Tag Archives: Moses

Today’s Scripture – October 13, 2017

Luke 9:32-36 (NIV) Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

The three disciples with Jesus woke from a deep sleep to see the miraculous scene before them: Jesus shining like the sun, and the two great prophets, Moses and Elijah, talking with Him about His upcoming “Exodus” in Jerusalem. They watched and listened in silent awe as the three men talked.

When the conversation ended and Moses and Elijah were fading from view, Peter felt the need to say something. This was such an amazing moment, so charged with spiritual power, full of the aroma of the miraculous, that he didn’t want it to end. His basic premise was that Moses and Elijah didn’t have to go away; the disciples could easily build some shelters for them so that they could stick around and continue the visit.

But, as was frequently the case at this point, Peter’s heart was good, but his focus was off. Before Peter even finished his sentence, he and his companions saw a glowing cloud quickly approaching them. It came at them so fast that they were engulfed in the brightness before they had any chance to react.

Then a voice, loud, deep and majestic, the voice of God Himself, came from the cloud, terrifying all three disciples, and causing them to fall on their faces in terror (Matthew 17:6). “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” Their focus had been on the historical personages, great prophets of old, celebrities in their minds. They wanted them to stay so that they could rub shoulders with them for a while. But they were missing the fact that Jesus, the one that they were so familiar with, was now being revealed to them as God’s Son, in all of His eternal glory. Their focus was on the limited and temporal, when the eternal was mere inches away.

God’s voice completely overwhelmed these men, just as it had the Israelites 1500 years earlier (Exodus 20:19). Even after the cloud disappeared and Moses and Elijah had gone, they lay motionless on the ground, until Jesus touched them and warned them to keep what they had just witnessed to themselves (Matthew 17:7-9).

Father, it is humbling to realize that we, too, are prone to allow our focus to get off. We can so easily grow enamored of the words of the saints, both those of old and those of the current day, reading their books, meditating on their writings, and standing in awe of the depth of their insights, while the whole time ignoring, or setting at a lower priority the words of Jesus close at hand in our Bibles. Even in the Scriptures we can end up focusing more on the epistles than we do on the gospels, more on the words of Paul than on the words of Jesus. Help me to hear Your voice clearly today, terrifying though it may be, calling me back to a clearer focus on Jesus, Your Son, and His words. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 11, 2017

Luke 9:28-31 (NIV) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

Jesus frequently went away from the crowds to pray, and He frequently took His disciples along with Him. After all, they were His disciples, His apprentices, and they needed to learn how He communed with the Father. When He tapped Peter, John, and James to go with Him that day, they didn’t think anything of it. They had no clue that this would be one of the most significant moments of their lives.

Jesus prayed as usual, but after a short time, the disciples saw a change in His form, and light began to pour from His body. They were seeing a brief glimpse of Jesus as He really was, the divine, eternal Son, shining in unearthly glory. This was similar to the vision of the resurrected and glorified Jesus that John saw in the Revelation (Revelation 1:12-16). And when the disciples saw Him like that, it filled them with terror and awe.

But before they had a chance to run away, or to even cry out, they saw that Jesus was not alone. He was speaking to two men who also shone with an unearthly glow, though not nearly so bright as the glory that was shining through Jesus.. They heard Jesus address the one as Moses, and the other as Elijah, and realized that these were the two ancient prophets, back from the dead!

The disciples listened in awe as they talked openly about Jesus’ upcoming journey to Jerusalem, and the suffering and death that were waiting for Him there. (They called it His “Exodus” in the Greek.) But, contrary to normal human expectations, none of them seemed to be horrified about what would happen there, but simply talked about it as matter of fatly as if it were a family picnic that was being planned.

Father, I know that this was a watershed moment for these disciples that they went back to again and again. (See 12 Peter 1:16-18 and John 1:1-3.) To see Jesus in His glory confirmed Peter’s confession of Him as the Messiah (Luke 9:20), and it provided a strong foundation that helped them to quickly find their way back to Him, and to help the rest of the disciples find their way back, in the wake of being scattered at the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Even though they didn’t understand exactly what it was that they were seeing that day, after Jesus rose again, they started to understand. Lord, You have given me my own watershed moments, where You have shown me Your glory, and to which I can go back when times are hard. Thank You for Your love and grace. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – February 6, 2017

Matthew 17:1-3 (NIV) After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.  Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

This was an event that always stayed in the minds of the disciples.  In fact, Peter referred pointedly to it near the end of his life in 2 Peter 1:16-18.  Peter, James, and John had been with Jesus may times while He prayed, so they had no reason to think that this time would be any different.  But it was.

As Jesus was praying, He suddenly started to shine brightly, with a radiance so piercing that they could barely stand to look at Him.  Years later, when John was exiled on Patmos and saw the glorified Jesus (Revelation 1:12-16), he recognized what it was that he had seen back then:  the glorious Son of God that was embodied in the man, Jesus.

Before they could even react, they saw that Jesus was speaking with two other men.  One of them Jesus addressed as Moses, and the other as Elijah.  Some have taught that these men were chosen for this “story” because they symbolized the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah), and the gospel writers wanted to show that Jesus’ life and ministry were in line with those two key sections of the Old Testament.  But the writers of the Scriptures were merely reporting what actually happened as related to them by the three witness who were with Jesus when it happened.

Luke included the detail that the subject of their conversation was Jesus’ upcoming departure (Greek:  exodus), which He was about to bring to fulfillment in Jerusalem (Luke 12:30-31).  Jesus was headed south, and these two men were sent to Him to encourage Him on His mission.  Moses surrender Himself entirely to God as he gave the last 40 years of his life to an earlier exodus, one that led a reluctant and recalcitrant mass of Israelites out of slavery and into the Promised Land.  Jesus, too, was surrendering Himself entirely to the Father, and to the task of making a way out of slavery for God’s people, slavery to sin and death, and paving the way into a new Promised Land, the kingdom of God made real.

Elijah had long been foretold as the forerunner for the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), so his appearance was entirely appropriate to encourage Jesus.  But the prophesies did not refer to this event, but rather to the work of John the Baptist, who had come in the spirit and power of Elijah (cf. Luke 1:17) to prepare the people’s hearts for the Messiah (Matthew 17:11-13).

Of course, none of the disciples understood this at the time.  All they took away from the event at that time was the witness of Jesus’ astounding glory, demonstrating to them that there was far more to Him than they imagined, and the shock of seeing face to face these men who had done such powerful things in God’s economy.

But this encounter was not primarily for them; it was for Jesus.  And He took away from it the assurance that He was still on the right path, and the calm determination to see His mission through, no matter how intimidating the way seemed from here.

Father, it’s interesting to note that even Jesus benefitted from the encouragement of those who had been faithful before Him.  As the writer of Hebrews pointed out (Hebrews 11:1-12:3), there is no shortage of faithful role models for us as we follow You.  In fact, that list is even greater for us, because we also get to include the leaders of the first century Church, as well as the martyrs, leaders, and heroes of the faith in the almost 2,000 years since then.  Help me to take encouragement from all of those for my own journey so that I will be true, steadfast, and faithful in everything, and so that my walk may encourage someone else in the future.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 9, 2015

John 5:41-47 (NIV):  “I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts.  I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.  How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God? “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

A person’s response to Jesus is a perfect indicator of their real heart attitude toward God.  If they receive Jesus, it is an indicator that they have received and follow God, because they recognize Him and His presence in Jesus.  If they reject Jesus, it is because they really don’t know God; they have no real relationship with Him, and so nothing in Jesus and His teachings resonate in their hearts.

The shocking thing is that these men who were rejecting Jesus were not only men who professed to know God and His words deeply, they were the religious leaders and religious teachers of God’s people!  But instead of seeking God’s glory, they had fallen into the trap of doing things in order to exalt themselves, and to receive praise from men.  They rejected the teachings of the one who came in God’s name, but followed closely those of teachers and rabbis who came in their own names, gathering followers to exalt themselves.  They patted each other on the back for their supposed insights and profundities, while missing the very Son of God standing before them, hating Him for His ability to teach, to do miracles, and to gather followers.  They were even plotting to take His life!

Jesus’ point about Moses was that these same men were scholars of the law, and claimed to be great followers of Moses.  But in all of their study and dissecting of the laws that came through Moses from God, they completely skipped over the parts that spoke about God’s promised Redeemer, who He was, what He would accomplish, and how He would do it.  From Genesis 3:15 that indicated that the deliverer who would crush the head of the serpent would be the seed of a woman, not of a man; to the foretelling that He would come from the tribe of Judah; through the pictures painted of Him and His work in the Passover lamb and the lifting up of the bronze serpent; the pictures of the Messiah were there, even in the five books of Moses.  But these “leaders” had no spiritual eyes to see that these prophesies were coming true right then and there.  All they could see in their blinded state was that this man was threatening their positions and their authority.

Father, You tell us in Your word that the things that come from the Spirit of God are Spiritually discerned, and that they won’t be accepted by those who do not have Your Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14).  We can really see that in operation in these teachers of the law.  Help us, Lord, to always remember our dependence on You in being able to see and understand Your truths.  Help us to seek Your direction before we ever open our Bibles, so that You can open our eyes to see the wonderful things that You have written there. (Psalm 119:18)  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – July 4, 2015

John 3:14-18 (NIV): “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

The bronze snake that Moses lifted up in the desert (cf. Numbers 21:4-9) was an antidote for the deadly serpents that God sent on the Israelites because of their grumbling against Him and against His servant, Moses. The serpents bit the people and killed many, and so the people asked Moses to pray that God would take them away. But God did not take the serpents away. The sins of the people had earned them this judgment, and the pain that went along with it, to remind them of the cost of rebelling against their God. However, in His mercy, God allowed Moses to make a bronze replica of the serpents, and to put it up on a pole, so that it would be visible to the whole camp. When someone was bitten by one of the serpents, they could look at the bronze serpent in faith, and would not die. Some refused, and died from the bite, but all who looked to God’s method of salvation were saved.

That serpent was a foreshadowing of Jesus. Just as the serpent was lifted up by Moses so that all could see it and look on it in faith, so Jesus would be lifted up on a cross where all could see and look to Him for salvation. Just as the bronze serpent did not remove the real serpents and the suffering and pain that they brought, caused by the sins the people committed, so Jesus’ death did not remove all of the suffering and pain in the world that is caused by the sins of the people. That suffering and pain is essential, because it acts as a motivator to turn away from the sin and rebellion that has caused that pain, toward the One who can save our lives. Just as merely looking at the serpent in faith provided salvation from the poison of the serpents, so those who look to Jesus in faith will be saved from the deadly poison of sin, and be given eternal life instead. And, just as the grace given through the serpent was indiscriminate, saving WHOEVER looked to it in faith, so the grace given through Jesus is indiscriminate; WHOEVER believes in Him, looking to Him for salvation, will not perish, but have eternal life.

Just as in Moses’ day, there are some who reject God’s method of providing salvation, either determined to find their own method (and then demanding that God accept it), or denying the reality of the consequences of being bitten by the serpent in the first place. But either course dooms those who take it. In grace, God has provided ONE method of receiving eternal life for everyone, open to all who will believe in Jesus.

As Jesus clearly pointed out here, God did not send Jesus to condemn the people of the world. He sent Him to save the world from the poison of their sins, just as He provided the bronze serpent to save the Israelites from the poison of the snakes. The saddest thing in the world is a person who, dying an eternal death from sin’s poison, rejects Jesus, the only divinely provided and powerfully effective cure for what ails him or her, and dying forever separated from the God who graciously provided a way to avoid it altogether.

Father, some complain that You made the door too narrow, providing only one way to receive eternal life: Jesus. But the miracle is that You didn’t have to provide any way for us to get to You. You could have justly left us to die in the poison of our own sin and rebellion. But Your great love compelled You to give Your one and only Son as the perfect restorative for what ails us. Thank you! Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – May 7, 2015

John 1:16-18 (NIV): From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.

Jesus was indeed the greatest person the world has ever seen.  This wasn’t just because of Who He was – God in the flesh – but because of what He accomplished.  If you were to ask a Jewish person in John’s day who the greatest person in the history of the world was, they were very likely to say Moses.  This was because God used him to lead the whole Israelite family out of Egypt, and God gave them the law through him.  And Moses was indeed a very great person.

But Jesus was far greater than Moses.  Moses led the way out of Egyptian bondage; Jesus led the way out of bondage to sin.  Moses decisively defeated the army of Pharaoh; Jesus decisively defeated satan and all of his demons.  Moses prayed for the people and saved them from temporal destruction; Jesus died for the people and saved them from eternal destruction.  Moses gave the law to the people to show them what God required, and the sacrificial system to atone for their sins when they fell short; Jesus gave grace to the people by becoming the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, and then by giving us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts, to empower us and make us holy, so that we don’t have to fall prey to sin.

By his statement in verse 17 John is not saying that the law is bad and grace and truth are good.  He is saying that, as good as the law was, grace and truth are better.  The law showed God’s people what He required of them, but it did not empower them to do it.  That requires the grace and truth that came through Jesus.

Verse 18 reminds us that before Jesus came, no one had truly seen God.  Some had seen traces of Him, but even Moses was not allowed to see Him as He truly is.  But in Jesus the people of His day got to see God in ways that no one had ever seen Him before.  In Him God’s power was on full display, day after day.  In Him God’s love was made obvious, and the hard to understand parts of God’s commandments were made clear.  Some of the disciples actually got to see a glimpse of God’s glory on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Jesus made God known in ways that nobody had ever known Him before.  He was right on the money when He told Philip, “John 14:9 (NIV)

9  Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9)

Father, it is easy for us to see that Jesus was far greater than any other man who ever lived, no matter how great they might have been.  In Jesus all the fullness of the Deity lived in bodily form (cf. Colossians 2:9), and that can be said of no other person in history.  To know Jesus is to know You, and He opened the door for anyone who wants to know You to be able to.  Thank You!  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – September 19, 2014

Mark 9:2-8 (NIV): After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters–one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)
Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

Jesus’ time was now short.       It was time for Him to start heading south, and soon it would be the Passover, when His final journey would end in Jerusalem. Jesus often prayed alone, especially before the major transitions in His ministry, and this was definitely one of those times. He wanted to tag up with the Father to make sure what His next steps would be.

The transfiguration that the three disciples saw was for their benefit, not for the benefit of Jesus.       And what they actually experienced was a brief look “behind the curtain,” a glimpse of Jesus’ glory that was ensconced in His human flesh. (John saw this glory even more clearly on Patmos – cf. Revelation 1:12-18.) Moses and Elijah were speaking to Jesus specifically about His departure (the Greek word Luke used is “exodus”) that He would shortly be undergoing in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 9:30-31). These two people had great symbolic significance to the disciples.       Moses stood for the Old Testament, the Law that Jesus had come to fulfill through His life, death, and resurrection (Matthew 5:17). Elijah stood for the Prophets, and was also prophesied to come to usher in the Messiah (although this was fulfilled not in this limited appearance, but through the ministry of John the Baptist – Matthew 17:10-13.)

As wonderful as all of this was, and as privileged as these disciples were to be there to experience it, they were mostly just terrified. Peter was so overwhelmed by the glory of these three people that he felt that something should be done to honor them, but he had nothing to do it with. So he came up with the idea of at least building shelters for the three of them. That was where God the Father stepped in, covering them with a cloud of glory, and speaking directly to them. It was not important for them to DO anything. What was important was for them to see clearly and understand who Jesus was, the Messiah, the beloved Son of God, and to listen to Him. Their time with Him was coming quickly to an end, and events were just over the horizon that would make them doubt what they had so strongly expressed just a few days ago. Now was the time to drive the truth deep into their hearts.

Father, sometimes we get overconfident in what we think we know.       Peter, James, and John knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but they really had no idea all that that meant. Even this small glimpse of His real glory terrified them. In the same way, all that we know of You, all that You have revealed of Yourself through Your word, is really just the edge of Your garment. We want to see Your glory, but even seeing a small bit of You as You truly would be enough to completely overwhelm us. Help us, Lord, to simply rest in what we do know of You, and of Jesus. Help us to hold Him up always as Your beloved Son, and to really listen to Him. Amen.

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