God Threatens to Kill Moses?

The name Moses means Because I drew him out of the water (Exodus 2:10). It is the first time Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible, has been mentioned by name, and Pharoah’s daughter named him. What is implied with the naming of Moses is as follows. The book of Revelation gives us a clue toward understanding Moses’s name. Names in the Bible often mean the character and sometimes the purpose of the person possessing the name.

Revelation 17:15 says, “Then he said to me, ‘The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are people, multitudes, nations, and tongues.’” Abraham was called to form a family from all the people of the earth and bless all the earth’s people. Moses was called to build a nation from the family of Abraham. So of all the people in the earth, Moses was explicitly called to lead a people, that we see in Deuteronomy 7:7, “. . . for you are the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you and because He would keep the oath which He sore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharoah king of Egypt.”

With this background information, why do we see God in Exodus 4:24 wanting to kill Moses? Let’s look at the text together. “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the LORD met him (Moses) and sought to kill him.” We must ask ourselves, what is going on here? Why did God spend all this time talking with Moses from the fiery bush that would not burn, convincing Moses, the reluctant leader? Hey Moses, leave these sheep and go back to Egypt to lead His people who will be like sheep out of bondage, only to attempt to kill Moses on the way to do what God has asked him to do? For the longest time, this puzzled me. 

The answer is complex yet actually quite simple. The answer hinges on three chapters in Genesis.  Genesis chapters 15, 16, 17 and is scattered throughout Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy to fully understand.  Let me briefly try to explain. In Genesis 15, we have the story of Abraham. He is fearful for his life and his servant’s lives because of the events that have just taken place in Genesis 14. God comes before Abraham and assures him in verse one of Genesis 15. “After these things (which just happened in chapter 14), the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’” God is saying, Hey Abraham, I have your back, and I am, from your seed, still going to make you a great nation and give you the land of Canaan for your possession.  Here let me show you my faithfulness.  And so what follows is one of the strangest sounding covenants in all the Bible.  Strange that is until you understand that what God does for Abraham in the form of a “Susseran Covenant” is very much in keeping with the agreements made between nations during that time.

A “Susseran Covenant” works this way. The greater party states that it will perform specific duties if the lesser party consents to do certain things. But suppose either party fails to fulfill its obligation. In that case, the party that has lived up to the agreement can cut the other party that was unable to live up to the agreement in two. 

Yes, this sounds brutal, and it is cruel. But it is an effective way of keeping both parties to fulfill their part of the covenant agreement.  But as you read Genesis 15, it becomes clear that Abraham cannot perform his part of the agreement. But what becomes even more apparent is that two entities pass through the covenant agreement and promise to fulfill their part of the agreement.  Look at Genesis 15:17. “And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and burning torch that passed between those pieces.” The smoking oven and a burning torch are symbols for the Pre-incarnate Christ and God the Father.  They passed between the cut and laid out pieces as was typical of the “susseran covenant” agreement (see Genesis 15:9-10).

The ink was not dry upon the covenant agreement when Sarah and Abraham attempt to take matters into their own hands by Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, becoming the concubine of Abraham. And she promptly has a baby named Ishmael (see Genesis chapter 16).

Chapter 17 comes along. Twenty-four years after Abraham was given the promise of a Son by way of Sarah, Sarah still has not given him a child, and at 89 years old, it seems biologically impossible.  Yet God again reestablishes the covenant agreement, but this time using circumcision to symbolize man’s oneness with God. 

Let’s tie this all together.  The animals used in the first covenant agreement (Geneiss 15) are animals used by the Children of Israel for a sin offering and used on the day of Atonement.  The day of Atonement is when the sins of the High Priest, Priests, and the people are ceremonially placed upon the scapegoat. The scapegoat symbolizes Satan and that the sins of those who seek repentance will transfer from the sinner to Satan. Why Satan? Because Satan is the source of all evil in this world. 

Thus circumcision in Genesis 17, by way of Genesis 15, the Susseran Covenant agreement, the Hagar story in which Abraham, who represents all humanity, trying to assure his own success but fails, is brought full circle in that Salvation is not by our works, but trusting upon God to do the work for us. When we attempt it on our own, it will fail.  So Circumcision as a covenant agreement, along with the Hagar story and the Suseran Agreement of Genesis 15, is to bring us into Atonement (at one-ment) with God in that our Salvation and existence is dependant upon God and God alone.  We can do nothing but have faith and trust in God.

This is what happened the first time when Moses attempted to achieve freedom for his brothers.  He did it on his terms and in his own way.  Moses failed! He had to run away. Instead of being in line to be the next Pharoah, Moses became a sheep farmer.  Forty years later, he was ready, or so he finally believed himself to be.  But within his own life, Moses had not been faithful. The first son he had circumcised, but the second at the beginning of his wife, was not circumcised. Therefore God sought to kill Moses because Moses and his family had not followed or honored their side of the covenant agreement.

In other words, Moses still was not at one with God.  God today is seeking leaders, both men, and women, who are at one with Him,  and willing to lead His people in preparing them to enter the promised land.

Would God have killed Moses? I don’t know. But it impressed Moses of his need to be at one with God, personally, and with his family, and as a leader to develop a nation to enter the promised land.  This story of Moses and God wanting to kill Moses should remind us all of the need to be at one with God.

I want to make an essential point.  God, because of our sinful nature, does not expect that we will ever be perfect. But by submitting our will to God’s will, his character can be reproduced in us, as it was and as we shall see in the life of Moses.   

A Hardened Heart

Quite frankly, the following passage from Exodus has bothered me for some time. God miraculously calls Moses through a bush that is on fire but is not consumed by the fire. Moses is reluctant to fulfill God’s mission because the once proud man has been humbled by 40 years of caring for sheep. So then, we must ask ourselves a very tough question. Why would God harden Pharoah’s heart (see Exodus 4:21)?

Let’s get caught up on the story. In verse 18, Moses asks his father-in-law for permission to return to Egypt. Jethro says yes. Then in verses 19-23, God gives Moses additional directions on what Moses is to say and do. God also warns Moses that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened. The text reads, “And the LORD said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharoah which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go’” (Exodus 4:21). It seems strange to hear a passage in which God states, “I am going to do something contrary to what I want to happen.” I want my people to be free and make of them a great nation. Therefore, I am sending you, Moses, but I am going to make it difficult in that I am going to harden Pharoah’s heart. Wouldn’t God be better off softening Pharoah’s heart to get him to release the people? What is happening? Why would God harden Pharoah’s heart?

Throughout the Old Testament, God often assumes responsibility for man’s decisions and actions. You see this quite frequently in the books of Isiah and Jeremiah. But perhaps this concept can best be described using a New Testament Parable.

In Christ’s parable of the “Sower and the Seed,” (see Matthew 13:3-23). There was no difference between the seed scattered on one kind of soil with that sown in the others or how it was sown. Everything depended upon the reception given the seed by each type of soil. In like manner, the hardening of Pharoah’s heart was in no way an act of God but rather a deliberate choice on Pharoah’s part. By repeated warnings and display of divine power, God sent light designed to point out to Pharoah the error of his ways, to soften and subdue his heart, and to lead him to cooperate with God’s will. But each successive manifestation of divine power left Pharoah more determined to do as he pleased. Refusing to be corrected, he despised and rejected light until he became insensitive to it, and the light was finally withdrawn. It was his resistance to the light that hardened his heart. Even the heathen recognized that it was Pharoah and the Egyptians themselves who hardened their hearts, not God (I Samuel 6:6).

We will learn more about the hardening of hearts as we go forward in the story of The Exodus. Through the story of Pharoah, we will see that there is a progression to how a person’s heart becomes hardened. But the truth is that God causes his sun to shine upon the evil and the good (see Matthew 5:45). But as the sun affects different materials in different ways, it melts wax. It hardens clary according to their nature. So the influence of the Spirit of God upon the hearts of men produces different effects According to the condition of the heart. The repentant sinner allows God’s spirit to lead him to conversion and salvation, but the unrepentant sinner hardens their heart more and more. The very same manifestation of the God’s mercy leads in the case of the one to salvation and life and in that of the other to judgment and death – to each according to his own choice.

In closing, let’s include verses 22 and 23. “Then you shall say to Pharoah, ‘Thus says the LORD: Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.’”

This is seemingly a harsh passage, and indeed it is. But not so much when you consider the time and place. In declaring Israel to be God’s firstborn son, Moses used language familiar to the Egyptian Pharoah. Each Pharoah considered himself the son of the sun-god Amen-Ra. Then what the God of heaven is saying to Pharoah, “You are not my firstborn as you believe yourself to be. I am not Amen-Ra. I am the great I AM. I have chosen for myself Israel as My firstborn.

First, let me remind you, Moses did not state this until all other avenues of persuasion had been exhausted. But when Moses finally stated this, he stated it with the “Eye for an Eye and Tooth for a Tooth” principle.  What is this eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth business about? This was the law in the land throughout the entire region, from the land of the Chaldeans to Egypt. We see this in Babylonian, Hittite, Canaanite, and Egyptian writing from this period of time. 

God is essentially saying, Let Israel, My firstborn, go. If you do not, then I will meet you in a way that you understand in that I will rise up against your firstborn. Your firstborn Pharoah is believed to be from the god Amen-Ra, but let me assure you, I AM is the God over all the earth, and I have chosen Israel as My firstborn, My son. Therefore let My people go, My firstborn, or if your heart remains hardened against my will, you will have chosen death for your own.

It seems strange in our society today to talk like this. God was meeting the Egyptian Pharoah in a way that the Pharoah could easily understand and respond to. He was meeting Pharoah in the mindset that Pharoah and society had.

The beauty is that God always meets us where we are. He did this for Adam and Eve after they sinned. He did this for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and many others in the Bible. He does the same for us today.

Rest and Forgiveness

I meant to post this earlier. This is my sermon from 8/21/2021. It is a little long, but I hope you will enjoy.

Scripture Reading: Mark 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “’Son, your sins are forgiven you.’”

If you had to pick out one passage, one piece of scripture that would best describe Christ and that he is a member of the God head, what passage or group of texts would you choose?

Or perhaps another way of stating the same thing would be as follows.  What Biblical proof would you use to prove the divinity of Christ?

If someone stated, “Yes, but Jesus was just a human being just as you and me and just like anyone else,” how would you respond?  What would you use as one of the most convincing proofs of the divinity of Christ that you could use to prove that Jesus was more than just a mere human being? Just another created entity.

Perhaps some of you would look at the story of transfiguration that we see in Matthew 16:28-17:13; Luke 9:27-36; Mark 9:1-12 and II Peter 1:16-18.

Or perhaps you would use the Passage from Colossians 1:15, 16 in which Paul uses the whole chapter to set up the preeminence of Christ.  But if you are of the Arian way of thinking and you dismiss the Holy Spirit, you will eventually dismiss this passage in Colossians as well believing Colossians 1:15 shows that Christ is created.  But when you add Colossians 1:16 this disproves that way of thinking.  Then the Aerian will go one step further by dismissing that Paul was an inspired writer or called by God to be an apostle.

Let’s quickly look at Colossians 1:15, 16

He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation.

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

When you add verse 16 to 15 you cannot have a created being create all. It just cannot work.  A created being cannot create himself and still create everything that has been created. Paul is attempting to establish that fact that the incarnate Christ is the creator of all things in heaven and earth. He is first born of all creation, because he has taken the place of Adam becoming the second Adam.

Others may say that the proof that Jesus is divine is in the Resurrection of Lazarus we see in John chapter 11.  According to the story, there is no doubt that Lazarus is dead, and yes Jesus has the power to resurrect him.   

But then I have to ask you, what do you do with Peter raising Tabitha, and Paul Uticas? Were they also divine?  No of course not. Yes, certainly Jesus claimed to be divine, a claim Peter and Paul never made regarding themselves.  But they both claimed Jesus was divine. But can you really use that to show the divinity of Christ?

How about at the cross where Jesus forgave those who crucified Him?  Who in such circumstances could offer forgiveness to those persecuting Him? 

What an incredibly wonderful thing for Jesus to do for a people who are rejecting Him as their King.  As Jesus, He can truly understand their process of reasoning as to why they feel this needs to be done.  Therefore, you need to know that God is not against you.  He forgives you.

To quote a specific verse, there is John 1:1.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

An incredible verse for John to start his Gospel with. 

Paul as we saw in Colossians 1 Does something similar.  Then he does it again in Hebrews 1:1-4. What a beautiful passage Hebrews 1:1-4 is.  But what did Jesu say about himself.  What clues did Jesus leave as to who he really is.

The reason I am asking the question is that we had one clue, one statement by Christ as to who He really was about three weeks ago, when in a sermon we looked at Matthew 11:28, the passage about rest.  Jesus said, “Come to Me all you who labor and are heaven laden and I will give you rest.” 

To restless, sinful humanity, no one can give you rest or offer rest like God can.  So we see in Matthew 11:28 a Divine command that it is only through Christ we can find true rest for our sin sick soul.

To continue that passage, he states, (Matthew 11:29, 30), “Take My yoke upon you and Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

And the second passage or statement by Christ just as to who truly He was, comes from Mark chapter 2 when Jesus forgives sins.

Why? Because both stories deal with the deepest of human needs, “Rest and Forgiveness.”

Certainly, there are other teachers in this world other gurus that will say, follow me and do this and you will receive inner satisfaction or a deeper peace.  And indeed, they can help, but they cannot give the type of rest Jesus is describing nor can they grant you forgiveness.

But the truth is there are other deeper human needs that no other human being can satisfy. One of them is inner peace which brings rest and the second one is forgiveness. 

I want to make a very specific point before we begin this study.  The priests in the Old Testament could not grant forgiveness.  They can only illustrate through the Sanctuary system, what heaven is doing or will do on our behalf.  So, they were not the ones who could forgive the sins of the people.  Only God could forgive sins and all who were present knew and understood that only God could forgive sins.

The story we will be dealing with from Mark 2 are verses 1-12.

So, the first question we must ask ourselves is, What is Mark trying to say? What is it that he wants us to see and know about Jesus?

When we look back at chapter 1, there are two stories of healing that take place on the Sabbath.  The first is the man with the Unclean spirit we see in verse 21-28 and the healing of Peter’s Mother-in-law in verses 29-35.  These stores along with the rest of the chapter are arranged to show us the sympathy of Jesus. 

They are there so we can understand how Jesus felt about the lives of the people around him. So, the immediate context of Mark 2 is the sympathy of Jesus toward others.

So, when we come to Mark 2 it is evident that Jesus is teaching.  Let’s read verse 1 together.

“And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.”

There are two options as to how we look at this text. Either he is in Peter’s house, or he is in His own house.  If Jesus is in His own house, that gives a very interesting twist to the story. 

You might say, “Hey wait, Jesus didn’t have a house! After all, didn’t he say, “Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Yes, he did!  Then why would the text say, He is in his own house? 

Let’s set the sequence of events.  This should help us better answer this question.  In Mark 1:21-28 Jesus heals a man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

Upon leaving the Synagogue, he heads to Peter’s house and heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Mark 1:29-31).  After the Sabbath is over Jesus heals many, and spends much of the evening teaching the people.  In verse 34 of Mark chapter 1 it says. Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast our many demons and he did not allow the demons to speak because ???? they new him.

On the morning of the first day of week, Jesus was up before everyone else, as it says in verse 35, up before daylight and He prayed. 

In verse 38 we see that Jesus said to His disciples. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.   Vs. 39: And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.”

What is being described is Jesus first Galilean tour.

But we see in verse 40 that not only was he casting out demons, but he was also healing the lepers.  Here it comes in verse 41.  If you are not looking for it, you will miss it.  What does the verse say about Jesus?   “He was moved by compassion.”  That phrase, He was moved by compassion, or sympathy, sets up everything that happens in the rest of the book of Mark. 

Jesus heals the leper with strict instructions to tell no one how he was cured by Leprosy.  Go to Jerusalem and at the temple go show yourself to the priest and let them pronounce you clean.

The man proclaimed to all the Jesus had healed him. 

This caused Jesus to temporarily cut his work in Galilee short.  Causing him to go to the regions around Galilee that were not influenced so heavily by the Jews. 

Now, as chapter 2 opens, Mark says, “And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that he was in the house. 

Only Mark mentions this detail.  What Mark is saying is the equivalent to staying “Jesus was at home.” 

There is little doubt that this was Peter’s home. Yet I believe Mark had a broader take on this by literally saying “in the house” for Jesus was about to blow the roof off the house, off the of Israel, His home on earth.  Jesus had been teaching and healing among the gentiles that lived on the eastern side of Galilee, and now he has returned to the house of Israel.

We know the story well, Jesus is in the house, the house is packed with religious leaders, and religious authorities all intent upon arguing and finding fault with Jesus. 

In Mark’s account, four strong men come carrying a man on a stretcher that was a Paralytic.

Because they cannot get in to see Jesus, they open a hole in the roof to let this man down to be healed. 

Vs. 5: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son your sins are forgiven you.’”

Before we go on, it is important for us to understand the reasoning, the thinking behind both his disciples, and all the religious authorities who are crowding the room and those who wanted to see Jesus. 

In last weeks sermon we saw this same reference to sickness.  In fact, lets turn to John 9:1, 2 and read it together.

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.

And His disciples asked him saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, and this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

This short passage gives us tremendous insight into Jewish thinking, especially the belief and reasoning of the religious leaders.  Blindness, Leprosy, being paralyzed, deaf, withered hand, or any of the numerous sicknesses and diseases were caused by sin.  But not just sin, your own sin and even the sin of your parents.  Sickness and disease are strictly linked to your personal spiritual condition.  If you are physically sick you are spiritually sick.

Jesus’s answer to the disciple’s question comes in verse 3. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

In Mark 2:5 when Jesus saw the faith of this man and those that let him down through the roof, Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel by saying. “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”  

For the religious leaders, the disciples and anyone else crowed into the house is thinking, “wait, what? Did this man just forgave his sins?”  How can this be?  It is clear to see, this man is in this condition because he is a sinner and not just a sinner but a bad sinner.  And this Man just forgave his sins. 

So, they are all afraid to say out loud what they are all thinking.  They are thinking, VS. 7: “Why does this man speak Blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus perceives in his heart, what these religious leaders are thinking so he responds in verse 9.

Let’s actually start with the last half of verse 8.

“Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’”

What an ingenious way to blow the roof of the house of Israel.  “Which is easier,” he asks, “to say your sins are forgiven you or to say, arise, take up your bed and walk.”

Although they considered it Blasphemy they all knew it was easier to say your sins are forgiven than to command him to take up his bed and walk because taking up his bed and walking was never going to happen because he was such a sinner. 

To command him to take up his bed and walk would take a miracle for him to actually do that, and they all knew that just would not happen because he was a sinner.  So they reasoned, of course, to forgive sins is easier, because there would be no visible sign that forgiveness happened because, well this sinner wasn’t going to walk anytime soon was he.  And this Jesus cannot forgive sins, for he is just a mere man. 

Notice what Jesus says in response to this line of thinking by the people, disciples and religious leaders. 

In verse 5 he specially saw the faith of this man and those who brought him and responded to the needs of the Paralytic by saying, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”

Now watch as Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel. 

He has just asked them the question, “which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk?’

VS. 10: But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” – He said to the paralytic,

VS. 11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed and go to your house.”

VS. 12: Immediately he arose, and took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God saying, “we never saw anything like this.”

Jesus blows the roof off the house of Israel by forgiving sins and then giving the proof that he has the power to forgive sins because he commanded the man to stand up and walk. And as the text says, immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all.

For all that are there, the proof in the fact that this man’s sins are forgiven is that he got up and walked.

Jesus, the Son of Man, the master teacher illustrates what He could not publicly say.  If he had come straight out and said, “Hey I am the Messiah,” the people’s idea of what the Messiah was to do would have gotten in the way of Christ’s actual mission.  Therefore, he illustrated through this paralytic that he was the Messiah and blew the roof of the house of Israel.  He gave them a whole new understanding of who the messiah is and what His mission was about.

In Galatia the Galatian church is struggling.  Because of the Judaizers and their teachings. This is magnified by the fact they are being persecuted because of their refusal to perform the rights of emperor worship. These factors were causing the former pagan now Christians to waver in their decision to follow the gospel of Jesus.  There was danger of them going back to Paganism.

They were in danger of losing their love for Christ.  Paul could now use this illustration and last week’s illustration from John 9 and 10 along with the story from two weeks ago which came from Matthew 11:28-30 to show the Galatian people, that God does indeed love them in that He sent his son, who has the power to give rest and forgive of sins.

“Can you get forgiveness and rest from your pagan gods,” asks Paul? No! Rest and forgiveness come through Christ who called me to be an apostle to proclaim the gospel to the gentiles who with the cast offs of the Jewish faith are called into the one true fold of God.  Because only He can grant rest. Only He can grant forgiveness. Only He can heal us from our infirmities.  And we follow because we hear and know His voice, long for His rest and are in need of His forgiveness.   

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