Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bitter Waters Turned Sweet

Ex 15:22-26

Israel was fresh off one of the greatest and most miraculous victories in all of history. 430 years of bondage was obliterated by the mighty hand of God at the Red Sea. He had worked mightily by opening up a dry path through the sea and then inundating the Egyptian army therein. The subsequent praise songs of Moses and Miriam, "I will sing unto the Lord" and "Sing ye to the Lord" topped the Praise and Worship charts for that year.

However, only 3 days later, one of the most inane "what have you done for me lately?" whines ever uttered fell from the lips of God's MFN (most favored nation) citizens.

They had come to a place called Marah (bitter), aptly named, for the water there tasted as bitter as Mrs. Douglas' Green Acres coffee.

Moses was the nearest scapegoat, so they cast the blame on him. Goodness gracious! He's the man God used to deliver them from slavery and marched them across the dry sea bottom and then toward the Promised Land. He surely didn't deserve the tongue lashing he was receiving from 3 million ingrates.

But, how can we blame them too harshly? These were people with a slave mentality. They expected "massa" to fend for them once they "done come out da fields." This was just the beginning of their gripes and groans. There'd be complaints innumerable to follow. Moses was just beginning to feel burden of ingratitude and short term memory.

God, however, provided yet another miracle for these undeserving whiners, as He would time and time again. I suppose that's called grace, and I should be careful to count the fingers pointed back at me as I denigrate these stiff-necked, heart-hearted, memory-challenged children of Israel.

Here's the miracle...and it does hold credence for our plight. When they had tasted that the water was bitter, as we will similarly experience in our pilgrimage through life's wilderness, the bitter waters were sweetened when a cry was made to the Lord and the Lord showed Moses a tree to be cast into the waters. whereupon, the water became potably sweet.

Here it is friend: When life gets bitter, look to the tree that will make things sweet again, the cross of Calvary. Only that tree, when it is applied to our circumstances, can suffice in making the bitter sweet again.

It is wonderful when bitter Marah is made sweet thanks to Moriah (Calvary).

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Float like an Egyptian

Exodus 14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.

10 plagues were foisted upon these people. The first six brought irritation, the next three, devastation, and the final plague, dread!

The previous day and night, they witnessed God's presence and protection upon Israel: the cloud and the pillar of fire.

And yet, they pursued after God's people into a dry path of the sea, walled on either side by a hundred feet of water.

Next thing they know, the walls have crashed upon them, their chariot wheels fell off and not a one of them could swim to shore.

Every Egyptian that undertook this sortie against Israel became a floater and washed up on the beach.

When will the lost learn NOT to fight against God and to treat His children equitably? How many set backs must occur, how many crop failures, how many (super)natural disasters, how many firstborn lost, how many flat tires until they realize, you don't mess with God or His anointed?

Those who oppose God and oppress His kids hope for smooth sailing, but may just end up as floaters.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Jacob's Thefts: Birthright and Blessings

Please Read Gen 27

Vs 30, And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.

Esau had a priority problem. Now, don't get me wrong, I love to hunt. I am sure I have done like Esau and went hunting when I should or could have been seeing to something more important.

But Esau was born to hunt. He was good at it! (27:27a). Hunting can be therapeutic. Nature and skill, contemplation and competition, patience and thrill - all converge on the hunt. Those who don’t go, don’t know. It was Esau's passion.

But hunting proved to be Esau's downfall on two very important occasions.

The first time is noted in Gen. 25:27-34. Esau came home from the hunt absolutely famished. I can see him in his dusty camo, dropping a carcass from his shoulders, laying his bow carefully against a post and saying to his twin, "I am starving to death, you got anything cooking, O King of the Crockpot?"

Jacob's conniving mind had already shifted into high gear. "Yeah bro, just happen to have some killer chili fixed, you want some? I'll ladle a bowl for ya if you'll sell me your birthright!"

Esau's response: "Whatever!" Now, no one ever called Esau an Einstein, but can you imagine, Isaac was coming up in the world and Esau had plenty to inherit, but he blew it all off for a bowl of chili! Wow! McCormick's Seasonings would have been proud.

Esau didn't know how Hurricane Jacob had hit him until later. After he thought about it, he shrugged it all off and decided he hated his birthright anyhow. (25:34)

Fast forward several years and we find the mighty hunter flummoxed as a fawn on the freeway once again by his stay-at-home homeboy twin.

Jacob (supplanter) hears from mom, who hears from dad, that Isaac is hankerin' for some mutton before handing out his final blessings.

Mommy tells her boy that he needs to pull off the Houdini of the century by fooling dad into thinking he's Esau. No small feat! But he did it.

Have you ever wondered how Jacob pulled this off?

1. Though twins, Esau was rough as a cob and Jacob was slick as a whistle.

2. Isaac was nearly blind and half deaf in his advanced years. I would imagine he was feeling a bit melancholy as the end neared, and therefore somewhat gullible.

3. Rebekah must have been an efficient seamstress. She was able to take sheepskin and sew it into sleeves, gloves and a collar, worn by baby-skinned Jacob, which would fool Isaac into thinking he was the rough-skinned, hairy, hunter brother. That was some doing when you consider the wool had to have the authentic feel and hair length of Esau's hands, forearms and neck. Amazing!

4. Jacob tried to impersonate the voice of Esau. Imagine as he tried to drop his tone a half an octave and project a gravelly, earthy voice. Isaac didn't buy it. He ended up trusting his sense of smell and touch over his sight and hearing. Old age, it ain't for sissies!

It worked! I am thinking there had to be some Divine intervention to pull this ruse off, but it worked and Jacob ended up with Esau's birthright AND his blessing.

This is a coup that must have embarrassed Jacob's prodigy all the way from Joseph to David to Jesus.

But, praise God for the transforming power of His touch. A subsequent dream of a very long ladder and an all-night battle royal wrestling match with a Theophany transformed Jacob into Israel, causing the birthright to progress to a manger in Bethlehem and the blessing to catapult the Jews to most favored nation status with heaven.

What a story!