Monday, February 8, 2021

February 8 - Exodus 2, Matthew 27

Key Verse: Exodus 2:10

Big Idea: Pharaoh's daughter brought Moses out of the water, and God brought Moses out of Egypt.

It may have only felt like a weekend to you since we last opened up the Bible together, but it was actually about 400 years. Jacob (Israel) was long dead, and his great-great-grandson Moses is now at the heart of our story. The Israelites, who came to Egypt for relief from the famine, are now a large nation but have been enslaved by the Egyptians. To prevent them from rising up in rebellion, Pharaoh orders the wholesale execution of baby Hebrew boys, not unlike Herod's later attempt to exterminate Jesus as a rival king in His infancy (Matthew 2:18-18).

But God had other plans. For the second time, God used an ark to rescue humanity when Moses' mother built one and set him in the Nile River. God arranged for Pharaoh's daughter to draw Moses up out of the water, and Moses' sister was able to offer her a convenient Hebrew woman to nurse the infant. Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians as the son of Pharaoh's daughter (Acts 7:22) and trained in the worship of the Lord and the promises He had made to His people as the Son of Jochebed. God used the sin of Pharaoh like He had used the sins of Joseph's brothers centuries before to save the lives of His people. God's enemies trained Moses to lead them out, to write His Law, and to take them to the Promised Land. 

When Moses tried to rescue the Israelites in his time instead of God's, he was forced to leave Egypt and go to Midian, where he spent forty years waiting (long waits are another recurring theme in how God deals with His people). But that was God's plan too. The Israelites would arrive when the sin of the Canaanites had reached its full peak, and the time to judge them was at hand (Genesis 15:16). Moses had learned to lead like an Egyptian for the first forty years of his life in Egypt, now he would spend forty years learning to be a shepherd entrusted with someone else's flock. The training program was perfectly designed by the Maker of Moses. Pharaoh's daughter drew Moses out of the water, but it was really God's hand that guided him and tool him where he needed to go.

Discussion idea: God prepared Moses for the Exodus in three dimensions: intellectually he was trained in Pharaoh's court, spiritually he was trained by his mother, and practically he was trained by four decades as a shepherd. What dimensions has God trained in your life?

Prayer focus: Lord, help me to trust your sovereignty and to be a willing student of all the things you are teaching me through my life.

Key Verse: Matthew 27:51

Big Idea: When King Jesus passed through death, He gave us the path to life.

Matthew 27 is one of the essential chapters in the Bible. Jesus was delivered over to the Romans to be executed. The crowds were given a choice: Barabbas, a notorious criminal, or Jesus, an innocent man. They called for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified. Innocence was mocked, beaten, and finally executed. The most extraordinary thing was how ordinary it all was: could the Messiah really die as so many others had before Him? From Adam onward, we read, “and he died” over and over again in the Bible. We see the righteous suffer, and God’s prophets rejected. How could the same Jesus who had done so many wonderful things meet such a pedestrian end? 

But there were clues that the death of Jesus was not ordinary at all. He did not defend Himself before Pilate. The sun turned dark as He hung on the cross. He even prayed for the ones killing Him. Death is the most ordinary thing a human being can do - it is the only thing we all do - but there was something extraordinary about how Jesus did it. Something was going on behind the scenes: His cry about His Father forsaking Him showed that. But what was happening? At the center of the gospel is the claim that when Jesus died, like every other human being, He changed what death means for the rest of us. 

In the holiest part of the Temple (the Holy of Holies) sat the ark of the covenant: the symbol of God’s throne and His presence. Between the ark and the outer courts was a special curtain that only the High Priest could cross, and he could only cross once a year. When Jesus died, there was a great earthquake, and that curtain tore from the top to the bottom. God sent a divine sign that Jesus’ death was anything but ordinary. He was the sacrifice that tore down the barrier between God and humanity, giving us access to the Father’s presence through the Son.

Incredibly, Jesus passing through death prepared the way for us to enter into life. He broke down the barriers of sin that kept us away and gave us the opportunity to access God. When He rose again, a representative group of saints rose too - leaving their tombs that had been broken open in the earthquake. The door is opened by His death, and His eternal life gives us the power to walk through.

Discussion idea: The principle that life comes through death is the kind of paradox that defined the whole ministry of Jesus. Does your life rely on those kinds of paradoxical ideas or worldly wisdom? What are you working on that will fail without Jesus? 

Prayer focus: Pray for God to comfort those mourning loved ones. Ask Him to give them the assurance that if they know Him, they can enter His presence and the fullness of joy there. 

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