The Slavery and the Freedom

Exodus 21:1-11

‘These are the laws you are to set before them:

‘If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

‘But if the servant declares, “I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,” then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the door-post and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

‘If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

This is the very beginning part of the Law written in Exodus 21-23.

And it is about the slave and the master. What the Law says here are the Word of God and they sound wonderful to me. When I think deeper based on what are written here, I can learn what being ‘a slave’  truly mean and they shock me. Previously, I didn’t think seriously about the slavery.

I would express this part as “God given rules to follow in the dark reality”.

A Hebrew is supposed to be free after the Exodus, but he or she could sell himself/herself due to the debt.

God commands in v2 that if buying a male Hebrew servant, in the seventh year, he shall go free. If he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him (3). If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free (4).

The freedom in the 7th year (2) may be aligned with the debt free in the end of 7th year commanded in Deuteronomy 15:1.

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. (Deuteronomy 15:1)

This freedom from the slavery was given to Hebrews. If the slave is a foreigner, there is no provision for freedom. We can see that the freedom is a privilege even though it may mean responsibility for his own survival.

According to v4, the servant even can’t take his wife and children (if the wife was given by the master) when he leaves his master as a free man. He simply was used for breeding more servants! Probably his marriage might not have been according to his preference but according to his master’s purpose in the first place.

In the end of Exodus 21:21, it says “since the slave is their property.” If we know the Law saying like this about the slave, no one would want to be a slave of the ancient time.

In the modern society, everyone has human right. The employee even can choose the employer and can move from one employer to another.

Then, the situation is different now and what should we learn from this part of the Holy Bible? We can at least recognize the poverty could bring lower social status like slavery. Because we now know the principle written in the Bible about the master and the slave and how low a slave can be considered to be and how badly he/she can be treated, we just do not want to be too poor indeed.

Solomon, the King of Wisdom, said in Proverbs 22:7.

The rich rule over the poor,

and the borrower is slave to the lender.

This tells the reality caused by the financial situation.

The New Testament teaches to let no debt remain outstanding in Romans 13:8.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Many creditors like banks and lending companies offer credit cards and loans. When we consider that the huge amount of money notes can be just printed out on the paper, the profit from the interest is too easy compared to the struggle of people who are ensnared in the financial traps. Many financial or legal advisors know high interest lending like Payday loan can be unethical because it would be like a trap. Jesus was furious at money changers (they offered changes of less amount of money) in the temple, calling them robbers.

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘ “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’ (Matthew 21:12-13)

In the New Testament, especially 2000 years after Jesus Christ was born, the world has been changed. Biblical Christians led the fight to abolish harsh slavery in modern times [2]. People recognize human rights. We defined various ‘rights’ to protect more entities who are vulnerable. For example, Women’s rights, employees’ rights and etc.

However, somewhere in the world, there still exists human slavery in various forms. [3] points out domestic servitude, sex trafficking, forced labour, bonded labour, child labour, and forced marriage.

To understand how Jesus have been transformed this world, let us move on to learn what Jesus taught about the master and the slave.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:3.

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here, ‘the poor in spirit’ are those humble and hungry for God. They may be even oppressed, afflicted and miserable [4]. The poor are usually the poor in spirit while the rich exploit them.

The poor used to go slavery, and have been hopeless & miserable, but Jesus declared the poor in spirit ‘blessed’ because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Jesus came to change this sin cursed dark and sad world where there are slavery, oppression, and injustice.

He declared in Luke 4:18-19.

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free,

19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

Matthew 5:3 truly proclaims good news to the poor.

Isaiah 58:8-14 says,

‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:

to loose the chains of injustice

and untie the cords of the yoke,

to set the oppressed free

and break every yoke?

Is it not to share your food with the hungry

and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—

when you see the naked, to clothe them,

and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I.

‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression,

with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry

and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,

then your light will rise in the darkness,

and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden,

like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins

and will raise up the age-old foundations;

you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,

Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 ‘If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath

and from doing as you please on my holy day,

if you call the Sabbath a delight

and the Lord’s holy day honourable,

and if you honour it by not going your own way

and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,

and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’

For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Jesus teaches that there is only one master, the Messiah.

10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. (Matthew 23:10)

Jesus teaches we can’t have two masters: God and Money. We have to choose one, that is, God. See Matthew 6:24.

24 ‘No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

What does the Bible teach about the earthly master? The Bible teaches to obey the earthly master just as you would obey Christ.

See Ephesians 6:5-8.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

See Colosians 3:22-25.

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism.

Ephesians 6:9 says to the masters,

And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favouritism with him.

In the world, there are good & considerate masters and harsh masters. The Bible teaches to serve both of them well. See 1 Peter 2:18-21.

18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

The Bible teaches to stay as you are when you were called. See 1 Corinthians 7:20-21a.

20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you

You may liberate yourself if you can. See 1 Corinthians 7:21b.

—although if you can gain your freedom, do so (21b).

Read more and learn more in 1 Corinthians 7:22-24.

22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Particularly v23b says “do not become slaves of human beings”. When God – man relationship has been restored through Christ, we cloth with God’s blessings and wisdom to live beyond the earthly slavery. We have God behind. He is our ultimate protector and provider. You are no longer a slave to human beings but led by God’s Spirit to live wisely in God! Amen, hallelujah!!

Jesus teaches true greatness by becoming the servant of all.

 ‘Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.’ (Mark 10:44)

25 Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ (Matthew 20:25-28)

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:24-27)

Let’s continue in Exodus 21. See v5-6.

The servant can choose to stay as the master’s servant for life by declaring, “I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free.” (5). In this case the master must take him before the judges, take him to the door or the door-post, and pierce his ear with an awl (6). Probably these procedures are required to confirm his determination is without any doubt, to make this decision officially recorded, and to leave physical evidences (ear, door/door-post).

Many principles could be derived from the study on Exodus 21:1-11.

For example, if a master wants to keep a male servant for his life, he could think of giving him a wife out of female servants he has. Then that male servant could stay with the master for his life if he loves his master, his wife and children.

In the modern world, the master does not own the wife and children of the male servant even if the master has given the wife to the servant. In the modern world, the master could find a wife for the servant but the master does not own his wife and children. But I personally think this (arranging a wife for the slave or the employee) could work if I want to keep a good slave or employee for life.

V7-11 are about the case of female servants. The master could select her for himself (8), for his son (9) or even for male servant (4).

See v8.

If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her.

V8 is the case that the master has selected her for himself.

Based on v8, we can see that she can stay as his servant and wife if she pleases the master. If she does not please the master, he must let her be redeemed. That is, he should let her bought back by her father. He should not sell her to foreigners.

V9-11 are the case that the master has selected her for his son.

In this case, he must grant her the rights of a daughter (9). If his son marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights (10). If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money (11).

 

The above is according to Mosaic Law of BC (Before Christ) but now it is in the year of our Lord Jesus Christ (Anno Domini =  in the year of the Lord).

Basically no one should be treated as a slave. But only sin could cause such misery.

We can read in the Old Testament that when God let Israel conquer a foreign nation, it was entirely destroyed including humans and cattle if God commanded so based on their sins. God sometimes commanded Israel to capture foreigners as slaves after conquering their nation because their sins were not as bad. From these facts, we can know that sins may cause destruction or slavery.

Jesus says that true slaves are those who sin and they are slaves to sin. See John 8:34.

  34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

In modern days, there shouldn’t be any slave. Sometimes people are still treated badly because they are slaves to sin. We need to share the Gospel to help them free. See John 8:31-32.

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’

Basically, Jesus came to make us free from our slavery to sins. And according to the above verses, the truth will set you free. Let us hold to His teaching.

There are various differences between the Old Testament and New Testament.

Nevertheless, Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law.

17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. (Matthew 5:17)

It may be good to read the rest (Matthew 5:18-20) of the paragraph to understand the importance of the Law.

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practises and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-20)

Jesus explains the reason for the differences in Matthew 9:14-17.

14 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, ‘How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?’

15 Jesus answered, ‘How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

16 ‘No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out, and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.’

 

Paul explains prophesies, knowledge and others will pass away but faith, hope and love remain.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13)

 

The entire law is fulfilled in keeping one command.

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Galatians 5:13-14)

Jesus teaches the greatest commandment in the Law in Matthew 22:34-40.

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’

37 Jesus replied: ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

I hope that we take lessons from both the Old and New Testaments and apply them wisely.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/doesnt-the-bible-support-slavery/

[3] http://www.endslaverynow.org/learn/slavery-today?gclid=CjwKCAjwlovtBRBrEiwAG3XJ-47msHI7k-gH9Vy1mqWgFGTH9dp2y2rU78B_6p8TxTwNMsFBafipNhoCAfsQAvD_BwE

[4] Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

 

 

 

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Brief Review of Genesis 1 – Exodus 20

Posted by admin on 2 October 2019 in Exodus, Genesis |

Genesis 1 - Exodus 20

We studied Ten Commandments of God in Exodus 20 last week.

Before studying further, let us briefly review what God commanded previously.

CREATION & MANKIND’S MISSION BLESSED AND COMMANDED BY GOD & THEIR FOOD

  1. ‘Let there be light’

As written in Genesis 1:3, God said

‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.

In Genesis 1, the universe was formed at God’s command.

  1. ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’

After the creation of mankind in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), God blessed them and said to them in Genesis 1:28.

‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’

  1. God said what will be our food

Vegetables and Fruits

And God gave us food in Genesis 1:29.

29 Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.

ONE COMMANDMENT IN EDEN GARDEN

  1. One Commandment of God

God commanded in Genesis 2:16-17,

‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’

AFTER THE FALL

  1. Through the temptation of the snake captivated by the Devil, Adam and his wife disobeyed the commandment of God, which brought God’s judgement upon the snake, the woman, and Adam. In the midst of the judgement, God promised the Saviour coming as the woman’s offspring (Genesis 3:15).
  2. Punishment & Protection of Cain

In Genesis 4:11-12, God punished Cain for murdering Abel.

And in Genesis 4:15, God put a mark on Cain to protect him from being murdered.

15 But the Lord said to him, ‘Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.’ Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.

GOD CHOSE NOAH (Genesis 6)

AFTER THE FLOOD (Genesis 9)

  1. God gave additional food

Everything that lives and moves about

In addition, after the Flood, God gave everything that lives and moves as our food in Genesis 9:3.

Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Rules in eating animals

But, there was a condition attached to the additional food. Let us read Genesis 9:4.

‘But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.

The condition is as written in Genesis 9:4. Animals shouldn’t be eaten alive. We shouldn’t eat raw meat that contains the animal’s “lifeblood”. Their blood may contain infectious diseases as well.

We can eat them, but cruelty is not allowed.

Proverbs 12:10 says

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,

but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Exodus 23:19b, Exodus 34:26b, Deuteronomy 14:21d says

 ‘Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Human life is protected

See Exodus 9:5-6.

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

‘Whoever sheds human blood,

        by humans shall their blood be shed;

   for in the image of God

        has God made mankind.

Here, God will demand accounting from every animal (Genesis 9:5b) and from each human being (Genesis 9:5c) that shed human blood (= that took/harmed human life). So Genesis 9:5-6 is about the preciousness and protection of human life.

GOD CALLED ABRAHAM, THE FATHER OF FAITH (Genesis 12)

THE JOURNEY OF FAITH CONTINUED BY ISAAC (Genesis 21) AND JACOB (Genesis 25)

JOSEPH WAS SENT TO EGYPT (Genesis 37)

ENTIRE FAMILY OF JACOB WAS SAVED BY JOSEPH AND MOVED TO LIVE IN EGYPT (Genesis 46)

THE SLAVERY OF THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL IN EGYPT (Exodus 1)

GOD SENT MOSES (Exodus 2)

THE EXODUS (Exodus 12)

THE CROSSING THE SEA (Exodus 13)

GOD DESCENDED TO MOUNT SINAI TO MEET THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL (Exodus 19)

In Exodus 19, God told Moses what to tell the people of Israel:

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF GOD (Exodus 20)

Last week, we studied Ten Commandments of God in Exodus 20.

Today we briefly reviewed Genesis 1 - Exodus 20.

Let us continue to study remaining chapters of Exodus in coming weeks.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

God who gave the Ten Commandments

Posted by admin on 23 September 2019 in Exodus, Galatians, The Book of Romans |

Exodus 20:1-26

In Exodus 20, God gave the Ten Commandments.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me (3).
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them (4, 5a).
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God (7a).
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (8).
  5. Honour your father and your mother (12a).
  6. You shall not murder (13).
  7. You shall not commit adultery (14).
  8. You shall not steal (15).
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour (16).
  10. You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour (17).

When this was happening, I think there were the thunder, lightning, trumpet sound, and smoke in the mountain. And they saw and heard them, and trembled with fear (18). They said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.’ (19)

Moses said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with  you to keep you from sinning.’ (20)

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (21).

Exodus 20 shows the glorious moments that the descended God gave the 10 commandments to them through Moses. He was used by God incredibly and amazingly.

Very interesting thing is the fact that previously Moses asked God more than once saying “Pardon your servant, Lord.” (Exodus 4:10, 13) or “Please send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13) His reason was he had never been eloquent.

Through the book of Exodus, I can see that Moses played the great role as the spiritual leader.

All these things – how many times and how much God revealed Himself, how greatly Moses was used by God - make God so real & close to us, make us amazed, and our heart becomes filled with faith in his power and grace.

In Exodus 21 ~ 23, God gave the laws that Moses were to set before them.  Let us study them later.

Before closing, let us study about the ministry of condemnation and the ministry of righteousness.

See 2 Corinthians 3:9.

If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!

2 Corinthians 3:9 says the ministry of Moses is “the ministry of condemnation”. The Law itself Moses received is good but it brings condemnation because everyone will break one law or the other in the Law. No one can keep 100% of them. So we need the ministry of righteousness that is the ministry of Jesus. The righteousness comes from the redemption.

Galatians 3:10-14 says

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Romans 7:7-13 says

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

So, the Law lets us know we are sinners. Even though we may try to observe the Law, we can’t be saved, but Instead will find ourselves condemned by the Law. Only Jesus saves us through the forgiveness of sins.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

God who descended to the top of Mount Sinai

Posted by admin on 15 September 2019 in Exodus, Matthew |

Exodus 19:1-25

Adam and his wife freely talked with God face-to-face in Genesis 2 and 3. But the situation has been changed since the fall (Genesis 3). But, in Exodus 19, God descended to the top of Mount Sinai!! This is the chapter we can read the details!!

In Exodus 19, they came to the Desert of Sinai exactly 3 months after they left Egypt (1). Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said,

‘This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’ (3b ~ 6)

So, Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said’. So, Moses brought their answer back to the LORD. (7 – 8)

See v9.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.’ Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

The LORD said to Moses to consecrate them today and tomorrow, make them wash their clothes, and the LORD would come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people and they are not to approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. God said, “Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.” (10 – 12)

Moses had gone down the mountain to the people and consecrated them and they washed their clothes (14). In v15, Moses said,

‘Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.’

In Leviticus 15:16-18, the Law of God teaches us ‘uncleanness’ till `evening’ due to ejection of semen. In addition, it is required to wash the whole body with water:

16 “ ‘Suppose semen flows from a man’s body. Then he must wash his whole body with water. He will be “unclean” until evening. 17 Suppose clothes or leather have semen on them. Then they must be washed with water. They will be “unclean” until evening. 18 Suppose a man sleeps with a woman. And suppose semen flows from his body and touches both of them. Then they must take a bath. They will be “unclean” until evening.

From v16, we can read the amazing event. The meeting of people of Israel and God!

There was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. (16)

See v17-19.

17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain (20) and the LORD said again to him to warn the people:

‘Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.’ (21 ~ 22)

Moses indicated that he ensured it (23).

In v24, the LORD asked Moses to bring Aaron up with him, and He warned again.

But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.’ (24b)

So, Moses went down to the people and told them (25)

In this chapter, we see that God didn’t allow others to come to Him and differentiated Moses and also Aaron. God repeated the similar warning (not to approach the  mountain, not to force their way to see Him, not to come up to Him) for the people including priests. And God talked to them through Moses. God showed them God speaking with Moses so that people would always put their trust in Moses (9, 19).

As shown in this chapter, people couldn’t even touch the mountain the top of which God descended on (12, 13). They can’t approach or see God.

Thanks to Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross for our Sins, the way to God has opened up. The moment Jesus died on the cross the curtain in the Temple between the holy place and the most holy place was torn in two from top to bottom.

See Matthew 27:50-51.

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

Thank you God for sending Jesus to forgive our Sins and open the way to You.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

God’s Solution

Posted by admin on 8 September 2019 in Exodus, Genesis, John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Revelation |

When Pharaoh gave order to kill every newly born Hebrew boy (Exodus 1:22), people could wonder why God would not rescue them right away. As shown in Exodus 2:1-10, God already sent Moses as His solution in the midst of the problem. So, we need faith when we can see the problem but can’t see the solution. The solution is already there but we can’t see it yet because it may be still a baby, but God already prepared the solution. God may be waiting for us to pray enough as shown in Exodus 2:23-24.

23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

God let Moses to perform ten plagues against Egypt and the 1st plague (Exodus 7) was the plague of blood. This plague reminds me of Revelation 16:3 – 7.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it turned into blood like that of a dead person, and every living thing in the sea died.

The third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood. Then I heard the angel in charge of the waters say:

‘You are just in these judgments, O Holy One,

you who are and who were;

for they have shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets,

and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’

And I heard the altar respond:

‘Yes, Lord God Almighty,

true and just are your judgments.’

 

So, the 1st plague in Exodus 7 reminds me of Pharaoh’s order in Exodus 1:22.

When the snake tempted the woman, and Adam and his wife disobeyed God’s command in Genesis 3, they were sentenced to lose eternal life and Eden Garden. In the midst of this mankind’s worst nightmare, on the very moment of God’s judgement, God promised the saviour for the mankind in Genesis 3:15. To understand the context, let’s read from  v14.

14 So the Lord God said to the snake, ‘Because you have done this,

‘Cursed are you above all livestock

and all wild animals!

You will crawl on your belly

and you will eat dust

all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity

between you and the woman,

and between your offspring and hers;

he will crush your head,

and you will strike his heel.’

 

In v15, hers, that is, her offspring (singular) is the saviour, who will crush the head of the snake (Satan). Striking his heel means the crucifixion that the saviour would suffer.

For each case in the above, the solution of God was ‘sending someone’.

Today someone might be born as the solution to a problem. You also might be born to solve a problem.

God works through someone who obeys Him.

Jesus fed 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fish (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-13). This shows God uses our faith and obedience even though He is almighty to do great things without them.

 

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Birth of Moses, and Exodus

Posted by admin on 18 August 2019 in Exodus |

Exodus 1 – 17

Personally, I found Exodus particularly more interesting when I was reading books in the holy bible for the first time long time ago. I found myself kept reading more and more chapters in one seating even though my original plan was reading just a paragraph or a chapter.

In Genesis, the entire household of Jacob migrated to Egypt due to severe famine. Joseph, the lost son of Jacob, had become the prime minister of Egypt to their rescue. Now we know why people of Israel lived in Egypt since then.

As mentioned in Exodus 1, they multiplied greatly and new Pharaoh, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power and oppressed them. Pharaoh even gave his order to kill every newly born Hebrew boy.

In Exodus 2, Moses was born and miraculously adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. After Moses had grown up, when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian. This was known to Pharao, and Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian. Moses married with a daughter of a priest of Midian. In the meantime, the Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out and their cry went up to God. God heard their groaning and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

In Exodus 3, God appeared to Moses and called him for the mission to rescue and bring the Israelites up out of Egypt into a land flowing milk and honey.

Here, it is noticed God revealed Himself and talked to Moses. God told Moses His name (I AM), and gave him the power of performing miraculous signs. God told Moses Pharaoh would not let them go unless a mighty hand would compel him. God told Moses His plan of striking the Egyptians with all the wonders that He will perform among them. God told Moses the Egyptians would give a lot of gifts to the Israelites when leaving Egypt.

We can read about 10 plagues of God in Exodus 7 ~ 12. In Exodus 14, God divided the sea, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground while the Egyptians pursued them into the sea and were drown. Exodus 15 shows God changed bitter water in Marah fit to drink. Exodus 16 shows that God supplied them breakfast (Manna) and dinner (quail) miraculously.  Exodus 17 shows that God supplied water from the rock and God let the enemy defeated supernaturally as long as Moses held up his hands.

Let us summarize other chapters later.

After we have read so many occasions of revelations, signs, and miracles of God written in Exodus, we should no longer think that God is far from us. Only own unbelief would limit God. But the relationship with God is restored for each individual if he/she believes in Jesus.

Once believed, we may pray to God, the heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus.

Jacob (Israel) after whose name the country was named

Posted by admin on 11 August 2019 in Genesis |

Genesis 25 – Genesis 50

Rebekah conceived fraternal twins (Genesis 25:12). God revealed their destinies as Rebekah enquired of the LORD (“…the elder (Esau) will serve the younger (Jacob)…”) (Genesis 25:22-23). Jacob means ‘supplanter’. Jacob received Isaac’s blessing instead of Esau (Genesis 27:1-40). Jacob was sent away to the house of Rebekah’s brother, Laban, fleeing from the anger of Esau (Genesis 27:41-45).

See Genesis 28:10-22.

Along the journey, Jacob had a special dream, and the LORD said to him in the dream:

‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’

Jacob setup a pillar and called the place ‘Bethel’ (the house of God).

Then Jacob made a vow, saying,

‘If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.’

Jacob (77 years old) met Rachel (at least 12 years old, Laban’s younger daughter) (Genesis 29:11) and Jacob was in love with Rachel (Genesis 29:18).

7 years later, on the wedding night, Laban deceived Jacob and let him sleep with his elder daughter Leah. A week later, Laban gave him Rachel as well (Genesis 29:21-30).

One thing noticed is that Jacob deceived by Laban (Genesis 29:23), and also later deceived by his children (Genesis 37:31-35). This is compared to the event he deceived his father Isaac.

Jacob got 12 sons and one daughter (Genesis 29:31-35). He became rich (Genesis 30:25-43) and it was due to God’s help (Genesis 31:12). Jacob fled from Laban to go back to homeland (Genesis 31) as God commanded him (Genesis 31:3). On the way to homeland, Jacob prepared to meet Esau (Genesis 32). He prepared gifts for Esau (Genesis 32:1-21) and he wrestled with God (the angel of God) for blessing (Genesis 32:22-32).

See Genesis 32:26-29:

26 Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.’

But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’

27 The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’

‘Jacob,’ he answered.

28 Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’

29 Jacob said, ‘Please tell me your name.’

But he replied, ‘Why do you ask my name?’ Then he blessed him there.

 

As shown in Genesis 32:28, his name was changed to ‘Israel’.

God spoke to Jacob in Genesis 35:1. He built an altar in Bethel, where God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother (Genesis 35:7).

See Genesis 46:1-4. God spoke to Jacob when he offered sacrifices in Beersheba.

1So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’

‘Here I am,’ he replied.

‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’

 

Jacob continues to appear till Genesis 50. His son Joseph was focused from Genesis 37 onward.

Note that the country was named after Jacob’s new name, ‘Israel’. So, I am paying special attention to Jacob’s life.

In summary,

He wanted God’s blessing (Genesis 27:1-40, Genesis 28:20-22, Genesis 32:26), he setup an pillar or an altar, and offered sacrifice (Genesis 28:18, Genesis 35:7, Genesis 46:1), he received dreams, and the LORD appeared and spoke to him in dreams or a vision (Genesis 28:12-15, Genesis 31:3, Genesis 35:1, Genesis 46:2-3). He met God (His angel) and wrestle with Him (Genesis 32:22-32).

What makes him special or what we can learn from him…?

  • He knew he would need God’s blessing. Action plan we can take would be ‘asking God His blessing’.
  • The above summary tells us his faith. He had faith in God.

Let us continue to find more.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

God speaks and He lives

Posted by admin on 29 July 2019 in Exodus, Genesis |

Genesis 39-41

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there (Genesis 39:1).

The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him everything in charge of his household. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’

But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care.  No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’  And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her.

But due to her lie (Genesis 39:19), Joseph was put in prison (Genesis 39:20). But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder.  So, the warder put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.

Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker were put in prison and they had dreams in the same night. Joseph interpret their dreams and told them what would happen in 3 days. Things happened as Joseph said (Genesis 40).

When Pharaoh had a dream and no one could interpret it, Joseph successfully interpreted and predicted what would happen over next 14 years. As a result, he was appointed as the prime minister of Egypt (Genesis 41).

(MESSAGE)

God exists, speaks, and lives

When I read Genesis 39, it says “After Joseph was taken to Egypt, the LORD was with Joseph … and the LORD gave him success in everything he did…”, and etc.

The Holy Bible is full of “The Lord was … or did …”. When I was teenager, all books I read said “The human man or woman was … or did …”.

It is unfortunate to grow up or live without knowing God. When Russia had removed God from their people’s heart, it has realized people had become extremely evil and the crime rate had become high.  As the communism society tends to remove God from the equations, China also is known for serious human rights violations. The true light shone on my life of ignorance and spiritual death when I met Jesus at 18. It took quite a while for me to correct my thoughts that had been done without God so long.

I am glad that I may share what is written in the Holy Bible with others so that they may live by faith in God, who speaks and who lives. Without God, nothing answers us to the question “Why we should live?”. But with God we know the reason: God has the plan and purpose of the life for each one of us.

Apparently, it was a misery when Joseph was in the situation of life threatening and human trafficking (Genesis 38). But God took him to the next step closer to his dream through it.

God is almighty and He can work out everything and fulfil His purpose whatsoever.

The LORD works out everything to its proper end –
even the wicked for a day of disaster. (Proverbs 16:4)

 

God’s Word is the light

Only via the mirror of God’s Word, we can clearly see how great sins Joseph’s brothers committed are.

See Exodus 21:16. ‘Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.’

Therefore, their sin (kidnapping) was great and the offender(s) deserved the death based on the Law. Also, they lied to their father, which broke the 9th one (Exodus 20:19) of 10 commandments as well as Exodus 23:1-2.

Exodus 20:19

16 ‘You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

Exodus 23:1-2

‘Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.

‘Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,

 

As a reference, one punch attack is a great sin according to Exodus 21:12. We hear such incidents in the news. God’s Word reveals what the sin is and the severity of it.

"Anyone who strikes a person with a fatal blow is to be put to death.” (Exodus 21:12)

 

Joseph himself testified that he had been kidnapped in Genesis 40:15 (15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.’)

This also shows how greatly Joseph suffered due to their sin committed against him. Their sin was against their father and God as well.

Psalm 105 says

16 He called down famine on the land

and destroyed all their supplies of food;

17 and he sent a man before them—

Joseph, sold as a slave.

18 They bruised his feet with shackles,

his neck was put in irons,

19 till what he foretold came to pass,

till the word of the Lord proved him true.

20 The king sent and released him,

the ruler of peoples set him free.

21 He made him master of his household,

ruler over all he possessed,

22 to instruct his princes as he pleased

and teach his elders wisdom.

 

Joseph was given the name `Zaphenath-Paneah’ by Pharaoh

When Joseph was discovered by Pharaoh, Pharaoh made him Prime Minister and gave him the name ‘Zaphenath-Paneah’ (Genesis 41:45). This name is translated to be ’revealer of secrets’, ‘the man to whom secrets are revealed’, ‘saviour of the world’, ‘salvation of the age’, or  ‘the god speaks [and] he lives’ [2].

 

Joseph’s elder brothers’ sin and repentance

Joseph’s brothers suffered their guilt of selling Joseph to Egypt (Genesis 42:22) even though Joseph later explained to them that “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (Genesis 45:8a) After Jacob was passed away, they suffered the fear, and came, threw themselves down before Joseph to request to forgive their wrongs (Genesis 50:15-21).

What Judah said in Genesis 44:18-34 showed ‘repentance’. Now they understood how much Jacob loved Joseph. Even though Jacob had 4 wives, he indicated only Rachel as his wife (Genesis 44:27 “You know that my wife bore me two sons.”) So, they knew he would have died if he would have lost Benjamin (Genesis 44:31). Judah said, “if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life” (Genesis 44:30b). This shows that Jacob loved Benjamin as his own life. In fact, Jacob loved Rachel, Joseph, and Benjamin most and dearly in the family – nothing can change his love. Love is love.

I want to briefly review the struggles of love and jealousy, as shown in Genesis 29-30 to study the background of the incident. Jacob loved Rachel, but Laban gave him both of his daughters: Leah (older daughter) first and then Rachel. Leah gave birth to 4 sons, but Rachel could not conceive and let her maid Bilhah to bear two sons. Leah competed with Rachel and gave Jacob her maid for having 2 more sons. Leah gave birth to 2 additional sons and one daughter. Finally, God enabled Rachel to conceive and she gave birth to Joseph and then Benjamin (two youngest children). Did the struggle continue in the next generation…? (They sold Joseph and tried to keep their father’s love for themselves) They were eager to compete for the love of the blessed man (Jacob), who was to have 12 sons to form 12 tribes of Israel. * Isaac blessed Jacob instead of Esau in Genesis 27.

 

The names of 12 tribes

In Exodus 28, God commanded Moses to make the garments for priests. Jacob (Israel)’s 12 children’s names are to be written in the order of their birth on two Onyx stones (6 names each) and each stone is to put on shoulder part of the ephod (a part of the priestly garments).

Their names in birth order is Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, God, Ashur, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin.

Also, each of their names is to be engraved on each of 12 gemstones placed on the breastpiece, a part of the priestly garments.

12 gemstones are to be placed in 4 rows and 3 columns in the breastpiece:

Carnelian, chrysolite and beryl

Turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald

Jacinth, agate and amethyst

Topaz, onyx and jasper.

Urim (meaning: lights, fires) and Thummim (may mean perfection, truth) are to be put in the breastpiece. Urim is a white gemstone and Thummim is a black gemstone (Exodus 28:30)

 

[REFERENCES]

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition, Ge 44:30). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaphnath-Paaneah

a dreaming teenager, Joseph

Posted by admin on 23 June 2019 in Genesis |

Genesis 37:1-36

Jacob had 12 sons. The 11th son, Joseph, 17 years old, was tending the flocks with his brothers, and he brought their father a bad report about them (2). Now Israel (=Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, and he made an ornate robe for him (3). Because Jacob loved Joseph more than any of other brothers, they hated him (4).  Joseph had a dream (5a) that his 11 brothers bowed down to him (7). After Joseph told this dream to his brothers, they hated him all the more (5b, 8). In his 2nd dream the entire family bowed down to him (9).

Joseph sold as a slave to Egypt by his brothers as shown in v12 ~ 28. His brothers got Joseph’s robe in the goat’s blood and took it to their father (31, 32). Jacob thought some ferocious animal had devoured him and mourned for many days (34), refusing to be comforted (35).

Meanwhile, Joseph was sold in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard (36).

Here, two dreams double confirmed that the message in them was certain and not by accident. If similar signs or dreams are given to us twice, we may be more certain about the message contained in them.

When Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt through his brothers’ sin, it appeared the beginning of misery in Joseph’s life, who had to go through slavery and unjust imprisonment (Genesis 39), but it actually was the beginning of fulfilment of his dreams (Genesis 40, 41a). He became the prime minister of Egypt after 13 years (Genesis 41b) and Joseph’s brothers came and bowed to Joseph (Genesis 42).

The dreamer Joseph had been a slave and a prisoner for 13 years! Let us be patient. What dreams do you have in God? Have you been going through hard times in life while waiting for the dreams come true? Let us endure hardship as discipline of a father who loves his son (Hebrews 12:4-13). Let us trust God who loves us and gives what is best for us.

Five Loaves and Two Fish

Posted by admin on 19 May 2019 in John, Luke, Mark, Matthew, The Book of Gospel |

Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-13

The title of message today is “Five loaves and two fish”. This is what Jesus fed 5000 people with. When you live in the world where people are competing for good things, only this miracle may give you the true hope – God can give unlimited goodies. Your mind may be influenced by negativity before this study, but after this study, your mind may be filled with positivity and bright hope.

This event was written in all 4 books of Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-13. Only 10 events are written in all 4 books of Gospel. Five loaves and two fish is one the those 10 events. So, we can know how important and special this event is amongst all events!!

This “Five Loaves and Two Fish” miracle is still happening now-a-days all over the world. There are many people who experienced this miracle and are testifying it. For an example, some restaurateurs closed their usual restaurant businesses but started “Five Loaves and Two Fish” free restaurants. And they can keep on providing free food continuously year by year. But this miracle does not have to be food only. This miracle can happen to education, job, accommodation or any other.

Let’s study the details of the miracle to learn how this can be applied to your life.

As shown in Mark 6:5b-13 and Luke 9:1-9, Jesus had sent his 12 disciples out for mission before this miracle took place.

See Mark 6:12, 13.

12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed with oil many people who were ill and healed them.

After mission trip, they had mission conference to report what they have done and taught (Mark 6:30, Luke 9:10). Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat (Mark 6:31a), Jesus said to them in Mark 6:31,

‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’

It says they didn’t have a chance to eat. You know sometimes you don’t have even time to eat. Then you know how busy the disciples were during the mission trip. Jesus knew they had been exhausted and so took them for rest.

We also need rest like today Sunday after hard works of the week. And this is one of the reasons why we go to camping during the Easter. Let us work hard until then and take some clean break during the Easter. I pray in Jesus name that God may help us to make some clean break possible during the Easter so that we may have rest. Amen.

So, they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place (Mark 6:32). But many who saw them leaving recognised them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them (Mark 6:33).

Probably there might be still a lot of people wishing for healing from their diseases and looking for Jesus. Probably some might simply want to see Him and listen to Him. Jesus and His disciples were so popular and on demand, and so they couldn’t get away with the crowd even during their holiday!

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So (Mark 6:34a) He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing. (Luke 9:11b)

Jesus didn’t feel annoyed. Instead Jesus taught them and healed them. This is what we have to do even when sheep interrupt our holiday.

They had parents, brothers and sisters. But they didn’t have a shepherd who understand their problems and guide them. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Sheep need a shepherd. Sheep  are mild animal. But they are short-sighted, stubborn, easy to fall down, hard to get up by themselves, and vulnerable to predators.  Without a shepherd, their lives are under threats. We are like sheep before God. We can’t even foresee a few hours in future. But God knows all. We need God’s help. It is important to ask God, rely on God and wait for God. Jesus is a good shepherd who cares about us. He wants to give what is best for us. He loved us till the end even at the cost of His life.

Life is not only parents and children, brothers and sisters, or husband and wife relationship. There is shepherd and sheep relationship. If you are not a Christian yet, I pray you may be guided to good Shepherd, Jesus. If you are a Christian, I pray that you may take care of sheep as Jesus did. And bring them to Jesus. Your friends, classmates, relatives or family members may be your sheep for you to take care of. Our club name ‘Come & See’ indicates our emphasis to invite our sheep to Jesus. So, it is encouraged to bring your friend with you.

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, (Matthew 14:15a)

‘This is a remote place, and it’s already very late. Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ (Mark 6:35b, 36)

It was time to go home. But it seemed Jesus wouldn’t stop helping them. So, the disciples asked Jesus to send them away. What was the response of Jesus? See Matthew 14:16.

Jesus replied, ‘They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.'

Here we learn that the disciples of Jesus should not only teach and heal them but also feed them in a situation like this.

What was response of the disciples?

Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite! (John 6:7) Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’ (Mark 6:37d)

This new challenge to feed the crowd required a lot of money to buy food. Philip estimated the minimum cost of “half a year’s wages”.

Jesus asked in Mark 6:38,

‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’

What Jesus said rapidly changed their focus from “buy what they don’t have” to “find what they have”!

At this, another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, (John 6:8)

‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ (John 6:9)

They went and found food, but it was with a boy, probably just enough for the boy – five small barley loaves and two small fish. It was clearly not enough as Andrew said, “how far will they go among so many?” Food is consumed and as consumed, food is run out. And some would be filled but most would starve. This is limitation. This is how life works. This is scientifically correct. This is mathematically correct. There is no exception and no better way. In real life, there are not enough jobs. So, some got jobs, and others are unemployed. People compete. Some win but others lose. This world looks promising. But it produces a lot of helpless people. But Jesus is the Game Changer.

How does Jesus solve this problem? See Luke 9:14.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.'

As always, Jesus first requested them to set the environment for the miracle. Luke 9:15 says that

The disciples did so, and everyone sat down.

It is important that we believe Jesus and obey His command even when we don’t understand. Because He is going to perform His miracle after our obedience is completed. Imagine what would happen if they disobeyed☹. Obey His command and He is going to perform His miracle that will change the game in your life!

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples (Luke 9:16a)

We shouldn’t look at the large crowd and despair. We shouldn’t look at how few we have. Instead, we should look up to heaven where the almighty God is listening to your prayer done in the name of Jesus.

And as Jesus gave thanks to God, we should thank God for “what we have”, “opportunity to feed the crowd”, and “what God is going to do by miracle”.

They distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted (John 6:11b). They all ate and were satisfied (Luke 9:17a),

The result was what we never saw in life. Even with the extremely limited resource and despite of extremely high demand, they could receive as much as they wanted, and they all were satisfied.

The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand according to Mark 6:44 and Luke 9:14. Matthew 14:21 says this number did not include women and children.

Finally, Jesus asked them to gather the pieces that were left over and let nothing be wasted (John 6:12).

So, they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. (John 6:13)

This shows that this miracle provided them sufficiently so as to be left over. This shows God provides more than enough rather than just enough. This shows God’s method. This shows God’s abundance. Also, we can learn how we should do the mission from God, sufficiently & to be left over!

Today, we learnt we should bring our small things to Jesus, thank God and they can be used for multitudes sufficiently & to be left over!

Who are sheep without a shepherd?

What 5 loaves and 2 fish do you have?

Jesus commands you, “You give them something to eat!”

Bring 5 loaves and 2 fish to Jesus.

Simply obey to set the environment for the miracle.

And, distribute 5 loaves and 2 fish to the crowd.

Gather what are left.

Give glory to God.

Amen.

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