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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

(18) Preparing the way, Exodus 2:24-7:6

Moses' story is more complicated than one would realize. He was a man who did not have a people of his own, for he was Hebrew and he was Egyptian, yet neither group had accepted him. He lived in a place called Midian, yet felt like a foriegner. He even named his first son, Gershom; "foreigner". He was royalty, being raised by Pharaoh's daughter. He was a slave, being born of a Hebrew. Yet he ended up being a shepherd for his father-in-law. He knew of his real kinsmens' troubles and wanted to lead them out of Egypt but no one would listen to him. (Acts 7:20-25) His time had not yet come.

Preparation #1-Life experiences
His first 40 years of his life he had spent in his Egyptian customs. He learned what it was like to have everything. He was educated in the finest of things. He learned how to speak up and was given power in his tenure. Some traditions say he was commander of the southern army of Egypt. In any case, he was being trained to be a leader. But as we have read earlier, he had to flee. Where did he go? To a desert.

His next 40 years he was being trained how to survive on the littlest of things. He tended flock, not for himself but for a master, his father-in-law. When he fled he would travel through the lands that God would eventually lead him to when he used him to free the Israelites. Moses came to know the land that God would him send him through.

That last 40 years of his life he led Israel to the Promise Land by using his wisdom of leadership, his ability to confront crowds and his knowledge of the wilderness. God had used a lifetime to prepare a man for one of the greatest purposes in history. To show mankind that God can free us from our own bondage.

Israel was in Egypt for 400 years because they chose to stay. They could have left Egypt once the drought and famine was over during Joseph's time and had gone back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They put themselves into bondage. God freed the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt. Jesus freed us all from the bondage of sin.

Preparation #2-God Calling
Once Moses had life experiences to prepare him for what he needed to be like, God now called him to fulfill his purpose. Moses was now 80 years old when God called to him. Out of the blue, Moses just happened to be leading his flock in the desert near a mountain; Horeb, "the mountain of God", and called out to him from a bush that was burning.

Why a bush? No one really knows but maybe because of a couple of reasons. First, a bush when set on fire will burn. It was a sign of the power of God. It wasn't a tree because if a tree was burning others may have seen it. A tree is huge and a bush is small. It was a sign that God sometimes uses the small things in life to talk to us. Why didn't he just speak to Moses? The answer lies within a question. Was Moses ready to hear him? Moses was 80. He had spent a life that he had not wanted. Speaking to Moses may not have been enough for a man who thought God may have deserted him. When God calls, he will get your attention, but sometimes it's by the smallest things in our life.

Preparation #3- Acceptance of who you are
Moses even after hearing and seeing God, even after a life of wanting to take leadership of the Israelites, still was reluctant to do what God said to do. He was not willing to accept his fate. He made excuses, "They won't believe me", "Who should I say told me", "I have a speech impediment". With each excuse God answered him. God has a purpose for all of us. We have to accept who we are and God will give us the ability to use what we have.

Preparation #4- Perseverance
When Moses came back to Egypt, his task was not easy. The Pharaoh made the lives of the Israelites harder and many of them blamed Moses. But in the middle of the persecution came the prosecution. God stepped in and things began to happen. If Moses quit and gave up, it would have been a horrible witness to the power of God. But through perseverance God will follow through on His promises.

He may be preparing the way for you. If you persevere in your life's experience and wait upon the Lord, then listen for His calling so he can prepare you for something great, even if it's small.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

(17) No Oridnary Man, Exodus 2:1-23

Moses (Moshe), was no ordinary man says the scriptures. His father was Amram, a Levite. His mother was Jochebed who was also a Levite, since Jochebed was actually Amram's aunt (this was before the Law was given). He was the great-grandson of Levi. When the Pharaoh handed out the law that all male Hebrew newborns should be killed, Jochebed hid Moses for three months. When it became apparent she could not hide him anymore she put him in a basket and pushed him down the Nile. Amazingly, the Pharaoh's daughter (let's call her Sitamun) just happened to be there when Moses went floating by. Moses' sister, Miriam, watched on the side of the Nile to make sure he was okay. Miriam talked Sitamun into letting a "Hebrew woman" nurse him for her. Oddly enough who does Miriam go get? His own mother! Not only that Jochebed was paid by Sitamun for taking care of him. Moses was not only supposed to have been killed, but ended up in his own house anyway and his family was compensated for it. Truly, not ordinary.

Moses was not the name that Jochebed gave to her son. His real name is unknown. "Moses" was the name that Sitamun gave him. By the way, why are we calling her Sitamun? Well, if the Exodus was 1488 BC, then the Pharaoh at the time of Moses being born would have been Ahmose I. Ahmose had three daughters and only one of them was not married, which probably meant that she would bear no children, thereby making her more than likely wanting one. God gave her one in this way. Pure speculation. Either way, look at the name 'Moses'. Sounds a lot like her father's name Ahmose. Ahmose means "the moon is born" or "the moon's child". Moses in Hebrew is Moshe which means savior but is also very close to the Hebrew word, mashah; "to draw water" (Exodus 2:10), but it's closest equivalent in old Egyptian is 'mes' which means "son". Sitamun probably named him this to fit both languages. Again, no ordinary man.

Somehow, Moses knew of his heritage. When he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew he defended the Hebrew and killed the Egyptian. The very next day someone was threatening to turn him in for his actions and the new Pharaoh (Amenhotep I) found out. So, he left his home and fled to Midian where he met his future wife, Zipporah. Where did he meet her? She was at a well...drawing water; mashah! No ordinary man!

And his non-ordinary life had still the most non-ordinary experience yet to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

(16) When was the Exodus?

If one does a study on genealogy and starts with the Bible and Adam you can find the date of the Exodus from one angle. Such as:

  1. Adam was 130 when he had Seth, Seth was 105 when he had Enosh, Enosh was 90 when he had Kenan, Kenan was 70 when he had Mahalalel, Mahalalel was 65 when he had Enoch, Enoch was 65 when he had Methuselah, Methuselah was 187 when he had Lamech, Lamech was 182 when he had Noah, Noah was 502 when he had Shem, Shem was 100 when he had Arphaxad, Arphaxad was 35 when he had Shelah, Shelah was 30 when he had Eber, Eber was 34 when he had Peleg, Peleg was 30 when he had Reu, Reu was 32 when he had Serug, Serug was 30 when he had Nahor, Nahor was 29 when he had Terah, and Terah was 70 when he had Abram (Abraham). That is a total of 1948 years. (Genesis 5:3-11:26)
  2. Abraham was 75 when he left his father and he was 86 when he had Ishmael. (Genesis 12:4-16:15) The promise of his descendants being slaves in Egypt was somewhere between these two dates. The best thing we can do on this end is split the difference. Say he was 80. That gives us a total of 2028 years from the time of creation of man to the promise of being slaves.
  3. Galatians 3:17 says that there were 430 years between this promise and the actual exodus. So that gives us a total of 2448 years after the creation is when the Exodus happened.

From the other angle:
  1. Nebuchadnezzar who was king of Babylon and took captive Jewish people from the land of Israel reigned from 605-562 BC, by secular dates. He destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon in 587 BC meaning the kings of Israel and Judah were no more.
  2. Counting backwards now are the kings of Judah: Jehoiachin really didn't have a reign, Jehoiakim 14 years, Jehoahaz 0 full years, Josiah 31 years, Amon 2, Manasseh 55, Hezekiah 29, Ahaz 16, Jotham 16, Azariah 52, Amaziah 29, Joash 41, Athaliah 6, Ahaziah 1, Jehoram 8, Jehoshaphat 25, Asa 41, Abijah 3, Rehoboam 17, Solomon 40 years. That gives us a total of 425 years. Which means Solomon would have been king of Judah and Israel around 1012 BC, keeping in line with secular dates.
  3. The Temple was built in the 4th year of Solomon's reign (1 Kings 6:1) which means the Temple was built in 1008 BC. The same verse says it was 480 years after the Exodus that the Temple was started. So if you add that together then the Exodus was in the year 1488 BC.
By the way that means 3936 years of man's existence before Christ. As a side note: many scholars believe they were off by 4 years of Christ's birth. But if we add 3936 and 2009 we get 5945 total years of existence of man.

Back to the point, if it was 1488 BC then who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus?  Most think it was Ramesses.  The timeline if that was the case is not accurate.  And if it was 1488 BC then by the standards of those who study the history of Egypt (http://www.egyptologyonline.com/new_kingdom.htm) it was Tuthmosis III, who was 6 years old when he became king but his stepmother (who was also his aunt) ruled in his stead until he was 21. BUT, Tuthmosis III would have been only 16 when the Exodus happened and would have still been under his stepmother-aunt's authority. So maybe the Pharaoh of the Exodus was not a man. Maybe it was Hatshepsut. She was known for trying to be very masculine such as wearing a false beard. Maybe this is why we are not given the name of the Pharaoh because it was not the true and rightful leader. Maybe the son that was taken as one of the plagues was her son who was going to be the heir which caused her so much pain, so she let the Israelites go. But why address her as "he" in the Bible? All pharaohs were considered masculine and given that she posed herself as a man, she became a "man".  Oddly enough, she was famous for restoring monuments and buildings.  And what were the Jews known for?  Building things as slaves.  One of her accomplishments was building the Djeser-djesru which was dedicated to Amon.  The Temple was known as the holiest of holy places.  God would soon replace that with His own.  Tuthmosis III went around and destroyed much of the things that showed she was Pharoah.

Others will have a problem with the Israelites only being in Egypt for actually only 210 years. If they left Palestine to go to Egypt with only 70 people how could they leave only 210 years later with roughly 2 million? Numbers 1:46 says they left with 603,550 men over 20, not even counting the Levites. This means that the population of Israel would have had to double itself every 14 years. According to http://www.ecofuture.org/pop/facts/exponential70.html Israel's population would only have to grow 5% each year to reach the total stated. And according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(real)_growth_rate there are at least 37 countries today that have higher growth rates, so it can be done.  Even if we take the US alone, which has been a country for the past 233 years has grown from 3 million in 1790 to over 300 million in 2009. That is 297 million more people than when it first started. Of course some of that was immigration but it does show how fast a country or people can grow.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

(15) Isra'el Who?, Exodus 1:1-1:22

Remember in Genesis, the family of Jacob (who had his name changed by God to Isra'el) had traveled to Egypt to be with Joseph, a son of Jacob who had been sold to nomads and eventually became the 2nd in command of all Egypt, due to a drought, although at first they did not recognize Joseph for it had been 22 years since they had seen each other. The book of Exodus (Sh'mot) starts approximately 210 years after the last page of Genesis.

When the Israelites first came into Egypt around 1698 BC they numbered 70. By the time we start to Exodus it is around the year 1488 BC and the Israelites had multiplied so much that we are not even given a number. Verse 7 says, "the land became filled with them".

After 210 years and many Pharaohs had come and gone, one Pharaoh (king) had risen to power who knew nothing of Joseph. How could the Egyptians forget about a family who was once part of their history? They multiplied fast! The name of Joseph had probably become synonymous with Isra'el and Isra'el had become so numerous that each individual become less important to the Egyptians who would still see these people as foreigners (non-Egyptian). Joseph's name was lost in the crowd. This was also a time of confusion for the Egyptians called the 2nd Intermediate Period. The Hyksos came to power and the kingdom became divided for awhile. The Hyksos controlled the Delta area while native Egyptians controlled from Thebes. Perhaps during this period the Egyptians weren't really in charge of their own country and that is why the new Pharaoh did not know of Joseph.

If the Israelites though were a nuisance to the Egyptians why did they allow them to stay so long? Apparently the Israelites were prosperous for the Egyptians and maybe God had blessed Egypt due to their presence. Verses 9-10 (NAS):
  • 9 He said to his people, "Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we.
  • 10 "Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land."

The Israelites were more powerful than the Egyptians, yet they did not want them to leave the land. Why? Again, apparently the Israelites had made the Egyptians prosperous. So one way to keep them in the land but to keep them less powerful and to dehumanize them was to make them slaves. Verse 11 says that Egypt put slave masters over them and oppressed them with forced labor. But this action backfired; the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied putting even more fear into the minds of Egyptians. This could be where many will get the idea that the Israelites were builders of some of the pyramids. Verse 13 says that they were forced to work with mortar and brick, maybe eluding to the pyramids, at least some of them. It may have been for Egyptian history and glory. It may have been Egyptian architecture but they probably wouldn't have done the work, especially if they had slaves. The point is apparently this did not work to destroy the Israelites either. So, Pharaoh devised another plan: kill all the babies that were born male. But as you will read later...it didn't work either. God used two midwives to attend to this request by Pharaoh who secretly refused to carry out the action and God allowed them to be prosperous as well. And because of their actions, Isra'el became more numerous and powerful. So, Pharaoh had to try and carry out the order some other way...but...

Nothing man can do can stop the power of God. In the end, Pharaoh kept trying to wipe out the name of Isra'el, but with every decision came a backfire and the hand of God kept the name of Isra'el alive. Hence, the name of Isra'el means "protected by God". Who is protected by God? Isra'el, that's who.

Monday, June 15, 2009

(14) Exodus

The second book in the Canonized Bible is Exodus. The Hebrew name for this book is Sh'mot and it does not mean "to leave". Sh'mot means "names". As you can see the first few lines from this book are about the names of the descendants of Israel who were in Egypt. There were 70 descendants of Israel. All of them came to be with Joseph, a child of Israel (Jacob), who had become 2nd most powerful man in the land. Yet by the time we pick up the story, a new king (Pharaoh) had risen to power and he didn't know of Joseph. All he knew is that this people had multiplied and filled the land. This book deals with names more than it does about an escape. It can be separated into 3 main parts (with many other subsections). The following is a breakdown of what it is all about.

  • Exodus 1:1-12:51, the dehumanization of Israel. Pharaoh tries to wipe out the names of all the Israelites by hard labor, genocide of male infants, and a refusal to allow them to be a people of their own.
  • Exodus 13:1-20:26, the deliverance of Israel. Once Israel had been set free, God would start to re-establish the name of Israel throughout the region by starting their journey to the Promise Land.
  • Exodus 21:1-40:38, the rules for Israel. To get their name back they had to prove themselves worthy and were given a set of rules to live by so their names would not be wiped off the face of the earth.

This book is the manual for being Jewish. However it is a direct parallel to the life of Christ and what He means to the world. We are dehumanized as believers in Christ but He delivers us from this world with rules to live by. It shows how God remembers us (those who love Him). It shows how God cares for us (taking our oppression away) and shows how much He wants us to be with Him (living by the law-Christ). It is also an analogy of what God can do in our life. He first prepares us. He then redeems us for His purpose and then He reveals to us what that purpose is.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

(13) Bibles

This one is not actually a lesson but a result of a poll about what Bibles are being used.
  1. NIV, ASB, ESB (modern English) (69%) are using modern translations of English. The New International Version which means if you understand English you will understand it. The same word will be used in England, Canada, Australia and the US. The American Standard will be more for American English and so on. There are other modern English translations: ESV, NAS, TNIV, NCV
  2. Hebrew, Greek (23%) said they are using original languages Bibles. Probably they are using them as a reference to see what the original meanings of the words were. The problems with many modern English language translations is that we do not have a direct word for words used in the past so many times paraphrases are inserted.
  3. Amplified, Message (paraphrased) (15%) said they use a paraphrased version. These are the easiest to read but to many some of these verses are watered down. Some of the verses seem to have things added to them to make it easier to understand.
  4. KJV, NKJV (any Authorized) (15%) said they use what was known as for hundreds of years as the "Authorized" version. They claim they use this because it is the most accurate. Well, yes and no. For someone who speaks English from the 17th century then yes it is the most accurate but we do not speak that language anymore. The KJV speaks of unicorns. Now maybe in the 17th century the word unicorn meant something like a rhinoceros but today it means a mythological creature, so the translation is inaccurate in that account.
  5. Other (15%). I would like to know what the other is. I have no idea.

The point is, it doesn't matter what translaton you prefer, but you might want to carry another one around to let some other perspective in just in case. God speaks to us through scripture at different times and in different ways.

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