Notes on the Exodus (34)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

The Question of Authority  (Chapter 3 Verses 10-16)

God has clear plans, and he also recognises the difficulties that lie ahead. Especially so with his own people and Pharaoh himself. He knows exactly how he is going to deal with them. One way or another the presence of God always provokes a response. God assures Moses that his presence will go with him, this will provoke a response among the people of Israel. There will be questions. Where is the proof that God sent and is with Moses, and fulfil all this that God’s servant proposes to accomplish? But there is one central, fundamental question, always asked by humanity in general, and it is asked here. Where is your authority for doing these things (Matthew 21:23)? The short answer is God. But then who or rather what is God? Therefore God gives to Moses a definition of who and what he is. This is in answer to Moses question, what will I say (v13)? I mean it’s no small difficulty, to go up to a bunch of people and say, God sent me and wants me to lead you. Imagine some guy walking into your church one Sabbath morning and saying that? Yeah, right, sure, uh huh, of course he did. So you see Moses dilemma? Remember also that this is a people entrenched in Egyptian idolatry, they’ve been there a long time.

So all these questions will be asked, and more. Then of course Egypt is the then super-power and Israel are under that power, they are not their peers by any stretch. The Egyptians have no regard for God, they are unbelievers, religious, idolatrous, but unbelievers. They have a pantheon of gods, so called. They are heavily into new age, evolutionary, pagan superstition. From Pharaoh all the way down they are under the influence of this stuff. Moses has to confront Pharaoh, the top man, who claims much more than apostolic succession, he claims divinity. Against this backdrop Moses quite legitimately asks the question, how am I going to accomplish this task? Fair play, don’t you think. What credibility do I have, what authority for this before Israel never mind Pharaoh? Who am I going to say sent me? What shall I say is your name? The answer? The LORD is his name, “thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it – the LORD is his name” (Jeremiah 33:2).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (98)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

The Divine Institution (Chapter 13 Verses 1-7)

The justified person’s life is to be lived out within the Christian community, just as chapter twelve has demonstrated. But now Paul turns to the subject of the Christian in the secular world (vv1-7). We live as Christians in a world that is controlled by the government of the secular world, so how does the Christian with his or her spiritual responsibilities conduct themselves? Paul gives us the general principles to enable us to work these matters out. Everyone, no exclusions, we are all to submit ourselves to the God-ordained authority (v1). There are some who would claim that there is excluded here the thought of over-throwing a perhaps tyrannical government. There is no grounds here for that at all, Paul here opposes that very thing. Whatever the government everyone, every single Christian is to submit to it, there is no place for anarchy in God’s will, whether in the Church or out of it. Why? Because the government, whatever you or I may think of it, is in fact placed there by God himself. So for you to fight against it, is for you to fight against God (v2). It is a divine institution (v2), God’s agent in this world, to be obeyed. Listen to the language of an American Baptist minister, who doubles up with being a commander in the Michigan Militia, as well as a gun-dealer, the Rev. Norman Olson, he says, “we’re talking about a situation where armed conflict may be inevitable if the country doesn’t turn around”. Now I suggest to you that that attitude, that life-style, and particularly those words are diametrically opposed to what the Holy Spirit commands here (v2).

We are to do right (v3), be good citizens, in fact Christians should be the best citizens in any country, obedience to it’s laws, servants to its rulers, taking and playing our part in the political thinking and system of the land. We, the Christian community, should be a blessing to the nation. Now when it comes to times of religious persecution, whether it is coming from an individual or a state, Paul has already instructed us (v12, 14, 17-21), as has Jesus. What took place in the Acts of the Apostles, the body which was withstood (Act.4.19-20; 5.19-20; v29), was the Sanhedrin council, not the Roman state, the government of the day. The Jews had no authority to silence the preaching of the gospel. The rebellion we see all around us today, doesn’t work the righteous peace of God, it just reproduces itself.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (33)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

To the End of the Age  (Chapter 3 Verses 10-16)

A sign is given to Moses (v12). God condescends to the weakness of his servant’s faith. That’s what signs, miracles are, we ought not to need them. If God never performed another miracle he would still be God, his word would still be good and true. His word really ought to be enough for any of us. But in grace he stoops. For Moses the sign’s realisation is in the future. He has to move in faith, he has to trust God and go get his people, bring them back to this mountain, then together they will serve, worship God there on that mountain. That’s the sign. It’s a risky business faith, you certainly won’t get any flack just filling a pew. You will even get plenty of praise from men. But be warned, move out in faith, engage in some serious service, you will get criticised, perhaps even pulverised. What you need is the Joshua attitude, “as for me, I will serve the Lord.” No matter what others say or do. When Moses gathers the people and fetches them back to this mountain they will experience what Moses experienced at this burning bush. The divine presence of the true and living God.

But that’s a promise that rings through all the gospel ages. To all who carry on God’s gospel work. Taking the gospel, the good of Jesus Christ to sinners, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When God calls it’s ours to obey. We can go in the utmost confidence, we can go with the comfort and encouragement of his word. All these things, the apostle Paul tells, “were written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). God’s dealings with Moses demonstrate to us the utter trustworthiness of God at all times. When we do his good will, faithfully apply his word, we cannot altogether fail. We will know his presence and his power working in us and trough us. As he gathers his church in all ages from the four corners of the earth, to worship him, but not on Mt. Horeb, or any other mountain. But in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (97)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

Spiritual Fervour (Chapter 12 Verses 9-21)

Keeping our spiritual fervour (v11), that is keeping the kettle of our spirituality on the boil, generating enough steam to enable us to keep serving the Lord. This zealous, spiritual fervour is not a fanatical one, we have enough religious fanatics in the world (Galatians 4.17), no, again it is Paul’s Spirit-controlled, tempered with the knowledge of God’s word (Romans 10.2). It produces goodness (Galatians 4.18). Of course generated steam produces power which can be expressed in two ways, either a lot of noise, or movement. It is the latter that is required here. There are those who make lots of noise but never get anything done for the cause of Christ. Then there’s those with a fanatical zeal who literally boil over and the everybody gets scalded, none of which serves the Lord. Then there are those who fervently, but quietly get on with serving the Lord, actually moved to doing things, for others, and for the Church in general, and are a blessing to all. The service in mind here is that which Paul himself has been called into, a servant, or slave, of Christ Jesus (Romans 1.1). It is not the thought of position, but obedience to the Master’s will. Some of those early Christians who were slaves held high and responsible positions, stewards, managers of estates and so on. The point made here is that the servant never acts as Master, but takes orders from Above. The steam generated must be channeled in the right direction (Ephesians 5.15-16).

Rejoicing in the sure expectation of the fulfillment of Jesus’ promises (v12). Being patient in afflictions (v12), knowing that this is the way of a Christian in the world (Acts 14.22; John 15.18; Revelation 7.14), So we don’t try to evade these afflictions, we simply, quietly, uncomplainingly endure them. Not with gritted teeth, but joyfully (James 1:2f). We accomplish the former two by being steadfast in prayer, our great resource, the fountain of our strength, continuing in prayer (Acts 1.14; Acts 2.46) as we have been taught (Acts 2.42). The Apostle is not asking for money from these Christians in Rome (v13), he speaks generally, and to the Church as a whole. Paul never viewed the Church as just a local congregation, much wider, all of God’s people, to whom we all have a responsibility. Whatever they call themselves, Reformed, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostal, whatever the label, all who call on the name of the Lord, he is their Lord, as well as yours (1Corinthians 1.2). And we have an obligation to share with all the family who are in need.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (32)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

Sending His Servant  (Chapter 3 Verses 10-16)

Now comes the announcement. How is God going to perform this said deliverance? Imagine if you will Moses looking all around him, and then back to God. Then the realisation dawns, there’s a Divine finger pointing at Moses himself. Who me? He, Moses, is God’s selected and soon to be sent deliverer. He’s God’s main man for the day. This is of course the whole point of the theophany, the revealed presence of God (v10). God could have sent angels, but he didn’t. God could’ve destroyed the Egyptians in one salutary hit, but he didn’t. He could’ve appeared in presence to the Israelites and personally led them out, but he didn’t. According to God’s own infallible wisdom, he ordained instrumentality, human ministry to effect his salvation. This was the way of God then, and it is his way now. So what does Moses do? Jump up and down in ecstasy, no not quite. Does he shout glory, send me, no not quite. On the contrary, he doesn’t want the job. But God has chosen him and he is sending him anyway.

Moses suffers from a healthy sense of unworthiness (v11). He is sent into a tailspin, he is going down and sinking fast. We ask is this the same man who wanted to be the heavy-weight champion of the world back in Egypt? He is the same man, but different. Now with a career, a farming business, life in the desert, a wife, doubtless the mortgage and all the other stressful bits that come with the package, the experience of having to lean on God alone for comfort and provisions, he has learned. But now he is asked to move on, permanently. Why can’t he just be a modern missionary, fly down to Egypt, suss the place out, the climate, the language, what’s there for his kids and stuff. Just for six months, and he and his wife are cool with it, then maybe stay a bit longer? Have we lost the sense of privilege in being called to sacrificial service to the Lord? Recall what God said in the previous verse “I will send you” (v10). That in biblical language means success, perhaps not your or my idea of success, but God’s. Does Moses think God’s made a terrible mistake here, does he not know how Moses left Egypt? God never makes mistakes. Often he takes the weakest, the broken, to do his mighty work. You see it’s when we know our weakness, our total unworthiness, it’s then God can use us (2Corinthians 10:7ff).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (96)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

Love One Another (Chapter 12 Verses 9-21)

The love with which God loved the world (John 3.16), must be found in every believer, in sincerity (v9), that is to say, without any hypocrisy. The word hypocrisy belongs to the world of the stage, an actor who perhaps wears a mask. Well genuine love doesn’t wear a mask (1John 3.18). The lack of love that attempts to hide behind a mask of love and words is often uncovered when there are disagreements, or people within the community who don’t get their own way. The only answer to it is to honour others above ourselves, in pure loving Christian devotion. It’s called family affection. There is only one thing a Christian should hate – evil (v9). The thought is of the evil that comes from the source of evil, the wicked one, Satan (Matthew 13.19; Ephesians 6.16; 1John 2.13-14), and of course the whole world lies under his pernicious influence (1John 5.19). The good we ought to love and cling to, is moral good, spiritually, savingly beneficial. It carries with it the thought of a persons salvation, to such, a Christian should be glued to, firmly and permanently.

The family affection is expressed here in this brotherly love (v10). Within this family we are all on the same level, but yet there are still differences, there are children, parents, and grandparents. This family stands out amidst all the families in the world, because of our devotion towards one another (John 13.35). There is nothing more important, I’ve said it before in these notes, and I say it again without apology, it comes before any gifts (1Corinthians 13.1), it comes before doctrine (1Corinthians 13.2), it comes before martyrdom (1Corinthians 13.3). If we haven’t got love, we haven’t got anything at all, no, not even Jesus. To honour, to respect others, prefer is a bad translation, it excludes jealousy whether over gifts, knowledge, or position. A lust for superiority over others, a jealous seeking for honour in the Church is conformity to the world (v2), such a person needs some transforming ministry. When God’s people obey such admonitions as these, there is peace, harmony, fellowship in the Church. These are words the Church needs today to bring an end to the squabbling, the in-fighting, the taking of offence unnecessarily including the divisions amongst us. Paul, elsewhere, looking for an example of humility in order to bring two warring factions together, found it on the pinnacle of the universe (Philippians 2.3-11), your attitude he says (Philippians 2.5), should be exactly the same as that of Jesus. The way up is down.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (31)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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


God Comes in His Time  
(Chapter 3 Verses 8-9)

“And I have come down to deliver” (v8). He comes for his back-slidden people, oppressed by sin and left impotent in the face of their enemies. Maybe like our own present generation of Christians, they strove to show to Egypt, to the world, that they were just like them, and so became like them. We today, have altered our language, our services, our music, our sanctuaries, our dress, we have altered that which is not our own, God’s message. All to suit the world. We have fed them, entertained them, sung to them, danced to their tunes. Have we won them, converted them, even gotten their respect? Not a bit, they despise us even more. We have brought ourselves down to their level. We need to get back to the serious, solemn business we are called to, purity of divine worship, services that are marked with reverence and godly fear.

Of course the timing is God’s (v9). The action is about to begin. The afflictions of God’s people has become intolerable, enough is enough. The thought of a promised land seemed a pleasing concept to these people no doubt, but that’s about all, just a dream, a fairy tale, like one Aesop’s Fables. There are many such today within the pale of the church, they hear the gospel, the idea of heaven is appealing to them, but that’s all. They prefer the world. It’s not till we begin to feel the oppressive weight of sin, until it bites, begins to torment, becomes an unbearable burden to us, it’s then, only then that we are ready to cry to the Lord. It’s then we are ready to hear of the sweetness of Jesus, of pardon, forgiveness, the assurance of a heavenly home, where there is no sin. The real promised land. It’s only as the Holy Spirit begins to open our eyes to see wasteland, the bitter wilderness of the world we live in, until like Pilgrim we see we’re living in the “City of Destruction”, we’re ready to cry, to flee to Jesus. As I gaze upon this world today, no it has never been good, but there is such a thing as the organic development of sin, it multiplies, it gets worse as time moves on. Then when the cup has filled up, sin is fully developed, technology has got man to the place where he can no longer find any other ways to sin against God. Then God calls time on time, then God steps in, intervenes, he comes to deliver his own people, and to judge the world in righteousness. Make sure you’re on the right side, won’t you?

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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