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Shemot/Exodus 7:9 When Pharaoh speaks to you to say, "Give, for yourselves, a sign ..."
Abravanel asks, "What made G-d so sure that Pharaoh would ask them to provide a miracle?" He then goes on to answer the question by pointing out that G-d knew Pharaoh: "I know the man, he will insist that you perform a miracle to confirm your bona fides." Ibn Ezra supports this by adding that G-d knew that the first time Moshe and Aharon went before Pharaoh he would simply deny knowing Adonai - effectively refusing to recognise His existence at all - whereas on this occasion he would demand a marvel, some miraculous sign or attesting supernatural act of power, to prove that they were not just trying to bluff Pharaoh in their own strength. Moshe and Aharon are then limited to performing the specific sign that G-d has given them - nothing more and nothing less - with no accompanying schpiel or justification. Although Pharaoh demanded that Moshe and Aharon prove who they were by performing a sign, they were only allowed to perform the sign that G-d had given them to prove who He was.
1 Kings 13 tells the story of a nameless prophet who was sent to speak out against the pagan and idolatrous practices of Jereboam, the first king of the northern kingdom, Israel. The prophet came from Judah to Bethel and there spoke out the words thatAdonai had given him, but when Jereboam (eventually) offered him hospitality and a reward, he refused saying, "So it was commanded me by the word of the L-rd, saying, 'You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came'" (1 Kings 13:9, NASB). Yet he was deceived by an old prophet, who lied to him, and returned to eat and drink in his house. So in spite of his previous obedience and boldness in denouncing the religious practices of Jereboam, the word of the L-rd came: "Because you have disobeyed the command of the L-rd, and have not observed the commandment which the L-rd your G-d commanded you, but have returned and eaten bread and drank water in the place of which He said to you, 'Eat no bread and drink no water'; your body shall not come to the grave of your fathers" (v21-22, NASB); the prophet was killed by a lion on his way home. The prophet's disobedience, even though he was deceived by another prophet who claimed to be speaking from the L-rd, cost him his life.
Yeshua faced the same challenge during the time that He was being tempted by the Devil: Prove it! Notice the progression from Matthew's account: "If you are the Son of G-d, command that these stones become bread" (Matthew 4:4, NASB), or in other words: prove it to yourself; "If you are the Son of G-d, throw Yourself down [from the pinnacle of the Temple]" (v6, NASB), or: prove it to the world. Yeshua answers each stage of the trial by quoting G-d's command - in this case not specific commandments to Him personally, but command from the Torah given to Israel. We see Yeshua operating throughout His ministry within the parameters set by His Father and refusing to go outside those limits.
Often we are tempted to exceed our position or authority as believers. We find ourselves in situations - witnessing to others, counselling friends, frustrated at the world's stupidity and wickedness - when we find ourselves echoing the words of the prophet, "Oh that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Thy presence - as fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil - to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence!" (Isaiah 63:19-64:1 (64:1-2), NASB). Yet G-d is gracious and deals with things and people in His own way and in His own time and like Moshe and Aharon, we have to work with Him, not the other way around. G-d's power is most evident when we do exactly what He tells us to do and no more.
Further Study: Isaiah 8:16-18; Romans 8:35-39
Application: If you struggle with other peoples' expectations, or feeling that you have to justify your faith to others, take time this week to relax in the knowledge that you only to do or say what G-d has said, not what man expects or seems to require. Make sure that you are there - on the nail - for G-d and leave Him to deal with everyone else.
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
15Jan07 20:30 David: "Make sure that you are there - on the nail - for G-d and leave Him to deal with the rest." Quite timely, as this afternoon I played special music at a funeral in our church for one of this churchs founding members. I combined "What a Friend We have In Jesus" with "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and the chorus to the contemporary song
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