Birthday (Exodus 33-34; Psalm 90-91; 1 Corinthians 3)
Exodus 33 is right after Moses breaks the tables of stone with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32:19).
Verse 7 says that everyone which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation. We are encouraged to “seek the Lord while he may be found, to call upon him while he is near (Isaiah 55:6),” that all who call upon his name will be saved (Joel 2:32).”
The Lord talked with Moses face to face as a man talks to his friend (verse 11). There was not another prophet that the Lord knew face-to-face (Deuteronomy 34:10).
Moses reminded God that this nation was his people (Exodus 33:13). God later would tell Solomon, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wickedness, then shall I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).” God promised that his presence would go with Moses and give him rest (verse 14).
Moses asked God to show him his glory (verse 18). What was he expecting? Thunder, lightning, earthquake, volcano, hurricane?
Jesus’ disciples asked him to show them the Father; he said that anyone who has seen him has already seen the Father (John 14:8-9). God is right in front of us; he’s in this room, he’s all over the world, his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth (2 Chronicles 16:9); wherever two or three are gathered together, there he is in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).
God never got angry with Moses for breaking the tablets. There comes a time when the gloves have to come off; we can’t always be gentle with people, especially those who should know better. Israel had seen the miracles and plagues, and yet still fell away.
This is where God shows Moses his glory; it’s not thunder and lightning; instead, it is “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful, and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” It’s the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11:22).
Moses included himself, as Daniel did (Daniel 9:5); even though both men were innocent, they took the sins of the nation upon them.
Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mount Sinai (verse 28), like Jesus in the wilderness, and he ate no bread nor drank water (Matthew 4:2). Jesus knew that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).
Psalm 90 is one of my favorite psalms. Moses wrote it. It’s quoted in the “Ten Commandments.” The phrase in Verse 2, “from everlasting to everlasting…” is one of my favorite phrases in scripture. God has no beginning and no end. He is always God, even when everything else around is changing. This verse also reminds me of the heavens; when you look up and see the Milky Way, it’s a great reminder that God is bigger than we could ever imagine. In Verse 4, we are reminded that to God, time is of no essence; Peter repeats this later on (2 Peter 3:8), that one day to God is as a thousand years, and a thousand years is as one day. God does so much every day that he probably does one thousand years’ worth of activity in twenty-four hours. In verse 5 and 6, we’re reminded of the part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus refers to the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the fire (Matthew 6:30). That’s a thousand years to God.
Moses says in verse 10, “The days of our years are threescore and ten (so about seventy); and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow;” ironic that he lived to be 120 and that “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated (Deuteronomy 34:7).” So maybe we live to be seventy, or eighty, or longer. But what happens after? On the weekend of Ryan and April’s wedding, I was hanging out with Kim and Dave and I took them through Richmond and we finished at Hollywood Cemetery. We went up to where President Monroe and President Tyler are buried and looked around some of the other gravestones. A lot of them were really old, some were newer. Some people died at age ninety, some died at nine. Some of the gravestones were completely faded out; they used a type of soft rock, so that person was completely forgotten and chances are that no one knows who was buried there. Most people are forgotten two generations after they die—unless you’re famous. Unless you become a President or a bigtime celebrity, you will be forgotten. I know very little about my great-grandparents on one side of the family; if I have kids one day, they’ll know even less. Those people have only been gone for what, sixty years, if not less. In 200 years from now, if Jesus has not returned yet, we will all be forgotten. There will probably be no one living at that time who will know anyone who knew anyone who knew us. We’ll just be another grave in a cemetery. What about a thousand years from now, or a million years from now? Again, this is assuming we don’t have the hope of the Resurrection. A million years from now, if someone lived a good, long, happy 100 years and died in 2017, or someone died tragically at age 20, what difference will it make? Do you want to be remembered? And how do you want to be remembered?
There is a reward for the righteous (Proverbs 13:21). He will not suffer the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22). He will protect your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even forevermore. That’s always a good verse to read before you travel.
Verses 11 and 12 are quoted by Jesus’ tempter in the wilderness; of course Jesus answers that we are not to put the Lord to the test (Matthew 4:6-7). God does protect us, but he also expects us to be smart and not put ourselves in a dangerous situation. Psalm 23:4 says “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me…” but it does not mean that you should walk through a dark alley at 3 AM. But he promises to them that set their love on him that he will set them on high (verse 14). God says in Isaiah: “If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then shall you delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it (Isaiah 58:13-14).” The Psalms say that the Lord will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble, that he is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 9:9, 46:1, Nahum 1:7). This Psalm closes by saying “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”
This last chapter in the readings is about the Corinthians that caused division and that followed after certain people.
Paul uses the word “strife” in verse 3. Strife is listed among the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-20), in the same list as adultery, fornication, idolatry, murders, and drunkenness. In a way, causing strife is just as bad in God’s sight. One reason there was so much strife is because the brethren were following after certain people there.
It’s a very loose connection, but this could relate to Jesus’ third and final temptation in the wilderness; he was asked to fall down and worship the tempter (Matthew 4:9). Do we worship people? Do we get confused as to who is the Messiah, whether it’s “Brother So-and-so” or “Sister Such-and-such,” or Jesus?
Following after someone is not necessarily bad; Paul even says that if he is following after Christ, then follow him. We may all have our favorite speakers, or people who we look up to, and that is fine. But we should never put them on the same level with our Lord. Jesus says many times in scripture, “Follow me.” When Peter asked him what would become of John, Jesus answered, “If I will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me (John 21:22).”
“God gives the increase;” we have to do the work of planting and watering, but if God does not give the increase, it will not work out. If the Lord does not build the house, they labor in vain who build it (Psalm 127:1).
Paul says in Verse 9 that we are “laborers together.” If we are “laborers together,” we should work together. Yes, we have our little differences, but let’s keep things in perspective; we are all of the one body (1 Corinthians 12:20). We all contribute; we do what we can (verse 9). Don’t let the meeting that you go to or the city that you live in limit what you can do for the Lord. But it also says to take heed how we build thereon (verse 10).
Verse 23 says that “Ye are Christ’s;” each of us individually belong to him. Paul says to let a man examine himself, not everyone else (1 Corinthians 11:28).
We have the most diverse meeting in Richmond, maybe even the whole state; how many nationalities are represented here, and even if you’re American, how many states are represented? We have a pretty even split of brothers and sisters but so much diversity. Yet here we are on Sunday morning, we all descend upon this place for a few hours a week to be together. We’re not all clones, but we’ve been chosen to be God’s people.
It is interesting to note that the term “Christadelphian” originated during the Civil War, when this nation was divided. Today we have a “cold civil war;” the nation is more divided than it has been since the Civil War. So why are we as a community of believers divided today? We are supposed to be “conscientious objectors,” right? The Psalmist writes, “How good a thing it is for God’s people to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1).” God does not take sides. We have to be on God’s side. If we’re not on his side, we’re on the wrong side. If we’re on his side, and our brother is on his side, we are laborers together. We ought not to treat them as anything less. Blair Smith used to say that in Matthew 25, that the people on Jesus’ left hand and on his right hand were both surprised to be there, and that the people on the left hand used the excuse, “Well Lord, if we had known it was you, we would have done it (Matthew 25:44)!” No excuse.
We know that tougher times are coming, that things will get worse before they get better. We don’t know how much we’ll have to deal with. But there may come a time when our little differences are seen as little to no account. I’m not saying there aren’t differences; and certainly they can be addressed, but keep things in perspective; at the end of the day, we are all brothers and sisters; people that Jesus died for, and so first and foremost, we brethren. That applies here at this meeting or any of the six meetings in Richmond, or anywhere else. We know that not everyone is going to be in the Kingdom; some will, some won’t. But most importantly, some will. Everyone who is on the Lord’s side will be there. Everyone. And he actually tells us how we can be on his side. If he is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31)? God promises that the righteous will be rewarded (Proverbs 13:21).
These three readings were all over the place; but they seemed to have a connection. We saw all three ways that Jesus was tempted and what he had to remember about who he was supposed to be and how he was supposed to act. ff