Sunday, November 10, 2019
Lesson: Exodus 13:17-14:9; Time of Action: 1445 or 1446 B.C.; Place of Action: Near the Red Sea
Golden Text: “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon” (Exodus 14:8-9).
I. INTRODUCTION. In this week’s lesson we find Israel newly freed from slavery in Egypt. The plagues had taken their toll, the Passover had been held, and the people had been literally expelled from the land; still they had much to learn about trusting the Lord. This study reveals how God’s wise leadership gave His people proper portions of both security and danger so that they would learn to trust Him more fully.
II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON. The children of Israel had been freed from Egyptian slavery and made a stop in Succoth. Moses reminded the people of how long they had been in slavery, how God delivered them and that they were to remember the night it all happened whenever they celebrated the Passover that God instituted the same night they left Egypt (see Exodus 12:37-42). Then the Lord gave Moses further instructions concerning the Passover (see Exodus 12:43-51). In chapter 13, the Lord told Moses to tell the children of Israel that going forward, they were to set aside the firstborn of both man and animals unto Him (see Exodus 13:1-2). The Lord also instituted the Feast of Unleavened Bread and told the people how it was to be observed and remembered (see Exodus 13:3-16). This is where our lesson begins.
III. GOD’S TRUSTWORTHY DIRECTION (Exodus 13:17-22
A. A means of divine encouragement (Exodus 13:17-18).
1. (vs. 17). Our first verse says “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt…” At this point in Israel’s journey toward the land of Canaan, they had briefly stopped in Succoth (see Exodus 12:37). Now as they departed from Succoth, we are told that “God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near.” The phrase “although that was near” means that “the way of the land of the Philistines” was a shorter route to Canaan than the way the Lord would take them. The Lord could have directed Israel to travel the relative short caravan route through the “land of the Philistines” from Egypt to Canaan. But God said that He sent them through the shorter route “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt…” In other words, the people might “repent” or change their minds when they see that there will be war and want to return to Egypt. Knowing His people, God knew that as soon as they faced any difficulty, they would wish they were back in Egypt (see Exodus 14:10-12; 16:3). The “Philistines” already lived in southern Canaan in the days of Abraham and Isaac (see Genesis 20:26), and occupied the coastal plain in Canaan. They were a war-like people who would later dominate Israel during the days of the judges, but would eventually be subdued by David (see II Samuel 5:17-25; I Chronicles 14:8-17). The Lord knew that it was quite possible that “the Philistines” would declare war on the Israelites if they entered their territory. At the time of the Exodus, the Israelites were not prepared to do battle with “the Philistines,” so God graciously directed them by a different, yet longer route.
2. (vs. 18). This verse says “But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.” Instead of directing His people to the shortest route to Canaan, “God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea.” Instead of heading due east that would go through the land of the Philistines, under God’s direction they turned southeastward into the “wilderness of the Red sea” in the Sinai Peninsula. As they traveled southeastward, we are told that “the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt.” The word “harnessed” literally means “organized by fives” and is a military formation. With such a large number of people, it’s quite likely that they “went up” or traveled five to a rank or in five squadrons like an army. However, “harnessed” is sometimes taken to mean “fully armed,” but the text just stated that God didn’t want the Israelites to experience war lest they would return to Egypt. So it seems best to interpret “harnessed” to mean fully prepared or equipped for their journey (see Exodus 12:35-36).
B. An indication of divine faithfulness (Exodus 13:19). This verse says “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” As the Israelites traveled, Moses “took the bones of Joseph with him.” Since “Joseph” had lived so long among the Egyptians, when he was buried he was embalmed and wrapped in cloths (see Genesis 50:26). So, the phrase “the bones of Joseph” was an expression that refers to his mummified body. Eventually, it would be taken to Canaan and buried in Shechem during the days of Joshua (see Joshua 24:32). The reason they took Joseph’s bones with them was because some 400 years earlier, Joseph “had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.” Joseph never considered Egypt to be his home, and before he died he exacted an oath from his relatives that they would take his bones and bury them in Canaan when they returned (see Genesis 50:24-25). Joseph’s desire to be buried in the Promise Land was proof of his own faith in God’s promise that the land would belong to Jacob’s descendants according to the covenant promise God made to Abraham (see Genesis 12: 7; 13:14-17; 15:13-21). “Joseph” believed that God would lead Israel back to Canaan, just as He had promised (see Genesis 15:13-16; Hebrews 11:22). Now God’s promise was being kept. “Moses” made sure that the oath or promise that Joseph’s relatives made to him was fulfilled.
C. A manifestation of divine presence (Exodus 13:20-22).
1. (vs. 20). This verse says “And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.” As God’s people continued “their journey from Succoth” which was their first stop (see Exodus 12:37), they continued going to the southeast and “encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.” Today, the location of both “Succoth” and “Etham” are uncertain, but since they are here said to be “in the edge of the wilderness,” they must have been on the extreme eastern border of Egypt. They were close to the place where Israel eventually would cross the sea and plunge into the wilderness of Sinai (see Number Exodus 14:1-2; 33:6-8).
2. (vs. 21). This verse says “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night…” During this journey, the Lord gave gracious evidence of His presence, for we are told that “the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way.” As they traveled during the “day,” they would be led by “a pillar of a cloud.” At “night” the “pillar of a cloud” appeared or became “a pillar of fire, to give them light.” Both the “pillar of a cloud” and the “pillar of fire” were designed “to lead them the way”… to go by day and night…” This means that the “cloud” and the “fire” made it possible for the Israelites to travel both during the daytime and the nighttime. There were not two separate pillars; there was only one that appeared as a “cloud” during the day and “fire” at night (see Exodus 40:38). Undoubtedly, the “fire” that symbolized God’s presence was constantly enclosed in the “cloud” and could only be seen in the darkness of night. The major purpose of the “fiery cloud,” was “to lead them the way.” They were able to move ahead by day and night. When God wished to have the people camp for some time, the “cloud” remained stationary, hovering above them always in their sight. When it was time to move, the “cloud” was taken up and went before them (see Exodus 40:34:38; Numbers 9:15-22). Note: The “cloud” also served other functions for Israel. It was a shield of protection, moving to the rear of the encampment to separate them from the pursuing Egyptians (see Exodus 14:19-20). It also appeared over the tabernacle door whenever God spoke to Moses (see Exodus 33:9-11; Psalms 99:6-7). The “cloud” was a visible manifestation of God’s glory and presence. In the Scriptures the “cloud” is called the “angel of God” (see Exodus 14:19) and “the glory of the Lord” (see Exodus 40:34). Although it is not in the Scriptures, the “cloud” has also been called the Shekinah-glory, taken from the Hebrew word that means “to dwell.” The presence of the “cloud” was a clear demonstration that God was constantly with His people and personally guiding them. The presence of the “cloud” would remove any doubts that the Israelites may have had as to who was leading them on this journey. It was the Lord God of Israel!
3. (vs. 22). This verse says “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Regardless of how God used “the cloud” on Israel’s journeys, it was always with them to show His presence. This is verified by the words written here that “He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” It would appear from Scripture that the divine Person who occupied “the cloud” was “the Angel of the Lord,” (a Christophany) the preincarnate Christ (see Exodus 14:19; 23:20-23). This is consistent with Jesus’ promise to be with His people in every age, including both our own (see Matthew 28:20) and the future millennial kingdom (see Isaiah 4:5; Zechariah 2:5, 10). Note: In the Old Testament “the angel of the Lord” was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know this to be true because “the angel of the Lord” appeared in the burning bush to Moses in Exodus 3:2, but in Exodus 3:4, it is God who called Moses from the bush. Also in Judges 6:12, “the angel of the Lord” appeared to Gideon, but verse 14 tells us that this person was the Lord Himself. There were many of these appearances of Christ in the Old Testament (see Genesis 16:6-11; chapter 18; Exodus 3:1-12; Numbers 22:22-35; Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 2:1-5; 13:3-22). Whenever this angel appears, He always speaks as only God can, saying “I will do this or I will do that.” No mere angel can speak as God; they can only say what God directs them to speak. So this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, who is God (see John 10:30).
IV. GOD’S TRUSTWORTHY PLAN (Exodus 14:1-9)
A. God’s instructions to Moses (Exodus 14:1-2).
1. (vs. 1). This verse says “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying…” As we read often in the Exodus account, here we are told again that “the Lord spake unto Moses, saying…” What the Lord said to Moses is revealed in the following verses.
2. (vs. 2). This verse says “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” As the people prepared to depart from Etham (see verse 20), the Lord told Moses to “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon.” It’s interesting that while the Israelites were at Etham they were on the edge of the wilderness in the direction of Mount Horeb (or Sinai), the place that God had appointed for them to serve Him (see Exodus 3:1, 12, 18; 5:3). But instead of going forward, they are ordered to turn westward and “encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon.” They were to make camp at “Pihahiroth” which is said here to be between “Migdol and the sea.” The “sea” here refers to the Red Sea. Once there, the people are to make camp “over against” or opposite “Baalzephon.” The locations of the places mentioned here are uncertain to us today, but of course they would have been known to travelers during that time. Once they reached their position opposite “Baalzephon,” the people were to “encamp by the sea.” When the Israelites made camp “by the sea,” they would be facing west toward Egypt with the Red Sea behind them. The Lord purposely selected this location because it gave the people no way of escape once the Egyptian army arrived. This looked like a tactical mistake on Israel’s part and of course on God’s part since He was doing the leading. But things are not always what they look like. The Lord had a plan that He revealed to Moses in the next couple of verses.
B. The reason for God’s instructions (Exodus 14:3-4).
1. (vs. 3). This verse says “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” Now the Lord reveals His plan. He was well aware that the Egyptians were still watching the Israelites and that “Pharaoh” would be told where they were. So the Lord said to Moses “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.” The phrase “entangled in the land” has the idea of “being trapped.” The Lord was telling Moses that when “Pharaoh” received word of the Israelites’ location, he would conclude that they were trapped and “the wilderness hath shut them in” making them an easy prey for the Egyptians. The truth is that God had led His people to this location to bait “Pharaoh” into thinking that they had lost their way in the wilderness and were hopelessly confused.
2. (vs. 4). This verse says “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.” The Lord continued to reveal His plan to Moses. He said “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them.” As He had done many times before when dealing with Pharaoh (see Exodus 7:3, 13; 10:20, 27; 11:10), God said that He would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” so that he would come after the Israelites. Got also gave Moses His reason for wanting Pharaoh to come after His people. He said “and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” God was deliberately giving His people’s enemies an overwhelming advantage for the purpose of showing His own supreme power. This was all God’s plan to gain great honor and glory over Pharaoh and all his “host” or armies, so that the Egyptians shall know and acknowledge without any doubt that He is “the Lord.” If the ten plagues God brought upon Egypt and Pharaoh including the killing of the firstborn sons didn’t cause the Egyptians to acknowledge that the God of Israel was greater than any of the gods of Egypt, “the Lord” had one more action up His sleeves that would change all of that.
C. Pharaoh changes his mind (Exodus 14:5). This verse says “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” Just as the Lord had said (see verse 3), Pharaoh received word “that the people fled.” The term “fled” correctly describes the Israelites’ departure from Egypt since after the tenth plague the Egyptians couldn’t wait for them to leave for they were “thrust” out of Egypt (see Exodus 11:1; 12:33, 39). At this point, “the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” The fact that the Egyptians “turned against” the Israelites seems to indicate that for some reason they felt that Israel’s departure somehow represented a revolt from their allegiance to Egypt. But they departed with Pharaoh’s consent (see Exodus 12:31). Apparently, the Egyptians quickly forgot the suffering brought on by the plagues. They said among themselves “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” It vexed and angered the Egyptians that the Hebrews had their liberty, and that they had lost the profit from their hard labor, and the pleasure of chastising them. For sure, it is not a good thing, and maybe even absurd for people to repent or change their minds about their good deeds, their justice and their charity, and return to their old ways (see Jeremiah 34:10-11). Note: It’s easy to imagine the rage Pharaoh was now in, roaring like a lion disappointed by his prey. His proud heart had swelled with indignation, and he longed to be revenged. And he acts as if all the plagues had never happened. It seems that he has forgotten the sorrowful funerals of his firstborn and the firstborn of all the Egyptians, and can think of nothing but making Israel feel his resentments. But what is really insane is that he also thinks he can be hard on God too, for how could he have hoped to conquer a people who were so dear to the Lord? God gave him up to these passions of his own heart, and therefore hardened it.
D. Pharaoh prepares for war (Exodus 14:6-7).
1. (vs. 6). This verse says “And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him…” After regretting his decision to let the Hebrews go, and being livid about it, Pharaoh “made ready his chariot, and took his people with him…” No doubt Pharaoh felt that Moses had made a fool of him, so it wasn’t enough for him to simply send his troops after the Israelites; he “made ready” or prepared “his (own) chariot, and took his people with him…” The word “people” here refers to Pharaoh’s army.
2. (vs. 7). This verse says “And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.” In addition to going after Israel himself, Pharaoh also “took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.” The king of Egypt was so serious about overtaking the Israelites that he gathered “six hundred chosen chariots” or his best “chariots.” These were taken along with “all the chariots of Egypt.” Undoubtedly, Pharaoh took his entire military force with “captains over every one of them.” The “captains” were well-trained officers who led all the “chariots.” With all of these, Pharaoh set out to pursue his insubordinate former slaves. We are not told exactly what he planned to do with them once he caught up with them. However, I don’t think we would be wrong to assume that he wanted to punish them for their departure, even though he allowed it. In addition, he would force them to return to their bondage in Egypt.
E. Pharaoh’s determined pursuit of the Israelites (Exodus 14:8-9).
1. (vs. 8). This verse says “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.” In verse 4, God told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart which would make him come after them. Here, we see that God’s prophecy was fulfilled, for we are told that “the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel.” The “king of Egypt” was determined to regain what he had lost. Based on the plagues that the Lord had brought upon Egypt, it would have been in Pharaoh’s best interest to let God’s people alone. But he was a proud man (see Proverbs 16:18), and he didn’t want to seem weak to neighboring nations by allowing all his slave labor to slip through his fingers. The last part of this verse appears to be a summary statement about the way the Hebrews left Egypt. It says “and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.” The phrase “with an high hand” speaks of a confident boldness. The Israelites left Egypt boldly and confidently for they had taken much of the wealth of Egypt with them (see Exodus 3:21-22; 12:35-36). Note: There are some who take the phrase “with an high hand” to suggest that Israel left Egypt with a sense of sinful pride. I suppose that it is possible that they somehow believed their accomplished deliverance was the result of their own strategies and schemes. However, there is nothing in our text or elsewhere in the Scriptures that would lead someone to that conclusion. It is more likely that “with an high hand” refers to confident boldness the Israelites showed as they received favor from the Egyptians when they left (see Exodus 12:36; Numbers 33:3). However, it would be even more likely that “with an high hand” is a reference to God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage (see Acts 13:17).
2. (vs. 9). Our final verse says “But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” Even though the Israelites left Egypt with confidence and boldness, “the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army.” Nothing was going to stand in the way of the Egyptians’ attempt to recapture the Israelites. “Pharaoh” and his army of “horses and chariots” went after the Israelites and “overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” The very place that God had led His people to (see verse 20) is the place where the Egyptians found them. The Red Sea was behind them and the Egyptian army was approaching to overtake them. Note: In reality, this was all part of God’s plan to draw out the Egyptian army and trap them. Pharaoh ordered his chariot forces to pursue God’s people. This is a great lesson on God’s leading; while His leading might not always be clear or make sense, we can still trust that what He does is always for our best (see Romans 8:28). Most of us already know the rest of the story. Pharaoh lost his army, and his soldiers lost their lives (see Exodus 14:10-31). Maybe it would be wise for us to learn a lesson from Pharaoh. When we make a decision that results in our loss, let’s count the cost before going back on our word. The king of Egypt pursued the Israelites to overtake and recover everything. Instead, he lost everything. This is just one story that confirms that the Lord is no joke!
V. Conclusion. This week’s lesson has presented more than a historical record; it presented truths about God and His purposes. The Lord moves people and history as He pleases to accomplish His purposes, and He gives us the ability to learn from it. But the truth is, we only see events and people’s actions. We don’t always see that God is using certain events and actions as He did in this lesson to accomplish His purposes. As we walk by faith, we can trust that God will always be with us to accomplish His wonderful purposes through us and for us. He does this even when we can’t see that He is doing it.
***The Sunday School Lesson, Union Gospel Press Curriculum; The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***
Lesson: Exodus 12:29-42; Time of Action: 1445 or 1446 B.C.; Place of Action: Egypt
Golden Text: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 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” (Exodus 12:40-41).
I. INTRODUCTION. As we study this week’s lesson, let us remember that the long, cruel Egyptian bondage of God’s people was divinely designed. God had told Abraham that His people would experience a lengthy time of affliction (see Genesis 15:13-14). The Israelites had been waiting for hundreds of years for God to deliver them. Now that time of deliverance had finally arrived. No doubt, waiting can be wearisome to our souls, but one thing that we can be sure of is that the God we serve is a God of suddenness. When He acts, no one can deny that it was Him because everyone will be able to see it.
II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON. Moses and Aaron had been sent to Pharaoh to demand that he set God’s people free from bondage, but he had no intentions of doing so (see Exodus 7:14-16). As a result, the Lord sent nine plagues in judgment of the Egyptians (see Exodus 7:17-25; 8: 1-11, 16-17, 21-24, 25; 9:1-6, 8-10, 13, 22-26; 10:1, 5-6, 12-15, 21-23). Moses and Aaron appeared before Pharaoh after each plague demanding that Pharaoh let the Lord’s people go, but each time he refused (see Exodus 10:24-28). Finally, the Lord told Moses that He would bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and Egypt that would force him to let the Hebrews go (see Exodus 11:1). That plague would be the death of the first born in Egypt just as God had earlier revealed to Moses (see Exodus 4:21-23). Now the time had come for that plague. God told Moses to tell the people that at midnight He would go throughout all of Egypt and all the firstborn in the land shall die from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the maidservant, and all the firstborn of animals (see Exodus 11:4-5). In chapter 12, God told Moses that this same day and month that they would leave Egypt would be the first month in their calendar going forward (see Exodus 12:1-2). Then God instituted the Passover with Israel (see Exodus 12:4-6, 14-20) advising them that the blood from the lambs to be killed in recognition of the Passover was to be placed over the doors and along the two sides (see Exodus 12: 21-23). The Lord then said that this was necessary because when He passed through Egypt to smite the Egyptians, He would also pass over the houses where the blood was placed over the door (see Exodus 12:13). Moses then told the people that they were to continually observe the Passover and remind their children often why they celebrated it. Then the people worshiped God and went to do as He commanded (see Exodus 12:24-28). This is where our lesson begins.
III. THE FINAL PLAGUE OF JUDGMENT ON EGYPT (Exodus 12:29-36)
A. The death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29-30).
1. (vs. 29). Our first verse says “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.” The Lord had previously told Moses that around midnight He would strike dead all the “firstborn in the land of Egypt” (see Exodus 11:4-5). It was now “midnight” and God was true to His word. At that time “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.” Not only was Pharaoh’s “firstborn” who would be in line to sit on his throne died, but even the “firstborn” of those who were prisoners in the Egyptian “dungeon.” Exodus 11:5 says that death would come “even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill.” Regardless of a person’s rank or status, the “firstborn” in his family was killed. No Egyptian home was exempt from the death of their “firstborn” male. In addition, this plague of death would include “all the firstborn of cattle” or livestock. Note: Although no one knows for sure, archaeological finds indicate that Thutmoses III was Pharaoh in 1446 B.C., the date most Bible scholars accept as the date of the Exodus based on I Kings 6:1. That verse tells us that it was 480 years from the Israelites leaving Egypt to the 4th year of Solomon’s reign. Solomon’s reign began in 970 B.C., and if we subtract four years we get 966 which would be the 4th year of Solomon’s reign and 480 years after the Exodus. Again, this would place the Exodus in 1446 B.C. during the reign of Thutmoses III who reigned from 1485-1431 B.C. There were three distinct phases to his rule. First: From 1495-1464 when he was a baby, his step-mother Hatshepsut ruled with him as co-regent for 21 years. Historically, this period is generally ascribed directly to Hatshepsut as Pharaoh, especially since she proclaimed herself pharaoh before she died. Thutmoses III was Hatshepsut’s step son and when her husband and step brother Thutmoses II died, she ruled until Thutmoses III grew up. Second: From 1464-1446 B.C. after Hatshepsut died, Thutmoses III ruled alone as Pharaoh for 18 years until the Exodus. Third: After the Exodus, Thutmoses III ruled another 15 years from 1446-1431 B.C. Instead of Thutmoses III, there are other scholars who wrongly agree that Ramesses II was the pharaoh at the Exodus which they place in 1270 B.C. They base this on a single piece of information from Exodus 1:11: “So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh (of the oppression) storage cities, Pithom and Raamses.” The argument they give to support this is as simplistic as it is wrong and goes like this: The Hebrews built the city of Raamses, therefore the pharaoh of the exodus must be a guy named “Ramesses II.” They fail to notice that Joseph lived in the “land of Rameses” 400 years before Ramesses II was born. Genesis 47:11 says “So Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had ordered.” This means that the name Rameses predated Ramesses II by 400 years! The only other reason why these scholars place the Exodus in 1270 B.C. is because archaeologists who want to discredit the Bible make active attempts at destroying any possible connection between archaeology and Bible history! As further proof that Thutmoses III was most likely the pharaoh during the Exodus was the fact that he was great, powerful and prideful! He was one of the greatest and most powerful Pharaohs of Egypt. He is in the class of Herod the Great who ruled in Israel in 30 B.C. Thutmoses III’s son, Amenhotep II, was small, insignificant and unaccomplished in contrast to his father. Prior to the Exodus, beginning in 1464 B.C., Thutmoses III made 17 consecutive military campaigns into the Promised Land and surrounding areas. His last campaign was 18 years after Hatshepsut died which is exactly the year of the Exodus, 1446 B.C. A coincidence? I don’t think so!
2. (vs. 30). This verse says “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.” As a result of this final plague, “Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians.” Every Egyptian in Egypt got up during the night, “and there was a great cry in Egypt.” God had foretold that there would be “a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more” (see Exodus 11:6). Again, God’s word had come to pass, for we are told that “there was a great cry in Egypt; there was not a house where there was not one dead.” There was not one household in which the firstborn had not died. Including the palace!
B. Pharaoh’s insistence to Moses and Aaron (Exodus 12:31-32).
1. (vs. 31). This verse says “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.” Pharaoh had previously vowed to never again allow Moses to see his face (see Exodus 10:28). In fact, the king had threatened that if Moses ever did come before him again, he would be killed. But here we see how God overruled Pharaoh’s earlier threat. The Egyptian king was so distraught that he called both “Moses and Aaron” into his presence. He didn’t wait until morning; he issued the summons that very “night.” Pharaoh then told “Moses and Aaron” to “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.” With the death of his firstborn son, Pharaoh intreated Moses to leave Egypt with his people, “and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.” The phrase “as ye have said” refers to Moses’ request to go into the wilderness to serve the Lord (see Exodus 5:1; 7:16).
2. (vs. 32). This verse says, “Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.” Pharaoh also urged Moses to “take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone.” Earlier, after the plague of darkness, Pharaoh agreed to let the people go serve their God three days in the wilderness, but he wanted them to leave their flocks and herds in Egypt, probably to assure that they would return. But Moses refused to leave without their animals because they would be needed for the sacrifices (see Exodus 10:24-26). Therefore, the phrase “as ye have said” refers to Moses’ demand to take their animals with them. With his pride broken, Pharaoh finally gave in to God’s demands, allowing the people and their animals to leave Egypt. And to further demonstrate that this proud man was completely humbled before the God of Israel, at least for the time being (see Exodus 13:17-18; 14:5-9), he asked Moses to “bless” him or “speak well of him.” Because Pharaoh had taken God lightly and scoffed at His people, he had experienced God’s judgment. Now Pharaoh was asking for the Lord’s blessing. Most likely he wanted Moses to “bless” him so that he wouldn’t experience any further plagues. Note: This Egyptian Pharaoh is a prime example of pride and how destructive it can be. Solomon said it this way: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (see Proverbs 16:18). Pride has been the downfall of many people and led to sin entering the world (see Genesis 3:5-6). It will also lead to the destruction of Satan (see Isaiah 14:12-15). Pharaoh’s stubborn pride in his power and authority cost him and his people tremendously. His nation was devastated and many of his people including his own son died because he was too proud to acknowledge the Lord God of Israel. There is a lesson here for us: we should never wait for God to humble us; we must humble ourselves before Him now (see Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; James 4:6, 10; I Peter 5:5-6).
C. The desperation of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:33-34).
1. (vs. 33). This verse says “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.” As already noted, Pharaoh wasn’t the only one affected by the tenth plague of death of the firstborn. Every Egyptian had experienced a great loss causing great panic. As a result, “the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste.” In other words, the Egyptians anxiously urged the Israelites to leave, desiring to send them out of the land quickly. The words “were urgent” suggests the idea of impatiently pressing on someone a particular course of action. The Egyptian people said the reason for wanting the Hebrews to hurry up and leave was the fear that “We be all dead men.” They didn’t want to suffer the same thing as the firstborn—death. The Egyptians were convinced that hurrying the Israelites out of their land was the only way to prevent any further deaths.
2. (vs. 34). This verse says “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.” Since the Egyptians insisted that the Hebrews leave Egypt quickly, “the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.” In other words, since “the people” had to leave immediately, they didn’t have time to finish mixing the leaven into their bread dough so it could rise. So, they took the unleavened “dough” and their “kneadingtroughs” or mixing bowls and wrapped it “in their clothes” and put it on “their shoulders” in preparation to leave Egypt quickly.
D. The Egyptians show favor to the Israelites (Exodus 12:35-36).
1. (vs. 35). This verse says “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.” Earlier, God had told Moses to tell the Israelites that after the final plague, the Egyptians would “thrust” them out, but every person was to borrow silver and gold jewelry from the Egyptians (see Exodus 11:2-3). So in obedience to Moses’ instructions, we are told that “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.” The word “borrowed” here can be translated “asked” and should be understood that way.
2. (vs. 36). This verse says “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.” Here we are told why the people were emboldened to ask the Egyptians for silver and gold jewels and clothing. It was because “the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required.” Earlier, during the burning bush experience, God had told Moses that this would happen (see Exodus 3:1, 21-22). And once again, God was faithful to His word. Since the Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, the Egyptians “lent unto them such things as they required.” The word “lent” here means “to give” or “gave.” The phrase “such things as they required” refers to things the Israelites would need on their journey from Egypt to Canaan. With the silver and gold they could buy any needed provisions from traders. It should be noted that by this time not only did the people find favor in the eyes of the Egyptians, Moses was also recognized as very great in Egypt by both Pharaoh’s servants and the Egyptian people (see Exodus 11:3). This may have also played a part in the Egyptians freely giving the Israelites whatever they asked for. Moses, the writer of Exodus when describing the Israelites receiving goods from the Egyptians said “And they spoiled the Egyptians.” The term “spoiled” means “plundered” and describes a military action of a conquering army stripping its enemy of their goods. It was as if Israel had been at war with Egypt, was victorious, and gathered the spoils.
IV. THE EXODUS OF ISRAEL FROM EGYPT (Exodus 12:37-42)
A. The Israelites leave Egypt (Exodus 12:37-39).
1. (vs. 37). This verse says “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.” Now that they were free, “the children of Israel” began their journey at “Rameses” and continued to “Succoth.” The exact location of these cities is unknown today. However, it is believed that “Rameses” was in northern Egypt, north of Goshen where the Israelites settled in Egypt. “Succoth” is believed to be about forty or forty-five miles south east of “Rameses.” Moses, the writer of Exodus tells us that there were “about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.” According to Numbers 1:45-46, the “six hundred thousand…men” were probably men twenty years old and older. In addition to these “men” there were also women and “children” which could have easily brought the total of Israelites leaving Egypt to more than two million people. That was a whole lotta’ people and only God could’ve taken care of them in what would eventually become 40 years of desert wanderings (see Numbers 14:31-34; 32:13; Deuteronomy 8:2).
2. (vs. 38). This verse says “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.” In addition to the more than two million Hebrews to leave Egypt, “a mixed multitude went up also with them.” These were probably non-Israelites who may have also been slaves, as well as some Egyptians. It’s quite possible that some Egyptians left with the Hebrews because they may have decided to follow Israel’s God after witnessing His plagues. This “mixed multitude” would soon become a pain for Moses, but the Israelites were responsible for most of the troubles and rebellion that took place in the wilderness. The “flocks, and herds, even very much cattle” that belonged to the Israelites and the “mixed multitude” were taken along as well.
3. (vs. 39). This verse says “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.” In verse 34, we are told that the Israelites were forced out of Egypt so quickly that they were not able to prepare food for themselves. As a result, when they stopped to eat, they “baked unleavened cakes” or yeast-less bread from the “dough” they had brought along when they left “Egypt” because the “dough” was “not leavened.” In other words, the “dough” had no yeast, so the “cakes” they baked was actually flat bread. The word “leaven” refers to yeast that was used to make bread rise. The “dough” was not “leavened” meaning it contained no yeast. This was because the people were pushed out of Egypt and didn’t have time to add leaven to the “dough” and wait for the “cakes” or bread to rise to take with them on the trip. The phrase “neither had they prepared for themselves any victual” means that before leaving Egypt, the Israelites didn’t have time to prepare any food for themselves so all they had to eat for the time being was the “unleavened cakes.” The word “victual” means food. Bread was the main food for the Israelites as well as many other ancient peoples.
B. A Reminder of their bondage (Exodus 12:40-41).
1. (vs. 40). This verse says “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” As Moses wrote the Exodus, he stopped here to remind his readers of the length of time that the Israelites were in Egypt. He wrote “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.” Since this verse uses the term “sojourning” with the phrase “dwelt in Egypt” instead of bondage or slavery, this time period of “four hundred and thirty years” most likely refers to the time beginning when Jacob and his family went to Egypt (see Genesis 46: 26-27) while Joseph was Pharaoh’s right hand man (see Genesis 41: 37-46) and does not refer to the actual time they were enslaved which was 400 years (see Genesis 15:13; Acts 7:6). Note: There is much disagreement among scholars as to whether the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt for 430 years, 400 years, 215 years or even less. The disagreement comes with how one understands Paul’s words in Galatians 3:1-17, and how the years are calculated based on certain passages. Some scholars add up the years going back as far as Abraham and others only as far as Joseph. Having researched why there are different opinions as to how long the Hebrews were in slavery, until there is undeniable proof otherwise, for the purpose of this commentary, I accept what this verse says that the Hebrews were in Egypt for 430 years, 400 of those years as slaves.
2. (vs. 41). This verse says “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.” Here we are told that the Hebrews were set free “at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day.” In other words, 430 years after Jacob and his family came to Egypt, to the very day, “all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” These freed slaves were so many that they are described as “the hosts of the Lord.” The term “hosts” has the idea of an organized army or a great number (see Genesis 21:22; 32:1-3; Exodus 15:4). Exactly 430 years from the day they entered Egypt, God’s people “went out from the land of Egypt.” These people hadn’t known anything but slavery, and now they were free. They were also starting on a new journey not knowing what the future held. Even though they were stepping out on faith, in the days to come their faith would be challenged.
C. A Reminder of their deliverance (Exodus 12:42). Our final verse says “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.” Just as Moses reminded the freed Israelites of how long they had been in slavery in Egypt, here he reminds them of the importance of the night that God delivered them. Moses said that “It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt.” The “night” that the Hebrews left Egypt was to be “observed” or honored “unto the Lord” because He had brought them “out from the land of Egypt” and bondage just as He had promised Abraham centuries earlier (see Genesis 15:13-16). Moses went on to say “this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.” This means that going forward, every generation of Israelites are supposed to honor that particular night and make it a date for the annual celebration of God’s deliverance. God had already told the people that that night would be their first Passover and they were to continue to observe it every year to remind them that the Lord passed over them and killed the Egyptians (see Exodus 12:13-27).
V. CONCLUSION. The final plague which took the lives of Egypt’s firstborn finally got through to Pharaoh; he let the Israelites go. The Egyptians were so fearful that they urged the Israelites to hurry up and leave. Sometimes when we are teaching or sharing the gospel with someone, we may sense that the time is right for them to receive Jesus Christ. But we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance so that we know when we should urge an individual to depart in haste from his or her slavery to sin, and when we should just present the gospel and not press for a decision. Remember, like Moses, our job is only to present the message, and it’s God’s job to deliver the person from their slavery to sin.
***The Sunday School Lesson, Union Gospel Press Curriculum; The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***
Lesson: Matthew 9:1-8; Time of Action: 28 A.D.; Place of Action: Capernaum
Golden Text: “But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (Matthew 9:8).
I. INTRODUCTION. This week’s lesson reminds us that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit because they are spiritually discerned (see I Corinthians 2:14). The scribes in our text were familiar with the Scriptures that speak of Christ, but they did not accept Him when He came, even though He did what only God can do. The Lord has no problem with proving His authority to those who believe. Jesus displayed His lordly authority to calm winds and seas, to cast out evil spirits, to heal the body, and most impressive of all, to forgive the sins men commit against God.
II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON. This week’s lesson takes place almost immediately after Jesus calmed the storm suffered by His disciples on the Sea of Galilee (see Matthew 8:23-27), and delivered two men from demon-possession (see 8:28-32). When Jesus cast out the demons, they begged Him to allow them to enter into a herd of pigs that were feeding in the area. Jesus gave them their wish and the demons entered into the pigs causing them to go berserk and dive into the sea (see Matthew 8:32). Out of fear, the herdsman ran into the city and reported everything that they had seen (see Matthew 8:33). Then the whole city came to where Jesus was to see Him. When they saw Jesus, it appears that they were more concerned about the loss of their pigs than the two previously demon-possessed men because they begged Jesus to leave their region (see Matthew 8:34). Our lesson begins with chapter 9.
III. JESUS’ AUTHORITY TO HEAL (Matthew 9:1-4)
A. Jesus returns to His home base (Matthew 9:1). Our first verse says “And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.” After setting the two men free form demon possession, Jesus “entered into a ship,” probably the same one they were on during the storm and brought them to Gadara (see Luke 8:26-27). Upon entering the boat, they“passed over” or crossed back over, the Sea of Galilee “and came into his own city.” The phrase “his own city” refers to Capernaum, which was located on the northeastern shore of the sea. Matthew’s account does not tell us which city was Jesus’“own city,” but Mark’s account says that it was Capernaum (see Mark 2:1). If we didn’t have Mark’s information we might assume that “his own city” referred to Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. But when Jesus began His ministry, the people in Nazareth rejected Him (see Luke 4:16-30), so He went to Capernaum and made that city His base of operations for His ministry (see Matthew 4:12-13; 8:5; 17:24; Mark 1:21; 9:33; Luke 4:23, 31; John 6:24, 59). Note: It should be noted that the gospels of Mark and Luke place the events recorded here in Matthew 9:2-8 before those recorded in Matthew 8:28 through Matthew 9:1. Therefore, the healing of the demon-possessed men most likely took place after the forgiving and healing of the paralytic in our printed text. This would mean that Matthew’s arrangement of his account at this point is more topical than chronological or in order. As we study the lessons from Matthew, we may find that the accounts he writes about will have different aspects and less information than the same accounts in Mark and Luke. All three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) record some of the same events, but not all the writers include the same information about those events. Matthew tends to give the briefest or shortest accounts of some of the events than Mark and Luke do. As a result, it is important to use information from all three Gospels in order to get a complete understanding of what took place. In our study of Matthew we will also review the parallel accounts in Mark and Luke. In our study, there may be some events that may appear to be contradictory in these Gospels. But there are no contradictions in what Matthew writes compared to Mark and Luke. We must realize that different people can see the same events differently. Some will remember certain details, while others may leave out those same details completely. This would reveal that the Gospel writers did not collaborate when they wrote their respective accounts. It also confirms that the writer of each account had specific goals in mind that were governed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (see II Timothy 3:16).
B. Jesus’ assurance of forgiveness (Matthew 9:2). This verse says “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” In both Mark and Luke, this same account has more information than Matthew’s account. For instance, both Mark and Luke tell us that this event took place in a house (see Mark 2:1; Luke 5:19), possibly the home of Peter’s mother-in-law (see Mark 2:29-39; 2:1), but none of the gospel writers specifically say whose house it was. According to Mark 2:1, news soon spread that Jesus that Jesus was in this house teaching and preaching the word to those gathered in the house (see Mark 2:2; Luke 5:17). Mark also tells us that there were so many people gathered in this house, which was probably very small, that there was not enough room for them all (see Mark 2:2). While Jesus was proclaiming God’s Word to the throng of people in the house, this verse says “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed.” The term “palsy” refers to some kind of paralysis. The man was paralyzed and undoubtedly couldn’t walk. Mark tells us that this man was brought to this house to Jesus by “four men” carrying him (see Mark 2:3). Here Matthew says that they brought him “lying on a bed” probably a pallet or stretcher. Although Matthew omits some information here, Mark writes that the crowd was so large that the men couldn’t get the paralyzed man to Jesus (see Mark 2:4). So these men came up with a plan to get him to Jesus. They made an opening in the roof (that is the ceiling tiles) of the house and lowered the pallet on which the man was lying so that he was right in front of Jesus (see Mark 2:4; Luke 5:19). Note: In ancient Palestine a house typically had a flat roof with an outside stairway leading up to it. These four enterprising friends of the paralytic evidently carried him up the outside stairs to the roof and made a hole in it and lowered the man to the Saviour. At this point, this verse says “and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Both Mark and Luke’s Gospels include the words that Jesus spoke here. However, they don’t include the words “Son, be of good cheer.” But that does not mean Jesus didn’t say this. Remember, although all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) may tell the same stories, they may not have provided the same information. This is because, each writer wrote what the Holy Spirit inspired them to write (see II Timothy 3:16). All three Gospels mention that Jesus recognized the faith of these four men and the paralyzed man, so here Matthew says “and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy.” More often than not, faith is seen in our actions or what we do (see James 2:20). Even though there is no direct reference to the sick man’s “faith,” undoubtedly the words “their faith”included the sick man. All five men must’ve believed that the Lord Jesus could heal the paralytic. Most of the time in Scripture, “faith” is either stated or implied in miracle healings. If healing does not happen, this does not mean there is a lack of “faith.” Sometimes God will allow the sickness to continue to help us trust in His grace (see II Corinthians 12:7-9). After acknowledging the “faith” shown by these five men (the four men and the paralyzed man), Jesus said to the sick man “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” This does not mean that all sickness is directly caused by sin, but some illnesses may (see John 5:5-9, 14). Jesus was addressing the most important thing first—the man’s spiritual well-being. The paralytic’s most basic need was the condition of his soul rather than the condition of his body. Note: We may wonder what the paralytic thought when Jesus said “thy sins be forgiven thee.” We must keep in mind that it was a common belief of that day that sin and sickness stood in very close relationship. In fact, a popular view was that sickness always resulted from sin. Jesus made it clear that this view was incorrect (see John 9:1-3). By addressing the man as “son”Jesus was most likely emphasizing that all who earnestly come to Him will be admitted into God’s family. The term rendered“forgiven” means “let go” or “pardoned.” Only God has the authority and power to remit or send away a sinner’s transgressions. And this is the one fundamental meaning of forgiveness—to separate the sin from the sinner. By His statement, Jesus was claiming the right to forgive sins, and He could legitimately do so because He is the Son of God. Note:Christians have the authority to tell others how to be forgiven by sharing the gospel with them (see Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 2:36-41; 3:19; 16:30-34). However, we don’t have the authority or power to forgive sins the same way that Jesus declares a person forgiven. Yes, we can grant forgiveness to those who have hurt or harmed us (see Ephesians 4:32), but we can’t claim to be able to pardon or forgive sin the way God does (see Isaiah 43:25).
C. Jesus is accused of blasphemy (Matthew 9:3). This verse says “And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.” After Jesus declared that He had forgiven the paralyzed man’s sins, “certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.” According to Luke’s account, the “scribes” were experts in the Old Testament Law. Along with some Pharisees they came to Capernaum where Jesus was teaching from every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem (see Luke 5:17) and were sitting in the gathering. They immediately concluded and “said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.” The term rendered “blasphemeth” means “to speak evil of” or “to defame something or someone” especially God. It can include scornful contempt for someone or claiming to be divine. Some of these “scribes” only saw the fact that Jesus had made a statement only God could rightfully make. So they considered this to be blasphemy. These religious leaders knew that only God has the authority to pardon sins for Luke 5:21 says that they began to reason among themselves saying “Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” So, since they did not believe that Jesus was God, they concluded that He was slandering or blaspheming God.
IV. JESUS’ AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SINS (Matthew 9:4-8)
A. Jesus’ response (Matthew 9:4-6).
1. (vs. 4). This verse says “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” We naturally think that no one knows what we are thinking, so it must have been shocking to the scribes that the Lord Jesus knew what they were thinking. Not only could Jesus forgive sin, as the Son of God He could also read the minds and thoughts of men. So here we are told that “Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” In the previous verse, the religious leaders had questioned Jesus’ authority and doubted His deity and Messiahship; but He demonstrated that He is God through His knowledge of the “thoughts” of the scribes. Jesus questioned these religious leaders as to why they were thinking “evil” of Him. They were not thinking, “Could this man be God in the flesh?” which would have been the opposite thought to blasphemy. This is the usual reaction of the unsaved person when they come in contact with the Scriptures or Christians or anything that would draw them to God and His salvation.
2. (vs. 5). This verse says “For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?” After asking the scribes why they had evil thoughts about Him, Jesus went right to the point asking them what was the “easier”thing to say “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” which could not be seen, proved, or disproved, or to say “Arise, and walk” which could be seen and demonstrated. Of course, a person can say almost anything whether or not they have the authority to do it, but without the authority or power to work a miracle nothing that could be seen would change. In actual fact, it is impossible for a mere human being to do either one, but only the miracle of healing can be verified by sight. But what is impossible for people to do, is easily possible for God (see Matthew 19:25-26). Note: A religious fraud would find it easier to claim that a person’s sins were forgiven than to miraculously heal a person of some sickness. Of course anyone can say that someone’s sins are forgiven since no one can really see if God has removed those sins. However, to say that a paralyzed man is healed can be seen immediately and there would be no doubt that a miracle has taken place. But if Jesus could not heal the man, it would also prove that He could not forgive sin. Many desperate people have looked for people who claim to have the gift of healing, but have been disappointed to find out that was not the case. Today, many of the supposed healings that we hear about often deal with illnesses that can’t be seen with the naked eye, so if healing did occur we have no way to prove or verify it. Most of the biblical healings could be proved immediately by sight (see John 9:1-7; Acts 3:1-10). There was no kind of deception involved. The point is that it’s okay to be skeptical of anyone claiming to have powers that they don’t actually have. The Bible reminds us that there are some people who don’t even know the Lord but may be able to perform miracles (see Matthew 7:21-23).
3. (vs. 6). This verse says “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.” Although the religious leaders didn’t ask for proof that Jesus could “forgive sins,” He gave it to them anyway. First, He said “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…” Here Jesus referred to Himself as the “Son of man.” This title revealed the deity (see Daniel 7:13-14), Messiahship, as well as the humanity (see Mark 8:31; 10:45) of Christ. This was Jesus’ favorite way of identifying Himself. In most of the Old Testament, “son of man” usually meant “human being,” but Daniel 7:13, says “the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven.” This definitely refers to the Messiah. Jesus wanted the Pharisees and scribes to know that “the Son of man” had divine authority and “power on earth to forgive sins.” To convince them of this, Jesus commanded the paralyzed man to stand, pick up his “bed” or pallet and go home. Jesus’ point was that if He could heal the man’s physical illness, He had the same authority in the spiritual realm. Having the power and authority over sickness and disease should have made it clear to the religious leaders that “the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…” Jesus was declaring that on earth, He alone has the special authority to forgive our “sins.”
B. Bringing glory to God (Matthew 9:7-8).
1. (vs. 7). This verse says “And he (the paralyzed man) arose, and departed to his house.” To the amazement of the religious leaders and the large crowd of people watching, just as Jesus had commanded, the paralyzed man immediately stood up took his pallet and went home. By healing the paralytic, Jesus also confirmed His claim to have divine authority to forgive sins. Unlike the religious leaders and spiritual frauds, Jesus had the ability to heal people both physically and spiritually. The fact that this man was healed immediately should not cause us to devalue the need for medical science today. However, we should not confuse miracles with other means of healing, many of which take a longer period of time for the person to return to full strength and health.
2. (vs. 8). Our final verse says “But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” When the large crowd of people saw the paralytic get up, pick up his pallet and go home,“they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” In other words, instead of criticizing, they praised God. This does not mean that the “multitude” realized that they were in the presence of God in the flesh. We don’t know if any people in the crowd were convinced enough to believe in Jesus and to follow Him. This proves the truth that miracles alone did not and will not convince people that Jesus was the Messiah (see Luke 16:27-31). We are only told that the“multitude” was amazed at what they saw and “glorified God” because He “had given such power unto men.” But what we should take away from the response of the crowd is that God must be “glorified” because of all the power He has given to men to do good. All power is originally His, for power belongs to God (see Psalms 62:11).
V. Conclusion. This week’s lesson has practical application for us as believers. There are people all around us who have severe physical and spiritual needs. But how will we respond to their needs? Let us not be like the religious leaders who showed no concern or compassion for the plight of the paralyzed man. Let us be like the Saviour who cared enough to make a difference in the life of a hurting person. Like Jesus, let us take the time to reach out to others in need. We will never regret such a display of Christlike love.
***The Bible Expositor and Illuminator, Union Gospel Press Sunday School Curriculum***
Lesson: Matthew 8:23-34; Time: 28 A.D.; Place of Action: The Sea of Galilee and the region of the Gergesenes
Golden Text: “But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matthew 8:27).
New International Version (NIV)
I. JESUS DEMONSTRATES HIS AUTHORITY OVER THE SEA (Matthew 8:23-27)
23. Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.
24. Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
25. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26. He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
II. JESUS DEMONSTRATES HIS AUTHORITY OVER SATAN (Matthew 8:28-34)
28. When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.
29. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”
30. Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.
31. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
32. He said to them, “Go!”So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.
33. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
34. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.
PRACTICAL POINTS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. Having faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior does not mean we won’t experience any storms; but it does give us peace and confidence in the midst of the storm (Matthew 8:23-24).
2. When we know that Jesus is always with us, we will have no reason to be afraid (Matthew 8:25-27).
3. Even demons know who Jesus is and are subject to His power and authority. Christ stayed busy, we should also keep ourselves occupied doing God's work (Matthew 8:28-29).
4. As the Creator, Jesus is sovereign and can do whatever He wants with whoever He wants (Matthew 8:30-32).
5. Unsaved people don’t understand God’s love and grace; therefore, being foolish they reject Him. The people were upset that they lost their livelihood, but had they had faith Jesus would have made a way to provide for them. (Matthew 8:33-34; Luke 4:28-29).
***Union Gospel Press Sunday School Curriculum, The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***
How Important Is Israel?
God is bragging about how good He is being to Israel, because Ez 16:4 says it is like a newborn child. Ex. 4:22 First Born Son No good comes to any nation that harms Israel. Israel is the only Nation formed by a direct lineage with God Gen 12:1,3&6 promise to Israel. 1, I’ll make you a great nation. Shin-shaddai 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet means God means all sufficient one.
Israel grafted in the gentiles Hosea 2:23 only nation on earth is sealed in blood. Gen 17:10&11
Deut 12:5 Jerusalem has covenant has a covenant with King David is Jesus because Jesus calls himself the Son of David
Deut 16:11 everywhere God puts His name is Blessed.
God covenant “My People” 2 Corinth 6:16 calls gentiles “my people.” Any nation that messed with Israel curses against the name Heb 6:13&14 of God. Anytime God makes a promise it’s either Grace or Judgment.
Satan and his forces of evil know that they do not have long. The forces of evil are working overtime to try and destroy mankind.
Luke 4:5 of evil know that they do not have long. The forces of evil are working overtime to try and destroy mankind. 10:12&13 power over the air.
Authority to control Kingdoms. Paul calls from the ruler of the earth and
Spiritual warfare going on in the atmosphere.
Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth.
Eph 4:29 Social Intercourse
Rev 12:10 from the same word, the Devil does not want God’s Covenant to succeed.
Base Scripture: Romans 13:11
Suntumno: Greek; cut off all at once
hupnos/hypnos: to sleep, trance, stupor, daze, slumber
Bible Studies are led every Wednesday through the Spring and Fall months at 7:oop.m.