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“…but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle” (Exodus 33:11 NKJV).

February 11, 2017

After Israel’s idolatry over the golden calf, Moses set his tent outside the camp and called it the “tabernacle of meeting.” There, Moses would meet with God. The pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the tabernacle door, and the Lord would speak to Moses. Moses would come and go between the Israelite camp and the tabernacle, but Joshua “did not depart from the tabernacle.” Notice the detail given concerning Joshua:

1) His name – “Joshua,” in Hebrew is יְהוֹשׁ֫וּעַ, or “Yehoshua,” which means, “the LORD is salvation.” This is the same name given to Christ (From the Greek Ιησούς, iesous or “Jesus”).
2) Moses’ servant – While the rest of Israel, including Moses’ own brother, Aaron, committed idolatry, Joshua remained a humble and faithful servant to Moses. In like manner, Jesus was a humble and faithful servant to His Father.
3) Son of Nun – Joshua, son of Nun, was from the tribe of Ephraim (Num. 13:8), which was the son of Joseph. Joshua descended from the half tribe of Joseph. And Jesus was known as the legal descendent of one named Joseph.
4) Young man – Joshua was much younger than Moses. Moses was at the time in his 80s, while Joshua was probably in his 50s. This makes me feel better about my age. The Bible says that the 50s is young! I like that! Jesus was a young man in his 30s when He fulfilled His ministry.
5) Did not depart – Joshua stayed at the tabernacle continually. The Scripture doesn’t comment on his activity there, but it must have involved serving Moses and perhaps guarding access. Jesus was also known for not departing from the Temple. Even as a 12 year old boy, his parents found him there talking with the teachers (Luke 2:41-51).

Moses was the lawgiver of Israel who was unable to give them rest (salvation); that honor was given to Joshua, who brought Israel into the Promised Land after Moses died. Similarly, Jesus, the Son of God, has accomplished that which the law could not do, namely, salvation for all those who believe (Rom. 8:3-4). And now, He never departs from the presence of the Father, always interceding for us (Heb. 7:24-25).

“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him” (Exodus 23:20-21 NKJV).

February 6, 2017

Who is this “Angel?”

The word in the Hebrew means “messenger.” So, some say it refers to Moses. Others suggest it was the archangel Michael. Some Jewish scholars say it refers to the Hebrew Scriptures. But let us consider the clues given in the Lord’s description of this unidentified “Angel.”

Clues to the identity of the “Angel:”
1) Masculine singular pronouns “He” and “Him” are used.
2) He goes before the Israelites to “keep” them.
3) He goes before them to lead (“bring”) them to a …
4) A place He has prepared for them.
5) They were to beware and obey His voice.
6) The Lord’s “name is in Him.”

I believe this “Angel” is the second person of the Trinity, the preincarnate Christ, the Son of God. It was Christ who kept and brought the Israelites through the wilderness, giving them manna to eat and water to drink. It was Christ who prepared the Promised Land for them. It was Christ who had the “NAME” and nature of the Lord “in” Him. No angel or man would have all these attributes. Yet, they did not obey His voice, but provoked Him, so that most of that adult generation died in the wilderness without seeing the Promised Land.

“You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:1-2 NKJV).

February 5, 2017

After giving the Ten Commandments to Moses, the Lord gave instructions on the implications of following them. This verse illustrates the following of the 9th commandment, namely, “You shall not bear false witness” (Ex. 20:16). One cannot resist noting how following these words would eliminate most of the nonsense shared as news on social media today. “You shall not circulate,” might be restated for modern ears, “You shall not hit the share button to spread false reports.” This would help both teens and adults alike to resist lying to themselves and others, blaming their own behavior on following the “crowd.” These illustrations of the ten commandments show the far-reaching and perfect nature of God’s law. They also show how impossible they are for fallen humanity to keep. What if they were given to show the depth of our sinfulness and the desperate need we have of a Divine rescue? Indeed. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). The law is perfect, but it cannot save. Only Christ saves and sets us free from slavery to sin, so that we no longer walk in the darkness of falsehood, but in the light of truth.

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6 NKJV).

February 3, 2017

God told Moses that the Israelites would be a “special treasure” to Him above other nations. The Hebrew word translated “special treasure,” comes from a root word that includes the idea that the treasure was special because it was purchased or redeemed at great cost to the owner. Israel was the Lord’s “special treasure,” not because of their own intrinsic value, but because He had chosen and redeemed them out of Egypt as on “eagle’s wings” (Ex. 19:4). It was the Lord’s own redemption that made Israel special. That the Lord had chosen them as His own peculiar possession did not mean that He didn’t care for the other nations of the earth. Not at all. For all the earth belongs to the Lord and all its people. He chose Israel for a special purpose, that they would be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Israel was set apart to testify of the Lord to all the other nations. Yet ultimately, Israel was chosen to be the people to whom the Lord Jesus would be born. Jesus is the One who fulfilled Israel’s purpose, obeying the Lord’s voice, keeping His covenant, and becoming the Great High Priest who offers salvation to all the world through His sacrifice.

“Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Exodus 17:6 NKJV).

February 2, 2017

The people of Israel complained of thirst, threatening to stone Moses for leading them into the desert. Moses brought their complaint to the Lord and the Lord answered. God told Moses to take his rod and some of the elders with him as witnesses, and to strike the rock at Horeb, and water sufficient for the people would come forth. Moses obeyed the Lord. Some have tried to estimate the amount of water it would have taken to quench the thirst of so vast a people with all of their flocks. Suffice it to say, the water would have had to gush forth like a great fountain to have met everyone’s need. The apostle Paul wrote that this “Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). In other words, the rock was a Spiritual Rock, a Christological Type, pointing to its fulfillment in Jesus. For He was “struck” for us that living water unto eternal life might pour forth to those who believed. The Israelites had their thirst quenched by the waters from the rock at Horeb that day. Yet, their thirst returned the next day. But those who have drunk from the Spiritual Rock, which is Christ, will thirst no more. For Christ has said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

“And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him” (Exodus 4:24 NKJV).

January 27, 2017

Just as Jacob had wrestled God on the eve of his return to the promised land, so Moses had an encounter with God on the eve of his return to Egypt. While Jacob’s encounter left him walking with a limp for the rest of his life, Moses was at risk of death in his meeting with God. Apparently, Moses had failed to circumcise his son. This was the mark of the covenant that God had given to Abraham. And Moses had been negligent to keep it. So, in this terrifying encounter with God, Zipporah, Moses’ wife, ascertained the offense and performed the circumcision herself. When she had cut away her son’s foreskin with a sharp stone, God released Moses and let him go. Before Moses could lead the household of God, he needed to get his own house in order.

“Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.” (Exodus 36:1 ESV)

February 13, 2016

The modern separation between the sacred and the secular is not the wholistic view of faith and vocation that is seen in the Bible. Consider these two men whom Moses named in the Exodus story because of their God-given talent as craftsmen. He described Bezalel as being “called by name” (Ex.35:30) by the Lord to work as the lead craftsman in building the tabernacle. Both he and Oholiab were similarly gifted by and called by God to do this highly skilled work. Moses even described Bezalel as being “filled with the Spirit” (Ex.35:31), not only to do all kinds of specialized work as a craftsman, but also as one whom God “inspired to teach” (Ex.35:34) others his craft.
All work is sacred when it is done as “unto the Lord” (Col.3:23).

“But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23-25 ESV)

February 5, 2016

God gave Moses very specific laws to set His chosen people apart from the other nations of the world. At first glance, this “eye for eye” law may look barbaric to the modern reader. Yet, it actually limited the level of retaliation that the offended party could take, and it laid the foundation for modern law. “An eye for an eye” is sometimes referred to as the principle of appropriate retaliation or as in the Latin, “lex talionis” (“law of retaliation”). This meant that the victim could not demand more than the value of the injury in compensation; therefore, preventing the escalation of revenge, as was the pattern of the tribes before the law. The law does not eliminate the sin of humanity, but it does act as a guard rail, limiting its excess, and pointing to our need for rescue from a Savior.

“And God spoke all these words, saying,” (Exodus 20:1 ESV)

February 4, 2016

Before God wrote the ten commandments down onto two stone tablets, He actually spoke them aloud from Mount Sinai before all the Israelites. The Scripture actually refers to them as “words” (Hebrew: הַדְּבָרִ֥ים ha-Dabarim “the words”). The Jews therefore refer to them as the Ten Words or Ten Sayings (Hebrew: עֲשֶׂ֖רֶת הַדְּבָרִֽים Aseret ha-Dabarim). These ten words are beautifully organized into two tablets, the first tablet of words being about how we should love and relate to the Lord God and the second tablet of words are about how we should love and treat our fellow man. This is why Jesus could summarize all the commands with “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” There are around 613 commandments given to the Israelites by God. Yet, all of them are found within the “ten words,” that appear like chapter headings in a table of contents in the beginning of a book. For instance, all the commandments concerning feasts and holidays, might be considered under the “Keep the Sabbath” heading. And all the laws concerning human sexuality might be implied under the “You shall not commit adultery” word. The wisdom and righteousness of God is revealed in these ten words. But the only way to satisfy them is to have them written on our hearts by believing in the Christ and receiving His righteousness in exchange for our sin.

“But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword” (Exodus 17:12-13 ESV)

February 3, 2016

As long as Moses held his arms up, the Israelite army was winning, but when he tired and began to lower his arms, the battle went against them. This is the spiritual influence that God invests in a key leader, yet they remain human, subject to fatigue and discouragement like everyone else. Many churches today replace their tired leaders with fresh ones, thinking that will turn the battle their way. It usually doesn’t. The new leaders eventually wear out too. Aaron and Hur thought of a better solution. Why not help hold up their leader Moses’ arms? Why not give him some help without trying to steal his leadership? Humbly moving to help their leader turned the tide. There are at least a couple of leadership lessons here: 1) Leaders need to be humble enough to ask/allow others to help hold up their leadership arms. 2) Followers need to support their leaders through times of difficulty because when their leader succeeds, so do they.