|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #80, 81 AND 82|
9 May, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
The present series of Bible Studies has brought us to the early chapters of the Book of Exodus. On recent programmes, we have been watching, in our imagination, the scene on the slopes of Mount Sinai as Moses was confronted by the Burning Bush which was not consumed. From the midst of that Burning Bush, The Almighty God, the I AM, The Everliving, has been speaking. Moses is commanded to go back to Egypt, and there to confront Pharaoh, in order to demand the release of the children of Israel, whom that Pharaoh was then holding in bondage and hard labour.
Moses has offered four excuses, explaining why the task was beyond him, and to each, God has answered by granting assurances. In answer to Moses question of Exodus 3:11, "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?", God had assured him in the words "Certainly I will be with thee..."
To Moses' protestation that the children of Israel would question the identity and nature of the God Whose message he brought them, and Who was moving to their rescue, The Almighty had answered by identifying Himself as "I AM THAT I AM", The Everliving One.
In answer to Moses' concern that the children of Israel would doubt his credentials as God's representative, messenger and spokesman for their release. God provided the promise of the miraculous signs of the rod turned to become a serpent, the leprous hand returned to health, and the Nile water to be turned to blood.
Answering Moses' argument which centred upon the problem of his inability to speak eloquently, God had spoken the words of Exodus 4:11-12, "...Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say."
To each of the arguments which Moses had raised, God had granted a sufficient answer. That fact should have ended every problem, and having been assured by God's answers, Moses ought now to have agreed to fulfill the assignment.
But Moses continued to speak. He has exhausted his reasonable arguments, by which he had hoped to avert God's assignment. Moses now reveals his true motives in raising those other, seemingly reasonable, objections. He simply doesn't want to accept God's assignment. In Exodus 4:13 we read his words: "And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send."
Do we ever experience that sort of reaction when we discover that The Almighty God is showing us some task to which our steps are being directed? Do we ever say, within our own mind, the same sort of thing as we have just heard Moses say? How many others of God's selection have expressed a similar reluctance, a similar reaction, down through history when first called to such service?
Perhaps we might think of Barak the son of Abinoam, called out of Kedesh-naphtali, by Deborah the Prophetess in Judges 4:8-9 to lead a military action against the Canaanites, but who refused to go unless Deborah herself was willing to accompany him.
In a later generation, the angel of the LORD found Gideon threshing wheat behind the winepress to hide it from the Midianites in Judges 6:11. Gideon's reaction, upon being told that he was to lead the Israelites against those oppressors is found in verse 15: "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house."
In Isaiah 6:5 we read that Prophet's reaction upon encountering the vision of the Lord prior to his commissioning. "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
The reaction of Jeremiah to the word of the LORD is found in Jeremiah 1:6-8:
6. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
The Prophet Ezekiel must have feared his assignment, for God, when giving his assigned task to convey a message to the rebellious children of Israel in captivity, said to him "be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briars and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house."
Perhaps the classic example is the Prophet Jonah. In Jonah 1:1-3, we read:
1. Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
2. Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
3. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.
From Acts 13:13 and 15:37-38 we see that even the young John Mark, who was to author the Gospel of that name, refused at one point to go with Paul to the mission field.
Do we ever feel a similar set of excuses rising to our lips? Do we ever find in our own circumstances a clear challenge to our own conscience, because we know that God is showing us that we ought to say or do something important for Him? I think that most of us will recognize the common expression "Let George do it!" In other words, we might say "I know the job needs to be done, but others (and here, we can supply any number of names) who can do it better are surely available. There must be someone available who is more daring, has more confidence, more talent, more energy, more contacts, more experience, more time, less responsibility in life, or occupies a more advantageous or powerful position through which to accomplish the task with less effort than I would have to apply."
If we have ever felt this way ourselves, we may well be, by now, fully sympathising with Moses at this point in his conversation with God. At eighty years of age, he feels that he has sufficient responsibility in life in his present occupation. He has certain tribal responsibilities, and family responsibilities. He simply must lead the tribal flocks of sheep and goats to find sufficient water and pasture in the wilderness. No doubt just the prospect of going back to the oppression and stress of the cities of Egypt was distasteful enough after forty years in the tranquility of a shepherd's life, let alone having to face the tyrant Pharaoh to demand the release of the captive children of Israel!
To reasonable doubts, God had made full and patient answer. Rebellion against His directive, however, elicits a different response. Verses 14-17 say:
14. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart.
15. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
16. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God.
17. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.
God has spent the past eighty years preparing Moses for this hour. Every trouble, every pressure in life, which Moses has experienced has formed a part of that preparation. Every difficulty, every hard task and challenge of his past life, was now to focus its effect upon this hour of truth.
The Great Plan by which Almighty God was moving to extract His people, the Children of Israel, from Egyptian bondage was to culminate at this moment in the prophesied Exodus. God had designated the exact year of release, the precise time, to Abram centuries before, as we have read in Genesis 15:13-14, and that time had now come. God's purposes were not about to be diverted or cancelled in the exact moment of history when they were designed to unfold through a crisis of activity.
Aaron was approaching even as God spoke to Moses, so God had foreseen even Moses' present reaction, and had prepared the answer for it in advance. The Plan would move forward unhindered by the momentary weakness of His prophet. Finally, Moses will go and all history will gloriously record the result of his going.
18. And Moses went and returned to Jethro his father in law, and said unto him, Let me go, I pray thee, and return unto my brethren which are in Egypt, and see whether they be yet alive. And Jethro said to Moses, Go in peace.
19. And the LORD said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life.
This word of God which Moses now received must have held great assurance for him. He had been sought for murder at the age of forty, in that land of Egypt to which his steps were now once more being directed. It had been that charge which had impelled him to flee to his present abode in Midian. Now, with the passing of a further forty years, matters have changed sufficiently in accordance with God's timing so that God could state to Moses that he would be unchallenged on that old score.
Our time has gone. Let me leave with you the thought that, no matter how weak or incapable we may feel ourselves for God's work, God delights to create magnificent victories which break the pride of the strong by using the Godly commitment of the most unlikely and unassuming people. Let us pick up the challenges of our time knowing that God has not changed.
16 May, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In the present series of Bible Studies we started with God's call to Abram, and we have made our way through Genesis to the early chapters of the Book of Exodus. On recent programmes, we have been watching, in our imagination, the scene on the slopes of Mount Sinai as Moses received his commission at the Burning Bush to return to Egypt and there, to confront the Pharaoh of the oppression and demand the release of the children of Israel.
Moses has tried, and failed, to persuade The Almighty God to send someone else to accomplish this task, but God has selected him, and prepared him for this task. At last, Moses realises that argument with God is no longer possible, so he has, in accordance with normal tribal protocol, requested leave from the tribal chieftain, his father-in-law, Reuel, to make the journey to Egypt as God commands.
20. And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
21. And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go.
22. And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:
23. And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.
We ought, before proceeding, to clarify that reference to Israel being God's firstborn son, for God has here made clear His own relationship to the descendants of Israel. They are, collectively, the firstborn of The Almighty.
Let us digress for a moment to see how this came about. We read in Exodus 29:37 "...whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy." When Abraham laid his son, Isaac, on the altar on Mount Moriah, Isaac and all of Isaac's descendants were thus set apart from the rest of humanity as holy to God's purposes. Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. While Esau was chronologically the eldest by the slightest of margins, Jacob gained the birthright of his elder brother for a bowl of red pottage (Genesis 25:29-34), and the ratification of the senior blessing by Rebekah's direction. Thus Jacob-Israel's descendants now held that special relationship of the firstborn son to The Almighty God.
The next two verses have given some people difficulty, but I think that we may be able to resolve the problem by reference to an earlier passage of scripture. Verses 24 to 26 state:
24. And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
25. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.
26. So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.
Some have questioned that the same God who had for so many years been preparing Moses, and had so recently selected and commissioned him to perform the most demanding of tasks, should here, almost before the journey has begun, seek to kill him. One translator, apparently dubious in this regard, has substituted the term "a Chieftain" in Exodus 4:24 where the original Hebrew contains the word "Yahweh".
However, there is a most important principle at stake here. Apparently on the insistence of his Midianitish father-in-law, Jethro and his wife, Zipporah, Moses has omitted the vital sign of circumcision as the record reveals. The Almighty will not allow His word of command to be flouted, particularly by one designated for so outstanding and significant a commission as Moses is now to perform.
Moses, as the principal agent acting on behalf of, and under the direct command of The Almighty God, is on his way to undertake one of the most significant tasks of all history. It seems almost unbelievable that Moses, at the start of his task, should knowingly and purposefully have avoided performing the essential sign of God's covenant. The Almighty had given strict orders to Abraham, in Genesis 17:9-14. We should carefully review that passage in this context. It states:
9. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
The non-Biblical Book of Jasher, in its Chapter LXXIX, recounts some details of the story which the Bible has omitted, but which bear out this interpretation. There, we read from verses 8 to 12:
8. And Moses rose up to go to Egypt, and he took his wife and sons with him, and he was at an inn in the road, and an angel of God came down, and sought an occasion against him.
9. And he wished to kill him on account of his first born son, because he had not circumcised him, and had transgressed the covenant which the Lord had made with Abraham.
10. For Moses had hearkened to the words of his father-in-law which he had spoken to him, not to circumcise his first born son, therefore he circumcised him not.
11. And Zipporah saw the angel of the Lord seeking an occasion against Moses, and she knew that this thing was owing to his not having circumcised her son Gershom.
12. And Zipporah hastened and took of the sharp rock stones that were there, and she circumcised her son, and delivered her husband and her son from the hand of the angel of the Lord.
Moses had, without authorization, omitted the essential preliminary sign of circumcision, which had been enjoined to all of Abraham's descendants, in order to signify and to establish God's covenant with the people He was about to save. It is thus obvious that the incident formed an essential warning to Moses and also to his wife concerning the strict attitude that Moses must bring to the present task. Moses now knows that God will not allow any part of his commission to be perverted by unauthorised liberties. He will not allow the sin of rebellion against His own express commands to corrupt the service of His selected messenger. Moses must not allow special pleading, even by one so close to him as Zipporah, to override the command of The LORD.
We continue our Bible reading at verse 27.
27. And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.
28. And Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which he had commanded him.
29. And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
30. And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
31. And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.
We should pause at that last statement. The people bowed their heads and worshipped. It was to this end that the Plan of Almighty God had been working through a number of generations. This was the beginning of the release of the children of Israel from bondage; the first step in the process which Moses was to carry forward. Now God's power was to be revealed to a nation of tribes of people who had been aware of no activity by God on their behalf to this moment.
As I have indicated on previous programmes, we of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that today the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples represent the main body of the descendants of these same Israelites of old time. I believe that in our day, the descendants of these same Israelite tribes are to be drawn out from an equivalent bondage to that of their ancestors in Pharaoh's Egypt.
We will not see an Exodus in quite the same fashion, of course, for the geographical distribution of those concerned is not the same. However, there now exists a new form of bondage which grips even more heavily and effectively upon God's people than any ancient Egyptian task-master who abused the children of Israel in old time.
It is an oppressive economic bondage, coupled with a political and a religious resistance to the release of God's people into the freedom of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. I believe that we are yet to experience an Exodus of a different order; one in which the nation is cleansed and purified, and dedicated anew to the service of Almighty God.
We shall leave that meditation with you for today.
23 May, 1993
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
In our present series of Bible Studies, we have, as one of our objectives, the clarification of the course of events recounted in the opening books of the Bible. By this study we seek to lay the groundwork for an informed selection of our own beneficial choices in life, both personal and national, in company with all those who may incline to join us in this pursuit.
In the Scriptures there is recorded the source of life and of the curse of death. Therein is presented the means whereby those who live under the present corrupted system of existence may participate in the great redemptive and salvation activities of The Almighty God which lead, according to His promise, to the joy of His Kingdom, and life eternal.
We began our present series of studies with God calling His selected friend, Abram, from among Adam's seed, to initiate an organized national foundation for God's Kingdom upon earth, and we have seen how God arranged the unfolding development of Abraham's progeny.
The last few programmes have shown us the figure of Moses, now eighty years of age, and tending the sheep of Reuel his father-in-law on the slopes of Sinai where he is confronted with the presence of the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, seen through the symbolic apparition of a bush which burned but was not consumed.
God has demanded that Moses return to Egypt, and has provided answers for his several excuses. As we shall see, there is now developing a series of events marked by confrontation on several levels. This is not surprising as the whole concourse of human history from the first independent decisions by the Satanic following, by Eve and by Adam until the whole of Creation again becomes reconciled to God may be viewed as involving one long sequence of confrontations between Good and Evil. Moses' experiences, then, form one part of that long history.
First, there had been confrontation on the all too human level, wherein Moses must confront his own selfish inclinations and seek to bring his will into accord with that of Yahweh, the God Who had met him in the Burning Bush of Mount Sinai.
Then secondly, there is the confrontation between God's commands now presented by Moses, the designated bearer, and the natural tendency of the Israelitish tribal leaders, already suffering the tyranny of Egypt, to avoid further strife and tension as Moses strives to persuade them concerning the majestic offer of release from their present bondage under Pharaoh.
After this, there is set before Moses the coming confrontation with the implacable faces of Pharaoh himself, and of the well-armed, well-fed taskmasters of Egypt. On casually reviewing the account, the final outcome may seem today to have been a natural, easy, victorious sequence to those of us who read the ancient account, or who, perhaps, have become familiar with the dramatic story from our youthful days in Sunday School.
However, we must always keep in mind the fact that we, in reading history after the sequence of events has arrived at its satisfying conclusion, cannot fully appreciate the prospect at the time, as seen from the standpoint of those who did not know the eventual outcome. For a reader of a later generation it can be all too easy, while holding the record of the final chapter in hand, so to speak, to feel that, as we know how the story ends, so must those who participated in the described events. However, we must ever keep in mind that they did not know the outcome. Therefore, what they resolved was done in faith, not hindsight.
We of the British-Israel-World Federation see the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred world as having descended in literal fact from these same Israelites of Moses' day, so we might try to enter into their feelings more closely, by viewing the present world situation as our modern equivalent to Egypt of their day.
In the place of Egyptian task-masters who forced Israel to build the treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses for Pharaoh (Exodus 1:11), we should then substitute an implacable group of rulers totally unsympathetic to Christian aspirations, who force compliance in the building of a new world order of economic bondage.
The prophetic words of God to Abraham, which were remembered by those Israelites may be seen as equivalent to numerous prophecies in God's Holy Word concerning ourselves in the last days prior to the Second Advent. Moses came among Israel's leaders with a fresh statement of God's concern and promise.
Let us ask ourselves, with this in mind, the following question. Can we view our outcome with the same eye of faith in God's word, as did the Israelites who heard the word of God to Moses, by the mouth of Aaron?
The Israelites had Moses' word that God had made them a promise of victory. But a harsh death must have seemed a dreaded alternative possibility before the eventual outcome would be known in detail. They must have trembled as they were challenged to accompany Moses and Aaron into the very presence of their tyrant persecutor, Pharaoh himself, there to confront the heardened heart and angry fury of this powerful king.
Finally, there is, for Moses, the challenge of confronting the daunting task of shepherding God's people out of their bondage situation in Egypt both geographically to freedom in the dry prospects of the Sinai wilderness, and in a sense, spiritually out of a psychology of defeat and bondage of the mind into the realization of spiritual freedom and new life and power of spirit under the new national regime of God's Kingdom, of which the details were to be presented upon the slopes of Sinai.
We shall pick up today's reading starting with the first verse of Exodus 5.
1. And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
2. And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
Here Moses and Aaron have taken courage in faith, and spoken God's command to Pharaoh. This marks the first occasion in the living memory of most of that generation when such a demand had been spoken. Before this, the terrible oppression had caused a spirit of dejection, and silent defeat in the captives. Now, through Moses and Aaron, God has lifted the voice of freedom, and the tyrant is challenged on behalf of God's people. The sense of thunder and power conveyed by those words must have triggered expressions of great fury by the Egyptian court. But Pharaoh did not recognize the God of the Israelites. The New Bible Commentary (Revised) tells us that Pharaoh's heart was at this point already hardened and God chose not to soften it. Moses and Aaron continue to speak.
3. And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
4. And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
5. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
Angered by hearing these requests, Pharaoh's hardness of heart is demonstrated as he subsequently moves to heighten the pressure of Egyptian oppression upon God's people, to insure that they are utterly absorbed in, and exhausted by, their daily tasks, and are robbed of any remaining free time and energy to revolt.
6. And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7. Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
9. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
10. And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
11. Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
12. So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
13. And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
14. And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?
As we close, I might just make a few comments on that passage. There is today a financial equivalent to Pharaoh's hardness of heart, and his order to make bricks without straw. Today, our people are prevented from creating for their own use any money supply which does not originate as a debt to an international financial Pharaoh.
Taxation for the purpose of repayment to our modern Pharaoh of all past governmental debts and mounting interest charges thereon would soon remove all liquidity from circulation and expose the fraud. To work, the system eventually requires the distribution of further supplies of debt sourced money which causes inflation of the previous supply, so wage-earners and pensioners are consequently robbed of the buying power in their savings and pay cheques and thus of the work-time by which these disappearing funds were earned. Labour demands for commensurate wage increases from resisting employers breed strife.
When no money, outside of that which the lenders distribute, is allowed to circulate, repayments of debt and interest thereon can only be financed through further loans, thus sinking the populace further into debt to the same powers which originally pulled the strings of control over the financial scene. This forms the modern equivalent of telling Israel of old to make bricks without straw.
In light of this, I believe that a governmental leader who pretends to have a solution to the problem of governmental debt while ignoring any reference to the source of all such liquidity is simply not informed, or is seeking the perques and prestige of office through a lying subservience to Pharaoh. The oppression, then, appears much the same as that of ancient Egypt upon the children of Israel. We shall continue our Biblical studies on our next programme.
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