Lord, make me more like Jesus –
Ready to serve Your cause
Who, even at Gethsemane
Says, “Not my will, but Yours!”




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