01/22

January 22

Matthew 14:22-36

 

After feeding the multitude, Jesus immediately gets the disciples in a boat and out to sea while He sends the crowds home. After the people disperse, Jesus desired to get alone to pray. We all need those times of isolation and intimacy with God, don’t we? While Jesus is on the mountain, the disciples are in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The winds were picking up, and the water was choppy. Jesus goes out to meet the disciples at night, sometime between 3:00 and 6:00 am. The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost. It’s understandable that they would think it was a supernatural being, because a human being would not be able to walk on water. 

 

GHOSTS

The Bible is clear that before Christ’s resurrection, when a person died, he or she went to Hades, a holding place. In Hades there was a divide. Those who knew the Lord were on the side known as “Abraham’s bosom.” Those who rejected the Lord were on the other side, where there was torment. God gave the Israelites very clear instruction that the living were not to speak to the dead. We know that Saul disobeyed the Lord when he went to a medium to speak with Samuel, who was deceased (1 Samuel 28). Do not talk to the dead! It is a very evil thing to do. It also opens a person up to the supernatural realm, inviting in demonic spirits. 

 

IF JESUS DID IT THEN I CAN DO IT

Immediately Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid, identifying Himself. Let’s take a look at Peter’s faith. The disciples were in training under Jesus’ ministry. Anything that Jesus did, they knew they could do. We also, as Christians on the earth today, can expect the same, and greater! So when Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he got the idea He could walk on the water, too. 

 

GET THE WILL OF GOD FIRST

We learn something very important in verse 28. We know that faith is dependency on God. Faith is not magic, and power is not at our discretion to do whatever we want to do. The FRIST THING Peter does is ask Jesus to command him to walk on the water. Peter didn’t try to step out on water ON HIS OWN. Peter knew that performing the supernatural meant a dependency on God. He needed to know God’s will. Jesus said, “Come,” and that’s all Peter needed, and he stepped out. 

 

GOD’S WILL FOR HEALING & PROVISION

Since healing and provision are part of the atoning work on the cross, we can be confident that healing and provision are always God’s will. Walking on water is not under the atonement, so we need to be led by the Holy Spirit as we perform these unusual acts. 

 

FEAR OR LITTLE FAITH

Peter walked on water, in the dark at night, with winds and choppy waves. I’m not sure how far out he walked, but the wind was boisterous. When Jesus and Peter got back in the boat, the wind ceased, immediately. Why did the wind stop? Was Peter’s faith being tested? 

 

Faith is a reliance on God to the point of obedience. Peter was doing it. The wind got to him, causing him to focus on the impossibility in his self-sufficiency instead leaning on God’s sufficiency. The result was fear and failure. He cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!” Jesus took Him by the arm and caught him. Together they walked back to the boat. 

 

Jesus said to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” “Why did you stop relying on God and consider your limitations?” I think we’re all guilty of that. To grow in faith, we must stay in a complete surrender, a powerless control, allowing ourselves to be held up by God as we do what He calls us to do. 

 

The disciples were amazed, worshipping Him as the Son of God. Judas was there, too. He saw it. He knew it. 

 

THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT

After crossing over the sea, the people recognized Jesus and brought all that were sick, begging Him that they could only touch the hem of his garment. As many as touched the hem were made perfectly well, or whole. 

 

The hem of a Jewish man’s garment was not an ordinary hem. The hem described the fringes of the garment. The Jews wore tassels were made with 613 strings and knots as a representation of the 613 admonitions of Moses. They represented more that rules; they represented covenant. When the men would walk, the tassels would swing against their body, a continual reminder of the covenant. There was also blue thread in the tassel, a symbol of the Holy Spirit seen in creation, both in the sky and in the sea. 

 

When the people went to touch the tassel, they were healed. For more information on the hem of the garment, visit Faith Resources on growchurches.com.

 

Exodus 4-6

 

God gives signs to Moses to perform for Pharaoh. He performed these signs in the desert before he did in the palace. Our spiritual training often starts out small, too. There was a time I was praying for a boy before I went to visit him in the hospital. When I prayed, I saw a vision of a red wagon. I thought it was interesting, but it didn’t mean anything to me. When I went into the children’s ward of the hospital, I saw a red wagon sitting outside of the boy’s room. I asked God what the meaning was. He said, “I’m just showing you that you are seeing things from Me.” It was a training exercise!

 

Moses felt unqualified to speak for God. There were most likely some very charismatic, bold, well-spoken leaders in Israel. Why wouldn’t God choose one the elders already in Egypt? Why would God go to the backside of a desert to choose Moses? I feel the same way about myself. God reveals things to me, and I feel unqualified, too. There is a phrase, “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called.” Here’s a spiritual truth: God chooses humble people that will allow Him to be glorified through their weakness (1 Corinthians 1:26-31). I’ve learned the most important thing in ministry is to continually lean on God’s strength. I’ve had people challenge my position more than once – good people that love God, but full of pride. I just turn to my Father, and He does for me what He did for Moses, reminding me that He created me, He called me, and He will be the One to back me up. He’ll do the same for you, too. Stay humble, yielded, and pray often. Lean into God, and watch God do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all you could ask, think, or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). To God be ALL the glory, honor, and praise!

 

Moses goes to his father-in-law, Jethro. I don’t know about you, but I look forward to meeting this man one day. He is a good man with some good advice. Moses honors Jethro by asking for his blessing to return to his people in Egypt. His leaving also meant the departure of Jethro’s daughter and grandchildren. Jethro says, “Go in peace.” 

 

SHALOM

In Hebrew, the word written is shalom. Shalom comes from a root word, “shalam,” meaning complete, perfect, and full. Therefore, shalom is more than a peace that is free of conflict, but a wholeness, a peace or soundness for the whole person. Therefore, shalom involves the absence of agitation or discord, harmony, tranquility. It also describes a soundness or a solid, complete state of being in the soul, including our mind and emotions. Shalom also involves a wholeness in our physical body, health. Shalom also includes a peace of fullness for our households, our finances, and our future. It was common for Hebrews to say a shalom blessing to one another, wishing them this wholeness that only God can complete or provide. 

 

God supernaturally assures Moses that the men who sought to kill him have now died. It has been forty years. God wanted to alleviate those concerns for Moses. Moses takes the rod God gave him in the desert, the tool God would use to perform miracles. The rod also was a symbol of authority, a spiritual authority, as well as a civil authority. True leadership comes from God. Some desire authority but don’t understand the responsibility behind the authority. Moses’ call was not an easy or pleasant one. His leadership role came with a price. Some want the perks of leadership without paying the price or carrying the responsibility. They despise what leaders go through, trivializing the price they pay. There is a quote, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” It’s a different perspective to watch and observe someone’s calling than the perspective of being the person walking out the calling. Because people outside of leadership don’t experientially have insight or know the weight of carrying a group of people, leadership can be a lonely place. I love that God would meet with Moses, showing His leader His ways, allowing His leader to see His glory, calling His leader on a mountain to speak with Him face to face. Believe me – there is a price for that kind of relationship, authority, and responsibility. 

 

On his journey home, Moses’ disobedience opens him up to consequence. God is holy. Because of Moses’ unholy decision not to circumcise his son, he finds himself in opposition to God. Moses, even though raised as an Egyptian, understands the blood covenant of Abraham. He tells his foreign wife that his son needs to be circumcised as a sign of covenant. Blood was shed, a scar was made. 

 

God tells Moses, to tell Pharaoh up front, that if he doesn’t release Israel, considered God’s firstborn son, that God would kill Pharaoh’s firstborn son. God knows the end from the beginning, and God knows that Pharaoh’s firstborn will die. The Passover and the death angel are all God’s doing, foretelling the death of the coming Redeemer. It is a sad story what happens in Egypt, but God has a greater purpose in revealing His salvation. 

 

In Exodus 4:21, God tells Moses that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. For those who get concerned about ungodly politics and civil authority, know that the Lord is able to change the heart of a leader. 

 

God also supernaturally appeared to Aaron, Moses’ brother, telling him to go into the wilderness to meet Moses. Aaron knew about his brother, and perhaps was able to meet him or know him before Moses fled Egypt. Aaron went searching for Moses, found him, and they had an emotional reunion. Imagine their conversation, Moses sharing this vision of freedom from slavery, and using the two brothers to lead the way! Aaron is obviously on board, and together, the two men approach the elders of Israel. Then Moses and the elders speak to the people of a message of freedom from slavery, showing them the signs, and they believe. Not only did they believe God’s plan, but they responded with worship. 

 

In chapter five, Moses and Aaron go before Pharaoh, telling him that God has spoken to them. God has said the people are to go into the wilderness for a feast. The Hebrews were a huge work force for Pharaoh. To ask Pharaoh to give the Hebrews time off was not a small request. Pharaoh also did not regard the Lord or take God’s promise to kill His firstborn seriously. Instead, Pharaoh worked the Hebrews harder in order to dominate them. The officers of Israel asked Pharaoh why he was adding to their labor, and he said it was because Moses asked for days off. The officers then turned on Moses and Aaron, which was just what Pharaoh wanted. He’s a manipulator. Control, control, control! 

 

Even though the Lord had told Moses that he was going to harden Pharaoh’s heart, Moses still questioned why the Israelites had not been delivered right away. God answers Moses. He tells Moses that the children of Israel need to know that He is the Lord (Exodus 6:7). Right now, the Hebrews have a slave mentality. They belong to Egypt. They are not their own. They do not have their own land, which means they are in debt to Egypt. To have their own land would mean their own identity, their own purpose, and their own freedom. Instead, they are bound to work for Egypt. 

 

God is trying to replace the slave mentality with a son mentality. Remember, He called Israel His firstborn son. To Moses, God speaks of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but not has Yahweh, or Jehovah. God was taking time to show Himself to Israel, working out their old programming, and putting in a new programming. Part of this new programming was preparing them for their own land. In Exodus 6:4, God said He was establishing His covenant with them as well as their forefathers, promising Canaan to them as their possession. This meant freedom. 

 

This freedom belonged to their forefathers, who were in the land before the children of Abraham were in Egypt. Abraham already had walked the land and claimed it as a possession for his descendants. Then in verses 5-8, we find God saying “I WILL” six different times. 

 

Jehovah was beginning this conversation with Abraham’s descendants after 400 years in Egypt. Can you think of another time God was silent for 400 years before another prophet was born? Consider John the Baptist. In addition, our last recorded prophecy through Malachi was about John, was said to be the Elijah that was to come, turning the hears of the children to the fathers and the fathers to the children. This is also what God is doing in Exodus 6, turning the hearts of these descendants back to the promise given to their father Abraham, tying them together. 

 

Why were they strangers and slaves for so long? Through the Israelite people, God is giving all of us a message of freedom, a freedom from slavery to sin. Through the Hebrews, God is showing us our need for redemption. God says, “I WILL DO IT.” The miracles that would take place were supernatural events that would show both the Egyptians and the Hebrews who God was. The final plague, when God spares Israel’s firstborn children, is a sign of Jesus Christ, God’s unique firstborn Son. 

 

Moses communicates to the children of Israel God’s promised land, a place of freedom, and reminds the Hebrews of their forefathers; but the people still have the slave mentality. They don’t believe it. They don’t embrace it. They don’t act on it. God is not done yet! He knows transformation takes a process, and God is committed to the process. God is the same with us – patient and committed to the process. The same is true for you and I today. God didn’t send Jesus to die to give up on us in the middle of our transformation. God is committed to see us through to the end. I’m so glad He hasn’t given up on me. I’m so glad He isn’t giving up on the people from whom I intercede. We all can be grateful for His enduring mercy that is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!

 

#covertocoverwithmelanie #covertocover #growchurches #bible #biblecommentary #melaniestone #readthebible #readingthroughthebible #biblereadingplan

 

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