There I Was…

7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.

9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10 He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God. Exodus 18:7-12

Moses, who was over 80-years-old at this time, sat down with his older father-in-law for a chat. Jethro wanted to hear first hand what the Lord had been doing for the nation of Israel. He probably knew a great deal about it from his daughter but getting it straight from the man who spoke to the Lord God Himself would be a thrill.

More and more we’re losing that special one-to-one and face-to-face connection with people. It’s much easier to send an email, text, direct message, phone call, or some other impersonal medium. It’s why foreign leaders travel thousands of miles to meet face-to-face because there’s nothing that compares to a one on one encounter. In fact, it’s why we travel great distances to see family and friends even though that person is only a phone call away.

When you have the opportunity, lose the phone and email, and go visit that person you’ve been meaning to talk with. You’ll be glad you did.

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Ready for That Trumpet Blast?

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”

5 Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.” Exodus 18:1-6

We forget soometimes that communication was almost non-existent back in Biblical times. People didn’t know what others looked like unless they had met them personally. Reputations and rumors may have proceeded them, but they didn’t know much else about the person. There was no radio, TV, newspaper, or teletype to broadcast news. The news spready by word of mouth. That’s all they had.

Even Moses’ father-in-law didn’t know much about his grandchildren or perhaps that he even had grandchildren. Moses had taken Jethro’s daughter back into Egypt so that he could lead the children of Israel out. But Jethro somehow had heard the good news of his son-in-law’s exploits but was probably sketchy on the details.

We don’t know how long Zipporah and her boys were away from Moses or even why he sent them away. Jethro sent word that they were returning to him, this time with Jethro coming with them. It would be a chance for Jethro to get a first hand account of Moses’ adventures with God.

Have you ever been this kind of “giddy,” where you can’t wait for “that moment” to come along? You’ve missed this person so much that you can’t sleep or spend all your waking ours thinking about what you’d say when you met again? I get the impression that this was Jethro’s mindset. When Moses was told, he himself might have had the same reaction since his wife and boys were in the mix.

Back in the 80’s, the late televangelist Jack Van Impe used to send out small trumpet pins with the words “Perhaps Today” on the trumpet. The meaning was taken from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

If you only lived by these words, Jesus’ return is imminent – and it could be today! Of course we have the whole of Scripture to consider, but the point is still: Jesus “could” come again today.

How does that make you feel? Do you get excited thinking about it? Have you thought about it at all lately?

Are you giddy like Jethro or unaware like Moses?

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When Push Comes to Shove

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:14-16

If you recall, Amalek was the grandson of Esau. Esau was Jacob’s rotten brother. They were sworn enemies.

This was the first of many battles Israel would fight against the Amalekites.

The Lord wanted Joshua, Moses’ successor, to remember this event as well.

At this point in Israel’s history, it would be nearly impossible to turn the Lord’s mind in favor of the Amalekites.

Jacob I loved; Esau I hated. Malachi 1:3

May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed. Genesis 27:29

God obviously favored Jacob/Israel over Esau and his lineage. Even though the Lord did bless Esau with a great nation, Esau wasn’t the favored child.

In life we will have enemies even if we’d rather not. People just rub us the wrong way (and we probably rub others the wrong way too). It’s a fact of life even if we deny it.

Of course the Biblical way of handling it is “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men,” Romans 12:8. If you’ve done your utmost and it still fails, part ways gracefully.

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Hold My Arms Up High!

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Exodus 17:8-13

This was certainly a curious way to fight a battle, but quite possibly the only way they knew how. Everyone in their camp was a former slave. Fighting was not in their DNA so to speak. Certainly instinctively they knew how to fight in hand to hand combat but not with weapons. They needed an edge.

Did Joshua’s men know how the battle was being won? Probably not, but ultimately they did win.

The analogy for fighting battles is very clear: you can’t go into battle alone. You need people by your side supporting you, holding you up when you’re drooping down.

A leader in the church we attend revealed that he has a baseball-sized tumor on his kidney. He needs people on all sides of him supporting him because of what he’ll be going through in the coming days.

Life is difficult as it is. When others come alongside in the midst of turmoil and confusion, it makes the journey just a little easier.

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A Most Unusual Answered Prayer

5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:5-7

The miracles of God just keep adding up. This time Moses had witnesses when he struck the rock.

As you well know, water doesn’t come from rocks. I’m not sure where it comes from but I’m sure it’s not rocks. A rock would have been the best object lesson the Israelites would have understood. Again, water doesn’t come from rocks. So God made something life-giving from something that has no life in it at all.

And the water had to satisfy the thirst of a million people or more.

Don’t miss the important truth in this story. God answered Moses’ prayer in the most unusual way, even as the Israelites were quarreling about Moses’ effectiveness as a leader. Moses’ prayer itself was not the typical request either: “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Would the gushing water stop their complaining? We all know the answer.

Moses threw his hands up and pleaded for his life. No formal prayer. No sack cloth and ashes. Just a real, heart-felt prayer.

God answered.

Just when we think we have God figured out, He changes things up on us, for our good and for His glory.

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