CH 7 FIRST AND LAST

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt – on the very day – they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Exodus 19:1-2

 Moses led the flock of Jethro, his father in law, to the far side of the desert and came upon an unusual sight that changed the course of his life. In obedience to God’s command, he went to Egypt and returned tending God’s flock. The Reese Chronological Bible gives the date Moses received his call as 1463B.C. and the date he returned as June 2, 1462 B.C. Nearly a year of remarkable, miraculous events transpired since Moses last stood in front of Mount Sinai, also called Horeb the mountain of God.

He can’t help but remember how he objected to fulfilling the calling God placed on his life. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt,” he declared! He had already tried to deliver Israel and they rejected him. God assured Moses not to worry about who Moses is because, “I (God) will be with you and this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt you will worship God on this mountain”.[1]

With the words “worship God” echoing in his ears Moses embarked on the first of seven trips into the presence of God.

 FIRST TRIP TO THE MOUNTAIN TOP

June 1, 1461BC

 3 … Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself. Exodus 19:3-4

 God said to Israel, “I carried you on eagle’s wings.” Before Moses died he reminded the told the people that he lead out of Egypt, 

 32Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of?…… 33 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? Deuteronomy 4:32-34

 From the day God created man on the earth until Moses day nothing like this had ever happened in all of the earth’s history. For there is no god men aspire to worship that has rescued his people out of one nation to make them a nation of their own like the God of Abraham did. This was the first time a God had brought his people to himself on eagle’s wings but it won’t be the last!

14 “However, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when men will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 15 but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their forefathers (KJV says their fathers)Jeremiah 16:14-15

 A day is coming when men will no longer talk about how God brought his people out of the land of Egypt. One day, we will declare how God brought his people from the land of the north and from all lands where God has driven them. In fact, some would say that this has already been fulfilled because many of the flesh seed of Abraham have returned to settle in the Promised Land, but I can’t agree that this promise has been fulfilled for one reason – Abraham is my father to.

We must erase the lines of time and space to understand God’s thoughts. Neither time nor space limit God. When Lucifer said, “I will ascend to the north and be like the most High” was he talking about Russia or heaven? Just as God gathered the flesh seed of Jacob out of the land of Egypt and brought them to himself, and just as God gathered the flesh seed of Abraham in 1948 and established them on the land he promised to their forefathers, a day will come when the God gathers the spiritual seed of Abraham that are scattered though out heaven and earth that he might plant them in the land he gave our father Abraham. If Jesus is our Lord, Abraham is our father too.

16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring— not only to those who are of the law (the flesh seed of Jacob that entered into a covenant of law at Sinai) but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham (the spiritual seed waiting for the fulfillment of the promises made through a covenant of grace). He [Abraham] is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He [Abraham] is our father in the sight of God, in whom he[Abraham] believed– the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Romans 4:16-17

 If the promises God made to Abraham belong exclusively to the descendants of Abraham through one of his sons, Jacob, whose children entered into a covenant of law at the foot of Mt. Sinai Abraham himself is excluded from the promises. Abraham entered into a covenant of grace. He wasn’t present with Jacob’s children entered into a covenant of law with God. In addition to that, the law only gave the nation the land to the Jordan River[2]; grace gave them the land to Euphrates River[3]. Both rivers exist today and none of Abraham’s seed including Jesus, the seed the promises were made to, possessed all of the land that God promised to Abraham and his one seed within their life time.[4]  

 Jesus death paid the price for whosoever will to be a citizen in God’s kingdom. After Jesus was resurrected, he went fishing, and that is why a time will come that we no longer talk about the day God brought his people out of Egypt.  He did not die for the seed of Jacob alone. He does not live for the seed of Jacob alone. Jesus is Lord of ALL!

 “But now I will send for many fishermen,” declares the LORD, “and they will catch them”Jeremiah 16:16

Creating a way for everyone to have equal rights in God’s kingdom was hard work. Jesus was entitled to a fishing trip with friends. During his ministry, Jesus invited his disciples to, “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” God has cast his net, but he will not pull it in until it’s full. When the net is full, the catch sorted, and the refuse discarded, Jesus is going hunting with friends.

…After that I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them down on every mountain and hill and from the crevices of the rocks. Jeremiah 16:16

 “After that,” said Jeremiah. After what? After the fishing trip is over God will send the hunters to hunt down those who received not the love of the truth that they might be saved[5] and pay them double for their sins. On the isle of Patmos, the Apostle John saw kings, princes, generals, the rich, the mighty, all slaves and free men hiding in caves and among the rocks of the mountains trying to escape the wrath of a Lamb![6] This lamb is angry and Jeremiah tells us why.

17My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes. 18 I will repay them double for their wickedness and their sin, because they have defiled my land with the lifeless forms of their vile images and have filled my inheritance with their detestable idols.” Jeremiah 16:17-18

 The lamb is angry that Jerusalem preferred to worship the world’s idols instead of a true God. The children of Jacob never stopped worshipping. They stopped worshipping the Lord who delivered them from their misery to embrace Gods’ who did not love them. When they failed to love and obey God, salvation came to the Gentiles to provoke the children of Jacob to jealousy.  

 19 O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in time of distress, to you the nations (the Gentiles) will come from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods, worthless idols that did them no good. 20 Do men make their own gods? Yes, but they are not gods!” 21″Therefore I will teach them– this time I will (KJV says I will this once) teach them my power and might. (His power and might is his ability to love and forgive the lowest and cruelest of sins, but Jesus will never be crucified again.) Then they will know that my name is the LORD. Jeremiah 16:19-21

 Did you notice the Gentiles are worshipping to, but not worshipping the God of Abraham just like the flesh seed of Jacob did? The Gentiles acknowledged that their fathers taught them to worship what is false and worthless, just like the prophets, priests and kings of Israel taught God’s people to worship what is false and worthless. 

Being religious has never been a problem for the human race. We were created to worship and most worship something or someone. It is what or rather who you are willing to worship that determines your ultimate fate for eternity. Gentiles need to be aware that God has never abandoned the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are wild olive branches being grafted, contrary to nature, into the good olive tree[7] because it is upon the nation of Israel that the blessing of the law will come through our Lord Jesus. 

 Heaven and earth cannot pass away until every jot and tittle of the covenant of law that was made with the good olive tree, Israel, at Mt. Sinai is fulfilled. Heaven and earth will not pass away until the nation that has known nothing but the curse of the law receives the fulfillment of every jot and tittle of the blessing that is in the law as well.

Is it right that a nation taste the fulfillment of every jot and tittle of the curse but not the blessing? The blessing of the law will not come upon the nation God founded at Sinai until the sinless son, Jesus, returns to receive everything God promised Abraham in a covenant of grace, which includes all the land to the Euphrates River that Jesus did not receive in his lifetime on earth. God is giving the Gentiles one opportunity to turn away from worshipping false Gods during the day of Israel’s affliction that we might be included in the fulfillment of the laws blessings.

God has already proved to all creation that the religions and idols men establish to worship are not greater than he is. When Jacob’s children turned away from the God of Abraham to worship idols, God razed his nation to the ground, but he never pulled up the root. If the gods that men conceive in their imaginations are greater than the God of Abraham, why didn’t their idols save their worshippers from Abraham’s God?

The people who forsake the truth to worship a lie create the misery everyone must endure while we wait for God to pull up the tares growing among us! Be thankful Jesus is long in returning. When he comes back his grace will be at an end and it will be time for God’s vengeance to fall upon the enemies of the sinner. The enemies of the sinner are people who lead others in worship but refuse to obey God. When Jesus returns he won’t be a lamb religious men slaughter but a lamb they fear.

Even though Jerusalem failed when they taught idol worship thereby condoning idol worship in other nations, God did not fail. Their disobedience revealed that no God is greater than the God of Abraham. Jerusalem can take comfort when God pays her double for the sin of turning to other gods. Isaiah tells us why,

1 Comfort, comfort my people, (Even though they did not worship him, God never stopped calling them “my people”) says your God.  2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed that her sin has been paid for that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. Isaiah 40:1-2

 Jerusalem can take comfort because the Lord is coming and his glory will be revealed.

 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

 The gospels confirm that this scripture is a reference to John the Baptist[8].  John knew that he would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by introducing the one who would pay for the sin of Jerusalem. Their sin was worshipping a lie and it is the same sin the Gentiles committed. The same Gentiles speaking in Jeremiah 16:19, who said our father’s gods were false and worthless.

Isaiah throws a little more light on John’s message who would not only identified the Messiah but also preach that all men are like grass; all will fail but the word of God stands forever. Then Isaiah said John would announce to the towns of Judah “Here is your God.” The gospels document that is exactly what John did! There is a lot to say in this passage about God’s wisdom and how foolish it is to worship something a man can fashion with his own hands. Then we come to something interesting and relevant to this discussion.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles;…Isaiah 40:27-30

 Isaiah concluded by telling Israel not to complain. God had not forgotten them. He will not grow tired or weary until everyone who repents of worshipping false gods and places their hope in the Lord soars on eagle’s wings again. Yes, Moses was right. It had never happened before but it will happen again and that is where the danger lies for the first people who soared on eagle’s wings into God’s presence and entered into a covenant of law.

 God’s ways have an uncanny way of exposing the evil in us. Peter listened to Jesus challenge a rich man, who had obeyed the law all his life, to give up everything and follow him (Jesus) that he might have treasure in heaven. When the rich man left unwilling to rise to the challenged a discussion of how hard it is to be saved ensued and ended with Jesus saying it’s impossible for men but not God. This sparked Peter’s curiosity or perhaps insecurity and he tried to nail Jesus down to a specific agreement for the commitment they made to him.

 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? Matthew 19:27, KJV

 Jesus informed Peter their compensation would be the right to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he assured everyone who had forsaken something for his sake that they would receive a hundredfold return in this life and eternal life in the next. [9]

The parable that followed this discussion is a warning about Peter’s attitude. We don’t have to secure our future with an agreement. God will be more than generous if we trust him to do what is right. People who love God don’t need a prearranged agreement to guarantee they will be treated right.  Jesus said:

For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. Matthew 20:1, KJV

 The householder (NIV landowner) who went out early in the morning to hire laborers is God. The Greek word for laborers is also used figuratively to mean a teacher and is applied to both good and evil teachers. Jesus told us to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest and that is what this parable is about.[10] The Lord has gone forth from the beginning of time to hire teachers to work in his vineyard until we come to the knowledge of the truth and both Jew and Gentiles stop worshipping less than God.[11] 

 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. Matthew 20:2, KJV

 The penny is a Roman denarius and considered a full days wage for the laborers of Jesus day. The most important thing in this verse is not the penny but that an agreement was made before the labourers were sent. Note that the Lord agreed with the labourers, not the labourers agreed with the Lord. The labourers were asking for something specific before they would work. According to Jewish law if a laborer was hired without a prior agreement the employer was only bound to pay the lowest wage or at best the average between the lowest and highest.[12] The laborers/teachers didn’t trust the Lord that hired them so they guaranteed their pay before they went. 

The rest of the day the Lord went out about every three hours to send more laborers/teachers into the field but they are different from the first because they accepted that the Lord would give them what is right. Even when there was one hour left to work the Lord sent laborers into his vineyard to work for what is right. At the end of the day the Lord could have avoided a controversy if he had paid the first group he sent into the vineyard first, because they would have received their pay and left. Instead the Lord gave specific instructions to “Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.”[13] He paid the last first because the first have a spiritual problem. When the first saw that the last were made equal to them in pay, or when the first saw mercy in action, or when the first saw God being good, they murmured. The first are evil because they assumed that everything must be measured by their standard of what is right.

But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? 14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. 15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? Matthew 20:13-15, KJV

 Does God’s goodness make you angry? His wisdom bites like a serpent because he is wiser than a serpent and harmless as a dove. The problem was not with the Lord who is good but with self-centered self-righteous laborers / teachers who think everything God does must be governed according to their standards of right and wrong. Hence when God is good they become angry. If they are not careful, their anger with God will turn into hate for their fellow laborers who don’t work as hard as they do but still receive good things from God. If the first had believed God is good they never would have held him to a specific agreement. They would have trusted him. They were true sons of Jacob who was the first to negotiate a deal with God.

 If you are jealous that God dealt with the flesh seed of Abraham first, don’t be. They are in a dangerous place. Evil will not dwell in God’s presence when the day comes that all those who hope in Jesus hear the words Moses heard on his first trip up the mountain, “I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself.” This time God will be speaking to the spiritual seed of Abraham, which includes anyone from any nation that has put their trust in him and believe he will do what is right and be good to them when payday comes.

 God’s purposes were set before he created the world and he has never changed. He is a king who rules over kings, a Lord who governs Lord’s and his nation will rule the nations. When Jesus’ fishing trip is over we will be gathered on the wings of God[14] to soar like an eagle into his presence and God will do what he told Moses he would do for those who obey him.

 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” 7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, We will do everything the Lord has said. So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord. Exodus 19-5-8

 Moses went down the mountain and summoned the elders of the people because even though God will deal with us and bless us individually, when it comes to us as a group, like a church or nation, God deals with us through our leaders. Moses sat down with the elders and presented to them God’s offer. The elders had the option to accept or reject the offer. Trying to negotiate with God is the height of foolishness. A simple yes or no will do, accept what he offers or reject it because anything you try to add or change tends to bring evil into our lives. The elders choose to accept God’s offer. The first made an agreement with God to obey him fully and live by his covenant.

 The elders made decisions that affected not only them but also everyone who is under their authority not only in their day but in the future for they have made a deal with someone eternal and their death will not void that covenant. The covenant of law will remain in force as long as God is alive, and that’s a long time, longer than anyone dwelling on the earth will live.[15]

The elders want to be God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priest and a holy nation and will work to obtain it by keeping a covenant. But there is something curious about God’s offer. Why did God promise to make them priest when they were already priest of God among the people? In fact, there were priests of God in Abraham’s day for he gave tithe to Melchizedek king of Salem and priest of God Most High[16]. What is this deal God offered to Israel when there was an established priesthood before God brought them to the mountain and offered to make them priest. Indeed under the covenant of law the only people allowed to be priest were the Levites and the only reason it fell exclusively to one tribe is because they came when God called. All of the seed of Jacob never became a nation of priests, one family did.

It is and always has been God’s intent to make ALL of his people priest even the women. There are a lot of religious men that are in for a shock when Jesus returns because he doesn’t have a problem with women priest. God’s intent for law and grace has yet to be fulfilled because there has never been a nation of priest on the earth. In Jesus we are a royal priesthood but we are priest living as foreigners and strangers under governments that hate our God.[17] In fact I have been a foreigner and stranger in churches that worship God but don’t understand his heart. God’s intent will be fulfilled when the angry lamb that everybody fears returns to fulfill the law. 

After the business meeting with the elders Moses went to bed. Got up early the next morning and went back up the mountain to tell God what the elders said. 

SECOND TRIP TO THE MOUNTAIN TOP

June 3, 1462 

The Lord said to Moses, I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you. Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. Exodus 19:9           

 Most of the Bible versions say that the people will hear me speaking with you and believe you. To survive in the wilderness you need a reason to trust the man that is leading. You need to know that he hears from God because if he does not hear from God there will be nothing to believe but the lie he will teach. After God told Moses I will give the people a reason to believe that you speak for me, Moses told the Lord what the people said. But God already knew what the people said because he was implementing his plan to create a holy nation of priest. The first, the children of Jacob, made an agreement with God and they will receive everything they agreed to but so will the last. The first teach all creation that it is better to trust God for what is right than it is to hold him to the letter of the law. The last teach all creation that those who love and trust God will be treated equal to the first.  


[1] Exodus 3:12

[2] Numbers 34:10-12

[3] Genesis 15:18

[4] Genesis 13:15 (For a more detailed explanation of the covenant God made with Abraham see A Reason to Believe by Teena Myers.)

[5] 2 Thessalonians

[6] Revelation 6:15-17

[7] Romans 11

[8] Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 3:1-6; John 1:19-23

[9] Mark 10:30

[10] Matthew 9:37-38

[11] Ephesians 4:11-13

[12] The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah by Alfred Edersheim Book 5 Chapter 5

[13] Matthew 20:8 NIV

[14] Psalm 17:8, 36:7, 57:1, 91:4

[15] Hebrews 7:12

[16] Hebrews chapter 7:1-4

[17] 1 Peter 2:9-11 see also Revelation 1:5-6 and 5:9-10

About Teena Myers

Teena is the Vice Chairman of the Southern Christian Writers Guild, author of three books and a freelance writer.
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