Notes on the Exodus (23)

“Exposing the Exodus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

Slow Time (Chapter 3 Verses 1-4)

You may think the pace to be slow here. But God is not in a hurry, never. Nor ought we to be. Especially so when it comes to sending someone into ministry. There is a lot for a man to ponder, more so when they are young in the faith. It is all too common to hear of young converts pitched into Christian activity with no serious thought as to the seriousness, the solemness of the task. I had a very good example of this just today as I write. A church website advertising for prospective ministers. One, he must have a proven record, two, he must have a good sense of humour. What utter nonsense! Such an attitude explains why the Christian ministry is in such an appalling state today. It also reflects that the people who posted that advert have no concept of the solemnity of the task in hand, none whatever. All that seems to matter for some is that chap is mighty in word and action. Is it possible that they could be giving such a person over to the same condemnation as Satan, that of pride (1Timothy 3:5)? In the right manner there are questions that need to be asked. One is the person an ignoramus in regard to Christian truth, and worse is he content to remain so. Believe me, I have seen such appointed to positions of responsibility in ministry. Two, does he have clear understanding of truth. Three, does he have the ability to communicate that truth, simply, in a way folk can understand him?

You would think such would be the bare essentials. I know of a chap ended up in Seminary that couldn’t have explained to me where to get the bus into my town. And it’s almost right outside my door. There are of course many other questions that need to be asked. Is it evident that the person sincerely believes the truths he professes? Is there a measure of selflessness about the man, is he willing to give himself to and for others? Holiness of character is essential. Is he serious in his manner, being serious about the things of God doesn’t mean being joyless. He will never convince anyone else to take the word of God seriously if he doesn’t himself. Does he have a way of dealing with those who are not yet Christians in a sympathetic way (Hebrews 5:2)? So time must be taken, such matters should not be rushed, there is far, far too much at stake. Therefore you begin to see why God deals with his man in this way, separating from the world, getting him where he can hear God’s voice clearly. Why time is taken in preparing and testing him. It is in all this that God prepares one of the meekest men ever walked this earth (Numbers 12:3).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

 

Notes on Romans (87)

“Wrestling With Romans”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

Abide in Christ (Chapter 11 Verses 11-24)

We often say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, that’s what Paul is saying here with regards to the Jews (vv12-21). The Jews lost out through their own sin, and the Gentiles gained the riches of salvation (v12). Now if that brings riches for the world, how much more so, when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, the end-time revival when King Jesus rules from shore to shore (Numbers 14.21; Psalm 72.19; Isaiah 6.3; Zechariah 14.9), how much more richness will that bring in? If the judicial rejection of the Jews by God brings about the reconciliation of the world, how much more will be achieved, accomplished by the Jews being accepted (v15). Is that what Paul means here? Or is he simply speaking about the acceptance that is occurring when he himself in his own ministry to the Gentiles, makes the Jews envious? And of the same acceptance that continues down to this day when individual Jews are added to the Church. We are on controversial eschatalogical ground here, I know, an area that causes an awful lot of heat amongst Christians, far too much heat. In spite of that I must say that I take the latter view. I haven’t always I confess, but with the light that I have presently, that is how I see it. I hold to an a-millennial position, an optimistic one I might add.

Of more profit to us, is the warning Paul sounds for the Gentiles (v17). That they don’t tend to be proud and arrogant (v20). It was simply by grace they were grafted in (v17), so don’t you get boasting proudly over the Jews (branches) that have been cut off (v18). The truth of the Gentile acceptance stands (v19), yes, quite so (v20), but it was only as a result of Jewish unbelief. The Gentiles are no less dependent upon the Root than the Jews were, it is only by grace you stand, so rather than a snooty superiority, says Paul, a humble fear is more appropriate (v20). The one big problem with the Jews? They were high-minded, drunk on pride, their superiority over the Gentiles, thinking themselves to be nothing but God’s chosen people, they needed no washing from sin, no crucified Redeemer (1Corinthians 1.23), and their pride and unbelief led to their downfall. They were blinded by tradition, therefore making the word of the Lord null and void. Well, says Paul, if you find the mark of such pride in you, it should cause you to tremble, look what it did to the Jews? If the Jews with all their privileges (Romans 9.4-5) can fall away, don’t think the same can’t happen to you. It is a warning against false security. We must continue as we began, by faith in Jesus (John 15.1ff). Let the unbelief of those around us, be a check on us, and drive us closer and closer into the bosom of our Saviour.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

 

Notes on the Exodus (22)

“Exposing the Exodus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

Separated From the World (Chapter 3 Verses 1-4)

The years are passing for Moses, he was forty years of age when he left Egypt. Now eighty years have gone by and he is still not passed his sell-by date, he lived until he was one hundred and twenty (Deuteronomy 34:7). The developments of the first two thirds of his life were in preparation for the work of the last and remaining forty years. The time scale is all God’s working, is hidden in the mystery of his eternal counsel (Acts 1:7). God’s working is always long-term. The spiritual ravages of worldliness and the back-slidings along the way, take time to be purged out of the saintliest of folk. Even those who have been instructed, some even from their childhood years (Exodus 16:2). Moses former attempt at deliverance was ill-timed, not it’s God’s timing. It’s here in the school of God where the Lord now breaks into the life of Moses. In the course of his very ordinary work as a shepherd. The shepherding business would have taught him to be very observant. Here in Horeb which is part of the Sinai Peninsula, Moses is separated from the world. This is a radical change for the man raised in a palace. Here in this wasteland’s not the place one would naturally look for the man who is to be the liberator of a nation, tending someone else’s flock, in total obscurity. But then God’s thinking and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8).

But the desert is the ideal place where people and things, the world and self is put in the right perspective. It’s the place where circumstances and situations are seen for their real worth, value. It’s the place to find the divinely adjusted balance. No false colours, no empty pretensions, not even Satan can put a gild on sand. All is reality and starkly so. No din, no noise, no bustle, no traffic, no commercial enterprise. No sighs of ambition, no thirst for gold or hungering for power. No applause or censures of men either to elate or depress. Everything but the Divine presence is put aside. The only voice is God’s. Before Moses work can begin he needs to hear that voice. What is it that distracts you from hearing God’s voice (Isaiah 50:4; John 10:27)?

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

Notes on Romans (86)

“Wrestling With Romans”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!


The Present Remnant 
(Chapter 11 Verses 11-24)

The wonderful spin-off from Israel’s downfall, is our (Gentile) salvation (v11), but even more wonderful the effect will be reciprocated back upon the Jews again (vv25ff). God will use the salvation of the Gentiles to make the Jews jealous (v11b), thus desirous of entering into the blessing bestowed upon the Gentiles. The incredible mercy and grace of God! But picking up on the word envious (v11). That surely is the very essence of evangelism? Again, our responsibility in regards to the commission, is surely to create such an envy, to be such a people, to be the Spirit-empowered people we should be, the lively, the joyful, contagious Christians the New Testament speaks of. That’s how we create jealousy in the hearts of worldly folk. They come amongst us and they are convinced that they are sinful, that God is with us, and they want what we’ve got (1Corinthians 14.24-25; Zechariah 8.23). The success of our evangelism depends upon our ability to create envy in the hearts of the people we seek to witness to. We have God’s Spirit, and we must allow him to transform us into the beautifully attractive body of Christ. That touches upon two very important factors of God’s Spirit working amongst us, our unity, and our diversity.

Take the Ephesian Church for instance, made up of Jews and Gentiles, but forming one body (Ephesians 2.16), that couldn’t have been easy, but Paul never advocates separation. No, he says, you deal with the problems in God’s strength (Ephesians 4.1ff), they must he tells them keep that unity the Spirit has given them (Ephesians 4.3). The sins listed are sins of discord (Ephesians 4.25-31), which are grieving the Spirit (Ephesians 4.30), so if his presence is to continue, they must keep on being filled (Ephesians 5.18), to enable proper worship (Ephesians 5.19-20), and relationships that are healthy (Ephesians 5.21-6.9). As long as there is discord and disunity in the Church, there will never be envy in the heart of the world. Second, take the Corinthian Church, and the imbalance seen there as a result of some focusing over much on certain spiritual gifts (1Corinthians 12-14). Now nowhere does Paul suggest they should all be the same, rather he points to the fact of diversity amongst them (1Corinthians 12.12-20; vv27-31). Yes, even the Triune God himself illustrates this very fact. A body of one part would be a monstrosity! And so too a Church where every one is the same. That’s not unity, that’s uniformity.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

Notes on the Exodus (21)

“Exposing the Exodus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

And God Knew (Chapter 2 Verses 21-25)

I would guess that for the people it seemed like a long time, and that God had forgotten them. He hadn’t, his covenant still stands, he has a long, long memory v24. But he leaves them with their own contentment, self-made problems and their shallow spirituality, with its attendant pressures and pains. Not to mention the obvious injustices of their human work situation. So that in due time, a long time, forty years, which is of course is not even a noticeable blip on God’s calendar. Until the burden grows so great that groaned and cried out to the Lord. And God both saw and heard them v24-25. God is neither forgetful nor ignorant of the situation of his people. He remembers what he had promised them, but real loves waits until it can act for the full blessing of the one loved. God waited for the prayers of his people. We need to put that in the context of praying for revival.

But God recognised them as his folk v25. As he patiently waits for and prepares his servant, however the answer to the prayers of Israel, the serious, earnest prayers, was still to take a long time in coming. God is always ready to act, but are we? God is working, always, be assured of that, but do we discern his working, even in these dark days we find ourselves today? God appeared on behalf of his people and the first indication of that is the appearance of Moses. God sent them a deliverer, his man. The question is though, were his people ready? Were they ready to be good pupils, students, disciples? Only when the deliverer, Moses, and the people are prepared, will God call his man forward. Away from leading sheep in Midian to leading the flock of his people. But are they willing to learn, are they willing to be led. Are we (Matthew 11:28)? It is ever a privilege to share in God’s work, and there is always a great work to be done wherever God has placed us. To carry the gospel forward and hand the baton on to the next generation and advance the kingdom of God. But our need today is to seriously, earnestly seek the Lord, cry out to him. When the time comes will we be ready to move forward, to give ourselves to him in sacrificial service (1Corinthians 15:58)?

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

 

Notes on Romans (85)

“Wrestling With Romans”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Present Remnant (Chapter 11 Verses 1-11)

The cause of Israel is not lost altogether, and Paul himself stands as a testimony to this (v1). Remember not all Israel are actually of Israel, after the flesh, yes, but spiritually, no (Romans 9.6-7). They are not all really God’s true children (v2), God was never deceived as far as that is concerned, he knows those who are his (2Timothy 2.19; John10.14). The apostasy of the rest of Israel doesn’t mean God’s word has failed though (Romans 9.6), or that the Church will not survive. That was Elijah’s thinking (1Kings 19.10-18; vv2b-4), but the gates of hell will never overcome God’s Church (Matthew 16.18). No matter how bad the day, God always has his people whom he preserves, whom he keeps (v4), and it’s the same today (vv5-6). The nation of Israel was thus divided (v7). Some saved by grace (v6). The rejecters? They were judicially hardened, blinded (vv8-10; Matthew 13.10-15; John 12.37-43). And so amongst the Israelite nation you see this condition to this very day. The nation who crucified their own Messiah, and stagger even yet under the curse they’ve brought upon themselves (Matthew 27:25).

But there’s something here for us in our day with the conditions we face in the UK. The terrible compromise in the Church, the growing plethora of religions around us, the awful blurring effect upon truth with the multi-faith movement, secularism and unbelief not only laps at the door of the Church, it has pushed to doors open wide. And one often feels like Elijah, there’s only me left. But it is not so. There is much going on that is good. There are pockets of blessing throughout the country, places where God’s word is indeed effective. There are many gospel causes, good works being done, if you knew of them all you’d be quite surprised I’m sure. We still have freedom to read, to preach God’s word. We are free to meet together as God’s people. For how much longer, that’s debatable. But while we have these things we must use them to the utmost, we must be about God’s business. They are not easy days, but they are still gospel preaching days. We must remember the promises concerning the perpetuity and the intent of the word of God (Isaiah 55.9-11; 1Peter 1.23-25). We must remember God’s word to Elijah (v4), he always has his remnant, his faithful people. One way, of course, of safe-guarding against the introspective mind-set of Elijah, is to have fellowship with other Churches and Christians. One reason why we never hear about what’s going on in other places is because we are far too insular, independency has taken a turn for the worse, it has become extreme to say the least. Move out of your own parochial circle, you might be surprised at what God’s doing through other people.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio

 

Notes on the Exodus (20)

“Exposing the Exodus”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

Preparing the Leader and People (Chapter 2 Verses 21-25)

Moses learns only as he is willing to be nothing, it’s then God can take him and make something of him. In naming his son v22, Moses expresses not a longing for Egypt, but for his own people, Israel. It is here in the context of family life that learns to be a pastor. Moses is, before anything else, the guardian of his own wife’s spiritual welfare. That surely is the calling of every Christian man, whether he be called to ministry or not. In all the business of modern life, harassed by work schedules, in and out of the home, being a father to the kids, with all that that entails. In the milieu of all that it is so very easy for family worship, for spiritual things to be neglected. Man, in spite of all the modern thinking, and life in the fast lane, has the God-given duty to ensure his wife has the opportunity to attend worship services, regularly, and have fellowship with other Christian folk. If we’re not spiritually right here at this point in our commitment to the Lord, we’ll not be right elsewhere. Whilst Moses is learning all this in the back of the desert and family life, God is meanwhile preparing his people back in Egypt, for their deliverance.

The indications that this is so, is that they are beginning to groan, to God v23. This preparation is necessary before Moses can even begin his work. It is needful for the next stage of Israel’s development. Whether there is a prepared leader or not, even if the man has all the God-given wisdom needed, it’s not enough. Yes, even if he is willing to make all the necessary sacrifices, the people to whom he is sent must themselves be prepared. So in Egypt things grow worse. They’re quite happy that Moses struck the Egyptian, a blow for justice, great! So long as they don’t get the blame for it. But interference in one of their own domestic quarrels? They resent it, who does Moses think he is? And to tell them what to do, they think not. This is of course the predominant attitude amongst the majority of Christians in the West today. They object to being led, democracy reigns, okay? They call their Minister their leader, fine, good, as long as he doesn’t expect to lead them anywhere. This democracy that we’ve produced, you would be hard pressed to justify from Scripture. Show me for instance where you find a church business meeting in the Bible, where just about everything, to the colour of the Ministers tie, or whether he should wear one or not, is found? God gives to his church Ministers, Elders and Deacons, to lead the church. But of course people who don’t or won’t be led, cannot be led. So God has work hard-ball with the people, they have to come to the place where they are prepared to be led out of Egypt.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

Facebook
Twitter
Sermon Audio