Bible reading for Feb 19: Exodus 2; Luke 5.
When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, "Because," she said, "I drew him out of the water." (Ex 2:10)
Through the water. In fulfillment of the covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the seed of Israel multiplies greatly, but in time is brought into slavery. But, like God created the world out of water, and saved Noah through the water, so also Moses was set in an ark and saved through the water. At the appointed time he will then lead the nation through the waters of the Red Sea. These images, along with baptism, typify God's salvation of his people, including you and me (1 Cor 10:1-2; 1 Peter 3:20-21).
Not by human might. The deliverance of God's people will not come about by Moses' physical, violent intervention, as demonstrated in 2:11-15. He flees to Midian and settles there (2:16-22). Someone once said that Moses' life can be outlined in three forty-year segments: forty years thinking he was somebody; forty years being a nobody; and forty years learning what God can do with a nobody. Though salvation seems delayed, and time passes slowly, still, God sees and knows the suffering of his people (2:23-25). He will deliver them, and in a miraculous, supernatural way in his time.
Deliverance and design. The graphic below gives a brief outline of the book of Exodus. The first part of the book is the story of how God redeems Israel from bondage to Egypt (and her gods), and the second half, how he brings them to Sinai and gives them his law, in order that they might live in covenant relationship with him.
My take-aways: even today, God's kingdom does not advance through our own efforts. We should be good citizens. We should protect our country with a strong military. We should vote. We should speak out. We should raise our children in the faith. We should have vibrant and faithful churches. We should evangelize. But in all of these we must remember that God's kingdom grows by supernatural means: "I will build my church," said the Lord Jesus (Matt 16:18). We too must remember these words: "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts" (Zech 4:6). Even when God's work appears to delay, or to be at a loss, we must remember that God knows and lovingly cares for his suffering children. His plan will prevail.
"But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray." (Luke 5:16)
Jesus' example in prayer. Luke in his gospel makes note of the vital role of prayer, both in the life of our Savior and in the lives of believers. The congregation was praying as Zechariah goes in to offer incense (1:10). The angel says to Zechariah, "your prayer has been heard" (1:13). Mary praises God in the Magnificat (1:46ff), and Zechariah blesses the Lord at the birth of his son, John (1:64ff). The shepherds were "glorifying and praising God" (2:20) The prophetess Anna "...did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day" (2:37). At his baptism, and just before the Holy Spirit descends upon him, Jesus was praying (3:21; cf. Acts 1:14). And though it is not stated specifically, it is certain that Jesus' time in the wilderness, included prayer with fasting (4:1-2). This is just in the first four chapters!
Desolate places. The present participle in Luke 5:16 indicates that this was a habitual practice of our Lord. This is reflected in the NET translation: "Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed." Or, "He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed" (CSB). This reminds us of Exodus 33:7-11, where Moses pitched a tent outside the camp where he alone would meet with God "face to face." This seems to be a foreshadowing of the practice of our Lord Jesus, who often withdrew to a remote place to pray and commune with his Father.
A chiasm. This statement about his prayer comes at the center of four events: the calling of Simon (5:1-11), the cleansing of the leper (5:12-15), the healing of the paralytic (5:17-26), and the calling of Levi (5:27-32). Structurally, it looks like this:
A -- calling of Simon
B -- healing of leper
C -- Jesus alone in prayer
B' -- healing of paralytic
A' -- calling of Levi
The lesson here is that the power to bring healing and to give new identity comes from Jesus in his relationship with the Father. Though Jesus is the Son of God he does not act autonomously, but in union with his Father in heaven and in the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Lu 3:22; 4:18). "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise" (John 5:19).
How much should we value time alone with God in prayer! Here's how God views the prayers of his people: "And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel." (Rev 8:3-4) If our Lord values such prayer, and our Father in heaven delights in such prayer, and the angels value the ministry of our prayer (like holy incense), how great should be our love of prayer! Martyn Lloyd-Jones once said, "Of all the blessings of Christian salvation none is greater than this, that we have access to God in prayer."
Image at top: a painting from the tomb of 12th-dynasty Egyptian official Khnumhotep II, at Beni Hasan. These are likely images of a Semitic tribe (labeled by glyph as "Asiatics") arriving in Egypt, c. 1900 BC. From the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR).
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.