Leadership and membership: Notice the many lessons on leadership and congregational life we can glean from the Old Testament. The grumbling/murmuring of the Israelite was not really against their leaders, but against God. Exodus 16:8. Think about it. There’s also some good advice from the Father-in-law in Exodus 18.
Manna: Just means “what is it.” See where Jesus claimed to be the bread from heaven. John 6:31-32. Notice that this is a test, Exodus 16:4. Would they trust God day by day for what they need? See Matthew 6:11. Will they obey the rules concerning the manna? If they cannot be faithful in this small thing, should they (we) be trusted with more?
Water: Exodus 17 has a parallel in numbers 20. The difference is that here, Moses must strike the rock. In Numbers 20, he is to speak to the rock. In numbers 20, he disobeys and strikes the rock. This was the reason God gave for not permitting Moses to enter into the promised land. Jesus claimed to be the rock (Matthew 7:24-27) and claimed to give living water (John 4:7-15). When Jesus came the first time, he was rejected, struck, by His people. When he comes the second time they will say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Covenant: Exodus 19:5 now introduces conditions into the covenant. Much of this same language is reiterated in the context of the New Covenant, so it may be confusing. To sort it out, pay attention to condition clauses attached specifically to the Israelites living the Promised Land. Those conditions have been met by Jesus Christ, and are no longer binding on believers now. See Galatians 1-6. The people affirm the covenant, Exodus 19:8.
The Presence of God: God speaks from the mountain, and the people would rather not hear him. But God deals directly with Moses. This illustrates man’s need for a mediator with God.
Laws: The laws given to Israel are a great testimony of the character of God. Read the laws like this: “God wants people to live in a place where they need not fear violence.” “God wants people to live in a place where they need not fear theft.” His laws therefore are an expression of His love. God is concerned with every aspect of their lives and he intends Israel to be Holy and distinct from the world.
Worship: The priesthood, the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the feasts, and many other aspects of their law code speaks of Jesus Christ and the ministry he would eventually accomplish. Refer to a good study Bible for details.
Ephesians 4: We are not just one body in Christ, we are to embrace the role. This chapter makes clear the importance of every person contributing to the ministry of the local church. What is your role? Is it time to find it? Here is a helpful passage about putting off the old self and putting on the new self.
Ephesians 5: Walking in the Spirit leads to putting others above oneself – “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21. Notice mutual submission is instructed before going into specifics. Wives/husbands: Some overreact to the command for wives to submit not realizing that the husbands are called to a deeper submission – death! He is to put her needs first.
Ephesians 6: Mutual submission continues with parents/children and slaves/masters. Paul has a beautiful prayer here. Can you use it as a model? The whole armor of God: If you understand the reality behind earthly struggles – the spiritual realm – you will be much better equipped
Themes to notice in this letter: Joy, service, suffering, humility, holiness.
Philippians 1: A standard greeting indicating that the letter is for the entire church. Paul’s prayer is about partnership in the gospel – their service and support of Paul during his imprisonment. Notice the priorities in His prayer – they’re service, character, and personal knowledge of God. Consider adding the content of Paul’s various prayers to your prayers for others and for yourself. Notice Paul’s positive ‘spin’ on his imprisonment. As Paul says that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” he expresses the Christian’s victory over any circumstances. Life is an opportunity to serve and glorify Jesus Christ, and death is the opportunity to be with Him. We have Christ – live or die! He ends the section with encouragement to live a life consistent with the gospel. Throughout the history of the church, many Christians have suffered for the sake of Christ. Paul sees this suffering as a privilege – as actually partaking in Christ’s suffering with Him. See also Philippians 3:10; Colossians 1:24; Romans 8:17.
Philippians 2: The ultimate example of suffering and humility is Christ, who did not deserve it. 2:1-11 is key to understand. If Christ had this “mind” how much more should we, his servants. Two more examples are given – Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Psalm 33 – What attributes of God are praised here? How is it helpful to compare God to other things that we may trust in?
Psalm 109 – This is what is called and imprecatory Psalm. It calls for judgment upon one’s enemies. Notice that it calls for temporal judgments, not just eternal judgment. How is this fitting with the Israelites’ land covenant? It is fitting for the New Covenant?
Psalm 90 – A prayer of Moses. A little perspective is sometimes in order. It’s basic worship to consider the scope of God compared to the scope of man. This prepares us to petition Him for what we need – as in verses 14-17. When He is so great, and we so small, what else can we do but seek all that we need from Him?