Notes on the Exodus (39)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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


Moses Authority  
(Chapter 4 Verses 1-9)

But (v1). Moses continues to oppose God. First of all it was his own unworthiness (Exodus 3:11). Then it was his ow inability (Exodus 3:13). The graciously defused both of these arguments, giving his servant both reassurance and the promise of a sign (Exodus 3:12). He gives Moses his name “I Am” plus an explanation accompanied with prophecy concerning things to come. Still Moses raises another objection. He doesn’t, we think, want to go to Egypt. Perhaps it’s his previous experience there. But what is astonishing here is, after all these verses he is still arguing. It is a startling denial of all God has asserted and revealed of himself. God’s demonstration with signs would convince the deepest skeptic, or you would think so anyway. However it is not the case (Luke 16:31). It’s not evidence(s) people need, it is submission to the God they know exists and to his word. God in grace often condescends to our weakness. The highest reach of faith is simply to take and stand upon the word of God. Another factor we must remember is that God works supernaturally in judgment as well as in redemption, as we will see in due course as we study these chapters. The revelation of God is always twofold, to some it is the savour of life and others, death (2Corinthians 2:15).

Faith, saving faith is belief, confidence in the propositions set before us in the gospel. But more than that, the dimension of trust is also involved. Relationship is built upon trust, Moses at this point seriously lacks this dimension. He needs for this relationship to go somewhere. What if (v1), equals unbelief. He means that the Israelites must accept or reject his report on subjective grounds, they can’t verify his experience with God. All he has for them is just words, they must take his leadership on the mere basis of trust. But this is his problem, he does not have that trust, in fact his reputation is already shot. He is returning to Egypt under the indictment of murder and telling God’s people he has had a message and he is to lead them to the promised land. Yeah, sure you have Moses! From a human perspective he has a strong argument. But, what he omits is that is God who is sending him. He has to learn to trust (Numbers 11:23; 2Corinthians 5:7). When God sends he opens the way and provides all that’s necessary. God begins to condescend to the weakness of his faith (v2ff). He is given three signs designed to teach him vital lessons. But it must be said, God’s word should have been enough. However we say that knowing the weakness of our own faith.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (103)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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


As Unto the Lord
 (Chapter 14 Verses 1-12)

The idea of a Church that is totally uniform is destroyed here (vv5-8). The life of the Church just isn’t like that. Paul speaks here about sacred days (v5), how many arguments have there been over Sabbath keeping, and how the Sabbath should or shouldn’t be kept. You don’t watch television on Sunday and don’t think that anyone else should, or you don’t allow your children to play ball in the back garden on Sunday. So therefore no one else should either. Well you may be fully convinced in your own mind, good. Well, kindly allow others to use, and be convinced, in their own minds too. What you do, do it to the Lord, and not before the Church, or anyone else (v6). You abstain from something legitimate for discipline reasons, good (v6b), give thanks and do it likewise to the Lord. But you have no Biblical warrant to lay your discipline on anyone else. And if you allow people to bind you with their rules, then you have just given up your freedom. There are far too many Christians who feel compelled to lay burdens upon others that they are not able to bear, too many who are only too willing to use their religion to bruise other people, and woe betide you if you don’t conform. That is not the gospel. You live and die before the Lord (vv6-7), but how many Christians, and Churches, actually do live before the Lord? How many live in fear of others, spend their lives looking over their shoulders, wondering, fearing what others are thinking about what they’re saying or doing? Is that the freedom Christ died to purchase for you? I mean who do you belong to? Man or God (v8b)? If you want to stay free you will have to fight to do so, and if that’s not worth fighting for then Calvary means nothing to you.

Jesus actually died and rose again in order that he, and he alone, might be your Lord, not men and women (vv9-12). So when you allow others to put you in chains you’ve just sold out on his Lordship, you can no longer say, Jesus is Lord. Further, if you believe in God’s just judgment, can you not leave others to stand or fall before him (vv10-11), or have you decided to do the judging in his place? You think you’d do a better job? What you do or don’t do is none of my business, it’s God’s, it’s to him you’ll give account (v12), and if we all lived more in the light of that Biblical fact, we’d have a lot less to say, and we’d be a lot kinder to one another. Who knows, we might even be able to live together.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (38)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

God’s Provision  (Chapter 3 Verses 19-22)

God’s not limited by our failure, he is sovereign, he rules and overrules in our weakness, sinfulness and faithlessness. He does and will remain faithful to himself and to all that he has promised. God will provide for his people, he will make Egypt favourable disposed towards Israel (v22). The Hebrews lived among the Egyptians, they were neighbours. The old version uses the word borrow here, that’s far from the best translation, not even ask is correct. They will plunder the Egyptians (v22b). This refers of course to time of Israel’s departure, their going out, the exodus. Not on a three day jaunt but going out altogether as God along intended, complete deliverance from Egypt. By this and more God will clearly demonstrate his divine presence with his people. Remember that God’s presence is dynamic, it is active. In the case of his elect it active in redemption, in the case of the reprobate it is active in judgment. God demonstrates his presence with Israel in these ways, 1. The request to worship God as he himself dictates; 2. The victory in the confrontation with Pharaoh; 3. The extraordinary signs performed in Egypt; 4. The plundering of Egypt; 5. The whole episode is crowned with the exodus, the freedom to leave.

All this will be seen to be God’s doing. Moses, however, has many more questions yet concerning authority for his given task. The next chapter will deal with that issue. But as we leave this chapter, consider what a God we have to do with, this is our God. He is the faithful, covenant-keeping God, always the same, unchanging and forever. And he is our authority for our God-given task today, to take the gospel into all the world, to make disciples, to teach them his commandments. The authority for our commission is in a sense the exact same as that of Moses, God’s word. We too have God’s revelation today, written, his inscripturated, infallible, inerrant word. That truth today can and likewise needs to be authoritatively declared to all men without distinction. It is truth that can be asserted in all its fulness, the whole Bible, all the counsel of God. Because it has God for its author.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (102)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

Don’t Be Judging (Chapter 14 Verses 1-12)

The Apostle now instructs us as to how we can achieve and maintain this sweet harmony within the Church, which is so important. We are not all the same, there is diversity within the unity of the Church (vv1-4). Both must be maintained. Now we must understand the condition Paul speaks of here as being weak (v1), it’s not a fixed one, it’s not the Christians who have been on the road a long time and have adopted, and entrenched themselves in a position which long-term has stunted their growth. No, it’s a person who is over scrupulous because their faith hasn’t developed yet as it should. It is through this person being accepted by the rest of the community that they grow out of their weakness. They need to be taught, their faith strengthened, and thereby grow into greater freedom, but growth takes time, therefore disputing with them doesn’t help. This weak person is a teachable person. The kind of weaknesses mentioned (v2-3), consist in over-the-top timidity, over-scrupulosity, much of which arose in Paul’s day over food offered to idols in Pagan worship festivals (1Corinthians 8). But when the strong and the weak come together there are two dangers that arise.

The strong in faith, whose legitimate Christian freedom simply rubbishes the weaker undeveloped Christian who is still unnecessarily bound (v3). Well, that is sinful! The other danger is that the unnecessarily weak, narrow believer, condemns the maturer and thus liberalised Christian. Again, that is sinful! Such action would result, not in development but in aggravation and polarisation, the opposite to unity. Paul has advice for each of them. God has accepted both parties (v3b), and if God has accepted a person, then who are you, or I, to condemn them (Romans 8.33-34)? He sharply rebukes here (v4). This weaker Christian needs time to grow, to develop in their thinking, to come to an understanding of true Christian liberty. It’s not enough to just be told by the stronger Christian, and then blindly accept what they say, that’s how cults begin. You abrogate your right to think as a human being at your peril. As consenting adults and rational beings made in God’s image we are responsible for our thinking and every consequent action. We are never just victims. We need grace to think and grace to allow others to think, and yes, to hold their own positions, as far as their thinking has led them, and give them time and space to grow into their liberty in Christ. No – everyone doesn’t have to agree with you!

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (37)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

The Defiance & Deliverance of God  (Chapter 3 Verses 19-22)

Even as Moses is told to approach Pharaoh God knows the request will be denied, not all the coercion of men will bring the king to acquiesce, it will take more power than man can produce. God knows (v20). The issues are already settled in the Divine mind, God always knows what he is doing. God is working in his people the will to do his will, that when the time comes they will be ready to move forward as he commands, to bring about his great and glorious work of redemption. There is nothing sentimental or even romantic about this that is given to Moses to accomplish, it will be difficult, there will be opposition and rejection over a long period of time. And some of this hardball will come from God’s own people. Yes, some who at the beginning will have encouraged him to go for it will be his sworn enemies in the end. But he is assured there will also be miracles of deliverance (vv20-22). On the basis of this revelation given to Moses God calls his people to forward and out from amongst this idolatrous nation of Egypt, they do not belong there.

God also predicts (v21). When Israel leaves, they will leave with everything they need for their journey. This is not the first time that this was prophesied and promised (Genesis 15:14). The word of God is sure, it is steadfast, it will be as he has said. So great a triumph it will be, that even the women and children will plunder the Egyptians. It is an awful thing to stand against the Almighty. Now some will of course attribute this success to Moses, to faith and faithfulness. If that determines success in God’s work then we are in big trouble. Yes, we ought to believe, to trust and to be faithful. But what was Moses in reality? He was weak, timid, hesitant, at times fearful and even unbelieving. If God waited for us to be what we should be, utterly trusting, faithful and obedient, then he would have to wait an awful long time. God is not limited by our failures, weaknesses and sinfulness. He remains faithful to himself and what he as spoken, even when we are unfaithful. God will demonstrate who and what he is by his great and sovereign power (v22), and he will accomplish this exodus, deliverance for his people, both then, and now, and to the end of the age.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (101)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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

Wakey! Wakey! (Chapter 13 Verses 8-14)

The reason for our need to wake up is given here (vv11-14). One of the things most of us don’t like doing is getting out of our beds in the morning, the alarm clock rings and we switch it over to snooze, or off altogether. Well some of us are living our Christian lives like that, we carelessly, or even with indifference hit the snooze button, or switch the alarm off altogether (v11). Yawn! I’ll read the Bible tomorrow. Yawn again! I’ll pray later. Well, all this love in the community, living sacrifices and stuff, yeah, yeah! It’s true and I guess I’ll get round to it eventually. Hit the snooze button again! There’s something you’ve not understood, says Paul, and rather tersely (v12), how close, that is, you are to the end. Not that Paul or any other Biblical writer knew when exactly it would come (Acts 1.7), but knowing it would be, like Jesus said, like a thief in the night, he’ll come when you very least expect it. If you’ve already in your mind brushed that aside, you’re in grave danger. That’s what the people did in Noah’s day, that’s what the people of Sodom and Gomorra did, it cost them everything. You should be living every moment, of every day for the Lord (Romans 12.1-2). In worshipful obedience, today!

You wouldn’t think Paul would have to write instructions like this to Christians, would you (vv12b-13)? Paul could almost have been around in the Church today. The fighting we should be doing is not the carnal, worldly sort (2Corinthians 10.4), it’s the fight of faith 1Timothy 6.12), for which we need the full armour of God (Ephesians 6.10ff), in order to thrust back the powers and deeds of darkness (v12b). Our decency (v13), is more than that of respectable worldly folk, who act respectably when seen, but behind closed doors live reprehensibly, no the daytime suggests walking out in the light with God (1John 1.5ff), because that’s the only time and place we have fellowship with God (Luke 21.34). Paul knows what he’s talking about, he knows human nature. How many Christians have fallen, and into the most awful shameful sins, caught in vice and crime, and stained with utter disgrace (1Corinthians 10.12). The answer? Don’t even think about it (v14). Instead, clothe yourself with Jesus, how? In two ways, one, being dressed in his righteousness which we do instantly by faith (Romans 8.1), secondly, with the armour of offence and defence, which appropriates Jesus as the power of our sanctification (Ephesians 6.13).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (36)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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

The Precious ‘I will’s of the Lord  (Chapter 3 Verses 16-18)

In these verses we have a reiteration of the covenant relationship and the knowledge that God has conveyed to Moses. What goes down here is what will be in future days, the chain of command, right the way through to the New Testament church also. Under divine authority Moses is instructed to gather the elders. Because in Israel authority lay with the elders who in turn are the representatives of the people. No mavericks, no one-man revolutions. Not even Moses is permitted to work on his own initiative. But under God’s initiative and direction vested in himself, in Moses and the elders. Now Moses has the authority he asked for, now he is God’s ambassador, sent one. Doubtless he yet feels the enormity of the demands upon, as later in history did the apostle Paul (1Corinthians 2:3). Did Moses even begin to feel the undermining influence of Satan? We must never forget there is devil, his devices, his schemes are many and varied. Remember the response of Moses (v11)? A healthy measure of self-distrust is a good thing if it leads us to trust more in God. And not to a spiritual paralysis, an inability to fulfil our God-given calling and ministry. Very few in this our day realise the awesomeness of what they are caught up into in the service of the Lord.

The promise of God here is meant to empower (v17). A believer in their rightful calling, in the place where God has placed them, if they find themselves constantly down, under, there is something wrong. For we have God’s multiplied  reassuring promises throughout Scripture (Ephesians 3:20). Here Moses is given yet further promising reassurance, God says, “I will” (v17). It is the same Lord who appeared to the Patriarchs of old who now appears to Moses, this is an indication to God’s people Israel that Moses is indeed a genuine prophet of God. Why? Because the message Moses presses upon them agrees with earlier given revelation. That under the Mosaic law would become a benchmark for prophetic ministry (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). The promise of God is always our anchor, the ground of our confidence. Though the powers of hell be arrayed against us, whatever we are called to do, Moses, us, it’s not going to happen overnight. Moses and us ourselves, our faith is going to be tested. But every word of the Lord will be made good. We can trust him, we can serve him with confidence.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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