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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

November 2021

Exodus 8:5,6: Stretch out your hand

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.

Note well:

  • God is able to perform signs and wonders wherever (and through whomever) He chooses. Egypt was a dark and dangerous place, full of idolatry, superstition and occultism. But God’s light broke through again and again;
  • Also, if God tells you do something you will be able to do it. His power accompanies His commands. He will do far more than you can ask or imagine. When you and I do, by God’s enabling, what we are so obviously unable to do in our own strength, He gets the praise. That is only right.

Consider:

  • Who is God telling you to stretch out your hand to? May be it will be an outstretched hand in prayer, or practical help? Perhaps both?
  • What is God telling you to reach out your hand in order to receive? What have you been asking for? It is so true, I believe, that the Lord is more willing to give than we are to receive.
  • What is God telling you to stretch out your hand over in faith, prayer and the authority of God’s Word? As Dave Green said repeatedly at our first church house party many years ago: ‘Things can change!’

Thoughts:

“Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”

– Dom Chapman

“Whether we realise it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

– St. Augustine

Exodus 8:1-5a: Hearing from God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron…

First of all, a general comment from Tom Hale which I found helpful:

‘The Egyptians believed in a goddess pictured as a frog’s head, who assisted in childbirth. Therefore frogs were reverenced in Egypt. But the Egyptians were soon to think less of their frogs after this second plague! The ten plagues were in one sense an assault on the gods of Egypt. Egyptians worshiped the Nile River as the source of life; but the God of Israel turned it to blood. The chief god of Egypt was the sun, but the God of Israel would soon blot out the sun for three days (Exodus 10:21-23). Yet as long as Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate Moses’ plagues (verse 7), the Egyptians remained unconvinced that Israel’s God was more powerful than theirs.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.219.

That provides an excellent insight for our overall understanding of the plagues, but the particular thought I want to share today concerns hearing from God. Notice the interaction with the Lord throughout the entire passage (1-15), with Moses hearing from God, and speaking to God in prayer.

Most people tend to hear God in the realm of thought. One man said, ‘A thought punched me in the brain!’ God may speak with an audible voice, but it is often internally, with a strong, insistent conviction, that we hear Him.

As my wife Jilly said to me a moment or two ago, with regard to something she did yesterday, ‘It is so important to follow those promptings.’ It surely is.

“Individually the disciple and friend of Jesus who has learned to work shoulder to shoulder with his or her Lord stands in this world as a point of contact between heaven and earth, a kind of Jacob’s ladder by which the angels of God may ascend from and descend into human life. Thus the disciple stands as an envoy or a receiver by which the kingdom of God is conveyed into every quarter of human affairs.”

― Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

Exodus 7:25-8:1: Repetition

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me (1).

Sometimes sermons need repetition. Now there’s a radical thought!

Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:12-15: So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

An Argentinian pastor, Juan Carlos Ortiz, wrote a book entitled, ‘Disciple’. I seem to remember him saying that in his church they repeat the same sermon until they see the congregation doing it! I’m not saying this approach should be copied by everyone. By no means. But I do get the principle. In the great commission, Jesus said to teach people to do everything He commanded. For that to happen, there will be an inevitable degree of repetition through the years. We may find new and fresh ways to express the same things. But there are some ‘same things’ which will require repetition.

I was thinking also, how good of God to keep speaking to us about important issues where we need to change. He comes to us again and again to call us to do his will. But let us learn from Pharaoh that there can come a day where we have gone too far in our resistance, and our hearts are hardened beyond any possibility of responding positively.

If we hear His voice ‘Today’ let’s not be deliberately stubborn (See Hebrews 3,4). We could fail to enter in to all God has for us.

Exodus 7:8-24: What will it take?

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’”

19 The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”

20 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

There is a long way to go in this story before Pharaoh will finally let the people go. There are many more plagues to come; there is much more suffering to be endured.

I caught up with an old friend the other day, a fellow-church leader. He is by no means a gloomy, pessimistic personality. But we were having a frank conversation about the seriousness of the situation facing us, with the gradual drifting away from God in our nation, and the apparent movement away from robust discipleship in many parts of the church. There is much to be concerned about. I commented that we had come through the pandemic without any obvious large-scale turning towards God, and we wondered, ‘What will it take?’ ‘What will it have to take to being us back?’

This is not a time for Christians to be sleep-walking. We need to firmly take hold of the staff of prayer, and use the authority God has given us to intercede…while we still have time.

PRAYER: Lord, rouse your church from her dozy slumbers. Pour upon us the Spirit of prayer. Open our eyes to see the seriousness of the times, and may we each rise up to make a difference.

Exodus 7:8-13: Greater is He

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

I once heard about a lady who became a Christian because of her involvement with spiritism. She recognised that she was coming into contact with a very real power on the dark side of things, and decided there must be also a very real power on the light side.

What we need to always remember is that God’s power is greater. Although the gifts of the Spirit are regularly counterfeited by occult practitioners, ‘Aaron’s staff’ will always swallow up the staffs of the ‘Egyptian magicians’, if you see what I mean.

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over these people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world”  (1 John 4:4: ‘New Living Translation’).

However, as important as signs and wonders, miracles, spiritual gifts are, they are no guarantee that everyone who experiences them will bow to God (13).

Exodus 7:1-7: A good old age.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. 2 You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

6 Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

God dealt with Moses’ further protestations about his lack of ability as a speaker (1,2).

But the thing that leaps out of the page at me today is the reference to the ages of Moses and Aaron: 80 and 83 respectively. Your best years may be ahead of you. Age need not be a hindrance to serving God. In the words of a book title (a book by Derek Prime), it is possible to have ‘a good old age.’ Your life is not over because you’re on the pension.

“Old age is just as important and meaningful a part of God’s perfect will as is youth. God is every bit as interested in the old as the young.” J.O. Sanders.

Tom Hale also makes this point:

‘It took that long for God to prepare them for the work He had given them to do.

Are any of us tired of our training, impatient to “get on with the job”? Let us remember Moses. It is dangerous to go into the Lord’s work with poor preparation – especially poor spiritual preparation (1 Timothy 3:16). The Lord will let us know when we are ready.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.217.

Exodus 6:14-30: Who do we think they are?

It was this Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing the Israelites out of Egypt—this same Moses and Aaron. (26,27).

The genealogy focuses attention on the family of Levi, to which Moses and Aaron belonged.

To my mind, one of the things it does is to locate them in the realm of time and space. They were real, Jewish, flesh and blood human-beings. They were not super-heroes who had come into contact with kryptonite. They were not ‘Marvel’ comic characters – fantastic works of fiction. They were ordinary people, and it was “this Aaron and Moses”, frail and fallible as they were, whoGod used so significantly. Surely, then, we can have hope and take heart? It was “this…Moses” who was such a mighty instrument of God – the same Moses who was prone to make excuses, and look for ways out of his assignment (30).

Also, consider this point made by Tom Hale:

‘Because Moses and Aaron were the ones chosen by God to bring the Israelites out of Egypt, it was important to document their family record, or genealogy. Only the first three sons of Jacob are mentioned; Moses and Aaron were descended from the third son, Levi.

Notice once more that Moses did not have the credentials of a firstborn son. Furthermore, he was descended from Kohath, the second son of Levi (verses 16, 18, 20). The only credentials Moses had were those God gave him; some were natural endowments and others came from Moses’ life experiences. Then God added the spiritual empowerment that would enable Moses to do God’s work. He will do the same for each of us.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.217.

As someone said, ‘God does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.

Exodus 6:13: It’s impossible!

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about the Israelites and Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he commanded them to bring the Israelites out of Egypt.

God regularly hands out ‘impossible’ assignments.

He gives people jobs they cannot do – apart from His power.

He gives us tasks to complete that will keep us on our knees for the rest of our days.

To the disciples who were concerned about the crowd who had gathered to hear Jesus teach, and  were wondering about where they would get food, Jesus said, ‘You give them something to eat!’

But…

‘The borderline of human helplessness is the borderline of divine miracle.’ George Mueller.

‘Where things impossible by faith shall be made possible,

Let’s give the glory to Him now.’

“I have found that there are 3 stages in every great work of God: 1. it is impossible, 2. it is difficult, 3. it is done.” J. Hudson Taylor.

PRAYER: Lord, when you ask us to move mountains, and we know full well we cannot, help us to remember that you intend to move them through us.

Exodus 6:10-12: What’s your excuse?

Then the Lord said to Moses, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country.”

12 But Moses said to the Lord, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

Well, maybe the fact God had told him to go, and that He would set the people free is the obvious answer to this question! But Moses was reverting to type.

‘In times of despair, it’s best to ignore our feelings and simply do what God tells us to do, leaving the consequences with Him.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: Old Testament Commentary, p.154

I love reading about the great leaders in the Bible because they are not super-heroes. They are all so very human. So I can identify with them, and I’m sure you can too.They are frail and obviously flawed human-beings. Cracked pots. But the living water of divine life seeps through the cracks. God puts His “treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

‘He turns our weaknesses into His opportunities so that the glory goes to Him.’ Graham Kendrick.

Moses was a great leader, but it was because of God’s power and not his own. God was going to do significant things through him.

But at this time he had his excuses.

How about you? What are your excuses for not doing what, deep in your heart, you know God is telling you to do?

PRAYER: Lord, I need to repent of my reticence and unwillingness to do what I know you’re telling me to do. I am truly sorry. Please forgive me. You know how weak and incapable I feel. Please give me the courage and strength to obey. Help me to take the next step you show me, and thank you for the privilege of working together with you.

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