Sept. 17 – (Ex. 17) The Israelites still have so much of “Egypt” in them. One commentary brought this to light in a way I had not seen before. When the people again quarreled with Moses, he wondered why they continued to test the Lord (vv. 2,7).  They showed a hardness of heart like Pharaoh and the Egyptians, which is how Ps. 95:7-9 describes these events.  Here is the phrase that hit me: “Is the Lord among us or not?”  That really hit home.  When I see things happening that I don’t understand or like in the church, I tend to pretty much ask this very question.  “Lord, forgive me for not trusting you in all things.  I repent. Renew my mind.” 

Sept. 18 – (Ex. 18) It’s interesting to note that God used the names of Moses’ sons to remind him (and Israel) of his time as a sojourner (2:22) in another land and that Yahweh, the God of his father was his help and delivered him from the sword of Pharaoh (3:6-8). I know we don’t usually name our children according to how we are feeling at the moment or what our victories are in the Lord at that time. But we would be wise to do something to remind us of what God has done in our lives.  You might call them memorial stones, but they can take so many shapes. I would love to hear what you plan to do or have done to remind you of God’s work in your life.   

Sept. 19 – (Ex. 19) In verses 4-6, the Lord calls Israel to be faithful to His covenant with them even before He has fully revealed it to them.  God is giving them a choice of trusting or having faith in Him without really knowing what that would look like.  Isn’t that our journey as well?  We have to choose to trust that God will be faithful and work all things for our good and His Glory even when we don’t have the full picture.

                Verse 6 also reminds me that when the Lord calls Israel a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, He is referring to what Israel’s life as a whole is to represent among the nations.  By keeping the covenant (v.5), the people of Israel would continue not only to set themselves apart from the surrounding nations but also to mediate the presence and blessing of the Lord to them (Gen, 12:3; Isa. 61:5-7). When Peter applies these terms to the church (1 Pet. 2:5,9), he is calling believers to faithfulness so that those around them “may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).  Are we not to do the same as we go “From Here to There”? 

Sept. 20 – (Ex. 20) This chapter includes the 10 Commandments. We could write books just to understand what they mean.  I will only make a few statements that have impacted me lately.

1.       “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.”  Pastor Torry reminded us recently that in creation, God “worked” 6 days which included creating Adam on the 6th day. He took the very next day off just to spend time with Adam!

2.       “Honor your father and your mother…  I am reading a book that discusses a man who is working with his mother who has Alzheimer’s. Defining a line that means “honoring” is very difficult and takes God’s wisdom and patience.

3.       …. the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.”  This was the wrong kind of fear.  Verse 20-21 explains what this kind of fear is supposed to accomplish.  God wants a healthy relationship with each of us…individually. He wants us to hear His voice alone.  Yes, it might be through a friend’s words or a pastor’s message but ultimately, He wants us to hear Him for ourselves.  Selah!  

Sept. 21 – (Ex. 21) This is a hard chapter to understand and accept. Some of it stems from our culture and past history.  Let’s seek to understand their times a little better which will help us understand what God wants to tell us through these verses. 

                The word translated “slave” can refer to several types of persons.  Debt was the most common reason that people became slaves.  To employ a poor person as a slave could be an act of kindness because it guaranteed him food, shelter, and a small income.  The security provided by a good employer lead some slaves to choose to remain in that status permanently.  People could not be bought and sold at will, as was the case with the awful slavery practices in the United States for many years.  

                Verses 20-21 provide a general rule relating to cases in which a slave has been severely beaten by his master.  The instruction not to avenge a slave who survives such a beating because “the slave is his money”, relates only to the financial circumstance of the one he serves; it is neither a description of how a slave as a person is to be understood, nor a prescription for how a slave is to be treated.  The expectation for how Israelites were to treat one another (and particularly those who were typically oppressed or overlooked) is indicated in the repeated statements at the end of this section of laws: “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him”. If a sojourner (resident alien) is to be well treated, how much more an Israelite. I hope this helps with your understanding.  

Sept. 22 – (Ex. 22) WOW! This chapter is full of some hard rules. Some of them(again) are due to American thinking.  I will give only one commentary that brought just a little more understanding. Verses 16-17 discusses rules pertaining to a man seducing a virgin.  ESV commentary explains it this way: Although “seduces” probably implies mutual consent, the man must provide for the woman he has seduced, both by marrying her (unless the father utterly refuses) and by paying the “bride-price”, even if the father forbids the marriage.  Since the bride-price was equivalent to several years’ wages, this amounts to a huge fine for premarital intercourse.  Again, WOW!  Our culture certainly doesn’t agree with the definition of the word “seduce” nor follow that rule! What if every guy had to pay several years’ salary for breaking this rule! 

Sept. 23 – (Ex. 23) “You shall not spread a false report.”  This is the very first sentence of this chapter.  A false report can mean several things. Gossip is one of those things. That is all I will say about this verse.

                I will finish this chapter and this week with verses 30-33. “Little by little I will drive them out from before you…  They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” God will renew our minds “little by little” as we choose to allow Him to drive out “the Egyptian idols we allowed in”. That’s how we go from Here to There!