Today’s readings are from Exodus 1, Luke 4, Job 18, 1 Corinthians 5.
Israel has been in Egypt 430 years now. A king “who did not know Joseph” (v. 8, likely Thutmose I) feared the Israelites and enslaved them, forcing them to build cities. “They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses” (v. 11b) and had cruel taskmasters.
12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel.
So they made their lives even more bitter.
The king of Egypt enlisted Shiprah and Puah, Hebrew midwives, to kill the males being born.
17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.
When Pharaoh called them on it, they said that Hebrew women give birth too fast, before the midwives could arrive.
So what do we do with this? It seems obvious that the midwives lied, because v. 17 says they specifically “did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” Yet, v. 20 tells us that “God dealt well with the midwives” and even “gave them families” because they “feared God” (v. 21) instead of fearing the king.
Some believe that they didn’t actually lie. That the Hebrew women did in fact, not call the midwives.
Others believe that this was not a direct lie, but withholding part of the information.
Some answer this question by adopting “graded absolutism.” Although there are absolutes (lying is always a sin), yet in cases of protecting a life the higher value of human life excuses the lower value of truth telling. A similar situation happens with Rahab.
All in all, it is safe to say that God did not reward the midwives for lying, but for rescuing these children from death.
Thomas Constable notes:
Pharaoh launched three successive plans to reduce the threat of the sizable Hebrew population, that had then become larger and stronger than the Egyptian ruling class (v. 9).
The first plan (plan A) was to make the Hebrews toil hard in manual labor. Normally a population grows more slowly under oppression than in prosperous times. However, the opposite took place in the case of the Israelites (“the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied”; v. 12). Physical oppression also tends to crush the spirit, and in this objective the Egyptians were somewhat successful (2:23-24).
Plan B consisted of ordering the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Hebrew babies at birth. This second plan “miscarried” too.
The intent of plan C was also to do away with the male Hebrew babies (v. 22). However, instead of relying on the Hebrew midwives, Pharaoh called on “all his subjects (people)” to throw “every” Hebrew boy (“son”) that was “born into the Nile” River. Since the Egyptians regarded the Nile as a manifestation of deity, perhaps Pharaoh was making obedience to his edict an act of worship for the Egyptians. This plan evidently failed too.
Nothing Pharaoh tried worked! God was protecting Israel.
Immediately upon being baptized and having a “mountain top” experience, the Holy Spirit thrusts Jesus into the Judean wilderness.
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, r eturned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
THE FIRST ADAM
|THE SECOND ADAM||
|“The tree was good for food.” (Gen. 3:6)||“Tell this stone to become bread.” (Luke 4:3)||“The lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16)|
|“It was a delight to the eyes.” (Gen. 3:6)||“He (Satan) . . . showed Him (Jesus) all the kingdoms of the world.” (Luke 4:5)||“The lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16)|
|“The tree was desirable to make one wise.” (Gen. 3:6)||“Cast yourself down from here.” (Luke 4:9)||“The pride of life” (1 John 2:6)|
Jesus succeeded where Adam failed. When Hebrews says that Jesus was “in every respect has been tempted as we are” yet without sin it probably doesn’t mean that He has endured every single instance of temptation, but every kind of temptation (multiple times).
Alfred Eidersheim also noticed some comparisons with Moses and Elijah, the great lawgiver and prophet:
“Moses fasted in the middle, Elijah at the end, Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. Moses fasted in the Presence of God; Elijah alone; Jesus assaulted by the Devil. Moses had been called up by God; Elijah had gone forth in the bitterness of his own spirit; Jesus was driven by the Spirit. Moses failed after his forty day’s fast, when in indignation he cast the Tables of the Law from him; Elijah failed before his forty day’s fast; Jesus was assailed for forty days and endured the trial. Moses was angry against Israel; Elijah despaired of Israel; Jesus overcame for Israel.”
One thing that Luke adds to the temptation account is in v. 13: “he departed from him until an opportune time.” Satan is always looking for the most opportune moment to tempt us. Some use the acronym HALT to indicate those moments–hungry, angry, lonely, tired.
Note that Jesus was successful because His mind was saturated with the Word of God and He was able to quote it (use the sword) to battle Satan’s deceptions.
Jesus then began his ministry in and around Galilee, beginning in Nazareth, his hometown. However, after reading Isaiah 61:1-2 and saying that He fulfilled it (was the Messiah), the people wanted to throw him off a cliff.
Thomas Constable notes:
Jesus allowed the crowd to drive Him out of town, and “to the brow of the hill” (cliff), near where Nazareth stood. Later, He allowed another crowd to drive Him out of Jerusalem, and nail Him to a cross. However, this was not the time for Him to die, and Nazareth was not the place.
Jesus then moves to Capernaum (home of Peter, Andrew, James and John) and made this His base of operations. He began his ministry there doing several miracles: (1) exorcising a demoniac (4:31-37), (2) healing Peter’s mother-in-law (4:38-39), and (3) many others after sundown (4:40-41) and He preached (4:42-44).
Job 18 is Bildad’s second speech. He scolds Job for making himself better than his friend (18:1-4) and then talks about the plight of the wicked (18:5-21)–their life now and their ultimate destiny are both desparable.
Bildad painted four vivid pictures of the death of the wicked in this passage: a light put out (vv. 5-6), a traveler trapped (vv. 7-10), a criminal pursued (vv. 11-15), and a tree rooted up (vv. 16-21).
Tom Constable says…
Often when we counsel suffering people it is more important to help them think about God and talk to Him than it is to get them to adopt all of our theology. Job’s companions seem to have given up on Job because he would not agree with their theological presupposition. They failed to give him credit for being sincere in his desire to come to terms with God.
In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul rebukes the church at Corinth because there was a man involved in incest (v. 1) and they had just let it go (v. 2-3). So Paul commands them to exercise church discipline. Assuming they had already taken the first two steps of discipline in Matthew 18:15-16 and he had not repented, they are now to “deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (v. 5). Doing nothing would allow sin to spread, like leaven (vv. 6-8).
William Barclay says…
“An easy-going attitude to sin is always dangerous. When we cease to take a serious view of sin we are in a perilous position. It is not a question of being critical and condemnatory; it is a question of being wounded and hurt. It was sin that crucified Jesus Christ; it was to free people from sin that Christ died.”
Paul had determined to “deliver” the man “to Satan for the destruction of his flesh.” Probably Paul meant that he had delivered the man over to the world, which Satan controls, with God’s permission of course, for bodily chastisement that might even result in his premature death.
Though this man’s conduct was clearly sinful, and needed severe correction, Paul does not write him off as forever lost – the effective use of church discipline may yet see him to salvation.
How do we practice this today? I don’t think it means we call down Satan’s judgment upon a person, but that when we must excommunicate someone from the support and authority of the local church, we are, in effect, turning them over to Satan.
Now, the purpose of this severe act was “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” Apparently, some people need to be shocked by the seriousness with which the church takes sin by exercising church discipline even to the point of excommunication, so that a person may either see their need for true salvation, or repent of their sins to prove their salvation.
How are we to separate ourselves from sexual sin (and sinners)? We cannot separate ourselves from the sexually immoral who live all around us, but we are to separate from a “so-called brother” who is involved in sexual immorality (and other things like greed, idolatry, reviling, drunkenness and stealing). That’s a pretty long list and I’m not sure many churches have exercised any form of church discipline for most of these sins.