Days of Grace-Day 3

Imagine, if you can for a moment that you are Moses. Yes, the same Moses that God called in Exodus 3, and was commissioned to return to the land of Egypt from which he fled to the desert having killed a man. The same Moses who tried to get out of the assignment by claiming to be slow of speech and slow of tongue in chapter 4. In the following chapter, Moses goes to God and asks in 5:22,” “Lord, why have you caused trouble for this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 From the time I went to speak to Pharaoh in your name, he has caused trouble for this people, and you have certainly not rescued them!” Following this interchange, Moses and Aaron went before Pharaoh and following each visit one of the ten plaques of Egypt occurred. (Exodus 7-11)  Finally, in chapter 13 of Exodus the Hebrew captives were released and Moses led them out of Egypt.  One of the ways God showed the now freed captives His favor or grace was that He chose to deliver them from captivity to the promised land by taking them the long route through the desert to the Red Sea. This would spare them from running into the Philistines, and avoid possible war and their running back to their former captors in fear. He also showed  them His favor by leading them as they went. During the day He went before them in a pillar of cloud, and then by a pillar of fire by night. (Exodus 13)  God led them to and through the Red Sea. They walked through the Sea on dry ground and got safely across the Sea just before God allowed the enemy troops in  pursuit of them to be swallowed up into the Sea. God showed His provision, forgiveness and favor to His people many times during their forty-year journey in the desert in search of the promised land.

Our real grace verse for today is found in Exodus 33:12. Before we take a look at it, let’s set the stage or glimpse the context of this verse. We have just passed the verses that tell about Moses   going up the mountain, God giving the ten commandments and the people growing impatient and talking Aaron into making a golden calf to worship. God has told Moses to take the obstinate people and go to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but they will go without Him lest He destroy them along the way.  It is here that Moses intercedes for the people. We read in Genesis 33: 12-16 “ Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor (chem) in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.”  And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”  Moses was wise enough to know that it was God’s presence and favor among them was what had preserved them and distinguished them among all the other people of the world.

God responds to Moses pleas with this: “ The Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.”Exodus 33:17 NAS

Again as with Abraham yesterday, we see God granting favor or grace on his servant, hearing his bold prayers on behalf of the people and answering them. God’s grace threaded throughout His story. May His grace, favor and peace be with you and keep you!

Full Circle= (Remember. Reflect, Recuperate,Rededicate, Redirect)

This morning after my S.O.A.P. reading, I found myself looking ahead to tomorrows passage just to see what was coming up and to ask the Lord to prepare my heart for what He would have me learn from it. I skimmed over the chapter and not once but twice a word jumped out at me. That word was Gilgal.  I began to think back to a time in my life when this word or maybe I should say the significance of this word became very real in my life and quite significant as well.

Gilgal is first mentioned in the Bible in Deuteronomy 11 where God is describing the Promised land that He will be giving His people. Interestingly enough, it is contains the declaration of God to the Israelites, 26 Today I’m giving you the choice of a blessing or a curse. 27 You’ll be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I’m giving you today. 28 You’ll be cursed if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God, if you turn from the way I’m commanding you to live today, and if you worship other gods you never knew. 29 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you’re about to enter, recite the blessing from Mount Gerizim and the curse from Mount Ebal. 

I find that very interesting, considering the topic of my last entry was about choosing blessing or cursing, life or death, so this is the result of something I believe the Lord is trying to say to me or teach me. If it is helpful to someone else that is great, but most of the things I write about are things that I am learning or that I feel the Holy Spirit is teaching me.  This is my outlet and if you will since we are talking about Gilgal…my memorial stone to help me remember.

Back to Gilgal.  One of the most known and important times in Gilgal is found in Joshua when the Israelites have been instructed to cross the Jordan River to enter the promised land. Here the Lord parts the waters of the river for all the people following cross the river on dry ground while the priests stand in the middle with the ark of the covenant . God instructed Joshua that one man from each tribe be assigned to select one stone from the middle of the river where the priests had stood and take it to the place the Israelites would camp that night. As they did what God asked, Joshua explained, “4:21 He said to the people of Israel, “In the future when children ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 the children should be told that Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground.23 The Lord your God dried up the Jordan ahead of you until you had crossed, as he did to the Red Sea until we had crossed. 24 The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know his mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life.”  

In chapter 5, at this same time, all the men who were born in the wilderness were circumcised at Gilgal. Circumcision was a sign to them that they were set apart unto the Lord.  Here they remained in this new land until they were healed.  Also, at Gilgal, the Lord declared in Joshua 5:

The Lord then said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the disgrace of Egypt from you.” Therefore, that place is called Gilgal to this day.

What does all this mean?  For me, I am sensing that Gilgal is the place where Israel has come full circle, it is a reminder of God’s salvation of Israel from Egyptian slavery, from the wrath of the Egyptians who were chasing them and were swallowed by the Red Sea; a reminder of His protection and provision for their 40 years of wandering in the desert, where they always had food and water and their clothes and shoes never wore out; it was a place of laying aside the flesh and consecrating themselves to God; laying down false beliefs and false gods that they were exposed to during slavery and being rededicated to the one True God. I believe Gilgal was a fresh start, a clean slate. It was also a great monument and reminder because of the twelve memorial stones. Human beings tend to over time forget or allow all that our God has done for us become a distant memory. These stones stood and still stand as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, we would do well to note and remember all God has done for us! What a stabalizing factor and comforting peace we could enjoy when the storms of life come blowing us over, if we take time to set up remembrances of the times He has seen us through hardships and difficulties or rescued us from them. When we regularly celebrate His presence and provision in our lives we are much calmer and peaceful when the storms of life blow over us, sometimes blowing us over.  I want to come full circle, celebrating fresh starts, rededicating myself to Him, remembering His presence and provision in my life, letting go of the difficulties and pain of the past but remembering His faithfulness and love as a reminder not to return there; choosing life and blessing over death and the curse!