Faith with feet

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We can never earn our salvation. But consider what it entails for you to ‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12).


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Bible passage Exodus 4:18-31


Moses Returns to Egypt
 18 Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive."
      Jethro said, "Go, and I wish you well."

 19 Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." 20 So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

 21 The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.' "

 24 At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met {Moses} and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched {Moses'} feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. 26 So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)

 27 The LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses." So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.

 29 Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30 and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


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The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Actioning faith
Faith is far more than intellectual assent. Biblical faith demands costly, risky action. True faith has feet, feet that are prepared to ‘walk the talk’.

Fresh from his burning-bush encounter, Moses makes haste to obey God. His obedience entails uprooting his family and stepping out of his comfort zone in Midian (vs 18–20). For Moses, Egypt was not just the place he had fled from in fear of his life, but also the place where he would face a series of risky confrontations with a harsh and hard-hearted ruler (vs 21–23).

Joining the mission
Aaron similarly responds to God’s word by going out to the desert to join his brother in this risky mission (v 27). When Moses and Aaron make known God’s words, the Israelite elders ‘believe’ – and their faith is expressed in worship (v 31).

Does my faith have feet which go where God sends? Hands which do what God demands? Eyes, which view situations from God’s perspective? Ears attuned to God’s voice? Lips which dare to proclaim God’s truths when it is neither politically nor socially expedient to do so?


Respond


James writes of Abraham: ‘his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did’ (James 2:22). Ask God to reveal areas in which your faith needs to grow feet.

Tanya Ferdinandusz


Deeper Bible study


There are a number of issues in the next chapters that twenty-first-century readers find difficult. The first is God saying of Pharaoh that he ‘will harden his heart’(v 21). Exodus 8:15 speaks of Pharaoh hardening his own heart and 7:13 just says that ‘Pharaoh’s heart became hard’. These things are not seen as contradictions, just as different ways of looking at the same thing. I know I struggle with psychological questionnaires forcing a choice between two things (such as ‘Do you prefer (1) planning ahead or (2) doing things on the spur of the moment?’ – I want to say ‘yes’ to both! It all depends on the particular moment). We must be careful not to overstate difficulties that early Israelite readers, more comfortable with ambiguity, would not even have noticed. Was Pharaoh a stubborn old so-and-so, or was God involved in his actions? The answer is ‘Yes’!

The account of the circumcision of Moses’ son (vs 24–26) is – to say the least – obscure! Even early Jewish commentators could not agree exactly what happened, but it does provide a link with the mention of the ‘first-born son’ in verse 23. It also emphasises the importance of circumcision for all Israelites – and Moses’ mixed-race son needs to be clearly identified as Israelite. The end of the chapter is more straightforward! Moses met Aaron, his arrival having been conveyed by divine telegraph. He told Aaron what God had said, they both went to the ‘elders’ (v 29), Aaron passed on the information and ‘they believed’ (v 31). The signs may have helped, but there is no indication that they actually asked for signs before they were willing to believe. They clearly believed that God had spoken; whether that belief included the conviction that God would and could do what he said remains to be seen!

Mary Evans


Bible background: Aaron


His family
Aaron was Moses’ older brother, three years older than him. They were the children of Amram and Jochebed, of the Kohath family of the tribe of Levi. Their older sister was Miriam.

Aaron married Elisheba, and had four sons. Nadab and Abihu, however, died after performing a sacrilegious act burning incense (Leviticus 10:1–5), and his other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, also sometimes failed to obey God properly (10:6–20).

His roles in the Exodus
Aaron acted as Moses’ spokesman or ‘prophet’ (Exodus 7:1) during the Exodus. He was 83 years old when he and Moses first confronted Pharaoh (7:7)! Through the staff which Aaron wielded, miraculous signs were performed (7:8–24), but still Pharaoh refused to listen.

After the ten plagues brought devastation on Egypt, Aaron helped Moses govern the people (16:1–6; 18:12). He was summoned by God to be with Moses when God gave the Law on Mount Sinai (19:24).

His failure in the wilderness
While Moses was away for a month up the mountain with God, Aaron weakly gave in to the people’s request to build them a golden calf. (The people may have been influenced in Egypt by the cult of Apis, a fertility god in the form of a bull.)

A drunken sex orgy ensued (Exodus 32:6), and Moses broke the tablets with the Ten Commandments written by God’s hand he had just been given. Only Moses’ intercession prevented God from destroying the people in his anger.

Israel’s first High Priest
Despite this failure, Aaron was appointed as high priest in a solemn ceremony involving washing (for purification), clothing (for beauty and glory), and anointing with oil (symbolising the Spirit). In a pouch in his breastplate were the Urim and Thummim, used to find out God’s will.

Aaron’s main responsibility was to enter the Most Holy Place bearing blood on the Day of Atonement. The book of Hebrews contrasts his priesthood with that of Jesus Christ (7:11–28). Aaron died at the age of 123 on Mount Hor (Numbers 33:38,39).


Sweet Surrender


As you listen to this song, take some time to surrender your whole life to God.‘Sweet Surrender’ by Andy & Wendy Green, from Ancient Paths – New Horizons.


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Audio


Everyone needs compassion (Mighty to save)
Ben Fielding & Reuben Morgan
Copyright © 2006 Reuben Morgan & Ben Fielding/Hillsong Publishing/kingswaysongs.com
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.kingswayshop.com



There must be more (Consuming fire)
Tim Hughes
Copyright © 2002 Thankyou Music


Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    Thank you TERESA for the reminder of all the I AMS of our beautiful God. JANE, what a joy to see your sister loved into the kingdom. RUTH, you and many others living with cancer and other dire circumstances constantly face the challenge of 'where is God in this? And 'what is God saying to me in this?' God will use whatever is to hand, but always in tenderness and love. Your constant faith in His presence and care always blesses and inspires me. Thank you.

  • Ruth Chisholm | Thursday, 09 February 2017

    RACHAEL my heart cry to God after my recent fall, fracture and op was "what do you want me learn NOW? " I guess i thought I'd learned enough! The last 10 weeks have revealed God's plan for me to finally finish paid employment, a job I thoroughly enjoyed, and God gave many opportunities to share my faith, at 53 not my plans but his, but he's tenderly brought me through to this point, I'm now excited as to what he wants me to do with my available time.

  • Catherine Clarke | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Rachael and Ruth, thank you for your inspirational comments. Blessings all.

  • Jenny Tait | Friday, 10 February 2017

    I'm struggling with this one..between all the instructions and Moses obedience we sudden,y find The Lord met Moses and wanted to kill him. Does anyone have an explanation for this?

  • Jenny Tait | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Suddenly.....

  • Brian Livesey | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Yes I also am struggling with The Lord wanting to kill Moses. I too would welcome an explanation

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013. He opted for no treatment even though I wanted him to have it surgically removed. His faith exceeded mine as yesterday he got the results from twelve biopsies to say 'completely benign' Praise the Lord

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Brian and Jenny, I read this on v24.Moses, who is going to call his people to covenant faithfulness, thought so little of the covenant that he had not circumcised his own son (see Ge 17:9-14 for the origins of the practice). It is evident that Moses and Zipporah had previously discussed whether or not to perform the rites since she immediately diagnosed the problem and took the appropriate action.

  • Angela Munday | Friday, 10 February 2017

    The Holy Spirit teaches us all we need to know and when we consecrate ourselves to God, our life comes into His ownership.Zipporah saw something from God that encouraged her to give her own son the sign of being an Israelite; accepted and loved by God......GILVIN that is wonderful news; praise be to God for His healing of bodies and minds.

  • Luke Taylor | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Verses 24-26. - The transition is abrupt from the promise of triumph over Pharaoh to the threat of instant death. But we must bear in mind that some days may have elapsed between the two, and that the sin which provoked the menace was probably not committed at the date of the promise. The narrative of verses 24-26 is obscure from its brevity; but the most probable explanation of the circumstances is, that Zipporah had been delivered of her second son, Eliezer, some few days before she set out on the journey to Egypt. Childbirth, it must be remembered, in the East does not incapacitate a person from exertion for more than a day or two. On the journey, the eighth day from the birth of the child arrived, and his circumcision ought to have taken place; but Zipporah had a repugnance to the rite, and deferred it, Moses weakly consenting to the illegality. At the close of the eighth day, when Moses went to rest for the night, he was seized with a sudden and dangerous illness, which he regarded, and rightly regarded, as a God-inflicted punishment, sent to chastise his sin in breaking the Divine command (Genesis 17:10-12). Zipporah understood the matter in the same way; and, as her husband was too ill to perform the rite, she herself with her own hand cut off her boy's foreskin, and, still indignant at what she had been forced to do, cast it at her husband's feet, with the reproach - "Surely a bloody husband art thou to me." The rite once performed, however reluctantly, God remitted his anger, and. allowed Moses to recover his health, and pursue his journey.

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 10 February 2017

    My mother-in-law, Marie, goes into a nursing home on Monday. It has been a frustrating and stressful few days but most of the t's are crossed and i's dotted. It has taken a significant toll on me; I am very tired, highly stressed and becoming impatient and tending to anger. Most unlike me and a major warning sign. Once again, I would appreciate your prayers. Thank you.

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Paul writes "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12b). Salvation, or sanctification or being a continuing process that requires work and facing fear i.e. courage. Not work for or earn salvation but to work out salvation. 100% the action of the Spirit that takes 100% participation. Not about sitting back, being comfortable and things going the way is liked but surrendering fear and desire to God's love, growing in wholeness. Similar to what we have talked of with discipline. "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father... God disciplines for our good so that we may share in his holiness... No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:7-11). Pain and fear is often encountered at least to begin with in Christian meditation as the mind is stilled, there is connection with God and issues that are kept down by a busy mind come to the surface, often requiring counselling and help. In contrast to Moses' timidity about public speaking yesterday we see him courageously ventures back to Egypt. No doubt facing fear of what might happen to him given his previous act of murder. Ruth, I enjoyed reading of your excitement at the age of 53 in the light of God's direction for you to do in your available time. I identify with that. I am 52 and have been looking for things to do since my graduation in recent years form theological college after previously being a software consultant. I'm now a case worker for a military charity, looking at being a presenter at a local radio station, working with young people in the creative arts, with my dog as a pet for therapy, doing the comedy, acting with the church drama group, organising a ski group, partner dancing, Christian meditation oh and enjoying my new sports car :). I can honestly say I've never been as fulfilled, grateful and content as now. Thanks be to God. May your journey be a fulfilling one with some lovely surprises!

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 10 February 2017

    David - may you know the peace of the Lord. God bless you.

  • Dorothy Thompson | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Praying for you, David, as current circumstances in my life cause me to know exactly how you feel. Anxiety and frustration easily tip over into impatience and anger. This song (Casting Crowns) is an encouragement - "Hold it all together, Everybody needs you strong But life hits you out of nowhere and barely leaves you holding on And when you're tired of fighting, chained by your control There's freedom in surrender, - lay it down and let it go So when you're on your knees and answers seem so far away You're not alone, stop holding on and just be held Your world's not falling apart, it's falling into place I'm on the throne, stop holding on and just be held If your eyes are on the storm - you'll wonder if I love you still But if your eyes are on the cross, you'll know I always have and I always will And not a tear is wasted. In time, you'll understand I'm painting beauty with the ashes - your life is in My hands..."

  • Jean MacKenzie | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Praying for you, David C, that God will uphold you through these next few days and give you a sense of peace, and that you are able to rest and refresh yourself once your mother-in-law is safely in her nursing home.

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Praying for you, DAVID, and for your family. Thank you, LUKE, for a helpful explanation of those tricky verses.

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Have just found a link to that beautiful song you quoted, DOROTHY. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

  • Dorothy Thompson | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Yes, thank you Luke. Really helpful.

  • Jane Hill | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Adam, I probably didn't express myself well yesterday. All I meant was that everyone is loved by God and any that seem to us not totally committed to the Lord may be 'works in progress' . We may be called to love them especially (and that can be risky) and pray for them. That may change us, too! All I know is that my sister was won by love and care.

  • Derek Forster | Friday, 10 February 2017

    When peace like a river, attends my way, When sorrows like the sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, You have taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul.’ Tho’ Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, And has shed His own blood for my soul. It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul.

  • Ruth Chisholm | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Thanks for the discussion on v24 -26, really helpful, GILVIN so delighted for your husbands clear results, it gave me a shiver of delight in the goodness of our Lord. ADAM, you surely have a full life, I trust God has a little less planned for me, but I know he wants me to enjoy life with him, in all its fullness. ATM I'm exploring running a cancer support group in our village, as I am so aware that many struggle with their illness alone, without hope in God's salvation. Other groups are hospital based in the cities and no-one wants to go near the hospital more than they have to!

  • Lynda Spencer | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Yes, GILVIN, wonderful news! All glory to God. RUTH, I am constantly blessed by your courage and obedience. I will pray about the cancer support group idea you are exploring.

  • Ruth Chisholm | Friday, 10 February 2017

    DOROTHY LINDA thank you for sharing the beautiful song, When I struggle I fill my environment with worship songs, DAVID and DOROTHYpraying you find your still moments in the busyness and emotional exhaustion of the days ahead.

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Gilvin. Of all the messages today I found in yours such a message as to give everlasting comfort to us all! For firstly your faith is as strong as ever, not less than Mr Gilvin. Secondly, he has been given back in a sort of resurrection. It's so important to us all! When I meet someone with a similar experience (more frequent than we think) I say, God has sent you a message, it doesn't make you important, he wants you to try to listen seriously to hear His .message. forgive my intervention in your wonderful news. You are both surrounded with HIS wonderful love, Whose Name is WONDERFUL!

  • Barbara Sabin | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Friends I was asking why the Lord wanted to kill Moses so I have looked it up in my Commentary which says Moses had not circumcised his son because he had spent half his life in Pharaoh's palace and half in the Midianite desert. He may not have been famliliar with God's laws especially since for over 400 years the Israelites had not been carrying out the covenant requirements. Also Zipporah was a Midianite so she may have opposed circumcision, Moses could not deliver God's people until he had fulfilled the laws of the covenant and one of these was circumcision. Before they could go any further they had to follow God's commands completely. Under Old Testament laws failing to circumcise your sons was to remove yourself and your family from God's blessings. So Moses learned that disobeying God was more dangerous than tangling with an Egyptian Pharoah. Why did Zipporah perform the circumcision. Maybe she as a Midianite had persuaded Moses not to circumcise their son as she was not familiar with the procedure.It is also possible that Moses was ill because he had permitted disobedience. So Zipporah had to perform the circumcision to save her husband and her son. This did not make her happy so she made the comment to Moses 'Bridegroom of Blood' I have found this helpful

  • David Chipchase | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Thank you all for your support. An especial thanks to Dorothy.

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Jane, l hear what you say about your sister being "won" with love and care. I hear your point about works in progress and how loving some folks can be risky and change us. Where I am coming from is that God's discipline being an act of love as is working out your salvation which involves pain and fear. Therefore love not being about feeling but choice. The natural man wants to belong and feel happy and empowered. God wants something deeper than happiness, joy which if is in the Lord is also strength and a share in his holiness and love. Thefefore my take on this is that all of us are works in progress, that to love is by it's nature risky and is required for wholeness and peace. So, not about always being comfortable or getting wants met but being willing to surrender these for something much much greater. Thanks for your comment and does what I say here make sense?

  • Adam Julians | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Ruth yes thank God for the fullness of life that can be had because Jesus came. That sounds great with your plans about considering running a cancer support group. I know McMillan do that kind of thing. All the best with that!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    I inadvertently flagged inappropriate on my phone WL. Thank you Angela and Roger. It is wonderful news. However as Christians we are always in a win win situation. Healed we spend longer together as man and wife. Die and the one gets to taste heaven sooner rather than later. It's good news all round, how blest is the Christian life. Amen and amen

  • Peter Oliver | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Amen GILVIN YOU will meet your husband in heaven with our LORD.

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Gilvin. I have a wife. 13 years ago decided to seperate from me and live with someone else who is also seperated, her cousin, and his wife living with her partner. I am not being bitter, Gilvin, that luxury went, and I absolutely love your joy. Now, with a wife who isn't mine, I cannot say that for me there will be everlasting bliss. No, none will be married, so it raises the question, what is Wonderful expecting of me. There is nothing I may give except only my inadequate self. I cannot talk to someone intimately in the dead of night only Jesus. He wants this all the time. So you do have a gift and wonderful story too, and so have I. Your story, like mine, will change, and it's so important for those who are known to us and listen to our conversation! I look forward to meeting you and recognise you. Forgive me because I also do not need to Judge Her, nor have any right to feel that she has it wrong, because Jesus may have much work for Her. ( I get tempted by things, but been shown how to deal with it. Eventually having to haul it out, admit and confess. ) Bless you.

  • Eileen Smith | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Praying for you all DAVID

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Friday, 10 February 2017

    So pleased to hear you have no bitterness ROGER and, yes change is inevitable. Isn't it wonderful though to know the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. I too talk to Jesus in the dead of night or early morning. Other morning I kept repeating 'if I believed I had the same power in me that raised Jesus from the dead I'd believe in miracle healing' then I spoke to the cough and flu symptoms I'd got like Jesus said to speak to the mountain and when I got up the cough and symptoms had gone. A friend who comes on here but never comments phoned day or next day after and was surprised to hear my voice back to normal.

  • Roger Hall | Friday, 10 February 2017

    Gilvin, not occurred to me to ask Lord Jesus for power to address the mountain! Thank you. As far as God's intention of killing Moses, maybe it was illness which usually led to death, he got better!

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