"God's Love in the Old Testament" - Recap 6



Recap 6 covering chapters 15 to 18




Recap 6 covering chapters 15 to 18


This is a synopsis of the second four chapter group that form Part 3. (If you click on any of he chapter headings they will take you to that chapter)


A. Overview:


Chapter 15 – God versus a Tyrant (1)

15.1 Setting the Scene: Putting Egypt in context

15.2 The Call of Moses

15.3 Approaching Pharaoh: The opening gambits

15.4 The Start of the Plagues

15.5 Half-way Reflections

15.6 Some Temporary Conclusions

Chapter 16 – God versus a Tyrant (2)

16.1 The Plagues Continue

16.2 Reviewing the Plagues: reviewing the gradual build up

16.2 The Final Plague

16.4 The Last Stage: Pharaoh's final folly

16.5 Concluding Thoughts

Chapter 17 – Israel in the Desert – Pre-Sinai

17.2 Observing the Context

17.3 Recapping Discipline, Correction & Judgment

17.4 Israel in the Wilderness prior to Sinai

17.5 At Sinai

17.6 To Summarise      

Chapter 18 – Israel in the Desert – Post Sinai

18.1 Where we are

18.2 The Failure at Sinai

18.3 Moving on from Sinai

18.4 Summary

18.5 Conclusions



B. Detail


Chapter 15 – God versus a Tyrant (1)


The end conclusion of God's activity with Egypt was a large number of dead bodies. The end conclusion of God's dealing with Pharaoh was the death of Pharaoh and of his army. Were such acts just? Were they acts of a God who described as ‘love'


The account begins with Moses – a failure – who God calls to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt .


God's plan is quite specific – to challenge Pharaoh who will harden his already hard heart and to keep on doing it until the climax. Pharaoh will reveal his pride and stupid stubbornness.


The ‘plagues' come in very gradual but increasing intensity. Every opportunity is given to Pharaoh to relent and let Israel go. The hard slave master (and we mustn't forget he is this) will not be told.


During the course of what happens it becomes clear that Egypt is steeped in occult practices and superstitious fear.


God's knowledge of the future is made clear together with His sovereign power which cannot be resisted – but so also is His grace which allows Pharaoh and Egypt to have time to reflect on what is happening and come to their senses. That they refuse to do this merely shows the stupidity of pride and the power of the occult to enslave.



Chapter 16 – God versus a Tyrant (2)


The gradual rolling out of the plagues continues, accentuating what we saw in the previous chapter.


Eventually, after NINE previous clear warnings and now a tenth verbal warning, the death of the first born of Egypt occurs and Israel are released. Nevertheless Pharaoh then chases Israel and dies in the midst of the Red Sea . It is a testimony to the grace of God and the crass stupidity of mankind.



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Chapter 17 – Israel in the Desert – Pre-Sinai


The complaint, if there is one, will be about God's harsh dealings with the embryonic nation. Is the God who hands out death to this nation be a God of love, especially when it is His own people. Doesn't it leave Israel wishing they were not His people? Didn't God say Israel would be His treasured possession? Are his actions in dealing with Israel compatible with that description?


Israel were, in a measure, ignorant about the Lord, yet they had much knowledge of Him through His dealings with the Patriarchs. They also had the knowledge of all that had happened so recently in their deliverance out of Egypt . Most importantly they also had visible signs of His presence with them all the time. For these reasons they had no excuses for their behaviour.


Nevertheless, SIX times before arriving at Mount Sinai there is grumbling about their condition, grumbling against God and grumbling against Moses. What is amazing is that God brings no form of judgment against them and instead just blesses them with miraculous provision.


At Mount Sinai they have an amazing experience of the Lord meeting with them.



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Chapter 18 – Israel in the Desert – Post Sinai


The incredible experience of the Lord that they have at Mount Sinai makes the failure that follows, in respect of the Golden Calf all the more terrible. The judgment instituted is first of all human, and then divine. It is a very restrained judgment, with only a relatively small number of the population dying. It is a declaration, that now they have entered into a covenant relationship with God whereby they have promised to follow His design laws, and stick with Him, He will hold them to that and will take action – death if need be – to keep the nation on the right track.


Despite this, in the weeks following, on their way from Sinai to the border of the Promised Land, they grumble another eight times. This time, God holds them accountable – they should know better – and so He takes corrective or remedial action in each case to limit what is happening.


Even when Israel refuse to enter the Promised Land, the Lord kills no one. He simply consigns them to forty years of abiding by their own decision, until all the people over the age of twenty have passed away, when the next generation can enter in. It is a remarkably restrained response.


Again and again, although there is willful rebellion against the Lord, the judgments are remarkably restrained. Most of the nation were not affected by them.



C. And So?


These four chapters are examples of the restraint of God. We may object to the fact of people dying, but the overall picture reveals a God who holds back His hand again and again.


In the case of Pharaoh, he could have judged the nation from the outset and destroyed the entire nation by plague, but instead we see a series of gradual warnings that only a fool would ignore.


in the case of Israel in the wilderness, the embryonic nation, before Sinai, are treated almost with a gentleness and nothing bad is brought against their grumbling. After Sinai, after they have had a unique experience of God, in the face of their ongoing disobedience and grumbling the judgments that do come are limited to those closest to the heart of the rebellion mostly and the vast majority of the nation is untouched. It is a time of learning, but their Teacher is remarkable in respect of the restraint He shows when dealing with them. It could have been ten times worse – but it wasn't!



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