Prayer Requests for Week of September 28th, 2014

Hey all,

I trust all of you are back in the swing of things and enjoying BSF’s Study of the Life of Moses.

Please post your prayer requests/praises below or email me at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com

Mine:  guidance and perseverance.

God bless and have a fantastic week!!

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BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 5, Day 3: Exodus 7:14-8:19

Summary of passage:  Since Pharaoh still refuses to let the Israelites go, God tells Moses to go out to the Nile River and meet Pharaoh and tell him that since he won’t let my people go, you will use your staff to turn the water of the Nile to blood so that the fish will die and the water will be undrinkable.  Then send Aaron to turn the rest of the water in Egypt to blood as well.  Moses obeyed but Pharaoh didn’t care since his magicians could do the same thing.  The Egyptians had to dig for their water.

After a week, God tell Moses to send a plague of frogs upon the people until Pharaoh relents and lets His people go.  So Aaron sends the frogs, which the magicians can do as well.  Pharaoh tells Moses if he takes the frogs away, he will release the Israelites.  So Moses agrees but Pharaoh reneges on his word.

So God has Aaron turn the dust of the land to gnats–something the magicians cannot reproduce.  They tell Pharaoh this is from God but he doesn’t care.

Questions:

5)  Blood:  The Lord tells Moses and Aaron to turn the water in Egypt to blood.  Moses turns the Nile to blood while Aaron turns the rest of water to blood.  The magicians can do the same thing.  Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses or Aaron and did nothing.

Frogs:  The Lord tells Moses to tell Pharaoh He will plague Egypt with frogs and tells Moses to tell Aaron to do so.  So Moses obeys and Aaron makes frogs come up out of the land from the waters in Egypt.  The magicians can do the same thing.  Pharaoh tells Moses and Aaron he will release the Israelites if the Lord removes the frogs.  So Moses does but Pharaoh reneges.

Gnats:  The Lord tells Moses to tell Aaron to turn the dust to gnats.  Moses and Aaron do.  This is something the magicians can’t do so they tell Pharaoh that this must be the finger of God.  But Pharaoh as always has a hard heart and won’t listen and keep the Israelites enslaved.

Differences:  Moses participates in the plague of blood but strictly Aaron does so in the frogs and gnats.  Pharaoh obviously didn’t like frogs since he lies to Moses to get him to take the frogs away.  God is the same in all the passages.  The magicians can’t reproduce the gnats so they are now convinced that the Lord is who He says He is.  Pharaoh is the same obstinate person as before.

6a)  “This is what the Lord says”

b)  To underscore to Pharaoh that the message is from the Lord and not Moses just speaking.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It is important to realize that the Bible is all that the Lord says, that it is from Him, and I’d better listen!

Conclusions:  I had never noticed before that Moses was the leader and Aaron did all the work for Moses.  From my childhood, I had always remembered it as Moses doing it all but it seems it’s his brother, Aaron, that does all the grunt work!  Aaron himself has no ability to perform miracles unless Moses says so.  It’s like Moses has to be seen as the leader just like Pharaoh is seen as the leader and like Pharaoh has minions and magicians to perform his work so must Moses.  I believe this is so in order to establish credibility with Pharaoh.  Furthermore, this is how it was in the ancient world:  you had an all-powerful ruler who dictated his orders and couldn’t possibly lower himself to do the work.

I always love how The Lord speaks to Moses cause it makes me jealous and I want God to speak to me!

End Notes:

Map of Ancient Egypt:  http://www.timemaps.com/history/middle-east-1500bc

Up-close Map of Ancient Egypt:  http://www.timemaps.com/history/ancient-egypt-1500bc

This is the time of Ancient Egypt’s greatest power and the furthest extent of its empire.  And here’s Moses challenging arguably the greatest man on earth!  These maps are interactive and have a wealth of information on the time and the countries around Egypt.

There are 9 plagues sent by God upon Egypt (the killing of the firstborn is not really a plague per se).  They are grouped by threes with the first two always coming with warnings and the third with no warning.  This is by God’s mercy upon Pharaoh, hoping he will change his heart.  He never does.

Some say the plagues could all have happened by natural causes.  For instance, in the plague of the blood, the river Nile floods every year and deposits rich, red soil on the land.  This could taint the water and kill the fish.  However, in the time sequence of the Bible, not all could happen so close together.

Each plague attacked an Egyptian deity, showing God’s omnipotence over all and answering Pharaoh’s question from Exodus 5:2 “Who is the Lord?”

In the plague of blood, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a goddess. This shows her ineptitude.

Scholars debate whether the magicians were using tricks or were using powers from Satan.  Most lean towards Satan.  Note how Satan just replicates the miracle; he never fixes it for instance turning the Nile back to clean because Satan cannot cleanse anything.

Why all the plagues?  Why not just kill the Egyptians and be done with it?  Well, God has two purposes here.  One, to show his power over the Egyptian gods.  Two, to give Pharaoh and the Egyptians a chance to repent–to show mercy as God does to all peoples.

Plague of frogs:  Again, this is directed towards an Egyptian goddess who had the head of a frog.  Frogs were worshipped by the Egyptians and considered sacred and thus were not to be killed.  What did God do?  He killed the frogs!  I bet the Egyptians were outraged over this one!

Note the parallels with the Creation here:  First and Second plagues are about the waters.  Third and fourth plagues, earth.  Five, air.  Sixth, man.  Then God rested.  Genesis 1, anyone?

Note how God uses the lowly here to accomplish his goals:  gnats, frogs, etc.

Pharaoh had to ask for help with his frog problem since no one was allowed to kill frogs and apparently they were everywhere, so much so the land reeked of them.

Plague of gnats:  Many translations say plague of lice (which to me is worse!).  The Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness and this hit them hard!  Plus, now their sacrificial animals were tainted and no longer clean and fit for sacrifice to their gods.

The magicians cannot replicate this miracle and they say so to Pharaoh who apparently is insane and refuses to believe.  This shows how evil is limited and only God is omnipotent.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 5, Day 2: Exodus 6:28-7:13

Summary of passage:  Moses again repeats how he is incapable of the task God has given him to speak to Pharaoh and demand that he let the Israelites go.  God tells Moses that He will make him like god to Pharaoh and Aaron will be Moses’ prophet.  They are to repeat everything God tells them to Pharaoh but Pharaoh won’t let them go.  So God will lay mighty acts of judgment on the Egyptians and He will bring out His people.  Moses did just as the Lord commanded them.  Moses was 80 and Aaron was 83 years old.

God told Aaron to throw down his staff and it would become a snake when Pharaoh asks for a miracle.  Aaron did so but so did the Egyptian magicians.  Despite Aaron’s snake swallowing up the magicians’ snakes, Pharaoh still refused to listen.

Questions:

3a)  First thought, because Moses is an idiot.  Real answer I’ll say in class:  Moses says Pharaoh won’t listen to him because he speaks with faltering lips.

b)  First thought:  God should have slapped Moses silly and then hit him over the head with a 2 x 4.  Real answer I’ll say in class:  God told Moses He would make Moses like God to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Despite our doubt and unbelief, God in His infinite patience, will answer our prayers and provide us the strength to make it through our troubled times.  God doesn’t smack us silly when we just don’t get it.  He patiently waits and gives us the reassurance and the power to succeed in His will for our lives.  Comforting as I try to follow God’s will for my life.  I know God will provide everything I need to accomplish it.

4a)  If your heart is hardened, you refuse to listen to God.  You are being stubborn and even when you know the other person is right, you refuse to change your ways.  It’s when you know what the right thing to do is but you don’t do it.

b)  God will render mighty acts of judgment upon the Egyptians.

c)  It disappears.  Every ancient civilization fell.  Egypt.  Greeks.  Romans.  Persians.  Babylonians.  Mongols.  Hittites.  Nazi Germany.  They either disappeared or were conquered.  The only nation still standing after millenia is Israel.

Conclusions:  I couldn’t believe Moses–again protesting God’s will and his ability.  I wonder how much fear played a factor here.  After all, Pharaoh was the most powerful man in the known world at this time.  Just goes to show us how much we doubt God and His word and how much God props us up in our doubt.

I liked the hardened question because I believe this happens a lot.  People don’t do good when they know they should.  Instead, they listen to the devil and either don’t do anything (a choice as well) or do evil.  These days people claim ignorance or blame it on someone else but God knows their heart like He knew Pharaoh’s and in the end judgment will be forthcoming.

I also love how when Satan shows up God beats him every time.  The magicians’ snakes were eaten by God’s.  Great reminder to us that God is the one in charge and He will conquer all.

End Notes:  Scholars say either Moses had a speech problem or he just believed he was unclean or unworthy to be used by God.  Either way God uses us all despite our sins or our impediments. Trust in Him is the key.

Since Pharaoh won’t listen to God himself (Exodus 5:2), God will use Moses as a testament of himself.  So we all are God’s people, representing God to those who won’t listen to Him.

Note here God clearly puts Moses in charge and Aaron as the number 2 guy (God versus the prophet analogy). This will be important later on as Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and they wander around for 40 years.  We’ll see how this plays out later in our study!

When Pharaoh refused God the first go-around (Exodus 5:1-4), Pharaoh chose evil over God.  Hence, God reserves the right to strength this choice of evil in your heart if you chose to turn from Him.  Thus, he hardened Pharaoh’s heart.  Note still there is time to turn to Him.  God will perform wonders throughout Egypt so Pharaoh could still turn to God.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to bring judgment on Egypt.  God’s plan was to show who He was and some did believe as in Exodus 12:38 where some Egyptians accompanied the Israelites.

Note how Aaron was older.  God broke with tradition and chose the younger brother for His work.  Anyone remember Joseph?  God’s ways and traditions are definitely NOT man’s!

This is not the same miracle as in Exodus 4:1-9.  Scholars say this Hebrew word for “snake” here is different and could connote a crocodile or some other animal that would be more meaningful to the Egyptians.  (They worshiped crocodiles by the way).

Satan was here, working his evil magic through the Pharaoh’s magicians and giving Pharaoh room to doubt. God showed Pharaoh He was more powerful than Satan by having his snake swallow up the others.  Still Pharaoh refused to believe the truth.

After thought:  Some wonder why we can’t narrow down which Pharaoh this is because the Egyptians kept detailed records of every pharaohs and their deeds.  However, Egyptians were notorious for changing records.  Often, a Pharaoh would try to erase the existence and/or deeds of his predecessor especially if a coup or a fight had been involved.  We see this with Hatshepsut, the most famous and prosperous female ruler of Egypt who ruled around 1500 BC.  This happened again with Akhenaten (1330’s BC–Tutankhamun’s Dad by the way) who tried to institute monotheism in Egypt which upset many.  There are other examples as well.

Hence, in my mind, this could be the case for this Pharaoh.  After all, who would want to write down in Egypt’s illustrious histories how a Pharaoh let all his slaves escape?  Especially during this time which was the time that the Egyptian empire was at its most powerful.  I’m sure the Pharaohs who came after this one were ashamed about what happened and didn’t want the word out, which would lessen their credibility as gods to their people and as powerful leaders to the surrounding nations.

History recording is not perfect by man.  Luckily, it is by God.

Constance: A Story of Early Plymouth

Constance

Constance

Constance, what best could be described as historical romance for the middle-grade or young adult market, is a fabulous book about the hardships and times of early Colonial America. Here, we follow Constance Hopkins (a real passenger on the Mayflower) on her journey to the unknown New World. She has fears like everyone else of the unknown but she not only overcomes them but she thrives.

As one of the few girls/women to survive the first hard winter of Plymouth, MA, (where half the passengers died), she is very popular amongst the boys/men for a wife. She herself is unsure of what even love is. John Cooke is the first passenger to express an interest but she never really has one in him. She flirts with two men who are her father’s indentured servants who end up in a quarrel over her. But her heart doesn’t truly begin to feel until the arrival of the Fortune, the second ship to Plymouth, bringing a red-headed, strong-willed, nineteen-year-old Stephen Deane to shore. He stays with the Hopkins family for a spell while houses are being built and Constance likes him but is unsure–he is a flirt.

The next ship, the Anne, brings a one Nicholas Snow whom she quarrels with right off the bat. Yet he intrigues her. Soon, both men become serious in her and begin courting her. Stephen is the first to ask for her hand and she accepts. She thinks she is happy but is unsure. Both men depart on a hunting expedition for two weeks, which is accompanied by powerful storms. Only then does she realize she loves Nicholas.

In the end, he confesses his love for her and vice-versa and all live happily ever after.

Good quotes from the book I liked:

P. 102 “I am beginning to learn that the things one fears rarely come to pass.”

P. 158 “Any man who owes money to another is a slave!” This references the debt the colonists owed their sponsors of the voyage.

P. 218 “There is much to be done in this new world, and a man and a wife working together are the best people to do it.” I liked this for its truth today as much as yesterday.

Written in 1968 by Patricia Clapp, this novel has withstood the test of time as it remains every bit the classic today as it was then.

This book goes beyond just the original passengers on the Mayflower and one begins to understand how the settlement and the population grew as we learn more and more ships arrived, bringing more and more colonists.  So often we just read about the first winter and the first Thanksgiving and it seems history stops there; but it doesn’t.  There is so much more to the growth of the original colonies and this book does an excellent job of showing that growth.  One truly begins to see how the Native Americans were pushed back and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of immigrants arriving from the Old World.

Good historical accuracy. Great tidbits thrown in of the hardships and the sickness one had to endure. Great survival story and a story of thriving. Good emphasis on God and how important He was to the Pilgrims. Good portrayalship of the Native Americans. An overall good read and our favorite of the summer. Recommended for ages 10 and up but my son enjoyed the story as well and he’s six.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 4, Day 5: Exodus 6:1-27

Summary of passage:  The Lord answers Moses’ complaint in Chapter 5.  He says Pharaoh will let his people go because of Him.  God repeats himself a bit here, saying He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob whom He established a covenant with.  He has heard the groaning of the Israelites and He has remembered (Exodus 3:6-8).

God tells Moses to tell His people He will rescue them from the Egyptians as His own people and bring them to the Promised Land.  Moses again told the Israelites who again did not listen to him.  God again tells Moses to tell Pharaoha to let the people go and again Moses asks why would anyone listen to him.  A listing of Levi clan heads is given, showing Moses’ and Aaron’s genealogy.

Questions:

8a)  Repeated himself (Exodus 3:6-8), saying He will do what He says He will do and free the Israelites.

b)  I am the Lord

c)  That this is God speaking and God keeps His promises as the One, True, omnipotent God.

9a)  Pharaoh will let the Israelites go and will drive them out of his country.  He will bring them out from under the Egyptians’ yoke.  He will free them and redeem them with an outstretched arm and mighty acts of judgment.  God will take them as His own people and be their God.  You will know He is Lord.  He will bring them to the Promised Land and give it to them as their possession.

[Side Note:  These are the seven famous "I will"s in verses 6-8 and then add the one promise from verse 1.  See End Notes for more.]

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Too many to list here as I believe the entire Bible is God’s promise to me.  Some are:  He will provide for me, take care of me, comfort me, listen to me, answer me, guide me, protect me, and bring me home when He is done with me.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When we are discouraged, our faith is weakened.  To be aware when I am down so I can consciously strengthen my faith and to be aware of those times when I tend to feel self-doubt so I can remind myself of God’s promises.

11a)  Levi, Kohath, Amram and Jochebed, Moses and Aaron

b)  Wife:  Elisheba.  Sons:  Nadab, Abuihu, Eleazar, Ithamar.  Daughter-in-law:  one of the daughters of Putiel.  Grandson:  Phinehas

Conclusions:  Do you ever think God gets tired of repeating Himself?  I know I do when I repeat myself over and over to my kids and I ask them “Are you listening to me?”  I know the answer is “no”.  God does as well.  Great lesson here in the workings of the human mind.  Repetition and lots of it especially in the learning phase.  God has patience and compassion on us when we forget things as we should with those around us as well.

God is also constantly re-assuring us when we doubt ourselves, telling us we can do this with Him by our side. He has given us His words to live by which should be taken as Him speaking to us like He did with Moses.  The Bible is God speaking to us–His promises, His help, His re-assurance, His guidance, His words of advice, His comfort, His love.  If only we could remember this each and every second of our lives…

End Notes:  In God’s grace, He is telling Moses He is in control, not Pharaoh.  In all fairness to Moses, God has only promised the covenant.  Here, He is about to fulfill the covenant after a 400 year wait.  It seems a long time for mankind when to God it is nothing.  But man and Moses are impatient and want it now!

What is famous in this passage is the Seven “I will”s in verses 6-8:

· I will bring you out
· I will free you from being slaves
· I will redeem you
· I will take you as My people
· I will be your God
· I will bring you to the land I swore
· I will give it to you as a possession

Before this, there is one more “I will”:  I will do to Pharaoh (verse 1).

Interestingly, here it is the future tense.  In the original Hebrew, it is in the past tense–meaning that God speaks as if it has already been accomplished.

Other famous “I will” statements in the Bible is those of Satan in Isaiah 14:13-15.

The Israelites now had a slave mentality after 400 years.  They were discouraged from their cruel bondage.  This way of life is all they have known.  Believing God would rescue them is something they needed to see before believing.  Ezekiel, having the word of the Lord, explains how the Israelites had turned from him to the gods of the Egyptians and it was only out of God’s grace and pity did He bring them out of Egypt and so His name would not be profaned in the nations around His people.  Once again, we see God forgiving us stupid humans again and again and again.

God told Moses to go once again to Pharaoh and demand the release of His people.  Moses objected because of “uncircumcised of lips”, which is the Hebrew translation.  This in not in the NIV version which uses the term “faltering”.  The former speaks volumes to Moses’ opinion of himself.  He now thinks he is unclean to deliver God’s message.  Moses needed his faith built just as much as the Israelites did and here God is doing so with all of these challenges and setbacks.

This genealogy seems unimportant to us mainly because of our culture where our heritage seems to be lost and because we in America at least are not dictated by a class system.  But this was hugely important to God.  There are 3 main tribes of the Levite clan, all sons of Levi:  Gershon, Kohath, and Merari which would have different jobs in relation to God’s future tabernacle.

We will see the sons of Korah again in Numbers 16 when they rebel against Moses.

Wow!  This passage is jam packed.  Every time God speaks in the Bible (or Jesus but for our purposes it will be God Himself in our study of the Old Testament) we need to pay attention and try to glean not only the message but God’s other hidden messages as well.  It is obvious Moses’ doubt.  What is not so obvious is God’s testing and building of faith in His people.  His purpose. His timing.  His omnipotence.  His control.  What we need to see in our own lives!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 4, Day 4: Exodus 5:22-23

Summary of passage:  Moses goes to the Lord and relays his people’s increased troubles from Pharaoh due to Moses’ talk with Pharaoh.  He asks God why the trouble and why has he been sent.

Questions:

6a)  “Why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?”

b)  He is angry that the people have once again turned against him.  He is pained by their suffering as well.  He probably feels guilty that it’s because of his words that the people suffer more.  He is probably saddened by it all.

7a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When I do for others over my family like teaching for example.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray and ask God just like Moses did for understanding and guidance.

Conclusions:  One of the shortest lessons ever by BSF.  I like the example Moses sets here:  ask God why.  Nothing wrong with that.  Ask God for wisdom and guidance and understanding.  You may not get it, but just by praying you’ll get something.  Lay your doubts before Him and He will allay them.  This shows faith.

What Moses did wrong we see in the first verses of Chapter 6:  God repeats himself His promise again from Exodus 3:19-20.  Moses forgets what God has told him.  I think Moses thought “Great!  God is with me and I’ll just march down to Egypt, tell Pharaoh to let my people go, and we’ll just waltz out there happy as can be.”  He underestimated the growth the people (and himself) still had to do before their faith would be sufficient to survive the march to the Promised Land.  He didn’t fully understand God (who does, right?) and His ways.

End Notes:  Moses doubts himself.  Again.  Poor Moses.  He must have really low self-esteem.  Any old setback and he doubts.  “Why me, God?”  You can almost hear God hit Moses over the head.  “This is why, Moses!  Cause you doubt still!”

This should be a comfort to us all.  Even Moses–who has a direct line to God–doubts.  And even Moses is tested.

No one ever said walking in faith was easy.  Moses demonstrates this.  Yet we are about to see all the great things God will do with him as he surrenders more and more to God’s will.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 4, Day 3: Exodus 5:15-21

Summary of passage:  The Israelite foreman protest Pharaoh’s orders directly to Pharaoh, telling him it is his fault they are not producing enough because of his orders.  [Note for future:  Don't tell the ruler of the world he is wrong and anything is his fault.  Bad idea!]  Pharaoh tells them they are just lazy.  If they have time to sacrifice to the Lord, then they have the time to meet their quotas.  They left Pharaoh, dejected.  On the way back, they meet Moses and Aaron and blame them for making their lives harder and for making them a stench to Pharaoh.

Questions:

5a)  They had the guts to actually go to Pharaoh, the ruler of the known world, and ask for leniency in their work.  Of course, telling Pharaoh it’s his fault they aren’t producing enough was not a good idea and never is.

b)  They blamed Moses and Aaron for their increased work load and cursed them essentially.  They could only see the immediacy of their plight and not the future.  They did not have faith the Lord would free them.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am sure there have been numerous times I have blamed others when the fault lay with me.  I see my kids do this and try my best to instill personal responsibility and faith in them.  I’m trying to think of major events and nothing is coming so they must all be small.  Either that or I’m in complete denial and blocked it from my memory! :)

Conclusions:  Natural human reaction is to blame those who brought more upon yourself.  It takes a bigger person and a bigger faith to see the bigger picture in the midst of hardship and I believe that is what God is trying to teach us here.  Have faith even when you can’t see and especially when you don’t want to see and all you want to do is wallow in self-pity.

End Notes:  Instead of turning to God with the straw problem, they went to Pharaoh, the initiator of their problems.  I think they hoped for it to go back to the way it was but God didn’t want the way it was–he wanted a new way.

This was a test on Israel from God.  He could have snapped his fingers and freed them, but He knew they needed to grow in trust of Him.  Gone was the worshipful attitude of Chapter 4.  Under duress, how we forget the Lord so!!  They were certain this was Moses’ and Aaron’s fault for God would never allow this to happen.  But Pharaoh had showed his true colors and little did the Israelites know it would get worse before it got better as God increased their faith in Him.