Notes on the Exodus (49)

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“Exposing the Exodus”

An Unmixed Trust  (Chapter 4 Verses 10-17)

Finally, a postscript (v17). Which is a reminder to both, of the powerful presence of God with them in their God-given task. They wield the staff which symbolises God’s almighty power. But isn’t there a mirror here, in which we see a reflection of ourselves. Aren’t there times when we are more ready to trust anything, anyone rather than God himself? If we are given the countenance, the support of another mere mortal, we are quite happy to move forward boldly. Otherwise like Moses here, we falter, hesitate, demur. Should not this cause us to humble ourselves and to seek to know him better, to grow into a greater degree of faith, of trust in God alone. So that with an unmixed confidence, we walk with a firmer step, and alone if God would so have us to? That is, having him, God alone, for all our resource and portion in this world. That’s a high place to be, and it’s reachable, faith beloved, faith.

This other sign Moses was given (v14), is again concession to weakness. He, and we, are called to walk by faith not sight, when we are craving for and asking for signs, miracles, we are not walking by faith. One of the best signs, or indicators that God is indeed working, lies at both ends of the spectrum here. That God is preparing his servant at one end and also at the same time preparing his people to whom his servant is going. We see this in the New Testament, the Ethiopian Eunuch and Philip the evangelist. While the Eunuch is reading Scripture Philip is being sent to instruct him. We see it with Saul and Ananias, with Cornelius and the apostle Peter. When God sends us to do something, he knows what he is doing, so we can trust and obey him for the outcome with full confidence. God’s people today and in all generations ought to be praying for the Lord to raise up his servants, and prepare his men to lead his people into battle. For men with the God-given ability to communicate experiential truth to others, and applying that truth in the power of God’s heaven-sent Spirit. In every part of our lives, and society. To tell about Jesus, the exclusive Saviour to lost sinners. For men who will cry out against the awful sin of despising, holding in contempt the blood of the eternal covenant. Not being ashamed of Jesus or shying away from describing what the Bible means when it speaks of eternal damnation, the hellishness of hell. Pray! We must pray for such men. The hour is late.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (113)

“Wrestling With Romans”

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The Need for Prayer – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)

An appeal for prayer finishes the penultimate chapter (vv30-33). That the fruit of the love of Christ’s Spirit in them (Romans 5.5). It would direct and enthuse them, as congregations, to pray for Paul (v30).Paul understood he was walking into a den of lions (v31). For not only in Jerusalem, but the whole country of Judea was full of these persecuting Jews, who hated Christ and his gospel. Yet for all this Paul was compelled to go, he could do no other (Acts 20.22-23), in spite of the Holy Spirit expressly telling him he would suffer for it. At this time of writing, had the Spirit already spoken, and is that why he asks for prayer here? But there’s another concern for Paul, and that’s that his ministry may be acceptable amongst God’s people. Why of course it will, you say! Well, Paul knew only too well there had been a lot of evil talk about him, especially the way he had been receiving Gentiles into the Church (Acts 21.21), believe me, religion dies hard, and now here he is, bringing Gentile money to relieve them. The leaders, James and others, received him with warmth (Acts 21.17), but warned him of how much he had been slandered, and how that gross untruth needed to be quashed. Paul needed faith, and lot’s of it, and the prayers of these Roman saints too.

The human heart of Paul longs for the Jerusalem job to be over (v32-33), and that in the will of the Lord there amongst them he will be refreshed (v32). Because in the Roman Church there was no harassment, no danger, but a lovely, quiet haven of rest, everything a Church should be. This is no pity-party, but a man who sees himself storm-tossed, battling on in the work of the gospel, and sees directly in front of him nothing but more trouble. And over and beyond it, he sees this haven, he longs for the day when he will touch down on the tarmac at Rome and rest awhile. Ephesus he left in uproar (Acts 20.1), the Galatians had to have the sharp edge of his pen, and he longs for rest. But then this is a picture of the Christian ministry really in any day. So you see how Paul needs the prayers of those Christians who are going on with the Lord? You see how Christian ministers and evangelists need your prayers today, for exactly the same reasons? There are always those who are opposing them, dragging them back and down, keeping them from the real work of ministering Christ to those who need the gospel. Pray for God’s servants today (Ephesians 6.19-20; Colossians 4.3-4; 1Thessalonians 5.25).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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Notes on the Exodus (48)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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Moses’ Assistant  (Chapter 4 Verses 10-17)

Enough, the Lord is cross with Moses (v14). Why would Moses, we ourselves, who owe all we are and have and hope to be, to God, be reluctant to serve him? Is it the cost, the profit and loss margins? Yes, there may be an interim cost. There may be times of hardship, temporary hiccups along the way, even sufferings, yes (Matthew 19:29). Note here that God took Moses at his word. Did Moses lose something here, something of the blessing of full, wholehearted service? Aaron will be his spokesman, figurehead, and he will be glad to be so. But this means that God’s people don’t have singularly God’s first and sole choice of leader. Later on Aaron will demonstrate a lack of sanctification, he was unfit to ascend up into the cloud of God’s presence (Exodus 24:1ff). The spirit of uncleanness pervades the world today, it is pandemic. One can hardly escape it, the TV, internet, every form of media. We well understand those who want to avoid all of these, but we can hardly go out of the world, we have to live and witness in it, Jesus says so.

But we do have to recognise if we are unwilling to do God’s work, someone less worthy, capable, less dependable may have to step in in place. I’m speaking of course from a human perspective, and we could say that from a human perspective God’s work would suffer. Moses of course he gains a side-kick, Aaron, but in doing so does he lose some of the blessing? We will always be the losers if in answer to God’s call, who will go for me? We answer, not me. Many a young man turn from and reject any thought of entry into the ministry because of the trouble they see in churches throughout the land. They see the way Pastors are treated, they see them driven out of churches, they see them stressed out, they see them in a state of breakdown. We live in a generation that has lost all respect for the Christian ministry, and Ministers are treated like football managers (without of course the same financial gains). They are hired and fired at will by selfish church members for mere arbitrary reasons. Therefore, some young men see all this and their conclusion is, this is not for me. I understand, I sympathise, but that is still not reason for disobedience, if God is calling, there is but one response, here I am Lord, send me. There is a day of judgment, God will deal with the trouble-makers.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (112)

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“Wrestling With Romans”

No Independency Here – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)

However, Paul has one more job to do before he comes to them (vv25-29). However, it would be two years before he arrived in Rome, and in chains. The mother Church in Jerusalem was going through hard times and needed help (Galatians 2.10), therefore, the European and Asian Churches contributed to their needs (1Corinthians 16.1; 2Corinthians 8, 9). An act of Christian charity, which drew the Churches together in closer intimacy and unity. It’s not the act of giving, or the money, but the spiritual fellowship that’s the most important factor here. The opportunity for fellowship was presented to these people, and they took it. Church unity and fellowship doesn’t just happen. There are times and circumstances which make for such, but if we don’t look for, and avail ourselves of them, it will never happen. The unity of the Lord’s people is something that has to be worked at. You need the right spirit to start with (Romans 15.5). It means making every effort (Ephesians 4.3), it has to be reached for (Ephesians 4.13), love has to be put on (Colossians 3.14), which bears all things (1Corinthians 13.4-8), yes, even the failings of others (Romans 15.1). You cannot justify independency from the New Testament. There isn’t so much as a sniff of it.

There is an important principle of debt brought out here (v27). The Jerusalem Church was the matrix of the gospel which had blessed the Gentiles so much, and now they had fallen on hard times, an opportunity to repay something of the benefit arose. We too, to those who have been of spiritual benefit to us in the past, are indebted, and we must never forget it. There are Sunday School teachers, parents, perhaps former ministers, evangelists, or friends who have instructed us, or prayed for us, and maybe in many other ways been a spiritual blessing to us. Someone perhaps who at just the right time gave us a word of encouragement that kept us from falling, or a word of rebuke even, no, we didn’t like it at the time, but later it worked the fruit of righteousness in us. Have we expressed our gratitude to them, and to the Lord? I think it is so important, especially in the selfish ethos of our own day. The one fellowship deserves the other. This is a task the Apostle to the Gentiles feels he can’t delegate (v28), this fruit he wants to deliver personally, then it’s ‘viva la Spain’ here I come! The Apostle did, with Christ’s blessing come to Rome (v29), it was the subject of prophecy (Acts 23.11), in order to minister to them. But then any venture is fruitless unless the Lord’s blessing’s upon it, isn’t it (Psalm 127.1)?  You cannot justify independency from the New Testament. There isn’t so much as a sniff of it.

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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“JESUS”

JESUS

Bluebell Lane
The way, the truth and the life!

J is for Jesus, he’s alive from the dead,
That’s why the Bible declares him be Lord,
He conquered sin, and death and hell,
For all who trust him, their end will be well.

E is for eternal, life that don’t end,
A gift to faith, to all their knee bend;
Life from the death of the Son of God,
Who suffered the cross, his blood to shed.

S is for sinners, all men without doubt,
Come short of God’s glory, God’s way cast out;
For such Jesus came he loved them so much,
He paid the price, to add ’em to his church.

U is for us, yes, that’s you me,
We all stand before God without one plea;
Only in Jesus in the grace of God’s love,
Made one with God, fit for heaven above.

S is for sure, the work it’s been done,
All’s left for us, is to enter in;
Repent of your sin, believe in God’s Son,
Assured of his glory, and the end of sin.

(© James R Hamilton, written November, 2015)

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Notes on the Exodus (47)

“Exposing the Exodus”

Bluebell Lane
The way, the truth and the life!

Not With Lofty Speech  (Chapter 4 Verses 10-17)

Do you remember Moses previous objections? Preoccupied with himself, his fear, his unbelief? Is his lack of eloquence insurmountable, a fatal flaw? How many through the ages have pleaded this problem, and have and do overcome? The motivation is the key, a passion to serve the Lord. We ought to engage in service for the Lord, hadn’t we? It is to our shame is it not that we lack such passion, that we don’t burn with zeal for the cause of Christ. Where are the men that occupy pews week by week in the churches that could out there amongst the people, in some way, shape of form, preaching the gospel to lost sinners. The flaws, the weaknesses can be overcome. Is not God still God? Is he not able to compensate for our weaknesses? In regards to Moses defect, it supposes that oratory is a prerequisite for effective ministry. I suppose that Seminary training includes rhetoric and elocution, but let’s be clear about this, are we saying this is a big thing, a fatal flaw? That sinners dead to God in sin, can only be awakened, enticed by eloquence of words, by oratory powers? That we put carnal weapons in the place of spiritual warfare? Is it not sad that such an elementary matter is so little understood in the church today? Hear what one of the greatest evangelists, preachers, servants of God to grace this earth said on this issue, “And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b]of God with lofty speech or wisdom” (1Corinthians 2:1).

The Lord’s question is appropriate (v12). A clear rebuke. Did God not know what he was doing when he chose Moses? God is simply demonstrating how radically different his ways are from ours, the wisdom of the world against the foolishness of God (1Corinthians 3:19). God’s estimations against the estimations of men, the latter being an abomination to God (Luke 16:15). Moses became the most useful instrument to Israel in the Old Testament dispensation. The other, Paul, the most useful amongst the Gentiles in the early New Testament mission field. Both would be found unqualified by standards of modern scholarship (2Corinthians 10:1; 11:6). It’s not clever men we need today, we have more and plenty of such. It is godly men, called and gifted of God to preach, who are mighty in the Scriptures, to put the fear of God back in the nation. To thunder the truth of the gospel up and down the land. May God grant us such men in these dark days!

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on Romans (111)

“Wrestling With Romans”

Bluebell Lane
The way, the truth and the life!

Sent and Sending – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)

The Apostle’s future plans are here laid out (vv23-29). All, of course, in the will of Lord. We can see here just how fully Paul has preached the gospel (v23), he has laid a foundation for others to build upon, and now there is nowhere left in this region for such work to be done. That doesn’t mean there is no more work to be done, yes, the work needs to be consolidated, developed and expanded, but Paul will have left that work in the hands of capable elders, as was always his custom (Titus 1.5). Paul expected people to be converted when he preached the gospel, a lacking I fear on our part. But further, he expected men to grow in the Lord, to full stature, and to eldership material, he looked for rapid growth, and he got it. Why don’t we? Why in our Churches are there so many people whose growth in grace seems to be so stunted? These men would not only be eldership material, trained, equipped and gifted by the Holy Spirit, but some would be trained to be missionaries too, sent out within the region to plant and establish other Churches. Now if you have trouble with that, check it out in Scripture, there were of course the twelve apostles, the foundation of the New Testament church (Ephesians 2:20). However, the word simply means one who is sent, there were men who in turn by the apostles were sent, to do a like work, missionary work. Yes, there were the original twelve, who were significant, even foundational and irreplaceable (Ephesians 2.20). Barnabas was not included in the twelve, but he is described as an apostle, i.e., a sent one, by the church that is (Acts 14.14). The difference is of course, the original twelve were sent by the Lord Jesus immediately. Others, such as Barnabas, were sent out mediately, by the Lord Jesus, but through the church. Paul tells us what marked an apostle out from others ((2Corinthians 12.12). We can debate about titles, whatever you want to call a man, it cannot be denied that we need like men today, who are missionaries. Men called of God, with a passion for the lost, clothed upon with the power of the Holy Spirit, to go up and down this land of ours with the gospel. The work languors, the churches are dying, prayer meetings are nigh non-existent. The need has never been greater.

But now Paul’s work will carry on into Italy and to these Roman Christians at long last (v23). Paul in visiting this Christian Church (v24), as he has already declared his eagerness, and intention to do (Romans 1.11, 15), was for the purpose of ministering to them, but also, to receive something from them (Romans 1.12). Now he is not talking about financial gain, he is talking about a spiritual blessing. You see Christian ministry is supposed to be reciprocal, the congregation are supposed to be a blessing to the one ministering, and to one another. There is an horizontal element as well as vertical, if the horizontal is left out, if you haven’t edified one another, then you haven’t truly worshipped. Paul is looking for assistance, for fellowship, he is looking for spiritual sustenance. Will he get it? Would he get it in your Church?

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)

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