If you have been around a Bible for any length of time, you have probably bumped into Psalm 91 at some time or another. Many of you may have memorized it, or done group discussions, heard sermons…
It’s in my list of top chapters in God’s Word and has always had a close place in my heart.
When I came across it in my daily time with the Lord, the first verses triggered a realization—it’s all about those who are “in Him.”
It begins with both of my favorite words—dwell and abide. This Psalm is written directly and specifically to those of us who are “in Him.”
As I read it I started putting my self in the text. Declaring as I went, I read “You are my refuge and my fortress, You are my God in whom I trust”
I know - it’s obvious, right? But it started to have an impact on my spirit. I went on. “You deliver me from unseen traps that have been set for me. You reverse the effects of the deadly pestilence and disease that wants to kill me.”
You see how it works?
I got out my “In Him” notebook and did this as an exercise. I went through the whole Psalm, and in longhand wrote each declarative statement in my own words.
I want to encourage you to do the same. You can type it if you want, but I found it powerful to write it out with pen and ink.
It helps me to see all these promises and to realize that they are for the ones who are abiding in Him, dwelling in His shelter.
Give it a go and let me know what happens. Is something quickened in you? Does it bring anything—hopes—confidences—to life?
I’m currently keeping a notebook, well a few actually. But the one I want to share from today is my “In Him” notebook. A preacher suggested recently a wonderful study. Look through the Bible for every time it says “in Him,” “in Whom,” “in Christ,” or any other permutation (like “in the Beloved.”)
So I grabbed an empty notebook—I keep a few around for just such occasions—and got started. I decided to start with the book of Ephesians because I know “in Him” fills this letter.
From time to time I’ll share with you from my “In Him” notebook. Today’s one of those days. So with no further ado…
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10
We are created in Christ Jesus. (There it is - in Christ Jesus! Finders-Keepers!)
So this stirs up some questions that challenged me.
What purpose did the Father create me for?
If I asked God what He created me for, would He tell me?
If He designed a purpose for me would He supply everything I need to fulfill that purpose?
If I approach God without holding anything back from Him, would He give me a strategy to accomplish what He has made me for?
Psalm 87 opened my eyes to a wonderful thought.
Want to think it with me?
The Psalmist says this:
The LORD loves the gates of Zion
More than all the other dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God. Selah. - Psalm 87:2-3
So - Zion - Where exactly is Zion?
It’s called the city of David.
It’s called the city of God.
Usually, it’s understood to be Jerusalem, but it’s more—much more.
The book of Revelation ends with a HUGE reveal. At the end of all the warring and smiting and blood and judgment, we see what we have been waiting for. The culmination of our hope. Our new home in glory!
The New Jerusalem.
So what is it?
It’s a city—fifteen hundred miles deep, fifteen hundred miles wide and fifteen hundred miles high.
It’s described in a little detail in Revelation 21, but the intro line is what got me.
Then one of the seven angels ... came and spoke with me, saying, "Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb. And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, - Revelation 21:9-10
Is this a description of the heavenly city? Is this where Jesus went to build my mansion? Or is it a description of the Bride of Christ? You see, Jesus went to prepare this everlasting dwelling place for the Most High. It's a place for us and it's a place for Him. Lo and behold, He built this city with saints, the unified and glorified host of the redeemed? We were not His workers, but His building blocks. And Jesus set Himself in place as the cornerstone. God uses this figure of a city, set alight by the eternal and enduring presence of God, as a picture of the Church in its ultimate state.
God's will, carried to its conclusion, demonstrates to us His will here and now—communion. His whole aim from creation to Revelation culminates in this one thing:
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. - John 14:2
Many dwelling places is a way you might describe a city, isn’t it? God dwells within every Christian. This body of Christ finally unified, finally glorified, this dwelling place is Zion—the city of the Great King.
The presence of God in the believer is the principal thing. This is the will of God from eternity past and it is—or will be—the culmination of all things.
having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. - Ephesians 2:20-22
All this puts me in a mood to shout Hallelujah! Hallelujah—there—I did it!
When she spoke last week, she talked about how, from cover to cover the Bible declares God's care for the poor, the needy, the oppressed, and in particular the widows and orphans. So now, as I read, my senses are activated to look for this in the heart of God.
There are obvious passages that pop to mind when you think about this. Matthew 25, where Jesus speaks about judging the nations, and James 1, where he talks about Pure and undefiled religion.
But today, I was reading in the Psalms (I've been trying to spend time in the Psalms every day, of late) and I found God's heart for the oppressed once again.
A Psalm of Asaph.
God takes His stand in His own congregation;
He judges in the midst of the rulers.
How long will you judge unjustly
And show partiality to the wicked?
Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy;
Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.
Psalm 82:1-4 NASB
Here, God's heart for the week, fatherless, oppressed and afflicted really comes through.
We see wickedness express two ways.
Clearly, God calls the oppressor wicked. But isn't He also laying blame and therefore the same designation on those who are in leadership who won't work for the relief of this oppression?
Jesus says to those who simply ignored those under oppression,
"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;
for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in;
naked, and you did not clothe Me;
sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.'
"Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?'
"Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
"These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Matthew 25:41-46 NASB
These are some of the strongest words Jesus ever spoke, some of the strongest words you can find in the Bible. They take the responsibility and put it squarely on our shoulders. We can't walk by the needy and just cover our eyes and ears. This is no time for the three monkeys of denial (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.) It's time for us to speak up, step up, and do what we can.
I don't know what that looks like in your life. I'm not even sure I know what it looks like in mine, but I'm asking God to help me see people and situations from His perspective and to help me realize I have His resources to respond where ever He leads me.
Lord, give me eyes that see what You see and the courage to do what You would do if you had boots on the ground. I want to be Your boots on the ground Lord.
Christians love to fight about eternal security.
Some argue you can lose your salvation.
Some declare with no uncertainty “once saved, always saved.”
Both sides of this argument flow from the same source, God’s Word.
So which is it?
How can I be sure I’m secure?
David presents a solution to solve the uncertainty.
I have set the LORD continually before me;
Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will dwell securely.
Psalm 16:8-9 NASB
Both of the above-mentioned groups agree that Christianity, in any viable form, is a relationship with Jesus. It's not just a promise made long ago, or set of creeds or practices.
Our security is in our proximity to the Lord. David sets the Lord before him. In other words, He sets His affections on God. Daily, David lines himself up with the Lord’s preferences, priorities, and purposes.
David keeps the Lord at his right hand. The Lord acts as his main advisor.
This proximity keeps David aware of his own security. His closeness to the Lord gives him a light heart. It keeps him rejoicing and gives him a sense of temporal and eternal security. He states that his flesh is secure, and at the bottom of the page, he says:
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Psalm 16:11 NASB
The short answer to this controversy of the ages is simple. Get up close to Jesus and stay there.
This week I spent some time with a brother in the Lord. We marveled at how things that we prayed for nearly thirty years ago stand on the brink of fulfillment. My friend said, "we may forget, but God never forgets the things we pray."
At that moment, the Lord dropped an image in my heart that blew up my long-held idea of how our Father answers prayer.
For as long as I can remember I’ve heard it said, “God answers all prayers, sometimes yes, sometimes no and sometimes wait.” For the record, there is no chapter or verse on that. I never bought the first part this truism. There are many places in the Word where I hear God say, "I'm not listening." Here are a couple.
He who turns away his ear from listening to the law, Even his prayer is an abomination. - Proverbs 28:9
You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. - 1 Peter 3:7
But the image the Father put in my heart deals with the other end of this fake-theology.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus could tell us to—well, here read it for yourself:
"Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you. - Mark 11:24
Jesus wants us to believe that we have answers already and then we will get them. Am I supposed to pretend?
Let me tell you what I saw.
I stood at a massive war strategy table. You know the kind. Where admirals and generals gather to plan their offensive. They move their groups and troops around with their little croupier sticks. They lay the battle out and plan their attack. On the table, lay my life and not only mine but all the lives that intersect with mine. On display in this Divine Situation Room, God's plan for my life lay before me. I understood that this was not limited to me and my life. God held in His grasp every detail for every life for all time.
In this scene, I prayed something and my heavenly Father got excited. It seemed the Father’s heart said, “Ohhh—great idea, Ben.” In response, God picked up one of His "playing pieces" and placed it directly into my life. Not where I stand right now, but somewhere down the road a bit. God answered my prayer right then and there. His answer was not “wait.” He answered with a resounding “YES,” and, in fact, it was done. He answered immediately. The moment He heard my prayer, He acted on it. My experience of the answer lay in my future, so I would indeed have to wait on the Lord. But God answered my prayer already. It would take place at exactly the best moment for me and everyone else it would impact. It took into account all the other prayers rising up to Him past, present and future.
So, John’s not just talking wishfully when He told us:
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. - 1 John 5:14-15
Believe me, I love the “right now” kind of answers. He’s in that business, too. But we should not think of the apparent silence of heaven as a “no” from the Fathers' heart or even a wait. He already answered that prayer, worked out a strategy and began arranging our circumstances to bring it to pass.
We may have to contend for the outcome like Daniel did. If you remember, in His life, He prayed, God answered, and then a twenty-one-day war broke out in the heavenlies.
I’m renewing my mind about answers to prayer. Some prayers God doesn’t hear, and everything else He does immediately in His heavenly Situation Room.
I want to share this wonderful idea I’ve been tossing about this week. I recently listened to Jack Hayford teach on the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. I really love Pastor Hayford. He’s got such a gentle and tender spirit.
I first heard him teach on this in the 90s on his radio program. I bought the series on (wait for it) cassette tapes. I wanted to refresh his take in my mind, so I bought the MP3 version, which was recorded sometime in the last few years.
To the point. One thing he teaches about the scene in the throne room in Chapter 4 and 5 fills me with awe. Back there in the 90s, it changed my perception of this scene. It has stayed with me since. But this time, he threw in a new twist which just had me weeping as I listened and imagined the scene.
The translation of one phrase in this magnificent drama changed everything for me. Where the NASB renders “a Lamb standing, as if slain.” (From Revelation 5:6.) Hayford teaches this phrase could be rendered “a Lamb bearing the fresh marks of slaughter.”
John’s tour of heaven drops him into the middle of the most significant moment of all eternity, the ascension of Jesus Christ. Let me present the story, starting with the book of Acts.
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." - Acts 1:9-11
…meanwhile in heaven…
I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; - Revelation 5:1-4
…Meanwhile - in the heart of David, hundreds of years earlier…
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
… in heaven…
and one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." - Revelation 5:5
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah. - Psalm 24:7-10
…back in heaven…
And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, bearing the fresh marks of slaughter, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth.
And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
"Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth."
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing."
And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, "To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever."
And the four living creatures kept saying, "Amen." And the elders fell down and worshiped. - Revelation 5:6-14 NASB
This thrills my heart. But what’s greater than this description, is that John is seeing this a solid 50 or 60 years after Christ’s ascension. It’s my opinion that this outside-of-time event takes place in front of every one of God’s elect. Every saint stands in attendance, from Enoch to Paul, from Noah to my mother and father, from Abraham to me.
I know you could break a brain cell or two trying to figure this out. This is the biggest moment in all eternity (wait—are there moments in eternity—mind blown.) And we will all be there (Maybe I should say we were there?) to see Jesus bring the sacrifice of His blood to the Father’s throne.
Can you understand why heaven's worship get’s real! When we all see the Lamb present His blood to the Father, and realize this is the moment of atonement—well—it’s going to get Pentecostal. I get chills thinking about it.
I admit this is speculation on my part. Still, it thrills my heart to think we’ll see this greatest of all wonders in person.
Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying,
"Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile,
and every daughter you are to keep alive." - Exodus 1:22
We already had two children. Our oldest, Miriam, loved to play by the banks of the Nile. Our boy, Aaron, started talking in full sentences before his second birthday. For five months the sound of chatter filled our days.
At that time we lived right on the banks of the Nile, where we worked building the city of Raamses. Since the Pharaoh died and his son took the throne, our workload grew each week.
My name is Jochebed. My great-grandfather, Levi, used to sit me on his lap and tell me my name meant “my glory is the LORD.” If I were going to be honest, with these two little ones in our rooms, it doesn’t feel much like glory around here.
And yet, when I saw the signs that I would be bringing another little one into the world, it thrilled me. Oh, not the pregnancy part. That I could do without. And certainly not the labor. But when I remembered the joy of holding Aaron in my arms, I thanked the Almighty for this blessing every day.
Six months of my time passed and I looked as big as I felt. Amram, my husband, and I made bricks every day for the Egyptian builders. Every day the labor got harder. When we finally got back to our tiny home each night I couldn’t think about making dinner for our family of four. I asked Amram to help. Our taskmasters didn’t care about the baby inside me. If I didn’t work they would start beating Amram or me. These people treated us like animals—worse than animals.
My cousin Hanna works with us. It was about that time she told us some rumors of terrifying news. The young Pharaoh had issued a new law. He commanded the Hebrew midwives to murder any male children born to Israelite women. The news hit me like a fist in my womb. The baby inside me pulled in as if it understood what she said and was trying to hide.
Who would do such a thing? Who could be so brutal? I looked at Amram and saw tears on his cheek and anger in his eyes.
“What do they want from us?” he shouted. “We work for these men day and night, building their cities and working their fields. And now they want to kill our future? This cannot stand!”
That’s when he looked at me, at my belly, and started weeping. “What if it’s a boy?” he sputtered. “I can’t even bear the thought.”
“It is a boy,” I told him.
“What? How do you know?” He said.
“I just know. My heart tells me in ways I can’t explain, but I know it’s a boy.” I said.
“What are we going to do? We must leave this place—run,” he said. “Let’s go tonight before you’re too big to travel. We’ll take only what we need, and leave tonight. How much food do we have?”
His frantic rant affected me in a strange way. Somewhere deep in my soul, I heard a voice saying, “I will care for this child Myself.”
“Stop, Amram, it’s going to be alright,” I said.
“How can you say that. The midwives are killing baby boys!” He was nearly shouting.
“I don’t know how. But just as I know this is a boy, I know that the Almighty is going to protect him.” I said all this not completely sure where this faith was coming from.
“I still say we should leave,” he insisted.
“No! If we flee, they will catch us and kill us. They will turn our children into Egyptians. We must trust the Almighty to protect us, as He saved our people during the famine that brought us to this place. He promoted Joseph, my grandfather’s brother, and Joseph delivered Israel from starvation. God will deliver us again, and who knows, maybe this baby will be another Joseph, another deliverer.”
Where were these ideas coming from? Something deep inside me told me that YHWH had designs for this boy in my womb. I knew my choice had to be trust.
The next day I went to see Shiphrah, one of the midwives. I visited her every month for help while I carried this child. She had delivered Aaron and Miriam. She helped me prepare for the birth with exercises to strengthen me.
First, I asked if it was true. “Are you killing our baby boys?” I didn’t see any point in small talk.
“Jochebed, calm down…” she began.
“Is it true? Hannah told me you’re killing our baby boys.” I said with a mix of anger and fear.
“It’s true the Egyptians have told us to, but we will not be their murderers. If they want to kill babies, they’ll have to find another way,” she assured me.
“What are they going to do to you if they find out?” I asked, my anger turning to concern.
“It doesn’t matter. I’ve spoken to the other midwives, and there is not one Hebrew midwife who would take a baby’s life to save her own. They’ll not die at our hands.”
It reassured me to hear her say it. I knew I could trust her to keep the truth to herself when I brought my little one to birth.
But that very day, as I left her home, I saw an Egyptian man grab a child from Bilha’s arms. She gave birth two months back. This brute grabbed the baby out of her arms and stripped it's clothing off. Once he saw the baby had no male parts, he gave the naked child back to her mother. What was going on? This really frightened me. Was every Egyptian now a threat? How would I protect my baby?
Every day we heard rumors of baby boys floating in the river. I hoped it would be over before my time came to deliver, but instead, it was getting worse.
How could I hide my baby? Our taskmaster would know when I deliver because I would be missing from the brickworks. He would know, and he would kill my child. What could I do?
I remembered the confidence I had when we first heard. But as my time drew near, my heartfelt fears overshadowed the little faith I had in the beginning.
Maybe these fears explain why, a month before my expected time, I felt my baby boy coming. It was the middle of the night. I woke Amram and told him it was time. He helped me up and we headed over to the home of Shiphrah the midwife.
I was terrified.
Yes, I had done this twice before, but it wasn’t the labor that frightened me. All of Egypt worried me. Egyptian men and women were stealing babies from the arms of Jews every day. It wasn’t safe to be seen anywhere with a baby these days.
Shiphrah delivered me that night. My second son came into the world with hardly a sound. As I lay on the matt she had set up on her floor and held my boy, my fear melted away. He was beautiful. As I gazed at him, that faith that stirred when we first heard the news flooded me again. God’s plan for this boy would keep him from the death that Pharaoh had ordered.
Shiphrah left the room. She returned carrying a sash.
“Stand up,” she insisted.
Every muscle in my body cried out as I rose to my feet. Once standing, she flung the sash over my left shoulder and spread it out below my belly. Then she tucked my tiny boy in the sash. Once I pulled my outer robe over it, I looked pregnant again.
“Can you make it back to your home?” she asked.
“I think so.”
“You must fly. Go straight home. If you go out with the boy, use this sash and try to travel when he's sleeping, so he's quiet. If you leave him at home with your husband or daughter, pad yourself. Don’t let anyone know you delivered this beautiful boy.
“What will you call him?” she asked after setting me up for the walk across the city to my home.
I’d been so worried about the troubles, I hadn’t even thought about it.
“Tove, I think,” because all I could think of when I looked at him was beautiful.
So, with Tove tucked in my tunic, I headed home. Dawn began to break just as we arrived.
Amram and I sat down with our young Miriam and explained that she was going to have to be a helper with little Tove. I needed to go back to the brickworks and pretend to be with child. She would have to care for the little one during the day. She nearly squealed. My young daughter couldn’t conceal her excitement. She would have a baby to care for, and she could hardly wait.
For three months we continued hiding little Tove, but it got harder every day. How can you keep a baby boy quiet all the time? He wanted to coo and cry and make all those sounds that create the atmosphere in a house with a newborn.
One day, almost three months after his birth, I had an idea. I hated it, but I shared it with Amram just the same.
As I said, we live right beside the mighty Nile, and not far from the royal palace where the Pharaoh lives. This idea came to me as I did my wash in the river. I could see downstream a bit, and the Pharaoh’s daughter came and bathed just downstream.
My idea, though as I look back I can see it came from the Almighty, was to float little Tove down the river in a tiny boat. The Pharaoh’s daughter would find him. Once she saw his beautiful face, she would never allow harm to come to my little one.
To do this we would have to risk everything. Anyone could find the ark. Anyone could take and kill my little Tove. They could hurt him, or kill him, or keep him. That would destroy me. The Pharaoh could make him an example. So many things could go wrong.
Even if my plan worked, how could I give up my baby? How could I trust my baby to these monsters, who care nothing for the life of a Hebrew?
This was a horrible idea.
But I couldn’t get away from it. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wouldn't be trusting little Tove to the monsters. The Almighty would protect my boy. But could I trust Him? It all comes to this one question. Do I trust YHWH? I started fashioning a boat out of some of the papyrus reeds that grow thick on the banks of the Nile.
Amram got his hands on some pitch, and we pitched it inside and out, just as Noah pitched his ark so many years ago.
I took the sash Shiphrah had given me, and laid it out in the ark to make it more comfortable. This way his tiny bed smelled like me—familiar for little Tove. We put a small pillow in one end, under the sash.
The next morning, three months to the day since he came into our lives, I laid my baby in a basket and wept. I couldn’t even look at him in that little boat. Would this be the last time I saw him? Would this ark be his tomb or his salvation? Was I out of my mind? I ran out of the house and asked Amram to put the cover on the tiny vessel and put it in the river amongst the reeds.
Miriam went with him, and she stayed upstream, not too far from the basket to see what would happen. Amram told me I had to go to work with him, but I couldn’t even stand up. I sobbed until I fell asleep.
The next thing I knew, Miriam was calling my name.
“Mama, mama, come now, quick!” she said.
As I awoke, my mind scrambled to figure out what was going on. So many thoughts struggled for control of me. Was the whole thing a dream, or had I just sent my baby boy to his death?
“Mama, wake up!” Miriam shook me.
“What is it? What’s going on?” I said.
“It’s Tove, mama. The Pharaoh’s daughter found him. He was crying and she followed the sound to the little boat. She opened it and I think she fell in love with him right away. I could see it in her eyes…”
“Slow down, Miriam,” I said.
“But mama,” she chirped, “You have to come right now.”
“What do you mean, I have to come?” What had my dear little one done? Did she tell them the whole story? Were we headed to the Pharaoh and sure death for defying his orders?
“Well, once I saw the Pharaoh’s daughter holding and trying to calm little Tove, I came out of the reeds. She asked me if I knew this boy, and I pretended not to. Then I had an idea. I said to the beautiful lady that I knew of a Hebrew nurse woman who could help to feed the baby if she wanted.
“You have to come now,” she said.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I replied as I hurried to put my wrap on.
When we reached the Nile, we found the Pharaoh’s daughter playing with Tove.
“Are you the nurse-maid?” she asked.
“Ye…yes, ma’am,” I said. I decided not to say too much and see what the Lord would do.
“I found this beautiful boy floating in the Nile, abandoned by his mother. I’ve decided to take him to be my own son, but I will need to have him weaned first.”
The whole time she spoke she kept her eyes on my boy.
“I’ve decided to call him Moses,” she continued, “Because I drew him out of the water.”
“Moses,” I said, nodding slowly, trying not to correct her.
“Will you take this boy and keep him until he’s weaned? I want you to treat him as if he is your own boy. I will pay your wages. Tell your overseer to talk to me if he has any questions. Once he is old enough to stay on his own, bring him to me. I will raise him as my son, in the palace of the Pharaoh.”
“Yes, ma’am,” I said again. “I’ll take good care of him. Shall I bring him to you to visit from time to time?”
“Bring him to me here, every week, so I can see how he is growing and he can get to know me,” she said.
She laid him back down in the basket and handed it to me. It was all I could do to hold back my tears, as I turned and headed back to my home.
Praise be to the LORD. Only He can rescue in this way.
Moses is two years old now. Amram and I have been able to hold him and love him and watch him grow and learn. It won’t be long before I have to send him away again, to live like a prince in the Pharaoh’s home. Every night we tell him the stories of our people. He may not be able to recite them, but we know these stories are inside him. And we know that the Almighty has wonderful plans for my little boy, Moses.
To read the original story, see Exodus 1:8-2:10.
If you've enjoyed this retelling of Jochebed's struggle, you might like my book, Encounters With Jesus. Please share this story with your network.
Lessons from the Sling and Stone: A short series on Spiritual Warfare from the story of David and Goliath.
Lesson 8 - Covenant as David saw it.
For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" - 1 Samuel 17:26
David’s words in reaction to the giant’s taunting rant expose the main source of David’s confidence.
Yes, his history with God—his testimony—plays big in his fearlessness. But the key factor in David’s chutzpah (can goya like me use the word chutzhap?) comes down to covenant. David had a covenant with God.
This teenage shepherd boy lived in covenant with God. Saul and his army may have been circumcised, but it didn’t change life for them. David lived in awareness of his relationship with the Lord of Hosts, or as the Message Bible puts it, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
God made this covenant with Abraham about a millennia earlier. He said,
"I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." - Genesis 17:7-8
If Israel would walk in relationship with God, they would have nothing to fear from intruders of their land. God gave them this land, and the Philistines had no claim to it. So David knew, because he walked in relationship with God, that no battle fought in the name of the Lord would fail. The fight he ran into that day in the valley of Elah hinged on a covenant promise. No doubt clouded his mind about the outcome because this uncircumcised Philistine challenged more than an army of little people. He challenged the God who made all things.
David ran toward the enemies of God because he knew God’s covenant, God’s promise, protected him. He knew God’s will and acted in confidence that God would stand with him.
We who name Jesus as Lord live in a covenant too. The writer of Hebrews says,
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. - Hebrews 8:6
How good is this covenant?
If you’ve followed these blogs for any length of time, you know I love to say the New Covenant is better than life in the garden of Eden.
The promises of God to the children of the New Covenant bring us into personal and intimate relationship with the Creator of all things. These promises allow us access to His presence any time for any purpose.
In fact, Peter says,
For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - 2 Peter 1:4
That’s right - these promises, precious and magnificent promises, allow us to take part in God’s nature. His Spirit, the very Spirit that rested on Jesus at His baptism, dwells in every believer. (Romans 8:11) We, the children of God, become new creations, with God’s own DNA. (2 Corinthians 5:17) God overwhelms us with every spiritual blessing, (Ephesians 1:3) and has seated us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6)
The life of Jesus demonstrates this New Covenant better than any words I can compile. He shows us the Father, as He walks as an exhibition of the New Covenant, a man in perfect relationship with the Father.
That’s our promise. That’s the covenant God made with us.
Here’s my favorite description of our covenant,
"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. - Ezekiel 36:25-28
I love that last part—you will be My people and I will be your God.
If you are in Christ, you are God’s man, God’s woman, loved, protected, forgiven, healed, delivered, chosen, blessed.
I love this covenant.
I can see why David thought old SewerMouth was no big deal. He knew God.
I’m so glad you stopped by today.
There’s more coming from the Sling and Stone, so standby.
Lessons from the Sling and Stone: A short series on Spiritual Warfare from the story of David and Goliath.
Lesson 7 - Covenant, from the Philistines POV.
For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?" - 1 Samuel 17:26
David, David, what does circumcision have to do with anything?
Apparently, the men on the hill (Saul's army) didn’t reckon their modified body parts as significant. They knew their parents put them through this small torture when they were too young to run for cover—eight days. But to them, it was what? At best, tradition, as worst, religion.
Yep. To them, circumcision was nothing more than proof of their religion. It was an outward sign of—well—nothing. Cut on the outside—untouched in the heart.
And to the Philistines…it was an offense. You do what to your baby boys? What kind of brutal society is this? They mutilate their children! To those outside the covenant, these religious fanatics are dangerous and immoral.
Recently, on an episode of the Holy Post (formerly the Phil Vischer Podcast) Skye Jethani made the case that a Christian who lived out his faith publicly would be respected a decade or two ago. If you didn’t go out drinking with the boys or kept yourself pure for your spouse, you may not have been much “fun,” but at least you weren't a hypocrite, and deep down, people might feel some level of conviction, knowing your choices were the right choices.
But now, Christian living out their faith in public are suspect. In fact, Jethani pointed to the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Colorado baker. He was prosecuted and lost his case in the Colorado Courts and then impugned by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. One important point that swayed the Supreme Court of the US to overturn this ruling had to do with the language used by the Civil Rights Commission in their proceedings.
The commissioner likened the baker's unwillingness to bake a cake for a gay wedding to slavery and the Holocaust. (You can read the ruling yourself here. The commissioner's statements are on page 13 of the Supreme Court’s decision in the midst of Justice Kennedy’s opinion.)
So in the last decade, someone walking out their faith has gone from being faithful to his beliefs to being immoral and reprehensible.
It’s now immoral to share your faith.
It’s now immoral to talk about an exclusive way to the Father.
When tolerance is the highest good we can attain to, a faith leader who dares say “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” might as well be Hitler. He is the worst kind of criminal.
And so it is that the Philistines hate everything to do with these Jews, these narrow-minded, mutilated, followers of YHWH.
Once your faith was respected, then it was a joke, but now it’s an offense.
What to do? What to do?
Well - come back tomorrow and see what David thinks about covenant.