Sunday, January 22, 2012

On 1-29-12 Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26 or 15:1-5, 19-26 will be our International Sunday School Lesson/Adult Sunday School Lesson herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Out of Egypt aka A New Ordinance

Out of Egypt
 A New Ordinance
Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26 or 15:1-5, 19-26
International Sunday School Lesson
January 29, 2012

Jed Greenough

In our last lesson we saw that the family of Joseph and his brothers had been reconciled.  Much has changed from one week to the next as we now race ahead more than 4 centuries.  The last time we met the Israelites that had descended from Abraham were still few in number.  In that lesson they were recent transplants to Egypt due to famine and though they were few they had in their favor the position and power of Joseph, second only to the Pharaoh in all of Egypt.  Today though is much different as we join them after their epic endurance of 430 years in slavery.  No longer were they just a cluster of people tied to a few brothers, now they were a nation of hundreds of thousands.

We join this people then in today’s scripture and we read of a song of joy, a song of victory a celebration of deliverance over Pharaoh’s army.  But why did this victory occur?  As in all things in God’s word there are lessons to be learned.

Back in Exodus 12:31-32 we read that after all the plagues, the final one, the one in which the LORD struck down all the firstborn of Egypt, Pharaoh had enough and told Moses to take his people and go.  And so as you know, go they did, with God leading them by means of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

So again, if they left and Pharaoh had told them to leave, why this victory, why as everyone knows was Pharaoh’s army crushed by the waters after the Israelites had passed through?  The answer is difficult for most to answer correctly because of how we tend to think.  Difficult for the most part because people tend to say in their daily lives, “Why is this happening to me?”  Or “What’s in this for me?”  When what they should be asking is, “How can what is happening to me bring God glory?”

 Our tendency to think of ourselves first is so strong that we tend to have a problem when we see the answer to the question I have posed of why after he let them leave did Pharaoh still attack given in Exodus 14:4 and 14:17-18 where we read that God said, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.  But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” 

This can be a tough lesson for some to swallow but when the Israelites saw the result we read in 14:31 that they “feared the LORD and put their trust in Him...”  And that is how we happen upon our scripture for today’s song, a song that does what God wants and what we should want, to give Him glory.

Yes, in this song He is exalted, He is praised. The LORD’s actions and attributes are described and sung about; it is as it should be, about Him and His glory.  Wouldn’t it be great to fade away to black there with God receiving what He deserves? 

Instead, we continue on in our lesson with the people of Israel traveling in the desert without finding water.  When they do come upon water we are told that it was too bitter to drink and they grumbled against Moses.  What that really means since Moses was God’s representative is that they grumbled against God.  Why couldn’t they have instead said, “Moses, please pray to God to provide for us just as He did 3 days earlier against Pharaoh?”

Do you do any better?  How long do you go after your victories that God provides?  I would have to admit that I myself witness God’s handiwork and 3 days later I might find myself still imperfect in my actions and reactions but I can also admit that with God’s help I am becoming better, going longer between my grumblings, becoming more pure.

That is what God does, makes things whole and pure, He heals them.  He is the LORD who heals you as it says in verse 26.  It wasn’t Moses or some wood thrown in the water that made it sweet but rather it was God.

That seems to be the lesson for us then as I will repeat to you over and over again, the glory should be His when you witness His miracles and you experience your victories remember to give it (the glory) to Him in song and praising of exaltation.  Then cooperate with Him, let the Holy Spirit work with you so that the times of grumbling are ever farther apart as He works to heal us, sanctifying us, making us pure and completely whole.

For Discussion:

1.      This may sound a bit different, but have you ever made up songs for God to give Him glory?  You can do it in private you know.  Try it the next time He protects you, defends you, and heals you.
2.      Discuss the hardening of Pharaoh.
3.      Discuss the water issue.  The Hebrew word for bitter could range in meaning from too bitter to enjoy to the extent of being poisonous.
4.      Further water issues to consider:  how long can one, in the desert regardless of temperature, under physical exertion go without water?  Do you think they carried water with them?  It says they went without finding not without drinking.
5.      See basically the two places for which Miriam is best known and remembered: today’s scripture showing her participation and leadership in this song and in Numbers 12 when she spoke against Moses and then discuss.
6.      Using a concordance look up the meaning of the word “heals” from verse 26.
7.      Read Romans 6 with this idea of becoming more pure daily.

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

2-5-12:       Justified by Faith in Christ Galatians 2:15-21
2-12-12:    Freed from Law through Christ (The Blessing for All) Galatians 3:1-14
2-19-12:  Heirs to the Promise (Inheriting Abraham’s Promise) Galatians 3:15-18, 4:1-7
2-26-12:  Fruits of Redemption Galatians 5:22-6:10

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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