Jesus was never a man to avoid controversy, and in John 8, He made what very well might have been one of His most controversial statements.
Joh 8:57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Joh 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Jesus appears to have used grammar badly right here, but He was clearly alluding to a title for God himself from way back in Exodus when God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush.
Exo 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
That also explains why the people became so mad in verse 59. They wanted the stone Him right there, but then the rest of the chapter, it doesn’t seem that that tension was there. It was when He identified with the title of God that the people became a little bit upset to say the least.
I mentioned these verses because there are people who claim that Jesus never claimed to be God, and Christian simply impose that on Him. However, just because we do not necessarily understand the cultural reference Jesus was making does not mean that He never claimed to be God. Clearly the Jewish people understood what He was doing there. They wanted to stone Him. Even if we might not pick up the reference is easily today, the effects should tell us something.
This is not the only example of Jesus identifying with God, but I just wanted to point it out because if Jesus told us who He was and if He proved that by rising from the dead, what are we going to do with that? It is an important question.
Isaiah 47 tells us about the judgment that is coming to Babylon. Obviously, they were a nation that suffered from many vices, but one stood out to me at least as I was reading this chapter.
Isa 47:8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
Isa 47:9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
Isa 47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
Isa 47:11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
Their pride is what did them in. I am not a Hebrew scholar, but it is interesting that Babylon is saying in their heart, “I am.” It is interesting that this is what God told Moses from out of the burning bush. This is where my limited (and essentially nonexistent) Hebrew knowledge comes into play. The Hebrew words are different in Isaiah 47 then they are in Exodus 3. I don’t know the nuances of the language well enough to know if these claims were effectively identical, but if they were, imagine the arrogance. These people are using a title for God to essentially describe themselves.
Even if they aren’t functionally identical, the passage still makes it clear that pride was the problem here. They trusted in their wickedness. They figured that they were untouchable and unaccountable. Nobody could see them, and they made themselves wise in their own minds.
That never works out well.
The obvious lesson for all of us is that we don’t want to become Babylon. We don’t want to become so absorbed in ourselves that we begin to think we are God. Unfortunately, society promotes that kind of humanism today. Nobody can tell you what to do after all; you are your own authority.
That is not the Christian worldview. We are all accountable to God, and that is incredibly important. We cannot fall into this trap of pride.
History is an important teacher, and Psalms 105 highlights many important moments in the history of Israel. It starts with Abraham and goes down until Moses. Before we get to all of this history though, we have a very interesting introduction.
Psa 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
Psa 105:2 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works.
Psa 105:3 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
Psa 105:4 Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.
Psa 105:5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;
Basically, before we talk about all of the exciting things that have happened in the history of Israel, let’s get one thing straight. We need to make sure that we are thanking God for everything He has done and recognizing His marvelous works.
I think that is something that we need to make sure we remember to do in our lives. Before we get to human achievement, we need to make sure that we are attributing everything to God first. Think about it this way.
God provided for Moses. He helped him divide the Red Sea for example. In one sense, Moses did indeed do something. He had the faith that God would be able to do it, and he was the one who physically stretched out his hand.
However, it would be ridiculous for us to say any of this about Moses if we started anywhere outside of God. Certainly, the faith of Moses was important and deserves remembrance in history, but we can’t just leave it there. God was involved and did more in that situation than Moses ever could have done on his own.
After all, what would have happened if Moses had all the faith in the world but God was not involved? He would have touched the water, nothing would have happened and the people of Israel would have gone back to slavery in Egypt.
God makes things happen in ways that we never could, and it makes sense that whatever we think back over our lives, it makes sense for us to look for what God has done. There are some things that we simply could not do on our own.
Like I have said many times before, people like to get Bible verses out of context and make brutal attacks on the credibility of Christianity. You can find one of those popular attack points in 2 Chronicles 5.
2Ch 5:10 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt.
It seems like a rather mundane verse about the Ark of the Covenant, but look at what happens when you go to Hebrews.
Heb 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
It seems as if red lights go on right about here. One verse said that the only thing in the Ark were the stone tablets that the 10 Commandments were written on while the other said that it had more items in it.
How can we possibly reconcile this without contradiction?
First of all, there is a time difference here. The items were put in at the time of Moses, but this passage from Chronicles was in the time of Solomon. That is a time difference that could make a difference.
However, we never have an absolute reference in the Bible that says why certain things were removed or how they came to be removed. As a result, anything that I write from here on out is speculation that I am making only to demonstrate that a story can exist without contradiction. I do believe that in the beginning there were three items, and at the end there was one. I believe that because that is what the Bible says.
All that being said, 500 years is a long time for a piece of wood to survive (I have heard that as an estimate of the time between Moses and David). It is quite possible that the rod of Aaron simply decomposed. Wood would never last that long unless it was petrified, but it does not seem like the conditions would have been right in the Ark for that process to occur. There certainly could be supernatural protection, but this does seem like a definite possibility of how there was no more rod.
The golden bowl full of manna is a little bit trickier. On first thought, I would say that the manna also simply went bad and decomposed. I don’t know of any food that would last 500 years. However, that answer is not completely satisfying given what we know from Exodus.
Exo 16:32 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.
Exo 16:33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.
Exo 16:34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Even though manna only lasted a short period of time before it went bad on the Israelites, it seemed as God was going to provide some type of protection given that the intent was to show it to future generations. Also, the bowl would not have decomposed. It was made out of gold.
Personally, I think that the best answer to this lies in the fact that the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in the book of 1 Samuel. If you remember that story, every city they took it to got all kinds of painful diseases. We know that the Ark was with them for seven months. Is it possible that someone tried to open the Ark and take something out? In fact, what if they were to take out something of value that was perhaps made of gold like a bowl?
You might say that you were not allowed to touch the Ark and live. Again, I would agree with you, but I would say that is not that hard to use a long board to pry the top off and pull out the only item in there that would be of value in the market. Stone tablets probably would not be worth very much, but the golden pot would be.
Again, to reiterate, I don’t know the absolute answer to this one. What I do know is that there were three items, and then there was only one. There are certainly people out there who will all of a sudden say that because there is something that could appear to be a contradiction, the Bible must all of a sudden be thrown out.
However, I hope that I have at least shown you a little bit of how this could have occurred. What some people would jump on as a contradiction certainly does not need to be if you apply a little bit of common sense.
Exodus chapter 40 is a transition. We have finally made it to the end of this book, and I really like the way that it ends.
Exo 40:38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
The cloud of the Lord was a symbol of His presence with them, and notice that it says that the cloud was there throughout all their journeys. That particularly stood out to me because we have the same thing today. The presence of God will be with us wherever we go. Even if we wanted to escape it (although why would we want to do that?), it would be impossible to go anywhere where God is not. He is omnipresent.
Psa 139:7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Psa 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Psa 139:9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Psa 139:10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Psa 139:11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
Because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we have that symbol of God wherever we go.
Of course, you may be wondering why that matters?
Well, that matters because God is not only a comforter to us, but He is also our strength. Without Him, we can really do nothing of eternal significance, but through Him, we can do all things.
Just like He was with Israel while they were wandering through the desert, God will be with us as well wherever we go. Isn’t that pretty remarkable?
As a leader, it is important to make sure that all your followers recognize that you value them.
Exo 39:42 According to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel made all the work.
Exo 39:43 And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.
When all of this work was done and Moses saw that everything was done in the way that God had commanded, he blessed the people of Israel.
It is important to remember that if any of us are put in a leadership position, we need to make sure that we are indeed the right type of leader. Here are some guidelines from 1 Timothy that are typically applied to pastors, but I believe we all can learn from them wherever we are in life.
1Ti 3:1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
1Ti 3:3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
1Ti 3:4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
I think that the particular tie between these two passages comes exactly from the word hospitality. Hospitality essentially means that you enjoy being with people and interacting with them. Obviously, part of that is appreciating people for what they are capable of doing.
This almost makes me think about how Jesus led while He was here on earth. He was definitely in charge, but He cared about His people. When people were sick, He healed them. He was involved in their lives like He was with Mary and Martha when Lazarus died.
You need to stay in touch with the people you are leading, and it is great that Moses was doing that at the end of Exodus. Leadership is a responsibility rather than a right, so if you are in a leadership position, you need to put forth your best effort to help those who are following you.
Sometimes we all need help from other people. We can find something similar in Exodus 38.
Exo 38:22 And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.
Exo 38:23 And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
Moses may have been an excellent leader, but apparently he needed help building all of the different implements that God had commanded. He needed to then rely on the help of his friends like Bezaleel and Aholiab. They were both talented workmen who could use their hands as effectively as Moses could lead people.
Many of us are like Moses. We might be really good at something, but we all need help in other areas. For example, I am pretty good at doing my statistics homework, but if I was trying to do advanced physics, I would need assistance. However, the same physicist who might be helping me try to understand his discipline might need my help with statistical theory.
Christianity is the same way. Many people are good at many different things, and we need to each do what we can to help out in the cause of reaching people for Jesus.
1Co 12:14 For the body is not one member, but many.
1Co 12:15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
1Co 12:17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
1Co 12:18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
If we all had the same abilities, we would never be able to complement each other and create a stronger overall body.
Pro 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
We can all help each other out. Christians need to support each other as we try to follow God.
In Exodus 37, one thing that stood out to me was how gold seems to come up a lot. More specifically, as Bezaleel is building the Ark of the Covenant, he doesn’t just leave everything wooden.
Exo 37:1 And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:
Exo 37:2 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
Of course, gold is always associated with value. After all, even the wise men brought gold to the baby Jesus. By overlaying the Ark with pure gold, the Israelites were demonstrating how much they valued God. Obviously, they wanted him to have the best.
Even though God is obviously worth more than all of the gold in the world, by taking a special effort to make the thing that God commanded look very nice, Bezaleel is that this demonstrating that God deserves our best.
I think that this can come back to our lives today. Most specifically, we should value God and give Him special honor because He deserves it.
1Co 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Everything that we do should be to the highest standard because we are supposed to do everything for the glory of God. All of our actions should be kind of like gold. They should be valuable from the perspective that they help lead people to God.
Remember this as you’re going through your life today. I think that we all need to do more to remember that all of our actions should reflect God. They should be valuable, and they should help show people how much we all value God.
In Exodus 36, we are reminded that God is the giver of wisdom.
Exo 36:2 And Moses called Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, even every one whose heart stirred him up to come unto the work to do it:
Wisdom is different than knowledge. The evidence of this wisdom is the fact that these men are able to build everything that God had told Moses to build to the exact specifications. Normally, we don’t think of wisdom as being good with our hands. I think that we normally associate wisdom with people who have lived long lives and have a lot of experience. That is one definition of wisdom that I think is totally valid.
In this case though, it seems as if we are talking about something more concrete and practical. If these men were able to build everything to specifications because they had wisdom, it seems to me that wisdom is almost like understanding. They understood what needed to be done and consequently they did it. It isn’t just having a bunch of great advice although I guess that could be wisdom as well.
I think that that is really interesting because if we combine the fact that God is the giver of wisdom with the fact that wisdom helps you understand how to get things done, we can come right back to my favorite Bible verse.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
If wisdom helps us do things right, and God gives us wisdom, then we cannot get things right by ourselves because we need what God gives.
I think that this idea has numerous applications in our everyday lives. If you think about what we do in everyday life, you probably know that we have to get things done. I know that I live a busy life, and I am sure that a lot of you do as well. However, going from this perspective makes me think.
If we are taking wisdom is the ability to understand what needs to be done and doing it, I think that we need to rely on God much more heavily than we do normally. Sometimes, we get wrapped up in our own decisions, but if we realize that God will equip us with what we need to make the right decisions, I think that will help us all as we relate to people and go about our daily lives. Again, we can’t do it alone, but we can do it with God right with us.
The children of Israel were beginning to build all of the things that God told Moses about in the past few chapters. The Ark of the Covenant and Aaron’s garments were especially on the to-do list in Exodus 35. However, the creation of all these things was rather technical, and I am sure it would have been a challenge.
Exo 35:30 And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;
Exo 35:31 And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
Exo 35:32 And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
Exo 35:33 And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.
Exo 35:34 And he hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
Exo 35:35 Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.
These two men, Bezaleel and Aholiab, are mentioned by name. In order to make this massive project happen, and they needed God’s help. These men might have been great workmen before, but God particularly blessed them to make any type of project that was necessary for this important mission. For such important implements, they had to be even better than usual.
I think that this can happen to a lot of us as well. When God calls us to do a particular project, He will give us the strength to finish it.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Notice the fact that we are supposed to run the race while we are looking to Jesus. Without looking, we won’t know where we’re going, and we also will have the motivation we need to finish it. God provides us the strength to make it happen.
Eph 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Our strength comes directly from God as well as our talent. We are supposed to use them both for the glory of God.