The Discipline Problem
8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
Before your father spanked you
when you were a child, did he ever say, "Believe me, this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you!" That is probably not the best thing to say before the discipline, but it reflects what Paul was trying to say after he had written the first letter reprimanding the Corinthian church for the disorder within their congregation.
"For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent,.." He knew when he wrote the letter that it was bound to cause them some grief, as any type of reprimand is bound to do. At the writing of this second letter, however, he had no remorse, because the results that his words produced were exactly what he had hoped for. Sometimes a good spanking is necessary to emphasize the seriousness of the offense. The benefits are not immediately seen, because they are intended to change future behavior.
"... though I did repent:.." The Greek word μεταμέλλομαι, metamellomai
(met-am-el'-lom-ai), means, "to care afterwards, i.e. regret." The sense is not that Paul changed his mind after he had sent the letter, but that he was concerned about the results it would produce. He knew that it would cause some grief, but would they respond to it in a positive manner?
"...for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season." This is the reason that he did not feel any remorse for having sent it. Their grief was only for a short time. The word ὥρα, hora
(ho'-rah), literally means, "an hour," but was often used to indicate a short period of time, "a season."
"Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance:.." Their response to his reproofs were the reason for his rejoicing. He derived no pleasure from causing them grief. We should not even attempt to reprove someone, if we would feel even the slightest bit of pleasure in it. Paul was first apprehensive about the results his letter might have produced, but now he could rejoice. They had received his criticism, had felt a little grief and then had repented of their sins and made the necessary changes.
"... for ye were made sorry after a godly manner,.." or, "according to God." They were made sorry and responded, or repented, according to the will of God and not according to their own emotions or human instincts. They corrected the things that were pointed out to them and they did it in a godly manner. The church certainly did not have any hostile feelings toward Paul or toward any of their members who had been the culprits, but acted with a godly, repentant and loving attitude.
"...that ye might receive damage by us in nothing." There was no loss suffered by the church from the sorrow that Paul had caused. The exact opposite had happened. They had gained a stronger fellowship, a closer communion with God, a new knowledge of how to deal with sin within the congregation and an increased respect for Paul as their minister. All these things worked together to bring joy to the heart of the apostle who had loved them so dearly.
It is perhaps the most difficult thing that any Christian will face when he sees his brothers and sisters in Christ falling into the trap of temptation and sin. The question that will always burden him is, "How shall I confront them with their sins?" We can be certain that Paul spent many hours in prayer before writing that first letter, so we should always begin with that. God will provide us the words.
Before The Throne:
If you are facing a similar problem in your church or with one of your friends, begin praying about it now. Do not act on the problem without much spending time in prayer or before God gives you a clear answer. Not everyone will respond positively no matter how careful you are, so you should also pray for the ability to control your own response, especially if the party's heart is hardened and they become angry with you. Ask God to prepare their hearts to receive your words in a godly manner. Thank God for giving you the opportunity to serve Him in that particular situation.
For Further Study:
** though I made. 2Cor 7:6, 11; 2Cor 2:2-11; Lam 3:32; Matt 26:21-22; Luke 22:61-62; John 16:6; John 21:17; Heb 12:9-11; Rev 3:19; ** though I did. Exod 5:22-23; Jer 20:7-9;
** I rejoice. 2Cor 7:6-7, 10; Eccl 7:3; Jer 31:18-20; Zech 12:10; Luke 15:7, 10, 17-24, 32; Ac 20:21; ** after a godly manner. 2Cor 7:10-11; 2Cor 1:12; ** that ye. 2Cor 2:16; 2Cor 10:8-10; 2Cor 13:8-10; Isa 6:9-11;
God Comforts Us
5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.
This follows the end of 4,
"I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation, For when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest,.." He had gone to Macedonian to find Titus who joined him there from Corinth.
"...but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings,..." Everywhere that Paul preached he was met with opposition, which frequently turned violent. Jews, pagans and even false teachers among the Christian community protested his doctrine, but he never quit. The ministry in those days was physically draining even without the troubles that met them on a daily basis. Traveling from city to city was done on foot or on the back of a donkey. Add to that the emotional drain of preaching to a hostile audience and the strength and courage required to face the violence, and we can only imagine how difficult life was for him.
"...within were fears." The apostle's courage was a product of his fears, from which he had no relief. No act is courageous when there is nothing to fear. True godly courage overcomes fear and proceeds in spite of fear.
"...Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down,.." The God that we all serve is the One who comforts or encourages those that are cast down. When we are humbled by the apparent helplessness of our situation, when we are depressed by our failures, and when we are facing overwhelming opposition to our ministry, God is there to comfort and to encourage us.
"... comforted us by the coming of Titus;" His very presence would cheer Paul up, because he was like a son to Paul. Titus met them in Macedonia with good news from the Corinthian church. Paul accepted this as a blessing from God. It might seem like a small thing in the midst of all that Paul had gone through, nevertheless sometimes it is the small blessings that God sends tat can be the most meaningful.
"...And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you,.." Titus was encouraged and delivered some very comforting news to Paul and the others. He had been well received by the church at Corinth, they had dealt wisely with the incestuous relationship that Paul had written about in his first letter to them, and they had shown a real zeal for the gospel when Titus had preached to them.
"...when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more." Titus was able to tell Paul that the church earnestly desired to see Paul and to follow his word and example. He had told of their mourning and grief caused by the evil that had been found in them. They understood the gravity of the matter and were willing to do whatever was necessary to correct the situation.
The news that the Corinthians had a fervent mind, or a certain zeal, for Paul gave him cause to rejoice even in his tribulation. They had accepted him and ignored the false teaching of the opposition and they were anxious to see him again.
God continually sends people, circumstances or other signs that are meant to comfort and to encourage us. We must look for them and recognize them as a gift from Him. It could be something as simple as the rainbow after a storm or a friend who comes to visit when we are feeling low. It is up to us to see them for what they are. God's hand is in everything. Do not miss your blessings.
Before The Throne:
Are you feeling low, depressed, helpless, or sad? Look around and see what comforting things God has given you, or has said or done to encourage you. If you do not see them, pray that God would open your eyes. In your lowest moments, you will rejoice when you look for His comforting work.
For Further Study:
** when. 2Cor 1:16-17; 2Cor 2:13; Acts 20:1; 1Cor 16:5; ** our. 2Cor 4:8-12; 2Cor 11:23-30; Gen 8:9; Isa 33:12; Jer 8:18; Jer 45:3; Matt 11:28-30; ** troubled. 2Cor 4:8; Job 18:11; Jer 6:25; Jer 20:10; ** without. Deut 32:25; 1Cor 15:31; ** fears. 2Cor 2:3, 9; 2Cor 11:29; 2Cor 12:20-21; Gal 4:11, 19-20; 1Thess 3:5;
** that comforteth. 2Cor 1:3-4; 2Cor 2:14; Isa 12:1; Isa 51:12; Isa 57:15, 18; Isa 61:1-2; Jer 31:13; Matt 5:4; John 14:16; Rom 15:5; Phil 2:1; 2Thess 2:16-17; ** comforted. 2Cor 2:13; 1Cor 16:17-18; 1Thess 3:2, 6; 1Thess 3:7; 3John 1:2-4;
** but. Acts 11:23; Rom 1:12; Col 2:5; 1Thess 3:8; 2John 1:4; ** when. 2Cor 7:11; 2Cor 2:9; Ps 141:5; Prov 9:8; Prov 9:9; ** earnest. 2Cor 5:2; 2Cor 8:16; Luke 22:44; Phil 1:20; Heb 2:1; Jas 5:17; Jude 1:3; ** mourning. 2Cor 7:10; Judg 2:4-5; Ps 6:1-6; Ps 30:5; Ps 31:9-11; Ps 38:18; Ps 51:1; Ps 126:5-6; Jer 31:18-20; Matt 5:4; Matt 26:75; Jas 4:9-10; ** fervent. 2Cor 1:14; 2Cor 2:3-4; 1Thess 3:6;
4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to know
that he felt comfortable with them and free to speak in his own defense. H. Meyer said that this verse is, "A further, and that a psychological, proof..." of his love for them, and of the fact that he was not saying the things in verses 2-3 in order to condemn them.
Meyer further said, "παῤῥησία (boldness) is the internal frame of mind, the good joyous confidence, without which no καύχησις, no self-boasting for the sake of the readers, would outwardly take place." (Meyer, Heinrich; Critical and Exegetical NT; theWord Bible Study Software.) It represents Paul's great confidence that his relationship with the church was strong enough for him to speak freely without any fear of damaging it. Albert Barnes wrote, "It is the open, undisguised language of a friend, when he throws open his whole soul and conceals nothing."
"...great is my glorying of you:.." So confident was he in their relationship and of their faithfulness that he often felt free to boast about them. I hear pastors too often complaining, not boasting, about their congregations, afraid to speak too frankly to them about their sins and not having the feeling of confidence that is evident in Paul's language here. It is not easy to build such a relationship. It takes a great effort from both parties. However, pastors should find the good qualities of their flocks and be able to boast about them.
"I am filled with comfort,.." Or, "I am filled with encouragement," by the manner in which they had received him and at the way they had responded to his word.
"I am exceeding joyful..." The Greek word, ὑπερπερισσεύω huperperisseuo
(hoop-er-per-is-syoo'-o), "to super-abound," is unusual. "It is not found in the classic writers; and is a word which Paul evidently compounded (from ὑπὲρ huper
and περισσεύω perisseuō
), and means to super-abound over, to super-abound greatly, or exceedingly. It is a word which would be used only when the heart was full, and when it would be difficult to find words to express its conceptions." (Albert Barnes)
"...in all our tribulation." This phrase goes with both being filled with comfort or encouragement and with being joyful. The effects of these are present and continuing gifts resulting from his relationship with them. They help to carry him through whatever tribulation he might suffer for their sakes. However, Paul would give the ultimate credit for that to God (2 Corinthians 1:4).
A congregation's support for their pastor can make his ministry much easier, much more effective and much more pleasant. His love for them, returned by their acceptance and obedience, will give him the ability to boast about them, to speak boldly and to be encouraged and filled with joy through every trial and tribulation.
Before The Throne:
Pray about your congregation's relationship with your pastor. How would God have you work to improve it? How can you be the encourager for both sides? Ask God to form your flock into a loving and supportive one, a body that truly represents Christ.
For Further Study:
** my boldness. 2Cor 3:12; 2Cor 6:11; 2Cor 10:1-2; 2Cor 11:21; Eph 6:19-20; Phil 1:20; 1Thess 2:2; ** great. 2Cor 1:14; 2Cor 9:2-4; 1Cor 1:4; 1Thess 2:19; ** I am filled. 2Cor 7:6-7; 2Cor 1:4; 2Cor 2:14; 2Cor 6:10; Acts 5:41; Rom 5:3; Phil 2:17; Col 1:24; 1Thess 3:7-9; Jas 1:2;
A Holy Life Exemplified
2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. 3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.
In this passage, Paul returns to the subject
of 6:13 in which he had asked the Corinthians for nothing but to love him as he had loved them. The Greek word rendered as "receive" in the KJV is χωρέω, choreo
(kho-reh'-o), means "to be in a space (give space); (intransitively) to pass, enter; (transitively) to hold, admit." The RSV has, "Open your hearts to us;" which is a paraphrase, but it accurately expresses what Paul was trying to say.
"...we have wronged no man,.." This was a fact that he should not have had to state, except that the false teachers might have made some unfounded charges against him. However, the people had seen his heart and knew the truth about how he had treated all of them.
"...we have corrupted no man,.." No one's morals were corrupted by anything that Paul had ever said or done. He lived his life so as to set an example for others to follow. His life was one dedicated to purity and holiness.
"...we have defrauded no man." The Greek word, πλεονεκτέω, pleonekteo
(pleh-on-ek-teh'-o), means, "to be covetous; (by implication) to over-reach." It could be translated, "We have taken advantage of no man." Speaking to the elders from the church in Ephesus, Paul said, "I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel." (Acts 20:33) In fact, he worked as a tentmaker and/or depended on support from the saints in Macedonia, never asking the Corinthians for anything.
When he was tried before Felix, Paul asserted, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." This is a character trait that every Christian must have in order to effectively minister the gospel to others. Without a clear conscience, without an honorable track record, one's word will always be surrounded with suspicion and doubt.
"I speak not this to condemn you:.." Paul was not accusing them of any wrong or of doubting him. He knew that they loved and trusted him, but he wanted to clear up anything that others had said about him.
"...for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you." He had written in 3:2 "Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:" and in 6:11, "O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged." If Paul had his way, he would live among them until his death, but God's will for his life had to be obeyed.
Paul's record is one that we should all aspire to have. Our conscience should be clear before men and before God. He sees and knows everything. So, while we might be able to convince men, we will never convince God of anything but the truth. Paul was human and had his faults but, next to Christ, he was the best example of how to live a holy life that we have.
Before The Throne:
Pray about your own life. Even though you have made mistakes, you can still have a clear conscience by asking God's forgiveness and repenting. Pray for the ability to live in holiness for the rest of your life.
For Further Study:
** Receive. 2Cor 11:16; Matt 10:14, 40; Luke 10:8; Phil 2:29; Col 4:10; Phlm 1:12, 17; 2John 1:10; 3Jo 1:8-10; ** we have wronged. 2Cor 1:12; 2Cor 4:2; 2Cor 6:3-7; 2Cor 11:9; 2Cor 12:14-18; Num 16:15; 1Sam 12:3-4; Acts 20:33; Rom 16:18; 1Thess 2:3-6, 10; 2Thess 3:7-9;
** to condemn. 2Cor 7:12; 2Cor 2:4-5; 2Cor 13:10; 1Cor 4:14-15; ** for. 2Cor 6:11-12; ** ye. 2Cor 3:2; 2Cor 11:11; 2Cor 12:15; Phil 1:8-9; * to die. Ruth 1:16-17; 1Thess 2:8;
40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, [was] four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It [is] a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this [is] that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. 43 And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This [is] the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44 But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45 A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. 50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51 And it came to pass the selfsame day, [that] the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.
Our passage begins with a controversy. The four hundred and thirty years that Israel spent in Egypt seems to disagree with the prophesy in Genesis 15:13 in which God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a land for four hundred years. Some scholars have relied on the Alexandrian Septuagint (Greek OT) and the Samaritan Pentateuch, which seem to imply that this was figured from the time that the covenant was made with Abraham. That was two hundred and fifteen years before Israel came into Egypt and would make the time actually spent in Egypt to be only two hundred and fifteen years.
The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary seems to have the best answer to this problem. The genealogies of the various families of Israel show that between six and ten generations passed during their time in Egypt, and 1 Chronicles 7:20-27 demonstrates that there were ten generations from Joseph to Joshua. Calculating approximately 40 years per generation will show that Israel was in Egypt for 400 to 430 years. Genesis 15:13, therefore, used a rounded off number, as is often the case in prophecy. God's timing was the perfect fulfillment of His covenant promise to bring the people out of Egypt after 430 years.
The Passover "is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations." There is so much emphasis placed on this day, as belonging to the Lord and as a day that He wants everyone to remember, that it is incredible how little emphasis the modern church places on it. It is a night to "be much observed unto the LORD."
However, the mixed multitude of people who had come out of Egypt with Israel made it necessary for God to give them some extra guidelines for keeping the Passover. The celebration of this day was strictly limited to the people of the Abrahamic covenant. Strangers (Gentiles) could participate in it only after they had been circumcised, i.e. they had become believers and had accepted the covenant. Later the command to keep the feast would be renewed under the Mosaic covenant.
It was forbidden to break any of the bones of the Passover lamb. The apostle John noticed the significance of the command when he observed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. "But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs... For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken." (John 19:33,36)
Jesus gave us a New Covenant by becoming the Passover Lamb for us and instituting the Lord's Supper. Those who are strangers to Him should not eat of the Lord's Supper. "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
The Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, and the New covenant are all related to one another. Each tells us how to have a closer relationship with our God. The Passover is the most significant part of all three. It was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, the establishment of Israel as a free nation under God, and the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sins of the world.
We must each be careful that we do not eat the Passover unworthily. We must examine our relationship with Jesus Christ and be certain that our lives are submitted totally to Him. If we are not under His Lordship, we are like uncircumcised strangers. Yet, He continually invites us to become part of the community of saints. Before we can do that, however, our hearts must be circumcised, stripped of their fleshly lusts by submitting them to His control. The Passover was instituted to bring glory to God, therefore every knee must be willing to bow to Him before the feast can begin.
Before The Throne:
How is your relationship with Jesus? Are you still living like a stranger? Pray that God would help you to become more like Jesus. Ask Him to help you live a life that is holy in His eyes. Jesus did not die so that you would continue to languish in your sins. Commit yourself to Him and receive the cloak of righteousness that belongs to Him. Ask Him, "Where should I start today, so that You will be glorified in my life, Lord?" Then wait patiently for the answer.
For Further Study:
(v.40) ** sojourning. Ac 13:17; Heb 11:9; ** four hundred. Ge 12:1-3; 15:13; Ac 7:6; Ga 3:16,17;
(v.41) ** selfsame. Ps 102:13; Da 9:24; Hab 2:3; Joh 7:8; Ac 1:7; ** hosts. Ex 7:4; Jos 5:14;
(v.42) ** observed. De 16:1-6;
(v.43) ** There shall. Le 22:10; Nu 9:14; Eph 2:12;
(v.44) ** circumcised. Ge 17:12,13,23;
(v.45) Le 22:10; Eph 2:12;
(v.46) ** one house. 1Co 12:12; Eph 2:19-22; ** neither. Nu 9:12; Joh 19:33,36;
(v.47) ** All the. Nu 9:13;
(v.48) ** a stranger. Nu 9:14; 15:15,16; ** let all. Ge 17:12; Eze 44:9; 47:22; ** shall be. Ga 3:28; Col 3:11;
(v.49) Le 24:22; Nu 9:14; 15:15,16,29; Ga 3:28; Col 3:11;
(v.50) ** as the Lord. De 4:1,2; 12:32; Mt 7:24,25; 28:20; Joh 2:5; 13:17; 15:14; Re 22:15; ** by their armies. Ex 6:26; 7:4;
Today Is the Day!
34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
Why are people so hesitant to accept the gift of salvation? God freely offers us His forgiveness through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ, yet people resist it. Some get angry when it is offered, while others put it off as though they had all the time in the world to accept it. The opportunity to be free from our sins will not always be there. Sometimes the window of opportunity to be free can close very quickly and without notice.
The people of Israel had little time to prepare for what was happening. They were awakened at midnight by the frenzy of mourners in the streets of Egypt's cities and they were told to leave immediately. What would have happened if they had waited until morning? We know that the Pharaoh very quickly changed his mind and went after them but, if they had waited, he would not have had to give chase. Israel would have been put back to work in the brickyards and their hopes of escape would have been dashed.
So Israel left as quickly as possible, wrapping up the dough that they had prepared for the journey before it had risen from the leavening and carrying it over their shoulders in a garment or large blanket called a hyke.
Like the Pharaoh, Satan is not going to sit idly by while you decide whether or not to accept God's gift. "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat." (Luke 22:31) Satan wants to keep every man woman and child on this earth in bondage and he will fight to do it. Today, however, is the day of salvation, and we must grab hold of it as quickly as we can.
There are great rewards for obediently answering God's call. "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:12) And again the scripture says, "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works." (Matthew 16:27)
Israel was a type of the church being saved from her sins and she was rewarded for her obedience. The people did as Moses had instructed them to do (Exodus 3:22) and demanded jewelry of gold and silver along with clothing from the Egyptian people. The Egyptians gave them what they asked, and it says, "They spoiled the Egyptians." They did not steal anything nor borrow it without paying it back. The word "borrow" (v.35) should be translated as "asked for" or "demanded". God moved the Egyptian people to give away their wealth as payment for the many years of service, which they had received from Israel. "Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver." (Job 27:16-17)
Israel was joined in their exodus by a mixed multitude of people. Some of these were foreigners, living in Egypt. Others were Egyptians who, having seen the power of God, wanted to be a part of His church. God is no respecter of persons. There is no difference between Jew or Gentile in His kingdom. Everyone is welcome.
Finally, we see that accepting our Lord's offer of salvation has a cost. There will be setbacks, obstacles, and even attacks from the enemy. The unleavened bread, which Israel was forced to eat because of their haste, is called "the bread of affliction" in Deuteronomy 16:3. However, the inconveniences that we suffer, as God's people, are so very minor compared to the great rewards that He has laid up for us. They are rewards so great that we could not earn them, no matter how much we suffered.
Why then do we hesitate? Today is the day of salvation. It is the day, which the Lord has made. Come quickly and rejoice in the freedom of God's grace.
Before The Throne:
What has God called you to do? Perhaps you have not received Christ as Lord and Master or you have resisted participating in the work of His ministry. Pray about it. Will you quickly do what He wants you to do or will you wait for Satan to catch up to you and sift you as wheat? The window of opportunity may not be there much longer. You could die tonight, the Lord could return at any moment, or sin could overtake you. Pray for the courage to do what Jesus would do. Ask God to help you place His will ahead of your own. Surrender completely to Him. It is the only reasonable form of worship in light of what He has done for you.
For Further Study:
(v.34) ** kneading troughs. or, dough. Ex 8:3;
(v.35) Ex 3:21,22; 11:2,3; Ge 15:14; Ps 105:37;
(v.36) ** the Lord. Ex 3:21; 11:3; Ge 39:21; Pr 16:7; Da 1:9; Ac 2:47; 7:10; ** they spoiled. Ex 3:22; Ge 15:14; Ps 105:37;
(v.37) ** the children. Nu 33:3,5; ** Rameses. Ex 1:11; Ge 47:11; ** six hundred. Ex 38:26; Ge 12:2; 15:5; 46:3; Nu 1:46; 11:21;
(v.38) ** And a mixed multitude. Nu 11:4; Zec 8:23;
(v.39) ** thrust. Ex 6:1; 11:1;
Rejoice, Oh Israel, Rejoice!
31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, [and] get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We [be] all dead [men].
God does not compromise with men. He is very patient and forgiving with us, but he does not compromise. Everyone who takes a stand against the Lord God will someday learn that he cannot succeed. At the stroke of midnight on that fifteenth day of Abib, Pharaoh found that God's patience with him had run out. At the stroke of midnight, when his oldest son lay dead in his palace bed, Pharaoh discovered defeat as he had never before experienced it.
He called for Moses and Aaron, although just a few days earlier he had said, "Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in [that] day thou seest my face thou shalt die." (10:28) However, it was the Pharaoh who was now dying from grief, and his enemies were the only ones who could save him.
It is doubtful that Moses and Aaron went to him. Moses had declared that he would not see him again, so Pharaoh's servants probably delivered the message for him. "And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger." (Exodus 11:8)
In fact, Pharaoh was made to eat all of the harsh words that he had spoken to Moses and Aaron. "Rise up, [and] get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said." What's the sudden hurry? Didn't he say, "Not so: go now ye [that are] men, and serve the LORD," when Moses said that the children and the flocks would go with them? Now he says, "Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone."
The situation had become critical. "The Egyptians were urgent upon the people..." God had said to Moses, "And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague [more] upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let [you] go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether." (Exodus 11:1)
Later, as they prepared to enter the land that God had given them, Moses would tell his people that God had said, "To me [belongeth] vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in [due] time: for the day of their calamity [is] at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste... If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me… Rejoice, O ye nations, [with] his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, [and] to his people." (Deuteronomy 32:35,41,43)
Thus, we see the fear in the people of Egypt as God's vengeance is poured out on them. Their firstborn were dead, but they also feared further action from God and were anxious to rid themselves of the people of Israel as quickly as possible. "We [be] all dead [men]," they said.
As God's people we are able to rejoice in the knowledge that He is our protector. He will both avenge us before our enemies and show mercy to us in their presence. Israel seemed to be hopelessly enslaved by this ruthless king just a year earlier. Now they were experiencing both the power and love of their God. It is the same power and love that he offers to us through His Son Jesus Christ. We are His people and can rejoice in our salvation.
Before The Throne:
Whatever our circumstances, God has called upon us to rejoice, because we are His people. Give thanks for who God is. Give thanks for your position in Christ. Give thanks for your eternal security and for Jesus' promise to be with you always. Give thanks that we are more than conquerors. Praise the holy name of Jesus, for there is no other by which you can be saved.
For Further Study:
(v.31) ** called. Ex 10:29; ** Rise up. Ex 3:19,20; 6:1; 11:1,8; Ps 105:38; ** the children. Ex 10:9:
(v.32) ** your flocks. Ex 10:26; ** bless me. Ex 8:28; 9:28; Ge 27:34,38;
(v.33) ** urgent. Ex 11:1; Ps 105:38; ** We be all. Ge 20:3; Nu 17:12,13;
The Midnight Hour
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that [was] in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for [there was] not a house where [there was] not one dead.
The previous plague was a horrible absolute darkness that passed over the nation of Egypt, but this final plague was a horror that took place within the darkness. At midnight, every firstborn child in Egypt, excluding the children of Israel, was stricken dead. Many families lost their only child and there was not one family that was not touched by this plague.
Normally, families could find comfort and help from their neighbors when a death occurred, but on this night there was no one to give comfort... no one to help. All had suffered the same terrible loss. God had visited the iniquity of the parents on their children and on their children's children. He did not discriminate among the classes of people. Pharaoh's firstborn, the firstborn of all of his servants, and even the firstborn of the prisoner's, who were being held in the dungeons, were taken.
Pharaoh and his people had ignored the warnings of Yahweh, they had snubbed their noses at His justice, and they had refused His commands. "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5) Is there unrighteousness with God? No! He calls each person to come to the light of His knowledge and truth. Each and every living soul has the opportunity to choose life or death, yet so many choose death. Pharaoh chose death, and God kept His promise.
Pharaoh rose up in the night. It must have been like waking up to find out that your worst nightmare had come true. His firstborn, the next Pharaoh of Egypt, had died. The royal palace was filled with the sounds of mourning. In fact, every household in Egypt was filled with the wailing of mourning mothers. The dark streets of every city were filled with piercing screams, as one after another family discovered their dead child. Even their stables had experienced the death of the firstborn of the livestock.
The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge says that, "No people were more remarkable and frantic in their mournings than the Egyptians. When a relative died, every one left the house, and the women, with their hair loose, and their bosoms bare, ran wild about the street. The men also, with their apparel equally disordered, kept them company; all shrieking, howling, and beating themselves. What a scene of horror and distress must now have presented itself, when there was not a family in Egypt where there was not one dead!"
We should not take God's warnings so lightly. He will come again to judge the earth even more severely than He had judged Egypt. "Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness [is] great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD [is] near in the valley of decision." (Joel 3:12-14)
Jesus gave us fair warning about the judgments to come. Even professing Christians are called to re-examine their lives so that they can be certain of their relationship with Him. We cannot enter into His rest by our good works. The wages of sin is death, and there are no works that can pay off that debt.
Too many Christians today still believe that they will enter the kingdom of heaven because they are pretty good people. However, Jesus warned us, saying, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)
On that day, many will say that God is unjust. "I wasn't that bad, Lord!" But like the Pharaoh, they ignored all of God's warnings. He called to them and they did not answer. He said, "Trust in Me," but they trusted in themselves. The winepress will overflow, "for their wickedness is great."
Before The Throne:
Establish a regular daily prayer time to give yourself more opportunity to fellowship with the Lord. Ask Him to increase your faith, and He will do it. Seek after the righteousness of Jesus Christ, inviting him to live through you. Set aside your goals and desires and make Him your only desire. "One [thing] have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple." (Psalms 27:4) Trust Jesus Christ to fulfill that desire.
For Further Study:
(v.29) ** at midnight. Ex 11:4; 13:15; Job 34:20; 1Th 5:2,3; ** the Lord smote. Nu 3:13; 8:17; 33:4; Ps 78:51; 105:36; 135:8; 136:10; Heb 11:28; 12:23; ** the first-born of Pharaoh. Ex 4:23; 11:5; ** dungeon. Heb. house of the pit. Isa 24:22; 51:14; Jer 38:6,13; Zec 9:11;
(v.30) ** and there was a great cry. Ex 11:6; Pr 21:13; Am 5:17; Mt 25:6; Jas 2:13;
Worshiping at Passover
21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip [it] in the blood that [is] in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that [is] in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite [you]. 24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25 And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26 And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27 That ye shall say, It [is] the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28 And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
It was time. Moses and the Israelites were ready to serve the Lord on the very first Passover. Moses called for the elders and told them to go get the lambs for each family and to sacrifice them for the Passover. They were to take hyssop, dip it into the lamb's blood, sprinkle the blood on the doorposts and on the lintel over the door to their homes, and remain inside until morning.
This was worship in its purest sense. It had the three most important elements of worship, which are preparation, obedience, and adoration. The Passover feast should never be thought of as anything but a time and method for worshipping our God, our Creator and our Deliverer.
First of all, we know that there had already been preparations made for this day. The lambs without spot or blemish had been set aside on the tenth of the month, consecrated to the service of the Lord. Instructions about how God wanted them to worship Him had been given to all of His people and, now, more specific details were given.
Why is preparation so important to worship? It expresses faith that God will be there and that something special is going to happen. It demonstrates that we believe that God deserves our very best. Preparation also helps us to focus our attention on God before we come into His presence.
Obedience to God is also an essential element of worship, every bit as important as the preparation. Faith without works is dead. Our faith should be vibrant enough to keep us actively participating in the works that He has prepared for us. The people of Israel did exactly as God commanded them (v.28), but obedience must be carried beyond the immediate chores of physical preparations. There must exist a strongly held belief that God will fulfill His promises (v.25). It is that faith, which produces the obedient acts of worship, and it is the obedience, which helps us to realize the benefits of worship.
Israel trusted in God's promise to bring them to a land they could call their own. They trusted in His promise to pass over their houses when He saw the blood of the lamb. These were the benefits derived from a faith that produced obedient works. They were the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
In future Passovers, a major part of their worship service would have to be the teaching of God's word. The younger generations would need to know and understand the love and the faithfulness of God toward His people. They would need to remember what He had done for their fathers and grandfathers and they would need to be able to rejoice at how they themselves were benefiting from what God had done.
The last part of worship is the expression of our adoration, reverence, and joy in the presence of the Lord. "And the people bowed the head and worshipped." They bowed because they had seen the power of God over Egypt; they bowed because they trusted in His promises; and they bowed because they knew that He was rewarding them for being obedient.
Genuine worship requires all three elements. Without preparation, we would neither be ready nor expecting to meet the Lord. Without obedience, we would not see His power in our lives and would not have the joy of that experience. Therefore these first two elements give us the components necessary for the third element. If we are to bow the head, lift up holy hands, make a joyful noise, and shout to the Lord with a genuine passion, we must do so out of a prepared heart and as a result of our daily experiences with God.
Before The Throne:
Are you prepared to experience God's presence in your life? Passover is not too far away. Will you be ready to worship as you take the cup of communion? Ask God to prepare your heart with the excitement and anticipation of standing in His presence when you come to worship. Pray that He will help you to live an obedient life, righteous, holy and acceptable to Him. Pray that, when you come to worship, you will bring with you the joy of experiencing Jesus Christ working in and through you. Give thanks for the blood of the Lamb, our primary reason for rejoicing in God's presence.
For Further Study:
(v.21) ** elders. Ex 3:16; 17:5; 19:7; Nu 11:16; ** and take. Nu 9:2-5; Jos 5:10; 2Ki 23:21; 2Ch 30:15-17; 35:5,6; Ezr 6:20; Mt 26:17-19; Mr 14:12-16; Lu 22:7-13; 1Co 10:4;
(v.22) ** a bunch. Le 14:6,7; Nu 19:18; Ps 51:7; Heb 9:1,14,19; 11:28; 12:24; 1Pe 1:2; ** and none. Mt 26:30;
(v.23) ** and will not. 2Sa 24:16; Isa 37:36; Eze 9:4,6; 1Co 10:10; Heb 11:28; 12:24; Re 7:3; 9:4;
(v.24) Ge 17:8-10;
(v.25) ** when. De 4:5; 12:8,9; 16:5-9; Jos 5:10-12; Ps 105:44,45; ** according. 3:8,17;
(v.26) ** your children. Ex 13:8,9,14,15,22; De 6:7; 11:19; 32:7; Jos 4:6,7,21-24; Ps 78:3-6; Ps 145:4; Isa 38:19; Eph 6:4;
(v.27) ** It is the sacrifice. Ex 34:25; De 16:2,5; 1Co 5:7; ** bowed. Ex 4:31; 34:8; 1Ch 29:20; 2Ch 20:18; 29:30; Ne 8:6;
(v.28) Heb 11:28;
15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. 17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. 20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.
The fourteenth day of Abib (Nisan) came to be known as the preparation day. The Israelites spent the day preparing unleavened bread and sacrificing and dressing the lamb. It was also the day (not this first year but afterward) during which they would search their homes and clean everything, making sure that there was not even a crumb of anything leavened hiding unnoticed in a corner somewhere.
God commanded that for seven days no leaven should be eaten and that no home should contain any leavening or anything containing leaven. The punishment for failing to observe the commandment was severe. The offender was to be cut off from the rest of the community, shunned by his family and neighbors and treated as a heathen. The Passover Lamb symbolized the Savior, while the leaven represented the sins that the Savior takes away. Thus, anyone who did not submit to the Lord and symbolically put sin out of their lives for that week was cut off from the rest of the congregation.
Paul once said, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha." (1Corinthians 16:22) To be "Anathema" means, "to be cursed or doomed." Anyone who loves the Lord has had their sins removed and enjoys eternal life, but those who do not love Him are doomed to destruction, separation from the Lord and His congregation. "Maranatha" should not be understood as connected to "anathema." The word means either, "Our Lord has come," or, "Our Lord cometh."
The hateful hypocritical doctrines of the Pharisees and the Sadducees were against the Lord Jesus. "Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees...Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees." (Matthew 16:6,12) They wanted to kill our Lord Jesus, because they did not believe that He was the Messiah. Jesus' warning should be applied to any doctrine that denies that He was the living God who died for our sins, was buried, rose again on the third day, and has ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. His warning should be applied to any doctrine that denies that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
Thus the day after the sacrifice, the fifteenth of the month, the Passover Feast was eaten, and the day is set aside as an annual Sabbath. It represents the day that Israel gained their freedom from the bondage of Egyptian domination and the day that we Christians were set free from the bondage of sin. God commanded that there should be no work done, except the preparation of meals, on that day.
Notice that on this day the people went from being helpless slaves to a marching army, "for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt." The church of Jesus Christ has also gone from the slavery of sin onto the battlefield of spiritual warfare. The week of unleavened bread represented the time spent in the wilderness when God's people had to fight for their survival and the time spent on this earth when His church must fight to keep sin out of their lives.
Like the homes of the Israelites, our lives must be inspected and cleaned of any sin. They took painstaking efforts to find even the smallest crumb that could contaminate their homes, and even the smallest sin contaminates us. Christ died to cleanse us of our sins, and we should make every effort to keep ourselves clean. It is not easy. That is why it is called spiritual warfare, but we have been given the power of God through Christ Jesus and we can defeat this enemy.
Before The Throne:
It is good to celebrate the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread each year. It reminds us of what God has done for us, but we should be practicing its principles every day. Examine your life for the smallest of sins and pray that God would grant you the power to set them aside. Thank the Lord Jesus for being your Passover Lamb, for setting you free, and for empowering you to do battle against the principalities and powers of darkness. Confess your sins with the full confidence that He will forgive them, because you are His child. Submit yourself to live and obedient, righteous and holy life in His presence.
For Further Study:
(v.15) ** Seven. Ex 13:6,7-10; 23:15; 34:18,25; Le 23:5-8; Nu 28:17; De 16:3,5,8; Mt 16:12; Lu 12:1; Ac 12:3; ** that soul. Ex 31:14; Ge 17:14; Le 17:10,14; Nu 9:13; Mal 2:12; Ga 5:12;
(v.16) ** first day. Le 23:2,3,7,8,21,24,25,27,35; Nu 28:18,25; 29:1,12; ** no manner. Ex 16:5,23,29; 20:10; 35:2,3; Jer 17:21,22;
(v.17) ** in this selfsame. Ex 7:5; 13:8; Nu 20:16;
(v.18) Le 23:5,6; Nu 28:16;
(v.19) Ex 23:15; 34:18; De 16:3; 1Co 5:7,8; ** even that. 15; Nu 9:13;
Responding to Grace
1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
The promises that Paul now refers to
are found in the previous chapter. "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." (6:16) And, "... and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (6:17-18) These are promises that we already possess. They are not those things for which we hope but which have already been given to us.
The first promise is, "I will dwell in them." In the person of the Holy Spirit, God indwells every Christian. As Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
"...and walk in them." He is here with us at all times. Jesus said, "...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." He speaks to us and we speak to Him daily. The Christian is always aware of God's presence.
"...and I will be their God and they shall be My people." He is our God, our ruler, our provider, our protector and our Savior. "...ye are not your own?... Ye are bought with a price;" (1 Corinthians 6:19; 7:23) We are His people.
Furthermore, He has adopted us into His family. "I will be a Father unto you and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." We have full family privileges, to sit at His table, to dwell in His house, and to inherit His kingdom.
Since we have already been given these promised gifts by His loving grace and not by our own works, we owe it to Him to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit..." Can we purify ourselves? No! The Holy Spirit does that. He dwells within us and also convicts us of our sins. However, God expects us to have hearts that desire to be cleansed and He expects us to make an effort to keep ourselves free of all sin. The word from which "filthiness" has been translated means "a stain, a defilement or pollution." We have been washed in the blood of Jesus, our sins are washed away and we are whiter than snow. We should not allow ourselves to become stained again by the filthiness of sin in the flesh or in our spirit.
"...perfecting holiness..." Adam Clarke defined this, saying, "Getting the whole mind of Christ brought into the soul. This is the grand object of a genuine Christian's pursuit." He might dwell within us, but do we listen to Him. Are we bringing every thought and every imagination of our mind into subjection to Him? Until that is complete, we have not perfected holiness.
Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to do these things in the fear of God. Yes, He loves us; and yes, He will never abandon us; but He chastens those whom He loves. and His discipline can be very severe. We should, therefore, have great reverence for what God has done for us and we should fear His chastening, while living on such a way as to perfect His holiness within us.
Before The Throne:
Thank and praise the Lord for the promises that have already been fulfilled in you since you were converted. Ask Him to help you purify yourself, to give you discernment and the strength to resist every temptation. Pray for the mind of Christ to rule your every thought and to direct your path.
For Further Study:
** therefore. 2Cor 1:20; 2Cor 6:17-18; Rom 5:20-21; Rom 6:1-11; Heb 4:1; 2Pet 1:4-8; ** let. Ps 51:10; Ps 119:9; Prov 20:9; Prov 30:12; Isa 1:16; Jer 13:27; Ezek 18:30-32; Ezek 36:25-26; Matt 5:8; Matt 12:33; Matt 23:25-26; Luke 11:39-40; Titus 2:11-14; Jas 4:8; 1Pet 1:22; 1Pet 2:11; 1John 1:7. 9; 1John 3:3; ** filthiness. Isa 55:7; Jer 4:14; 1Cor 6:20; Eph 2:3; 1Thess 5:23; ** perfecting. Matt 5:48; Eph 4:12-13; Phil 3:12-15; 1Thess 3:13; 1Thess 4:7; Heb 12:23; 1Pe 5:10; ** in. 2Chr 19:9; Ps 19:9; Prov 8:13; Prov 16:6; Acts 9:31; Heb 12:28;
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
"Wherefore" or "For which reason"
refers to what God has said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them,.." (16:16) This does not mean that Christians should live in isolated or closed communities and have no contact with the world around them, as some false prophets have taught. Nor does it mean that they should leave the church where certain worldly people might have become members and caused strife. It simply means that we should get rid of those worldly and ungodly partnerships that we have formed with unbelievers. We should not be unequally yoked. Paul says that we must put aside idol worship and all forms of sinful alliances, but we must still interact with sinners in order to share the gospel.
"...and be ye separate, saith the Lord,..." The Greek word used here means, "to separate," but is used here to mean, "Distinguish yourselves!" Show yourself to be different from the rest of the world, do not become entangled in their sinful ways. To the church in Galatia, Paul wrote, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." Do not think that salvation is by works of the law and do not become entangled in the love for this world. Notice that this is not spoken as an opinion of Paul's, but as a direct quote from God. It is an inspired message to be sure.
The idea for this verse comes from Isaiah 52:11, "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD." There, God was telling the captives to leave Babylon, which has become the very symbol of idolatry, and go home. Paul is not saying the same thing here. He is only using God's word to make the spiritual point that Christians must distinguish themselves from the unbelievers among whom we must live. A similar point is made by John in Revelation 18:4, when he wrote, "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." This is a plea to disentangle ourselves from the Babylonian one world system that is about to be destroyed for her sins.
"...and touch not the unclean thing;" This means basically the same thing. It does not refer to the dietary restrictions of the Old Testament, or any other part of the ceremonial law. It simply means not to be engaged in the sinful practices of the unbelieving world.
"...and I will receive you," The Greek combination is used no where else in the N.T. and literally means, "I will receive you in..." God will accept you and receive you unto Himself.
"And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters,.." This is a very special relationship. A father nurtures, protects and provides for His children. He will do everything for their best interest. His children are His heirs, owners of His wealth, kings and priests in His kingdom. They are His treasure.
"...saith the Lord Almighty." Albert Barnes defines this, saying, "The Lord Almighty - The word used here (παντοκράτωρ pantokratōr
) occurs nowhere except in this place and in the book of Revelation; Rev 1:8; Rev 4:8; Rev 11:17; Rev 15:3; Rev 16:7, Rev 16:14; Rev 19:6, Rev 19:16; Rev 21:22. It means one who has all power; and is applied to God in contradistinction from idols that are weak and powerless." These things have been promised to us by the Almighty God who has the power to fulfill every one of His promises. We should, therefore, pay close attention to what has been said and trust in the promises completely.
Before The Throne:
What unholy entanglements have you gotten yourself into? Pray about it. When the Lord returns, you do not want Him to find you unequally yoked, involved in idol worship or so entangled in worldly affairs that you have no time to serve your Savior. Ask God to help you make the necessary changes so that you can be ready when He comes.
For Further Study:
** come. 2Cor 7:1; Num 16:21, 26, 45; Ezra 6:21; Ezra 10:11; Ps 1:1-3; Prov 9:6; Isa 52:11; Jer 51:6; Acts 2:40; Rev 18:4; ** and I. John 6:37-38; Rom 15:7;
** a Father. Ps 22:30; Jer 3:19; Jer 31:1, 9; Hos 1:9-10; John 1:12; Rom 8:14-17; Rom 8:29; Gal 3:26; Gal 4:5-7; Eph 1:5; 1John 3:1-2; Rev 21:7; ** the Lord. Gen 17:1; Gen 48:3; Rev 1:8; Rev 21:22;
Idols in the Temple
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Paul is continuing his list
of reasons why Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. This may be the strongest of his arguments and it is in language that would be particularly meaningful to the Jewish members of the Corinthian church.
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" The introduction of idols into the temple in Jerusalem would have been the worst sacrilege that an orthodox Jew could have imagined. God abhorred the worshiping of idols and had frequently punished His people for straying from Him into idol worship. So, Paul questions how the two could ever be reconciled or work together toward any godly purpose. Unbelievers are idol worshipers. Whether they bow down to statues or are just lovers of the materialistic world, they worship their idols and should not be yoked together with God's people.
"...for ye are the temple of the living God;" The church, as the body of Christ, is the temple of the living God. In all the passages where Paul presents this fact, he uses the plural form of the pronoun, "ye." For example, he had warned them in his first letter against defiling the temple. "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 )
I pointed out the use of the plural pronoun for a very special reason. If you are one of those "Christians" who claim that you can get along just fine without being involved in a church, you are deceiving yourself. You may have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, but you are only complete as the temple of God when you are in fellowship with the rest of His church. We have been commanded to love one another not to shun one another's company and joint worship.
"As God has said..." What follows is not a direct quote. Instead, Paul has combined the promises of Exodus 29:45; Leviticus 26:12; and Ezekiel 37:27. These were partially fulfilled when God dwelt in the tabernacle, and His shekinah glory guided the people through the wilderness, but we see from the Ezekiel passage, which was much later, that it was intended to apply to the New Testament church.
Paul has therefore made it clear that the promise has been fulfilled in the body of Christ. God dwells in us through the Holy Spirit, walks among us, and we are His children and the heirs to His kingdom. Unbelievers, lovers of this world, are His enemies and cannot in any way have any agreement, cooperation or common interests with us. The next verse will explain what we are to do in response to this.
Before The Throne:
First, examine your own life and make sure that there are no idols in it. If there are, repent and be forgiven. Pray about unholy partnerships that you might have. Ask for the wisdom necessary to end them peacefully, if at all possible. If you are married to an unbeliever, pray that God would strengthen the marriage by converting your spouse and thereby making Christ the center of it.
For Further Study:
** what. Exod 20:3; Exod 23:13; Exod 34:14; Deut 4:23-24; Deut 5:7; Deut 6:14-15; Josh 24:14-24; 1Sam 7:3-4; 1Kgs 18:21; 2Kgs 17:33-34; 2Kgs 21:4-5; 2Kgs 23:5-7; 2Chr 33:4-5; Ezek 36:25; Hos 14:8; Zeph 1:5; Matt 6:24; 1John 5:20-21; ** ye are. 1Cor 3:16-17; 1Cor 6:19; Eph 2:20; Heb 3:6; 1Pet 2:5; ** I will dwell. Exod 29:45; Lev 26:12; Ps 90:1; Ezek 43:7; Ezek 43:9; Zech 2:10; Zech 2:11; John 6:56; Rom 8:9, 11; Eph 3:17; 2Tim 1:14; 1John 4:12, 15; Rev 21:3; ** I will be. Gen 17:7-8; Jer 24:7; Jer 31:33; Jer 32:38; Ezek 11:20; Ezek 36:28; Ezek 37:26-27;Hos 2:23; Zech 8:8; Zech 13:9; Rom 9:26; Heb 8:10; Rev 21:7;
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
The reasons why we should not be unequally yoked
with unbelievers are continued in this passage as Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions in order to make his point. The first asks, "What concord hath Christ with Belial?" The Greek word that is rendered as "concord" will sound very familiar to most of us. It is συμφώνησις sumphonesis
(soom-fo'-nay-sis). We derive the English word "symphony" from it.
Albert Barnes defined it this way, "Sympathy, unison. This word refers properly to the unison or harmony produced by musical instruments, where there is a chord. What accordance, what unison is there; what strings are there which being struck will produce a chord or harmony? The idea is, then, there is as much that is discordant between Christ and Belial as there is between instruments of music that produce only discordant and jarring sounds.
The name Belial means, "Worthlessness, always so used in a moral sense. A man or son of Belial is a wicked, worthless man; one resolved to endure no subjection; a rebel; a disobedient, uncontrollable fellow, Judg 19:22; 1Sa 2:12." The name is used for Satan. What harmony, then, could Christ, the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, the most valuable person who ever walked the earth, have with Satan, the worthless one, the rebel, the most disobedient and uncontrollable of all God's creatures?
All those people who do not know Christ as their Lord and Savior are the children of Belial. They are ruled by him, enslaved to the sinful lifestyle that will lead to their ultimate destruction. They have completely opposite desires, goals, pleasures, and motivations from those of the Christian. They are the natural enemies of everything that Christ represents.
"...or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" What does a believer share with an unbeliever? This is the next logical question to consider. Our inheritance is the kingdom of God. Everything that He has, every created thing in all of the many universes and heaven itself, will belong to us when Jesus returns. What part of that will the infidel, the unbeliever, share with us? The answer is, of course, "Nothing!" We can have no allegiance to him and no truly close affiliation with him. We can only have pity for him and try to convert him in order to save him from himself. That is not a very good basis for a relationship.
Christians should seek to fellowship and to work with other Christians. A great "sumphonesis
" exists between us, and great things can be accomplished when we work together. Under Christ our yoke is light, our destiny is bright, our fellowships are built on love and peace, and our mission is the salvation of the world. What a beautiful symphony we can play!
Before The Throne:
Thank God for the harmony that exists between His people. Ask Him to help you take a greater part in the fellowship and work of the church. Pray for those whom you know have been willingly or otherwise unequally yoked. Pray for their protection from temptations and for their success in converting their partner.
For Further Study:
** what concord. 1Sam 5:2-4; 1Kgs 18:21; 1Cor 10:20-21; ** or. Ezra 4:3; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:20; 1John 5:11-13; ** an. 1Ti 5:8;
A Memorial Forever
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
"And this day..," the fifteenth day of Abib (Nisan) when the Passover lamb was eaten, was now established by God as an annual Sabbath, which was to be observed forever.
It was to be a memorial for generations to come of how God had saved Israel from their slave masters and led them out of Egypt and into freedom. God wanted future generations to know how he had taken the lives of the first-born among all the Egyptians but had spared the first-born of Israel. He wanted them to remember the bitterness that their fathers had had toward their captors and the joy that they had experienced when they were set free. God wanted the future generations of Israel to remember that it was He who had set Israel free. Most of all, he wanted them to remember that, when He saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, He passed over the houses and spared the children.
Jesus obediently continued the tradition and kept every Passover but, at His last Passover meal, He made one simple change. There would no longer be any lamb served, because Jesus was the eternal Lamb of God who was permanently sacrificed for the sins of the world. No other sacrifice would ever be needed.
"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:19-20) Thus, the unleavened bread serves as a memorial of His sinless body, and the wine (grape juice) serves as a memorial of His blood, which He gave up at Calvary on that same day.
God instituted all this for a reason. "And that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know how that I [am] the LORD." (Exodus 10:2) How have we dared to change the name from "Passover" to "Easter," which is the name of a pagan god? Why do we teach our children about an Easter bunny, which is just another Egyptian god made to look cute so everyone would accept it? Instead of looking forward to the Passover feast and to hearing about what the Lamb of God did for us, our children look forward to getting the idolatrous chocolate rabbits and marshmallow chickens. God destroyed the Egyptian gods (12:12) and we have resurrected them.
Christians are under grace and not under the law, but our hearts should be filled with the desire to fulfill the law by living the way Christ lived, by living the way we know He wants us to live. There are some things that should be sacred to us, because they are sacred to God. The day of the Passover with the sacrament of communion is one of those sacred things. It is an annual Sabbath, which is to be set aside to glorify God through the sacrament and the teachings that are connected to the feast. Why? Because God said so!
Before The Throne:
Take some time to remember and to appreciate what God has done for you. The memories do not stop the day after the Passover but should continue throughout the year. That is why many denominations partake of the sacrament of communion more than simply on an annual basis. Ask God to show you how you can teach others about the true meanings of the Passover... how to teach your children ... or how to help other parents teach their children. Pray that God would help you prepare a Passover feast for your family and neighbors, so that you can use it to glorify His name.
For Further Study:
(v.14) ** memorial. Ex 13:9; Nu 16:40; Jos 4:7; Ps 111:4; 135:13; Zec 6:14; Mt 26:13; Lu 22:19; 1Co 11:23-26; ** a feast. Ex 5:1; De 16:11; Ne 8:9-12; ** by an ordinance. Ex 13:10; Le 23:4,5; Nu 10:8; 18:8; De 16:1; 1Sa 30:25; 2Ki 23:21; Eze 46:14; 1Co 5:7,8;