Notes on the Exodus (58)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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The Power of Unbelief  (Chapter 5 Verses 1-9)

The king of Egypt highlights that the number of Israelites is on the increase (v5). This in itself is an admission of failure on Pharaoh’s part, according at least to his former plan, to decrease the number (see chapter one). Unbelief can be very stubborn, to the point of stupidity, nothing is quite working out the way Pharaoh planned, all his aspirations are being dashed. But Israel’s also take a backward step (v4). Doubtless there would have been quite a commotion in the camp with all the miracles happening, expectations would be running high, we’ll be on our way soon. Because of these events they would all have downed tools, spades and shovels laid aside, the normal daily tasks laid aside. But of course that wasn’t God’s way of working then or now. People pray, they expect immediately to receive the fulfilment of their request. People expect everything to ironed out, no confrontations, no moral divisions, not hard decisions to make, when they come on the Lord’s side, or seek to make a stand for God. But there is a cost, ominously omitted from sermons today. Seldom are people told that men will hate them, despise them, stand against them and treat them as enemies.

Israel had cried to God for deliverance, and it was coming. God heard and he was answering. But there is trouble connected, there always is. But there is this tendency as soon as the trouble rears its head to give up, lose heart immediately. Can you identify with this? God had promised (Exodus 3:12). He had declared he would bring them into the land of Canaan (Exodus 3:8). These promises come from the God who does not and cannot lie. Yet so soon, after the very first hurdle they get down, depressed, discouraged. Their aspirations evaporate immediately. God’s people can be affected by unbelief too, we need to reminded constantly that the victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1John 5:4). It’s believing, which notice is a participle, believING, not just a once for all matter, but a lifelong habit of faith. Yes, even in the midst of all the troubles, set-backs, disappointments, enemies, and even our last our very last enemy, death (1Corinthians 15:26).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on the Seven Churches (4)

“Searching the Seven Churches”

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What is Pre-millennialism? – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1)

We come to the Pre-millennial position. The alarms bells ring immediately when we discover the astonishing amount of disagreement there is amongst its adherents. One would think that if it were Scriptural there would a much greater degree of unanimity, barring perhaps one or two points. The most radical form is that of dispensationalism. They hold that God deals with the human race in terms of dispensations. The dispensation of innocence, promise, law, grace and so on. It also held that God removes the church prior to the tribulation (Matthew 24:29). This system of eschatology was popularised by J.N. Darby, and the Schofield Bible. But the position has never been held by prominent theologians, this ought to tell us something surely. For the purpose of these notes this is a condensed overview of the system. The Jews being God’s originally chosen people, but when Christ came they rejected him. This wasn’t in the original plan of God, so a contingency plan had to be devised. Plan ‘B’ if you like. So God resorts to the Gentiles, who constitute a church not the kingdom of God. The Scripture they hold was written of two sets of people, the Old Testament, the gospels, and revelation was written for the Jews. The rest for the church. At any moment the rapture could take place 2Thessalonians 4:13ff; Matthew 24:40ff. This rapture is the secret, sudden coming of Christ, to take the resurrected and living saints. The wicked are left, this is the first resurrection. Next is the seven year tribulation (Daniel 9:24f), when the events of Matthew twenty four happen. But the church is gone, it has been raptured. Then comes the second coming of Christ to usher in the millennium, in which he returns to the Jews and reigns with them for the 1000 years, himself centred in Jerusalem. In this period all the Jews turn to him.

At the start of this period Satan is bound, Christ destroys the Antichrist at Armageddon, then at the end Satan is loosed. Then follows the third resurrection and the wicked and Satan are judged. Then lastly there is the renewal. Some say the redeemed mingle, Jew and Gentile, others say that the kingdom, i.e., the Jews and the Church i.e., the Gentiles will be kept apart. One will be in earthly Palestine, the other in heaven. Some list as many as twenty two events. Well as we begin to examine this position, which by the way, many have charted. You will find some of these charts in church buildings depicting all these events. The important points are as follows, the seven dispensations, eight covenants, two comings of Christ, three or four resurrections, and four judgments. It is complicated, very. But this in itself runs against the simplicity of Scripture, which is refreshingly uncomplicated and light. Next we will look at some of the problems this faces us with in biblical terms.

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)

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Notes on the Exodus (57)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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The Message Rejected  (Chapter 5 Verses 1-9)

In the first place God speaks in grace, Pharaoh is given the opportunity to obey. Before God speaks in wrath, he speaks in mercy “then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury” (Psalm 2:5). It is ever the way with God, He sent Noah the preacher of righteousness before he sent the flood. He sent one prophet after another to Israel before he sent the Babylonians to take them away. He sent his only Son before utterly destroyed Jerusalem. And so it is with the world today, the day of redemption draws to a close, the Day of the Lord comes swiftly upon us. When the door shall be shut, when time runs out and God’s righteous, vindictive wrath bursts upon the world. Note the arrogance, the contempt, the self-righteousness of Pharaoh. He is the head of a world empire, what need has he of God, of a Saviour? He, is in the place of God. It is market values, it is economics that come first in Egypt. He has over a million immigrant workers whom he has enslaved, that’s money. Give them up, let them go, so they can do their religion, you’re joking Moses, right? The world has not changed since, godliness, holiness, modesty, humility? They are estimated to be of no value whatever.

So the message of judgment is delivered by Moses (v3b). From the human side what is the one thing required regarding sin? Sacrifice. To go celebrate, worship God in the desert or anywhere else is fine, but first and foremost there must be a sacrifice. It is stated here the very grounds upon which sacrifice is needed, “lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with sword” (Exodus 5:3b). In other words, wrath. The plain and simple implications of Israel’s language here is of being confessedly guilty, deserving of punishment. And there is but one escape route, for all are guilty (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Atonement must be made, God’s wrath must be placated, divine justice must needs be propitiated (Romans 3:25). Only then can God be reconciled to them. God punishes sin with sin (Romans 1:28). Surely, the onslaught of the multiplication of sin in all the generations since Adam, and abounding more and more as the Day of the Lord draws near, it is glaringly reveal that God is angry with sin.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on the Seven Churches (3)

“Searching the Seven Churches”

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False Security – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1)

Then of course there is the testimony of Jesus, the Lord himself. When he speaks of the end of the age (Matthew 24) , we ask ourselves where is this Christianised world, this age of righteousness and peace? In fact on the contrary, he tells us the signs of his coming, the end of the age, are, an increase of war, not a decrease. Ethnic uprising, famine, pestilence and earthquakes. No wide spreading of the truth of the gospel, rather he says, lawlessness, false prophets and tribulation also. As for the church, for true religion, she will be almost extinct. Jesus asks, “nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth” (Luke 18:8)? But there is no resounding yes or no. It seems more akin to a quiet, hesitant, yes. Why, because we no from the rest of Scripture that God will indeed preserve his church in faithfulness. But. says Jesus, it will require a shortening of those days, for the elect sake. So this highlights a danger in this Postmillennial position that we need to be aware of. As we study Revelation and the rest of Scripture concerning these end-time issues, but not with the spectacles of private opinion, yours or mine. But allowing the Bible to be our guide, we see things differently from the Post millennial position.

We see an expectancy of an increase, an organic development of sin. A world that grows more and more godless, wicked until the revealing of the Antichrist, a world that is ripe for destruction, until the last of the elect be gathered in. The danger posed by the Post position for the church lies in her expectations being wrong, and not ready for the coming, severe persecution. For it seems that the signs of his coming are ever present in throughout the New Testament age, but they grow sharper towards the end. The danger is of us being lulled into a false sense of security, things are going to get better, the world will be Christianised. Pastors won’t prepare their flocks, parents their children. The danger to the professor of being found without oil in his lamp (Matthew 25:1ff). Many such professors claim to believe in the coming of the end of the age and of the Lord, but will have made the world their home, drunk with the pleasures of the age, satisfied with a world of sin. Jesus said, “truly, I say to you, I do not know you. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:12-13). Of course the issue is that they were never Christ’s at all, for at the stroke of midnight all the elect shall be saved. So the signs are ever there, but they are assuredly increasing. This is not pessimism, it is simply biblical reality. What we believe affects the way we live. If we do not believe at all, then we live without hope now and for the age to come. For those who do believe there will be tribulation, persecution, but the end will come, and the outcome glorious for the faithful (2Thessalonians 1:5f).

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)

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Notes on the Exodus (56)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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The Proclamation  (Chapter 5 Verses 1-9)

Moses goes forward with dignity, with his God-given authority. He even speaks in God’s name (v1). He is a good example for any would-be ambassador for the Lord. This of course doesn’t mean his message will be accepted, in fact it is not. But it is for all that a divine message. He is speaking to a king who is known for his temper, his heartless cruelty. So do remember this is no small test of Moses faith and courage, he is, as we say, bearding the lion in its den. Of course the message is not calculated to pacify, as is most of the preaching we hear today. The language of God’s servant Moses is assertive, it is after all a royal demand., that is where Moses gets his authority from. It is the divine origin of the message that overcomes the spiritual law of gravity, overcomes the pull of the flesh, that imparts grace to a trembling heart. The mere words of men will never do this. Moses demonstrates strength in the mids of weakness (2Corinthians 12:10). This initial demand is somewhat limited but it sets out Israel’s mission. The conflict is to be fought on Jehovah’s ground, it is not just about rescue, though that is included. Everything is subsidiary to one purpose, Israel are to live in the presence of God. They are to be God’s are they are to worship him, and be free to do so.

They are God’s by creation and by choice, and so it is for that very reason, that the conflict was waged then, and is now, over the destiny of God’s people (1Peter 2:9). God has called his people out of the world, which prefigured here in Egypt. What for? To worship him. In the way that he alone dictates, as per his own self-attesting revelation. So the question is, are God’s people to remain slaves to the Egyptians, shackled to idolatrous pagan ways, or are they going to be his free people? God has controversy with Pharaoh, king of Egypt. It was the same call to freedom that challenged the Roman Empire many years later, in the times of the early New Testament church. Those early Christians of course made no demands of Rome. They didn’t ask for the pagan temples to be brought down, they simply wanted the freedom to worship God as prescribed in his word. But it was for this that they were thrown to the lions, burned, persecuted and killed. Today in modern Britain, in the entire West in fact, slowly, bit by bit, our freedom is being removed, we find ourselves in the midst of the same conflict. So here is the question, are we, you and I, going to be slaves of the state, or the Lord’s free people? But, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (2Corinthians 10:4).

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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Notes on the Seven Churches (2)

“Searching the Seven Churches”

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Post-millennialism – (Revelation Chapter 1 Verse 1)

The Post-millennialists are looking for a better world, a Christian one in essence, where all if not Christian, look upon Christianity favourably. A world in which sin will not develop but its influence will weaken. Christianity will be the norm in such a world, in all the spheres of society, in industry, in science and education etc. There will be as a result of this Christian influence great progress, no slavery, polygamy, life for women and children will be bettered. There will be a working together of the nations, therefore resulting in cooperation and less war. There will be the production of millions of Bibles, with the gospel spreading far and wide. The increase in the kingdom of God will be huge. These changes will not take place naturally so to speak, but that of gospel fruit. Hence the gospel must be preached and as a result of the preaching of God’s word and the operations of the Holy Spirit it will bear this fruit. There will be a disappearance of corruption in high and low places alike. This millennium age will be one of righteousness and peace (Isaiah 2:4), and to this world Christ will return (Revelation 11:15).

However, we must ask ourselves what does the Bible say? Does it not speak of an increase of wars, an impotent United Nations (international cooperation), that lawlessness will abound, a widespread anti-Christian spirit is to be expected? There appears to be a problem with this Post-millennial position. The Bible speaks of an organic development of sin, multiplying, until the cup is full, and God has to judge it. It increases not weakens, becomes more subtle, refined. Further, God has revealed his salvation, but the reality appears to be that a relatively small number shall be saved, and the rest perish, comparatively speaking. The number of the redeemed in the end of course will be great (Revelation 7:9), that is the testimony of Scripture. But compared to the number of the lost, it will be a minority (Matthew 22:14). In fact there will be many who will not even hear the gospel. For most in the nations to whom the word of God is sent, it will be a witness against leaving them with no excuse. But, over and against the Post-millennial dream, the Bible appears to testify concerning the church in any era to be rather small,“and the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city” (Isaiah 1:8).“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32), 

(© James R Hamilton, written Summer, 2011)

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Notes on the Exodus (55)

“Exposing the Exodus”

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The First Confrontation  (Chapter 5 Verses 1-9)

The previous chapter ended with a spirit of worship, excitement and expectation, and so it should have. Perhaps with Moses and Aaron there was more of a spirit of realism. The people had not as yet been instructed by or about God yet, his ways and the magnitude of the task that lay ahead of them. For example what it takes to change human nature, and the awful judgment that is to fall upon the Egyptians. Thus far everyone just seems to fall into line, Moses, Aaron, the elders and now the people. Did they think it would be the same with Pharaoh? Some see a blasphemous sarcasm in Pharaoh’s response. Maybe he is just making it in plain, simple sincere ignorance, stating his philosophy of religion? To begin with anyway. I mean he is a died-in-the-wool humanist, big time. I mean he really does believe that the State is it, the ultimate authority, the supreme law-maker and giver. And as the head the State he is in the place of God. So when he says “who is the Lord,” he means it. He doesn’t know it yet, nor is he ready to acknowledge that there is a higher being than he. There are many whose philosophy of religion is no different to Pharaoh’s in our world today, including the West. The situation worsens, Moses is shaken and seems to get lost in the shuffle, midst all the commands and counter-pleas. By the end of the chapter he seems lost and confused.

What was Moses thinking? Did he think that Pharaoh would just simply and immediately do the Lord’s bidding? Is he thinking, “this isn’t the way it is supposed to pan out.” It’s not until chapter six that Moses begins to get it together. When begins to gain the strength, the power, needed for this monumental work he has been caught up into, the redemptive and judgmental works of God. Both he and the people of Israel have a lot to learn, as we all do, and we need to learn fast, it’s God’s work, not ours. We are simply the instruments that God chooses to use. Men are ever seeking a god that they can use, not a God who uses them. The God of the Bible is an offence to Pharaoh, and to natural man today, human nature has not changed one degree, for the same reason. Of course many of us identify with Moses and Aaron here. When we first started into our Christian service or ministry, we had a somewhat romantic view of it all. We thought sinners would fall at our feet, or before the Lord, only to willing to hear, to repent and believe the gospel. It wasn’t long before we too realised just what it takes to bring a sinner to that place. More power than we’ve got, that’s for sure. Salvation is of the Lord.

(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)

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