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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB February 4

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Feb 03
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Today's One Year Bible Reading

 Exodus

Yesterday, I learned some most amazing facts about the Israelites exodus from Egypt and the plagues. At least the last 3 plagues were an affront by God toward pagan Egyptian gods.

  • Locusts: this was God's attack on the myth of the Egyptian crop god.

  • Darkness: this was God's attack on the myth of the Egyptian sun god.

  • Death of first-born sons: this was God's attack on the myth of the Egyptian fertility god, Amon. Amon was also the chief god of the pagan culture. According to the Looklex Encyclopedia: "Amon-Re was the father of all gods, the creator of every human being and all creatures. The cult of Amon-Re proved to be very powerful, and his high priest came to be one of the most important persons in Egypt, rivaling the power of the pharaohs." So God was defying the supposed power of this ram-god, by demonstrating His power through the blood of the lamb, or The Blood of the Lamb. And remember, a male sheep is a ram, and the sacrifice given in place of Isaac, our Christ-type, was a ram: Genesis 22:13 "Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering on the altar in place of his son."

Note that the Israelites asked to go into the wilderness to make their sacrifices because they knew they would be offending the Egyptians by sacrificing "their god" in the fire. But Moses said [to Pharaoh], "It is not right to [make our sacrifices here in Egypt], for we will sacrifice to the LORD our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us?"

Remember from an earlier lesson, the zodiac signs were actually taken from God-ordained constellations for signs and wonders to teach us about Him, and twisted by pagan astrologers to make them about us. But get this. The Hebrew calendar month when the Passover took place was Nisan, and Nisan corresponds to the zodiac calendar for Aries-the RAM!! And the Egyptians were also sacrificing to their god, Amon, on the full moon during the month of the ram, which would have corresponded to Passover. The fact that God instructed the Israelites to kill the ram was very significant to everything it stood for as their chief god, where Egyptians would have been highly offended, as the verse above tells us. 

If you want to listen to a fantastic message on this, visit El Shaddai Ministries .
The Ten Commandments

Notice, as we pointed out yesterday, the first four all pertain to loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. The last six refer to loving people.

20:5 For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I always think of Oprah when I read this verse (I may have shared this already). She grew up Southern Baptist, and she said she turned away from pure association with Christianity when she heard from the pulpit as a kid that "God is a jealous God." She said, "Why would I want to worship a God who is jealous of me?" That is just how Satan works. He takes a truth and twists it. God is never jealous of us, He's jealous FOR us-for our affections, devotion, and worship. I can't believe there has been no one in her life since to explain this to her. She has even said it on TV recently!

20:5-6 I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected-even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands. Some versions say "punish children to the 3rd and 4th generations," but it should be noted that God does not punish children for the sins of the parents, or vice-versa. This is a mistranslation and is better translated as "watches," or "visits." In other words, God watches to see how the sins of the parents are rubbed off on their kids. Ezekiel 18:20 says, "The one who sins is the one who dies. The child will not be punished for the parent's sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child's sins."

20:12 Honor your father and mother. If you do so, you will have a long, prosperous life in the land the Lord your God is giving you (quoted from The Living Bible). Cute story time. When my older daughter, Dani, was about 4, this was the second verse she memorized (can you guess who picked it out for her?). One day, my younger toddler, Jessi, was disobeying something I had told her to do, and Dani was the only one in the room with her. But I could hear their conversation from the next room.

Dani: Jessi, mommy told you not to do that. Are you going to obey?

Jessi: No! (as toddlers are famous for saying)

Dani: Jessi, do you want to live a long, prosperous life?

Jessi: No!

Thankfully, Jessi grew out of that phase!

Matthew

Jesus is always errantly portrayed as this meek, lame, pushover by modern evangelicals. But in reality, He was a dangerous fellow to hang around with. He bucked the human system in the strongest terms possible, as we read in this chapter. And remember, these Pharisees were the spiritual teachers and leaders, and Jesus was totally in your face with them.

23:39 For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you say, ‘Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Jesus was indicating they wouldn't see Him again until His second coming, after the tribulation when He sets His feet down on the Mount of Olives to begin His 1,000 Millennial reign.

Questions for reflection:

  • Have you ever heard the verse quoted as, "God punishes children to the 3rd and 4th generation?" How did this verse make you feel? We have to always remember on things that threaten our perception of God's goodness and love, there is either something lost in translation, or something we don't understand culturally. Case in point: He lavishes unfailing love for a thousand generations of those who love and obey Him!!

  • What are some of the perceptions you have of God (lies you believe) that are not consistent with His being good or loving? Maybe from a childhood experience, church, parent example, or misunderstanding of a Bible passage?

As an example, I grew up in a very legalistic, rule manufacturing church where God seemed always angry, ready to lower the axe on me for any unconfessed sins. Add to that, an authority figure in my childhood was abusive and conditionally loving, so my view of God reflected these two examples in my life. I had to work hard to address the lies I believed about God that kept me from a loving, intimate relationship with a kind and gracious Heavenly Abba Daddy. Thankfully, I was able to overcome those lies I believed about God's character.