For today, One Year Bible Online links here.
The proverb writer lists seven things which God detests. We sometimes think that some of these are worse sins than others, forgetting that the thought process behind the “least” of these is the same as behind the “worst”.
I cannot speak with the same confidence the psalmist expresses. I have not always acted with integrity and my trust in the Lord has wavered. However, I will still place myself before God and request that He test me and try me. I will not sit with the deceitful and do not associate with hypocrites. I will bring myself before God and throw myself on His mercy.
When Jesus was confronted about where He got the authority to drive the merchants out of the Temple He responded with a question which showed the unwillingness of the official leadership to take a stand. They claimed the authority to speak for God, yet when challenged to take a stand they were unwilling to either admit their previous failings or stand up to popular opinion. Jesus then told two parables which each condemned them in different ways.
First Jesus showed us that being righteous requires action, not just lip service. We are asked to compare those who, when asked, refuse to commit to take actions to help others. Yet, when it comes time to action, their actions actually do benefit those less fortunate than themselves. There are others who are constantly telling us how much they desire to help those less fortunate than themselves. Yet their actions, even those they claim are intended to help (maybe even especially those actions), always seem to benefit only themselves and their friends. God is not fooled when we claim to do His will but do our own, nor is He fooled when we make a show of rebellion but do His will anyway.
Then Jesus shows us that the religious leaders who had confronted Him had been given legitimate authority. However, they had failed to live up to the obligations which went with that authority. As a result, they would be stripped of their authority and God would give it to others. The same will happen to those who have been given authority today if they make the same mistake. God does not give authority to people in order for them to serve their own interests. He gives it to them in order for them to serve others and to serve Him. Are we using whatever authority God has given us to do so?
When the Israelites left Egypt, God did not lead them on a direct path to Canaan. The direct path would have led them into confrontation with armies prepared to face a potential invading Egyptian army. God knew that if the Israelites, at this time, were confronted by organized resistance they would divide and scatter. So, He had Moses lead them in a direction which would allow them to face an armed foe which they could not escape by scattering. How much of their path was determined by divine intervention and how much by Moses’ experience from 40 years tending his father-in-law’s flocks is open to debate (although, to be perfectly honest, I believe that Moses’ forty years tending flocks was part of God’s divine intervention).
As expected, when the Israelites were confronted by an army (in this case, Pharaoh’s pursuing army), they panicked. However, there was no place to go that offered hope of escape. Moses responded to their panic by telling them to keep calm and watch what God would do. God responded to their panic by telling Moses to raise his staff over the see which was behind them, dividing the sea. The Israelites fled through the division in the sea as if on dry ground. When Pharaoh’s army pursued they became bogged down. It is worth noting that the Israelites would have been on foot. The animals they would have had would have been herds of sheep and goats. They may have had (and probably did) wagons with wide cargo wheels, designed to go over rough ground, drawn by draft animals, which would have had broad hooves. The Egyptians on the other hand were mounted, mostly on chariots. The chariots would have had narrow wheels, optimized for speed. Any riding horses they had would have also been optimized for speed (or at least more so than draft animals) and thus had narrower hooves. Thus the Israelites would have been able to pass over the dried crust of the mud that was on the bottom of the sea as if it was hard, dry ground. The Egyptians, on the other hand, with their narrower wheels and hooves would have broken through the crust to the mud underneath (the fact that the Israelites had crossed ahead of them would have made matters worse). In this case, and in these circumstances, the Israelites were able to cross much faster than the Egyptian army. This was the only circumstance where a large group of mixed civilians could have outpaced an army. It also explains why the Egyptian army was unable to escape when the waters returned.
When the Israelites reached the other side and witnessed the destruction of the pursuing force, they praised God and sang of His glory. Do we look at our lives and give God credit for “our” victories? Or do we think our success is a product of our brilliance and hard work? When things go well in my life, I will sing this song (or something similar):
for he has triumphed gloriously;
This is my God, and I will praise him—
my father’s God, and I will exalt him!
When natural events work so that good things happen to me, I will acknowledge the One who created nature. I have had events recently where I solved a serious dilemma by applying myself and working hard, but I recognize that the key factor occurred through divine intervention. Others might say it was coincidence, or just a matter of banging at the problem until I found the solution, but I know that I had reached the end of my skill and knowledge and had success only because God brought something apparently unrelated that allowed me to see the result. If not for God, I would not have solved the problem.