50:16 16 So they sent this message to Joseph: "Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you-for their sin in treating you so cruelly.'" This pathetic statement by the brothers would have made me mad at them for lying and for despising all my goodness to them thus far. If Jacob really said that, he would have said it to Joseph himself from his deathbed. And if Joseph was really that mean hearted, he would already have made his brothers into slaves or whatever. Who knows, maybe that's why Joseph broke down in tears (frustration), but either way, he had a lot more mercy than I do!
50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. This is one of my favorite verses of all time. If only we could rest when people treat us cruelly-rest in the fact that God is going to use it for a greater good, possibly for many others.
Are you ready for this? If you thought Genesis was amazing, the first half of Exodus is going to blow your mind with all of the rich symbolism, through which God desires to speak to you today! It is so rich, in fact, that I will barely scratch the surface, yet you will be challenged and amazed beyond description. And just like some of the stuff we've already seen, there will be things going on at different time levels, so keep that in mind, too. For instance, not only did it happen while it was happening (sounds like an intelligent observation ☺), but also, this account was symbolic for the coming Messiah, it is symbolic for your life today, and it is symbolic of the future coming of Messiah as well. All good stuff! God is so, so AWESOME!
To start with, we have some starring actors in this drama presentation in Exodus. If you frame each day's reading with the actors and who/what they stand for (types), you will get so much more out of your reading. Here they are:
Pharaoh = Satan
Israelites = You
Egypt = Enslavement to sin
Promised Land = Eternal Life (later in Deuteronomy)
There are certainly more actors in our play, but these are the main roles and I wanted you to have a bird's eye view before diving in. We'll discover the rest of them together along the way. As you can guess, our starting point is Egypt. And the rest is, well, His-story (I love puns)!
1:9 So here's our first opportunity to plug in our actors, as I have done for you. [Satan] said to his [demons], "Look, the people [God rules*] now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don't, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from [enslavement to sin]. See how exciting this is going to be?
*"God rules" is the literal meaning of "Israel" in Hebrew.
1:11: So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. What is all this crushing labor about? Have you ever been in bondage to habit sins? Well, yes, you were born into sin and as a default, you and I faced spiritual death and separation from God. That in itself was slavery enough. But have you experienced the brutality of sins that you can't leave alone-they threaten to steal your life away? You get in terrible cycles of looking for satisfaction in an activity other than God, and it makes you feel good for awhile but eventually, you feel even more emptiness. As you pursue this cycle of trying to find relief in this thing, you get into a cycle of emptiness, shame, hurting yourself and others, destruction, and hopelessness? But for some reason, you find yourself going back again and again, looking for relief in the same thing for the quick momentary high it gives you? After awhile, you give up abundant life in exchange for this death pattern? I sure have! I have given up a lot of good years of my life, enslaved to habit sins. And just as the text goes on to help us visualize, these habit sins increase their brutal power over us the longer we live under them.
1:15 "When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him." With Moses being a savior-type, this is a foreshadow of Herod killing the baby boys when Messiah was born about 1,500 years later.
2:1, 3 About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. Moses was a Levite, so he was a priest (God designated the Levites as the priests of future generations). Jesus was our Great High Priest. And just as Moses' mom kept him hidden from Pharaoh, Mary and Joseph kept Jesus hidden from Herod, in Egypt of all places! I tried to research how long Jesus was in hiding with his parents, and it is estimated at 2-3 years.
16:18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock'), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. I believe this statement by Jesus had double meaning. Jesus is often referred to as "rock" or "stone." Paul said, (1 Cor. 10:4) "For they all drank from the miraculous rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ." The fact that Peter also means, "rock," suggests to me that Jesus was saying that He Himself is the Rock His church is built upon (We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. Ephesians 2:20), but that He was going to accomplish it through Peter. It is important to note that Peter was sent to the Jews to build the church, while Paul was sent to the Gentiles. This contradicts the Catholic teaching that Peter was the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Check out Galatians 2:7, "On the contrary, they saw that I (Paul) had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews."
19: And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Commentary: The
idea is not that Peter will admit people to heaven (remember all the
pearly gates jokes?), but that Peter opened the door of the kingdom to
both the Jews (Acts 2:38-39) and the Gentiles (Acts 10:34-44). Again, perhaps he opened the door, but he was clearly sent to the Gentiles.
16:28 And I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom. I used to wonder what this means, but now I personally think He is talking about what happens in the very next chapter, when His disciples see Him transfigured in the context of His Kingdom. This may not make sense for you yet, but I'll explain why I believe this. I have been studying the Feasts of the Lord established way back in Exodus, and how they are significant for all kinds of prophetic events (we'll try to tackle those as we go).
But it was pointed out to me by in certain Messianic Jewish teaching that this account in Matthew 17 was likely on or just before the Feast of Tabernacles because of two things. First, Peter offered to make a shelter (shrine is a bad translation--look at the footnote) for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. A shelter in Hebrew is synonymous with tabernacle, and this Feast also is called interchangeably, "Feast of Shelters." If you don't see this in its context, it makes no sense why Peter would offer to make shelters. The other clue is that, after they come down the mountain (tomorrow's reading), there is a crowd waiting for them. The only reason for crowds in Jerusalem is that people gathered during one of three Feasts of the year, and Peter's statement brings light to which Feast was being celebrated (or maybe being ready to be celebrated). So, taking all of this in and because the Feast of Tabernacles was very significant in that it represented "God coming down to tabernacle/dwell/shelter with His people," we see Jesus transfigured in His Kingdom with Moses and Elijah. All food for thought.
Note that Mark 9:1 adds: "I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see the Kingdom of God arrive in great power!" Another manifestation (think different levels/layers) of this promise might also be when Jesus was resurrected and appeared to many, including His disciples (that is certainly a demonstration of great power), and also when His Spirit came back into believers on the day of Pentecost. Check out Acts 1:8 for some great key words. Remember, this is JESUS talking: "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere - in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Questions for personal reflection:
Have you ever seen the account of Moses, the savior of his people, and the exodus (escape) from Egypt as a picture of your own journey? Does this understanding get you excited to read more from a new perspective? Does it make the God of the Old Testament more personal to you? Why or why not?
What are the habit sins you struggle with? Have you felt the cycle I described? Can you see them as crushing slavery from an evil taskmaster?