Led to Repentance

Peter.1

A Sinful Man #4

A Study in Jesus dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter. 

Simon, destine to become a rock in the kingdom of God, remained on Jesus list of things to do for months. His initial meeting with Simon took place prior to March A.D. 25. Shortly thereafter Jesus returned to Galilee. Someone invited Jesus and his disciples, at this point Philip and Nathanael[1], to a wedding where he turned water into wine. This miracle reinforced his disciple’s faith.[2] He made a brief stop in Capernaum and then returned to Judea.

Jesus kicked off his ministry confronting Israel’s racism. Israel’s law permitted buying and selling animals so people who traveled could purchase the things needed to worship God. Areas in the streets around the temple would have been adequate for this activity. But the religious elite profited from this business and did not want to be near the thousands of Gentiles who came to the Passover. They solved the problem by moving the businessmen into the court of the Gentiles. The barnyard smells and squabbling of the money changers made it impossible for the Gentiles to worship God. Moving to another area of the temple carried a penalty of death. Instead of encouraging the Gentile’s to worship God they pushed them into the streets.[3] Until Jesus arrived to clean up the court of the Gentiles and rebuke the religious leaders for excluding them.

Jesus boldness and miracles won him many followers. Soon John the Baptist and Jesus disciples were both baptizing the repentant. As Jesus ministry grew John’s ministry withered and ended when Herod put him in prison. Jesus heard the Pharisees were aware of his success. He knew their jealously would cause trouble and decided it was time to leave. On his way back to Galilee, he once again took a hammer to the wall of racism. He spoke to a woman if ill repute when he stopped to rest at Jacob’s well and then spent time with half breed Samaritans. Both were considered unclean by good Jews.[4]

Jesus fame preceded him to Galilee. Everyone was talking about the things he did at Jerusalem during the Passover. People came from other cities seeking his help for sick loved ones.[5] The synagogue he grew up in invited him to preach. They were amazed at his graciousness until that graciousness included the Gentiles. Then they tried to kill him. Jesus responded by moving his ministry headquarters to Capernaum fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy: “The land of Zabulon and the land of Nephthalim by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles….” would see a great light. [6]

A growing ministry needed more staff. The time had come to say “Follow me”. Matthew, Mark and Luke record the call of “Simon called Peter”[7]. Matthew and Mark leave the impression Jesus walked along the sea shore, saw Simon, promised to make Simon a fisher of men and Simon walked off the job to follow a man without good reason.

There is more to the story. Thankfully, Luke gave us the more we need to put Simon’s decision into perspective. At this point in Jesus ministry he often taught outdoors to accommodate the large crowds that could not fit in a synagogue. On the day Jesus called Simon the crowds were “pressing upon him to hear the word of God.”[8] Jesus needed a platform and way to amplify his voice.

He discerned the solution when he saw Simon the fisherman sitting on the shore washing his nets. Jesus and Simon were already acquainted having met during the height of John the Baptist ministry. When Jesus moved his ministry to Capernaum it’s possible Simon attended some of Jesus services, but he was not following Jesus with the crowds.

There is no way Simon could have missed the large crowd of people moving in his direction or the fact that Jesus emerged from the crowd and stood in his boat. Jesus requested Simon’s assistance. He pushed his boat from the shore giving Jesus a barrier between him and the crowds. The water amplified Jesus’ voice making it easier for the crowd to hear Jesus.

At the conclusion of Jesus message he made an unusual request. “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”[9] Simon, the professional fisherman, had been up all night trying to catch fish gathered along the shore to feed. His labors produced nothing. The fish were now hiding under rocks. His nets were clean. He was exhausted and ready to go home.

At this point it is difficult to know Simon’s frame of mind. Did he respect Jesus or did he have his own interest at heart. Jesus is famous with a large group of fans observing them. If he did as Jesus requested, Jesus might look foolish. If he blew Jesus off his fans might not appreciate it and stop buying from his fishing business. If he did as Jesus requested Jesus might look foolish when the nets came up empty, buy that would be Jesus fault not his. Simon shifting the anticipated negative results to Jesus shoulders when he said, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at your word I will let down the net.”[10]

Simon summoned Andrew and headed for deep water. His business partners, James and John stood on shore wondering if Simon had lost his mind. Simon cast his net and pulled in a so many fish his boat began to sink from the weight. There is a hungry crowd onshore and each fish represented a sale. He beckoned his fishing partners, James and John, for help. Two boats were not sufficient to hold the fish they caught and they were astonished.

In the midst of winning the proverbial fishing lottery, Simon said to Jesus “Go away from me, I am a sinful man.”[11] Simon announced what Jesus already knew, and Jesus knew what Simon did not know. “…the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”[12] Jesus trusted a sinful man to assist him as he ministered to the crowds and then paid him infinitely more than his assistance deserved. That act of kindness brought Simon to repentance.

Jesus ignored Simon’s request to “go away”. Instead, he offered a man who recognized his sinfulness a place in his fishing business. He said to Simon, Andrew, James and John, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[13]

The fishermen walked away from their business leaving Zebedee, the father of James and John, to fend for himself. Zebedee did not have to worry. Jesus knew the devastating affect the unexpected loss of four employees could have. The catch of fish sold to the crowd waiting on the shore that day made enough money to keep the business operating until Zebedee could find new partners.

[1] Andrew and Simon may have been disciples but had not been called to “Follow” yet. Whether or not they were in attendance is debatable.

[2] John 2:4; John 2:11

[3] Killing Jesus by Stephen Mansfield, Chapter VIII The Foreigners; http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/JEWISH_TEMPLEThe_Court_of_the_Gentiles.htm

[4] John 4:4-42

[5] John 4:46-54

[6] Matthew 4:13-16; Isaiah 9:1-2

[7] Matthew 4:18

[8] Luke 5:1

[9] Luke 5:4

[10] Luke 5:5-6, NKJV

[11] Luke 5:8

[12] Romans 22:4, NKJ

[13] Matthew 4:19

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A Time for Everything

Peter.1

A Sinful Man #3

A Study in Jesus dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter.

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11, NIV

If we know God spoke from heaven when Jesus was baptized by John it is reasonable to believe Andrew knew about “the voice” as well. John the Baptist had more than his word to prove Jesus was the Messiah. John and everyone present at Jesus baptism heard God publicly acknowledge Jesus as his son. Andrew might have been present when the voice[1] said to Jesus, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.[2] If he wasn’t, he surely heard John and others talking about the voice from heaven.

The day after Jesus’ baptism John saw Jesus walking toward him and declared, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”[3] A mini sermon followed about Jesus being the one John had been talking about from the beginning of his ministry. John also testified about the events at Jesus baptism.[4]

At some point after these events, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  In Jesus absence John had additional fodder for his sermons. The one he said would come had now arrived and then disappeared. I doubt that stopped John from preaching the one he prepared the way for had come.

At minimum two months elapsed before Jesus returned to the Jordan River. Andrew was with John when John looked up and saw Jesus walking by and said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”[5] That declaration prompted Andrew to abandoned John and follow the lamb who takes away the sin of the world.

There is a difference between “Son of God” and “Lamb of God.” God’s sons are loved. God’s lambs are sacrificed to save the sons and daughters God loves. Why did Andrew follow a sacrificial lamb who takes away sin? As a disciple of John the Baptist he had already repented and been baptized in water.

Clearly, Andrew knew repentance is not enough to save us. Believers from the beginning of time have repented and received God’s forgiveness. Yet repentant believers still pay the penalty for sin – death. Repentance is enough for God to forgive us and return us to a right relationship with him, but repentance does not remove the consequence of sin. Someone had to pay the price to redeem us from death. When Andrew learned Jesus was the lamb that would pay that price he wanted to know more.

Jesus, aware two of John’s disciples were following him, turned around to ask the obvious question, “What do you want?”

Andrew acknowledged Jesus as Rabbi or Teacher. If Andrew had a question, he could have asked and then both continued their separate ways. Andrew wanted more than knowledge. He wanted to know where Jesus lived. I suppose you could say Andrew invited himself to Jesus’ house and Jesus said “Sure come on over” (my interpretation).

Being late in the day, approximately 4 pm, there would have been two hours of daylight before the sunset. At this point, we don’t know what transpired between Jesus and Andrew aside from Andrew and Jesus forming a relationship. We don’t know how long Andrew stayed. Jesus may have fed him and offered him lodging for the night. But one thing is clear. Being in the presence of Jesus persuaded Andrew he had found the Messiah. The first thing Andrew did was find his brother Simon and declare, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).”[6]

Simon had enough interest to accompany Andrew to meet Jesus. If Simon said anything to Jesus, it’s not recorded. We do know what Jesus said to him. “You are Simon Son of John, you will be called Cephas.”[7] Jesus words imply he spoke first informing Simon that he already knows who Simon is and who Simon will become. Learning Simon’s identity could easily be gleaned from Andrew. Only God could know Simon would become Cephas – a Rock.

Jesus had a relationship with Andrew but Simon may have been skeptical. After Jesus meeting with Simon, the following day according to John’s gospel, Jesus returned to Galilee. Andrew and Simon returned to their fishing business in Capernaum. One day Jesus went to Bethsaida, home town of Andrew and Simon. In Bethsaida, Philip became the first disciple to hear the words “Follow me.” Not Andrew. Not Simon destined to become a rock. Philip.

Jesus is a master fisherman of men. He knows there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.[8] Andrew and Simon’s time had not come yet.

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[1] Each of the accounts of Jesus baptism record a voice spoke from heaven, which leads credence to my conclusion that John the Baptist was not “the voice” in Isaiah 40. The “voice” was God’s voice.

[2] Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22

[3] John 1:29

[4] John 1:29-34

[5] John 1:36

[6] John 1:41

[7] John 1:42

[8] Ecclesiastes 3:1

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The Message

Peter.1A Sinful Man #2

A study in Jesus dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter.

Unlike some who continued to cling to John the Baptist after he identified “the lamb of God”, Andrew left John to follow Jesus as soon as John identified him as the Messiah. Andrew’s understanding of John’s message kept the evil one from snatching away what was sown in his heart and the seed planted in his heart grew into an even greater understanding.[1] There is no indication Andrew brought his brother, Simon, to John the Baptist. He definitely brought him to Jesus.

It’s important to understand the message John the Baptist preached because Andrew and Simon had good reasons for believing and embracing the gospel John and Jesus preached. An examination of the passage John the Baptist pointed to when priest and Levites questioned him reveals John’s identity.  John was not the Messiah but he was not “the voice” either. The passage that began the “voice of one calling” concluded with the words “For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” The “voice” was God’s voice giving John his calling.

A voice said, “Cry out.” And he said, “What shall I cry?”[2]

The voice or God told John to “Cry out.”  John’s name is not used in Isaiah because his name had not yet been given. John the Baptist was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy and he knew it. John’s mother, father and maybe Mary told him about prophesies spoken when he was born. John knew Isaiah spoke of one that would announce the arrival of the Messiah and identify him to others. But he did not act upon the word of people of flesh, or even the written scriptures. He waited for a voice he could trust. Gods! That may be why John chose to live in the wilderness. He was waiting for the voice of God, so he could ask a question. “What shall I cry?”

This is where we get to the meat of John’s message to Judah, which encompassed more than pointing them to the Messiah. Isaiah gives us the message in a nutshell.

“All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”[3]

This message is expanded and explained in other scriptures. Isaiah identified the fading flowers scattered by the breath of the Lord as the rulers of Israel and Judah. These rulers had no regard for the deeds of God and had no respect for his word. They had become wise in their own eyes and called evil good and good evil. They were drunkards who acquitted the guilty for a bribe and denied justice to the innocent. Their roots will decay and flowers blow away like dust because they “have rejected the law of the Lord Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.”[4]

Simon a.k.a. the Apostle Peter later quoted Isaiah 40:5-8 as a warning in his first letter to the Jewish Christians who had been driven out of Jerusalem.[5] The God we call upon judges each person’s work impartially. What he did to their ancestors, he will do to them if they allow themselves to become corrupt like their ancestors did. This warning is also applicable to the Gentile Christians. If anyone thinks they can become corrupt like the rulers of Israel and Judah without withering and being blown away they are deceived. God’s word is good and stands forever. He will judge those who pervert justice and oppress the weak.

James also referenced Isaiah when he wrote the rich will fade like a wildflower.[6] But he was not talking about everyone who is rich. You can be rich without being corrupt. God is rich. Abraham, the father of our faith, was rich. James was talking about the rich who exploit us, drag us to court and slander the name of Jesus.[7] The rich who hoard wealth instead of helping the less fortunate, refuse to pay their workers, live in self-indulgence and condemn the innocent will wither and blow away.[8]

Andrew and Simon followed Jesus because they understood John’s message and believed Jesus would bring an end to tyrants who abuse their authority and exploit us. Their purpose in following Jesus transcended obtaining something for themselves. They sought to obtain a better world for everyone.

The senseless man does not know,

fools do not understand,

that though the wicked spring up like grass

and all evildoers flourish;

they will be forever destroyed.

Psalm 92:6-7

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[1] Matthew 13:18-23

[2] Isaiah 40:6, NKJ

[3] Isaiah 40:5-8

[4] Isaiah 5:1-24

[5] 1 Peter 1:1 “The Jewish Christians driven out of Jerusalem and scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and Bithynia. The Living Bible

[6] James 1:9

[7] James 2:6-7

[8] James 5:1-6

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Prepare the Way

Peter.1A Sinful Man #1 

A study in Jesus dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter.

John the Baptist, a descendant of Aaron, was a maverick among Priests. He spent his time in the wilderness instead of the polished halls of the Jerusalem temple. He spurned the traditional priestly garments to wear camel’s hair. Before he was conceived his father, Zebedee, had messed up his once in a lifetime opportunity to burn incense and pray the Messiah would come. Everything was fine until he stayed too long in the temple and then exited a mute unable to fulfill his duty to bless the people. He offered a surreal explanation. He had been praying for the Messiah to come when an angel appeared declaring his prayer had been heard. His wife would give birth to a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah. Zachariah did not believe the angel. The angel responded by taking away his ability to spew his unbelief. A disgruntled high priest, without doubt offended by this country bumpkin from the hills of Judea who disrupted the service, permitted Zachariah to complete his duties. Zachariah returned home but the discussion of what really happened to him in the temple continued.

One day, just as the angel had said, Zachariah’s barren wife announced she was pregnant. About six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy cousin Mary arrived. Elizabeth and Mary were filled with the Holy Ghost and prophesied. Elizabeth assured Mary there would be a performance of the things the Lord told her. The Lord had told Mary she would give birth to the Messiah. Mary responded by praising God for remembering his promise to Abraham.

Three months later, John was born. His parents traveled to the Jerusalem temple to circumcise him. A dispute about the child’s name arose. Zachariah settled the dispute when he wrote on a tablet “His name is John”. That act of obedience released his tongue. Zachariah who had not spoken a word for months suddenly prophesied that the oath God swore to Abraham will be fulfilled.

Mary returned home full of information she did not know what to do with and hid everything in her heart. She became pregnant just as the angel told her and gave birth to Jesus, the Messiah. The night of his birth astonished shepherds arrived talking about angels singing praise to God. Their arrival offered more confirmation that she had given birth to the Messiah.

According to their laws and customs, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple to be circumcised. In the temple more prophesying takes place about their son’s destiny not by the religious leaders but devout believers. They remained in Jerusalem for more than a year. Nothing happen. No one arrived to crown their son king. They waited until Jesus was a toddler and some wise men from the east arrived looking for the King of the Jews. The wise men had learned from a trouble government and city that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Then a star led them to Jesus’ home. The only people to treat Jesus like a king were foreigners. The Magi worshiped the toddler, gave him expensive gifts and departed.

Mary and Joseph remained in Bethlehem until an angel announced their government wanted to kill Jesus. At the angels instruction they fled to Egypt. After Herod died, the angel told them it was safe to return, but not to Jerusalem to assume King David’s throne. They returned to Nazareth and settled into the normal routines of life wondering when their son would become king. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariah, Simon and Anna knew Jesus was the long awaited Messiah, but the government wanted the child dead and the religious leaders are oblivious that the one they worship with such zeal had arrived.

Aside from an incident when twelve year old Jesus astonished religious leaders with his understanding and then wondered why his parents did not know he must be about his father’s business…nothing. Jesus grew up to become not a king or even religious leader but a humble carpenter.

The heavens were silent until Jesus’ cousin John began preaching, “Repent the Kingdom of Heaven is near” stirring up memories of prophecies, dreams and promises that lay dormant in curious hearts for three decades. Most of the people who knew and believed the Messiah had arrived were elderly and may have been dead by the time John started his ministry. Mary’s husband, Joseph, is never mentioned again suggesting he had died. That left Mary and a large number of people who may or may not have believed, but knew what happened at the birth of John and Jesus. At minimum that group included:

  1. The people who Zechariah was unable to bless when he exited the temple. He was still able to write on a tablet and without doubt relayed the dramatic message that their prayer for the Messiah to come had been heard.
  2. Zechariah and Elizabeth’s family and neighbors. Elizabeth’s pregnancy would have been widely discussed because she had passed the age of childbearing.
  3. Mary and Joseph’s extended family and neighbors. Her pregnancy was a family scandal that shamed Joseph and her family. Mary’s “apparent” delusion that God had impregnated her would have been whispered about for years. Jesus would have been aware of his “apparent” legitimate status in the family.
  4. An unspecified number of shepherds, who angels visited with the message the Messiah had been born and everyone the shepherds told.
  5. Everyone in the temple who heard Simon praise God for showing him the Messiah.
  6. Anna, the first female evangelist, was well known in the temple. She publically gave thanks to God and spoke about Jesus to the multitudes looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
  7. The Magi, King Herod and all Jerusalem. King Herod believed the Messiah had been born and sought to kill him resulting in the slaughter of every male two years of age and younger in Bethlehem. Everyone who worked in government and everyone in Bethlehem and Jerusalem knew what Herod did and why.

The people of Judah were brutally oppressed by Rome. Their religious leaders had lost touch with the God they worshiped. The hope that the Messiah had finally arrived kept the stories of angelic sightings, the angels’ message and the strange circumstances that surrounded the birth of two boys alive. When John began his ministry priests and Levites were sent from Jerusalem to ask him if he was the Christ. When he replied, “I am not the Christ,” they went down the list. Are you Elijah? Are you the prophet Moses said would come? No and no. The frustrated priest exclaimed, my paraphrase, “Who are you? We need to bring an answer back to the temple.”

John pointed them to the writings of Isaiah.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3, NKJ [1]  

The common knowledge that the Messiah had been born and subsequent investigation by the temple into the ministry of John the Baptist stirred up a man named Andrew, brother of Simon. The Bible does not tell us why Andrew and Simon were in Judea. We only know that Andrew decided to investigate the strange ministry of John the Baptist. At some point, Andrew accepted John’s message, repented and was baptized in water.

There is no indication in the Bible that his brother Simon responded to John the Baptist message. His later declaration to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man” indicates he had not responded to John’s ministry. Ultimately, Andrew’s decision to follow John the Baptist prepared the way for a sinful man to accept Christ as the Son of God and become the Apostle Peter.

[1] All Scripture in this serises NIV unless otherwise noted.

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The Best is Yet to Come

followFollow Me: Law[1]

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 25:10-22 [2]

Dwelling among the church was God’s first order of business after the terms of the covenant of law were accepted. He gave Moses specific instruction to build a tabernacle. But God wanted to be more than present among his people. He wanted to be available.

A mobile wood chest overlaid with gold would hold the copy of the covenant that God wrote. Poles could be inserted into four rings making the chest easy to lift and move. Where ever the church went God went with them represented by the roughly 2 by 3 by 2 foot expensive gold box.

The most interesting aspect of the chest, also called the Ark of the Covenant, is the lid made of pure gold adorned with two winged angels called Cherubim. Details of what these angels looked like were not given to Moses, implying the details were not necessary. The carved angels molded into the lid faced each other with their wings covering the chest. I have never seen an angel nor do I know anyone who has seen an angel. Apparently, this church did.

God planned to move from the mountain top into the camp to live among his people and more importantly give them a place where they can consult him. If you are feeling twinges of envy don’t. This church in the wilderness saw remarkable manifestations of God and heard him speak yet came to a bitter end. The things that happened to this church were written that we might not make the same mistakes.

Today we have something better than God living in a tent and speaking to his priest from an Ark. We have his Spirit dwelling within us as a down payment on the future he has promised.[3] Can he get any closer? And the best is yet to come.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look!” God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.[4]

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[1] In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul warns us that the things that happened in the wilderness were recorded as a warning to the church because Moses preached the same gospel about Jesus that was preached after Jesus resurrection. For this reason Israel/Jacob will be called the church in this series.

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

[3] Ephesians 1:13-14

[4] Revelation 21:3-4

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Something to Ponder

followFollow Me: Law[1]

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 24:14-18; 25:1-9 [2]

Moses knew he would be on the mountain for an extended period of time. He made preparations for Aaron and Hur to handle disputes in his absence, then ascended the mountain with Joshua. Aaron and Hur watched Moses and Joshua disappear into the cloud that covered the mountain. Moses said they would return but no one, including Moses, knew when.

Moses knew why he had been called into God’s presence, but when he arrived nothing happened for six days. That is a long time to do nothing but wait. Finally, on the seventh day God spoke. Once God began talking he had a lot to say.

He asked for an offering from the things he already gave the church when they departed Egypt. God gave the church favor with the Egyptians who gave them gold, silver and cloth.[3] I suppose God could have demanded what he needed, but he didn’t. He wanted his offering to come from those who gave willingly.[4]

The offering God desired had a purpose. He wanted the church to build a copy and shadow of the tabernacle in heaven[5], so he could come down from the mountain to dwell among them. He instructed Moses to “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”[6]

Most Christians long for the day we will go to Heaven. God longs for the day he will come to earth and live among us. The Bible concludes on a new earth with the Holy City coming down out of heaven.[7]

Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. Revelation 21:3

The idea that God is willing to leave the heavens and come live among people who are by nature ungrateful, selfish, greedy and violent is something to ponder.

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[1] In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul warns us that the things that happened in the wilderness were recorded as a warning to the church because Moses preached the same gospel about Jesus that was preached after Jesus resurrection. For this reason Israel/Jacob will be called the church in this series.

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

[3][3] Exodus 12:35-36

[4] Exodus 25:2, NKJV

[5] Hebrews 8:5

[6] Exodus 25:9

[7] Revelation 21:1-2

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Every Word Established

followFollow Me: Law[1]

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 24:12 [2]

After Moses and the leaders of the church ate dinner with God, he tells Moses to “come up on the mountain and stay here.”[3] That statement implies a gap in time since they were on the mountain in the previous verse. Apparently they ate dinner in God’s presence and then everyone returned to their tents. God told Moses to return and plan to stay for a while. His assistant, Joshua, is permitted to accompany him.

God summoned Moses with a purpose. Moses was not the only who wrote down the agreement with God. God also wrote the laws and commands he expected the people to obey and wanted to give Moses a copy. They already had Moses’ copy. Did they really need another one?

I can think of several reasons God wanted his copy filed in the courts of the church along with Moses copy. God transcends time. The people he deals with are “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”[4]  Moses would have written on either clay or leather. I doubt either was durable enough to last centuries. God wrote his copy on stone.

Another reason for two copies is in God’s law.

A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.[5]

Two or three witnesses are required to settle a matter. Jesus also referred to this law as did the Apostle Paul.[6] The church did not have to rely on Moses word alone. They had God’s word written in stone.

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[1] In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul warns us that the things that happened in the wilderness were recorded as a warning to the church because Moses preached the same gospel about Jesus that was preached after Jesus resurrection. For this reason Israel/Jacob will be called the church in this series.

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

[3] Exodus 24:12

[4] James 4:14

[5] Deuteronomy 19:15, NIV

[6] Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1

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