Declaration of Ownership

“God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them” Exodus 2:25

As in child birth, pain often precedes pleasure and joy. The birth of the nation of Israel would be no different and it has similarities with the nation’s rebirth at the end of the Great Tribulation.

In the last three verses of Exodus two we find Israel groaning under the weight of bondage as slaves in Egypt. In their pain and suffering they cried out to the Lord. God had been with them all along but now that the people were crying out for deliverance He would act.

First we note that He heard the cries of Israel for deliverance to the point of acting (v 24). But on what basis would He act? In the same verse we are given the answer; “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” It isn’t that God had forgotten His covenant. This and the preceding chapter are evidence of that but He is now going to act in a special way with regard to that covenant.

When we read that “God looked upon the children of Israel,” it isn’t that He had been distracted elsewhere but that He was taking into account their present situation and their crying out for deliverance. He would now act.

Finally, in these verses, we note that God acknowledged Israel and was concerned for them. The idea here is that of a relationship, that of a father for his son (4:22). God is declaring His ownership of Israel. As such He will act to deliver Israel. He affirms this again in 3:7 where He refers to Israel as “My people.”

This is a beautiful picture of Israel’s future. The closing days of the Great Tribulation will see Israel again crying out to God for deliverance. On that occasion the Lord Jesus Himself will appear for the same reason that He gave attention to Israel as recorded in Exodus two, “God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” He will then deliver believing Israel and believing Gentiles and establish His earthly kingdom.

These circumstances have a parallel with salvation now. When a person is sick and tired of the corruption of this world, bondage to sin and death, they will cry out to God for deliverance. Jesus promises to respond. He said, “If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine [teaching], whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority” (John 7:17). When a person desires to hear the truth Jesus will ensure they hear it and know that it is true but it is up to the person as to whether they will receive it and trust Jesus and His word.

It is the delight of the child of God to know that Jesus Christ declares His ownership of them and in due course will do so publicly. Of greatest importance is that He will declare His redeemed to the Father.

Ancestry Matters

Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old?” John 3:4

In recent years there has been a lot of interest in ancestry. Online access to data enables us to discover some of our ancestry without even leaving home. There is also a television program dedicated to searching out the ancestry of well known people. There have been surprises one way or the other. All kinds of questions may turn out to have unexpected answers.

One thing is certain and that is that if we are able to trace our ancestry back a hundred or so generations we would discover that we all have Noah and his wife as ancestors. If we follow that back further we discover that we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. As descendants of Adam we inherit the curse that his sin brought – death to intimacy with his Creator evidenced by bodily death (Genesis 2:17; 3:17-19). The consequence is that all of Adam’s descendants have inherited a sin nature, no intimacy with our Creator and bodily death.

We are helpless to change our ancestry. That is history and no amount of rewriting will change the fact. People who try to rewrite history by denying our ancestry in Adam and replacing it with a fiction story are only deceiving themselves and fail to understand Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus’ question. Rather than rewriting history we need to have our ancestry actually changed. Hence we have Nicodemus’ question that ordinarily would defy an answer.

When Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again (born from above)” (John 3:3) He was saying that he needed a new ancestry. Not surprisingly Nicodemus realised that this was humanly impossible. On another occasion Jesus said. “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). This is essentially what Jesus was endeavouring to communicate to Nicodemus. What was necessary in order for Nicodemus to enter the Kingdom of God was impossible with men but not with God.

Everyone trying to enter God’s Kingdom by their own effort will fail because he cannot change his ancestry. John made this clear in the early part of his Gospel. “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13). Faith in the Person and work of Jesus Christ is the condition that must be met and then God will create us new in Christ. That which is impossible with men God achieves in response to faith in Christ.

By the birth of Jesus into the world and the His death and resurrection He is able to change our ancestry from the first Adam to the last Adam, Himself. In Christ alone we have God as our Father.

Spiritual Health

“Until Christ is formed in you” Galatians 4:19

When a baby is born the expectation is that the baby will grow to be a toddler, a child, a teenager and to adulthood. This growth is not just physical but also mental, emotional and social. We all recognise that something is wrong if any of these things do not occur simultaneously with the others and at appropriate times.

Learning and maturing take place through parental and other teaching processes and the numerous experiences that a person endures from birth. All this is just head knowledge unless translated by life’s experiences. How many times have we had to learn the hard way? We may forget or disregard instruction and that has led to painful consequences. The wise person will make the most of these opportunities and learn from them.

When a person is “born from above” Jesus Christ is “born” in them by the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) and the natural expectation is that the spiritually newly born will grow to spiritual maturity. We call it “new birth” and “born again” in recognition of the fact that God has created something new that did not exist before.

Spiritual learning and maturity come through instruction that originates in God and application in and through life experiences. When we forget or disregard instruction we may suffer painful consequences and hopefully be the wiser in future.

In Galatians 4:8-20 Paul expresses his fear that the Christians in Galatia were not growing or maturing in the way that would normally be expected. Something was wrong and he knew what it was.

He had called them “foolish” (3:1) because they had turned back to following religious ritual and works as a means of trying to please God instead of enjoying a relationship with Him. This had never pleased God before so why would it please Him now? That is why he called them foolish. They had been justified by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross and they should remain true to that by continuing to live by faith (3:11).

The object of faith for Christians is Jesus Christ. The Word of God is the source of knowledge of Jesus Christ. Christ will be formed in us as we grow to maturity spiritually and for that we need the nourishment of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit teaching us through the experiences of life in conjunction with that word. The Lord engineers our experiences with a view to bringing us to maturity. How well we enjoy that journey will depend on our willingness to trust in His sovereign leading and submit to His headship.

When a child does not develop in all areas, physical, mental, emotional and social, we recognise that something is wrong. When a Christian does not go on to spiritual maturity we know that something is wrong as well. Let us all press on to maturity. This will require spiritual food, spiritual exercises, development of godly attributes and service to others. If we allow any of these to fall away we will fall short of spiritual maturity.