Today’s readings are from Exodus 7, Luke 10, Job 24, 1 Corinthians 11.
Exodus 7 begins the ten plagues upon Egypt, culminating in the death of the firstborn. These plagues were not merely the means by which Israel was released from Egypt, but the means by which Yahweh was proved to be the supreme God.
7:5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”
Again, before any of these signs and plagues, God had said…
3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.
This is matched down in verses 13-14, after Moses’ rod became a snake and the Egyptian magicians imitated it…
13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go.
Psalm 78:43 places the scene of the plagues in northern Egypt near Zoan.
Many students of the plagues have noticed that they appeared in sets of three. The accounts of the first plague in each set (the first, fourth, and seventh plagues) each contain a purpose statement in which God explained to Moses His reason and aim for that set of plagues (cf. 7:17; 8:22; 9:14).
These plagues also all took place in the morning, possibly suggesting a new beginning. God had announced His overall purpose for the plagues in 7:4-5.
The last plague in each set of three came on Pharaoh without warning, but Moses announced the others to him beforehand.
The first set of three plagues apparently affected both the Egyptians and the Israelites, whereas the others evidently touched only the Egyptians.
Here in Exodus 7 Moses turned the water of the Nile to blood, so that the fish died and it one could not drink it (vv. 20-21, cf. Psalm 105;29), but the magicians were able to mimic this wonder as well.
David Guzik notes:
The Egyptian god Khnum was said to be the guardian of the Nile, and this showed he was unable to protect his territory. The god Hapi was said to be the spirit of the Nile, and was brought low by this plague. The great god Osiris was thought to have the Nile as his bloodstream; in this plague he truly bled. The Nile itself was worshipped as a god, and there are papyri recording hymns sung in praise of the river.
John L. Davis says…
“Those who venerated Neith, the eloquent warlike goddess who took a special interest in the lates, the largest fish to be found in the Nile, would have had second thoughts about the power of that goddess. Nathor was supposed to have protected the chromis, a slightly smaller fish. Those Egyptians who depended heavily on fish and on the Nile would indeed have found great frustration in a plague of this nature.”
None of these were the major gods of Egypt.
Luke 10 begins with Jesus sending out the 72. Having sent out the 12 in chapter 9, he continues to train His disciples with OJT. David Guzik notes the importance of Jesus’ encouragement to pray in v. 2
Jesus commanded them to pray; the work before them was great and could not be accomplished without much prayer. Specifically, they were to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. This speaks powerfully to:
· The need for prayer in the work of evangelism (therefore pray)
· The maker of the harvest (the Lord of the harvest)
· The need for workers in the work of evangelism (laborers)
· The calling of God for the work of the harvest (to send out)
· The nature of harvest participation, work (laborers)
· The need to recognize Whom the harvest belongs to (His harvest)
So they go on their trip and return in v. 17 eager to share the results. But as great as victory over injury, and especially over demons was, a greater cause for rejoicing was the Seventy’s assurance that God would reward them—with heaven itself, plus additional heavenly rewards (v. 20).
Jesus also expressed joy over the sovereign choice of His father to reveal truth and conceal it (vv. 21-24). Revelation of truth happens because of God’s “good pleasure” (v. 21) to whom the “Son chooses to reveal” (v. 22).
Jesus then tells the story of the Good Samaritan (10:25-37). It was prompted by a lawyer’s question “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus directs him to the law–loving God totally and loving one’s neighbor. Wanting to justify himself, he asked “Who is my neighbor?” So Jesus said, “Let me tell you.”
This map is from Casual English Bible by Stephen Miller
In telling this story Jesus is illustrating that we do not limit the circle of our neighbor. We focus on being a neighbor to anyone in need.
Jesus finishes this chapter commending Mary for choosing “the better part” of sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him teach. While serving Christ is not being denigrated here, Jesus is saying that it is even more important to spend time with Him. We need a rhythm of service and solitude.
Charles Spurgeon, in his Morning and Evening devotional, comments:
Her fault was not that she served: the condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. Nor was the fault that she had “much serving.” We cannot do too much. Let us do all that we possibly can; let head, and heart, and hands, be engaged in the Master’s service. It was no fault of hers that she was busy preparing a feast for the Master. Happy Martha, to have an opportunity of entertaining so blessed a guest; and happy, too, to have the spirit to throw her whole soul so heartily into the engagement. Her fault was that she grew “cumbered with much serving,” so that she forgot Him, and only remembered the service. She allowed service to override communion, and so presented one duty stained with the blood of another.
We ought to be Martha and Mary in one: we should do much service, and have much communion at the same time. For this we need great grace. It is easier to serve than to commune. Joshua never grew weary in fighting with the Amalekites; but Moses, on the top of the mountain in prayer, needed two helpers to sustain his hands. The more spiritual the exercise, the sooner we tire in it.
Beloved, while we do not neglect external things, we ought also to see to it that we enjoy living, personal fellowship with Jesus. See to it that sitting at the Saviour’s feet is not neglected, even through it be under the specious pretext of doing Him service. The first thing for our soul’s health, the first thing for His glory, and the first thing for our own usefulness, is to keep ourselves in perpetual communion with the Lord Jesus, and to see that the vital spirituality of our religion is maintained over and above everything else in the world.
In Job 24 Job continues to express his rejoinder to Eliphaz. Thomas Constable summarizes…
Job could not understand why God did not always judge overt sin quickly (24:1-12). Most people still have the same question. He mentioned three sins specifically: removing boundary landmarks and thereby appropriating someone else’s land, stealing flocks of sheep, and mistreating the weak. Job could not see why God seemingly ignored the perpetrators of these terrible sins, yet afflicted him so severely. Neither could he see why God did not judge sinners who practiced secret atrocities, specifically: murderers, adulterers, and burglars (24:14-17).
These confusing verses evidently are saying that God sometimes does not punish the wicked during their lifetime (vv. 18-21), and that the “valiant”—powerful authorities, either good or bad—have no guarantee or “assurance of life” in their God-given yet tenuous “security” (vv. 22-24). Probably Job was reflecting that God does indeed punish them in death if not in life. What bothered him was why God did not punish them sooner. Even with more revelation than Job enjoyed, we still have great difficulty understanding God’s ways generally, and why He does what He does in specific individual lives particularly. God’s wisdom is still unfathomable.
1 Corinthians 11 deals with issues regarding worship–how women are involved and how to appropriately celebrate the Lord’s Supper and the agape feast. Paul speaks of a hierarchy which extends even to the Trinity in v. 3…
3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
So submission is modeled in the Trinity and extends throughout all relationships. In this context only the marriage relationship is addressed, but other passages show that we must submit as well to our bosses, to government, to church leaders.
To indicate just how difficult this passage is to decipher, here are links to four articles, all from the same website, but not all reaching the same conclusions.
- What is the Head Covering in 1 Cor 11:2-16 and Does It Apply to Us Today?(Daniel B. Wallace)
- Head Coverings, Prophecies and the Trinity (Thomas R. Schreiner)
- Glory or Shame? (Keith Krell)
- 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 – Its Issues and Implications (Bob Deffinbaugh)
About vv. 11-12 Ray Stedman writes:
Paul carefully declares that man and woman cannot exist without each other. They are equal as persons, distinct as sexes, functioning in a divinely given order in order to demonstrate to all the delight of God in his creation and redemption of mankind. If we will carefully think that through we shall find it is a very powerful argument for equality of persons and distinctives of role.
Paul then deals with the Lord’s Supper in vv. 17-34. He needed to correct some abuses (vv. 17-26), which abused the poor (vv. 17-22, 33-34) by over-indulging while the poor got little or nothing, and abusing the Lord by not taking the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner (vv. 23-32).
The selfish attitude that marked the Corinthian church comes through strongly in this section of the epistle. It manifested itself in a particularly ugly display at the Lord’s Table. Paul dealt with it severely, both for the sake of the reputation of the Savior, and for the welfare of the saints.
William Barclay writes:
We must be clear about one thing. The phrase which forbids a man to eat and drink unworthily does not shut out the man who is a sinner and knows it. An old highland minister seeing an old woman hesitate to receive the cup, stretched it out to her, saying, “Take it, woman; it’s for sinners; it’s for you.” If the Table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it. The way is never closed to the penitent sinner. To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is ever open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, shall be white as snow.