【Bible Study】Exodus 13: Commemorate This Day

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Brother William Sharing

Bible Study: Exodus

How To Read the Bible

Good morning, everyone. Today we are looking at Exodus Chapter 13. While you are thinking about the approach of the Bible Study, I would like to draw your attention to the approach which I am taking. The approach is to understand what the author was trying to deliver and to understand how people do the writing.

I wrote a lot of papers in both Chinese and English. I am not like those people who are very good at literature. I am an engineer. If I were to write something to the other party, I would want the person to understand what I am talking about. I would write it on a piece of paper connecting paragraphs and developing the idea that I want to deliver. But the problem is, if you want to understand what the author is trying to say, we need to reassemble what the texts are about and how they are assembled together.

We need to understand how the author put the texts into the writing. I don’t think the author did the writing with a piecemeal approach. If you write a paper in that way, I am sure you will get a low mark. Some people are looking at specific verses and the context behind each individual verse. They would say: "I look at the context of the whole chapter and the main idea." I would focus on the connection because if I couldn't find the connections of the paragraphs, I would say I got it wrong and did not get the idea.

I don't think Moses wrote Exodus with a random approach by merely putting loose pieces together. If you ask the author: "What idea are you trying to deliver?" And the author says: "I don’t know either." For instance, when I am holding a meeting, if I just keep talking about random things and ask the audience: "Do you understand?" Some people might say: "Yes, we understand. " But how can you understand if I don't even know what I'm talking about?

The connection is very important. If you take my approach, you can catch the main point that the author is trying to make. It doesn't really matter even if the page of your Bible was missing a piece and somehow you could not see the complete sentence. There are a lot of people reading the Bible like this: "Oh, this translation is missing a sentence and that part has the wrong description." When you finish studying the Bible in Greek or Hebrew, I guess you have already become an ancient.

Many years ago, there was no Bible to read during that period. I saw people were using handwritten books, people just copied the Bible by hand because they did not have the whole Bible. They only had books of Matthew, Isaiah, Genesis, and probably only 20 chapters of the Exodus. Can you imagine people were reading these handwritten books? Let me tell you, those Christians were much better than the Christians today, they were much more hungry for the word of God and they had a strong faith in the Lord. It was simply because the Holy Spirit led them into the truth, not the text itself. Holy Spirit will lead us into the truth. If you read the Bible, you would know it. If you and I are led by the Holy Spirit, we will be able to understand the truth because God is a God who speaks.

I look at this in two different ways, the first one is to assemble together and identify what God is speaking to us or what the author is trying to tell us. If you can’t see the connection, you will surely get it wrong. A few years ago, I was leading people to do the Bible study for the book of James, and I got a problem when I tried to assemble it together. I was not able to understand what the book of James was saying. After a year, I tried to pick it up again and I still couldn’t understand. I did not know what the main point in the book of James was trying to tell us. After years of effort, I realized James wrote the book with a piecemeal approach and that was the reason why I couldn't connect the paragraphs. Even James could not connect, how am I going to get connected? But Moses was good at writing and he wrote the books in a clear manner.

Memory is Very Spiritual

Let me ask you a question: "What is the main point in this chapter or what Moses was trying to deliver?" The whole book of the Exodus assembled together in one sentence is: The Army of God came out from Egypt. You may agree or disagree, but that’s what I got. If we look at this chapter as a whole, what do I get? Chapter 13 is talking about:

Then Moses said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. (Exodus 13:3)

Moses was trying to deliver an idea that we need to commemorate this day. I would like to make this the first point: Memory is very spiritual. When I was talking to a person, she always liked to talk about things that happened in the past years. For example, she was in her thirties, but she still talked about how her parents mistreated her and how people let her down. She was like someone who hurt inside with bitterness and tragedies. I said to her: "When you were born, you were just an infant. You couldn't even walk on your own and cook the meals. Your parents were taking care of you from morning till night. Anytime you cried, your mother had to come over and tried to pacify you." What's wrong with that? How come you only remember all the bad things in your mind? This is very spiritual.

If you want to make friends, you need to look at their memory. If you hear all those sorrowful stories, you may sympathize with them. But try to keep a distance from those kinds of people because they always remember bad things. If you build a relationship with them, they will always remember the bad things between you and him/her. What memory you remember represents what kind of people you are. Many people always forget what God had done to them.

Once, a lady came to me and said: "I never experienced God." I replied to her: "Can you say that again? Get out of here." Just three days ago, her neck and shoulder were stiff and I prayed for her and she got healed. She forgot what God had done to her within three days. I said to myself: "I don't want to have any relationship with this kind of people." God knows what kind of people we are. Moses wrote the fives books including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Moses also knew the people very well. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, do you know what kind of people they are? They were very different because, in their memories, they remembered a lot of good things that God had done to them.

But there are many people who always remember bad things happening in their lives. If you want to live a happier life, you need to clean up your memory. If you ask me what is in my memory, I can tell you that I remember good things. I don't want to remember bad things. There was a time when I was ministering to a lady who was over 50 years old and had sickness. When I prayed for her and God spoke to me: "She remembered a lot of bad things." When I asked her and she told me many bad stories such as how her husband and brother mistreated her. I said to myself: "Oh my God, here comes another one."

Let me tell you, for about 90% of people I have met are forgetful about the grace which God had given and they can easily forget the mighty hand of the Almighty God, even God had led Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. That’s why it is so important for God to set this day to exercise this ceremony every year for them to be reminded. But for some people, their memory only lasts for couple of days or even a few hours. People say fish memory only last for five seconds, when they turn around, they don't know each other anymore. I don't know what kind of people you are, but I want to be the kind of people God wants me to be: Have a memory to commemorate the day the Lord had saved me and set me free.

When I experienced God, it was not something marvelous, I did not get a terminal disease and God healed me. It was simply because I did not have a job at that time and God provided me with a job. I commemorated the day and I turned to the Lord. To this day I still remember, and I said to the Lord: "You are my God, you are my Lord, you are my Master and you are the one I'm going to serve because my life belongs to you."

What kind of people do you want to be? This is the style I used to lead the Bible study. I don't talk too much about the scenes, I want to just talk a little bit about what kind of people you want to be and what kind of thing you want to remember. If a couple are dealing with each other, then you look at what you remember about your husband or wife. If you are a clever person, you are the person who pleases God, and you would surely tell me all the good things about your husband or wife.

I believe you would hardly hear and share all the bad stories. I don't like to remember all those things. I like to remember how God had set me free and how God had done in my life and what God had promised in my life. I look forward to that day when I will be meeting with God and standing in front of God. God will say to me: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Remember The Mighty Hand of God

This is the second point: Remember the mighty hand.

You have to remember who brought you up out of Egypt. It’s not because of your muscles. It’s not because you're the strongest. It’s not because you're holding a powerful nuclear weapon. No, they did not even lay a single finger at all. The Israelites came up from Egypt, from slavery, because of the mighty hand of God. Lots of people easily forget, but you have to remember that it’s God’s mighty hand. How many of us have experienced the power of Almighty God? I'm sure that this is the church where you can see the hand of Almighty God. But do you remember it?

Moses knew what kind of people the Israelites were. They easily forgot. Every time they faced a challenge, they murmured and complained. Complained to who? Complained to God? God is the one who saved you. Why do we always forget His mighty hand? Because the moment we face enemies, the feeling of phobia, the feeling of fear will overrule us. Then where is the mighty hand? Do you still remember how you came up from Egypt? By the mighty hand of God. You came up by God killing all the firstborns of the Egyptians, both man and animal, the firstborns of every family. Do you still remember the crying of the Egyptians? Do you remember that kind of sound of every family crying out? And every family will be holding a funeral. Scary, right?

This is how you came out of slavery, out of Egypt, but a lot of them still forget the mighty hand. When they were short of water they complained. When they had a little harder, tougher exercise, they complained. They forgot how they came out. They forgot they belonged to the Army of God and this was just typical training. Are you willing to be trained? If you are, then don't complain. You have to be trained in a tough manner because you are going to confront your enemy. Then you remember the mighty hand and you know that you're going to march into the place flowing with honey and milk; the promised land. You have to conquer the people in the promised land. You have to commemorate this day, commemorate the mighty hand of God.

Remember God’s Promise of Delivering

God is delivering the promise of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I’m going to take it. I'm going to take the result of the promise to Abraham. God made a promise 400 years ago saying: "This is the land I'm going to give to you, and it is called the promised land. This place is full of honey and milk, I'm going to give you this land". When Isaac and Jacob were alive, they were looking forward to the day their descendants would be in the promised land. How wonderful is that? You have to remember that the land God gives you flows with honey and milk, not flowing with sickness, never flowing with cancer, never flowing with pain, never flowing with all the sickness that fell on all the Egyptians.

That's what I was looking forward to when I set up the church. I said, "God, I do not want to set up a church that flows with cancer, flows with poverty, flows with a lot of problems, flows with the devil robbing everyone. No, I want to set up a church flowing with honey and milk, flowing with all your promises. I remember that, Oh God, what you promised to Abraham, I want that. Lord I need to remind you, this is your promise. Come on God, you promised it and I will take it. That is my faith". My faith is not like this: "Oh yeah, never mind, I suffer the sickness on the earth but never mind, eventually, I will go up to heaven". What kind of commemoration is that?

Unleavened bread is not soft at all. Unleavened bread doesn't taste nice at all. Because when you eat it for seven days, it is so hard. Come on God, why do you ask me to eat this kind of things? you know it’s not nice at all. But it's for us to commemorate this day. When the Israelites came up from Egypt, they didn’t even have time to cook a good meal, they didn't even have time to wait for the bread to be cooked properly, no yeast at all. Can you see the connection? If we eat those things, the taste is lousy, quite horrible but it's for us to remember, not for us to think that this is the food we’re going to eat for the rest of our life. No, in our whole life we are going to eat honey and milk. The place flows with honey and milk from the promise of God. But after a few years, you may forget the mighty hand, you may forget the day God delivered you out of slavery. You may forget God killed the firstborn of the Egyptians and saved all your family. You may forget that God already swore to your forefathers and that He gave you this land. And you may forget the promise of Almighty God.

God promised an oath to you and your forefathers. Do you remember that? If I were to read the Bible, let me tell you, I like to read those things with the promises. No matter how many promises God has in us, it is always true in Jesus Christ. Some people say: "No, I don't see the promise." Do you know why? You are not in the body of Christ. That's why the promise does not come true. You cannot gain access to the promise, and that’s the problem. We get it wrong and we have to correct it. If you get it right, you will see honey and milk, and of course, occasionally, you will see unleavened bread for you to commemorate the day God showed his mighty hand. He will show his mighty hand again and again, not only delivering us from the Egyptians, from Pharaoh, but also bringing us across the ocean, across the Red Sea, walking on dry land. The mighty hand and the promise are so wonderful.

Remember God is the God Almighty

If your son asks you, even if he doesn’t ask you, you say:

"I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt." (Exodus 13:8, NIV)

because I commemorate the day God has set me free.

Until today, I still remember how I turned to the Lord, how the Lord saved my life, and how the Lord gave me a job. It was a miracle. After I went on board, three months later, my boss held a departmental meeting and he came over to me. "Do you know this job is given by God to you?" I replied: "I do not know". He shared a story with me. He said, "I was looking at your resume. It's horrible, full of broken English". Yes, my English was horrible. I couldn't even write a proper resume at that time. "Every time I recruit people, I lay my hand on the whole stack of the resumes, and I pray to God, the God I love". My boss was a Christian. My God spoke to him and he heard a sound, a voice in his ear. Can you believe it? Do you know what was the sound in his ear? My name! He told God, "No, it cannot be. I need someone who can work for me!" But the next day when he laid his hand on the resume and prayed again and the same thing happened. Do you think I got my job because of me? No, I got a job because of the mighty hand of the Almighty God. They did the same thing and eventually, I got the job when I went for the interview. I couldn't even speak proper English, so most of it was done in Chinese. It was not a pleasant experience at all. So I remember what God had done to me and I do not want to forget.

God said to Moses, "All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to God, to the Lord." Do you think God needs that animal? No, God doesn’t need an animal. The heavens and the earth belong to him. Why does he need the firstborn of your livestock? It is for you to commemorate, for you to know that all our firstborns were supposed to be dead, supposed to be gone when we came out of Egypt. They were supposed to be killed together with the Egyptians, but because of the redemption from the Almighty God, we can live today. So redeem every firstborn among your sons. That's why you make it something like this.

"This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips, for the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. "(Exodus 13:9, NIV)

Come on. You and I should give a good clap for our Lord because he did a wonderful job for us. This is what you are supposed to tell your son: it’s like a sign on your hand and symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand. That is Verse 16.

Don't Be Scared When Facing the War

Moses repeated this again and again, for us to get the idea. Moses is a very good writer. He wrote this again and again, and yet, a lot of people still do not catch the main point. So God says: "Oh all these people's memories are horrible! I could bring them straightly into the promised land. But if they face war, they would totally forget the mighty hand." This is also you and I. We are no different from the Israelites, but we have to keep on reminding ourselves that if we face war, "Will I still remember God’s mighty hand"?

There are a lot of people falling sick. Every time their sickness gets worse, they have no more faith. Every time I pray and they are in a better condition, they have faith. This is very typical. If they face war, they might change their mind and return to Egypt. You see, this is what Moses and God are saying. Do you have a similar problem? When you face the battle, do you want to march forward or do you want to go backward? Do you want to go back to Egypt? "Oh, in Egypt I don't have to fight a war, I want to be a slave! And in Egypt I have food, I have honey, I have milk."

People may die in a war because the bullet does not know who they are. The bullet will not even be able to tell this is the people of God. We have to keep on reminding ourselves. Even if we are facing a war, facing a battle against the devil, we still remember God is the God Almighty. He loves me; he will bring me into the promised land, and he will do all the mighty things in my life. I hope everyone is looking forward to the day, gaining access to more promises, more honey, and more milk. But fighting is so scary, so a lot of people are like that.

One of our sisters is a teacher in the secondary school, so I trained her to pick up the power drill, take up the hammer drill, take up a saw, do some cutting, and go up the ladder, all these sorts of things. One day her school needed to fix certain things. She climbed up the ladder, picked up the power drill, and started to drill. Then there's also a male staff, a man standing there holding the ladder and he said: "Oh it's so scary." What's so scary about that? I look down on those kinds of people. I don't understand why they're so scared. I was dealing with some people, men, 20 years old, 30 years old, 40 years old. When they hang a picture on the wall, they need to get a contractor to do it because they do not know how to do it.

Facing the war, what is your attitude? Do you still remember God's mighty hand, or do you want to change your mind? So many Christian behave like this. They change their mind. That's why in the church, we got to keep on doing all kinds of things for people to commemorate, for people to remember the mighty hand of God.

Moses Took The Bones of Joseph With Him

Moses took the bone of Joseph with him. When Joseph passed away, he told the Israelites: "Don't bury me. Keep me on the land. I'll wait for the day when all of you eventually leave Egypt after so many years, the day when the promise of God comes true. When God brings all of us into the promised land, you take my bones with you. Even if I'm dead, my bones will also need to go into the promised land!"

What kind of person is this? Amazing! Joseph is an amazing person. Joseph remembered God's promise and he told the Israel people at that time to wait then until Moses' time. Moses remembered what Joseph said, and they took the bones of Joseph, already dry, and brought the bones of Joseph into the promised land.

"Even if I die, I still want to go into the promised land!" How determined are these people! You and I got to learn from those people. You and I got to learn from Jacob. You and I got to learn from Isaac, from Abraham. These are the people who can gain access to the promise of Almighty God. Don't behave like those people who died in the desert.

I classify Christians into three different categories. Number one is those who are still in the slavery of Egypt. They are slaves of the world and live in the world, although they have turned to Christ, although they belong to God. They are God's people, but they are slaves of the world.

The second category is those whom God brings out of Egypt using his mighty hand. God has set them free, but they die in the desert because they dare not fight the battle and dare not gain access to the promised land. This is very sad, very sad. Even today I have a lot of sorrow because of these people.

I often see people who cannot remember our God is a mighty God and the promises God has made for us in Christ are all yes. But if you remember this, then you are like Joseph. This is the third category: people like Joseph.

God actually also did another wonderful thing: by day the pillar of a cloud could guide them on their way; by night the pillar of fire could give them light so that they could travel day and night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of the fire by night left its place in front of the people. Wonderful!

You know this generation of the Israel people saw God's presence every day: during the daytime, they could see the pillar of cloud and during the nighttime, they could see the pillar of the fire. Every day they could see those wonderful things. But then they forgot: "Mighty God? Promises of God? Moses? Who are you? Why are we doing this? Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Do you want us to die in the desert?"

Do you understand what I'm saying? When you get angry, or when you are facing a problem, when you get scolded, or when you get tough training, do you still remember that? A lot of people easily forget.

The Treasure God Is Looking For

You know, in our church. I got to share with you: I don't want this kind of people. I want to keep those people who are the so-called "apple of the eyes of God". That is, in God's eyes, you are a treasure. You are a valuable person who has faith. If you have faith in God, you are the apple of the eyes of God. If you don't have faith, you are rubbish in the eyes of the Lord.

Are you with me? Do you want to be rubbish to be thrown away, to be burned out? Do you want to be in the rubbish bin? At the place I stay, there is a big rubbish bin. Every time the rubbish truck comes over to take away all the rubbish, it becomes very smelly. The whole air was filled with a bad smell. I don't want to be like that! Come on! Lord, I want to be with you. I want to be the apple of your eyes. I want to be the person who pleases you. I want to have faith in you. I know you are Almighty God. Your hands are holding the heaven and the earth. My little needs for survival are no big deal to you. It's not even a peanut. It's just a crack of the peanut, a peanut skin! If life is just a peanut skin, not even a peanut, do you still take it so seriously? No.

Yesterday I was told a testimony from one of our sisters. I ministered to her for almost ten years and I worked so hard to change her mind. It's so difficult. Yesterday she got 80,000 dollars as a bonus! 80,000 bonus! She had never seen such an amount of money. I think serving the Lord is a blessing. Do you know that?

OK. Now, can we connect the whole chapter? Have you gotten the whole chapter connected? If you can get the whole chapter connected, even if somehow a few pages are missing from your Bible, that will still not affect how you and I understand: Oh, the whole chapter is talking about commemorating. If the word "commemorate" somehow disappears, we can still read the rest of the sentence, and we still can get the same meaning and we could still remember that. This is wonderful writing by Moses. Did I make the point? If you learn how to read Bible in this manner, you probably will get the same idea, no matter which translation version of the Bible you are reading.

You know, in IT there is a concept of "Redundancy". We call the data has redundant data. Even with 20% or 30% of the data lost on the hard disk, the hard disk is still able to reassemble those data because the data has redundancy. Do you understand that?

The Bible has plenty of redundancy simply because God purposely wrote it in this way. Do you remember that if you read the Bible, repeated words are very important? For example in Genesis Chapter 1: "God saw it good", "so it's good", "God speaks and things are accomplished" and "things go as it's kind". All these are repeated words. Pay attention to that.

There is plenty of redundancy in the Bible and the books form a complete system. That's why when you read the Book of Isaiah, you will find that they talk about the same things; when you read the Book of Daniel, they talk about the same things; when you read the Book of Deuteronomy, they talk about the same things. Genesis, Exodus, and Numbers all talk all about the same things! Come on! You can also read the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of Luke, the Gospel of Mark... There is a lot of redundancy. Do you know that?

Get the key point. Come on. Get the key point. You and I go to commemorate. You and I got to commemorate many things God has done to us. When we face a challenge ahead of us, we still remember that God is the Almighty God.

May the Lord bless you. Thank you very much.

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