Tag Archives: Exodus

Morning Thoughts (Exodus 36:7)

Exodus 36:7, "For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much."

This morning, problems abound in the world in which we live.  Scripture declares that the root of all evil is a love of money. (I Timothy 6:10) With all of the economic problems today, can we doubt that this Scriptural statement has lost any of its vitality, freshness, or relevance?  Indeed, many today indicate publicly that they care for "the less fortunate," but their mindset is to gain as much money, power, fame, etc. as they can for themselves.  While it is not the Christian's duty to be entangled with the affairs of this life, we should be diligent to conduct ourselves honourably in all things, and the money question is no exception.  Oftentimes, we might think that as long as we avoid the "rat race" of money-driven society that we will successfully ward off this problem.  However, we can allow the "money question" to creep into our lives by simply having the wrong mindset about what we are doing or why we are doing it.

Admittedly, the subject of money drives emotions higher than any other subject.  Therefore, let us approach this subject Biblically, and attempt to keep any emotional flair out of it.  Our study verse above is set in the conclusion of a rather long context that stretches through the last chapter or so.  The people are bringing money, supplies, etc. to build the articles of the tabernacle as the Lord instructed Moses in the mount.  Others are bringing their skilful abilities to construct the items in question.  So, people are sacrificing their goods, their time, and their abilities to accomplish the building according to God's pattern.  Over and over again throughout this context, we find several phrases appearing again and again.  I encourage the reader to peruse the 35th and 36th chapters in their entirety to number up the occurrences of these phrases.  The people are called: 1. wise hearted, 2. willing, 3. cunning (skilful), and 4. understanding

Looking at these repeated adjectives to describe the people, we are left with little doubt as to the mindset and state of the congregation.  They not only did all these things, but they wanted to (willing), had knowledge of what to do (understanding), were able to do what was required (cunning), and had the courage to see the tasks through to the end (wise hearted).  This collection of characteristics will yield the results and conclusion from our study verse.  Therefore, let us examine these characteristics in turn, apply them together, and find the point they arrived at.

As people examine the "money question" in society, family life, church life, and other venues, one of the shortcomings today is a lack of understanding.  Whether one is describing giving in a church capacity or simply how to approach credits and debits in their monthly budget, they lack understanding or knowledge of what to do and how to do it.  One of man's failings is to blame others for a lack of understanding, but the simple point is that God has not left us without sufficient knowledge about what to do – money included.  Rather, most people have either failed to consider His teachings or have failed to even look for them to know the right way to go.  The Bible plainly and simply states that we should work to eat (II Thessalonians 3:10), be content with food and raiment: the things we have (I Timothy 6:8), and not to be grudging with our means. (II Corinthians 9:6) If these items are followed, people will not live above their means, nor will they be without enough sufficiency to honour God in their spirit and body.

Once someone has the understanding of what to do, the next step is to be willing in their doing of it.  One of the most important lessons about New Testament giving in a church capacity (but applies to all areas of Christian service) is that God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:9) When we render service to God willingly, it is a sweet smelling savour in His presence.  Since Christ was willing and obedient in all that He gave and did, our model is to be likewise.  Not only does it not follow the Scriptural command, but a forced service of payment, time, etc. does not lead to the harmonious outcome that our study verse shows.  When people willingly give of money, service, etc. they do so in a way that can never be imagined under the forced method.

Another impediment to fruitful service and giving is the idea that "I can't really do anything."  Sometimes, people feel insufficient in funds or talents to be worth consideration.  If we have been blessed by God – and friends we have been whether we admit it or not – He has given us rich gifts and abilities to be used in His service.  If we say we have not the ability to really serve, we are implying that He has left us without some necessary item to serve Him.  Such is not and will never be the case.  No, we have not all been given the same types or amounts of things.  Some of us have less money than others.  Some of us have less talents than others.  The point is not how much we have, but the point is how much we do with the means that we have.  He has given us things, and we need to be skilful and cunning in using them to best serve Him.

If we have the understanding, willingness, and abilities to serve and give, what could be left?  Why would we need yet another item?  Sometimes, people have the first three we discussed, but it takes wise heartedness (courage) to see it through.  To follow the Lord's path of service in how we give and how we live, there will be times when we feel discouragement from without and within.  It takes prudence and courage under fire to say, "This is what I'm going to do, and I'll see it through."  Some today have no willingness to do these things, others have no understanding of what to do, and yet others fail to see their God-given abilities and means to serve Him.  Yet others have all of these things but lack the internal fortitude to see it through in fruitful service to Him.  Friends, the world discourages virtuous living, but to be virtuous, we must be courageous, especially since virtue has a connotation of courage (manliness) associated with its definition.

By putting all of these traits together, we get a glimpse to the noble efforts and hearts of the people of Israel on this occasion.  They desired to praise God.  They desired to erect what He said, just as He said to do it, and obey Him from the heart in all things.  To do so, no one had to do a fund drive.  No one had to raise money by pledges.  No one sold goods in exchange for means to construct the tabernacle and the furniture in it.  Rather, they all came forward as willing servants with their gifts in their hands and their abilities in their bodies.  The result was not simply a sufficiency of means and services; they had more than enough (too much).

Oftentimes, men today neglect the willingness aspect of giving as they believe that without it, there will not be enough to make ends meet.  In other words, unless someone has an "imposed minimum" of service, simply commanding willing and cheerful service will yield significantly lower results than the imposed minimum.  This passage indicates the very opposite.  Other men claim that there are not enough talents or abilities to get the job done, and again, this passage contradicts such thinking.  If we apply the Lord's gifts to our service to Him with the understanding of His word out of a willing heart and with the courage to perform it, we will find the same conclusion that they found.  Not only will there be enough to suffice, but the Lord blesses more left over than we needed.  Consider a spiritual parallel to this.  We oftentimes describe the miracle of Christ feeding the 5,000 as a literal story that illustrates the power of gospel preaching in filling God's sheep from His table.  Does the gospel simply suffice our hunger?  The miracle includes that there is more left over than when we started.  The power and miracle of faithfully serving the Lord in giving is that even though we sacrifice our time and means, we actually end up with more of both to go around than we had before. 

Finally, this passage does not prove – as so many in the world today promote – the idea that serving God will make an obedient disciple "healthy, wealthy, and wise."  Rather, serving the Lord requires us to deny ourselves and endure hardships as so many New Testament examples show, but the true "pay-off" is that even though we sacrifice of ourselves in our service and devotion to Him, we will not be left insufficient, and more to the point, we will have more than enough in our service to Him.  Looking back through the years of my short pilgrimage, I see quite glaringly that my times of spiritual coldness have coincided with my periods of greatest languishing.  Whenever I have devoted my energies to serving the Lord, I have more energy, find more time, and seemingly have more left over than at other times.  I am by no means a wealthy person, but the service of God has not left me destitute or impoverished of those things that I stand in need of.  May we renew our sights upon His mark.  As He was courageous and wise hearted, so may we be.  As He was willing in His walk, so may we be.  As He had abilities and talents that He employed with understanding, so may we do likewise.  In so doing, we will find the sweet and fulfilling conclusion that we have everything we need to fulfill our service to the Lord and too much besides.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Exodus 14:2-3)

Exodus 14:2-3, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in."

This morning, man still thinks more highly of himself than he ought to think, particularly when so many things happen that he cannot control or govern. Have you ever stopped to ponder just how many things happen on a daily basis and thought of the ratio of things we have some control over to those we have no control over? Just for starters, being time and location bound creatures, we cannot control much if anything that happens in other geographical locations. I have no sway or control over anything in other countries or locales. Yet, even in my local vicinity, so many things happen daily that I cannot control, and I must admit that my limitations are great. So, when great things happen in this world, how foolish would it be for me – a small, limited man – to claim credit for the wondrous thing! Further still, looking at the things I have some control over and my historical record for making large messes in my life, again how foolish would it be for me to claim credit when wondrous things happen in those areas as well.

In our study verses above, we are on the cusp of one of God's great deliverances of the children of Israel. He has just brought them out of Egypt with a high hand. After suffering the ten plagues from the Lord – ending with the death of the firstborn in Egypt – Pharaoh finally relents to let the people go out from Egypt. Yet, the Lord is not through with His work on this wicked ruler. (Romans 9:17) Though the Lord could have directed His people in any direction He was pleased to purpose, He chose one of the most puzzling routes, when looking at it from natural man's perspective.

From the outset, we freely admit that the overarching spiritual application of this passage is a correlation to regeneration. The parallels are too numerous to ignore. All the children of Israel came out of the dark land of Egypt: all of God's children came out of sin, death, and depravity. They came out with a high and victorious hand, spoiling their enemies as they left: God's children come with the righteousness of Jesus Christ being partakers of His spoils over His enemies. Every man, woman, and child went into the banks of the Red Sea dry shod, crossing to the other side: all of God's children land on the other shore by the power of God, fully there by His grace and mercy. Again, the parallels are endless, but let us broaden our thoughts on the study verses to take into account not only the primary application of regeneration or free grace, but also the Lord's providential direction and protection as He did for His children on this occasion.

Looking at the route that God sent His nation in, there seems no path of escape, naturally speaking. With a sea in front of them, mountains on either side of them, and Egypt behind them, surely Pharaoh's thinking has natural merit and validity. The wilderness has shut them in, and they were not even smart enough to take a path that would not entangle them with the land's natural traits. Verse 4 tells us that the Lord specifically shows His power in this decision and will be honoured upon Pharaoh and His host for this action. In other words, God is again doing things according to His good purpose – not some random and haphazard decision – and the end of the day will be marked by an overwhelming manifestation of the power of God and His work of deliverance.

Consider the primary application of this lesson firstly. If regeneration did require a cooperative effort between man and God or even worse a sole effort of man to affect it, who would be honoured? The man would either share or have the glory and honour that rightfully belongs to God. Just as man was the last of God's natural creation (thereby removing any ability man could have to claim creative power over anything), so also man is the last when it comes to his spiritual creation in Christ. He knows nothing of God's eternal purpose beforehand, did not assist Christ in His work of redemption, does not seek the direction or counsel of God one moment before He is created alive in Christ, nor does He yearn for God in the slightest inkling of his being. (Psalm 10:4, Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1, Isaiah 1:6, Romans 3:10-18)

Therefore, when regeneration comes to the man, no credit can rightfully be claimed as there was nothing of man's power to affect this change. The children of Israel find themselves "hemmed in" as it were with no observable way of escape. Yet, the way of escape not seen before it arrives proves 100% successful for them and 100% unsuccessful for their enemies. So, also our deliverance from sin, death, hell, and the grave is 100% successful in the person of our Saviour, while He, by the same token, vanquished sin, death, hell, and the grave forever and ever. Do we have the power to control death, hell, sin, or the grave? Short of God's power, we would have been "hemmed in" forever. Short of God's power here, they would have been hemmed in to die at the hands of their enemies.

Moving into the field of providential protection, consider the analogy we started with: just how little we are able to control on a day to day or moment to moment basis. Should there be any doubt that when majestic and marvellous things happen where the source of that thing is? There should not be, though oftentimes man tries to ignore the facts. For the minister, have you ever been carried up and away to a place indescribable? For the hearers, have you ever been carried up and away with the minister when that display and demonstration happens during his discourse? (I Corinthians 2:4) Hopefully, we can answer yes, but what do we make of those times? When such an event happens to the minister (would to God it happened every time though it sadly does not), he many times sits down thinking, "What just happened here?" Oftentimes, I have witnessed while in the congregation a series of muffled "Wows" when the demonstration of the Holy Spirit concluded at the end of the message. Both the speaker and the hearers understood that naturally speaking, nothing that great should have happened.

When surveying the scene of our natural lives, how many times should you have died in your life? The number of times is too numerous for me to count up each occurrence (or perhaps remember them all). Yet, looking back at some of them, I was hemmed up completely with no conceivable way of escape or deliverance. Still, here I am today: alive and walking this earth. Nothing short of the power of God and His providential protection can possibly suffice to explain how our lives continue to this very hour. The wilderness of life does entangle us, and the land seems to constantly shut us in, but the Lord has led us thus far and will continue to lead us on to our bright and heavenly home.

One last thought of providential care and protection is the thought that the church of the Lord Jesus Christ continues to this day. Looking at the bloody pages of church history, there is no naturally conceivable reason that she should still be here, yet she abides on this earth still. Who can study the history of the church without exclaiming a series of "Wows" about the Lord's remarkable providence to provide the way of escape for His faithful, little flock here in this earth? (I Corinthians 10:13) Sometimes the dear and faithful saints suffered the loss of life for following the cause, and sometimes the Lord directed and moved them elsewhere. Yet, she is still alive in this earth today.

Friends, our enemies seek the advantage over us at every turn in the road. Solomon cried that some of our enemies – such as sin and death – are never satisfied to have enough. (Proverbs 30:15-17) Can any doubt the persistence of these two enemies even today? We see them all around us. The enemies of the cross of Christ seek to serve their own bellies and devour the flock of God's heritage, and the enemies of the gospel seek to overthrow the faith of some. (Romans 16:18, II Timothy 2:16-18) In all of these things, we find ourselves "hemmed in" from time to time. Sin, death, hell, and the grave had us hemmed in but for the grace of God in the Person of Jesus Christ. The enemies of the Lord's church seem to hem in God's people, yet the Lord's gracious providence keeps her to this hour.

May our course be to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. May we move at the command to move, and may our eyes ever be attuned to see the way of escape and deliverance that He graciously puts in our paths. Even if death be our course, that provides escape into the blissful shining portals above. Since death and hell cannot hold us, the experience of death should not frighten us. Since the Lord promised to be with and never leave us nor forsake us, we should not be affrighted when our enemies encircle us with the land entangling us. Who doth know how the Lord will deliver us in that trial? However He is pleased to do so, rest assured, the way will be honouring to Him upon the heads of His enemies. While I do not sometimes see it while in the midst of a trial, I remember what another minister told me when I was faced with a difficult ministerial situation: "Well, I am looking forward to watching this." When I asked why, he responded, "I just can't wait to see how the Lord delivers you and brings you through it."

In Hope,

Bro Philip