Cover to Cover
John the Baptist is beheaded. He was a man of faith, a great prophet. He was a bold man who was definitely making a stir among the Jews, preparing them for a new king, a Messiah. Herod captured him, wanting to kill him, but Herod feared the Jews.
John’s message was repentance, preparing people for the Messiah’s kingship over a kingdom. He told Herod he should repent and turn to God. He told Herod that the sexual relationship with his sister-in-law would find him guilty at Christ’s coming. It was a warning.
At Herod’s birthday party, Herod was pleased by the dancing of his niece, promising to give her whatever she wanted. This was a story of incest and sin. He didn’t want to complete her request, John’s head on a platter, but because he didn’t want to appear weak in front of his guests, Herod had John beheaded. The niece took the head to her mother, a woman full of hate for John because he told them what they were doing was wrong.
When we live for Christ, we represent His righteous ways. When we share the Good News of salvation, it isn’t to condemn the sinner, but it is to lead the person to salvation in Christ. A lost person may turn to the Lord, or he or she might not. If the person does not, he or she might be offended at the truth we bring. It is still our responsibility to bring it.
In verse 13, Jesus hears about John’s death. He withdrew by Himself. He was grieving. John was his cousin, and John was the One who prepared people’s hearts for His coming. In the middle of His grief, the crowds came to Jesus for ministry. Instead of caring for Himself, Jesus was moved by the love that was within Him. With that deep love, Jesus ministered healing.
In the evening, the disciples stated that the crowds were out in the country, away from any place the people could find food. They suggested Jesus send the crowds back to the villages where they can get some food. That would be a logical thing to do. However, Jesus said, “No need. You can feed them.” The disciples looked at what they had in their hand and responded, “We only have five loaves of bread and two fish.” Jesus asked them to give Him what they had in their hand.
Jesus had the people to sit down on the grass, in the evening, in the countryside. He took the food, He looked to heaven, He spoke a blessing over it, then broke up the bread to give to the disciples to set before the people. Did they come up to get the food in groups? Did the disciple break off the multiplying pieces? I’m not sure, but there were five thousand men plus women and children that ate that night. There were twelve baskets of food leftover. God is able to provide from sources that might not seem possible to us. If it happened for them, it can happen for us. Let’s believe for our provision!
The book of Exodus can be divided into three major sections:
1. The miraculous deliverance of Israel (1:1-13:16)
2. The supernatural journey to Sinai (13:17-18:27)
3. The revelations at Sinai (19:1-40:38)
The new king of Egypt was AFRAID of the Hebrews, who grew more in number and mightier that the Egyptians. He considered them to be a THREAT, especially if they made an alliance with an enemy. In order to keep the Hebrews in subjection, the king dominated the Jews, making them slaves.
When people are intimidated by someone, they might attempt to keep that person under. There are many ways to a person can be kept in subjection. The Egyptians used force and hard labor. Others can dominate through degrading words or manipulative behavior. However, if God is with that person, He will make them to continue to increase, as he did with the Hebrews. No one can stop the plan God has for a person’s life.
The Hebrew midwives feared God more than they feared the king, the king instructed them to kill the male babies. He gave the order because he feared the multiplication of the Hebrews. When God increases you, don’t be surprised if someone else wants to try to delay or stop your success. Put your trust in the Lord. He will give you grace. The way to overcome intimidation is to fear God more than people. The king instructed all male Hebrew babies were to be thrown into the river and drowned.
In chapter two, we see that Moses is born to parents from the house of Levi. The Levites later became the priests of Israel that served in the tabernacle and temples. We read the story of how Pharaoh’s daughter found baby Moses in the river, how Miriam suggested a wet nurse, and how Moses’s mother was able to care for her own son. Children were often nursed until they were a few years old, so she was most likely also able to teach her son about Jehovah. We also read about Moses’ mother in Hebrews 11:23, a woman known for her faith in God.
Moses was raised in the palace by the Pharaoh’s daughter, a different lifestyle and social status; however, Moses was drawn to his people, the Hebrews. He would go out to watch them at work, seeing their burdens. When he saw an Egyptian beating one of his own, Moses killed the Egyptian.
Notice Moses went out the next day, watching the Hebrews again. He seemed to have a drawing to his people. This time he stepped out again, trying to break up a fight between two Hebrews. Knowing what we know about Moses eventually leading His people out of Egypt, I find it interesting that one asked Moses, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?” This actually was Moses’ calling – to be a leader over the Hebrews. Knowing his murder was known, Moses ran away for his own life, fearing Pharaoh.
Moses was a Hebrew, but he didn’t live with the Hebrew people. He wasn’t accepted by the Hebrew people. Then he was a temporary resident in Midian, a stranger.
God hears the cries of the Hebrews, not that He didn’t hear them before, but God hears as One who will act, the time to free the slaves was coming near. In chapter 3, the Angel of the Lord appears to Moses. The bush got Moses’ attention because it was on fire, but not being consumed. When Moses turned to look closer at the bush, God spoke, calling Moses by name.
At this point God tells Moses His plan to deliver the Hebrews and bring them into Canaan, and He tells Moses He wants to send Him to Pharaoh to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. It isn’t a new plan. It has been the plan ever since God called Abraham. God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh. God gives a message to the children of Israel, to speak concerning His promise to their fathers. God also tells Moses to go to the elders of Israel, telling them of God’s plan for Canaan, the promise to their forefathers.
Moses was to take the elders with him, before Pharaoh, and ask to leave for a three day journey to worship. God knew Pharaoh would not let them go, even with a mighty hand. God knew ahead of time that He would work wonders, telling Moses he would be doing them before He did them, assuring Moses that eventually Pharaoh would let them go. He also prophesied what He had told Abraham – that the Egyptians would send them out with treasures, plundering the Egyptian people.
God knows what He is going to do ahead of time. He know His plan for you. You may or may not be aware of that plan, but when we lean on the Lord, we can be confident that He knows. Let’s follow His lead.