I apologize for the length of this message, but I began writing, and by golly, I had to get it off my chest. I certainly understand if you are unable to read it all in one sitting. But I do hope you can finish it, because each line and each word has a specific message.
For those of you who receive these Morning Messages via email (and if you don’t, send me your email address, and I will add you to the list). you also receive daily links that allow you to read the Bible Chronologically, in one year. I began this about three years ago, and each year I use a different translation. This year we are reading the Bible with the New English Translation (NET).
Currently, we are reading the Exodus story. Now it may interest you to know that the Hebrew name for Exodus is Sh’mot. Sh‘mot means names, and it certainly comes from the fact that the first words of the book begin with “These are the names of the sons of Israel . . .”
Just as a quick refresher, the first five books of the Bible are called in Hebrew, Torah. It means teaching. Some will tell you that it means, Law, but this is a misunderstanding. Now Torah, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, are what God gave to Moses on the Holy Mountain that we call Mt. Sinai. That’s right. Moses received all five books, and not just the ten commandments (or ten words. I will explain that tomorrow).
Genesis is often called the Book of Beginnings — that‘s beginnings ending in an s — plural — several beginnings. In Genesis we are not really told about the beginning of the universe; you know, that time when an incalculably vast nothing became something. Instead, Genesis is about the beginning of the environment God created to sustain humanity. The beginning of that physical and spiritual environment was the first of several beginnings that are told in Genesis.
Exodus is, in many ways, another book of beginnings. And, it is the book of beginnings of a people who God elected and separated from all other people on planet Earth: the Israelites. In other words, although the earth, stars animals, plants, and mankind were all created in the earliest part of the Creation story, Yahweh never finished developing His work with these infants of Creation. He never created them and then just let everything evolve on its own without further molding and shaping.
Exodus is entirely God-centered, and Exodus establishes several important understandings about the nature of the Lord. In Exodus, we learn that there is one God, and His name is Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh. That He is the same God that appeared to the Patriarchs as El Shaddai. He is the Creator of all things, but He is also above and not organically part of the things He created. He is present, and He is near, but His being is not the same substance of any created thing — except, in a small part, for Mankind. Just considering that, should give you a greater wonder and insight into your Father’s being.
This God of Abraham is different than any of the pagan gods. His area of dominion is infinite, his powers are infinite, and yet, He constantly interacts with mere men. In other Words, the God of Israel is deeply involved in human affairs, and, in fact, uses human affairs to achieve a much grander purpose. And, His grand plan involves the establishment of a nation of people that He will rescue, redeem, teach, nurture and discipline. Namely: Israel.
As we enter third division of Exodus, the one Dr. Everett Fox calls Covenant and Law. The Israelites had been out of Egypt for three months. Ahead of them lay a meeting with God that will change not only their existence and identity, but will bring a new dynamic to the whole world.
How can I say that? I say that because Yehoveh was brought Israel out of Egypt in order to meet with Him on Holy Ground — the Mountain of God — to establish a new relationship with the offspring of Jacob. Yehoveh had been preparing Israel for hundreds of years, step by step, for this momentous event. He had created a separate people through Jacob, allowed them to wander in a land that was not their own. Then they sojourned and became an enormous nation in a land that eventually enslaved them, and finally their God rescued them from the hand of their oppressors.
Yahweh even allowed them to witness great miracles of deliverance. Through those miracles, He was demonstrating that Israel was a set-apart people — or as the Bible puts it, God makes a distinction between Israel and everyone else.
Yehoveh personally led Israel with His visible presence through the desert wilderness; He fed them and gave them water through supernatural means; He fought for them and defeated their enemy, Amalek, in a battle. As a result of all that God had done for them, do you think that Israel really changed very much in the three months since leaving Egypt? Yes and no.
Yes, in the sense that they were now fully aware that the power of Yehoveh had no bounds (which was contrary to the normal mindset of other nations). And, that Moses was His chosen man to lead Israel. They now also held a healthy fear of their God!
No, in the sense that their faith in Yehoveh was still miniscule. They still did not understand that Yehoveh was not just the only God of Israel, but was the only god, period! Nor did they even remotely grasp the Holiness of El Shaddai — The God Most High.
Early in Exodus we are introduced to the principal of Passover. The first Passover was that great and dreadful night when God sent the final plague on Egypt that caused Pharaoh to loosen his grip on God‘s people. That plague resulted in the death of every firstborn child throughout Egypt. However, anyone who followed Yahweh’s instruction to paint the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a lamb, death would pass by.
What I‘m saying is that all of Egypt was under a death penalty for their rebellion against Yahweh. But, He made provision for those, and those alone, who trusted Him. And, that provision was by means of the blood of an innocent lamb. Through that blood, and that alone, they would be saved.
Here, in Exodus, we cannot have a more accurate picture in the entire Bible for the purpose of the future Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus the Christ. Please notice that this deliverance was not only for the people of Israel. The instructions were that if anyone painted that blood on their doorposts, they would receive deliverance. And, even if they were an Israeli, if they failed to paint their door posts, they would be judged.
So the judgment was not based on who they were — but on whether they took advantage of God‘s offer of salvation. The judgment was based on the sacrifice and the painting of the shed blood. Yet still today, people argue that a “loving God” would never condemn an entire human race.
Well, Jesus told us that He did not come to judge mankind, it was already under judgment, He came so they could have life! Just like the people of Egypt who painted their doorposts! If they chose not to paint the blood on the doorpost, then the responsibility of judgment lies in their hands.
If you continue to read Exodus, you will be introduced to a New Covenant. Don‘t let that pass by you . . . if you were paying attention to what I just said, your ears probably perked up, and now you are thinking “What? What did he just say? Exodus, New Covenant?”
Yeah well, terminology has an enormous impact on the way we perceive new information, doesn’t it? I can almost guarantee that you were taught that the Bible has two main divisions called the Old Testament and the New Testament. Sadly, many Christians still hold to the premise that there was an original set of rules and laws handed down, which was eventually replaced by a new and better set called the New Testament. And, as Gentile Evangelical Christians, we were led to believe that there is no reason to know more about the Bible than we can find in the New Testament.
If you have hung around my teachings for any amount of time, you must know that the Old Testament is not simply an ancient history, or a curiosity that only scholars and academics — and people with lots of time on their hands — would find interesting.
I have been studying this for over several years. And as you can probably tell, I have become quite passionate about it. So by now, you should understand that most of the spiritual principles that we ascribe as originating in the New Testament were already in operation in the old.
I noted above that Bible scholar, Everett Fox, sees six divisions within the book of Exodus. There is the Deliverance Narrative. The Wilderness Experience. The Covenant and Law. The Plan of the Wilderness Tabernacle. Then the fifth division is where the people construct a Golden Calf. This division of Exodus Dr. Fox calls, appropriately enough, Infidelity and Reconciliation. The sixth and final division of Exodus concerns the Building of the Tabernacle, where Yahweh enters and lives in the divine structure. As you can tell, the Book of Exodus, amazes me!
I don‘t think Dr. Fox was intending to make any analogies when he, appropriately I believe, divided up Exodus. But, it does give us an interesting tool to look at how God works, and it helps us to visualize patterns that our God uses to develop His followers throughout the Bible.
In fact, I believe that we see this same God-pattern emerge in our lives as Believers. When we first come to the Lord, we have deliverance. Then we begin a “journey,” where we begin to learn about our Lord and how He works in our lives.
Many of us experience our own “wilderness experience.” This is where we receive the covenant and law (Torah, the Living Word). He begins His preparation of the tabernacle (us) that God (the Holy Spirit) will live with us. Followed by our inevitable infidelity against God due to the evil inclinations that are still part of who we are. Then we discover the benefits of His gracious provision for reconciliation! Then comes the completion and perfection of the tabernacle that is yet to come.
Yesterday, we read chapters nineteen through twenty-one of Exodus. The significance in chapter nineteen is that it is the beginning of Fox’s third section of Exodus. Here, Israel has arrived at the foot of the Holy Mountain, and Moses began to climb. Once he reaches to top, Yahweh doesn’t waste any time and immediately tells Moses that He has a message for the people of Jacob, of Israel,
First, you have not reached this place because of anything you did. I stuck the Egyptians for your sake, I carried you to this spot, and now I bring you to Myself because I chose to do it.
Secondly, If . . . If . . . you will hear, accept, and follow the New Covenant I am about to give you, then you will become My own possession, my own precious treasure.
Third, If . . . If . . . you follow this New Covenant, then your God will consider you a kingdom of priests, and a sanctified. A Holy group of people.
Notice I said New Covenant. This covenant, what we generally term The Law or the Mosaic Covenant, was indeed going to be a new covenant.
The covenant Israel was operating under at that moment was the Abrahamic covenant. That covenant promised them their own special land and that they would grow into enormous numbers; that through them, the whole world would be blessed, and Israel would be exceedingly fruitful.
This new covenant they were about to receive was never meant to abolish the older covenant. The covenant on Mt. Sinai never replaced the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham, about 600 years earlier. He never said, “in place of giving you a promise for a land of your own, I‘m going to give you My Law.” No, no, no! The newer covenant the Hebrews were about to receive was for a different purpose than the older one. They were complementary, working hand-in-glove. One covenant was give, and then added to, with a new covenant.
This is one reason I dislike applying the term New Covenant to the covenant of Yeshua HaMashiach. In our Gentile mindset, we imagine that once we have a new covenant, then the older one becomes obsolete, abolished, replaced. Not true.
Certainly in the Covenant that is Christ, some elements are transformed from being shadows or types of a future reality, into the higher essence they were pointing to.
Let me explain what I mean. The sacrificial system using animal blood to atone for sin, was transformed into its fullest essence with Yeshua. His blood being the real blood that was being pointed to by the animal sacrifices. The sacrifice of Yeshua was the last and final sacrifice for atonement of sins that would ever be needed.
The Sacrificial system did not end, and it did not change, either. Instead, it was transformed! Blood of an Innocent was still required to atone for sin. So, each time we, in faith, count on the blood of Christ as already having atoned for our sins, we are fulfilling the point and purpose and spirit of the sacrificial system.
Think about it. We buy new models of computers and cars because the new models have features and capabilities that older models do not have. As our knowledge and technology advances, we have the ability to make the things we create better, more useful, more complete.
This is our way. However, this is not the way Yahweh’s covenants work. He did never created a primitive, low-tech covenant with Abraham and then created a more advanced, next generation covenant with more features in the Mosaic Covenant. You know, because our God’s vision and capabilities grew, He was able to create an even zippier covenant with all the bells and whistles in the New Covenant that is Christ. No! Each and every one of these covenants were created, and remain, perfect and intact for the purpose Yahweh intends for each of them.
Oh, certainly, some parts of each of the covenants are aging, as Paul says in Hebrews 8:13. For instance, in the Abrahamic Covenant, Israel was promised a land of their own, and now they have it (never to be ejected from it again, by the way). And, Abraham‘s descendants have indeed blessed the Gentile world as well as the Hebrew world.
In the Mosaic Covenant, the purpose of the sacrificial system has been brought to fruition in Yeshua‘s death. But, the purpose of the Law in showing men what Yahweh‘s principles and attributes and morals are, and what pleases and displeases Him will go on until at least the Millennial Kingdom.
Let me give you a very short analogy. When you build a house, it has several basic components. You start with ground preparation, then a cement slab, the framed walls, then a roof, and then siding, drywall, and on and on.
Now, if you prepared the ground and poured the slab and completed that portion of the job, does it mean that the slab and its purpose is dead and gone? Of course not.
Now that is it laid, the slab doesn’t become obsolete just because its use and purpose has been completed in the order of building a house! The entire house can now be built on that slab that has been prepared to carry the load that will be built on it. If you dissolve the slab, there is no way to build and complete the house. That is how it is with God‘s covenants — they were all necessary, and they are all still necessary.
In Exodus 19, it says “Moses went up the mountain to Elohim, and Yahweh called to him from the mountain.” Moses was instructed to take the message he received from Yahweh to the people. So Moses went down the mountain and said, “You have seen for yourselves what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to my mountain. If you carefully obey me and are faithful to the terms of my promise, then out of all the nations you will be my special possession. Even though the whole world is mine, you will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.”
Wow! So each person heard Yahweh’s words and had to respond. This is another important God-pattern established. Yahweh makes us aware of His presence. Then He asks the question: “Will you listen, obey and follow Me?” Third, if we respond yes, then He enters into a relationship with us and begins to acquaint us with His will for our lives.
However, if we respond with “No,” the conversation is over — maybe just for now, but maybe forever. My point is that in the past, Yahweh gave Moses and Israel His will for them, through the Mosaic Covenant. He first told Moses to go to the people, and based on what little they knew of Yahweh, at least to the point of their experience, asked them if they would listen and obey.
Since they said, “Yes,” He laid out His will for them. It is the same procedure for us with Christ. We are made aware of His presence, which is then followed by His offer to be our Lord. If we choose, of our own free-will to say, “Yes,” He will enter into a relationship with us and guides us according to the Father‘s will.
So tell me, why would anyone think that the principle of entering into a relationship with Yehoveh would be different for us today, then it was for Israel, at Mt. Sinai, a mere 3400 years ago? Time is irrelevant to God. Isn’t this the eternal, unchanging God we are dealing with, here?
Yahweh never created these Divine patterns and plans, enacted them and recorded them in the Torah just to change everything up on us at a later time. Yes, I realize that some Christian leaders and teachers tell you that is exactly what He did! But if we follow that teaching, then He must have created a bait and switch, or He gave us a defective and inferior offer the first time and had to replace it with a better one. If that is the character of Yehoveh, couldn’t He then also rescind and abolish the covenant that He made through Christ? Then, where would that leave us?
Thankfully, that isn’t the case, but it is time the Church realized that, and realized that the Torah and the Old Testament carry just as much weight as it always had. Jesus taught that no element, not the slightest, had been removed from the Torah with His advent. He also said that those who taught that some elements were removed were to be considered least in the kingdom of Heaven! And, those who taught that God‘s word, all of it, remains as long as heaven and earth exist will be greatest in the kingdom of Heaven! So, let‘s follow Christ‘s directive and get back to Torah and rediscover so many teachings and aspects of God that have been thrown out and replaced with man-made doctrines over the centuries.
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With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.