The Story of Exodus pt.5

Victory over Amalek

At the end of chapter 17 in Exodus is a short story of Israel’s engagement in battle against Amalek and his forces. As strange as it sounds, somehow Moses discovered that when he raised his rod, the Israelites began to win in the battle, and when he lowered it they began to loose. I wonder if Moses caught on to God using him and his rod, probably everywhere he went he took that rod, you never know when God would ask him to use it. God turned it in to snakes and back in to a rod before Pharaoh, He used it to part the Red Sea, He used it to bring water out of a rock, and now to be victorious over the enemy. Perhaps our modern equivalent to Moses’s rod is the memorized and spoken Word of God. We lean on it and God uses us as we use it (the scriptures) in obedience to Him.

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Seeing Christ in the Fire

Since I moved to Austin for ministry school there have been numerous trials, most of which involving money and the non-existence of a job. I have learned a lot about what it means to go through a trial or a test of your faith.

I don’t believe hard times are always from God, but even when they aren’t (such as if they are your own fault, or if it’s an attack from Satan) God can use them to mature you and bring you closer to Him. They are opportunities for you to grow and to hold on to God’s hand like never before.

Today on the radio I was listening to Woodrow Krull from “Back to the Bible” and he explained the scene of the firey furnace in a way that I had never thought of before.

Here are some of my new thoughts on the matter and what we can learn from it.

Dan 3:15 – “…But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”
Dan 3:16 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.
Dan 3:17 – “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.
Dan 3:18 – “But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Dan 3:19 – Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated.

When you live right before God you will encounter hardships that might have been avoided if you lived contrary to God’s Word.

God With Us

Dan 3:21 – Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Dan 3:23 – And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.
Dan 3:24 – Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
Dan 3:25 – “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

Because the three young men did not compromise, fight back, or fear their situation but rather trusted God, He honored their faith by saving them from death. When we trust in God through our “fire” He will always be faithful. If God does not seem faithful in the end, it’s our failure to be faithful through the trial because God never changes and never fails.
Nebuchadnezzar described the fourth man in the furnace as THE Son of God, else where in the Old Testament angels are called sons of God, but we don’t find this singular use anywhere else. I believe it was Jesus, the manifestation of God Himself long before being born in Bethlehem (about 550 years before Christ was born) showed up to these faithful Jewish men at the moment of sure death. If it was Jesus it provides a beautiful picture of how Christ is with us even in the hardest of times, and He Himself endured tests and trials.

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Being Completed

God is “holy”.

But what does that even mean?
The Angels call their Creator holy, the Psalmist called God holy, the Spirit of God is holy.
It’s such a cliche and an overused word especially by worship leaders who may not even know what it means!

The aspect of God’s perfection creates an unavoidable separation between us who are imperfect and God who is perfect. Simply said holiness and perfection go hand in hand.

Mat 5:48 – “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
1Pe 1:15 – but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,

Perfect

The Greek word we translate as “perfect” is hagios which means: Brought to its end, finished. Wanting nothing necessary to completeness. Full grown, adult, of full age, mature.
That is exactly what God is and what we are not. Have you ever noticed mankind always chasing after the next thing to fill, entertain, or enhance them? It’s quite obvious we are lacking something. The very fact that evil exists is evidence to our imperfect or fractured state.

Christianity (along with Judaism) stands alone amongst the religions of the world in that it recognizes the problem of the human condition – sin. No other religion says “Man is sinful, bad, and needs help to fix that eternal problem before he can get close to God”. Instead they say the opposite, many say “Man has everything he needs inside of him to get to God or to become perfect, he just has to try hard enough.” Broken man mustering up his own salvation from within his broken self is like trying to pull your own self out of sinking sand by pulling on your own arm! The only salvation man can author is broken salvation which is no salvation at all.

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Spiritual Man vs. Carnal Man

Vocabulary

Before I get in to the deep stuff on this subject it’s important that we are speaking the same language or… that you that you understand the language I am writing in so to get on the same page with word-play I will spell out some simple descriptions here.

Spirit – Your spirit is the spiritual or supernatural side of you, it is not material, it is not visible, it’s not of this world, but it’s from God. In Genesis we see God breathed His spirit in to Adam which made him a living soul, no other living creature received this treatment of God giving them a spirit or His spirit (Gen 2:7). Because you have this you are able to interact with the spiritual world. It is what allows you to hear from God, to have faith for miracles, to see angels and smell demons etc. For the born again Christian the spirit is filled with the Holy Spirit and He works through our spirit to effect our natural world.

Soul – An easy way to conceptualize what happens in your soul is whatever happens in your brain. It’s also invisible like your spirit and contains your emotion, your will, your desires, sensory perception, conscious, and your reasoning or logic. Out of all our three parts I believe our soul was effected the greatest by sin. Now, because of sin, it is pointed inward, always consumed with the self unless it is willingly disciplines and kept in check. The soul decides what you want to do and send the signal to your physical body in order to act out your decisions.

Body – Our body is the physical shell in which we reside on Earth, when we die our true self, our spirit, leaves the body behind and passes on to judgment (HEB 9:27). Out body is completely material composed of atoms, it works via electric signals and chemical reactions that connect with our soul (or brain). Your body is not who you are, it is merely shell that allows your spirit to interact with the physical realm.

Spiritual Man

This is what faithful Christians should strive to be, they should fight to conform their being in to the alignment as presented in the above chart. Why? Because we cannot live our life out of our soul, it can’t be trusted as it is subject first and foremost to sin and selfishness. Therefore, we are to live our life out of or by our spirit which in turn is our two way connection to God.
But what does this way of living  look like?

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Crucifying Your Flesh

For the Christian there are two active enemies; Satan and our own “flesh” or our carnal, sinful desires. In order to live a successful and Godly life as a Christian we must live in a way that follows God’s command and not our own flesh. Being subject to our flesh’s will instead of God’s is the source of all problems, addictions, regrets, and sins in a Christian’s life. So how do we overcome ourselves? What do we do when what we want to do contradicts how we know we ought to live according to God’s word? We crucify it.

Paul has said in Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”, and “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires”. Paul states that a true Christian has separated himself from his own sinful desires, the Christian must actively reject them. As Jesus said to His Father “Your will be done” He layed His will down in obedience to God’s will and in effect followed God’s plan for His life. We should copy this pattern daily, this is what it means to “Lay your life down for Christ”. We should daily pray in all circumstances “Your will be done and not mine”.
So we, being imitations of Christ, have crucified our sinful desires and now we must consider those passions and desires as dead things. So when an opportunity to sin presents itself we have two options: obey our old self, or our new self.

Building on the picture of our old sinful self being dead, Paul says in Romans “How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” Dieing to sin is what happened when you gave your life to Christ, when you confessed devotion to Him, thus how can we go back to our old life?

We may resist sin because it is not part of our true, new identity in Christ. When Satan tempts you he will lie to you about your identity in order to convince you to sin as he did with Eve and Adam, however the Word contains the truth about who we are and how we should. Just as evidence is used in court to prove someone’s innocence or crime we are to believe, act upon, and even verbally declare the evidence that is contained in God’s word.

Let’s look at a story in Judges 4 of Jael and Sissera. You can find the story in Judges chapter 4.
Don’t let the strange Hebrew names confuse you, Heber and Jael were married and once lived with their family tribe elsewhere but for an unknown reason moved away to an area by the Kishon River (v.11). This area is where the evil commander Sissera was defeated (v.15), he ran away from the battle on foot as the only survivor to find somewhere to hide(v.17). Because of the peace between Heber’s people and the evil King who Sisera worked for Sisera thought he would be safe in J ael’s tent. Upon request Jael agrees to hide Sisera in her tent, she gives him some warm milk, he falls asleep and Jael turns against him by nailing a tent peg through his head.

In this story we are like Jael, we use to be in allegiance to an evil King but we have turned our allegiance to God and killed that tool of evil – our flesh.

Colossians 1:13 “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”.

If you really want to get deep in to symbols you can say the that the milk that Jael offered Sisera instead of water symbolizes the Word of God as paralleled in 1Peter 2:2, Heb 5:13, and 1 Cor 3:2. This detail is key in the overcoming of our own sinful desires for we have no better defense against Satan than that which God has already spoken to us by His Word. When we face Satan we don’t fight him on our own strength or cunning but by God’s unlimited strength and sure victory (2Cor 10:4-5). In dark times of trouble or temptation we should be quick to quote the Word, reminding Satan of his defeat (Jud 1:9, Rev 20:10), reminding ourselves of God’s faithfulness (Psa 103:2, 1Cor 10:13), and reminding others of the power of the Word (Psa 119:43, 1 Cor. 2:5).

The other significance of the story of Jael’s defeat of Sisera is the likeness of the tent peg to that of a nail used in crucifixion. As mentioned earlier we are to crucify ourselves; to nail our flesh back to the cross where it has died and been left behin, we then walk in the new life offered by Christ (1Jhn 1:7, Gal 5:24).

Christ said in the three gospels that “if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me.” The cross was a sign of torture leading to sure death. But for our Savior he did not remain dead on the cross, we rose in to a new and better life and sits at God’s right hand, so we die and out of that death comes a new, better, heavenly life we live in God.

Applying the Word

Applying the Word

God’s Word contains the truth that sets us free from many things, that pushes back the enemy with God’s power, and returns our lives to the path of God’s will. This is list is a simple compilation of scriptures that you can use as your ammo against the opposition of the enemy or the flesh.

Defeating Sin

Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…”

Gal. 5:24 “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh…”

1Cor. 10:3 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…”

Jam. 4:7 “…Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Phl. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Eph. 6:13 “…hat you may be able to withstand in the evil day…”

Psa. 119:11 “…that I might not sin against You”

Eph. 6:13 “…and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh”

Rom. 6:6 “…the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

Rom. 6:14 “…for you are not under law but under grace.”

Rom. 12:1 “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God…”

Obtaining Victory

1Cor. 15:57 “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1Jhn. 5:4 “…the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.”

Rev. 12:11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony…”

Maintaining Hope

Isa. 40:31 “…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength…”

Rom. 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”

Rom. 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Pro. 10:28 “The hope of the righteous brings joy…”

Mrk. 9:23 “…All things are possible for one who believes.”

Mat. 19:26 “…but with God all things are possible.”

Jhn. 12:46 “I have come [as] a light into the world…”

Eph. 3:12 “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence…”

Realizing Love

Jhn. 3:16-17 “…God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…”

Gal. 2:20 “…who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

1Jhn. 4:12-19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Jhn. 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Eph. 2:5 “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ…”

Mat. 10:29-31 “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Enjoying Peace

1Jhn. 4:28 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

Zep. 3:17 “The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty  One, will save…”

2Tit. 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…”

Eph. 2:14 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one…”

Gal. 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…”

Mat. 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…”

Heb. 13:6 “…The LORD [is] my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

Psa. 4:8 “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep…”

Pro. 18:10 “The name of the LORD [is] a strong tower…”

Pro. 29:25 “…But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Col. 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts…”

Rom. 5:1 “…we have peace with God  through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1Cor. 14:33 “For God is not [the author] of confusion but of peace…”