Unleavened Bread

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 12:14-20 [2]

On the day the Passover lamb was slaughtered the festival of unleavened bread began. On the 14th of Abib the Hebrews’ were required to remove yeast from their houses and hold a sacred assembly. Yeast must not enter their houses for the next seven days, because the penalty for eating anything with yeast in it was severe. That person would be cut off from the community. On the 21st of Abib another sacred assembly was held. The first and last days of the festival were also Sabbath days. The preparation of food was the only work permitted.

Jesus interpretation of leaven gives the lasting ordinance of annually removing yeasts, which leavens bread, and eating unleavened bread for seven days greater significance. Jesus admonished his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Having only one loaf among them, the disciples assumed Jesus warned them not to take bread from the Pharisees and Sadducees. A frustrated Jesus who had just fed 5,000 with a few loaves reminded them of that fact. Then the disciples understood he was talking about the doctrine or teaching of the religious leaders.[3]

Teaching leavens societies just as bread leavens a lump of dough. Regardless of the source of the teaching, the kingdom of heavens or the teachings of man, everyone will be affected. Hypocrisy filled the teachings of the religious leaders.[4] They taught people rituals and practices crafted in human minds thinking these things proved their love for God. Yet when God walked among them, they hated him and wanted him dead.

The Apostle Paul, who had been a leading Pharisee proud of his devotion to God, learned he had loved religious practice but never loved God. He later called himself the chief of sinners because he was a hypocrite.[5] When he later addressed the acceptance of sexual immorality in the Corinthian church he warned them that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. Their teaching that had created an acceptance of sin in the church did not reflect a love for God and would eventually destroy all of them.

Paul reminded the Gentiles in the Corinthian church that they also have a Passover lamb in Jesus. Jesus did not need to be slain annually. His one sacrifice accomplished what the blood of an animal could not. Therefore the Gentiles must stop eating bread leavened with malice and wickedness and eat the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Let go of teachings that fill us with malice and wickedness. Embrace teachings that fill us with sincerity and truth.

Christians would do well to stop once a year and exam the teachings they have embraced. Is our service toward God a heavy burden of dos and don’ts that make us arrogant? Do we truly love God? Would God walk among us and we would not recognize him just like the leaders of Jesus day? Worse, would we recognize God among us and hate him because the things we teach are lies?

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:15

[4] Luke 12:1

[5] 1 Timothy 1:15

The Way of Escape

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 12:1-28 [2]

God’s plan spans generations and his instructions are usually detailed and specific. The lessons taught in each generation are building an image of God that becomes clearer as knowledge about God is added to the knowledge of past generations. The harsh lessons of the Old Testament will be softened by God’s sacrifice in the New Testament. The deliverance of the Hebrews in the final plague foreshadows future events that make a way of escape for everyone.

Before the final plague that would release the Hebrews from Pharaoh’s control into God’s control, God had a lot to say. He made the month they departed Egypt the first month of their year. The Roman calendar used today calls the month April. The Canaanite called it Abib. Later the Babylonian name Nisan was adopted during the Hebrews captivity.

Abib means “young head of grain.” Throughout the Bible nations are compared to trees. The seed of a nation God planted in Abraham has finally sprouted. God was not reacting to circumstance. The things that took place under the ministry of Moses had been on God’s mind from the time, probably long before, God brought Abraham outside to look at stars and affirm his promise.[3]

On the 10th of Abib each family would choose a lamb based on their need. Small families who could not consume an entire lamb were expected to join with larger families, so there would be no waste. The lamb or goat must be less than a year old and without blemish.

On the 14th of Abib the lamb must be slaughtered at twilight. Some of the lamb’s blood must be put on the side posts and the upper door post of the house, and they must remain in their houses. This was the most important part of the ritual. The blood on the door is the only thing that saved the firstborn Hebrews.

An aspect of God grasped by few is the impartial nature of his judgments. God did not exempt the Hebrews from this plague as he did some of the other plagues, but he did tell them how to escape. Since the blood on the door spared those within the house, any firstborn Egyptian could have escaped death if he was willing to spend the night in the house of a Hebrew. The Egyptians’ religion doomed them to death. Their religion made them feel superior to others. They considered the Hebrew shepherds an abomination.[4] The only firstborn Egyptians saved when the death angel passed through the land were those who overcame the racism their leaders taught them.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Exodus 15

[4] Genesis 46:34

The Last Word

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 11:4-8[2]

Pharaoh is obsessed with power and control. It doesn’t matter that his nation is ruined. It doesn’t matter that his people are suffering. He will not give the Hebrews religious freedom. He ordered Moses to leave  and threatened him with death if he returned. Pharaoh could sever Moses from his life but he can’t remove God. God was Pharaoh’s problem, not Moses. Did Pharaoh think he could kill God and be done with him?

Before Moses returned to Egypt, God said he would kill the firstborn son of Pharaoh if Pharaoh refused to let the Hebrews, who God considered his firstborn son, serve him.[3] Moses now knows God spoke the truth. There is nothing God can do to change Pharaoh, which made the final plague, death of the Firstborn, easier to accept.

Moses replied to Pharaoh’s threat saying, “You have spoken well. I will never see your face again.” A rather subdued response compared to God’s who had the last word. The next words out of Moses mouth were prefaced by “This is what the Lord says.”

The man who threatened God’s messenger with death brought death upon his nation. At midnight, every firstborn son in Egypt would die. God’s judgment showed no favoritism. From Pharaoh’s firstborn son to a servant’s firstborn and even the firstborn of cattle would die. Then the thing Pharaoh feared most would come upon him. He would lose control and become irrelevant. Pharaoh’s people would come to Moses, bow before him and grant Moses request for religious freedom.

In this final judgment upon Egypt and its god’s Pharaoh would know that “the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.”[4] That distinction rested upon the Hebrews obedience because no one in all Egypt was excluded from the death of the firstborn, including the Hebrews. The difference between Egypt and the Hebrews is this. God told the Hebrews how to escape death when the death angel passed through the land.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Exodus 4:22-23

[4] Exodus 11:7

Darkness

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 10:21-29 [2]

Pharaoh has acknowledged twice that he has sinned. The first time he admitted sinning against God. The second time he admitted sinning against God and God’s people. Initially Pharaoh hardened his heart. At this point, he has crossed a line of no return and God has denied him repentance by hardening Pharaohs heart. God is not mocked.[3] He knows how to reserve the unjust to the judgment he deserves.[4]

There is no indication God sent Moses to warn Pharaoh that darkness would cover Egypt for three days. While the Egyptians stumbled in darkness, the Hebrews had light. Pharaoh knew where the darkness came from. He summoned Moses, but there is no mention of Aaron. Moses has changed. He no longer stands in the background while Aaron speaks for God. Moses now leads the negotiations with Pharaoh.

Pharaoh relented where the women were concerned. They could go with the men to serve the Lord, but they could not bring their animals. He immediately added but even your children can go. God has loosened Pharaohs grip on the Hebrews one finger at a time. Control is hard to relinquish.

Pharaoh’s offer is unacceptable.”[N]ot a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.”[5] Moses’ knowledge is partial. He knows he is bringing the Hebrews to the mountain where he saw the burning bush, but he does not know what will happen when they arrive. This is another reason I believe the dispute between Moses and Pharaoh was about religious freedom instead of a request to permanently leave and start a new nation.

Pharaoh is incensed. His arrogance prevents him from completely removing the hand of control over their lives. Pharaoh never wanted to see Moses again and threatened him with death if he dared return with any more request. But Pharaoh was never dealing with a man. He was dealing with God. It is God Pharaoh never wants to see again. But the only one who will die is Pharaoh and those who support him.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Galatians 6:7

[4] 2 Peter 2:9

[5] Exodus 10:26

Let The Men Go

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 10:1-20 [2]

As Pharaoh has learned who God is yet continued to resist him the plagues upon him and his people have grown increasingly severe. In the plague of hail people died but it wasn’t God’s fault. Yes, he sent the hail, but he also warned them in advance and told them how to escape death. The only people who died were those with evil leaders who knew the truth but refused to keep them safe.

I find the reason God gave Moses for performing signs interesting, because the question of women worshiping God arises during this plague of locust. God wanted the Hebrews to tell their sons and grandsons about the mighty things done in Egypt so they will know who is LORD.

Moses informed Pharaoh the locusts were coming and left. Pharaoh’s servants had enough. “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the MEN go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?”[3] No doubt the support of his servants in allowing the Hebrews to leave was important. They are the ones who would have to carry the mud to make brick if the Hebrews did not return.

Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron to clarify who would be leaving. If everyone left they might not come back. Pharaoh is shocked by Moses answer, “We will go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feasts to the LORD.”[4]

Pharaoh’s reply tells us a lot about Moses. “Not so! Go now, you who are men, and serve the LORD, for that is what you desired.” Up to this meeting Moses had only asked for the men to leave and serve God in the wilderness. If you read this story thinking Moses believed they would become the nation God promised Abraham, this is easy to miss. Moses had one part in God’s plan that spans generations. God told Moses he would lead the Hebrews to the burning bush and serve God. I doubt Moses knew what would happen after that. Moses knew he was not the one seed the promises were made to and the need for resurrection to obtain those promises.

God wanted Pharaoh, the Egyptians, Moses, the Hebrews and their future generations to know who is LORD. MEN do not decide who serves God in the wilderness. Pharaoh gave the men permission to leave and serve God. If the woman can’t go, no one is going. Locust covered the land devouring everything that survived the hail storm.

This time Pharaoh admited he has sinned against the Lord and against the Hebrews. When the last locust was blown into the Red Sea Pharaoh changed his mind and plunged a nation into darkness.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Exodus 10:7

[4] Exodus 10:11

I Know

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 9:13-35 [2]

Moses stood before Pharaoh for the sixth time with God’s request to “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.”[3] Millions of Egyptians suffered because their leaders resisted a simple request for religious freedom. When the negotiations began, Pharaoh denied the request because he did not know the Lord and had no reason to obey him. At this point, Pharaoh knows the Lord and his power. God has revealed himself to Pharaoh with more irrefutable evidence than most people are given.

Pharaoh knows there is no one like Moses God. He also knows there is no one like Moses God in Egypt. The knowledge of God has not moved Pharaoh’s heart. God continued Pharaoh’s education by sending a plague of hail to teach Pharaoh that there is no one like the God of the Hebrews in all the earth.

In the last two plagues God killed animals and then sent another plague of boils as evidence he could have killed people, but he didn’t. If Pharaoh did not understand the object lesson of the last two plagues, God explained it in no uncertain terms when he made the sixth request to let his people leave Egypt to worship him.

“For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth,” said God to the hard hearted Pharaoh who thought he was a God too. God did not destroy Pharaoh because he raised him up so everyone could know God’s power, but not his power to destroy. He wanted Moses generation and all future generations to know his patience with sinful humanity.

God did not have to ask Pharaoh’s permission to let the Hebrews worship him. He could have easily destroyed anyone standing in their way, but God is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to the knowledge of the truth. Pharaoh has come to the knowledge of the truth, yet he continues to resist God. Resisting God when you know the truth brings death.

This is how we know there is no one like God in all the earth. God is angry with Pharaoh but not because he is resisting God. God is angry because Pharaoh is resisting the Hebrews desire to obey him. God responded by sending a hail storm that would kill Egyptians and their animals that survived the plague on Egypt’s livestock.

This is also how we know there is no one like God in all the earth. He warned his enemies to take shelter because anyone caught in the hailstorm would die. God was concerned about the Egyptians and their animals. The Egyptians who feared the word of God lost nothing. They took shelter. The Egyptians who did not fear God lost everything. They had no one to blame for the loss but themselves. They knew the truth.

The storm struck everywhere except the land of Goshen where God’s people lived. This time Pharaoh did more than learn the truth. He summoned Moses and Aaron and spoke the truth, “I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is right, and I and my people are in the wrong.”[4]

Pharaoh had learned the truth and admitted it. Moses had also learned God spoke the truth at the burning bush when he told Moses that Pharaoh would not let them go. In response to Pharaoh’s repentance, Moses said, “I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.”[5]

Knowing Pharaoh would never change, Moses still spread his hands toward heaven and prayed God would still the storm in Pharaoh’s life. Moses was right. When the storm ceased, everything went back to the status quo. After acknowledging the Lord was right and he was wrong, Pharaoh still denied the Hebrews religious freedom.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] Exodus 9:13

[4] Exodus 9:27

[5] Exodus 9:30

Truth Verified

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 9:1-12 [2]

Beginning with the fourth plague God drew a line separating Pharaoh’s people from his people, which contradicts the belief that we are all God’s children. We are all God’s possession because he created us, but he does not consider all of us his children.

The plague of flies softened Pharaoh’s heart momentarily. He agreed to let them worship God of their God if they didn’t go very far. When God removed the flies, Pharaoh changed his mind.

The next day, Moses returned with a warning. If Pharaoh did not let them go, the Egyptian’s livestock would die. Again God would make a difference between Pharaoh’s people and his people. No animal belonging to the Hebrews would die.

God waited until tomorrow giving Pharaoh time to repent. He didn’t, so God kept his word. The livestock of Egypt died. This time Pharaoh investigated to verify if God had spoken the truth. He learned that not even one of the animals belonging to the Hebrews had died. He did not care. The Hebrews were not leaving.

Did Pharaoh think God could kill animals with such precision only animals belonging to Egypt would die but God could not touch him? God sent Moses back to toss soot in the air in Pharaoh’s presence. The soot became a fine dust causing festering boils on the Egyptians. With this plague Pharaoh’s religious leaders, now covered in boils, knew they had met their match and abandoned Pharaoh.

Up to now Pharaoh hardened his heart, but this time God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”[3] The next three plagues will bring death to the Egyptians because the leader of Egypt knows the truth. The truth has been confirmed and verified. Yet he refused to grant religious freedom.

[1] From the time God promised to change Jacob’s name to Israel, Jacob and his descendants were addressed as both Jacob and Israel, which can be confusing. In Follow Me: Deliverance, I will use “Hebrews” to identify the children of Jacob.

[2] All Scripture is from the NIV Bible unless otherwise noted.

[3] 2 Peter 2:9