Showing posts with label Hebrew people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hebrew people. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Praying for God to stay close

Background: Wandering in the wilderness between slavery and redemption, the Hebrew people praised God and complained, obeyed God and disobeyed, and showed great faith and lack of faith. When asked to make the Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting and Ark of the Covenant, which held the commandments God had given them through Moses, the people brought so many offerings that they had to be asked to stop giving!

After the elaborate Tabernacle had been completed, the people would stand and watch while Moses entered the tent and the pillar of cloud descended. As the LORD spoke to Moses, his whole countenance would shine with such a glow that he had to cover his face with a veil to keep from scaring the people!

Moses did not see the face of God, but he saw the glory of God when he prayed for the Holy Presence to stay close beside him and the people:

Then Moses said to the LORD, “Now, therefore, I pray that if I have found favor in Your sight, You will show me Your way so I might know You and find grace in Your sight. Remember, too, that this nation is Your people.”

“And God answered, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

“Then Moses said to God, 'If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from this place. For how will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight unless You go with us? We shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people on the face of the earth.’

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do what you have asked for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.’

“Then Moses prayed, ‘Please show me Your glory.’

“And God said, ‘I will make My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But you cannot see My face for no one can see Me and live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Stand here beside Me in this place on the rock, and when My glory passes by, I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand,”
Exodus 33:13-22.

Questions: In what way has the goodness of God passed before you, enabling you to see, hear, or feel your closeness to the Holy Presence? Have you found a church or synagogue where that Presence lifts you into praise and worship? What does the word of God that came through Moses and the Prophets and other spirit-filled writers mean to you? How would you describe the Glory of God?

Prayer: Dear LORD God and Heavenly Father, as Pentecost approaches, we pray for You to draw close to us and help us to draw close to You. Empower and bless all of Your people with the coming of Your Holy Spirit on this holy day and season of Pentecost.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you share this with your church, synagogue, or Bible study group, please let everyone know where to find the site. For other articles and devotionals on Bible topics and various aspects of writing, follow postings on The Word Center or visit Blogs by Mary. Thanks.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Praying in the Wilderness

Background: Empowered by Almighty God, Moses and Aaron rescued the Hebrew people from the power of Pharaoh, leading them out of Egype and into freedom. Pharaoh pursued them into the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds) where he and his army perished while the people of God stayed safe.

Throughout this spiritual battle, God remained faithful to every promise, every word, every warning given to Moses.

God gave the plan of escape.
God provided.
God guided.
God encouraged.
God empowered
God protected.

Then the enormous crowd – perhaps in the millions – found themselves far from the only homes and lives they had known in a desert where all of their gold and precious jewelry did them no good. They were free! Yet they knew nothing of freedom. They were no longer under the protection and power of Pharaoh, but of God. Yet they knew little about the LORD. And they were thirsty.

“For three days, the people traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to an oasis, the water was too bitter to drink, so they called the place Marah (which means ‘bitter.’)

“Then the people turned against Moses, complaining and crying, ‘What are we going to drink?’

“Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses cast the wood into the water, and the water became sweet and good to drink.

“There at Marah the LORD made a rule and law for the people to live by and to show their loyalty. And God said, ‘If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in God’s sight, obeying the commands and decrees of the LORD, then I will put on you none of the diseases brought onto the Egyptians, for I Am the LORD Who heals you.’

“Then the people traveled on to Elim, which had twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and the people camped near the water,”
Exodus 15:22-27.

Questions: Have you ever had to go three days without water? Would being in the desert make such a trial even more difficult? Did God know where water was? Did God know where the people were? Why do you think the LORD withheld a basic necessity? Is it possible that God was trying to train the people to pray at the first hint of a problem? Did they know to do that? Did Moses? Do we?

Prayer: Dear LORD God, forgive me for complaining about problems instead of immediately turning to You in prayer. Help me to remember Your goodness. Thank You for guiding, encouraging, providing, and protecting me every day.

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If you share this with your Bible study group or anyone else, please let them know where to find this site. For other Bible topics, follow Blogs by Mary. Thanks. And may the LORD God bless every problem with a prayer.


Friday, April 6, 2012

The Passover in Exodus prefigures the Passover Lamb of Christ

Background and foreground: God and Moses came to an agreement that, yes, he would lead the people out of slavery in Egypt, and, yes, Aaron would help. The two brothers from the Tribe of Levi then told the Hebrew people how God would rescue them, and they believed it, but Pharaoh did not. He said, “Who is God that I should obey? I do not know the LORD,” Exodus 5:2.

So instead of letting the people go as hoped, Pharaoh increased the workload, making brickmaking impossible to do in the time given! When the Hebrews cried out to Moses, Moses cried out to God.

“And Moses said, ‘O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You even send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done nothing but harm everyone, and You have not delivered Your people at all,”
Exodus 5:22-23.

Harsh words! But then it was a cruel time as Pharaoh continued to use a strong hand to force the people into harsh labor. And so God said, “Now you will see what I will do to put Pharaoh under My strong hand until he is forced to let My people go!” Exodus 6:1.

The next few chapters bring on The Plagues! These were not just pesky critters aimlessly getting in Pharaoh’s face though. Each plague battled one of the many gods in which Pharaoh (and, perhaps, the Hebrew people) believed. So this was spiritual warfare! This was combat in heavenly places – combat that had never before been seen with such power and passion as would not be seen again with such strength until the Passion of Christ.

For each skirmish with the gods of Pharaoh, God told Moses and Aaron exactly what to expect and what to do, and they obeyed. During the plagues, Pharaoh repented and asked Moses to intercede for him in prayer, which Moses did, but the Egyptian ruler still did not let the people go!

The Egyptian people, however, were more than ready for the Hebrews to leave! So just as God said would happen, they gave the Israelites more than enough clothing, gold, and other supplies to hurry them along in their travels.

Before the last plague showed God’s power over life and death, the LORD told Moses and Aaron to prepare a Passover lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread to eat in haste. They were also to use blood drained from the lamb to paint the frames of their doors.

And God said, “This is the LORD’S Passover for I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments for I am the LORD. And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live, and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you or destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. And this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD. Throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as an ordinance forever,” Exodus 12:11-15.

Questions: But, what about today? Does this ordinance remain in effect? Did Jesus celebrate Passover? Do we?

“And on the first day of the (seven-day) Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for You to eat the Passover?’ ” Matthew 26:17.

Jesus told the disciples exactly what to expect and what to do, and they found everything just as he said.

“And as they were eating the Passover meal, Jesus took the unleavened bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat. This is my body.’ Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins,” Matthew 26:26-28.

Jesus became the bread and wine for the Passover Feast that Christians celebrate as the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus became the sacrificial Passover Lamb whose blood covers the doorframe.

Jesus the Christ became the Door through which we safely go, between life and death, between heaven and earth.

Prayer: Praise You Heavenly Father for loving us so much you gave Your Firstborn Son as our Passover Lamb. Praise You, God, for Your power, forgiveness, strength, and love forever.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved. If you share this with your church, synagogue, or Bible study group, please let everyone know where to find the site. Thanks, and may God bless our Passover Feast each day of this Holy Week.