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Exodus 5–35

 

April 7 – Two Lessons

Read Exodus 5

The moment of truth has arrived.  Moses and Aaron appear before Pharaoh with Jehovah’s command, “Let my people go.”  They a ramification to their request: “lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword” (v. 3c).  Calvin suggests that “the threatening, which they added, admonishes Pharaoh that his rebellion would not be unpunished…for if [God] would take vengeance on the people which was retained against their will, how could he escape with impunity, who professedly entered into contention with God?”  Defiant Pharaoh only increases the Israelites’ burden.  They blame Moses and Aaron for their trouble, and Moses cries to the Lord in dismay.  Moses has a lesson to learn: the way of obedience is not an easy path to earthly happiness or success.  Has Jehovah taught you that lesson?

There is second lesson in this passage.  Israel’s bondage in Egypt typifies our bondage to sin.  Sometimes, when God’s word confronts us in our sinfulness, our misery seems only more unbearable and inescapable than it did before.  In that way Jehovah teaches us that “only a divine Savior” will be able to rescue us (Reformation Heritage Study Bible).  Is that the sort of mediator and deliverer you seek?

Sing or pray Psalter #290:1–7.

 

April 8 – “I Will Redeem You”

Read Exodus 6

Jehovah reiterates his covenant promises in Exodus 6:1–8.  Moses brings that word of God to the children of Israel, but they are “not all Israel, which are of Israel” (Rom. 9:6).  And so “they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.”  Some like them remain in the church today.  Like stony soil receiving seed, they hear God’s word with gladness, but “when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:17).

Jehovah also reaffirms Moses’ appointment as his representative in this chapter.  As at the burning bush, Moses attempts to evade his calling (vv. 12 and 30).  Moses recognized that he was unfit for his commission, and he was right.  Verses 14–27 trace the genealogy of the three sons whom Jacob rebuked on his deathbed (Gen 49:3–7) and end with “that Moses and Aaron” (v. 26).  The “base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen…that no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Cor. 1:28–29).  Jehovah used weakest means to fulfill his will, for he alone would redeem (“redeem” is used for the first time in Exodus 6:6) his people with a strong hand and outstretched arm.

Sing or pray Psalter #211.

 

April 9 – A Two-Fold Purpose and the First Plague

Read Exodus 7

In Exodus 7:3a Jehovah echoes his words from Exodus 4:21: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.”  Yet throughout the following chapters we will also read that Pharaoh hardens his own heart.  Thus the inexplicable reality of God’s sovereignty and man’s accountability.  “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” (Prov. 21:1),” but “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13b).  God is not the author of evil, but why does he permit it?  He has a two-fold purpose.  First, he desires the salvation of his people.  Secondly, he wills that even “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord” (v. 5a).

Then Jehovah through Moses sends the first of the ten plagues, which come in three cycles of three, followed by the final plague.  In the morning Moses awaits Pharaoh at the river’s brink, and before Pharaoh’s eyes Moses turns his idol god, the life-giving water of the Nile River, into blood.  Now the riverbed that was the grave of so many Israelite baby boys literally ran with blood.

Sing or pray Psalter #308.

 

April 10 – An Amphibian Army

Read Exodus 8

In the third plague, unannounced flocks of lice, Jehovah again chooses the weak things of the world to confound the mighty.  Previously Pharaoh’s wise men had been able to imitate the wonders worked through Moses and Aaron, although they had not been able to save from God’s judgements.  Then God sends swarms of flies.  From this fourth plague on he clearly divides between his enemies and his redeemed: there are no flies in the land of Goshen.  But first Exodus 8 recounts the second plague.

A group of sheep is a flock; wolves live in packs.  Do you know which collective noun refers to a group of frogs?  A group of frogs is called an army.  God deploys an army of frogs in the second plague.  The Egyptian goddess of fertility was symbolized by a frog.  Suddenly frogs overrun homes, beds, and ovens.  When Moses intercedes, God removes his amphibian army.  (None could argue that the frogs appeared and “croaked” due to environmental causes, for the frogs living in their natural habitat along the river didn’t die.)  Then Egypt reeked of rotting flesh.

What idols are you prone to worship?  Can you think of a time when Jehovah made you loathe what you formerly thought ensured your happiness?

Sing or pray Psalter #213:1–4.

 

April 11 – Jehovah’s Power Displayed

Read Exodus 9

In plagues five and six God exposes two more of the Egyptian’s gods as helpless idols.  Their god represented by a bull or cow couldn’t spare their herds from his “grievous murrain.”  Their goddess of war and healing was unable to save her worshippers from the boils that covered them from head to foot, inflaming their legs and knees so that they were unable to stand (Deut. 28:27, 35).  But the most grievous plague noted in Exodus 9 was invisible to the human eye.  That plague was Jehovah’s hardening of the hearts of Pharaoh, his servants, and many of his people.  But even among the Egyptians some feared the word of the Lord.  Those who by grace resorted to the shelter of the Most High were spared his fury just as their livestock were spared the deadly hail of the seventh plague.

That inward plague accomplished a two-fold purpose.  It not only hardened those so appointed to their destruction: it also demonstrated God’s power.  To those who take counsel against the Lord and his anointed comes the declaration originally made to Pharaoh: “For this cause have I raised thee up…that my named may be declared throughout all the earth” (v. 16).

Sing or pray Psalter #253.

 

April 12 – Tell Your Son

Read Exodus 10

Among the people to whom Jehovah’s glory must be declared were the little children of Israel, those already born and those yet to be born.  In Exodus 10:1–2 Jehovah declares, “I have hardened [Pharaoh’s] heart, and the heart of his servants…that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them.”  Again he commands his people to instruct their children regarding their great deliverance in Exodus 12:26–27 and Exodus 13:8, 14–16.

Do you diligently teach your children of the great salvation that God has wrought when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up?  Do you make time to answer their questions?  (In Exodus 12:26–27 and Exodus 13:14–18 the instruction of the children takes place in response to their questions.)  Do not hide from them the glorious deeds of the Lord, his might, and the wonders that he has done. “So that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:8).

Sing or pray Psalter #212.

 

April 13 – From Rags to Riches

Read Exodus 11

In the final verse of Exodus 10, Pharaoh commands Moses to leave and see his face no more.  Moses agrees, but before he departs in great anger, he announces the tenth and final plague.  He also foretells the haste in which the children of Israel would suddenly depart: they would be thrust out, and as they went the Egyptians would lade them with silver, gold, and costly apparel.  The people who had been slaves would shortly be decked with jewels.  What a beautiful picture of Christ’s church, the bride brought out of bondage and adorned with all the riches of salvation.

At the burning bush, Jehovah foretold that his people would spoil the Egyptians.  He gave this command concerning the jewels and clothing that would so suddenly be theirs: “Ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters” (Ex. 3:22).  What a beautiful picture that salvation belongs not only to believers but to their children also.

Sing or pray Psalter #124:1,2, and 9.

 

April 14 – The Home-born and the Stranger

Read Exodus 12

In Exodus 12 Jehovah smites all the firstborn of Egypt, and the Israelites triumphantly depart.  The chapter also contains further instruction regarding the celebration of Passover.  All the congregation of Israel were to keep the feast, including the slaves.  No uncircumcised foreigner could partake, but if a foreigner desired to join the celebration of Israel’s deliverance, he was permitted to do so once he and all the males in his household were circumcised.  The feast was to be eaten within one’s home: no food could be carried out the door.

Those rules are not unnecessarily strict.  Rather, each pictures a glorious aspect of our salvation.  In Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free” (Gal. 3:28).  In him we “are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands” (Col. 2:11).  He is the door.  All who enter through him “shall be saved” (John 10:9), never again to hunger or thirst, for his “house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Is. 56:7).

Sing or pray Psalter #199.

 

April 15 – The Firstborn Redeemer

Read Exodus 13

In Numbers 3:13 Jehovah declares, “On the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast.”  Those firstborn were representative of the entire nation of Israel, whom Jehovah calls his firstborn in Exodus 4:22.  He set them apart as his peculiar and holy treasure (Ex. 19:5–6).  In Exodus 13 he gives Moses instruction regarding the redemption of the firstborn.  Firstborn animals were to be sacrificed to him, and firstborn children were to be redeemed by a sacrificed animal.

Again, all these Old Testament laws were fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Our Savior is the firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:15), the firstborn of Mary (Luke 2:7), the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18), and the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).  Those many brethren are the true “Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), who comprise “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:23).  “These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb” (Rev. 14:4).

Sing or pray Psalter #243:1–5.

 

April 16 – A God-Directed Path

Read Exodus 14

The Lord himself led the Israelites out of Egypt and toward the promised land.  The pillar of cloud and fire did not guide them along the most direct route to Canaan, however.  Instead of journeying north and east, the Israelites traveled south.  Soon Pharaoh and his army pursued them, and the terrified Hebrews were hemmed in by the Red Sea and the wilderness mountains.  But Jehovah’s thoughts toward them were thoughts of peace, and not of evil (Jer. 29:11).  The very circumstance they thought would result in their destruction was the means by which he saved them and destroyed their enemies.  Even the Egyptians acknowledged that Jehovah fought for his people (v. 25).  All Israel had to do was hold their peace (v. 14).

Jehovah stills leads his people in ways that don’t seem good.  You might wonder, “Why this vocation, Lord?” or “Why this trial?”  No doubt many Israelites wondered why they had to march between walls of water in the dead of night.  But they did so by faith (Heb. 11:29).  Likewise, we walk faith and not by sight, trusting that just as the angel of God went before and behind the Israelites, so he surrounds us today, lighting our path with his word.

Sing or pray Psalter #292.

 

April 17 – A Song of Celebration

Read Exodus 15

Moses and Miriam lead the children of Israel in celebrating the Lord’s victory over his enemies in Exodus 15. They celebrate in song.

Throughout the scriptures, but especially in the Psalms, God’s people are commanded to sing to him.  Our songs to God are prayers, and yet, as prayers that are sung they express and evoke emotion more powerfully than prayers that are spoken.  The song of the children of Israel was a song of triumphant praise.  It was sung by all of the congregation, each member of the body lifting up the same words of praise at the same time.  It was sung with understanding.  The verse just before the song begins notes, “And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses” (14:31).

Do you sing praises to our God with understanding (Ps. 47:7)?  Do you sing his praises with your family members?  Do you sing with your whole heart in the congregation of which you are a member (Ps. 111:1)?

Sing or pray Psalter #418.

 

April 18 – An Omer of Manna

Read Exodus 16

In Exodus 16 Jehovah provides his people with bread from heaven.  “Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full” (Ps. 78:25).  Each person is allotted a portion of one omer, which was to be gathered daily, except on the sixth day, when enough manna was to be gathered for the Sabbath day as well.  God also commanded that an omer of manna be kept “for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt” (v. 32).

Has God been faithful to provide you with the necessary physical and spiritual bread that you need each day?  Do you take time to reflect on his provision for you in the past?  Do you encourage your fellow saints, family members, and children with examples of his faithfulness from your life?  May our experiences be like so many omers of manna that nourish the faith of others.

Sing or pray Psalter #292.

 

April 19 – Time and Again

Read Exodus 17

Though the Israelites prove themselves time and again to be an unbelieving, undeserving people, Jehovah proves himself time and again to be a faithful, forgiving God.   He gives them water from the rock, which Moses smites with the rod previously used to execute judgement. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” declares 1 Corinthians 10:6, and 1 Corinthians 10:4 teaches that the Rock from which the Israelites drank was Christ.  Have you tasted that living water?

Exodus 12:51 declares that Jehovah brought “the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.”  The people freed from bondage immediately faced the threat of war.  In Exodus 17 that threat becomes a reality, and the Israelites win the victory thanks to Moses’s outstretched arms.  Moses was a weak mediator, but he pointed to the One who all alone stretched out his arms on the cross.  Still today he intercedes on behalf of his people with lifted up hands before our Father’s throne.  We’ve been freed from sin’s bondage to fight the fight of faith.  But never fear: nothing can separate us from our Mediator’s love (Rom. 8:35).

Sing or pray Psalter #92:1-3.

 

April 20 – Delegate

Read Exodus 18

In Exodus 18 Moses heeds the wise advice of his father-in-law and delegates some of the burden of leadership to other “able men.”  There is practical (and spiritual) application here for all.  Pastors, businessmen, builders, teachers, mothers in the home, students assigned to a group project: in light of Exodus 18, consider the following insights on delegating:

“…God has not given us all the time we need to accomplish what we have to do…This…reveals a faulty paradigm, one that views productivity as primarily an individual matter.  God hasn’t given us all the time we need because he wants us to rely on other people as well as our own resources and gifts…God designed the world so that there will always be more things for us to do than we are able to do.  That isn’t just so we learn to prioritize; it’s so that we learn to depend on one another.  And that’s what delegation enables us to do…delegation is the single most important way to free up time.  Enlisting others is essential because, when done well, delegation builds others up and deepens existing relationships” (Perman, What’s Best Next).

Sing or pray Psalter #350.

 

April 21 – A Consuming Fire

Read Exodus 19

Last summer our family attended a USAF Thunderbirds air show.  We arrived early, and then waited, and waited, and waited for the airshow to begin.  Suddenly, four F-16s roared overhead in formation.  The ground shook beneath the deafening rumble of the engines, and our two-year-old clung to me, sobbing with fright.  When Jehovah God descended on Mount Sinai, thunder rumbled, lightening flashed, and the entire mountain shook.  The people exceedingly feared and also quaked, in part at the terrible sight and in part at the deafening noise, but also because they understood the source of this tremendous display of power: the holy God of heaven and earth was coming down.

The same thrice-holy God condescends to commune with us.  Do you serve him acceptably with reverence and godly fear?  “For our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29).

Sing or pray Psalter #259.

 

April 22 – The Perfect Law of God

Read Exodus 20

Before he reads God’s law during the Sunday morning worship service, our pastor often reminds us that that law comes to God’s people in the context of its introduction: “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”  We are God’s redeemed people, purchased by the blood of the Lamb.  We are not married to the law: we are married to Christ.  The law cannot condemn us; instead, it serves us as the rule for our life of gratitude.  It’s a law that’s written in the hearts of God’s people by the Spirit of Christ: “I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ez. 36:27; see also Jer. 31:33).

Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?  Do you keep his commandments?  Do you rejoice in the way of his testimonies as much as in all riches? (Ps. 119:14).  Is your earnest prayer “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law”? (Ps. 119:18).  Thereby you know that you love him (1 John 2:3).

Sing or pray Psalter #322.

 

April 23 – The Civil Law Begins

Read Exodus 21

Exodus 20 contains the Ten Commandments, God’s moral law, which shall not pass away.  Exodus 21 contains the first of many civil (or judicial) and ceremonial laws that are no longer binding on us New Testament saints but still set forth abiding moral principles.  Jehovah safeguarded slaves, women, and the unborn.  He distinguished between the willful and accidental taking of human life, highlighted the seriousness of the obligation to honor one’s parents, maintained that the punishment must fit the crime, and held people accountable for damage caused by their livestock and property.

A brief survey of American society will reveal how many of our neighbors despise God’s moral standards.  What would a survey of your life reveal?

Sing or pray Psalter #42.

 

April 24 – A Judge of Widows

Read Exodus 22

God sets forth additional moral principles in Exodus 22.  The first 15 verses contain commands regarding the Israelites’ possessions, specific applications of the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.”  Still today “God forbids not only those thefts and robberies which are punishable by the magistrate” but “all wicked tricks and devices whereby we design to appropriate to ourselves the good which belong to our neighbor,” and also all covetousness and abuse or waste of his gifts (HC, Q &A 110).

The chapter also contains a number of laws that prohibit social injustice.  Verse 24 reminds us that even if we commit injustices not punishable by the magistrate, vengeance belongs to Jehovah, who “executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed” (Ps. 103:6). “The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down” (Ps. 146:9).

Sing or pray Psalter #179.

 

April 25 – Don’t Follow the Crowd

Read Exodus 23

The civil laws in Exodus 23 set forth principles regarding truth, justice, bribery, and rest.  The second verse declares, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice” (NKJV).

In the fourth century AD there lived a bishop who understood the principle of Exodus 23:2. His name was Athanasius, and he served as a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, for over four decades.  During his ministry, a multitude of Christians and Christian church leaders followed a heretic named Arius.  Arius denied the deity of our Savior Jesus Christ and consequently the Trinity.  His false teaching became so popular that Athanasius faced vigorous persecution and was even exiled from Alexandria five different times.  Once a close friend of Athanasius observed, “Athanasius, the whole world is against you!”  Athanasius answered, “Then it is Athanasius against the world.”

Athanasius didn’t stand alone, though, did he?  He was strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might (Eph. 6:10).   “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Eph. 6:13).

Sing or pray Psalter #326.

 

April 26 – Sprinkled with the Blood

Read Exodus 24

Twice in Exodus 24 the children of Israel assert, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient” (v. 7).  But Jehovah did not make his covenant with them on the basis of their obedience, but on the basis of the blood shed for them.  So “Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words.”

Then Moses, Aaron, Aaron’s sons, and seventy of the elders of Israel ascend the mountain and see God.  “And there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness” (v. 10).  Matthew Henry notes, “The believer sees in the face of Jesus Christ, far clearer discoveries of the glorious justice and holiness of God, than ever he saw under terrifying convictions; and through the Savior, holds communion with a holy God” (Matthew Henry). Has he shined the light of the knowledge of his glory in your heart? (2 Cor. 4:6)

Sing or pray Psalter #231.

 

April 27 – According to the Pattern

Read Exodus 25

God now gives the pattern of the tabernacle to Moses, and that in great detail.  In verses 9 and 40 he emphasizes the importance of building the tabernacle according to that pattern.  None of its details were arbitrarily appointed, for, as Heb. 8:5 teaches, they served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.”  The tabernacle, its furniture, and its rituals all pointed to Christ.  Yet Calvin warns, “There is, however, no reason that we should be here overcurious, so as to seek in every nail and minute things some sublime mystery…we ought therefore to exercise moderation in this respect, which we shall do if we seek only to know what has been revealed to us respecting Christ.”

Even in the New Testament, we worship God only as he has commanded in his word.  That is the regulative principle of our worship and the essence of the second commandment, as Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 96 states: “What doth God require in the second commandment?  That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his word.”

Sing or pray Psalter #256.

 

April 28 – God With Us

Read Exodus 26

Before the fall, God communed with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.  There man was nourished by the tree of life, and the rivers that flowed out of the garden encompassed lands where there was gold.  When Adam and Eve fell into sin, God banished them from Eden, “and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Gen. 3:24).  Now God gives the template for the tabernacle, in which he will dwell among his people, and this new dwelling place is reminiscent of his former dwelling place.  The candlestick, with its branches and flowers, is like a tree.  The tabernacle gleams with gold.  And cherubim guard the Holy of Holies.

The tabernacle doesn’t point back to Eden, however.  Its points forward to Jesus Christ, Immanuel, “the mediator of a better covenant” who dwells in the hearts of his people (Heb. 8:6).  It finds its ultimate fulfillment in the paradise of God, which, in the symbolic language of Revelation, includes streets paved with gold and in its center the tree of life.

Sing or pray Psalter #134.

 

April 29 – Past the Altar

Read Exodus 27

When God’s people entered the court of the tabernacle, they first encountered the altar of burnt offering.  Only through the sacrifices offered on the altar could they enter the presence of the holy God.  The blood shed on the altar could not take away sins, but, like everything else in the tabernacle, it pointed to our Lord Jesus Christ, who “now once in the end of the world hath…appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26).  Only through his shed blood do we “have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom. 5:2).

Within the Holy Place stood the lamp, which evoked a tree or a vine with branches.  The priests tended the lamp morning and evening so that its light never went out.  In John 15:5 Jesus declares, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”  Does your light so shine before men? (Matt. 5:16).  And do you look forward to the new heaven and earth, in which God’s people will “need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light”? (Rev. 22:5).

Sing or pray Psalter #318.

 

April 30 – Our Better High Priest

Read Exodus 28

Jehovah chose Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel to serve him as priests.  Artisans filled with Holy Spirit made the garments that set apart Aaron and his sons for service and covered their nakedness, garments “for glory and for beauty.”  But Aaron and his sons were sinful, mortal men.  Their priesthood would be replaced by the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom God swore an oath of which he will not repent, “Thou are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Ps. 110:4). “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Heb 7:24).

Our sinless high priest hung naked on the cross, bearing our iniquity.  Upon him, our representative, came the wrath of God, and for our life he died.  His glory and beauty inspires awe and reverence (Rev. 1:17).  The names of his people are not engraved on a breastplate that he must wear, but in his very flesh (Is. 49:16).  And before God’s throne of judgement he ever lives to make continual intercessions for his people (Rom. 8:34). “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Heb. 7:25).

Sing or pray Psalter #47.

 

May 1 – A Holy Priesthood

Read Exodus 29

Exodus 29 records God’s instructions for the week-long inauguration of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood.  Aaron and his sons were washed, clothed with the holy garments, and anointed with oil.  Then Moses offered an offering for their sins.  The second offering, a ram wholly burnt, pointed to the priests’ total consecration to God.  The blood of the third sacrifice, a peace offering, was put on the right ears, hands, and toes of Aaron and his sons, symbolizing that they were sanctified from head to toe for God’s service.  Some of the flesh of this sacrifice was given to Moses and Aaron and his sons to eat.  All of this was necessary because God brought his people out of bondage in order that he might dwell among them (v. 46).

We’ve also been brought out of bondage to sin and into fellowship with God.  Our high priest gave his body to the cross and shed his blood for us.  He nourishes our souls with his crucified body and shed blood to everlasting life.  As members of his body, we share in his anointing, and we’re called to daily present ourselves as living sacrifices of thankfulness to him (Rom. 12:1).

Sing or pray Psalter #368.

 

May 2 – Prayer like Incense

Read Exodus 30

Exodus 30 begins with a description of the altar of incense and ends with the recipe for the incense itself.  This sweet-smelling perfume was to be burned twice each day, in the morning and in the evening.  The burning incense pictured the prayers of God’s people ascending up to heaven.  Luke 1:10 suggests that it was customary for those in the outer court to pray even as the priest entered the holy place with the incense.  It was a great and rare privilege for a priest to execute “the priest’s office before God in the order of his course” (Luke 1:8).  We have the privilege – even the command – to offer our prayers to God without ceasing.  “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6).

In Exodus 30:12-16 God instructs Moses concerning atonement money that was to be collected: one half shekel for each person 20 years old and older.  The rich were not to give more, nor the poor, less.  Our God is no respecter of persons: “the souls of all are of equal value, equally in danger, and all equally need a ransom” (Matthew Henry).

Sing or pray Psalter #311.

 

May 3 – Called and Equipped

Read Exodus 31

God had given Moses detailed, extensive instructions regarding the building of the tabernacle, its furnishings, the priestly garments, and the preparation of the anointing oil and the incense.  But he also called and equipped the artificers who would skillfully follow his design.  Still today, “unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4:7).  These gifts are given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).  You or I may be tempted to despise the gifts God has given us as insignificant, but we must be faithful to employ the gifts that God has given us (See Matt. 25:14–30).  He calls us to serve our fellow saints, and he equips us to that end.

Do the members of Christ’s church benefit from the distribution and exercise of the gifts that God has given you?

Sing or pray Psalter #383.

 

May 4 – The Golden Calf

Read Exodus 32

Though God had manifest himself to Israel, so that they were without excuse, they “became vain in their imaginations and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to [a] four-footed [beast]” (Rom. 1:19–23).  How quickly they forgot their vow to worship Jehovah “according to the pattern”!  They traded the riches of their salvation to serve the work of men’s hands, determining that they would represent Jehovah with a golden calf, mimicking the one of the Egyptians’ idols.  Instead of worshipping the living God in true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness as his image bearers, they became like the dumb, blind, deaf, and dead image that they made (Ps. 135:16–18).

As we considered several days ago, God requires “that we in no wise…worship him in any other way than he has commanded in his Word” (HC, Q&A 96).  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).  Is that the way in which you worship him, or are you content with an outward show?

Sing or pray Psalter #222.

 

May 5 – The Meek Mediator

Read Exodus 33

Deuteronomy 34:10 declares, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”  Yet “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3).

What is meekness?  “Meekness is a recognition of one’s God-ordained place…It is a sense of proportion” (Elisabeth Elliot).  A meek man doesn’t necessarily think less of himself, he thinks of himself less (C.S. Lewis).  In the words of Romans 12:3, a meek man is one who doesn’t “think of himself more highly than he ought to think.”  Like Moses, a meek man understands that he’s not saved alone, he’s saved as a member of Christ’s body, and he loves God’s people.  In meekness and lowliness of heart, our Lord Jesus Christ far surpasses Moses.  Let his mind be in you, and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Phil. 2:5, Eph. 4:1–3).

Sing or pray Psalter #109.

 

May 6 – Visiting the Iniquity

Read Exodus 34

When the Lord declares in Exodus 34:6–7 that he “visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children” he does not contradict his word in Exodus 32:33, “Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book,” or Deut. 24:16, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.”  When he says that he visits the iniquity of the fathers upon their children he means that a man’s (or a woman’s) children and grandchildren will suffer the consequences of his (or her) sin.  In many such situations, the sad consequences of the parent’s sin is that the children run in the wicked way in which their parent walked.  Parents, does that reality compel you to repent and confess your sins to God and to your children?

Though Jehovah visits the sins of those who hate him to the third and fourth generation, he is merciful to a thousand generations of those who love him.  As Jeremiah confessed, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22–23).

Sing or pray Psalter #281.

 

May 7 –  The Willing Offering

Read Exodus 35

In Exodus 35, Moses receives the commanded offering for the tabernacle.  There are several things to notice about this offering.  First, God’s people gave willingly.  Every man gave according as he purposed in his heart, “not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).  Second, it was an offering not only of possessions, but of time and talents as well.  Third, it included the entire congregation, men and women.  Finally, the riches that they gave came from their redemption.  Not long before this, the children of Israel had been destitute slaves.  When Jehovah redeemed them from bondage, they left laden with riches.  Now they give of those riches to God.

You and I have also been laden with riches, riches of salvation, earthly life, many abilities, and plentiful possessions.  We can take no more credit for any of those things than we can the color of our skin.  “For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof” (1 Cor. 10:26).  We are nothing more than stewards of the things he has entrusted to us.  Do you willingly and thankfully render unto him the things that are his?

Sing or pray Psalter #27.