Friday, March 6, 2015

Three New Tools

Moses at the burning bush is such a fascinating encounter on so many levels. Moses is a man with a calling he couldn't fulfill. There was a great need. His people were in bondage he felt their pain as a young man but was able to do little to help.

"One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, 'Why do you strike your companion?' He answered, 'Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?' Then Moses was afraid, and thought, 'Surely the thing is known.' When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian. And he sat down by a well." - Exodus 2:11-15 ESV

His individual violence could not bring salvation. Later he meets God only to find out that God knows about the need.

"Then the LORD said, 'I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey' " - Exodus 3:7-8a ESV

God then gives Abraham some new tools. They are non-violent and non-political in nature.

"But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go... The LORD said to him, 'What is that in your hand?' He said, 'A staff.' And he said, 'Throw it on the ground.' So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it... Again, the LORD said to him, 'Put your hand inside your cloak.' And he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. Then God said, 'Put your hand back inside your cloak.' So he put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 'If they will not believe you,' God said, 'or listen to the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.' " - Exodus 3:19-20, 4:2-3, 6-9 ESV

Those three signs speak volumes. The staff, the hand inside the cloak turning then leprous then being healed and the water into blood are amazing tools. What they represent is amazing. We use the same tools today.

The staff speaks of authority, assistance and political klout. Pharaoh chased Abraham out of Eygpt. It was not even Pharaoh himself that did it. Abraham was afraid of what Pharaoh could do and he ran. When Moses threw the staff on the ground it became a snake but when he took it by the tail it turned into his staff again. That staff would later swallow up the serpents that the magicians of Egypt conjured up (see Exodus 7:10f). There is bad authority. God knows it and has a way to deal with it. Moses' answer in frustration years ago was to kill each issue one by one hoping to sweep it all under the rug and get momentum of some kind. God taught Abraham to throw down Heaven's authority against the authority of fear. God is going to win those contests. Each individual fear, although deadly to us, is smaller and weaker than God's staff.

The first tool addresses external authority but the leprous hand talks to internal guilt and pain. No one is born leprous. It is a disease that is caught and then it takes a horrendous toll on it's new victims. Man's heart is leprous because of bondage. The hand coming out leprous the first time and then coming out clean the second revealed to those who saw it that God knew and identified with them. Bondage hurts. Fear deforms. God knows and God can make you clean. There is no need to hide. Hope is here.

Lastly, We have the water turning into blood. People relied on the Nile to live. Just as people today rely on information. They think what they know will save them but it won't. Only blood will save them. It something that is useless to people in comparison to the thing that they value and rely upon. Cain thought that his vegetables were a better offering because they were tasty and the fruit of great time and effort (see Genesis 4:3f) but God had little regard for Cain's fruit. All Cain's work was tainted by the leprosy in His heart. God desired a blood sacrifice. The person who has denied the first two signs can still be turned by this one. It is their last hope to be turned. Their arguments are blotted out by blood.

The Gospel of grace takes these tools and puts them in our arsenal. Grace trumps rules and fear based authority. Grace addresses the leprous heart and provides a second pure clean start born of freedom. The blood is where the power is located. Jesus' shed blood becomes the judicial basis for a continued freedom.

On a political level this is a huge contest. God was going to move on a massive scale to secure the freedom of his people. These three tools were for small groups or one on one encounters. These are tools we can use one on one also and they get great results.

God, Help us. We are just people and the system we walk into each day is big and imposing. Make us wise implementer of truth so that one at a time people can see your deliverance through our lives.


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