February 3

Exodus 17:8-19:15

The nation of Amalek attacks Israel (Exodus 17:8) and Moses has an interesting battle plan. As Joshua and the men are sent out to fight, Moses would ascend to the top of the hill and hold up his hands to God. We read the initial results:

Exodus 17:11 (NKJV) “And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

It’s easy to “get” the picture here. As Moses sought the LORD, as Moses looked to the the Lord, reached up to Him, as he worshiped and prayed, the nation prevailed, symbolized in the lifting of his hands. But naturally he would tire in the process, so he had to let down his hands at times – and this is when Amalek prevailed over Israel. What to do? Aaron and Hur come alongside Moses, hold up his hands, and Israel wins.

Pastor Chuck Smith (and others) interpret this as the help a pastor needs in being a vessel of blessing and a weapon of victory for the people. Pastors are called to prayer and the ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4) so when other assistants come to their side and “hold up their hands” by taking care of the other responsibilities in the church, this allows the pastor-servant-leader to worship and pray and hear from God for the congregation…resulting in victory for the people.

We see a similar principle in Jethro’s question and eventual advice to Moses after seeing all the people going to Moses from morning till evening.

Exodus 18:14 (NKJV) “So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, ‘What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

Moses let his father-in-law Jethro know that he was the counselor and guide for the people. It may have sounded noble that Moses would make himself available for EVERYONE  but anyone could see that this was an absolute impossibility. Everyone would wear themselves out and the needs of the people would NOT be met.

Pastor Adrian Rogers said something along the lines of, “A pastor who at any given time is available to everyone, is usually no good to anyone.”

Jethro gives Moses excellent advice, I don’t think I can word or summarize it any better:

 Exodus 18:19–23 (NKJV) “Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

The difficulties (great matters) were to be brought to Moses, but the other issues would be delegated to leaders who loved the Lord and had been taught God’s Word. Thank God Moses heeded Jethro’s advice!

It’s now been 3 months since Israel has been redeemed from Egypt and God is about to establish a covenant with them as His special people. God cared and carried them to Himself and wanted them to be that special treasure above all people entering into a love relationship (that’s his heart behind the command to keep his covenant – see John 14:21).

And just in case someone sees this as God loving Israel at the expense of the rest of the world, notice their calling in Exodus 19:6, that they were called to be a kingdom of priests. Priest are in one sense, representatives of God, called to reach out to the rest of the world. God wanted to reach the world through Israel, if only they would have realized this role and responsibility in life!

Matthew 22:34-23:12

Tragically these lost religious leaders were ONLY attempting to trap Jesus in His words. 

What’s the greatest commandment? Love God – period – wholeheartedly. The second is similar, Jesus says, and I have to tell you because it’s closely connected to the first, love ALL others the way you love yourself.

All other 800 commandments in the New Testament are rooted in these 2 commandments. 

Let’s not complicate this, ‘cuz it all comes down to this – so simple. I search my heart. Do I love God? If I do, I’ll obey Him and I’ll definitely love others. John the Beloved wrote in:

1 John 4:20 (NKJV) “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”

They say we love God as much as the person we love the least (ouch). Help us Lord.

Jesus then turns the tables on the religious leaders with a simple question. Whose son will the Messiah be? Their response was, “the son of David” – just  a descendant of David. But Jesus quotes from Psalm 110:1 and emphasizes the fact that David calls the Messiah “Lord.”  Obviously the Messiah is not merely the son of David, He’s more than that, He’s also the Son of God. But they refused to see, the closed their eyes and hardened their hearts. If only they would have been open to the written Word and Living Word right before them.

Jesus goes on to give general instruction to the people in that setting and a scathing rebuke to the religious leaders of the day:

Matthew 23:2–3 (NLT) “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.”

Jesus has tried the gentle approach for 3 years, to no avail; it’s now time to call them to the carpet with an even greater love and intensity. They were hypocrites, doing what they did as so-called representatives of God, only to be seen my men. They wanted the money, they wanted the glory, the titles, the recognition, acknowledgments, and accolades – and yet, it’s not to be that way in the Kingdom of God! The only one who gets the glory is God!

We all need that constant reminder:

Matthew 23:12 (NKJV) “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Psalm 27:7-14

The Psalm continues as a prayer. O Lord hear me, help me, I’m seeking Your face the way You’ve asked me to. O Lord, please, don’t leave me or forsake me, take care of me, teach me, do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries.

Make no mistake about it, the devil IS attempting to ruin our lives. God will protect and preserve us, but prayer is a part of that, as an expression of faith.

May we never lose heart. Please whoever you are, don’t give up…that’s the only way you’ll lose. Take heart, you will one day, somehow, someway, see the goodness of God – hold tight to that promise.

Psalm 27:13 (NKJV) “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.

After praying to God, David turns to us, counsels and encourages the people:

Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!”

Proverbs 6:27-35

Proverbs 6:27-28 (NKJV) “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?

The context is sexual sin. The lesson is then illustrated with fire and hot coals. How can anyone think there will be no consequences to such an atrocious act?

Warren Wiersbe, “Fire is a good thing if it’s confined and controlled. I can keep us warm, cook our food, drive our turbines, and manufacture electricity. Sex is a good gift from God, but like fire, if it gets out of its commanded confines it becomes destructive. What begins as a warm experience in the beginning burns us in the end.”

I’ll never forget the last time I taught this in the Proverbs my son was 11, and he asked me, “Dad, what are you teaching on Thursday? I He was too young for some of the terminology at the point, so I simply told him, I’m teaching on how we are to be faithful to the one’s we love.

Proverbs 6:29-32 (NKJV) “So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent. 30 People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy himself when he is starving. 31 Yet when he is found, he must restore sevenfold; he may have to give up all the substance of his house. 32 Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul.

This is a crime you never get away with. 

If a thief steals, because he needs food to live, we can in one sense understand it (Alladin), but if he gets caught, he’s required to pay the fine or do the time for his crime.

But adultery is a sin, a crime, where there’s nothing you can do to make restitution.

Here we read in v. 32, “…he who does so, destroys his own soul.”

Matthew Henry, “The fire of lust kindles the fire of hell.”

Is it worth it?

Imagine a man choosing between that girl or God? That guy – or God?

Matthew 16:26, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Proverbs 6:33-35 (NKJV) “Wounds and dishonor he will get, and his reproach will not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is a husband’s fury; therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35He will accept no recompense, nor will he be appeased though you give many gifts.

Wounds on the inside

Dishonor on the outside

God might get you; your wife might get you; her husband might get you – and if he does…even though we should never take vengeance into our own hands, if a husband’s rage gets the best of him, although never, ever justifiable, it’s almost understandable.

In this section of the Proverbs, we’re still being warned against sexual sin and falling into adultery. The emphasis is on the cost of such sin, no one, EVER gets away with it, eventually there will be payback in life.

Adultery does damage to the soul, wounds, dishonor, shame, and not only that, many have died at the hands of a jealous husband.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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