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Wednesday: A Slave in Egypt — 19 Comments

  1. We love to quote Ellen White's comment:

    We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history. Counsels for the Church, p. 359.4

    It is essentially the same idea that is brought out about the Hebrews and their exodus from Egypt.

    While I appreciate what both Moses and Ellen White are saying, we need to be a bit careful about how we apply it today.

    1. God has led us in the past and even performed miracles, therefore we are right.

    The rest of the story of the exodus is a stark reminder that they were not always right, They were headstrong and quickly forgot that they still had much to learn. Their past experience with God did not stop them from being stupid, or willfully selfish, sometimes even clothing it with the notion that they were doing the will of God.

    2. We accept the statement about God's leading in the past without really thinking about what it means.

    I hear a lot of people quoting the above, but what are the significant historical events where God's leading is in evidence and what lessons do we have for today? And I don't just mean "supernatural events".

    For example: Why was Ellen White sent to Australia for 10 years? What made her return to the United States? What happened at the 1888 General Conference? ... and so on.

    3. We focus on the past rather than looking to the future.

    Some of us get fixated on the past to the extent that we think we should somehow return to the past, we use language like, "the pillars", "the founding fathers", and "the blueprint", as though the beliefs and practices in the early days of the church were somehow more pure than what we have today. Perhaps it would be better for us to understand not just what they came to believe, but how they came to believe it.

    4. What happened in the past has nothing to do with my spiritual condition now.

    That may be true but that does not negate the fact that there are lessons to be learned by reading and attempting to understand our history. We can come to a better understanding of ourselves through understanding how we arrived at where we are today.

  2. Today's lesson states that in Deuteronomy 5, "Moses repeats the law, the Ten Commandments, the foundation stipulation of their covenant with Yahweh".

    Does a statement like this portray a God who lovingly desires to share true freedom-based living with His people and therefore informs them of what is necessary* on their part if they too want to enjoy true life? Or does it unintentionally subtly portray a God who requires that His people do something in return for what He has done for them and therefore reminds them of their obligation?

    How we understand God impacts how we 'see'/picture God. And how we see/picture God impacts how we understand/interpret God. And how we see/picture God influences how we understand/interpret His Ways. And all of these influence the picture of God we share with others and whether or not we contribute to them having a picture of God that yesterday's lesson referred to 'skeptics' holding - a "God of the Old Testament (who) was harsh, vindictive, and mean-spirited, especially in contrast to Jesus". This was what happened with Israel and the view of God they were portraying to the nations around them. What picture of God are you portraying to those around you?

    * In using the word "necessary", I mean what is required by the cause-and-effect constants (law/s) of abundant life just like it is necessary for us to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide, eat healthy food, drink sufficient clean water, exercise, sleep sufficiently, have a sense of meaningful purpose and meaningful connection with others, and so on. These things are 'required' by reality - not by God per se. Understanding this removes the view of God as authoritarian and instead reveals a God who is lovingly and compassionately authoritative (see Mark 1:22 which contrasts the authoritarian stance of the religious scribes/leaders and the inherently authoritative demeanour of Jesus and hence God).

    • Hello Phil - You asked: "What picture of God are you portraying to those around you?"
      I have learned to use 'language' more wisely - becoming more patient with others who do not 'see things *my* way', stopping a conversation before it becomes an argument, making an extra effort to 'live in all respects to preserve the integrity of Christ's Faith'.

  3. At the end of the lesson... Matthew 18:21-35 I don't see the connection..maybe you do. However, the text is a DEEP COMMENTARY of who we are on this planet..21 Peter then spoke up and asked Jesus, "Master, how many times must I forgive my friend who wrongs me? Is seven times sufficient?"

    22 Jesus smiled and said, "I tell you the reality of God's kingdom: Forgive not just seven times, but perpetual sevens of never-ending forgiveness.

    23 "Let me put it in terms you can understand: Consider God's kingdom to be like a king who wanted to settle all his servants' accounts.24 As he started, a man who owed one million dollars was brought before the king.25 The man was not able to pay, so the king ordered the man and his entire family to be sold into slavery to pay the debt.26 But the man fell on his knees before the king and begged for more time to repay the debt.27 The king had compassion on him, cancelled the entire debt, and let him go.

    28 "But when the servant left the king, he found another servant, who owed him ten dollars. He pinned him against the wall and began choking him, demanding the ten dollars back.29 The man fell on his knees and begged him for more time to repay the debt;30 but he refused and called the authorities, and had the man locked in prison until the debt was paid.31 When others heard what had happened, they were very upset and told the king all about it.

    32 "Then the king called the ungrateful man in and said, 'You hard-hearted servant! I cancelled your debt of one million dollars because you asked me to be merciful.33 Should you not have internalized this grace into your heart and shown mercy to your fellow servant for the pittance he owed you?'34 Angry that his mercy didn't transform his servant's heart, the king gave him over to the isolation and torment that a hard heart causes, until his debt of mercy was fully paid.35 Likewise, my Father in heaven is angry when your hearts are not transformed despite his mercy; for if you refuse to forgive each other from your heart, you demonstrate that you have not been healed. My Father will respect your choice and give you up to the agony of mind and torment of soul that unremedied sin brings."

    • In my understanding Jesus used this parable to show how the king gave grace to the servant that owed him much but moved with compassion forgave him. The servant should of had compassion and extended grace to the man who owed him much less than the debt he owed.

  4. Romans 10:4 is very clear that Jesus is the end of The Law for righteousness to all who believe. There is nothing in Deuteronomy 26:8 or 1-6 or even Matthew 18:21-35 that clearly says what Romans 10:4 says at all. It is (Christ) Jesus and Jesus only that is "...the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth." The key here is the word, "believe" this word has to do with "faith." It is faith that we need to help us live for God. And again, the fruit of the Spirit is also not clearly defined in any of the 10 commandments either. Jesus was the only human that ever lived that kept the 10 commandments perfectly and that demonstrated all the fruit of the Spirit perfectly also. Our faith is to be on Him and Him alone for our salvation and our sanctification.

    • It helps to know that the word translated as "end" also means "goal." It harmonizes with the fact that Christ perfectly demonstrated the Law in the way He lived His life. Thus the text does not say that the Law was abolished by Christ, but rather that Christ lived out the Law in His own life.

      • Hello Inge -
        Matt.5:17 records Jesus' statement: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
        Do you think that the word 'fulfill' is only used in the context you mentioned - "that Christ *lived out* the Law in His own life", or do you see another meaning in 'Christ having fulfilled the law'?
        Thank you !

        • In instances such as Matthew 5:17, the word translated fulfill means to fully fill or rather, fill fully to 100% capacity. The Greek word in this instance is 'plerosai' and is used only 4 times in the NT. One of the other times is Romans 15:13 where Paul prays that God will fill believers to the point of overflowing so that they may in turn "abound" (also to the point of overflowing) with hope in the Spirit. Essentially this Greek word means to fill to absolute completeness so that the thing that is filled fully is now fully and completely equipped and enabled to do absolutely 100% of what it was originally designed/intended to do.

          The notion of Jesus filling fully the law in this way is amplifying or magnifying (as per Inge's presentation of Isaiah 42:21) its fullest extent of meaning and application. This is to say that in Jesus life and living we see what it truely means to live a life of absolute commitment to God and to living to benefit others in pure self-renouncing love that would even lay down its own life in order to benefit someone else. Thus the 'law' that Jesus filled fully was the law of life for earth and Heaven - the law of self-giving that underpins every facet of true life (the only form of life that is actually viable).

          • Thank you to both of you, Inge and Phil - I am beginning to find my understanding of 'words' used in the Scripture to be inadequate. Hopefully, you will continue to 'highlight' the original word's more correct, spiritual application when words from the English language do not correctly express its deeper, spiritual meaning. I am sure this would be a blessing for all participants!
            May God bless your efforts and bless us all with a deeper appreciation of God's Word!

  5. You were a slave in Egypt and now have been given freedom!Bible texts like 1Peter 2:9 Ephesians 4;1 all entreat children of God to walk worthy of their calling.This certainly shows that we have been liberated for a purpose,to worship God Freely.This past event of struggle is a remembrance of what it really means when God blesses us with every gift day by day

  6. For me, deliverance from 'Egypt' means deliverance from ignorance and false worship - humanity's ignorance about righteous living and not knowing who is God Supreme. Looking at it from this perspective, one can assume that by accepting God Yahweh, the children of Israel also accepted His 'directives' about how to live and how to worship Him; He asked them to enter into a binding Covenant with Him and they freely accepted.
    How does this translate to our day and time? We also entered into a Covenant, the 'Covenant of Faith'; we believe the God who identifies Himself by His Sabbath and the 'Way of Life'(Gospel) revealed through the 10 Commandments and the Life of His Son Jesus living among us in form of a man. God's Identity as God of all Creation claims Sovereignty over all other religions.

    Certainly, rest for the body is healthy, and to rest one day a week is helping the body to recover from physical labor, but this is not why God set aside one day to worship Him. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, reminding us that we are more than a 'body that labors', we are a 'living soul' which is influenced by spirit, either His Holy Spirit or the spirit of this world - John 4:24KJV; 1Cor.2:12KJV. Though our body needs rest, for the believer worship, living by/in the Spirit of God goes on uninterrupted 24 hours, 7 days a week.
    I think at its most basic level, God is simply making Himself known, establishing Himself as the Supreme God who's statutes and laws will benefit anyone who believes in Him and follows His Way by faith.
    The Holy Scriptures and Christ Jesus, the Son of God, were given to mankind to demonstrate the superiority of our God's religion over any other religion previously introduced to mankind, so offering hope to all who live by faith in His living Word.

  7. The link between the Sabbath in Deuteronomy and the parable of the unforgiving spirit is that just as God gives us rest, mercy and grace, we must extend the rest, mercy and grace to others. It reminds me of passage from the Great Controversy,

    "It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God's blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing
    as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. "Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith."--Ibid., vol. 5, p. 297. The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors." -Ellen White, Great Controversy, Pages 292-293.

    As Seventh-day Adventists do we grant others the same rest, mercy, grace, and liberty of conscience that we enjoy. I have talked with Adventists in the past who pretty much told me that Adventists deserve freedom of worship because we are right, but other religions do no deserve that freedom because they are wrong. In such cases these Adventists do not grasp the principle of religious liberty and become papal themselves.

    The Sabbath in Deuteronomy as well as the parable of the unforgiving servant teach us to extend the same mercy and freedoms to others that we ourselves enjoy.

    • Hi William - thank you for sharing your insights about God's power being released when we live our life in the spirit of 'Forgiveness'.
      I also very much appreciate pointing us to the profound statement by Ellen White that: "The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience, and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors."
      Her insight goes a long way with helping to be careful about the attitude we portray toward others.

  8. Slaves in Egypt!
    Today's illustration shows two types of slaves.
    Israelites were physical slaves to the Egyptians.
    However the Egyptians were slaves to their beliefs in their "gods".

    Paul also uses the illustration of either being slaves to sin or slaves to the LORD. Rom 6:1-23

  9. The weekly Sabbath gives us the distinct opportunity to rest- physically; emotionally; psychologically and spiritually. The Sabbath’s opportunity is provision to settle the week’s account - forgiving those who trespass against us- (law and grace)

    • I believe that is a question for you to decide in submission to the Holy Spirit. I suggest starting with reading and praying over every detail of the 4th Commandment, focusing on what it may mean to you now.

      I can share a little experience from my physician sister-in-law. Serving one of our Adventist universities, she took only emergency calls on Sabbath. She decided not to charge for these. When the word spread, she got more "emergency" patients on Sabbath than the number of patients she saw any other day of the week. So she changed tactics and charged for Sabbath emergency calls, like any other day of the week, donating the money to the church. Then her emergency calls reverted to a trickle, and she could again enjoy Sabbath School and church services.

      May the Lord give you wisdom in this important decision.


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