Read - Acts 7v1-50
Message - Scott Woodburn
Many lies had been told about Stephen. He had allegedly blasphemed both Moses and God and now the high priest wanted to know "are these things so?" (v1). How would you have answered? "Lies!" you might shout. "I'm an innocent man!" you might cry. Stephen offered no such defense. Instead this young man preached and took his listeners on a journey through the history of God's saving plan.
The Lord God had appeared to Abraham (v2) promising him a land and an offspring (v5). The sign of circumcision would be given as a visible mark in the flesh that God would keep His promises and not cut off His covenant people (v8). In later years Jospeh would be sold into slavery but still God's purposes would not fail (v9). Joseph would rise in Pharaoh's estimation and show great grace to his betrayers during a great famine (v11-16).
Eventually the Egyptians would forget Jospeh (v18) and the descendants of Abraham would be treated harshly in their adopted home (v19). But if Pharaoh had no memory of the past, the Lord still remembered. Moses was born and he was beautiful in God's sight (v20). He would grow up in Pharaoh's home and became mighty in word and deed (v22) yet would flee after killing an Egyptian (v24-29).
The Lord is King over Egyptian pyramids and even the empty wilderness, and it was there that the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire in a bush (v30). Moses would meet the God of his forefathers and be sent back to Egypt to be used by God to fee the people from slavery (v32-34). Moses would stand before Pharaoh performing wonders and signs in both Egypt and the Red Sea (v35-36) and soon the liberated people would begin their journey to the promised land.
God's moral law is written on our hearts but He would republish it at Sinai on stone tablets (v38). Tragically, the people refused to obey Him. They made a golden calf and worshipped it (v41) and their hearts were turned back to Egypt (v39). The Lord would give them over to their desires (v42-43) but still His promise did not fail. Moses was able to declare that another prophet would rise (v37). Moses would not enter the promised land nor would he be alive to see the coming of Christ, nevertheless he had proclaimed the coming of the Lord. Jesus was on His way.
Joshua would lead the people into the land (v45) and the other nations would flee before them and eventually David would take the throne with his son Solomon building the temple (v45-47). Yet our God does not dwell in buildings (v48). Heaven is His throne and He puts His mighty feet upon the earth (v49a). What house can contain Him (v49b)? He alone has made all things (v50).
Stephen's sermon in the face of his enemies is extraordinary. It speaks of the history of God's saving plans. It speaks of His providence. It speaks in the face of opposition and declares that nothing can stop or thwart the purposes of the Lord. Later this week we will consider the response of Stephen's accusers and Stephen's fate but today we rest in the providence of God. He is for His people and no scheme of the devil can pluck us from the Lord's hand. Just like Joseph, just like Stephen, so for us, the Lord is with us (v9).
Q94 What is Baptism? Baptism is a Sacrament, wherein the washing with water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, doth signify and seal our ingrafting into Christ, and partaking of the benefits of the covenant of grace, and our engagement to be the Lord’s.
Read - Exodus 4:18
Message - Alan Burke
If you have been following along in these devotions the past number of weeks you will know that we have been focusing on God’s call of Moses on Mount Horeb. How Moses was unwilling to do as God had commanded him, how four times God had told Moses to go, (3:10,16,18 4:12), then finally Moses tells God that he simply didn’t want to go. That’s what it came down to, God was saying go and Moses was saying no, but Moses did go.
What though would be the first thing that you would do if you had been offered a job that meant you would have to move to somewhere far away? Go on to property pal? Purple bricks? Maybe tell the exciting news to those who you know and love? Here Moses does something that today would almost be unthinkable for an eighty year old to do, he asks for permission to go.
Of course, Moses could have simply went, but he wanted his father in laws blessing, after all he was living under his roof, he was under his care, he had married his daughter and was going to take her and the grandchildren away with him. This eighty year old Moses goes to his father in law and the way he puts his request effectively is asking for permission for what could be described as an extended holiday to go to Egypt to see how his people were doing. And to this request Jethro tells Moses, “Go, and I wish you well”.
Why are we told this, what does it matter, it almost seems unnecessary. Yet it is hear for a purpose, it is the word of God and it helps us just like all of this section from v18-26 to understand how Moses responded to the call of God, and how he still has much to learn as a servant of God.
So what do we learn here? Well it seems at stage one of Moses journey, as he was about to depart, he wasn’t sure himself or that God would do what he had promised he would do. Added to that how he was already filled with a sense of his own inadequacy, he probably worried about what Jethro would think if he told him the truth of why he was going. This Moses was a work in progress.
How many times have you been filled with your own sense of inadequacy when it comes to serving God? Or how many times have you worried about what others will think of you if you told them the truth of how God has called you to himself through Christ Jesus? How many times have you dodged it at home, the workplace, at times living a double life, maybe a wee bit embarrassed at it all, trying to save face?
There are all times in the past that we all have. But you, just as I, just as Moses was here, are a work in progress. Moses lacked the courage to tell Jethro why he was going but he went nonetheless. Through faith Moses went, he still had a long way to go just as you and I, we are God’s workmanship, but being a work in progress is not an excuse to be compromised though.
One other thing the eighty year old Moses went to his father in law to ask for his blessing. We could all learn a lesson if we still have parents, in laws, because they have years of wisdom that we don’t have, they will want the best for us, whereas today its much more common for children to go to their parents to affirm choices they have made no matter how disastrous they will be and parents are expected to affirm it. As children we are to still honour our father and mother even in 2021 no matter what age even in your eighties, and for those of you who are parents that also means you may need to challenging your rebellious sixty year old. (Ex 20:12, Eph 6:2)
Q 93 Which are the sacraments of the New Testament?
The sacraments of the New Testament are, Baptism, (Matt. 28:19) and the Lord’ s supper. (Matt. 26:26–28)
Read - Acts 6v8-15
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Lord Jesus was clear when He warned "They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God." (John 16v2). There were days of trouble ahead for the followers of Christ and by the time we meet Stephen, he has become a target for the anger of Christ's opponents.
He is ministering among the people and doing mighty acts (v8), which cause many to band together to argue with Stephen (v9). Unfortunately for them, Stephen's wisdom could not be withstood (v10). He was equipped and strengthened by the Holy Spirit and his opponents soon found they didn't have a leg to stand on. Once more we see the hand of the enemy.
Instead of debating the issues and striving to learn from their defeat, Stephen's opponents secretly instigated men against him (v11). To do this they told blatant lies saying that Stephen had said blasphemous things about Moses and God Himself. Their work was so successful that eventually Stephen was arrested with more false witnesses spreading lies about him (v14).
Do you see the schemes of the devil? Secret, false gossip stirs up the sinful intentions of the crowd. They couldn't out argue Stephen but they could out gossip him. They couldn't find gaps in his teaching but they could find willing ears to hear their false witness. Jesus tells us that we are to expect such opposition. "In the world" says Jesus "you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." (John 16v33).
We shouldn't be surprised when the enemy uses every trick in the book to wound Christ's people and to damage Christ's church. Indeed quite often the opposition is more fierce inside the four walls of our fellowships. I know one man who for several years received abusive anonymous letters from a church member. They were posted to him in clear plastic envelopes so that the postman could read the accusations. Another man and his wife have spent months wondering when the next anonymous letter will arrive or the next unsigned poster will be stuck up on a neighborhood lamppost. Still another received abusive emails for three months, an anonymous abusive Christmas card and was accused of being in league with loyalist paramilitaries.
All of this came from individuals who regularly sat in fellowships Sunday by Sunday. Can any of this be justified? Of course not. It is satanic in origin and utterly disgusting. Yet my brothers and sisters Christ's promise remains true. He urges us to take heart for He has overcome the devil and all His schemes. If you have known or know the sting of gossip. If you dread the visit of the postman or the ring of the telephone. If you have extended the hand of friendship only to be rjected. Take heart! Christ has overcome and in Christ so will you. Regardless of what your faceless critics say or write, only the opinion of Christ matters. Over everyone who has received Him by faith, Christ publicly declares "REDEEMED!"
Q92 What is a Sacrament? A Sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ and the benefits of the new covenant are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.
Read - Exodus 4:13-17
Message - Alan Burke
Four times God had told Moses to go, (3:10,16,18 4:12) and after a series of excuses Moses here makes it clear he simply didn’t want to go. That’s what it came down to, God was saying go and Moses was saying no, he tells God, “Choose anyone but me”
This time the Lord does not graciously respond to Moses, instead we are told for the first time in the bible that God was angry, as the Lord’s anger burned against Moses.
The Lord’s anger was kindled against Moses, because God could not have made it any clearer that Moses was to go, that it wasn’t about who he was but whom he was in God. His objections might have sounded reasonable but God had addressed them all. God was going to use Moses but Moses didn’t want to.
There are times when ask the kinds of questions Moses had been asking: “Who am I, Lord?” “Are you really the God you say you are?” “Can I trust you to go with me and help me?” And God reminds us that it is not who we are but whose we are, he reminds us that he really is the God he says he is and he reminds us that we can trust him to go with us and help us.
And to Moses constant questioning and his refusal to go God is angry and says enough!
If we jump forward in the book of Exodus to chapter 34, there Moses is back at Mount Sinai after leading the people out of Egypt, going to receive the Law of God, the Lord God “passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love’ ” (Ex. 34:6).
The fact that God is “slow to anger” means that he is not easily angered, but it also means that he does get angry! He was angry with Moses at the burning bush he was filled with righteous indignation. God had a right to be angry! He had patiently answered all of Moses’ questions and had dealt with all his objections. But when Moses refused to obey him, and thus to glorify Him, it was right and good for God to be angry.
As we close I want to take you to the one who didn’t say no, he didn’t say send someone else, because although God was using Moses as part of his plan to redeem his people and bring salvation to the ends of the earth, it was through another that salvation was to come for the nations.
The Lord Jesus Christ who did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but took upon Himself the form of a servant, to be made in human flesh, and to become obedient to death, even the point of death on a cross (Phil 2:6). The Son did not say no.
Who in the mount of olives, withdrew himself, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42). It was a prayer for another way, nevertheless it was not my will but yours be done he prayed. This is the saviour who came for us, one who came willingly and did the will of him who sent him. This is how we can come before the Lord God this day, it is though the crucified, risen and ascended saviour that we can come, though Christ alone. For us it is only through Jesus Christ that God’s anger at our sin is dealt with, so that we can come before him, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love (Ex 34:6)
Q 91 How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not from any virtue in them, or in him that doth administer them; but only by the blessing of Christ, (1 Pet. 3:21, Matt. 3:11, 1 Cor. 3:6–7) and the working of his Spirit in them that by faith receive them. (1 Cor. 12:13)
Read - Acts 6v7
Message - Scott Woodburn
The late Noel Agnew used to tell me stories about people who he met on his travels who had experienced days of revival in the church. I would sit and listen as he spoke about old ladies who as young girls remembered seeing local alcoholics converted, abusive husbands radically changed and thousands gathering to hear the Gospel and to call upon the Lord in prayer.
I have yet to see such days but by the grace of God I may see them yet. In today's passage we note that the church was continuing to grow. Every single day men and women were receiving Christ as their Saviour. How could this be so? Because the word of God continued to increase. This phrase says much about what days of revival look like.
During such days the Word wasn't an optional extra. The Word was preached consistently at home and abroad. The Word was studied in private homes and preached faithfully in the public square. The Word was at the front and centre of each service of worship and the people during days of revival would receive the Word gladly and believe it passionately.
The church in Thailand is a tiny minority in that great nation and yet it exists and grows slowly but surely. I was there many years ago when our team was asked to lead a service of worship in a small Christian village. We all took part and our team leader preached in the Thai language. When he had finished, the congregation looked at one another as if to say "Is that all?". It wasn't a comment about the quality of the sermon, just that they were used to spending the entire afternoon in the Word. May the Lord give us such a hunger for His Word!
When the Word goes forward there are no doors which can keep it out. Luke records for us that in those days even a great many priests were receiving Christ as their Saviour. The significance of this shouldn't be understated. We have already seen in Acts the opposition of the Jewish leaders to the Gospel. They wanted it silenced and yet here were some of their own number who had turned to Christ.
The Gospel can soften the hardest heart. The Gospel can loosen the stiffest neck. The Gospel can convert even the most powerful. The Gospel is the power of God unto the salvation for all who will believe. So today may we delight in the Word of God and may we pray for the salvation of many. Pray for politicians, popes, kings and queens, the rich and the famous. Pray for Biden and Boris and Nicola and Arlene and Michelle. Ask that if the hearts of the powerful and famous are not yet receptive to the Gospel then may they soon be. In one mighty verse Luke brings a world of encouragement. The Word increased and many were saved.
Q90 How is the Word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation? That the Word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation, and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.
Read - Exodus 4:11-12
Message - Alan Burke
“Who made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind?”
The Lord God, that’s who, and that’s how the Lord responded to Moses when he gave another excuse this time that came out of his own feelings of inadequacy, his own limitations. Here the Lord makes it plain and simple to Moses that no matter how great he may have thought his problem, that he was fearful and wonderfully made even though he couldn’t see it. Because what ever the problem with Moses’ speech, God had made Moses that way for his glory and Moses needed to stop mouthing off and instead remember that he comes before the Lord who will help him in it all.
What God says to Moses is, I made you that way, you may not be eloquent, you may be slow of speech and of tongue but I made you that way.
If that’s the case then our abilities, inabilities, and even disabilities are ordained by him. God has equipped us with every talent we need to do his will. He made us the way that he made us for his glory. That’s not saying you can’t get rehab after an injury or an illness, or you can’t get heart surgery, or an operation to remove a tumour, rather the focus here is that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. No matter your abilities, inabilities and even disabilities, God has made us the way we are and uses us for his glory. This also is a reminder to us in a society that doesn’t value the life of the unborn that they have been made by God and they are valuable to God and should be to us.
Look then to what else God says to Moses in verse 12, “therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak”. Not only does God say to Moses that I made you, but also I can use your limitations for my Glory.
Imagine that! God can use our limitations for His glory.
This verse though is not an excuse for us to live according to our sinful desires or behaviour, that have been so affected by the fall. God was not telling Moses that he made him that way and that’s how he was, so Moses could live how he wanted. It is something that we all must know, that this is not an excuse for us to live according to our sinful desires or behaviour, that have been so affected by the fall.
Just because we have a temper does not mean that God made you that way so you should take it out on your spouse, just because we have sexual desires does not mean that you should satisfy them in the way you want, just because you like to know everyone’s business does not mean we should gossip. The list goes on and on, our sinful desires or behaviour that have been so affected by the fall are not an excuse to sin, because scripture make it clear that we are to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry (Col 3:5).
Those who are in Christ Jesus, who are the children of God through faith are to repent of our sinful desires and actions (Acts 3:19), we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:11). True repentance means a change of attitude and action regarding sin. Hatred of sin turns the repentant person away from his or her sin to God (Ps 119:128; Job 42:5–6; 2 Cor 7:10). This isn’t an excuse to defend sinful behaviour but a reminder for all of us that no matter our abilities, inabilities and even disabilities, God has made us the way we are and uses us for his glory.
Q 89 How is the Word made effectual to salvation?
The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the Word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation. (Neh. 8:8, 1 Cor. 14:24–25, Acts 26:18, Ps. 19:8, Acts 20:32, Rom. 15:4, 2 Tim. 3:15–17, Rom. 10:13–17, Rom. 1:16)
Read - Acts 6v1-6
Message - Scott Woodburn
Church government is boring! Who wants to think about the structure of the church? While it might make us roll our eyes, it should not surprise us that the Lord is interested in how His church is governed.
As the church was growing a complaint arose that the Hellenist widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (v1). Let's break that down for a second. Who were the Hellenists? These were believers whose primary language and culture was Greek. They had grown frustrated that the Greek widows weren't receiving their support in a timely fashion. Food, clothing and other needs would be distributed to the poor on a weekly and daily basis and unfortunately it seemed that the Hebrew widows (those from a Jewish background) were at the top of the list.
The Apostles' sought to solve the problem but realised that they should not be involved in the work. To do so would see them neglecting the preaching of the Word and this would not be appropriate (v2) Seven men would be identified and appointed to the work instead (v3, 5-6). Meanwhile the Apostles would continue to devote themselves to prayer and to the preaching of the Word (v4).
Later this structure would develop in the local church as elders and deacons. The elders would be the spiritual overseers of the work and the deacons would look after the needs of the congregation. While you may be bored silly by discussions of church government, let me ask you to consider the Biblical pattern here. Elders committed to prayer and the Word. Deacons committed to meeting the everyday needs of the congregation. Does this match what you see in your own church?
As a Presbyterian I am sorry to say that our denominational structures do not reflect the Biblical model. Sadly elders have become glorified delivery men and the office of deacon isn't recognised. May God forgive our closed ears and may He reform our structures. The Apostles are gone but today Elders should be devoted to the Word of God and prayer. Elders...are you? If an Elder has no time for the things of God, if he is regularly absent from the church fellowship and never leads in spiritual matters, he should not be an elder. If your congregation has thirty elders, then those thirty men should be at every service and every time of prayer.
Equally if our church is so busy that our elders cannot be devoted to the Word and prayer then something must change. We often expect our Pastors to be the best preachers ever and yet do we ever consider how much time they've had during the week to be in the Word? Fellowships should insist that time is ring-fenced for reading, prayer, study and preaching, for if our Pastors are ill-prepared then we will be under fed. Church government may always seem boring but don't ever believe it is unimportant. May Christ be honoured in the structures and offices of our fellowships.
Q88 What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, Sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.
Read - Exodus 4:10
Message - Alan Burke
Even though many of us were told that could be anything we want to be when we grew up, as long as we put our mind to it, we all know that simply isn’t true. We all have some sense of our limitations, what we can do and what we can’t. Here as Moses gives another excuse, this time it’s because he is aware of his own limitations, look what he says…
Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent
On a purely pragmatic level I get this, it’s been forty years of shepherding sheep in the wilderness, he’s unlikely spoken much Egyptian in this time, maybe loosing his command of the language. Added to that how he had spent forty years talking to his sheep and not many people, he would have likely lost confidence to talk to a group, never mind having to engage in a world leader in conversation and to have a debate. After all this was a diplomatic mission that Moses was being sent on and part of the job was that he would need to be able to make his point, convey what God had told him.
It may even had been that Moses had something physically wrong with his voice. What ever it was, whether it was just simply another excuse or not, Moses must have believed at some level that he had a real problem, a limitation that ruled him out of going to Egypt and before pharaoh. Moses was the first to doubt that he could speak God’s truth but he wasn’t the last. His problem though and it’s a problem that we can all have, is we are more focused on who we are than whose we are, we though about that a few weeks ago, it wasn’t who Moses was, rather it was whose he was. That he was the Lord’s and the Lord had chosen him.
It didn’t matter that Moses was not eloquent, that he was slow of speech and of tongue, it didn’t matter if he had lost his command of the Egyptian language or his confidence in speech, it didn’t matter if there was something physically wrong with his speech some kind of disability. What mattered was the one who was sending him and the message he was taking.
The God who calls also who calls us to service also equips us to serve (2 Peter 1:3). Moses learned this during his life. Likewise the apostles of Jesus who were uneducated, ordinary men learnt and experienced this truth (Acts 4:13). This is a truth that believers continue to learn experience today. When God calls us to service. He also gives us what we need to perform that service. Remember His grace is sufficient for you, His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9).
You and I may be limited, but God uses people like you and I for his glory, to speak his truth of Christ, crucified risen and ascended, how all who trust in him are saved from their sin. He uses people, ordinary, limited people like you and I to advance the gospel. Remember that the next time you have an opportunity to share the good news.
Q 87 What is repentance unto life?
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, (Acts 11:18) whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, (Acts 2:37–38) and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, (Joel 2:12, Jer. 3:22) doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, (Jer. 31:18–19, Ezek. 36:31) with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience. (2 Cor. 7:11, Isa. 1:16–17)
Read - Acts 5v27-42
Message - Scott Woodburn
The Sadducees had discovered that prison wasn't going to silence the Gospel. What was to be done? As the Apostles stood before them, the Sadducees warned these upstarts once again that they had been told not to speak of Christ (v28). Standing before any earthly authority is intimidating and yet the Apostles didn't lose their voice. "We must obey God rather than men" said Peter (v29), before once again proclaiming Christ (v30-32).
At this stage the Sadducee's thinking moved from prison to threats and now to murder. The council were so enraged that they wanted to kill the Apostles (v33). Do you see how Satan will use any means to stamp out the message of the cross? He will do it by murder if necessary but he isn't against more mundane means either. Donald Grey Barnhouse, who was a Presbyterian minister in Philadelphia in the last century, was once asked what Philadelphia would be like if Satan took over. Perhaps his answer might surprise you, he said "if Satan took over Philadelphia, all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, 'Yes, sir' and 'No, ma'am,' and the churches would be full every Sunday...where Christ is not preached."
Satan doesn't care how he does it but the aim of the enemy is to see the Gospel silenced. By fair means or foul he longs for Christ's name to be forgotten.
No blood would be shed on this occasion. A leading rabbi by the name of Gamaliel speaks to the council privately (v34). Gamaliel was a Pharisee, known in history as Gamaliel the Elder and the teacher of none other than the Apostle Paul (Acts 22v3). He has a cool head and brings much needed wisdom to the council. He reminds them that other troublesome groups have come before. A man named Theudas had risen up with four hundred followers, but Theudas was killed and his followers scattered (v36). Then came Judas the Galilean but he too was killed and his followers dispersed (v37).
Gamaliel's point is to keep away from the Apostles. Time would tell if they would fail like Teudas or Judas, or perhaps time would should that their movement was from God (v38-39). If the Apostles worked on behalf of God, their movement wouldn't be stopped and any opponents would be opposing God Himself.
Gamaliel's wisdom did not fall on deaf ears. The Apostles were beaten and released and warned to stop preaching Christ (v40). They didn't listen and the two thousand years since have proved Gamaliel's point. We are told frequently in these days that Christianity is on the wrong side of history. Our critics believe we will one evolve past religion and we will leave Christian superstition behind. They are mistaken. The Gospel will be preached to the end of the age and will not be stopped. Gamaliel was right. The one who opposes God will not prosper. Only the one who trusts Christ will stand on the final day.
Q86 What is faith in Jesus Christ? Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.
Read - Exodus 4:6-9
Message - Alan Burke
Another excuse from Moses, led to God graciously responding by giving this unwilling recruit signs that would act like references for a job application. They would prove what Moses says is the truth of God.
The first sign which we thought about on Wednesday was to transform his staff into a serpent (3-5), and if he could use a stick, God could also use the hand that held it (6-7). Telling Moses to put his hand inside his cloak and when he took it out it was leprous like snow. This was more than a simple skin irritation, otherwise what use would it have been for Moses to show the Elders and to prove that God had sent him. Whatever it was it would have been something that reflected the greatness and majesty of God’s power.
As Moses returned his hand to his cloak it was restored, God in this was showing his power to take away the health of the body and restore it again. Once more God was showing his dominion over creation for his purposes, using the ordinary to do the extraordinary. It would act as a warning to anyone who saw it especially to Pharaoh that this God who has sent Moses has the power to inflict or to save what he will with just a word or a gesture from his ambassador.
Now Moses is given a third sign to use if they do not believe the first two signs or listen to him. Moses was to take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water would blood on the ground, a preview of the first plague (9, 7:14-24). God was once more going to show his dominion over creation for his purposes, using the ordinary to do the extraordinary. The water from the river that was the source of life would become a symbol of death, for it was filled with the blood of innocent Hebrew victims and it would bear witness to the involuntary genocide that it has been part of.
Would any Hebrew or Egyptian would miss the point of this sign? For just as the blood of Abel cried out of the ground, so cried the blood of the infants whose lives have been demanded by Pharaoh (1:22). For there is a sanctity in life and a value to life, it is the Lord’s to give and His to take away. Today we see that sanctity and value in life as this nation is in lockdown, trying to save the lives of many, but It seems bizarre and tragic that the same health service that tries so hard to protect lives also facilitates the ending of innocent lives, the lives of the unborn as abortions are deemed a more essential service than cancer surgery.
Here though in this final sign that God gave Moses, he was making it clear that there would be judgment upon Egypt for what they had done, there would be judgment for the taking the lives of so many Hebrew infants. Today know that God has appointed a day for all to be judged, either judgment will be found in Christ for us, or in us from Christ, but either way, there must be judgment for all who have sinned, and all have, in fact, sinned.
On that day he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ, (Act 17:31) to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father (Jn 5:22,27). All persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Cor. 5:10, Eccl. 12:14, Rom. 2:16, Rom. 14:10,12, Matt. 12:36–37).
On that day all the righteous, those who are the children of God through Christ Jesus go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (Matt. 25:31–46, Rom. 2:5–6, Rom. 9:22–23, Matt. 25:21, Acts 3:19, 2 Thess. 1:7–10).
Q 85 What doth God require of us, that we may escape his wrath and cursedue to us for sin?
To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, (Acts 20:21) with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption. (Prov. 2:1–5, Prov. 8:33–36, Isa. 55:3)