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Israel’s Passover

The final plague the LORD brought upon Egypt to force Pharaoh to let Israel go was death of the first-born. (Ex. 11:1,4-6) To protect the Israelite first-born, God instructed Moses to have Israel to implement the Passover. (Ex. 12:1-14) The Passover involved selecting a male lamb of the first year without blemish on the 10th of the month and bringing it into their household. On the 14th day of the month, the Israelites were to kill the lamb, sprinkle its blood on the lintel and side door posts of their homes, roast the lamb and then eat it with bitter herbs while remaining within their homes during the entire night and being dressed, ready to leave Egypt. Following these instructions would protect their first-born from the angel of death. “The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”—Ex. 12:13 (New American Standard Bible)

This event is a beautiful picture of how God liberates Israel and mankind from their bondage to Satan, sin and death. The man Christ Jesus is the (Passover) lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29,36) “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” for us. (1 Cor. 5:7) The followers of Jesus, the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven, are pictured by the first-born of Israel. (Heb. 12:23; Luke 10:20) They are Christ’s body and if faithful, follow him as first-born from the dead.—Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5

They are “not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:18,19 NASB) They are protected by Jesus’ blood from God’s justice (angel of death) as they follow Jesus’ example, teachings and are conformed to his image. (Rom. 8:29,30) God justifies them through Jesus blood that they might be acceptable to Him.—Rom. 8:32-34

Following Jesus’ return, his followers are resurrected from the dead. (Rev. 20:4,6) As kings and priests with Christ, they will lead Israel and all mankind to freedom from sin, death and Satan in Christ’s earthly kingdom, pictured by Israel leaving Egypt.—Ex. 12:50,51

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Spying Out the Land

Following the Exodus, we find the account of the Israelites spying out the promised land. (Num. 13:1-33) God instructed Moses to select leaders from each of the twelve tribes to search the land of Canaan. Moses instructed them to assess the people and the land which God was giving them. They were told to see if the people were strong, numerous, and if they lived in fortified cities. They were also instructed to explore the land to see if it was good, fertile, and had abundant trees.

God promised Israel that he would give them this land. They spied out the land all the way to the far north near Mt. Hermon. The twelve spies collected a cluster of grapes that took two men to carry. Truly, this was the land of milk and honey that God had promised them.

When the spies returned after forty days, ten of them told the Israelites that the occupants of the land were numerous, of great stature, and lived in fortified cities. But Joshua and Caleb, the two remaining spies, gave a good report saying the land was bountiful and that God would deliver it to them.

The ten spies responded, “We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel.” (Num. 13:31,32) This stirred the people against God to the point where they cried out that it would have been better if they had been left in Egypt.—Num. 14:1-9

God was so angered that the ten spies stirred up the people, he caused the Israelites to wander the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the spies had spent spying out the promised land. In addition, any over the age of twenty, would die in the wilderness and would not be allowed to enter the promised land.—Num. 14:28-35

Joshua and Caleb, because of their faithfulness, led the people into the promised land forty years later. (Num. 14:30) This experience teaches us the importance of walking by faith. Only when we rest in the Lord, will we be delivered by God into his promised land. This account also illustrates God will fulfill every promise that he makes to those who faithfully follow him.

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Healthcare Crisis

Most people in our country are familiar with the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) or “Obamacare”—signed into law in 2010. “Obamacare” was coined as a derogatory term by opponents of President Obama. But, it caught on with the general public since it was easier to say and remember. The ACA was the most sweeping reform of the US healthcare system since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid.

Reforms implemented by the ACA include establishing Health Insurance Exchanges (marketplaces) where individuals, families, and small businesses could purchase qualified health insurance plans with affordable premiums. These plans satisfy the ACA’s individual mandate requiring those who don’t have health insurance to purchase it. The ACA also provides low and middle-income purchasers with subsidies to make buying health insurance more affordable. At the same time, it imposes a tax penalty on those who are uninsured beginning in 2014.

The procedures involved with applying for medical coverage and the need for such a system have been a source of debate and discontent since their inception. Premiums and deductibles associated with the available plans have continued to increase, and insurance providers have withdrawn from the program in many states.

The controversy continued during the 2016 presidential campaign and last month President Trump and the Republican congress attempted but failed to repeal parts of the ACA. The proposed repeal would have led to 24 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2024.

Unlike mankind, there is no confusion about how God will provide all mankind with the opportunity to live healthy lives in the future. (Isa. 40:28) God has promised to establish His holy kingdom upon this earth, and it will abide forever. “Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.”—Psa. 145:13; Dan. 2:44

Under that kingdom, the blood of Jesus will be applied on behalf of all and the penalty of sin, sickness and death will be removed from the human family. As a result, “the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.” (Isa. 33:24) “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing.” —Isa. 35:5,6

All the dead shall be raised to life. “For an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” — John 5:28-29 (New American Standard)

Under this plan, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”—Rev. 21:4

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Job

Job’s life was one of integrity, sincerity and consistency. He reverenced God and worshiped Him. God blessed him with a large family, many possessions and the esteem of friends.

Suddenly, disaster came upon him. He lost his children, wealth, influence and his health. He sought an explanation as to why God should permit such calamities to come upon him. Still, he trusted in God, saying, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him!”—Job 13:15

Job’s character was being tested and refined. Likewise, every Christian will go through trials to test their character. In James 5:11, we read, “You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings.” (New American Standard) The Lord desires to develop patient endurance in His people.

If we have difficulties, persecutions or troubles of any kind, we should look to God. We should say: This thing could not happen to me unless the Lord permitted it. We have come under special Divine care. God has promised that all things shall work together for good to us who are His children. (Rom. 8:28) The lesson of trust is one of those difficult lessons for us to learn and apply. We must come to realize that all of life’s experiences are under Divine supervision. Nothing can happen to us but what ultimately is for our highest, eternal good.

The Lord’s people have such a peace and rest of mind through the knowledge of God’s Plan. The knowledge of His Justice, Mercy and Love, and a blessed realization that He is our God give us peace, quiet and rest of mind. While the people in the world today are more or less troubled, God’s children have a peace that the world cannot comprehend. (Phil. 4:7) It is a peace that the world can neither give nor take away. When our trials are over, the Lord will make up for all the troubles of the present life. Then, we shall look back on these trials and consider them but light afflictions, only for a moment. —2 Cor. 4:1

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Law Covenant

Having been freed from Egyptian bondage and led to safety by God’s providence, the Israelites—descendants of God’s friend Abraham (James 2:23)—were given the opportunity to become God’s “treasured possession,” His “holy nation.” These blessings would be poured out if the nation fully obeyed God and kept His covenant. Israel responded, “All the words which the LORD hath said will we do.” (Ex. 24:3) Thus began Israel’s Law Covenant.

The Ten Commandments soon followed and formed the basis of the Jewish Law. (Ex. 20:1-17) The first four of the ten commandments defined man’s relationship to God. The fifth commandment described the relationship with one’s parents. The last five commandments described relationships with others. The final commandment makes the Law unique from all other laws in that it forbids selfishness toward others, a law that can only be enforced by God. These were combined with about six hundred other laws and regulations that governed everything from hygiene, to diet, and relationships. The Law was from God and it was holy (Rom. 7:12,14), a standard of perfection which if kept would grant life.—Lev. 18:5

Throughout Israel’s history, it was shown again and again that it was impossible to keep the Law in full. All fell short of the standard it established. Even those whom God loved fell far short of keeping the precepts of the Law in major ways, including murder, lust, envy, and hatred. In the New Testament Jesus stated that the Law hung on two main things, loving God supremely and loving others as oneself. (Matt. 22:35-40) He showed that in perfecting these two loves it was possible to satisfy the demands of the Law. Christ was the only human to ever keep the Law in every aspect and thus, he alone was worthy of life.

The Apostle Paul wrote the Law was “added because of transgressions, till the seed should come.” It was a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.” It revealed that all humans, including the Jews, are under sin and cannot obtain life by the “works of the law.” (Gal. 3:19,24,10) It proved the words of Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It showed the nation of Israel then and us today how very important God’s forgiveness and mercy are to our standing as favored sons and daughters.

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Plagues on Egypt

When God sent Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, He told Moses: “When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” (Ex. 7:4-5 New American Standard) These judgments were the ten plagues God brought upon Egypt to force Israel’s release.

The first three plagues affected both the Egyptians and the Israelites: (1) turning the water of the Nile river into blood (Ex. 7:17-22); (2) plague of frogs (Ex. 8:2-7); (3) plague of gnats (Ex. 8:16-19). Plagues four through nine affected only the Egyptians. “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the LORD, am in the midst of the land” (Ex. 8:22-23 NASB).The next five plagues were: (4) swarm of flies (Ex. 8:21-24); (5) pestilence on the livestock (Ex. 9:2-7); (6) boils (Ex. 9:8-12); (7) hail and fire (Ex. 9:18-26); (8) locusts (Ex. 10:3-11); (9) three days of darkness.—Ex. 10:21-24

After each of the first nine plagues was lifted, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. Therefore, “the LORD said to Moses, ‘One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. … About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well.”—Exod. 11:1,4,5 (NASB).

To protect the first-born Israelites, God instructed each family to select a male lamb without blemish, kill it, sprinkle its blood on the lintels and sideposts of the doors and eat the rest of the lamb roasted by fire that same night. (Ex. 12:1-33) This ceremony, known by the Jews as the Passover, saved the Israelite first-born while the first-born Egyptians died. This plague forced Pharaoh and the Egyptians to let the Israelites go free lest “We be all dead men.”—Ex. 12:33 (NASB)

My Servant

Last November, the US held an election to select its president for the next four years. While earth struggles to find leaders to solve their problems, God has already made his selection for the leader and savior of the world. “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isa. 42:1 NASB) Matthew 12:18 tells us that Isaiah’s prophecy applies to Jesus.

God calls Jesus “my servant.” God used this same term to describe Abraham (Gen. 26:24), Moses (Num. 12:7), David (2 Sam. 7:8) and the nation of Israel (Isa. 41:8). “My servant” is an expression of praise for an individual dedicated to the doing of God’s will.

Isaiah 42:1 tells us that God would uphold Jesus. God upheld our Lord during his earthly ministry using His spirit, power and overruling providences. Jesus confirms this in Psalm 16:8 (NASB): “I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.”

Because Jesus was faithful to God unto his death on the cross, God upheld Jesus further by raising him from the dead and seating Jesus at God’s right hand in the heavenly places.—Eph. 1:20; Rev. 3:21

God delighted in Jesus because of Jesus’ devotion and faithfulness to God. God expressed this delight when Jesus came to Jordan to be baptized. “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matt. 3:17 NASB) God’s delight with Jesus continued to the end of Jesus’ ministry when He said at the mount of transfiguration: “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” —Matt. 17:5 (NASB)

Because God delighted in Jesus, He put His spirit upon Jesus. “After being baptized, … behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him [Jesus].” (Matt. 3:16 NASB) God’s holy spirit enabled Jesus to fulfill the mission that God had given him. “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.”—Luke 4:18,19 (NASB)

Finally, Isaiah 42:1 tells us what Jesus’ mission will accomplish—he will bring forth justice to the nations. Psalm 72:2-4 (NASB) describes the justice Jesus brings to mankind. “May he judge Your people with righteousness And Your afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people, And the hills, in righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, Save the children of the needy And crush the oppressor.” Jesus will not only judge God’s people, both his followers and fleshly Israel with justice, he will judge the nations or the world in righteousness saving the needy and crushing the oppressor, Satan and all his allies.

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Moses

Many years after the death of Joseph, the nation of Israel had descended into slavery in Egypt until another individual arose who was led by God to deliver them. His name was Moses. Even from his birth, we see God’s overruling providences in Moses’ life and how he grew up to be the deliverer of Israel. But this did not happen easily. We can look at Moses’ life as 3 equal sections of 40 years each, from birth to his death at 120 years old.

The first 40 were his growing up years during which Moses learned the Egyptian ways from Pharaoh’s daughter who found him in a little ark in the river Nile. Moses also learned his Jewish heritage from his own mother, Jochebed, who was allowed to care for him up as a young child because Moses’ sister, Miriam, offered to find a Hebrew woman to nurse Moses for Pharaoh’s daughter. Here, we see the overruling of God.

At the age of 40 Moses saw how his own people were being mistreated and killed an Egyptian who was smiting a fellow Hebrew and then hid the Egyptian’s body. Thinking no one saw him, Moses sought to stop 2 Hebrews from fighting the next day. In response, one asked him, “Who made you prince and judge, do you intend to kill me too?” (Exod. 2:13,14) Moses became fearful because what he had done had become known and he fled into the wilderness.

The next 40 years Moses learned to live in the wilderness. There he met Jethro and became a shepherd of his flock and married one of his daughters. During this period, Moses learned meekness, humility, faith and developed a deep respect for God’s promises. He was prepared to be a faithful servant of God and deliver Israel from Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey—Canaan.

Moses’ last 40 years begins with Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Then he led them for 40 years in the Wilderness becoming the mediator between God and Israel. Finally, he led them to the Promised Land. However, Moses could not enter the Promised Land with the nation because of his failure to speak to the rock (Numbers 20:1-12) He only got to view the Promised Land from afar.

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“What is That in Thine Hand?”

When Moses stood in front of the burning bush, he was over 80 years-old, a shepherd in the desert, and watching over the flocks of his father in-law, Jethro. From a worldly perspective, we might say he was too old, out of touch, and lacked the experience to lead a nation of a million people out of captivity. But in God’s sight, Moses was finally ready for the greatest work of his life.

Consider that Moses had been raised in the royal court of Egypt, was aware of the suffering of the Hebrew people, had been desert-tested, and most importantly, was considered the meekest man on the Earth. (Num. 12:3) From God’s standpoint, it took 80 years to form the character of Moses into one He could use to lead His people out of Egypt. God is able to read the heart and thus, select those best suited to serve Him and His purposes. “For man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)

Even Moses was unsure of his own abilities. Once he understood what was being asked of him, he raised several objections. First, Moses did not think he was the right person for the job. God responded, do not worry because He would be with Moses (Exod. 3:11-12). Second, Moses said the Israelites would not believe him unless they knew who had sent him. God said to tell the Israelites that “I AM” had sent Moses – the God of their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exod. 3:13-15). Third, Moses said the Egyptians would not believe him. God responded, “what is that in thine hand?” God performed miracles with Moses’ rod and hand that would show the power of the almighty God. (Exod. 4:1-8) Finally, Moses said he wouldn’t know what to say. God cleared this objection by selecting his brother Aaron to be his spokesman. (Exod. 4:10-15)

We know that God does not need us in His service, but He wants us to serve Him. For those called to serve God in whatever capacity, the LORD will find the best way in which to use our talents. We simply must be humble and willing.

Israel’s Deliverance from Egypt

After many long years of slavery, the time had come for God to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. The nine plagues on Pharaoh and his people had just about destroyed their economy, resulting in the sufferings that accompany natural disasters. These disasters were from God and not natural. He brought them on the Egyptians to effect Israel’s deliverance. They had their intended effect, but one more plague was necessary to release the Israelites—the death of the firstborn sons of Pharaoh and his people.

However, the Israelite’s firstborn would be passed over and escape the death-angel’s slaughter if their families took a lamb, slew it, sprinkled its blood on the doorposts and lintels of their houses, remained in the house during that night, and ate the lamb roasted while fully dressed and ready to leave Egypt. (Exodus 12) The event of this night was called the Lord’s Passover, verse 11.

Christ Jesus is pictured in the Passover lamb and the blood that was sprinkled that night. Still, the Israelites had to flee Egypt the next morning, and while reaching the Red Sea, Pharaoh had a change of heart and overtook them with an army of chariots. Nevertheless, God separated the two with a dark cloud until Moses had led the people on dry land through the Red Sea. Once the cloud lifted, the Egyptians pursued the Israelites using the open path through the sea, at which point God brought the walls of water back together drowning the Egyptian army and giving the Israelites full deliverance from Egyptian bondage. (Exodus 14)

Moses illustrated Christ Jesus who delivers all who follow him from the slavery of sin and death to freedom and life. Moses wrote that God would raise up a prophet like unto himself and that the people would be required to heed his commands in all things in order to live forever. (Deut. 18:18, 19) It was through Israel that the Messiah would come. God was making wonderful pictures of His future deliverance of all mankind in His dealings with His typical people Israel.

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