Notes on the Exodus (29)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

God of the Covenant (Chapter 3 Verses 6-12)

The covenant of course was first made with Abraham. Moses is reminded here that he is in the presence of the active, faithful, covenant-keeping God (v6b). This surely brings to his mind the entire sweep of God’s entire redemptive plan. All his faithful doings since his appearance and promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:2). This is the God who began and furthered his cause and delivered his people, time and again. Through all the complications of Jacob’s life, then those of his son Joseph. It is the same God who delivered Moses at the time of his birth. Who providentially enabled him to trained at his mother’s knee, then in the courts of Egypt. It was this same God who installed in him the sense that he belonged to God’s people, preserving and keeping him through the years. And this God is our God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Holy Scripture, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is ever the changeless, faithful, covenant-keeping God. This is what his name Jehovah (Yahweh) means. The glorious King, full of splendour, majesty, the name or names of God express his character. Elohim, mighty Creator and preserver of all his creation. El-Shaddai, the mighty One who makes his creation subservient to his grace.

As Jehovah he governs the entire universe in omnipotence. He rules from on high, he sits in his temple surrounded by adoring creatures, praising him night and day. That God deals with men in the way of covenant is made plain in both Scripture and our Confessions (Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter vii, 1-3). God’s covenant of grace is often described as being an agreement between God and man, or a contract. It’s neither. Both agreements and contracts have to be mutually discussed, This is most definitely not the biblical idea of covenant. The divine covenant is always unilateral. It is both imposed and kept by one side. In short, this means that redemption originates from God’s sovereign activity. It comes from the free spontaneous activity of God. God does not barter, bargain or plead with men. It is an absolute wonder of grace. 

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (93)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

The Spiritual Worship (Chapter 12 Verses 1-8)

To avoid being entrapped by a worldly life-style we need a firm strategy (vv1-2). Now, we have to live in the world, monasticism is not the answer, that has been proven time and again throughout history. No, it’s being involved in the world without compromising ourselves to it. We must be involved, we are to make disciples of them (Matthew 28.19-20). We need to be aware of the dangers, and we need to avoid the power struggles, competitiveness, materialism, promiscuity, obsession with violence, and it’s idolatry. We need to know our own weaknesses. You think that you could never fall, that’s a fatal attitude (1Corinthians 10:12). Because one Christian can go to one place doesn’t mean every Christian can do so. Then of course we need to constantly examine ourselves. Where do we go for pleasure? The answer to that question reveals a lot about us. If we prefer the world to fellowship, football matches to worship, pop concerts to Bible study, there’s something wrong. The life that pleases God begins with a transformed mind (v2), and ends with a renewed life-style.

This spiritual worship (vv1-2; John 4.24) begins with renovated thinking (Colossians 1.9), it’s the only way we can ascertain the will of the Lord, and to please God. The mind renewed by the Spirit understands the supreme rule of love (Romans 5.5), how to best implement it. It’s through the Spirit’s leading we are able to know when we ought to minister to someone, or remain silent. It is his prompting that causes us to discern when to take on board someone else’s cares, because to do so in our own strength would be folly, even disastrous. This life of spiritual worship is a life empowered by the Holy Spirit, lived in utter dependence upon the Spirit. We must take note that the inspired Apostle doesn’t give us rules to live by, on the contrary he urges the Colossians away from the temptation to succumb to such religious righteousness (Colossians 2.20-22). He gives them principles, that each must work through in their daily living. He tells them rather to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through the Spirit’s word given to them (Colossians 1.9-11). Why? So that they may please God (Colossians 1.10; v1). This is the life in the Spirit, Paul has exposed us to in chapter eight, producing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5.22-23). The indwelling Spirit reproducing God’s character in us, conforming us more and more to the likeness of his Son Jesus, which is God’s ultimate purpose for each of his children (Romans 8.29b).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (28)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

God of His Father (Chapter 3 Verses 6-12)

The response of Moses to the presence of God here is inevitable. One of reverential awe, holy fear, worship. In the light of such divine revelation his response is basic to the Old and New Testament Scriptures. It is basic to the worship  we find in the Psalms, to the experience and proclamation of the Prophets. It is the response that is lacking in the Western church today. Here God reveals, identifies himself to Moses, and it is precise v6. This of course should not surprise us, for God is a very precise God. It’s the same God whom his father worshipped v6a, this not some deviant, aberrant deity. He is not a figment of Moses imagination, or the product of a dream. There are some errant commentators who assume that Moses obtained his religion from his father-in-law Jethro. That Israel then decided to go with this Kenite concept of God. Well go back over what we’ve seen thus far in Exodus. Moses was given back to his parents when he was found in the river, it was then, in those early years that the true religion was instilled in him. This again of course highlights the importance of teaching our covenant children, from an early age. And, not just Bible stories, but principles, doctrines, the character of God etc., a foundation for their lives (Proverbs 22:6). Here after many years, and doubtless much sin, even murder remember, God comes to him and reveals himself mercifully to him.

But, the seeds of God’s incorruptible word had be sown in him a long time ago (1Peter 1:23). But if no seed had been sown, how could there be an harvest? Ask any farmer, “if I plough my fields and sit back and look at them, what will I reap”? He will tell you, “nothing but briers and thorns?” If the seed of the word is not sown then there is nothing for the Holy Spirit to use, nothing. This is what makes our evangelism so, so important today. Folk and churches have given up, no fruit they say, it’s a waste of time they say. It’s not, it’s a seed-sowing exercise. The times are not in our hands, they are in the hands of the God who is absolutely sovereign and works to his calendar. Our given task is to evangelise the nations, sow the seed, but if we don’t sow, there will be nothing to reap. A while back a Pastor friend of mine from Albania, he was helping me with the street work. He said after a few days he had never met so many wacky people with crazy, mixed up ideas about God. But people fed with all sorts of slop from Hollywood, TV, the music industry etc., is it any wonder they are totally confused. But unless the church goes with God’s own, self-revelation, the Scriptures, and present them with the clear picture of what God is like, how will they know (Isaiah 8:20).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (92)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

Love Not the World (Chapter 12 Verses 1-8)

There was a day when worldliness was easily understood (vv1-2). It was simply the person who smoked, drank alcohol, went dancing, or went to the movies, all this, and this alone was the sum of what it meant to be worldly. But then Christian liberty was discovered, God was Lord of the conscience and no one else, and rightly so. Jesus Christ died to set us free from the tyranny of tradition. Many of the taboos that Christians shunned had any biblical authority whatever. They were simply the death-throes of a generation of pompous folk who sought to be more righteous than God. You ever noticed how many things some Christians have that God missed out in his word, they know better, and so make up the deficiencies. We must stand in the freedom Christ died to give us, or you deny his very blood. But then the pendulum swings the other way, and we come perilously close to license (1Peter 2.16). When we’re so taken up with playing football, going to the movies, listening to music (different genres), all legitimate things, to such an extent the means of grace are being missed, or they are becoming a drag, then the warning bells should be ringing. It is important that we are always checking the balances, it’s important because of Paul’s injunction here. And it’s important because we’re not to love the world or the things of the world (1John 2.15).

The world, society organized by fallen human nature, is what Paul means here, we need to be aware of it’s characteristics. It is demonic, it’s controlled by Satan (1John 5.19), he is it’s prince (John 14.30), and in control of it’s children too (Ephesians 2.2). Now it’s a fact, like it or not, Satan can take over Christians too, the Lord himself addresses Peter, one of his men – how? As Satan! (Mark 8.33). He was doing the devil’s work. Again Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you” (Luke 22.31). In other words, Satan has you Peter. The reality of a back-slidden Christian is that he or she is in the control of the devil. The world is hostile to Jesus. There is hostility there, an antithesis put there by God himself (Genesis 3.15). Sometimes the enemy comes all guns blazing, or roaring like a lion (1Peter 5.8), sometimes it’s his wiles and schemes (Ephesians 6.11), or like an angel of light (2Corinthians 11.14). Then he’s invisible, tolerant, smiles upon the Church, puts his own men into pulpits even. But the hostility is still there believe me, malignant evil. And any display of good will has but one purpose, to destroy the gospel, to smother it. To destroy our testimony, to make us so worldly, that we’re a denial of the Christ who bought us (Psalm 1.1). Paul’s answer is here (Romans 12.1-2).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (27)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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


The Holy Place 
(Chapter 3 Verses 4-5)

It is the place where God is present, therefore it is holy. We know of course that God is present everywhere so we can relate to him anywhere. But it is amongst his gathered people that he is especially present on earth. If that is so ought we not in such circumstances to remove the shoes from our feet? No, not literally, but spiritually, in our hearts. The Psalmist both asks and answers an important question in this regard, Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lordor who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4). It’s not that God forbids Moses, on the contrary he calls him. But Moses isn’t ready yet. He doesn’t yet recognise the presence nor discern the nature God. But the learning curve has been entered. There will be times in the future when he come to this place again and again, to intercede for others. Is not this such a revelation as the church needs today, to see the throne. To God high and lifted up, in awesome holiness, to see her own defilement (Isaiah 6:1ff)? The presence of God is not just holy, but powerful, dynamic. It has a moral effect upon the recipients of his self-revelation. The knowledge of the Lord always leads to moral change. Our greatest problem today in the church is we gone way too far in seeking please the world and ourselves, and not God. We have lowered the standard, we have accepted less than the real conversion that leads to the moral change required by a righteous and holy God.

We are called to be as God is, a holy people. Initially, fundamentally by faith in Jesus Christ, but a faith that works, in life and practice. That we are forgiven and cleansed is wonderful, but that’s not the end, just the beginning. It is the start of an active life of opposing sin, by God’s Spirit and word. Striving against the remaining indwelling sin, living the covenant life of obedience to the Lord who loved us, washed us, and made us his own. Sin is an intrusion into God’s world, and so is never acceptable to him. On mount Zion God raised a standard against evil, he has declared war against it, it is going down, he will utterly destroy it. So let us who are termed his special people (1Peter 2:9), have nothing to do with it. Today! Sanctify yourself!

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (91)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

A Life Consecrated to God (Chapter 12 Verses 1-8)

This is the hinge point, ‘therefore’ because of all that Paul has said thus far, now he says, this is the outworking of it all, what you must do, how you must live in the light of these things. I beseech you, he says (v1), no command, it’s not needed. Why? Because of the grounds of his appeal, the mercies of God. All the mercies Paul has been pressing upon us, the mercy of no condemnation, the mercy of no separation, the mercy of adoption, the mercy of reconciliation, the mercy of life in the Spirit, and of course we could go on. Who needs commanding in the light of all this? Can a person who is not moved to godly living after all this, really be a Christian? The appeal? To offer our bodies as living sacrifices. It is our bodies that come in contact with sin power in this world, our eyes see things they shouldn’t, it is our feet that take us places they perhaps shouldn’t go, our hands are used for sinful purposes. Well, says Paul, instead, now in the light of all God’s done for you, offer the parts of your body up for righteous living, use them for good and for God, for holy purposes. It’s as living sacrifices he wants them though, not dead ones, not as slain on an alter, but living, alive in Jesus for evermore, living for him. This is how we worship God. Worship is more than singing songs, more than meeting together as Christians in Church, good and proper, and part of our worship as that is. No Christian worship is a life given over to God completely, to worship God with every part. In the garage, the office, at the kitchen sink, or in the shop, where ever we are we belong to him, and what ever we are doing, it is, or should be done for him, to his pleasing – that’s worship.

The world’s pattern (v2a), is not ours, because it’s in the grip of the evil one (1John 5.19; 2Corinthians 4.4). Through our being inwardly transformed, in our minds, we are to be outwardly conformed to a life-style that pleases God. Our minds are renewed through the reading of the Scriptures, daily bringing all our judgments, and decisions to the yardstick of his word. As we go on our minds are permeated with that word and we begin to think, almost automatically, in God’s ways, thinking his thoughts after him. Thus we instinctively make biblical and godly decisions concerning our daily living. But everything must be tested, because of our fallenness, our judgments are faulty, therefore we need the straight-edge of the Bible every time. That is, if we are to be a Spirit-led people (Romans 8.14).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (26)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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


The Phenomenal Bush 
(Chapter 3 Verses 1-4)

Mysterious, to say the least. Fire in the Bible usually signifies divine judgment, God’s holiness in active opposition to evil. A thought which raises a question, how can a holy God have to do with such impure beings (Habakkuk 1:13)? Other that is, than to judge, to condemn them. The only answer of course is, his gospel grace. Through the good news of his Son Jesus Christ, grace reigns. Not, at the expense of righteousness, but through righteousness (Romans 5:21). The phenomenon, the burning bush, speaks of that grace. And it is this message of grace that God intends to burn into the heart of his servant Moses. How? The cross, God’s vindication of his own justice (Galatians 3:13). It was upon that cross that Jesus endured the fierce wrath of God, plunged into, engulfed in the flames of divine judgment. But they didn’t and could not consume our Surety. The law’s demand for death was met. God’s holiness was intact, whilst justifying the ungodly through faith in his Son, freely form all things. Reconciliation is a Divine act. Interposed between God’s holy displeasure and our sin is the atoning work of Christ. At the expense of God’s compassion and mercy. It’s called simply amazing grace.

Moses is given here a glimpse, a visible manifestation of the divine presence (v4). The presence that was promised guard, guide and protect his people in all ages. The holiness of God’s character is manifested here, for it is in holiness that he is going to deal with own people Israel, and Egypt. This must needs be imprinted upon Moses, the leader’s own soul. Moses has been called out of the darkness, now he must walk in the light (1John 1:5ff). In terms of Christian leadership and worship today this sorely needs to be reiterated. Whose glorious presence is it in which we meet? Moses will find as he commences his work amongst the people of Israel, he will have to rebuke and correct their carnality and idolatry. Way too much of what they imbibed in Egypt they will carry with them when they leave. They will have to learn the reality of the character of the God with whom they have to do, and how he is to be worshiped. This experience of the holy character of God will never leave Moses, it will be a constant reminder to him of the standard ever to be maintained. It is a new realisation of this that is needed in the church today. It would check much of the levity, lightness found in many services.  

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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