Bible Studies from the Original Context
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The Journey Home

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When God Leads Along a Desert Way
This is Passover week and so we are considering the original Exodus from Egypt as recorded in Exodus chapter 13. The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt and their life there was bitter. They cried to the Lord (see Exodus 2:23-24) and God raised up Moses to deliver them. God sent nine plagues upon the land of Egypt and still Pharaoh would not let Israel go. God promised Moses that after the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, then Pharaoh would let them go.

However, when God did lead Israel out of Egypt, He did not lead them via a direct route to Canaan. “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.” Exodus 13:17-18 

This Hebrew phrase simply means, “And God circled the people along a desert path.” After all this time of waiting, God did not lead them in a direct route out of Egypt, but rather, He seemingly led them “in circles” into the desert area surrounding the Red Sea. The Hebrew word מִּדְבָּ֖ר (mid-bar), which means ‘desert’, is often translated as ‘wilderness’ in the Authorized Version of the Bible. 

Why did God lead the children of Israel to the desert? Scripture indicates that the desert is God’s top school of learning to trust Him. Remember that God had also sent Moses to the same desert 40 years prior to learn of His ways. When the time was right, God appeared to Moses in the burning bush in this same desert and told him that he would lead the children of Israel out of Egypt and would return and worship God “upon this mountain” (Ex. 3:12). Just as it took Moses 40 years to learn to trust God in the desert, it also took the children of Israel 40 years to learn the same lesson.
Since the desert is a place of limited physical resources, it is God’s choice place to put His children in order to develop a dependence upon Himself and hence to develop their faith in Him as their all sufficient provider. The Bible is full of examples of how God patiently time and again met the needs of the children of Israel in the desert. Due to the limited resources of the desert, it is also a place of great miracles! The parting of the Red Sea is the greatest miracle in the entire T’nakh! If God had lead Israel directly into Canaan, there would be no Red Sea miracle! This great miracle occurred in response to the children of Israel’s inability to fight the Egyptians. They had no weapons. God Himself fought for them! Think of the other miracles that Israel experienced – The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The manna. God provided miracle after miracle for the children of Israel in the desert. Note also that the desert, the place of limited resources, was also the place of God’s greatest victories! The same Red Sea that became a miraculous path of escape for Israel became a tomb for Egypt! God used a seemingly circuitous delay at the Red Sea to win the greatest victory for Israel!
Today God can (and does!) put His servants into ‘desert situations’ to teach them the same principles of faith that He taught Moses, and the children of Israel. So if we find ourselves in a desert of God’s making, (like maybe a worldwide corona virus pandemic), let us not fret, but rather rejoice that God is wanting to increase our faith and lead us to victory. And watch out for the miracles! They will appear!

Nugget 217: Peace on Earth

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The night of Jesus birth, a host of angels appeared to the shepherds watching the flocks just outside of Bethlehem and sang their heavenly chorus, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14) Peace! The Hebrew word is shalom (שָׁלוֹם). The world at the time of Jesus’ birth was anything but peaceful, so I am sure the shepherds were pleasantly surprised to hear the angels announcement.

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Nugget 212: Happy Thanksgiving

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The Hebrew root (shoresh) – ידה means ‘thank’. From this root comes הודָה (hodah) – ‘thanked’; תודָה – (todah) – ‘thanks’; מודִים (modim) – ‘we thank you’; להודות (l’hodot) – to thank (the infinitive); and we can’t leave out – חַג הַהודָיָה (chag hah-ho-dah-yah) – ‘Happy Thanksgiving’! Most Americans don’t realize that a Hebrew lesson is as much a part of Thanksgiving as turkey, yams and pumpkin pie!  Why?  Well, the story goes something like this … (more…)

Nugget 209: Completing the Circle

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The year was 73 AD and the Roman general Titus was determined to stamp out all efforts by the Jews of reclaiming their land and sovereignty.  He had marched the infamous Tenth legion from Rome to Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the Temple in 70 AD.  Determined to eradicate the last vestige of Jewish resistance he was now marching the Tenth Legion towards Masada to destroy the Jewish zealots there. As Titus marched down from Jerusalem towards the Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea (Hebrew: יָם־הַמֶּ֖לַח – yam HaMelach), he discovered a small enclave of Essenes (Hebrew: אִסִּיִים – Eisi-im), living in a compound in the old City of Salt (Hebrew: עִיר־הַמֶּ֖לַח – Ere HaMelach) [ref. Joshua 15:62 – the Arabic name is Qumran] The Essenes were scribes (Hebrew: sofer – סופר from the root meaning ‘to count’) and lived a monastic life at Qumran. They had a very large Scriptorium of scrolls (Hebrew – מגיללות – megillot) that they had copied of the T’nakh. Knowing the Romans were approaching and would destroy anything in their path, the Essenes hid the precious scrolls inside of clay jars and placed them into the caves of the marl hills along the shore of the Dead Sea. Most of the Essenes of Qumran were no doubt killed by the Romans, but they ensured the precious scrolls were safely hidden in secret until the time when the prophecies they contained would be fulfilled.
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