Jesus' Footprints

Archive for July 2011

I came across some notes I had taken about worry.  They were based on Matthew 6:25-34.  Jesus was telling the people not to worry.  Worry is the result of a faith failure. 

Here are reasons why we worry:

  • We don’t know the Word of God
  • We listen to the wrong people, bad news and gossip

Worry does not fit a child of God.

What are the consequences of worry?

  • It divides your mind
  • It fragments your emotions
  • It drains your energy
  • It clouds your thinking
  • You cannot make a decision
  • You have a pity party
  • You withdraw from other people
  • You become irritable and angry
  • You question God’s love for you
  • You stop praying
  • It is the prescription drug trap
  • It affects your emotions
  • Your center of interest becomes things
  • You lose your testimony

When tempted to worry:

  • Remember your Father who knows and sees your need and that He is with you.
  • View the problems in the context of your faith.  See it the way God sees it.  Focus on God instead of the problem.
  • Live daily in obedience to God and grow in Christlikeness.  You need not worry about anything because God will take care of you.  He has lordship in your heart and your life.

As Jesus pointed out, worrying doesn’t help matters.  It doesn’t accomplish anything.  It’s needless.  The antedote for worry is trust–trust in the God who knows your need, your situation, your troubles, fears, concerns, etc. and will come through for you.  Cast all of your cares at the throne of mercy and leave them there.  Stop worrying and start worshipping.  Let your mind be filled with praises and thanksgiving instead of worry and a doubts.  Look up in faith instead of looking around you and worrying about situations you cannot change or control.

This past Sabbath, my husband and I were studying Exodus 3 and he mentioned something very interesting.  When Moses expressed doubt about appearing before Pharaoh and asking him to let the people go God said to him, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” My husband pointed out God’s words here.  They were more than reassuring.  They were prophetic.

God made two very important statements:

  1. When you have brought the people out of Egypt
  2. you shall serve God on this mountain

He is making it clear to Moses that not only is He going to send him to Pharaoh but two things will happen:  Moses will succeed in bringing the people out of Egypt and he will bring them to the same mountain he was standing on at the moment.

God was assuring Moses that the mission would be successful.  He will bring the people out of Egypt and to this very mountain where they were to worship the God who sent Moses to deliver them.

It’s natural to have doubts especially when you are faced with challenges that may seem to be more than you can handle.  Moses saw insurmountible difficulties ahead of him–he wasn’t much of a spokesperson.  He was going back to the place from which he fled and he was going to face Pharaoh and tell him to let the slaves go.  He wondered, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
He must have been scared stiff.  Yet, God promised him, “I will certainly be with you.”

God told Moses that when he brought the people out of Egypt and to this mountain to worship God, that would prove that He, God, had sent Moses to deliver the people.  God assured Moses that he would not be alone.  He even told him what would happen.  He told him what to say to the children of Israel.  He told Moses, “But I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not even by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst; and after that he will let you go.  And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed.  But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Of course, all of this came to pass.  The Pharoah refused to let the people go so God poured out plagues on the land and the Egyptian people.  Eventually, Pharaoh let the people go.  And just as God told Moses, the children of Israel  asked the Egyptians for articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing.  And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35, 36).

And just as God said, Moses brought the people to Horeb, the same mount where he met with God and was given the charge to bring the people out of Egypt.  It was there that the people came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.  It was there in the midst of the fire that God spoke to them. It was there He proclaimed his covenant—the Ten Commandments—which he commanded the people to keep, and which He wrote on two stone tablets.  It was at that time that the Lord commanded Moses to teach them His decrees and regulations so that they would obey them in the land they were about to enter and occupy.

The people were to serve God on that very mountain–the same mountain where He revealed Himself to Moses as I AM.  Moses’ faith must have grown stronger when he saw the events unfold before him–the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, etc. 

God told Abraham that his descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. God assured him that He would judge the nation whom the Israelites and the Israelites will come out of Egypt with great possessions. In the fourth generation they shall return to the Promised Land.  On the same day God told Abraham about the slavery and hardship that Israel would endure in Egypt, he made a covenant saying, On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—  the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites,  the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites” (Genesis 15:13-21).

Then four hundred years later, the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.  So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.  God heard and answered the prayers of His people.  He chose someone to bring them out of Egypt.  He chose Moses, the same Moses who was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter.  It was this Moses to whom He said, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.  Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

As Stephen testified, “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’  is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.  He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years (Acts 7:35, 36).  God kept His promise to Abraham.  He delivered Israel by Moses.

Do you doubt God when challenges arise?  Do you lose faith when things are not going the way you imagine that they would?  Like Moses we too experience fear and doubts and believe that we can’t do what God calls us to do but just as God assured Moses, he assures each of us that He will be with us.  

The next time God calls you to do something you think you cannot accomplish, remember that God can equip you and it is through His power and not your own that you can achieve whatever task He sets before you.  Moses didn’t think he could do what God called him to do but God found a way and Moses accomplished his task.  He brought the people out of Egypt and to the mountain where they were to meet and serve the God who had set them free from bondage.  Remember with God all things are possible.  Don’t limit God’s power.  Instead, allow Him to work amazing things through you.  Just be ready and willing and have the faith and He will do the rest.  

Today you can stand on the promises of God.  Just remember how He fulfilled His promise to Abraham four hundred years later in Moses.  God might be using you to fulfill a promise He made to someone else.

Samuel was placed in the care of Eli, the High Priest since he was a child.  Eli was grooming him to serve the Lord.  The first time God called Samuel, Samuel thought it was Eli but Eli told him that it was God’s voice he was hearing and told him what to say the next time he heard it. 

Unfortunately, the message God gave young Samuel was not good at all.  It had to do with Eli and his family.  God pronounced judgment upon them.  He said, “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.  For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

When I read these words, I was astounded.  God said that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.  This was a very serious situation.  God is a holy God and could not stand by and allow men who were supposed to be priests to profane the offerings of His people. 

Eli’s sons were worthless men who had no respect for the Lord or for their duties as priests.  They didn’t give the people the chance to properly prepare their offerings to the Lord.  While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling,  the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way.  Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting.  The person who was offering the sacrifice told the servant he could have as much as he wanted but begged him to wait until the fat was burned first but the servant refused, threatening to take the meat by force. 

The sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight because they treated His offerings with contempt.  And Eli knew about this.  And he also knew that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.  He said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people.  No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the LORD’s people transgress. If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the LORD, who will intercede for him?” His sons paid no heed to what he said because the Lord wanted to kill them.

Before Samuel’s prophecy, God had sent a man with a warning for Eli’s family.  Through this man, God rebuked Eli with these words, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’”  God said that Eli that Eli honored his sons more than he honored Him.  This reminds me of what God said to Adam.  “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’…” (Genesis 3:17). 

God also warned Eli that “there shall not be an old man in your house forever. But any of your men whom I do not cut off from My altar shall consume your eyes and grieve your heart. And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age.  Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.”  Can you imagine?  None of Eli’s descendants will live to an old age.  Wow.  God was clearly very upset with Eli and his family to the point that He wanted to kill Hophni and Phinehas. 

Eli’s sons were the polar opposite of Samuel.  Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli and he grew in stature, and in favor with both the LORD and men.  On the flip side, Hophni and Phinehas were profaning the people’s sacrifices and exploiting the women when they should have been receiving the offerings of God’s people and to making good use of them. 

It was hard for Samuel to tell Eli what the Lord said but Eli urged him, saying, “Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.”  Samuel had no choice but to tell the old priest everything and Eli acknowledged that God was a just God.  “It is the LORD. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” Eli had to admit that God had passed fair judgment on him and his sons.

Eli was in charge.  He was his sons’ boss.  He should have expressed righteous anger over what they were doing like Jesus did when there were moneychangers in the Temple.  Eli should have corrected his sons.  He knew what they were doing.  It was clear that this was going on for a while and he had done nothing about it.  He said he heard about their evil doings from the people.  Several people had gone to Eli and lodged complaints about his sons.  Obviously they wanted him to do something about it because it seemed as if their actions continued for a while before he even said something to them and by then it was too late.  Their fate had been sealed by God.

God’s judgment on Hophni and Phinehas came to pass when Israel faced the Philistines in battle.  Israel was defeated and four thousand lives were lost.  The people wondered why God had allowed the Philistines to defeat them.  Then someone had the bright idea to bring the Ark of the Covenant, believing that it would save them from the Philistines.  Unfortunately for them, it didn’t.  They were badly defeated by the Philistines, this time the number of casualties exceeded the four thousand they had already lost.  There was a very great slaughter, and  thirty thousand of their foot soldiers died.  Hopnni and Phinehas were among the slain.  And the ark of God was captured.  It fell into the hands of Israel’s enemies.  I find it incredible that the people believed that the ark, not God would save them.  They looked upon the ark as a good luck charm.  Instead of humbly repenting and seeking God, they decided to place all of their trust in the ark.  And it is a given that they would have met with defeat because it was prophesied that both Hophni and Phinehas would die on the same day.

It’s interesting that when Eli heard the news about his sons’ and the ark, it was the news of the ark that got some reaction from him.  He had expected that his sons were be killed because the man of God had told him so but he didn’t expect to hear that the ark of God was captured.  When he heard that, he fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and broke his neck because he was a heavy man.  What a tragic end for this man whom God had chosen to be His priest. 

The news of the ark of God had more tragic consequences for Eli’s family.  His daughter-in-law went into labor when she heard about his and Phinehas’s death.  She named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.  And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”  Then, she too died.  We don’t know what happened to Ichabod.

The sins of others can have tragic consequences on their families and future generations.  As parents, friends, relatives and church members, we have a responsibility of speaking up when we see others sinning against God or others.  Eli knew about his sons’ actions and did nothing.  He allowed them to sin against God and the people.  He was more afraid of offending them than offending God.  We must always put God first.  He should be honored more than our spouses, children, relatives, friends, neighbors, etc.  Just as Jesus was zealous for God’s house, Eli should have been zealous for God’s sacrifice and offering which He commanded in His dwelling place.

Eli should have promptly removed his sons from the priesthood because they were worthless and abusing the sacrificial system and priestly ministry.   He should have acted on the complaints of the people.  God gave him opportunity after opportunity in the form of these complaints and bad reports of his sons.   If Eli had done what God expected of him, only his sons would have perished.

I was reading The Story of Redemption by Ellen White and was reminded of why Moses didn’t set foot in the Promised Land.  It’s a sad story because all it took was one moment to turn his life upside down.

It all began when the people were thirsty and when they didn’t get water, they started to grumble and complain against Moses because he was their leader and Aaron who was his right hand man.  They grumbled, “If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here?  And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 

Moses and Aaron went to the temple to seek God’s counsel.  They fell on their faces and God spoke to them.  He gave them specific and very simple instructions. 

  1. Take the rod
  2. Gather the congregation together
  3. Speak to the rock before the congregation – Numbers 20:7, 8 

Why did God ask Moses to take the rod when he was just supposed to speak to the rock?  The last time at Mount Sinai, God told him to strike the rock and the water would gush out (Exodus 17:6).  One Bible commentator explained that it was because the rod is a symbol of God’s authority.  It was an ordinary rod which Moses had used when he was a shepherd but it was by the power of God that this same rod was able to turn into a serpent, turn the Nile into blood, part the Red Sea and bring water from a rock.  God has said to him, “And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.”  However, this time God didn’t want Moses to do anything with the rod but he wanted him to take it with him to the rock.

The Lord commanded him and he and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock.  Then Moses said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”  Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank (verses 10, 11).

Moses made three mistakes.  First, he cried out against the people.  He lectured them.  God didn’t tell him to speak to the people.  He told him to gather them and then speak to the rock.  This was a different Moses from the one who had interceded for the people when they displeased God so much so that He wanted to destroy them.  A Bible commentator pointed that twice before when the people contended agains Moses, he cried out to the Lord (Exodus 15:22-25; Exodus 17:1-7) but here at Kadesh, he fell on his face.  Also, when the people complained and grumbled against Moses in Meribah, Moses chided them saying, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?”  He didn’t go off on a rant, calling them “rebels”.   He was concerned about them tempting the Lord.  And when they continued contending with him, he sought the Lord, wondering what to do since the people were about ready to stone him.  And God told him what to do.  There was no anger and resentment toward the people.  I guess after dealing with them and their contentious ways for so long, it reached the point where Moses couldn’t take it anymore, to his detriment.  It is at the point where we are in danger of losing our temper and doing something rash, that we should cry out to God to help us.

The second mistake Moses made was when he said, “Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”  He said “we”, giving the impression that the water coming out of the rock was his and Aaron’s doing.  This was not so.  God was the One who would bring the water to the people using Moses and Aaron.  He alone was their Provider, not Moses or Aaron.  For Moses to say must we bring water for you out of this rock, was presumption.  He was taking credit for what God was about to do for the people.  God was the One who brought them out of Egypt, not Moses.  God was the One who gave them water the first time.  God was the One who gave them whatever they needed.  Moses had no right to take credit for what would have been a great miracle from God.  Can you imagine speaking to a rock and then water pours forth from it so that a thirsty congregation can drink from it?

The third mistake Moses made was striking the rock–twice.  The last time when he was told to strike the rock, he did so only once.  Here, in a fit of anger, he struck the rock twice.  God had specifically told him to speak to it.  Why did Moses strike it?  What if God had not allowed the water to come out?  Moses struck the rock because he didn’t believe God.  He didn’t believe that water would come from the rock by merely speaking to it.  We forget that God’s Word is just as powerful as His actions.  Think of the times when Jesus spoke healing into someone’s life–the centurion’s son, the paralytic, etc. 

And God, allowed the water to come out of the rock and in abundance because that is just the way He is.  Despite Moses’ attitude and action, God would still provide for His people.   As we know, God is not only a merciful God but also a just God.  He had to address Moses’ behavior. 

He said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:12).  Both men paid a steep price for their disobedience.  They were not to step foot in the promised land.  Moses had allowed his anger to get the better of him.  He had had enough of the people’s grumbling and complaining.  In anger, he called them “rebels” and then proceeded to strike the rock in that same anger.

Why was Aaron punished when it was Moses who struck the rod?  He was complacent.  He went along with the children of Israel when they wanted to wanted an idol which he made for them using their jewelry.  He should have stepped in and prevented Moses from striking the rock.  He should have said, “No, Moses, do not strike the rock.  The Lord told you to speak to it.”  He just stood there and watched Moses disobey the Lord.  There are times when we see our brother or sister about to commit a sin or act in disobedience and we owe it to them and to God to intercede–to stop them before they make a terrible mistake.  Aaron did nothing and as a result he received the same punishment as Moses.  He died before they reached the promised land.  At least Moses got to see it.

Moses’ tragic error and God’s judgment should be lessons for us.  We must not allow anger or any other emotion to influence us to the point where we act foolishly.  We are to follow whatever instructions God gives us to the letter.  If we have unbelief in our hearts, we should pray and ask Him to help us just as the father of the sick son asked Jesus to help him with his unbelief.  We must never take credit for God’s miracles.  We must always remember that we are instruments through which God demonstrates His power.  Of ourselves, we can do nothing but with God we can do anything. 

Don’t do anything that would keep you out of the promised land (the heavenly kingdom) which God has promised for all those who love Him and do His will.

Last Sabbath when my husband and I were having our worship, we discovered why Cain’s offering was not accepted by God.  It was supposed to a sin offering.  It is a sacrifice for sin; something offered as an expiation for sin. 

What did God require for a sin offering?  Blood.  Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.  Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes the entire process as follows:

(Heb. hattath), the law of, is given in detail in Lev. 4-6:13; 9:7-11, 22-24; 12:6-8; 15:2, 14, 25-30; 14:19, 31; Num. 6:10-14. On the day of Atonement it was made with special solemnity (Lev. 16:5, 11, 15). The blood was then carried into the holy of holies and sprinkled on the mercy-seat.

Sin-offerings were also presented at the five annual festivals (Num. 28, 29), and on the occasion of the consecration of the priests (Ex. 29:10-14, 36). As each individual, even the most private member of the congregation, as well as the congregation at large, and the high priest, was obliged, on being convicted by his conscience of any particular sin, to come with a sin-offering, we see thus impressively disclosed the need in which every sinner stands of the salvation of Christ, and the necessity of making application to it as often as the guilt of sin renews itself upon his conscience. This resort of faith to the perfect sacrifice of Christ is the one way that lies open for the sinner’s attainment of pardon and restoration to peace. And then in the sacrifice itself there is the reality of that incomparable worth and preciousness which were so significantly represented in the sin-offering by the sacredness of its blood and the hallowed destination of its flesh. With reference to this the blood of Christ is called emphatically “the precious blood,” and the blood that “cleanseth from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Genesis 4:3, 4 state:  And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD.  Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.  God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s.  Why?  Abel offered an animal as an atonement.  His offering was based on salvation by faith.  He believed in the Redeemer to come.  Cain, on the other hand, came to the Lord without the blood of sacrifice.  He brought fruit.  He believed in salvation by works.  He didn’t do as was commanded.  He didn’t come to God in humility as Abel did. 

These brothers had been instructed in regard to the provision made for the salvation of the human race. They were required to carry out a system of humble obedience, showing their reverence for God and their faith and dependence upon the promised Redeemer, by slaying the firstlings of the flock and solemnly presenting them with the blood as a burnt offering to God. This sacrifice would lead them to continually keep in mind their sin and the Redeemer to come, who was to be the great sacrifice for man – The Story of Redemption.

Cain should have offered a lamb in addition to the fruit from the ground.  His actions showed that he take God’s gift of salvation seriously.  He thought he could offered God what He did not ask for and still be accepted but God showed him otherwise.  He said to him, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?” (Genesis 4:6, 7).  God was giving Cain another opportunity to do what was right.  If he wanted God to accept his offering, all he had to do was to follow His directions–offer a blood sacrifice. 

Today, God is offering people the same opportunity.  Accept the blood of Christ as atonement for their sins.  The Bible clearly teaches, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  We don’t offer blood sacrifices as did the people of old but now we offer our lives through faith in the atoning blood of the Lamb of God who came to take away our sins.

Today, “Sin lies at the door. And its desire [is] for you, but you should rule over it.”  Do what is right in the sight of God.  Come to Him in faith, humility and obedience and He will accept you.  Don’t make the same mistake as Cain.  Follow Abel’s example.  “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

The story of Cain and Abel has another lesson that is just as important–the second commandment which Jesus spoke of–love one another.  The apostle John wrote, “For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another, not as Cain [who] was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 John 3:11, 12).


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