Torah: Exodus 1:1–6:1
PROPHETS: Jeremiah 1:1–2:3
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 1:3–9
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 and 2
Egypt’s Ruler Lashes Out
We pick up in Exodus where we left off in Genesis—Jacob’s family has been reunited in Egypt while God’s promise to return to the Land remains a future hope. Time flies at a staggering speed through these first couple of chapters.
The older generation of Jacob’s descendants (vv. 1–5) has died while the newer generation is thriving in Goshen (vv. 6–7).
A new king emerges in Egypt who is not so favorably disposed toward Joseph or his family (v. 8). Fearing this people’s growing size and strength, the new king gives instructions to keep our people down (vv. 9–10).
Egypt imposes forced slavery on us but this only has the opposite effect – more population growth!
So, the king devises a new plan to use Egyptian midwives to kill Israelite babies. It is a high honor to have your name recorded by God in His word. Are the midwives names recorded? What about the King of Egypt? What is noted in v. 17 that is the source of this biblical recognition, not to mention triumphant courage in the face of worldly power?
Israel’s Redeemer is Set Apart
The women conceal the truth about their actions when confronted by the king (vv. 18–19) but God blesses them (vv. 20–21). What is the explanation for God’s blessings according to Genesis 12:3 and 27:29b? Thus, the king’s attempts to promote infanticide by enlisting Hebrew midwives are foiled. This worldly weakness is reminiscent of his previously thwarted efforts to enslave Israel by enlisting taskmasters (vv. 11–12).
Frustrated, Pharaoh now turns to more drastic measures – enlisting his entire population to kill every male child (cf. Pharaoh’s lashing out after midwives’ deception, Acts 7:17–19; and, Herod’s lashing out after Magi’s deception, Matthew 2:16).
In faith and risking being discovered, a Levite family hides their baby to avoid his drowning (cf. Acts 7:20; Hebrews 11:23).
After desperately sending him down the river (vv. 3–4) he is drawn out of the Nile by a servant of Pharaoh’s daughter (vv. 5–6), returned to his birth mother for nursing (vv. 7–9), and then brought back to Pharaoh’s daughter as her own after the weaning (v. 10). This quantum leap from Joseph’s death to Moses’ averted drowning actually spans about 300 years. Generations of Israelites lived and died during the interim between these two great redeemers.
We live between the two comings of our Great Redeemer (Hebrews 9:28) and we are commanded to be alert and ready for His return. What worldly powers are you facing that pressure you into ignoring or disobeying God during this interim? A boss at work? An unbelieving family member? A fleshly friend? What steps can you take because you “fear God” that will demonstrate triumphant courage in the face of these pressures? Pray that God’s power would enable you to stand for Him!
Torah 3 and 4
Moses Fights for Justice in His Own Power
When Moses has grown, he boldly stands up against Egyptian oppression (vv. 11–12) and for Israelite unity (vv. 13–14).
Unfortunately, his good intentions toward his kinsmen are spoiled with bad results! His own people reject his leadership (cf. Acts 7:23–28) and his adopted grandfather calls for his death (cf. Hebrews 11:24–26)!
Fleeing Egypt, Moses finds refuge in Midian, south of Israel just opposite the Sinai peninsula.
For the 3rd time, Moses takes a stand against injustice (vv. 16–17) and this time the results are good – a new home and new family (vv. 18–22).
Moses’ new life is sharply contrasted with his people’s sufferings back in Egypt.
While Moses is deaf to the sufferings of our people back in Egypt, God hears, and intimately knows, our suffering. This fact should be a great comfort to us today as well!
Moses Learns to Shepherd So He Can Lead with God’s Power
When Moses’ new shepherding vocation brings him to Horeb (v. 1; a.k.a. Mt. Sinai), he beholds a curious sight – a burning bush (vv. 2–3).
God calls to him from this bush, introduces Himself, and gives Moses a snapshot summary of spiritual reality as well as his role in God’s plans.
Dumbfounded, Moses cries out, “Who am I?”
What is the ultimate comfort in God’s response (cf. Genesis 26:3; 31:3; Matthew 28:20b)?
Anticipating Israel’s skepticism, Moses then asks, “Who are you?”
God then reveals more of who He really is.
Just as Moses went on to faithfully speak to the elders of Israel and call them to leave the land of slavery by trusting God and following him, so too did Stephen address Israel’s leadership and tried to call them to follow Messiah’s lead out of slavery to sin and alienation from God (cf. Acts 7:30–36). While God moved Israel to go ahead and follow Moses, He allowed Israel to kill Stephen. According to Exodus 14:31, why was Moses’ message heeded? According to Romans 11:11, why was Stephen’s message rejected? Why do some people reject your message when you share with them about God? What promises can you cling to as you press on and boldly share like Stephen did? (cf. Isaiah 55:10–11; Matthew 5:11–12, etc.)
torah 5 and 6
Raising Up a Leader
God continues speaking to Moses out of the burning bush and actually gives him the exact words to say to the elders of Israel (vv. 16–17) and to the king of Egypt (v. 18).
God knows that His demand to let Israel go and worship will fall on deaf ears and a hard heart.
In the end, however, Israel will be freed. Not only that, but poor slaves will go out with Egypt’s wealth to build a dwelling place for the glory of God (cf.12:35–36)!
Moses, however, is still skeptical (v. 1) so God gives 3 signs that will validate him as a messenger as well as his message (staff into snake, vv. 2–5; hand turning white, vv. 6–8; water to blood, v. 9).
Moses’ skepticism then turns to self-doubt. Can you relate?!
God rebukes him and calls Moses to trust God and not in his own abilities.
Moses continues in his self-doubt, which is really a lack of faith.
So God gives him Aaron for public speaking as well as a staff for miracle working.
Leaving Egypt and Leading Israel
After settling matters at his new home, Moses sets out for his old one.
God lays out the whole plan for breaking Pharaoh by killing his son—which will become the most recognizable, and most often referred to, act of God throughout the entire Hebrew Bible.
Along the way, and in obedience to God’s commands (cf. Genesis 17), Moses’ child is circumcised (vv. 24–26) and his brother joins the journey back to Egypt (vv. 27–28).
Moses and Aaron obey God by preaching His word to Israel (vv. 29–30). They believe God at His word (v. 31).
According to v. 31, what two things did the people hear that effectively moved them to bow low and worship? How true is this for us as well? We can believe God at His word but are most easily drawn into worshiping Him as a direct response to His profound compassion and love.
torah 7 and
Let My People Go!
Moses and Aaron deliver God’s message to Pharaoh (v. 1) but he refuses (v. 2).
When they repeat their plea (v. 3), Pharaoh lashes out and increases the work burden on Israel (vv. 4–9).
The Egyptian taskmasters require the same number of bricks from them but without providing the necessary straw to make them (vv. 10–13).
When these taskmasters beat the Israelite foremen for not making their quotas (v. 14), they appeal to Pharaoh (vv. 15–16) who turns a deaf ear, assuming that laziness has been the underlying source of their religious pursuits (vv. 17–19).
When these Hebrew foremen go out from Pharaoh they meet Moses and Aaron. What is their response to the ones who are faithfully carrying out God’s instructions and preaching His word according to v. 21? How does this response from Jewish leadership toward Moses and Aaron compare with the Jewish leaders’ response to Yeshua and his followers? Has anyone ever responded to you in a similar way, treating you as if you are bringing a curse when you are really offering a cure? How do you respond in this circumstance?
How does Moses respond? When Moses comes to God and cries out honestly to Him, how does God respond? Does He explain His purposes? Or does He just reassure him of what will happen, regardless of what his eyes have seen or his ears have heard… or even what his heart may now feel after getting an angry earful from those Israelite foremen!?
God is In Control!
Raising Up a Prophet
In the middle of King Josiah’s reign over southern Judah, God calls Jeremiah into His service. This service will ultimately end in Babylonian exile about 40 years later. The historical background for Jeremiah can be found in 2 Kings 22–24 and 2 Chronicles 34–36.
Jeremiah’s call has many similarities to Moses’ call in Sh’mot. God calls him (vv. 4–5) but his immediate response is one of self-doubt (v. 6; cf. Exodus 4:10).
What about God’s response to Jeremiah is the same as His response to Moses (cf. Exodus 3:12)?
God establishes Jeremiah as His appointed servant and guides him with two revelatory instructions.
The almond tree branch draws on a Hebrew play on words and shows him that God is watching and His word will be fulfilled.
The boiling pot shows him that God’s scalding judgment upon Judah’s sins will come up from Babylon.
God continues to encourage Jeremiah and reiterates the most precious promise of His Presence that will ensure his protection.
The first words that God gives him to proclaim publicly recalls the wilderness wanderings toward which Moses, in our Torah portion, is beginning to lead the nation.
Raising Up Messengers
God called Moses from a burning bush to preach to the nation and lead them out of their slavery to Pharaoh. God called Jeremiah to preach to the nation before His coming judgment by Babylon. Here in Acts, Yeshua calls his followers to preach to Israel and the Nations, to lead out of the slavery to sin and warn of the coming judgment (the Day of the Lord which is still future!). Yeshua raised up 12 disciples who in turn raised up other messengers and we are heirs of this tremendous calling. God’s call has always been accompanied with the resources necessary to carry out that call. In other words, God only calls us to do that for which He also equips us. How are Yeshua’s followers equipped to fulfill God’s calling according to John 16:13–14? Compare Moses’ and Jeremiah’s sense of self-doubt in the Torah and Haftarah portions with Peter’s sense of self-sufficiency in John 21:15–17. Both kinds of responses to God are inadequate because who is at the center? Who needs to be there?
How can you keep God in the center of your thinking today? What can you do to challenge others to get God in the center of their thinking as well?
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.