Spiritual Rants: January 28, “Gentlemen, Start Your Ophidians” Daily Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Exodus 5:22-7:25 Matthew 18:21-19:12 Psalm 23:1-6 Proverbs 5:22-23

Old Testament:   Exodus 5:22-7:25

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Exodus 5:22-7:25    Gentlemen, Start Your *Ophidians


At the end of chapter 5, Moses complains to God that instead of getting better, things were getting worse.

In chapter 6, God reveals His name to Moses as Yahweh, the Lord.  He tells Moses that getting the Israelites out of Egypt was a sure thing but it still wasn’t going to be easy.

We find in chapter 7 that Moses was 80 when this ordeal began and Aaron was 83.  Moses shot a warning over Pharaoh’s bow by doing a cool miracle involving a serpent and his staff.  Then he met Pharaoh at the shore of the Nile and changed the water into blood.  Amazingly, Pharaoh’s boys were able to replicate both miracles.  But the ten plagues had begun!

Chart from Ryrie Study Bible:


In Exodus 5:22-23, after the Hebrews had gone to Pharaoh and then Moses, of course, Moses went to his boss to complain. Moses asked God why he was allowing his people to suffer even more persecution after they had done what He asked.

In Exodus 6, God told them that He hadn’t even told Abraham, Isaac or Jacob that His name was Yahweh and that He’d do what He said (v. 2). (He actually had used the name Yahweh in Gen. 13:4 but now would emphasize Himself as being One Who kept His promises. He had previously emphasized Himself as being “God Almighty.”) He said Pharaoh was going to be a tough cookie and go back and ask him again to let the Israelites worship in the desert (vv. 1, 10, 29). Moses protested again on the basis of his being oratorally-challenged (v. 12b, 30). Moses said that his own people wouldn’t listen to him, why would Pharaoh listen to him (v. 12a)? God told him to go anyway and take Aaron with him (v. 13).

The heads of the clans of Israel are enumerated in verses 14-27 mainly to emphasize Moses and Aaron as God’s representatives (vv. 28-30).

In Exodus 7, there is a warning and the plagues begin.

Pre-Plague warning: God warned Moses and Aaron that Pharaoh would not listen to them (v. 3).  He said He would harden Pharaoh’s heart (cf. 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17).  Scripture also said that Pharaoh hardened his own heart (7:13, 14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34, 35; 13:15).  I guess it was a co-operative venture.  But we know it started with Pharaoh’s sinful heart and that God was giving him a chance to repent.

Moses was 80 when he spoke to Pharaoh and Aaron was 83 (v. 6).  Aaron threw down his rod to show Pharaoh a miracle and it turned into a serpent (v. 10). So Pharoah’s guys did the same thing but then Aaron’s serpents ate up the magicians’ serpents (vv. 11 -12). (Could Las Vegas be far behind with this act?)  Pharaoh may have been entertained but he was unmoved (v. 13).

Phase One of the Plagues: Moses met Pharaoh at the Nile river to remind him that God wanted His people released to worship (vv. 14-16). He warned him that if he didn’t let the Israelites go the consequences would be that he would turn the Nile River into blood (vv. 17-19). (Ick.) In this way Pharaoh would know that Yahweh was God (v. 17a). So Moses told Aaron to aim his serpent rod at the Nile and all the water of the Nile became blood (vv. 19, 20-21) . So the magicians did the same thing (v. 22). (Wouldn’t you? Like there wasn’t enough water turned to blood around Egypt.) Pharaoh was unfazed (v. 23). Was he a nihilist?

The “Gyptians” had to dig around the Nile to try to get some clean water (v. 24).  Things remained like this for seven days (v. 25).

* an ophidian is a snake . . .

New Testament:    Matthew 18:21-19:12

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Peter asked Jesus how many stinkin’ times he had to forgive someone.

Jesus answered “A lot” and he illustrated with the story of a dippy guy whom the king forgave.  Then the guy turns around and abuses someone he should have forgiven.

The religious leaders tried to catch Jesus on the horns of a dilemma with a question about divorce.  Jesus finished the discussion by telling the disciples that some guys don’t even get married for the sake of the kingdom.

Matthew 18:21-19:12   Sorry, Forgive Me

Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive another person up to seven times since that was a good, round Biblical number (v. 21). Jesus told him his math was a bit off and that he should forgive someone seventy times seven (v. 22). Good thing we all have calculators on our iPhones and iPads so we can keep track easily these days!  (Jesus was really telling Peter that he should forgive others as much as they need to be forgiven since most people don’t get up to needing 490 forgivenesses.)

Jesus illustrated with the story of a king who decided to have an accounting firm come in to balance his books and collect all his debts (v. 23). He found a deadbeat that owed him like 10 million dollars (cf. v. 24, the Living Bible)! Then the dork went out and found someone who owed him like two thousand dollars (v. 28). He about strangled the poor guy and had him thrown in prison (v. 28)! The poor guy’s friends found out about the incident and they complained to the king (v. 31). The king was furious and had the dork go to a chiropractor until he paid off his debt to the king (v. 34). OK, he was actually sent to a torture chamber but I was trying to contemporize the account.

The creepy Jewish religious leaders asked Jesus if divorce was OK (v. 3) .  Jesus said that wasn’t what God had in mind for marriage (vv. 4-5). God wanted man and woman to stay together through their entire earthly lives (v. 6b). The religious leaders whined, “But Moses let us do it” (v. 7).  Jesus said that Moses was just being gracious because there were so many boneheads (v. 8). The disciples, probably thinking everyone is really a bonehead, said it didn’t sound like anyone could have a successful marriage (v. 10). Jesus admitted it sure takes God’s help to make a marriage (insinuated) but believe it or not there were actually some guys who give up marriage so they can minister better (vv. 11-12)!

Psalm 23:1-6      A Psalm Of Trust by David

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Psalm 23:1-6   Cradle To Grave Provision

As you know, this is a very famous piece of literature.  Psalm 22 was about the suffering Shepherd who dies for His sheep (cf. John 10:11).  This psalm is about the loving Shepherd.  Psalm 24 is also about the Shepherd.

John the Apostle also wrote about the Shepherd in John 10.  The sheep know His voice (cf. John 10:4).  Adam’s son, Abel, was a shepherd (Gen.4:2).  Moses shepherded sheep (Exod. 3:10.  So did David (1 Sam. 17:34).  Pastors are called shepherds (cf. 1 Pet. 5:2).

The summer before I left for high school, I was dating a girl whose father had been away on business for a couple weeks during that time.  When I met him, he asked what I was going to major on in college.  I had just heard Johnny Carson make a joke about how he was going to leave show biz and become a shepherd.  So I told my girlfriend’s Dad that I was going to major in shepherding.  He seemed surprised so he asked me again.  Somehow I kept a straight face and told him, yes, shepherding with real sheep.  That night, as he turned off the light to get in bed with his wife, he asked her, “Is Jerry really going to be a shepherd?”   I guess the joke was on me.  That is what I became.

Psalm 23 is often used at funerals.  In fact, we used it at my own mother’s funeral.  But there is so much more than just hope after death in this little poem.

First, David saw the Lord as his shepherd.  When I was pastoring out in the country, we had a family that owned a sheep farm.  He invited me over to see them.  He said that they weren’t dumb as many people thought.  McGee had the same experience and the sheep’s owner told him they were “stubborn, hardheaded, and pig-headed animals.”  As if that wasn’t complimentary enough, he added, “Besides that, they are dirty and filthy.”  McGee said they were a perfect picture of the human race.  Hey, J. Vernon, speak for yourself!  J.V. was probably correct though.

What does a shepherd do?  He guides the sheep and makes sure they are fed and protected.  I can dig that.  See why you need to read Scripture daily?  We need to be reminded and have faith that we have a Shepherd Who watches out for us.

We used to recite this poem in the lower grades of our public school (now you know how ancient I am).  I never understood why we wouldn’t want to want.  I loved wanting things.  Records, clothes, food.  I wanted them all!  Of course, the NIV makes clear that the sense of verse 1 is that we “lack nothing.”  God takes care of all of our needs (cf. Matt. 6:25-34).  He usually gives us more than just our needs but He promises to provide all our needs.   And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).  It should probably be pointed out that the Philippian church was a giving church and then they were given that promise.  But I have never known God to leave any believer in the lurch (cf. Heb. 13:5; Ps. 37:25).

Our shepherd gives us rest (v. 2-3).  In Matthew 11, He is seen as an older, stronger ox with whom we can yoke up.  He ensures that we will receive rest (cf. Matt. 11:28-30, Smell The Roses).  When Israel didn’t rest the land as they were commanded, Yahweh had them exported to make sure the land got rest (see Land, Ho!).

Charles Stanley used to tell us when I was in his congregation, that he worked too hard in the ministry so God would give him times of rest in the hospital.  After a couple times, he said he learned his lesson.  I think my six heart by-passes and the subsequent chronic fatigue I’ve had for over ten years are my reminder to take some time off during the week.  We don’t need to prove ourselves to God.  He already loves us.  It’s called grace.

Meditation is a good way to get some rest (vv. 2-3).  David learned to meditate about God.  Thus, we have the psalms!  When I try to calm myself down, like when getting my blood pressure taken, I imagine being by a nice, calm, still lake (v. 2).

God will give us times of rest and vacations (v. 3).  I’m amazed that even when I’m broke, God will find ways to bless me.  Out of the blue I may get some basketball tickets or be invited to a nice dinner.  God takes care of His own.

I don’t know how non-christians do it.  How do they go out on the roads every day or go about their daily business without trusting the Lord?  The same people will load up on life insurance and stockpile food or luxuries without any thought that it could all end in a moment.  God gives us plenty warnings of how sudden death can be.  How many people thought they were just going off to work at the Twin Towers on that fateful day?  They thought it was just another day at the office.  That’s why David’s son, Solomon, warned us that it is better to go to a funeral than a party (v. 4, cf. Eccles. 7:2).

The shepherd’s staff  (v. 4c) could be used to ward off attacks against the sheep.  It could also be used to whack a sheep that began to stray.  I have seen sheep start to wander and the Lord whacks them  But sheep are stubborn.  Sometimes they keep wandering away.  They continue to get whacked.  But sometimes God’s patience runs out.  The result is the “sin unto death” (see Shazam! on the “sin unto death”).

Usually troops are throwing up in the presence of their enemies before a battle.  David was eating a nice spread provided by God in those situations (v. 5a).  Wow.  I guess he would’ve been calm in the boat with the Lord during the storm (cf. Matt. 8:24)!

The shepherd also anointed David’s head with oil.  Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit (cf. 5b).  We all need the filling (cf. Eph. 5:18) and anointing of the Spirit to live the Christian life.  To be filled by the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit (the background of the term filling was to fill a sail and thus control the boat).  The “anointing” of the Holy Spirit allows us to be taught by God (cf. 1 John 2:27).  The “anointing” also give us power to live the Christian life (cf. Acts 1:8).  Do you need power?

David had a cup that was spilling over with provision from God (v. 5c)!

David was sure that God would take of him throughout his life (v. 6).  We can look back and see that He did.

God will not only take care of us down here, but He is preparing a place for us to live forever (John 14:2-3).  I had a boss in radio a long time ago who accused me of wanting cradle to grave provision.  Actually, I only wanted him to pay me a fair wage, but, hey, it was radio.

God promises us cradle to grace coverage.  How can you beat that?

Proverbs 5:22-23   Folly World

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Do you ever envy people who get away with stuff?  It seems everyone has a scam.  But they will be caught eventually though they think they can always get away with their sin (v. 22).

Do you ever watch that TV show about the dumb crooks that do dumb stuff?    I usually don’t because it’s too dumb.  Even if it looks like someone gets away with something, they will eventually have to appear before the Great White Throne for judgment (see The GWT).  Evil people will get tangled up in their own sin (v. 22b).

People don’t believe the Bible.  We all reap what we sow (cf. Gal. 6:7-8).  We have an epidemic of ignorance at this point in time.  A friend of mine teaches at a major university.  He was told not to teach the students so much, he should listen to what the students have to say.  Those kids are going to “die for a lack of instruction” (v. 23a).

Do you wonder why there is so much “folly” in the world now (v. 23b).  Now you know.

Choose Life: Scripture:  Exodus 5:22-23   NASB    “God Is A Refuge”

“Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me?  Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all.”   Exodus 5:22-23

Have you ever felt really let down by God and wanted to really “lay into” Him for it?  Then you feel guilty afterwards?

Well, I have formulated a maxim called “The Idiot Rule.”  You can click the link and check it out on my blog.  Here, Moses is really giving God a hard time.  He feels a bit betrayed.  He has represented God to Pharaoh and to the Israelites and seems to be left holding the bag.  He is embarrassed since the Jews were supposed to be let free and Pharaoh humiliated.  Instead, Moses is humiliated and the Jews’ plight has actually worsened (cf. Exod. 5:7-18).  All of this would probably be enough to cause someone to be a little miffed with God.

As we’ll see, Moses comes out looking alright and, of course, God looks like a  . . .  a genius.  And all powerful, too.

In the meantime, Moses just has to trust God.

Do you know what is the most underlined passage in the Bible?  It’s Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV*):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Next time you want to whine to God, realize it’s OK.  You don’t have to feel guilty.  Moses didn’t.

Ps. 62:8 says that we should “pour out [our] heart[s] before Him.  God is a refuge for us.”

And if you can, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:

Are you upset with God today?  Well, you can talk to Him about anything.  I try not to get too nasty because of the Idiot Rule (see above).  But sometimes it can be really discouraging trying to do the right thing.  But don’t forget that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  So if you could see or be assured of something, you wouldn’t be able to have faith regarding it.

What are you hoping for today?  What are you trusting God for?

Can you continue to have faith for whatever it is (Rom. 12:12; 1Tim. 4:16; James 1:12)?

If you can, you will be blessed!

The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:  Gentlemen, Start Your Ophidians

*see article by Dan Balow, Don’t Look Now But You’re Being Followed

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