The opening chapters of the Old and New Testaments bring to the forefront two couples: Adam and Eve in the Old Testament and Mary and Joseph in the New. Their stories emphasize the concepts of family and community. Adam and Eve were created to enjoy each other as husband and wife. Their family was in community with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Sin had not yet broken this beautiful fellowship between man and wife and God and humanity.
Soon, however, sin did enter the world, but Mary and Joseph’s family began the restoration of the human race back to God. In their community, God placed His Son Jesus to restore God’s fellowship to humanity (community) and humanity’s fellowship with one another (family). Nothing was wrong with God’s original plan—it was “excellent in every way” (Genesis 1:31).
Let us start this year by asking the Lord to restore to us our fellowship with Him in any area that has been broken by sin. Then let us ask Him to restore family in relationships with others whom we have offended. Jesus came to bring us back to God’s original plan!
From the moment God promised the devil that Eve’s offspring would crush his head, Satan sought to murder the Messiah. John 8:44 tells us that “he was a murderer from the beginning and has always hated the truth.” The spirit of murder is of the devil.
Thinking that perhaps Abel was the Messiah, Satan incited Cain to murder his brother. Later, when he realized that Jesus was the true Messiah, he provoked the bloodthirsty tyrant Herod into killing “all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had told him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier” (Matthew 2:16).
Satan’s hatred, not only for Christ but also for those who are “Christ-ians,” has driven him to murder millions of believers worldwide. Try as he will, though, to gather those who will “plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one” (Psalm 2:2), the devil is always defeated! In fact, God even laughs at Satan’s anger and murderous attempts to stop His Son from redeeming the world (v. 4).
In the end, the ultimate prophecy to believers will be fulfilled: “Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession” (v. 8). We are on the winning side!
Even as a child, David recognized God’s divine shield of protection around him. He felt so safe when surrounded by his enemies that he could actually lie down and sleep. God has always protected His children and made a way of escape for those He loves (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Genesis 6 describes another example of God’s protection, relating how He saved Noah’s family from the raging waters of destruction that He had sent to cleanse the earth. Later on, in Genesis 19, the Lord delivered Lot and his family out of the city of Sodom just moments before He destroyed it with fire and brimstone.
Christ found the way of escape from temptation in the wilderness when Satan came on three separate occasions with his most subtle deceptions. Each time Jesus escaped from the snare by quoting the Word of God.
In times of trouble, remember, as did Noah and his family, that the raging waters and winds outside your “ark” pose no threat. You are safe and dry inside the refuge of God. Let the winds blow, the heathen rage, and the enemy rise up. God’s angels will protect and deliver you in the midst of any storm!
Weekend Sermon Discussion
- What does the Bible mean that we were created in God's image? What makes us unique from all creation? Genesis 1:26-27
- What are three ways that Satan tempts us to sin? Genesis 3:6, 1 John 2:16
- How is the grace of God revealed with Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, and Abraham?
Something about the comfort and safety of the boat makes it hard to leave! After Noah had floated in the ark for months, God caused the floodwaters to recede and directed Noah and his family to leave their haven of refuge. Surely Noah wondered what it would be like outside the ark.
Peter, too, knew the safety of the boat. But one day Jesus challenged him to leave the known and enter the unknown realm of “fishing for men.” Can’t you just imagine how Peter must have felt? What would it be like to wake up every day and follow Jesus? he must have thought.
The boat represents old habits, securities, and ways of doing things. Peter had been a fisherman for years; Noah had been confined to the security of the ark for months. Both had to decide if they would dare to follow the One who called them. When Noah sent the dove out the second time and it did not return to him (Genesis 8:12), he knew it was time to leave the ark. Like the dove, he had no desire to stay in his world of former security. When Peter heard the voice of the Master, he knew it was time to leave the place of family refuge and follow the will of God.
Once you have tasted of a new world—a world of ministry—you will have no desire to return to the mundane routine of life. Leave the boat, my Christian friend. A new world awaits you!
On the plain of Shinar, the people decided to make a name for themselves by building a great tower. Their example shows the powerful forces of self-exaltation at work within the human race. God cannot share His glory, however, and will intentionally bring to naught any plan or project that overly exalts the name of humankind.
The opposite of such an exalted spirit can be seen in Abraham’s life. Abraham, a lowly Aramaean, became the father of faith for all time. God promised him, “I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others” (Genesis 12:2). Subsequent passages show how Abraham’s simple, childlike obedience repeatedly attracted God’s favor. He rose to higher and higher planes of honor by placing his faith solely in God.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.” In verse 5 He says, “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them.” What a contrast these attitudes are to those of the arrogant tower builders who tried to control the earth through their aggressiveness!
The psalmist said, “With deepest awe I will worship at your Temple” (Psalm 5:7). A temple, not a tower, is what we are building, and all its glory belongs to God, not to us!
God knew that people would battle two major enemies: pride and selfishness. He dealt with humanity’s pride at Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), and in Genesis 14 He dealt with humanity’s selfishness.
Abraham was the first man recorded in the Scriptures to tithe, although Abel did offer the Lord “choice lambs from the best of his flock” (Genesis 4:4). Abraham’s worship of God with ten percent of his revenue showed that he acknowledged his financial responsibility before God and knew that God, in turn, would take care of his needs. By refusing the king of Sodom’s reward (Genesis 14:21-23), Abraham rejected the world’s system. God became his reward (his salary, wages, and compensation), and God, in turn, recompensed Abraham with something that money could not buy: a child!
Tithing was a sign of Abraham’s covenant with God. God reciprocated and pledged all His assets to Abraham, even unto the fourth generation (Genesis 15:14-16). Abraham further exemplified an unselfish spirit when he gave Lot the first choice of where to live. The final result was that Abraham profited much more than Lot because he obeyed the principle of unselfish sacrifice for others (Genesis 13).
Want to be blessed? Be a tither!
The importance of patience in prayer and in life cannot be overemphasized! Abraham lived most of his life patiently believing that God would fulfill His promise to give him a son. In his old age, however, he succumbed to pressure from his wife to have a child by her maid, Hagar (Genesis 16:2). Abraham hearkened to the voice of his wife instead of giving her godly direction—a choice that proved to be a historic mistake.
Ishmael has come to symbolize the fruit of impatience. When you do not believe that God has heard your cry in prayer, you take matters into your own hands and create situations that you cannot successfully bring to a close. If you truly believe that your Father has seen you and heard your prayer, why struggle to come up with your own solution? Boldly assert as did Hagar, “I have seen the One who sees me!” (Genesis 16:13).
Isaac means “laughter,” so you may as well keep laughing until your “Isaac” shows up. Ishmaels come quickly, but they never go away.
The story of Lot is a chronicle of the search for the “wide gate,” symbolizing the luxuries and pleasures of the world. Lot’s eyes were distracted from purity by viewing the pastures of the well-watered plain of Sodom. From living in the valley, to pitching his tent near Sodom, to living in the city, to city rulership in the gate of Sodom— the pitiful progression of distraction continued.
How easy it is to fall deeper and deeper into the lure of the world! “Everybody’s doing it” is a statement from a person sure to be heading down the broad way that leads to destruction. Satan’s payoff for Lot’s compromise was to give him a cave instead of a castle, incestuous daughters instead of his wife, poverty instead of position.
The opposite was true of Abraham, who chose the “narrow gate.” His unswerving desire to please God resulted in his gaining favor with God. He was a part of the chosen few, and his intercession with God for Lot is a classic example of his reward.
Stay in the “narrow way.” Neither you nor your children will ever regret it.
Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac represents a faith that acts, not one that just talks. Anyone can say, “I trust the Lord,” but raising a knife to one’s most precious possession is proof of real faith.
It is not enough to only hear the commandments of God—we must do them. James said, “Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?” (James 2:20). There comes a moment in our lives when we must translate talk into an action that demonstrates the reality of our faith.
As Abraham climbed the mountain of Moriah, his faith gave energy to his actions. In his mind he had reckoned that God was able to raise up Isaac, even if he died (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham’s faith risked all and lost nothing.
Let’s step out in obedience. When we do, God will have the ram waiting in the thicket!
When Abraham was old, he grew anxious for Isaac, his son and heir, to marry a girl from his own clan from the region where he’d been raised. He certainly didn’t want Isaac to marry an ungodly Canaanite! So Abraham sent a trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. The servant posed a legitimate question: How could he travel a thousand miles to an unknown region and find just the right bride for his master?
To his everlasting credit, this servant was wise enough to commit his nearly impossible mission to God’s direction. The miraculous result was that out of all the cities, all the wells, and all the girls in the land of the East, Rebekah came out to the well. The servant’s secret to success was in committing his journey to God’s providence.
If God has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30), He can surely do a better job of running your life than you can. If you lean upon your own understanding, you face an endless, impossible task. But God, who is infinite in understanding, can quickly bring a positive solution to the assignment.
The servant reported to Abraham, saying, “Before I had finished praying these words, I saw Rebekah” (Genesis 24:45). Pray, commit, and watch. Your answer may already be there.
Rebekah’s journey to meet Isaac is an inspiring lesson in devotion to the unseen. Although she had never seen Isaac, Rebekah willingly separated from her family for life. There was no courtship, no “trial period,” and no way home! A thousand-mile camel ride stood between her family and her decision to marry Isaac.
As though leaving her family was not enough, Rebekah embarked on one of the roughest journeys a bride could ever face, involving weeks of camelback travel over harsh desert terrain. All her endurance was based upon the servant’s description of Isaac. No wonder Isaac’s heart was filled with love for this bride when he saw the camels approaching (Genesis 24:63-67)!
In the same way, Jesus is looking for His Bride. He is looking for a Church that is willing to separate forever from its family and follow after Him. His Church must be able to endure hardship on its journey through the desert of life. The Church presses on toward heaven with one motive: devotion to Jesus.
Get on your camel one more time, for this may be the day you see your long-awaited Bridegroom!
Isaac was a man whose life demonstrated the blessing of God. He was undoubtedly a tithing believer and a successful farmer, as were his father Abraham and son Jacob. Genesis 26:12 tells us, “That year Isaac’s crops were tremendous! He harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him.” While others were perishing in the famine, Isaac sowed in the land and reaped a hundredfold return.
It was Isaac’s attitude, however, that brought the blessing of God. When he had dug a “gushing spring” (Genesis 26:19), the shepherds of Gerar came and stole it from him. Instead of quarreling, he moved on and “dug another well” (v. 21). When that new well was stolen, “he dug another well” (v. 22). Finally his well was not stolen, and the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you” (v. 24).
Attitudes of bitterness, anger, resentment, and strife will keep you from financial blessing. Dig another well, keep your heart right, and God will pour out even more blessings than before!
Poor Jacob thought his trickery of his father had gone unnoticed. He forgot that God was watching everything and everybody—including him! Someone said, “You may get by, but you won’t get away!” Little did Jacob know that God would discipline him by preparing someone even trickier than he to enter his life. “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves. . . .”(Proverbs 3:11-12).
For seven long years Jacob served Laban for his daughter Rachel. Then, on the wedding night, Laban tricked him into marrying Leah. It is interesting that Jacob deceived his father in a tent, and later he himself was deceived in a tent! God will discipline you with the exact process you used on someone else. God loved Jacob and knew that until he met a superior deceiver, he would be tricking, deceiving, and supplanting for the rest of his life.
Do not despise the Lord’s work in your life. He loves you, and His discipline will yield “a quiet harvest of right living” (Hebrews 12:11).
One word from God can completely revolutionize your life. Jacob received one such word in Genesis 31:10-12, when God instructed him concerning the “streaked, speckled, and spotted” sheep. With that one word, Jacob developed a specific process of breeding the sheep that gradually converted the entire flock to his ownership!
God sees the dilemma you are in, whether it’s with an oppressive employer, a difficult marriage partner, or some other strained relationship. He can give you one word of wisdom that will completely change your situation. We call this word revelation. Through dreams and visions, the Holy Spirit communicates to your mind something that is in the mind of God. In Jacob’s case, it made no sense to put peeled rods in front of sheep, but he did it anyway. His obedience to that word from God brought him much success and wealth (Genesis 30:43).
Such is the miracle of God’s Word. It may seem ridiculous to the natural mind, but God’s Word works. You must wait upon Him to receive that Word, and then keep it before your eyes daily, just as Jacob placed the rods before his sheep.
Jesus taught us that serving God might prove costly in family relationships. Jacob learned that painful lesson when his close family became the immediate source of his greatest problems. His father-in-law Laban cheated him, tricked him, abused him, and even chased him when he left (Genesis 31:23). In another instance, Jacob’s brother Esau appeared to be angry to the point of revenge when he came to meet Jacob with his four hundred men. The outcome in both these situations? God intervened on Jacob’s behalf! Laban was rebuked in a dream: “Be careful about what you say to Jacob!” Esau received Jacob back with tears and kisses (Genesis 33:4).
Jesus told His disciples to decide whether they loved Him or their relatives more. Because the time may come when a relative departs from the Lord’s way, we, too, must choose to follow the “narrow way.” This doesn’t mean that we intentionally ostracize our relatives, only that we are fully prepared to be rejected or misunderstood by them.
God helped Jacob with both Laban and Esau. If you are having a family conflict, He will help you through it as well!
When Jacob wrestled with the angel at Peniel, the angel tried to overpower him. He knew that unless he could break Jacob’s stubborn and deceptive will, Jacob would never attain greatness in God.
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you,” an obvious statement of learning the “rest” of submission. You will not go very far with God until you allow Him to subdue your drive, energies, ambitions, and passions. When He wins that battle over you, the “rest” of God will follow.
Later in Jacob’s struggle, he held on to the angel of the Lord, forcefully pressing in for a blessing from the One who had subdued him. Jesus told His disciples that “the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it” (Matthew 11:12).
God wants you to rest in your flesh and be forceful in your spirit! That balance changed Jacob from a trickster to a prince with God.
The lessons of purity and holiness are simple: tell the truth, speak no gossip, honor the righteous, keep your word, be generous with others, and accept no bribes. These simple commandments address the way we relate to our fellow man. Yet who among us has not broken these simple guidelines and does not need to repent?
God is so merciful, even with the likes of us. Despite all Jacob’s transgressions, when he relinquished his foreign gods, the Lord met him and was merciful to him (Genesis 35:2, 9). Jesus told the Pharisees, “I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices” (Matthew 12:7). He reminded them of the value of one human being. Because Jesus is compassionate, He “will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory” (v. 20).
Like Jacob, we all “fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23), and God patiently works with us to restore us into His presence. If sin has knocked you off God’s holy hill, get up, repent, and climb it again. You will find a merciful Lord at the top, greeting you with open arms!
Weekend Sermon Discussion
- Have you ever wanted to quit on the purpose of God in your life? After looking at the life of Joseph, what can you learn about never quitting on the destiny God has given you for your life?
- Joseph’s trust in the sovereign God carried him through many dark days in his life. Genesis 50:20-2 Joseph says“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” Are there some challenging areas in your life today in which you need to simply trust God? If so, what can you learn from Joseph about forgiveness and trust?
- The Bible tells us in Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” As you look back in your own life can you think of a time that seemed hopeless but God’s grace prevailed?
How quick we are to judge something or someone with a standard we cannot live up to ourselves. When Judah discovered his daughter-in-law’s prostitution, his first reaction was “Bring her out and burn her!” (Genesis 38:24). The problem he failed to realize was that he was the one who had hired her as a prostitute!
When Nathan told David a story about a poor man who had only one sheep that was stolen by a man who had many sheep, David was enraged. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!” (2 Samuel 12:5). Verse 7 says, “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are that man!’ ”
The Pharisees wrongly judged Jesus Christ when they said He cast out devils by the devil. Jesus asked them, “And if I am empowered by the prince of demons, what about your own followers? They cast out demons, too, so they will judge you for what you have said” (Matthew 12:27).
Jesus taught His disciples that they would be judged by the same standard with which they judged others (Matthew 7:2). It’s hard to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye when there is a log in your own!
Everyone goes through a process of proving and testing. Jesus taught that the seed falls on various types of ground, each type representing the human heart (Matthew 13). Each of us will be tested to see how well we battle the areas of unbelief, discouragement, and distraction.
The birds mentioned in Matthew 13:4 are the demonic thieves who lie to us about the promises of God, tricking us into unbelief. The rocky soil (vv. 20-21) represents the onslaught of discouraging problems and persecutions that come our way. The thorny ground (v. 22) refers to the continual distractions of riches, pleasure, and worldly things.
Joseph passed each test in his thirteen years of Egyptian captivity. Throughout those years, he never allowed himself to doubt or to become negative about God’s promise that he would one day be a ruler. He also never grew discouraged, though his way grew more difficult. Finally, he never compromised with sin, even when Potiphar’s wife offered him everything in exchange for his purity.
Decide today to reject unbelief, to fight discouragement, and to refuse the distractions of the world. As you pass God’s tests in each of these areas, He will take you from the pit to the prison to the palace!
From a tiny seed comes a mighty tree that provides shade and refuge for the animals of the world. In the same way, the Kingdom of God spreads from small and insignificant beginnings.
Joseph is an example of such a seed. From one solitary life, the Holy Spirit provided a huge and fruitful tree that brought life to the world. Under Joseph’s direction during the seven years of plenty, “the granaries were filled to overflowing” (Genesis 41:49). During the time of famine, people came from many lands for the provision Joseph had stored (Genesis 41:56-57).
God desires to bless you, like He did Joseph, with an abundance to be put into a storehouse for others. Such abundance represents your overflow finances, seed that God will place in your hands to bless the world. Be faithful, prepare a storehouse bank account for missions, and ask God for seed. He will turn your “mustard seed” into a mighty tree for the nations!
The deer is an interesting animal with incredible characteristics regarding balance. When suddenly knocked from a high, rocky crag, the deer always lands on its feet and scampers right back up to the place from which it fell.
David said in verse 16 of Psalm 18, “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Time and time again, David’s kingdom was attacked by Saul, Goliath, and countless armies of enemies. Each time, however, he managed to land securely and to climb right back up to prominence. Why? Because instead of leading David on a treacherous, narrow path, God widened the path beneath his feet “to keep them from slipping” (v. 36).
Being spiritual does not make you immune from attack, but the Lord will prepare you for any battle (Psalm 18:34). When the enemy comes against you, you can “crush an army” and “scale any wall” (v. 29). Don’t lie down and wallow in self-pity when attacked, but stand up like the deer and scamper back up to the top!
Joseph instructed his brothers to let their father know that he could totally disregard his own possessions and move to Egypt. It was ridiculous to worry about some old, beat-up tents and provisions when Joseph was ruler of Egypt. Huge cartloads of provision and clothing followed the brothers as they returned to Israel. There was no more need for stinginess or financial worry. Their brother Joseph was providing for all their needs from the wealth of Egypt.
So often we cling to our few, tiny resources when in reality the wealth of heaven belongs to us. One little boy was willing to give up his five pieces of bread and two fish to the Master. His obedience was not a sacrifice, for the Lord not only gave him back his lunch, but He also provided twelve baskets of leftovers to take home (Matthew 14:20)! Those small objects given in obedience were the key that unlocked the wheat fields and oceans of Israel.
Provision is normal when you realize that you have a “relative” who occupies a very important position in the universe. Your brother Jesus—not Pharaoh—sits at the right hand of God! How much more should you be confident about giving up your meager belongings on earth?
Fierce, fiery, and faithful, the sun never wavers from its course, which is set by the Word of God. Neither does it waver because of weather conditions. The only time the sun ever stopped was when Joshua commanded it to obey the Word of the Lord (Joshua 10:12-13)!
The spiritual “sky” is full of spiritual “suns.” They are champions and never waver while running their courses. The woman of Tyre and Sidon was such a champion. She refused to be put off or denied the deliverance of her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). Her face was set like a flint, like a champion runner in the race of his life.
Joseph, too, was such a champion. His faithful resolution to God’s Word and promise resulted not only in his personal salvation and the feeding of the world but also in his family’s salvation and deliverance.
“The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18). Shine on, brothers and sisters! You are champions, and you will finish your courses with joy!
Israel’s blessings started with the word may. As Jacob laid his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh, he uttered the word and invoked a blessing with it three times.
The psalmist blessed Israel with equal force: “May the Lord respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe. . . . May he send you help. . . . May he remember all your gifts. . . . May he grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory. . . . May the Lord answer all your prayers” (Psalm 20:1-5).
The word may could be translated “allow.” In other words, allow God to do what He wants to do for you. You must settle in your mind forever that God wants to bless you. Any doubt will always result in questioning His desire to answer your prayers or to increase, deliver, and help you.
God’s Word has the same power to bless you, as did Jacob’s words for his grandsons. “Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning” (Proverbs 4:20-22).
May the Lord bless you today!
Weekend Sermon Discussion
- After studying the name and character of Simon Peter, if your name were based on a word that describes your character, what would your name be?
- In this week’s study, we learned that Peter struggled with his own insecurities, causing him to compare himself to others. Are you sometimes more worried about what others think about you than what God thinks about you?
- What in your life is holding you back from reaching the potential He has called you to? How can that obstacle be overcome?
How marvelously God turns everything around for His glory and purposes! Through all his years of suffering and difficulty, Joseph refused to become bitter. His brothers—the means through which his suffering had come—could have been prime targets for Joseph’s blame. But Joseph didn’t play the blame game. What a class act! Joseph’s wisdom gave him the perspective to see God’s work, not the devil’s, in and through his life.
Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God even turned around Pharaoh’s terrible actions of destroying babies so that Moses could be brought to Pharaoh’s daughter!
There is nothing Satan does that will not turn around on him. God will not be defeated or outwitted. Trust Him, refuse to become bitter, and watch Him turn your situation around for good!
Would you have faith to fish for your tax money? Jesus received a word from God that somewhere down in the depths of the Sea of Galilee was a most unusual fish. This unique and special fish, different from all the others, was going to be a source of unusual blessing.
Our faith is often limited by expecting natural sources of blessing rather than believing for supernatural blessing. Faith, however, was a normal way of life for Jesus. He never flinched when telling His disciples that if they had faith “as small as a mustard seed,” [they] “could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move” (Matthew 17:20). He didn’t hesitate to rebuke His disciples when their faith failed to deliver a young boy suffering from seizures.
Having faith does not mean that we will not use natural means to pay our bills or to be delivered. However, our faith must be based upon the knowledge that God is the One working behind the scenes of our lives, preparing provision before we need it.
If you need a miracle, look around every corner . . . and be sure you look in every fish’s mouth!
Moses and Aaron formed a divine partnership before Pharaoh. By himself, Moses felt weak and incapable. That’s why the Lord sent him a prayer partner in Aaron. For the next four decades, these two men walked together doing great exploits for God.
“How could one person chase a thousand of them, and two people put ten thousand to flight . . . unless the Lord had given them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30). Two people who are partners are five times more powerful than two individuals acting alone! Moses and Aaron did not realize how much they would need each other until after their first round with Pharaoh. Not only did Pharaoh reject them, but also their own people rejected them.
Solomon said, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
It is a scientific fact that geese flying in a flock honk to encourage each other. Moses needed a “honker” in Aaron, and you, too, need others to support you. Find your two or three “honkers,” and take on the “Pharaoh” in your life!
Moses and Aaron stood with great confidence before Pharaoh and declared the Lordship of God. Then, with only a rod, Moses systematically dismantled Egypt. He took the offensive, not the defensive, and began demonstrating to Pharaoh who “I am the Lord” (Exodus 6:2) truly was. The rod and staff of God comforted Moses as he stood and watched God transform his staff into a snake and turn the Nile into blood.
Without armies and guns, diplomacy and politics, or cleverness and reason, Moses prevailed by maintaining a relaxed anointing. As your enemies rant and rave, they do not understand how you can sit so relaxed at the table of the Lord. While they are delivering their tirade in the power of the flesh, you sit in the power of the anointing. You must learn that as you “walk through the dark valley of death” (Psalm 23:4), there is truly nothing to fear.
Relax and lie down in green pastures. God will fight “Pharaoh” while you feed at the table of the Lord.
In quick succession, the gods of Egypt were challenged and defeated. Starting with the Nile (the Egyptians’ primary deity), then following with the sun and the cattle, all Egypt’s false gods were symbolically destroyed. The point of these ten plagues was to reveal that the “earth belongs to the Lord” (Exodus 9:29). God will share His glory with neither empires nor individuals. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart caused him to provide a setting by which God could gain a name for Himself.
David also came to the realization that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). He continued the thought, saying, “Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, invincible in battle” (v. 8).
The earth is a battleground where God displays His victory over Satan. Satan may be “the god of this evil world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but the earth belongs to God. So claim nations as your inheritance, and challenge every god that lays claim to what God has created!
Without contradiction, we can say that Christ came to earth to die. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus instructed His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him. He told them that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood, they had no life in them.
Moses’ revelation of the blood is described in Exodus 12:13: “The blood you have smeared on your doorposts will serve as a sign. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.” The blood of an innocent, meek lamb would substitute for an entire household. Although the firstborn of Israel deserved death just as much as did Pharaoh’s firstborn, the blood of the lamb ransomed (paid for, bought back) their lives.
Like that lamb, Christ was a gentle, humble servant who never sought the glory and exaltation for which the disciples were constantly striving. In humility, never forget Christianity’s focus: we deserve to die, but Christ, the spotless Lamb, died in our place—the “just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18 KJV). Rejoice today in the power of the blood of Jesus who ransomed you from death!
Oh, how great was the redemption that God accomplished for Israel on that night of deliverance! First, they were delivered from death. In like manner, we, too, have been delivered from eternal death—spared from hell and from being cut off from God forever.
Next, they were redeemed from sickness. Psalm 105:37 says that “there were no sick or feeble people among them,” even after many years of hard labor! In the same way, Christ paid for our healing, for we “have been healed by his wounds” (1 Peter 2:24).
Then the Israelites were redeemed from poverty. Overnight they went from being paupers to being prosperous when they “asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold” (Exodus 12:35). The Lord gave them favor and the Egyptians granted their request, providing them with all they needed in order to live in the wilderness and to build a glorious tabernacle for the Lord.
We can claim a full inheritance of provision for any need we have to advance the glory of God. Our redemption was not paid for with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the precious blood of Christ!
Weekend Sermon Discussion
- When you think of God’s commands, do you generally feel that they’re a burden, or that they’re a blessing? Why?
- Is there anything in your life right now that has become a higher priority to you than your relationship with God? If so, what can you do to make an adjustment?
- What are some practical ways you can honor your parents?