Category Archives: Faith

What Does God Require? – Honesty, Integrity, Fairness, Truth, and Holiness (Exodus 22-24)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 22-24

The agricultural nature of ancient societies meant one’s livestock were an essential part of a man’s livelihood and the well-being of his family (21:33-36). The negligent injury or theft of oxen or sheep was a serious crime requiring compensation (22:1-4), as was damage to a man’s crops (22:5-6).

God’s law requires honesty and integrity.

Personal responsibility and liability were important issues among God’s people and fair compensation for losses, whether by theft or neglect, was mandated (22:7-15).

As an illustration, consider a farmer who borrows another man’s ox to work his field; however, while in his care the ox is injured or dies.  Under such a circumstance, the borrower was debtor to the lender and under obligation to “make it good” (22:14). In other words, repay or replace.  The exception is when the owner of the ox is plowing a man’s field “for his hire” (22:15).

Borrow or rent another’s property or goods, you were under obligation to make whole any damages or loss suffered by the lender. 

Other moral and societal issues addressed in Exodus 22 include rape (22:16-17), witchcraft (22:18), bestiality (22:19), and idolatry (22:20).  In the matter of borrowing and lending, the LORD demanded fairness. Charging excessive interest was condemned knowing it imposed an unnecessary hardship on the poor (22:25-27).

Exodus 23 – God’s Law Concerning Slander and False Witnesses

Acknowledging God is Just, it follows He demands His people be fair (23:1-2), good neighbors (23:3-5), and just in matters of law making no occasion for lies and distortions of the truth (23:6-8).

In a culture that is given to the drive for success at all costs, the thought of a Sabbath Day of rest, let alone a Sabbath Year dedicated to the LORD, is foreign (23:10-12).  For Israel, the Sabbaths, feasts, and offerings of the first and the best fruits of one’s labor to the LORD were a constant reminder that all a man had was an exercise of God’s grace and loving benevolence (23:13-19).  Exodus 23 concludes with God’s promise to protect and bless Israel as they journey through the wilderness (23:20-33).

Exodus 24 – Moses Enters Into the Presence of the LORD

Concluding today’s devotional commentary, you and I are privy to a glorious moment as Moses, his immediate leadership, and seventy elders are invited by the LORD to draw near to the mountain (24:1-4). After reviewing God’s covenant with Israel, the people pledged to obey the Lord’s law and commandments, sealing their vows with the blood of sacrifices (24:5-8).

As the “glory of the LORD” shrouded Mount Sinai, Moses was invited to ascend the mount and “come near the LORD” (24:2) where he received the law and commandments he was to teach the people (24:9-15).  Moses was alone on the mount for six days and on the seventh day we read, The LORD “called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud” (24:16). Forty days and nights would pass before Moses descended the mount (24:18).

What was Israel doing in Moses’ absence while the “glory of the LORD” appeared to be a “devouring fire” on the mount?

We will take up that question in Exodus 32.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Keys to Effective Leadership: Objectivity, Wise Counsel and Delegation (Exodus 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 16-18

The people began to murmur in the Wilderness of Sin, a desert area along the east shore of the Red Sea that we know today as the Arabian Peninsula. Here they accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to starve (Exodus 16:1-3).  Murmuring hearts and wagging tongues would be Israel’s nature throughout their wilderness years.

The LORD promised He would provide the people sufficient bread each morning for the day. On the sixth day, the day before the Sabbath; He promised bread for two days so the people would have no need of laboring and gathering food on the Sabbath (16:4-5).  The LORD also promised to send the people meat to eat in the evening (16:8, 12).

In spite of the LORD’s provisions and promises of bread and meat, the people hoarded more than their daily bread and it spoiled in their tents (16:19-21).  Only when they gathered two days provisions on the sixth day, sufficient for the Sabbath, did the bread and meat not spoiled (16:25-30).

Continuing their journey through the Wilderness of Sin, Israel came to Rephidim and finding “no water”, the people began murmuring against Moses (Exodus17:1-3).  Moses cried out to the LORD who commanded him to strike a rock with his staff “and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (17:4-7).

The nation of slaves soon faced their first enemy in the wilderness when the Amalekites (descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob) came against Israel at Rephidim (17:8-16).  A dramatic scene unfolds as Moses stands on a hill overlooking the battlefield (17:9).  Two men stood with Moses, Aaron and Hur, and they steadied the arms of Moses as he held high in his hands “the rod of God” (17:10-12).  Joshua, Moses’ aid and successor, emerges as the commander who led Israel to her first battlefield victory.

Exodus 18 records Moses’ reunion with his wife, two sons, and father-in-law Jethro (18:1-6).  What an incredible reunion it must have been as Moses rehearsed all the LORD had done in Egypt (18:7-12).

I close today’s devotional with lessons for all, but especially Christian leaders. Jethro, Moses father-in-law, observed him serving as judge in the people’s matters “from the morning unto the evening” (18:13). Jethro asked Moses, “Why sittest thou thyself alone…from morning unto even?” (18:14).  Jethro warned, Moses, you will wear yourself out; this is too much for one man (18:17-18).

Jethro suggested Moses teach the people the “ordinances and laws” (18:19-20) and delegate the responsibility of judging the simple, miniscule matters to others (18:21).  Wisely, Moses judged the “hard causes”, the weightier matters that rose among the tribes (18:22-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Faith is the Victory! (Exodus 13-15)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 13-15

The observance of the Passover having been established (12:1-28, 43-51), the people were reminded the difference between the Israelite and Egyptian households was the blood of the lamb Israel applied to the doorposts of their homes. When the LORD saw the blood, He passed over their homes and spared the firstborn. The LORD commanded that the Passover, sacrificing a spotless lamb and eating unleavened bread, would serve as a perpetual memorial, a lasting testimony of when He saved the firstborn of Israel (13:1-3, 6-16).

Four hundred years earlier and believing God’s promise to deliver His people out of bondage, Joseph had requested his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried with his father when the people returned to Canaan (13:17-19).

The LORD comforted the people with a visible testimony of His presence, shadowing Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (13:20-22).

In spite of the ten plagues he and Egypt had suffered, Pharaoh set his heart to pursue Israel that he might once again enslave the people (14:1-9).  Israel, encamping on the shores of the Red Sea, saw Pharaoh’s army approaching in the distance and the people began murmuring against Moses (14:10-12) who stilled the hearts of the people with the assurance the LORD was with them (14:13-14).

The LORD parted the waters of the Red Sea, allowing Israel to cross over on dry ground (14:15-22), and delayed Pharaoh’s army by setting a cloud of darkness over the Egyptians.  When Israel was safe on the far shore, the LORD lifted the cloud and Pharaoh foolishly pursued Israel into the midst of the waters until the LORD brought them down upon his army (14:23-31).

With Israel securely on the other side of the Red Sea, Moses led the people in a song celebrating the Lord’s salvation and Israel’s deliverance from Pharaoh (15:1-21).

Sadly, reminding us the best of men are sinners at best; a murmuring and discontentment soon arose among the people that began a pattern of sin Israel will follow throughout their sojourn in the wilderness (15:22-27).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Egypt Wails; Israel Prevails (Exodus 10-12)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 10-12

By the end of the seventh plague, Egypt has suffered enough loss that hunger and famine have become the lot of the people.  Refusing to heed the LORD’s command to free Israel from bondage, Pharaoh and Egypt continued to harden their hearts (10:1).

Do you ever ponder why the LORD allows trials and troubles? Ever wonder what good can come from disappointments and suffering?

Many in Israel struggled with the increasing hardships placed on them by their Egyptian taskmasters.  To believe Moses’ assurances, that the LORD would deliver them from bondage in the midst of trials, challenged their faltering faith.  Exodus 10:2 apprises us that the LORD had a greater goal than simply delivering one generation from slavery.

Exodus 10:2 – “And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son’s son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I am the LORD.”

The LORD wanted His people to remember through successive generations all that He had done in Egypt.  His dealings with Pharaoh and the plagues that befell the nation were to serve as a lasting testimony that the God of Israel is Creator and Sovereign of nature.

The eight plague that came upon Egypt was locusts and they devoured what was left of the nation’s vegetation (10:3-20).  The ninth plague shrouded Pharaoh and Egypt in a frightening cloak of oppressive darkness (10:21-29) while Israel enjoyed the comfort of light in their dwellings.

Before the tenth and final plague, the LORD instructed Moses to bid the Hebrews to request from the Egyptians jewelry and vessels of gold and silver (11:1-3).  A strange request it seems; however, the jewelry, gold and silver will eventually be used to decorate the tabernacle and fabricate vessels to be used in sacrifices and worship.

Moses warned Pharaoh the tenth plague would mean the death of the firstborn, both man and beast (11:5).  Again, Pharaoh hardened his heart (11:10) and the LORD “smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” as He promised (12:29-30).

Now the LORD had instructed Moses and Aaron to tell the people to sacrifice a lamb; not just any lamb, but a lamb “without blemish, a male of the first year” (12:15).   The blood of the lamb was to be put on the side posts and lintel of the doorposts of the houses (12:7) with the promise the LORD would “pass over” the homes where the blood of a lamb was seen (12:12-13).

The Passover was to become a perpetual memorial and testimony of the night the LORD spared the firstborn of Israel.  The Passover lamb was to be served with “unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs” (12:8-11, 14-19).

“Leaven”, the equivalent of yeast in our day, was not to be used in bread during the Passover season (12:15, 17-20).  The permeating nature of a little leaven is a symbol of the nature of sin in the scriptures.  In other words, sin is among God’s people what leaven is in bread dough and, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

To spare Israel the death of the firstborn, the LORD required the blood of the lamb; a type, a picture, of God’s punishment of sin that would be fulfilled in the sacrifice of God the Father’s Son, Jesus Christ.

Knowing the LORD is Just, Holy, and the universal penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23a); we conclude Jesus Christ, the Perfect, sinless Son is God’s sacrificial Lamb.  The author of Hebrews writes, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28).

Declaring the substitutionary doctrine of salvation, the apostle Paul wrote, “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Is Jesus Christ your Lamb, Redeemer and Savior?

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Silver-haired” Saints and “Silver-tongued” Youth (Exodus 7-9)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 7-9

Of Pharaoh we read, But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13).

The stage is set for ten judgments identified as ten plagues sent by the Lord, the God of Israel, to gradually move the heart of Pharaoh to bow his stubborn will to the will of the LORD (7:14-12:36).

Today’s scripture reading identifies seven of the ten plagues that befell Pharaoh and Egypt in quick succession. The first three of the ten plagues envelopes the whole land of Egypt, affecting even the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived (7:19-8:19).  Starting with the fourth plague, the LORD “severs” the land of Goshen and spares His people from its sorrows.

Avoiding a long discourse, allow me to simply list the seven plagues that Pharaoh and Egypt suffered, remembering with each the king failed to humble his heart and set the Hebrews free.

1) Nile – water turned to blood; fish die (7:19-25)

2) Frogs and the stench of their dead carcasses (8:1-15)

3) Lice – most likely gnats or other biting insects (8:16-19)

4) Flies – Egypt is said to have biting “dog flies”; Israel is spared. (8:20-32)

5) A pestilence taking the lives of the Egyptian’s livestock (9:1-7)

6) Boils and blisters on man and beast in Egypt (9:8-12)

7) Hail and lightning destroying flax and barley crops in the fields (9:13-35)

Rather than closing today’s text with our focus on the hardened heart of Pharaoh; allow me to invite you to consider the character of Moses and his brother Aaron who stood in the LORD’s place before the king and delivered warnings of the plagues that would follow.  We read concerning Moses and Aaron:

Exodus 7:6-76 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old [80 years old], and Aaron fourscore and three years old [83 years old], when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Eighty years old and serving the LORD!  What an inspiration these men are; not because they were octogenarians (in their eighties), but because they were still doing everything “as the LORD commanded them” (7:6-7)!

Is there a lesson we should take from this?

Absolutely! The sum of a spiritual leader is not his academic credentials, but whether or not he has a heart for the LORD, is skilled in His Word, humble enough for God to use, and bold enough to unapologetically declare the Word of the LORD.

I fear many churches dismiss “silver-haired” saints in favor of “silver-tongued” youth.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Gone, but Not Forgotten! (Exodus 4-6)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 4-6

The LORD warned Moses, “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand” (Exodus 3:19).

The LORD called Moses to a mission that would be fraught with danger and disappointments.  Forty years in the wilderness had not erased the memories of Egypt and Moses did not relish for himself the hardships suffered by his brethren. Certainly, Moses dreaded the thought of returning to Pharaoh’s court.

God answered Moses’ objections with signs and demonstrations of His power (4:1-9).

When Moses confessed he lacked the skill to speak in the Egyptian tongue, God answered, “Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well… 15  And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. 16  And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God” (Exodus 4:14-16).

Led by the LORD, Aaron, the elder brother of Moses departed Egypt (4:27) to be reunited with his brother forty years after he fled to the wilderness.  Moses shared with Aaron the LORD’S call for him to lead Israel out of bondage (Exodus 4:28-31).

Moses’ first confrontations with Pharaoh are recorded in Exodus 5:1-7:13.

Little time passed before Moses and Aaron had an audience with Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1) and demanded the Hebrews be allowed a three-day journey into the wilderness to worship and offer sacrifices to their God (5:3).  The first clash of wills between Pharaoh and Moses is recorded in Exodus 5:1-6:27 and the second follows in Exodus 6:28-7:13.

Four centuries of slavery have passed, but the LORD has not forsaken His people or forgotten His covenant with Israel (Exodus 6:1-5). The LORD renewed His covenant with the nation, reminding the people He was with them as He was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (6:6-8).

Why did the Lord bring ten plagues upon Egypt? Why not overthrow Pharaoh and deliver Israel out of bondage? 

Many explanations come to mind, but I will limit myself to two. The first; the Lord was preparing Moses to move from being a shepherd of sheep to serving as the leader of Israel. Each plague incensed Pharaoh and weakened Egypt, but magnified Moses in the eyes of the people. The second; the plagues increased the Hebrews’ faith in God and demonstrated He was the LORD and God of creation.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Cares for You (Exodus 1-3)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 1-3

A period of change, especially in leadership, is a perilous time. Inexperienced leadership and a lack of appreciation for legacy and history invariably leads to decisions and course changes that are ill advised if not detrimental.

Such is the case in Exodus 1 when we read, Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation…Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:6, 8).

Joseph, a man gifted and blessed by God, providentially rose to become second to Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 41:40-43) and the tribes of Israel continued to prosper long after his death (Exodus 1:7-8).

The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph or regard the service he had rendered to Egypt; however, he recognized the population growth of the Israelites in the midst posed a threat to the nation (1:9-10).  Taking extreme measures to limit the growth and influence of the Hebrews, the king commanded a series of heinous steps to limit their population (1:11-22).

Exodus 2 introduces us to a remarkable event: A Hebrew infant adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:10). Reminded God is sovereign, infant Moses found favor in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and she, having compassion on him, employed Jochebed, the mother of Moses, to be his nurse (2:5-10).

The first 40 years of Moses’ life was that of an Egyptian prince who was favored with the finest education and training in his day (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22).  In spite of his privileges as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, the heart of Moses was knit with his Hebrew brethren. One day, incensed by an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses struck and killed the man (2:11-13).

Learning Pharaoh knew his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled Egypt into the wilderness where he spent the next 40 years of his life (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).  Humbling himself, Moses, the prince of Egypt accepted the humiliation of a hireling shepherd to a Midianite man named Reul (also named Jethro) whose daughter, Zipporah, he married and to whom two sons were born (Gershom – 2:22 and Eliezer– 18:4).

While Moses continued in the wilderness, his Hebrew brethren endured the sorrows and hardships of slavery.  When all hope seemed lost, we read, “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died” (Exodus 2:23) and “God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).

I wonder if Moses was content to live the rest of his life in the anonymity and solitude the wilderness afforded him.  I do not know the answer; however, I do know the LORD had not forgotten Moses or His people.  When the time was come, God called to him and Moses answered, “Here am I” (Exodus 3:4).

As the LORD gave Moses His plan for delivering His people out of Egypt, Moses said, “Who am I?”(Exodus 3:11).

Here is an important truth: It was not important who Moses was. What was important is Who was calling him to serve!

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14).

What a wonderful spiritual truth! After forty years of solitude in the wilderness, Moses was content to be a nobody; however, the LORD had a plan and a promise. The man who asked, “Who am I?” would realize his full potential as he put his faith in the LORD who called him!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith