Updated: Jan 27
Reading 1 - Exo 1; 2
"Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son" (Exo 2:1,2).
"Exo 1 had portrayed in graphic detail the suffering which Pharaoh had inflicted upon the Israelites. What would God do about it? Would He have mercy on the Hebrews and deliver them from their shame? And if so, how?
"Exo 2 begins to answer these questions, but apparently in a tangential manner. For God's solution consists not in some phenomenal miracle or in the promotion of a mighty israelite leader who was already alive (either of which we might have expected, had we not already known the story). God's solution consists instead in the birth of a son.
"This provides both a pattern for the future and a salutary lesson. One day God would again send a son -- this time HIS OWN -- to deliver a people from slavery. Again He would prepare the child from birth, bringing it safely from the womb and nourishing and developing it for the immense task that lay ahead. How does one begin to create a people, as God begins to do in the book of Exodus? One does it, so Exo informs us, by means of a son. How remarkably history repeats itself!" (Mark Vincent, Testimony 71:108,109).
So now... almost 80 years later....
"During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them" (Exo 2:23-25).
"It is because the cry of the Israelites is so intense that the story continues to unfold in the way it does... they cry, and consequently (and immediately) God responds. It is a pattern which is repeated time after time in the Scriptures. The cry of Israel initiates history; God is galvanized into action. His people cry; God is mobilized into activity on their behalf. Not that He has not been working quietly in the background all along -- far from it, for the instant they cry Moses is ready to be sent, yet this was a process that was set in motion many years before! But whereas God had been preparing behind the scenes so that everything would be ready once His people cried to Him, now that pivot point has been reached God springs into action. For He is a responsive God; what He does is determined to some extent by the actions of His people. If they cry to Him then He will listen, and potentially intervene on their behalf" (Mark Vincent, Testimony 71:239).
Reading 2 - Psa 55:22
"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall" (Psa 55:22).
Jesus himself did this: John 17:11; Psa 22:10; 37:5. 1Pe 5:7 quotes the LXX, as a sequel to "Humble yourself under God's mighty hand." Read with the emphasis: And he shall sustain YOU, as well as your burden.
CARES: "Burden" (AV). Notice that "burden" here (yahab) is "gift" in the margin: The "gift" of God to us is a life of cares and burdens, so that we might learn to trust in Him alone (v 23)! "Come unto me, all ye who (are)... heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mat 11:28,29).
"Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into His place to do for Him that which He has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy He will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if He were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to His plain precept, this unbelief in His Word, this presumption in intruding upon His province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God's hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the 'broken cistern' instead of to the 'fountain;' a sin which was laid against Israel of old (Jer 2:32). Anxiety makes us doubt God's lovingkindness, and thus our love to Him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from Him; but if through simple faith in His promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon Him, and are 'careful for nothing' because He undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to Him, and strengthen us against much temptation. 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee' " (GVG).
Reading 3 - Rom 8:29
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Rom 8:29).
We probably all have a pretty good idea what "predestination" is NOT. It is NOT "eternal security"; it is NOT "once saved, always saved". But... the question here is: What DOES it mean? Consider the following:
FOREKNEW: From Greek "proginosko" = to know in advance. Cp 1Pe 1:18-20: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen (the same word: proginosko) before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake." Note the Passover connection.
PREDESTINED: From Greek "proorizo" = to mark out, or set a limit (ie, horizon, where the sky stops) in advance. This is the blood of the Passover lamb, which marked out, or put a limit upon, the work of the Destroying Angel. Those who had faith sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. In doing so they were marked out ahead of time (Exo 12), and were saved out of Egypt, while all around them others -- the other "firstborns" (see this very verse for a "firstborn" connection!) perished (including the firstborn of Pharaoh: Rom 9:17)! There are other Passover connections with the immediate context here: Rom 8:32 (Gen 22: ram, offering), Rom 8:36 (Psa 44:22: sheep to be slaughtered).
The same word (proorizo) occurs in Eph 1:5,11 -- where the righteous are "sealed" (separated for special use, marked out) in Eph 1:13. Also, the same word occurs in Acts 4:28 and 1Co 2:7.
Of course, the "proorizo" is the really interesting Greek word here. "Pro" = before, ahead of time. And "horizo" (like the English "horizon") marks the point, or line, beyond which the sun cannot go, that is, the line of demarcation between earth and sky.
So, in Old Testament times, how did God "mark out", ahead of time, an absolute line of differentiation between one group of people and another? One answer (maybe the best answer?) is at the first Passover in Egypt, when the blood of the Passover lamb -- painted on the door posts and lintels of the houses of (some) Jews in Egypt -- saved them from death when God sent His destroying angels out to kill all the firstborns.
Was this "predestination" done by God solely? Of course not. The Jews had to CHOOSE whether they would put the blood on their houses, AND whether they would remain in the house during the night. They had to act in faith upon the principles, and promises, which God had given them. If they did, then they were "predestined" (marked out beforehand) to be spared, to be saved, while all around them were perishing.
And, of course, they had to continue to remember God and His promises, and continue to keep the Passover, as a reminder of what God had done for them, and -- presumably -- as an act of faith in the greater "Passover lamb" to come, who would truly take away the sin of the world.
But it was still God's "predestination" in the first place. 'I have marked out a place where you will be safe from the death that will be visited upon the world. That place is one of absolute security. But... you need to go there, do what I say, and -- above all -- remain there! Otherwise, you will not be "marked out" for My Glory!'