I am not a Greek, Aramaic, or Hebrew expert. I wish that i was, and someday i may become those, but today is not one of them. The nice thing is though that i have studied under people who are, and i have learned a great deal as a result.
One of the principles that i have learned from and really grasped into my life is a better understanding of this concept of “You shall”: “You shall have no other gods before me.” “You shall not make for yourself an idol…” “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God (YHWH-Elohim) in vain.” When you read those words, “You shall”, what does it mean to you? Chances are, if you are like most people, you see “You shall” as a command. It begins the 10 commandments and it is God telling us that we have to do something. While that is not incorrect, neither is that an accurate understanding.
This is one of those easily misunderstood things that once you have a grasp of it, can change your whole outlook on something. The words “You shall have” here is יהיה (hâyâh). Strong’s concordance says, “…to exist, that is, be or become, come to pass…”. So what does that mean for us? It means that this is not simply a command; it is a promise. This WILL come to pass! It is something that we are to do, but when we pursue and surrender to God, this is also a promise to/for us. So this promise is not just “Don’t have any other god’s before me!” It’s also, “Don’t worry, you won’t have any other gods before me.”
Isn’t that beautiful! It’s not only the 10 commands, but it’s also the 10 promises! That’s what our relationship is like with God. Yes, He gives us commands to follow! Yes, we have rules we have to obey; but as time goes by and we pursue Him, these are things that He promises us will no longer be rules and regulations, they will also be a part of who we are. They go from external instruction to internal drives and motivation. We have a promise! …that this is who we are to become! …and i love it!
There are still many times that i struggle and sin. There are still times that i mess up, screw up, and fail. I have struggled with the concept of repentance, and i need God’s help to get to that place. Part of these big 10 promises is learning to accept and acknowledge that we fail and we sin. Understand, i am not some expert in this. I am just as messed up and flawed in this as so many others. I need to repent of my sins and stand on these promises as who i am in the process of becoming. I need the prayer and help.
Rev. John J. Camiolo Jr.
I split this chapter at the end of verse 27 due to the length of chapter overall. Thus the first verse in today’s work was 28; “Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD (YHWH) had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” (NASB) Opening this section with this verse really struck me. If there is one thing that i have learned about the Hebrew people through most of the old testament, it’s that they didn’t like doing what they were told. They tended to be very stubborn people who took a whole lot of convincing to get them to follow simple instructions sometimes. Even when they did follow directions, many times it also involved grumbling and complaining. This was especially true of this particular generation. Once they go out into the wilderness, Moses has all kinds of problems with them. So much so that, apart from two people, none of them is allowed to actually enter the promised land.
Yet here we see a simple statement of profound importance. “Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the LORD (YHWH) had commanded…” This and similar statements are made three times in this second half of Exodus 12 (vs. 28, 35, & 50). Why is simple obedience such a difficult thing to do? I know that the Hebrew people are not the only ones that have that difficulty. Pharaoh had the same problem… and so do I. I know that it would be better to do things God’s way. I know that it would make my life better and easier. I know that i can trust Him even when i don’t understand. Yet time and time again the choice i make is the wrong one. Then, i have the gall to get upset when things don’t go the way i expect them to. I just don’t get it sometimes.
This section is where the exodus of the Hebrew people really begins. The final miracle occurs; the firstborn of everyone from Pharaoh’s household to the prisoners in the dungeon lost their lives. Pharaoh and the people of Egypt “urged” the Israelites to leave. So exactly 430 years to the day after Israel and his family came to Egypt, the LORD (YHWH) brings them out again.
It is almost time. It is here. The passover is truly the most important festival for the Jewish people. It is about reprimand, redemption, & rescue. It is about reprimand in that the angel of death would come and take payment for the sins of the people. It is about rescue in that the Hebrew people would be rescued from the Egyptian in their slavery, as well as being rescued from the angel of death by the passover lamb’s blood painted on the door posts and lintel. It is about redemption in that the Jewish people are ultimately redeemed from slavery and from sin.
The Passover lamb is a prophetic representation of the work Christ would do and his purpose in rescuing and redeeming all people. His purpose is to draw all men unto Himself.
This first part of this chapter is all about getting the people prepared for what is about to happen. With every other plague, God tells Moses to talk to Pharaoh and give him a command from God. At this time, all of that begins to mean something more because God starts preparing the people to leave. It’s nice to hear that YHWH is going to bring them out. It is something else entirely when YHWH says, “It’s time! Let’s get prepared to move out.” Now that plan is beginning to come to fruition.
What about us? Are we living as if our sins have been removed as far away as the east is from the west? Are we celebrating God’s passing over our lives in destruction?
Every time i read this i see the parallels throughout history; Pharaoh has the Israelite babies killed because the Israelites are becoming too numerous and they might hinder his prosperity. When the people of Israel entered the promised land and did not remove all of the inhabitants the worship of Molech continued. As a result, the Israelites began sacrificing their firstborn child to Molech so that they would be blessed with prosperity. King Herod had all of the newborns from the town of Bethlehem killed because one of them was to be a king which would affect him and his prosperity. Today it is acceptable for people the world over to kill off our own baby if it’s life is going to be an inconvenience to its mother. …if it’s life might hinder the mother’s chance for “prosperity”.
There are other instances of this in history as well. It really makes me wonder; are we fighting new battles, or are they the same old battles with the same old enemy just expressed in a new way? Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
When we are fighting for the lives of our children, who is the battle really against? Is it against those people who would take the lives of our children for a profit? Is it against those who would choose to end their child’s lives because their child is an inconvenience to their own life? Or is the battle much more than that? Are we battling against flesh and blood, or are we battling against spiritual forces that have been waging this war for millennia? Is this a war about “choice” or is it much deeper than that? If it is a deeper level battle, then what?
Well, everything begins changing for Joseph at this point. He has been a slave in his master’s house. Then he was put into prison for a crime he didn’t commit, he remained faithful and did an amazing job while being a prisoner. He worked for the chief of the prison and helped out those who were placed there. Even then he was ignored and forgotten. It has been two years since he helped out the chief cup-bearer and chief baker through their dream interpretations. Now everything changes rather quickly.
Pharaoh has a pair of bad dreams, and no one can tell him what they mean. Finally the cup-bearer comes forward and says, “there was this young Hebrew man who told me my dream.” So Pharaoh sends for him and Joseph tells him that the interpretations come from the God who gave him the dreams, so tell them to Joseph and he will see what he can tell him. All that hard work and faithfulness pays off, God answers, and Joseph is about to have a life change.
How long are we willing to wait for God? Do we get frustrated and just give up when things just don’t go our way? Do we feel abandoned when instead of blessing us, it seems like God just puts us through more and more trials? Do we feel like it doesn’t really matter whether we do the right thing or not because either way we are getting screwed? Just because it takes time for the seed to grow, sprout, bud, flower, and come to fruition doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan for us. It just means, that His timing is much different from ours.
The fruition of his faithfulness, hard work, and honesty in the face of great trials leads him to this very moment and time… and what happens in the second half of this chapter; tomorrow.