The Blood that Covers

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Exodus 24

And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar.

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”

And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Exodus 24:6-8 ESV

I imagine myself as one of those people, standing there in shock as Moses sacrifices those animals, throwing half of their blood onto the altar but saving half of it in a basin.

I imagine myself wondering, “What’s he going to do with all that blood he’s saving in that basin?”

Then, I imagine myself listening to Moses reading a long list of rules of what I should and shouldn’t do – that I must not ever curse or hit my parents, that I must be careful to make restitution to my neighbor if I ever lose or damage something that I borrow from him, that I must be kind to the stranger dwelling in my midst, and so on and so on. So many more rules given by a holy, holy God.

I would hear Moses read all those warnings about the consequences of these sins – many times that consequence being death – and I’d really, really want to obey.

I’m sure that I would’ve shouted with the crowd, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” I would want to obey God. I would.

And then I imagine my shock as Moses puts his hand into that basin full of blood and proceeds to throw it, handful by handful, cup by cup, upon me and the people standing on either side of me, behind me and in front of me.

I imagine the stench. The stickiness. The blood red stain on my garments.

Again, the wages of sin is death. Blood is such a physical sign and reminder of death.

These animals had given their lifeblood that I might enter into a covenant of blood with the holy Almighty God of the universe. And I’d want to obey.

But ultimately just being afraid of punishment, even punishment of death, is never enough to truly stop a person from sinning. It didn’t work on me as a kid and it didn’t work on any of my kids, either. (Well, I guess I never did threaten them with death…)

Punishment is definitely a deterrent and without it, an entire society can quickly get out of control. The rampant crime and immorality so prevalent in our culture today certainly bears witness to that, but it’s not failsafe. No threat of punishment, no matter how severe, can ever fully stop a person from sinning.

We think we can hide it. We think no one will find out. We act irrationally and impulsively in a moment, overcome by emotion. And we fall.

Thanks be to the Lord for the Messiah, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, the sinless Lamb who was promised before the foundation of the world. The One who was slain in our place, whose blood fully covers the sin of His children.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the blood. Thank You for the Lamb who was slain to take away the sin of the world, my own sin. Thank You for Your holiness that causes me to fear You, that I would not want to sin. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Divine Exchange by Charity Gayle

The Ten Commandments – A Song and Hand Motions

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 20

Have you always wanted to memorize the Ten Commandments by struggled to remember them all? Me, too.

I found myself always forgetting at least one until someone taught me this song. I actually learned the hand motions somewhere else, so I put the two of them together.

As you’ll soon find out I’m not the best singer, but that’s never stopped me from singing. 🙂 Hope it blesses you anyway.

Ten Commandments Song with Hand Motions

A Chosen Race, A Royal Priesthood, A Holy Nation, A People for His Own Possession: Exodus 19 meets 1 Peter 2

Read though the Bible in 2 years: Exodus 18-19

After many days traveling, the Israelites find themselves in the wilderness of Sinai and they camp at the foot of Mount Sinai where God meets with Moses. The Lord tells Moses to speak to the people of Israel these words:

“‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ “

Exodus 19:4-6a

These verses reminded me of 1 Peter 2 where the Lord extends this beautiful promise to all of His children, whether Jew or Gentile.

Though I don’t have the blood of Abraham running through my blood, I have the faith of Abraham running through my heart.

Turn there in your Bible as God speaks thus to all His children who have been born again by faith in Jesus Christ:

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

1 Peter 2:1-10 ESV

Let’s pray.

Oh, Heavenly Father, Thank You that You have called me up that I might taste and see that You are indeed good, so very, very good. Even though I once rejected that living stone, that stone of stumbling and rock of offense, Jesus Christ, Your Son chosen and precious, You intervened and changed the whole course of my life. Thank You for making me and each of Your children a vital member of the chosen race, royal priesthood, and holy nation that is the family of God. Thank You for giving me mercy, though I deserved Your wrath. Help my sisters and I to long for the pure spiritual milk of Your Word and to grow up into maturity, putting away all malice and deceit and hypocrisy, envy, and slander, and running full-strength toward You. We love you, Lord. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Fighting on our Knees with Our Hands Lifted High: A Lesson from Exodus 17

Read through the Bible in 2 years: Exodus 16-17

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the LORD! The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Exodus 17:8-16 ESV

There are so many things I can learn from this short passage.

1. Joshua and the soldiers in the army had a job to do – but it wasn’t the same job that Moses, Aaron, and Hur. Joshua and his soldiers were to go and actively fight in the battle while Moses, Aaron, and Hur were to go on top of the mountain far from the fighting and fight in prayer. God gives different people different jobs to do. We must each do what God has called us to do. Don’t look at the brother or sister next to you and think, “Why aren’t you on the front lines of this fight?” Moses had his time to lead the Israelites through the Red Sea and Moses had his time to go on a mountain and pray.

2. Aaron and Hur’s supporting roles were vital to Moses’s success. Just like Jesus sent out his followers two by two (Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1), God sent Aaron and Hur to help Moses in the fight – not by standing next to Moses holding up their own arms, but standing next to Moses holding up his arms. If you’ve been called to lead, don’t minimize your need for sisters and brothers to partner with you. If you’ve been called to provide support, don’t minimize the essential nature of your role! Your leaders need your prayers, you’re encouragement, and your partnership in there fight! I’m personally so thankful for those faithful sisters who pray for me, who speak encouraging words to me, and who walk next to me in this daily battle.

3. Our battle’s victory is ultimately won in the spiritual realm. There are real battles being fought – both in the physical realm and in the spiritual realm – but the victory is in the Lord’s hands.

Some physical battles here on earth will be lost. Your loved one might lose their fight with cancer. Your much fought for marriage might end in divorce. Your child might fail that class or lose that friendship.

But we can trust that the battle belongs to the Lord. No one and no thing can thwart His plans. Sometimes all that we can do is pray and wait with our hands raised and our knees bowed, but that is where the greatest power lies. The Israelites didn’t win the war because they had a better army. They won the war because the Lord had ordained the victory. So, whether the physical battle is won or lost, the battle belongs to the Lord.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV

Heavenly Father, the battle belongs to you. The victory belongs to you. It is not by our own might but by your spirit that the battle will be won. Help us to trust You when the earthly battles we are fighting don’t go the way we want them to. You are our banner. You are who goes before us and fights for us. Help us to trust you in all things and to pray to You faithfully. Help us to help each other – lifting up our arms and lifting one another’s arms, remembering that the fervent prayers of a righteous person are powerful and avail much. In the Powerful name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

You’ve Already Won by Shane and Shane
Battle Belongs by Phil Wickham

When God Calls You by Name

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 14-15

The Israelites are finally fleeing Egypt after watching God repeatedly pouring out His judgment on the Egyptians. He has proven to them again and again that He makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. (Exodus 11:7)

And yet, God has led His people right up to the edge of the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, including at least six hundred chariots, is on their heels.

“And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.””

Exodus 14:10b-12 ESV

Poor Moses. Doesn’t your heart just break for him? Leading is hard work. When the people following you are happy, that’s great, but what about when the “sheep are restless,” when they’re arguing and complaining and blaming you for everything.

But, God. God is growing Moses’s faith, too. Listen to how Moses replies to the Israelites.

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.””

Exodus 14:13-14 ESV

And He does.

And He uses Moses to do it. Moses is the Lord’s chosen vessel. Moses is who God has called to lift his arms that the Lord would drive back the sea that the Israelites could walk through on dry land … and to lower his arms that the water covered the chariots and the horsemen and the whole host of Pharaoh’s army. (Exodus 14:21, 26-29)

“Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”

Exodus 14:30-31 ESV

I keep thinking about when Moses said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13 ESV)

Friends, God had purpose for His servant, Moses, and God has purpose for You. The good works He has prepared for you may not look like Moses’s, but God has purpose for you nonetheless. (Ephesians 2:10)

And sometimes doing those very things that God wants you to do is going to result in persecution, ridicule, or disagreement.

  • Your boss might not like the high-standard of honesty and integrity that you are determined to maintain. Keep it anyway.
  • Your kids might not like what you’re telling them to do. Tell them anyway.
  • Your parents may not agree with you even when you speak in the most humble, loving. honest way. Be willing to risk it for Him.

God’s ways aren’t always easy. Sometimes being His vessel is incredibly joyous, exciting, and totally awesome, but sometimes being His vessel gets you thrown in a well or a prison. Either way, it’s an honor and a privilege to be a servant of the living God.

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, What an honor it is to be love and used by You. It is glorious to be Your workmanship, to know that the God who put the stars in place calls me by name. As You had special purposes for Moses, You have a special purpose for me. Please lead me and guide me. Give me the wisdom and hunger for righteousness that I need to follow You fully. I love You, Lord. I want to follow You on that straight and narrow path all the days of my life. In the Name of Jesus Christ, my Savior and my Lord, I pray. Amen.

The Lord uses His chosen leader, Moses, to part the Red Sea

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14 ESV)

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12 ESV)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:34-39 ESV)

God Has a Purpose and a Plan – Trust Him

Read Through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 13

Over my 27 years of motherhood, I’ve had countless opportunities to make decisions that my children don’t understand.

  • Sweetheart, I need you to put on your shoes and socks right now and go collect the chicken eggs.
  • Honey, grab your backpack and stick it in the car. We’re going to need it later.
  • Hey, sweetie, hurry and finish up your chores. We have to leave in five minutes.

Maybe I know something that we have planned for later that day which my children are unaware of or maybe I’m looking at a bigger, longer-term goal that my children just aren’t ready to understand. But whatever the reason is, I want my children to obey “promptly, cheerfully, and completely,” because they trust my judgment. I want their first response to be obedience, rather than their debate. I want their initial thought to be, “My mom’s pretty good at this mom-stuff, I ought to do what she says,” rather than, “Why is my mom always telling me what to do? Can’t she just leave me alone?”

I was thinking about this as I read about God leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war
and return to Egypt.”
But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.”

Exodus 13:17-18 ESV

God knows men’s hearts, and God knows the future. In His perfect wisdom, He always knows what is best.

He always has purpose in the path that He choses for His children. Sometimes He wants us to walk through the darkest valleys and sometimes He wants us to joyously dance over the mountaintops, but either way His purposes are good.

He is worthy of our trust.

Let’s pray.

Oh Lord God, You are good and perfect in all Your ways. Help us to trust You. Help us to follow You promptly, cheerfully, and completely, even when we don’t understand, especially when we don’t understand. May we have unwavering faith because You are an unwavering God. You always keep Your promises. When the way looks dark and scary, may we reach out our hands to You and trust that You are there. In the Name of Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, we pray, Amen.

A Heart for the Nations

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 12:29-50

I love the end of Exodus 12 where the Lord explains to Moses that strangers can join in with the congregation of Israel by choosing to be circumcised. It may not be easy, but it can be done. God has always had a heart for the nations and He always will. Do we?

“If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”” (Exodus 12:48-49 ESV)

Acts 3:25 — You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

Galatians 3:8 — And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

Colossians 3:11 — Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

Heavenly Father, I pray for all the nations of the world to know you and to worship at your feet. I pray that you would use each of us to share the gospel with those in our corner of the world and around the world. Make us herald and ambassadors of the good news. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Passover through Christian Eyes

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 12:1-28

I usually just pick one thing to focus on in a chapter, but today I couldn’t. There’s so much contained in the this one chapter of Exodus 12. In fact, I only made it through about 2/3 of the chapter – come back tomorrow for more. ☺️ I sincerely hope you’ll get your Bible out and study it yourself.

“This month shall be for you the beginning of months.” (Exodus 12:2a) This reminded me that the birth of Christ also began a new era. B.C. and A.D. are split by the birth of the Lord. Likewise the Passover establishes the beginning of every new year. Also, the Lord’s Day, Sunday, is the beginning of every new week. Wow!

“Every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.” (Exodus 12:3b) There was to be a lamb for each household according to their fathers’ houses. God has always intended families to follow Him together with their whole households, led by a father. Fathers are designed to train and nurture and disciple their children.

“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.” (Exodus 12:5a) The lamb is to be without blemish, a male, and one year old. God wants your first and your best. You can’t give Him your leftovers or rejects. And just as God created humans male and female, He also created animals male and female. He wants the offering to be a male, a one year old male. Not a newborn knock-kneed baby, but also not an old worn-out one.

Jesus, the once for all Passover Lamb, was a sinless male in the prime of his life.

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” (Exodus 12:7) Each Hebrew father had to take that lamb’s blood and smear it onto the doorposts and the lintel of his home. Simply killing and eating the lamb wasn’t enough. Simply being of Hebrew wasn’t enough. God required each family to make an active choice, a choice of faith, to be saved from this tenth plague. Like Hebrews 11:28 says, “By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

“You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.
And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.

And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt,
when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'”

Exodus 12:24-27a

God wants this week-long Passover ritual to be a lasting rite for the Hebrew people, lasting even after they have entered the promised land, so that their children yet to be born will ask why it is celebrated … and the fathers can explain God’s awesome rescue … So they would be prepared for His Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.

Yahweh is the Great I Am – the God who was and is and is to come. He knows what is to come in the future and He wants our children’s children’s children to know Him. And He allows us as parents the PRIVILEGE to have a part in that! Wow!

But don’t miss those words,

"He passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when He struck the Egyptians but spared our houses." (Exodus 12:27)

Let those words sink in and humble you.

God didn’t pass over you because you were sinless. God didn’t pass over you because you had shed your own blood and painted it on your home’s doorframe.

No, God passed over you because you chose by faith to obey Him and trust in the sacrifice of an innocent lamb.

Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, Your mercy humbles me. Your grace humbles me. Your love humbles me. Why did You forgive me? Why? I don’t deserve it, Father.

Thank You for sending Your own Son to be that perfect Passover Lamb for me, that His blood would cover the sin in my heart and make me clean. Thank You that when You pass by me, You see the blood of Jesus and accept His sacrifice on my behalf. Thank You.

I pray that my life would make my children and my children’s children ask questions, “Grammy, why do you go to church? Why do you read the Bible? Why do you tell other people about Jesus? How can you be so patient when I’m naughty? Why, Grammy, why?”

And I pray that I would be faithful to tell my children and my children’s children about that first Passover and that perfect Lamb who took away the sin of the world by His death on the cross. It is in the Name of Jesus Christ that I can pray to You, knowing that You hear me and love me, Amen.

With Your Sons and Daughters

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 10-11

When I was a teenager I was afraid of little babies. I didn’t know how to handle them and I worried that I’d hurt them or something. I wanted to adopt all my children so I could get them when they were say about 2 or 3 years old, already potty trained and talking.

Now as a mom of four – including one who was adopted as a 6-month-old – I see the incredible value of the training that happens even in those first two years. Even the youngest child is learning how the world works. They are learning that their parents love them and take care of them – or not. They are learning that they are not the center of the world – or they are. They are learning to be patient, obedient, and quiet – or not.

I am certain that God has a plan and purpose in having new babies born helpless and needy. God could’ve designed new lives to begin already grown and wise, but He didn’t. God intentionally places children into families for the good of the children … and the parents.

So, it’s no surprise that Pharaoh doesn’t want the Hebrew children to go worship with their parents, and it’s no surprise that Moses insists that they must.

So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them,
“Go, serve the LORD your God.
But which ones are to go?”

Moses said, “We will go with
our young and our old.
We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds,
for we must hold a feast to the LORD.”

Exodus 10:8-9 ESV

Don’t underestimate the importance of taking your children to church, of leading them in worship at home, and of including them in your family holiday celebrations. Your toddlers and preschoolers are learning more than you may realize.

Heavenly Father, we pray that we would be faithful stewards of the children that You have entrusted to us. I pray that we would train them up in the way that they should go and that when they are old they will not depart from it. Help us as parents to have obedient hearts, obeying You rather than the world. Lord, You love children and You have placed them into families on purpose. Help us to include them in our family’s worship at home and at church. Help us not to underestimate what our children are learning and the eternal impact that these young ones can have for Your kingdom. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

My children reciting Psalm 139 from memory

Deuteronomy 31:10-13 ESV — And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Psalm 148:12-13 ESV — Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.

Proverbs 22:6 ESV — Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV — And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Psalm 78:2-7 ESV — I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

Pharaoh and the Parable of the Four Soils

Read through the Bible in 2 Years: Exodus 9

Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.” …

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.

Exodus 9:27-28, 34-35 ESV

Reading Pharaoh’s emotional reaction to the seventh plague followed by a total change of heart, I was reminded of the parable of the four soils in Matthew 13 which we read last month.

In this parable, a sower scatters seed in a variety of soils. Some soil is so hard that the seed never even begins to take root, and the seeds are eaten by birds before they even sprout. Other soil is rocky, but there’s enough good soil there that the seed begins to grow but it can never put down solid roots and persecution and tribulation causes these seeds to die. Still other seeds are scattered among thorny ground where the seeds are able to put down roots and even begin to grow, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the plant’s growth so it never bears any fruit. And then there’s the fourth soil, the good soil, that allows the seed to put down strong roots and bear fertile fruit, yielding thirty, sixty, or even a hundred-fold multiplication. (Read it for yourself in Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23)

First, let’s remember that these seeds were all scattered by the same sower. It’s not about using better techniques – speaking more eloquent words or drawing better diagrams. It’s not the fault of Moses’s faltering speech that Pharaoh is not truly repentant of his sin. Yes, get trained to share the gospel … But don’t blame yourself when the seeds don’t take root.

The words of the man who shared the gospel with me took root and bore fruit – not because he spoke “just the right words” – but because the soil of my heart was finally right.

If you share the gospel with someone and they aren’t brought to repentance and salvation, don’t be discouraged. Keep sharing. Keep scattering seed. You might be preparing the soil for the next sower who comes along.

Secondly, remember the importance of continued outreach and discipleship after the seeds are scattered. Unfortunately, it seems that many people have misunderstood the Great Commission as being simply a charge to “preach the good news” rather than “go and make disciples.” Preaching the good news is the first step in making disciples, but our job doesn’t end there. Matthew 28:19-20 goes on to say that disciple makers are to baptize and teach the new disciples.

I believe that one reason why thorns grow up and choke out the growth of those newly planted seeds is the lack of continued discipleship. New believers need to be encouraged and taught so they can bear fruit and keep those thorny cares of the world from choking them.

Finally, remember that we are working together as fellow workers, fellow laborers, fellow gardeners in God’s fields. Like Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.”

God is ultimately who gives the growth. Keep scattering. Keep watering. Keep going out into those fields with eyes open to the harvest, but remember that it is God who makes the soil, and the seed, and the sower and it’s up to Him to make it grow.

Would you like to learn more about how to make disciples and be co-laborers in the harvest? Check out No Place Left for some great tools to help you!