Forgive and Forget?

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 17:8-16 [2]

While the church quenched their thirst at Rephidim cousin Amalek[3] attacked the most vulnerable members of the church who were “tired and weary; and he [Amalek] did not fear God.”[4] Moses did not forgive them and bless them and turn the other cheek. He retaliated. Joshua and his men overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. The New Testament encourages us to “Make every effort to live in peace with all men.”[5] “Make every effort” suggests our efforts may not be fruitful with some. That might have been the case with Amalek and the church, because God also retaliated.

In response to Amalek’s cowardly act, God declared war on Amalek and instructed Moses to write God’s plan for Amalek on a scroll and read it to Joshua. God told the church, “You shall not forget.” Then God gave them a timeframe. After he gave the church rest from their enemies, and they possessed the land he promised, they must blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.[6]

A sacred doctrine in Christianity is “forgive and forget”, yet we have an example of God refusing to forgive and telling his church “do not forget”. If you think unforgiveness is always filled with bitterness and resentment, you are wrong. God is love. His refusal to “forgive and forget” is filled with justice.

Amalek treated his cousins unjustly when he led his army to attack the weak. God will not forgive and forget BUT keep in mind that God is talking about the nation Amalek became, and he delayed judgment for more than 400 years. God sent King Saul to execute his judgment against the nation of Amalek. Later King David subdued those who escaped Saul. There were still a remnant of Amalekites in the days of King Jehoshaphat.[7] The demise of a nation does not guarantee the individual citizens are doomed to suffer the fate of leaders who do not fear God.

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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] Amalek is the grandson of Esau. Esau is the brother of Jacob. At this point the church consisted of the children of Jacob.

[4] Deuteronomy 25:18

[5] Hebrews 12:14

[6] Exodus 17:14 ; Deuteronomy 25:17-19

[7] Psalm 83, written in 870 B.C. during the reign of King Jehoshaphat.

Tempting God

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 17 [2]

The church had been traveling for three days when they camped at Rephidim. A group of angry elders went to Moses and demanded him to give them water. A mere ten days had elapsed since they demanded food, and Moses warned his church they were not complaining about their pastor. They were complaining about God.

The last time, they accused God of mass murder by starvation. God proved their accusation was not true when he gave them meat and bread from heaven that had appeared every morning for ten days in a row before they found something new to complain about. In fact, they had just collected proof God had no intention of killing him the same day they accused him of mass murder a second time. This time they claimed God brought them out of Egypt to kill men, women, children and their cattle with thirst. If they had cattle why were they complaining about a lack of meat at the Wilderness of Sin?

The church is fixated on their pastor to supply their needs. Their pastor was an eighty year old man with nothing but a rod in his hand, which makes their demand for enough water to quench the thirst of more than a million people and their cattle impossible to fulfill. Once again, Moses ask them why they were quarreling with him. Only a God could give them what they needed.

This time the church elders did more than complain. They tempted God.[3] The elders said, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” In other words, God needs to prove he is among us with a display of his power. If God had not been among them Moses would have died. The church elders were talking about stoning Moses, when Moses, the only one among them with sense enough to bring his problems to God, asked God for help.[4]

From the day God delivered them from Egypt to the day God appeared among them in the person of Jesus, the church leadership has consisted of both wheat planted by God and tares planted by the devil. Their demand for a display of God’s power as proof he was among them is similar to the temptation Jesus experienced in the wilderness.

After Jesus had already heard God say “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased,”[5] Satan challenged Jesus to prove he was a Son of God by turning stone into bread. Then Satan challenged Jesus to jump off a pinnacle of the temple and prove the written word of God was true that said angels would keep him from harm.[6]

Jesus did not respond to Satan who tempted him in a wilderness, he rebuked him. God responded not to these devils, who tempted him, but to Moses, a man he respects, who needed his help. He sent Moses to strike a rock, as the elders watched, with specific instructions to use the same rod that they used to strike the river in Egypt turning it to blood. God gave Moses three signs to perform with the rod so the people would believe him. Using the same rod, which was a symbol and reminder of the past, rebuked the elders unbelief. Blood could have flowed from the rock, just like the river turned into blood making the water undrinkable in Egypt, but it didn’t.

When will the church in the wilderness understand that God had come to save them, not judge them as he did the gods of Egypt.

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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 17:2

[4] Exodus 17:4

[5] Matthew 3:17

[6] Matthew 4:5

A Test

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 16:4[2]

I’ve heard Christian attribute sickness, car accidents, marriage problems, and their lust for ungodly things as God testing them to see if they would sin. I doubt any of those things were a test from God. God cannot be tempted by evil and he does not tempt anyone to sin.[3]

God tested the church in the wilderness with a simple instruction to see if they would obey him. He told the church to collect enough manna for one day every morning. On the sixth day, they must collect double because God wanted them to rest.

The results of the manna gathering give us insight into God’s nature. The people gathered different amounts, but they left the measuring tent with the one omer (a little over a quart) they needed for one day. The person who gathered too much left the measuring tent with one omer per family member and those who gathered too little left the measuring tent with one omer per family member.

God wants everyone to have what they need for one day. The people who ate less than they needed and went to bed hungry were greeted with a stench the follow morning. Suffering lack gained them nothing. God did not want them to eat leftovers the next day. He gave them fresh bread every morning.

Moses was angry with the people who created a stench in the camp, but that does not mean God was angry. We do not hear God object until the seventh day. Some of the people went out to gather manna but there was none. They arose early to work when they could have slept late. This time God asked why the people refuse to keep his commandments, but there is nothing in his words that indicate anger.

Today, Christians treat the Sabbath day as a day to attended church and fellowship with friends. God treated the Sabbath day as a day to stay home with family. He said, “[E]very man remain in his place; let no man leave his place on the seventh day.”[4]

God’s test and commands are exactly what Jesus said they are: An easy yoke and a light burden.[5]

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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] James 1:13-15

[4] Exodus 16:29

[5] Matthew 11:30

Mass Murderer

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Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 16[2]

Moses congregation complained about lack of water at Marah, but they did not complain about God until they camped at the wilderness of Sin. The place has a fitting name for the sin in their hearts that was exposed in their words. Many years later, Jesus told the children of these complainers, “How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”[3]

The church said to their pastor, “We wish God had killed us in Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you [Moses]  have brought us into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” An old man with a stick did not deliver them from Egypt and lead them into the wilderness. God did. God loved them but they have no love for God.

Moses said, “What are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.”[4]

The church has a very low opinion about the God they left Egypt to worship. They directed their complaint to Moses but they were really saying God is a mass murderer who worked remarkable miracles to bring them into the wilderness, so he could kill men, women and children with starvation.

God heard their complaint and responded to a hurtful accusation with all the meat they could eat, gave them the bread angels eat and put them to a simple test that it might go well with them in the future.[5] God practices what he preaches. He loved his enemies, blessed those who cursed him and did good to those who hated him.[6]

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[1] 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] Matthew 12:24

[4] Exodus 16:8

[5] Deuteronomy 8:16 NIV

[6] Matthew 5:44

Remember

 followObservations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 1:1; Numbers 33:10-11 [1]

The week-long Festival of Unleavened Bread begin when Moses and his congregation left Egypt and ended when they arrived at Elim on April 21st.  During the week they initially cried out to God for help but quickly shifted focus to their pastor for help. Their unfaithfulness prompted God to lead them to bitter water and test their love for him.[2] The sticks God commanded Moses to throw into the bitter water foreshadowed his love and sweetened the water. Then he led them to Elim and let them rest for three weeks.

They broke camp on May 14, exactly one month after the Passover. Instead of traveling toward their destination to worship God, they traveled back to the Red Sea. This is the second time their journey was delayed when they had to travel back to the Red Sea.

Learning the same lesson twice can be painful. The first time the traveled back to the Red Sea they experienced a glorious deliverance. This time they camped by a stench. A dead body will rise in about one to two weeks. By the time they returned three weeks later, it is possible hundreds of dead bodies lay on the shore decomposing.

At the Red Sea God destroyed their enemies never to rise against them again not Moses. He led them to the place of their deliverance now littered with the bodies of their oppressors. They needed to remember how even Moses sang and gave thanks for their deliverance to God. They needed to remember how God removed Egypt’s gods from their life not Moses.

Sometimes you have to go back to the place you began your journey and remember that God is greater than your problem. Remember that a man did not deliver you. God did. Remember that a man is not leading you. God is. Remember that the gods of this world are incapable of loving you like the God who created you does. Remember to take your problems to God not his messenger.

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

[2] Numbers Chapter 5

Bitter Water

 followFollow Me: Deliverance[1]

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 15:23-27[2]

The weeklong festival of Unleavened Bread has been a rollercoaster ride of extreme highs and lows for the Hebrews starting with an all-night vigil as they marched out of Egypt following a pillar of fire. A short rest and they are instructed to go back and camp in an indefensible place should they be attacked. Egypt’s armies swiftly approaching struck them with terror. They cried out to God and then complained to Moses that it would be better to be slaves than die. Another all-night vigil as a strong east wind clears a path for them through the Red Sea that becomes a tomb for their oppressors. They celebrate their freedom with singing and dancing on the opposite shore of the Red Sea with no place to go but forward.

The drama is followed by three days of nothing as they follow the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night to a place of bitter water. For the second time in a week fear prompts the Hebrews to murmur and complain against Moses. “What shall we drink?” Why complain about Moses? He did not lead them to bitter water. God did.

The Hebrews left Egypt to worship God, yet twice they have complained about God. First they complained at the Red Sea and then at the bitter waters of Marah. Why do they want to worship someone they think is stupid?

God responded to Moses prayer for water with more than water. He showed Moses a “piece of wood.”[3] The definitions of the word translated “piece of wood” in the NIV Bible include plural sticks, carpenter, and gallows. The definitions foreshadow the coming of a carpenter who would die on a cross to offer salvation.

The introduction of grace preceded law. God promised healing if the Hebrews did what was right in God’s eyes and kept all of his decrees. God knew they would fail and they did fail. But it would take them a long time to come to the understanding the Apostle Peter did, the law is “a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear.”[4] Only Jesus can sweeten the bitter waters of human failure.

The following day, the last day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, they camped at Elim by seventy palm trees and plenty of water. God had already instructed them to hold a holy convocation on the last day of the feast and without doubt they did.[5] They had a lot to ponder before they continued their journey to worship God.

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[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] H6086 עץ ‛êts ates From H6095; a tree (from its firmness); hence wood (plural sticks): – + carpenter, gallows, helve, + pine, plank, staff, stalk, stick, stock, timber, tree, wood.

[4] Acts 15:10-11

[5] Exodus 12:16

A Message For Egypt

followFollow Me: Deliverance[1]

Observations as I follow God through the Chronological Bible

Exodus 14[2]

The Hebrews had barely left Egypt when God told them to go back and camp by the Red Sea. They are finally on their way to worship him, and he sent them back to set up camp in a dangerous place. Hemmed in by the Red Sea, should they be attacked there was no way of escape. It appeared God did not know what he was doing.

To the contrary, God knew exactly what he was doing. The Egyptians who suffered under Pharaoh’s arrogant reign are not a lost cause. Before God departed with his people, he did the Egyptians a favor. His people were ordered to go back because he is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to the knowledge of the truth. God ordered his people to go back because he wanted “the Egyptians” to know that he is LORD.[3] Part of the salvation process is to know who is LORD.[4]

Pharaoh and the lackeys that kept him in power are a lost cause and the reason Egypt suffered. Pharaoh had already given the Hebrews permission to leave with all of their possessions. When he received word that they were following a pillar of fire out of Egypt reality shook Pharaoh and his lackeys. They had a good deal. The Hebrew’s were doing the dirty work building Pharaoh’s treasure cities. Without them the Egyptians would have to do the dirty work. If the Egyptians had to haul mud they might rebel and Pharaoh and his lackeys might be overthrown.

The Hebrews were distressed when they saw Pharaoh approaching and complained too soon. God had everything under control. The Pillar of Cloud moved to the rear of the Hebrews to face his enemy halting the advance of Pharaoh and his army. The Cloud covered the Egyptians in darkness and gave light to the Hebrews keeping them apart while God made a way of escape.

An east wind blew all night driving back the waters and drying the land. God’s things have a way of blessing his friends and destroying his enemies. The Hebrews way of escape became a tomb for the Egyptians when God jammed the wheels of their chariots. The Hebrews heard the Egyptians say, “The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” At God’s command Moses stretched his hand over the sea and the wall of water collapsed. Not one Egyptian survived.

The Hebrews’ were free of these arrogant rulers and so were the Egyptians, because the God of Abraham is Lord. There is no one like him. There is no one like him in all of Egypt, no one like him in all the earth.

“For I know that the Lord is great,

And our Lord is above all gods.

Whatever the Lord pleases He does,

In heaven and in earth,

In the seas and in all deep places.

Psalm 135:5-6[5]

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[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 14:4

[4] Romans 10:9

[5] New King James Version