EXODUS 10:1 – 12:51 AND MATTHEW 16:1–28
The pattern continues as the plague of the locusts is about to be released. Even the close associates of Pharaoh are pleading with him to let Israel go. Moses warned Pharaoh about the coming plague of locusts if he continued to refuse to release God’s people. The locusts feature prominently in the last days as well. We see in Joel’s prophecy that God will restore that which the locust has eaten (Joel 2:25). In considering the plague of locusts here in Exodus we see that that they finish the job from the previous plague (vs 12).
The previous plague of hail was devastating but the locusts took this judgement one step further. They eradicated everything. God promises to restore that which the locust has eaten. Today, many have become estranged from God, family and life. The power of God to restore must be celebrated. This will be one of the hallmarks of the last days. (The Restoration of the Backslider) Do you have loved ones or close friends that you have been praying for, who seem to be far from God? God can restore the devastation that these spiritual locusts have brought upon the earth. We need to be warned however that an even greater swarm of “evil locusts” will be unleashed in the last days to those who do not repent (Rev 9:3, 7).
In verse 13 we see Moses stretching forth his ROD resulting in the locusts coming upon the land. We see the ROD used on several other occasions where God demonstrates His authority and power through Moses. Where did this ROD come from? It appears to be the instrument that Moses used while tending the sheep of his father in law. Who would have ever thought that the ROD Moses used in keeping sheep would one day become the instrument that God would use to demonstrate His power and authority. Are you in a place of obscurity seemingly distant from your perceived calling? Are you having difficulty reconciling your current environment thinking that maybe God’s call has passed you by? God’s ways are not man’s ways and methods (Isa 55:8) and it could be that the Lord is fashioning and preparing your instrument, your ROD of authority for the task God has for you.
The next plague is that of great darkness (vs 21-23). This was a horrible experience since it carried on for three days. It was so thick that people stayed where they were not having ability to see one another. The Bible says that there will be great glory and gross darkness in the last days. Once again the parallels are quite easy to see. Another consistency observed is that there is a clear distinction between Egypt and Israel at this time. There will be a similar provision of protection for God’s people but it cannot be taken for granted. We must be under God’s covering (not just salvation) as will be seen in the message of the Tabernacle.
In verse 27 the heart of Pharaoh becomes even more hardened. Iniquity and evil is coming to its zenith and the time is about ripe where God will move in Judgement against Pharaoh, Egypt and sin. There was a similar building up of iniquity leading up to the time of Christ when He went to the Cross. It will be at this time when God the Father will place the sin of man upon His Son, the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God. In these last days iniquity is becoming increasingly ripe. Lawlessness has been unleashed. Though we may not yet see the demonic hordes coming forth from the pit they seem to be coming to the surface in increasing numbers. It is in this environment of lawlessness where the man of sin (Antichrist) will come forth. Where are the Elijah’s, the Moses and John the Baptists of our day? Where are the true priests like Ezra, Moses, Phineas and Joshua or leaders like Nehemiah? An examination into the lives of the above mentioned names as well as others will help for us to see the manner of person that needs to emerge. Let’s consider a few end-time thoughts to gain a greater perspective of what is transpiring here:
A major battle will take place in the midst of the 3 ½ years between Moses/Elijah and the antichrist and his forces. The beast will prevail but after three days their bodies resurrect and ascend to heaven. They, and presumably the man-child company (Rev 12:3-5) will displace Satan and his angels resulting in their being cast to the earth. The woman (church) and remnant will remain. In reading through in Revelation Chapter 12 we see that Satan seeks to destroy the woman but God makes a way to preserve her. For 3 ½ years she is preserved (Rev 12: 14-15) but not so for the remnant. They will be exposed to Satan’s wrath. Many will overcome but there will be great suffering. This scene can be likened to the days of Noah. In his day you had Enoch who walked with God and then was not. He represents a type of the man-child. You have Noah and family who were preserved in the ark during the time of the flood. You then had those who were called “sometimes disobedient” who perished in the flood. These are the ones whom Jesus preached to while in the lower parts of the earth after His death (1 Pet 3:20). Later in Exodus we will examine the significance of Moses Tabernacle. You have the outer court where the majority of believers congregated. The problem here is that there is no covering over this group. The outer court was open. The Holy place required an exchange of garments for the priests. Why is the priestly role minimized today? The Holy Place had a covering over it. The Holy of Holies is the place where the Ark of the Covenant dwelt. The Ark contained the Law, the Hidden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. It gives keys to the quality and understanding of the man-child company. In the Old Testament the high priest could only enter once a year. It was on the feast of Atonement. Remember this feast from a previous commentary? Who wants to deal with sin? Who wants to allow God to have access to the innermost recesses of our being? Those who do may well qualify to dwell (spiritually) in the Holy place and or Holy of Holies. We cannot just presume our way into the Holy of Holies beyond the veil. There is a way of approach.
Why spend so much time on this point here in Exodus? Perhaps it will help us to understand the significance of what was taking place. We often look at the events in Exodus as symbolism only, not fully understanding its ability to shed light for our day. What is happening here is a picture of what is taking place today. The Passover was fulfilled by Christ when He died on the Cross as the Passover Lamb some 2000 years ago. Do we appreciate the privilege and opportunity that is presented to the church of the last days? Can we apprehend the responsibility being entrusted to us as seen in Psalm 149?
Psa 149:6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;
Psa 149:7 To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
Psa 149:8 To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
Psa 149:9 To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD.
Remember, Daniel had a vision of 70 weeks divided into three parts. Sin is finished through the Messiah after the 69th week. The last week (7 year tribulation period) has yet to be played out. There is a clear mandate and opportunity that exists for us. This is the ability to put Satan under our feet (Rom 16:20) and represent the triumphant church as Christ’s heavenly bridegroom. As we look at the Passover message in chapter 12 let us be mindful of its eternal ramifications.
The Passover is instituted as seen in verses 1-10. This can be linked with Lev 23:5. It consisted of a lamb that had no blemish. It was to be collected on the 10th day and killed on the 14th. The Passover was more than just the smiting of the firstborn of Egypt; it was also a judgement against their gods (vs 12). This gives some insight into the absolute power of the Cross. It is applied personally when we first come to know the Lord. By faith, we receive the covering of the Passover Lamb which translates us from the kingdom of darkness into His glorious light. We are saved!
As will be seen in the upcoming journey of the Children of Israel and in the future construction of Moses Tabernacle, the work of the Cross does not end at Passover. The cross has the power to save to the uttermost (Heb 7:25). It has the power to come against the gods and strongholds that lurk within us. We often see Passover as the end all of the entire Christian experience. It’s true, Christ finished His work at the Cross but there is yet an appropriation of what was accomplished at Calvary that we still walk out today. We will see this with the children of Israel. They will shortly be set free from the occupying power of Egypt (the world) but Egypt will still be residing in their hearts in their wandering through the wilderness. This thought will be a recurring one as we progress in our Bible study. In verse 13 we see the blood mentioned as a token of protection and covering. The blood of the lamb is a beautiful portrait of the Lamb of God who will one day shed His own blood for the sins of man. The power of the shed blood knows no limits. How precious and how costly it is!
In verses 15-20 we have the institution of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This can be linked to Lev 23:6. We find that in the observance of this feast that the first day was to be a holy convocation. What does this feast imply? The children of Israel were to take no leaven for themselves as they made their departure from Egypt. What does leaven represent? It speaks of sin and hypocrisy (Luk 12:1). The event of Passover was a monumental event. God was interacting with man in a most dynamic way. At this critical juncture there could be no trace elements of (leaven) sin within the camp as they made their hasty exit from Egypt.
We have the example of leaven with Achan (Jos 7:1). God was working on behalf of Joshua and Israel as they began to go throughout the land of their inheritance. This was a momentous occasion yet there was a man (Achan) who coveted garments and silver for himself. This is a picture of leaven and the damage it can do to an individual as well as to a people.
We see another example of “leaven” in Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5. The early church was beginning to expand as a result of the Holy Spirit coming upon them at Pentecost. There are unique moments when God interacts with man in a profound way. At such time there needs to be soberness and rest on our part, recognizing that a Holy God is at work. If leaven (sin) is allowed to be activated at such times the results would be devastating. Remember, a little leaven lumpeneth the whole lump. I feel we can get another picture of this back in Genesis.
Gen 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
If Adam would have partaken of the tree of life he then would never be able to die. If Adam, while in his sin (leaven) would have taken the fruit of this tree he would have never been able to be reconciled to God. That one seemingly little act of eating fruit (leaven) would have reaped eternal damnation to Adam and any seed that would come forth. He would never die and would never have opportunity to have his sin atoned for. God made clear in Gen 3:21 that there would need to be a covering as a means and remedy for man’s sin. There would have to be a death and there would have to be the shedding of the blood. In order to be reconciled to God there had to be the death of the Son of the God. The point I am trying to make regarding the Feast of Unleavened bread is this: Israel had to make quick haste out of Egypt after the night of the Passover. They were instructed to take no leaven with them and they were to eat of unleavened bread for 7 days. God was interacting with man in a most profound way that night as He would at the time of the Cross. There is absolutely no place for sin at such times. Sin is like leaven that can expand and grow quickly. This thought will be developed more as we progress. The subject of leaven is again mentioned in verses 34, 39.
In verse 20-28 we see Moses giving instruction as to what to do with the lamb. The instruction of applying the blood is given which will be a sign that will have eternal meaning. What is about to take place is going to be an event of the highest magnitude. This one night will serve as a sign and picture of the true Lamb of God in addition to establishing the primary basis of our faith.
In verses 29-30 the judgement comes upon the land. This night is unlike any other night ever seen and yet it is only a shadow of something far greater to come. We can link verses 35-36 with Exo 11:3 which refer to the spoiling of the Egyptians jewels and treasures. It’s interesting to note what really matters in the midst of such judgement. Egypt was willing to let go of that which was most precious to them just to get the people of Israel out of their land. There is a story I once read about regarding the Titanic. As this great ship was in peril a wealthy lady who was designated to a lifeboat requested one minute to retrieve some items from her living quarters. What did she go back for? She had jewels and a large amount of money in her safe but that is not what she went after. She sought out a few pieces of fruit. The reality of her current situation brought about new priorities. We have a treasure in earthen vessels and we need to recognize it, celebrate it and thank God for it all the days of our lives. Live for what really matters. Look around you today and what do you see? What captivates the interest of people? Where are man’s priorities? Moses will return in these last days, (Rev 11) will we be aligned to him and his message?
We have a repeat of what transpired back in Math 12:38. These men were not interested in the teachings of Jesus but rather were trying to find ways to undermine Him. They recognized that His ministry and influence was growing amongst the people. This group is not to be linked with sincere people who desire to see the power of the kingdom displayed. Signs and wonders validate who Jesus is and the kingdom that He looks to establish. We do need to be careful in over-emphasizing signs and wonders at the expense of the message of the Cross. Once again, Jesus responds by saying that a wicked and adulterous generation seeks after signs. Jesus knows these men’s hearts, their motive and intent and points them to the one sign they need to give consideration too; the message of the Cross as seen in the sign of Jonah that Jesus spoke of.
Interestingly, the message of leaven comes up again in today’s study (vs 5-12). In this case the Lord is warning them about the leaven of the Pharisees which refers to their doctrine and teachings. The Pharisees here were putting emphasis on the elevation of signs and wonders and traditions (Math 15:1-20). A little “leaven” introduced into our doctrine and teaching can eventually affect our overall ministry.
In this chapter you have the Pharisees and Scribes tempting and challenging Jesus on signs. Once the Lord is alone with his disciples he makes a statement regarding the leaven of the Pharisees. It is an effective method the Lord uses to press his point about how He would like His disciples to view this matter. The leaven that the Pharisees and scribes were expressing is a dangerous one that could corrupt good doctrine in future. This was a teachable moment for His disciples; it is a teachable moment for us as well. There is leaven that has permeated into much of today’s theology. Does the “hyper-grace” message ring a bell?
In verses 13-20 we have a familiar dialogue taking place. It begins with Jesus asking a question:
Mat 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
Notice that he speaks of Himself as the Son of Man. This is a title the Lord so loves. The Book of Ezekiel references the Son of Man 87 times. There is a unique dynamic that is about to expressed in this account. The disciples responded by naming people like John the Baptist, Jeremiah, Elijah or some other prophets. As the Son of Man we truly can find similarities with these great men of God. But Jesus now directs his question to them. “But whom say ye that I am” (vs 15)? It seems the Lord is looking for a confession or public declaration that He is not only the Son of Man but also the Son of God. It is here where Peter steps up to the plate.
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
It is hard to put into words but there seems to be something so powerful about this moment. While Jesus was upon the earth, even as a babe He never ceased being the Son of God. He chose to lay aside His Divine privileges but never ceased being God the Son. At this moment of time with the declared proclamation that Jesus is the Son of the Living God as spoken through Peter, a whole new thrust in His ministry takes shape. We come to know that it was the Holy Spirit that revealed this through Peter. (We will see later that Peter had a very strong relationship with the Holy Spirit throughout his ministry)
After this declaration is made, Jesus begins to reveal to His disciples the future events that will lead up to the Cross (vs 21). Peter, after being commended by the Lord protests and says this will not happen. Clearly, Peter had no awareness of the dynamic of this moment. Jesus was about to fulfil something that was in the heart of the Father before the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8). The Lord highlighted the remaining days that would lead up to His going to Jerusalem. Peter, moments before confessed, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that he (Jesus) was indeed the Christ. Peter is the point person for both God (The Holy Spirit) as seen in verse 17 and Satan as seen in verses 22-23. The Lord’s identity is affirmed by God and immediately challenged by Satan through the agency of Peter. Jesus had to go to the Cross to fulfil His Father’s will. Peter, though well intended became a vehicle; an instrument through whom Satan could challenge by saying it shall not be so. There are lessons that can be gleaned today and lessons that will unfold in future from this account.
We have noted the interactions of God and Satan with Moses and Pharaoh through our Exodus journey and we see a semblance of it here with Peter. One lesson to learn is that we must not be governed by emotions and what we feel to be right. Peter loved the Lord and truly thought he had His interests at heart. The reality though is that he was speaking a word that was circumventing the plan of Father God as established before the foundations of the world. We must be led by the Spirit and not by emotion or circumstances when evaluating situations. This is a problem with some of the teachings today. Doctrine can be seen through the lens of logic and emotion which sometimes could be at variance with God’s standards. Satan seized on this vulnerability in Peter hence the Lord’s abrupt and forceful response.
Mat 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Never forget, Peter was operating here with the best of intentions. He no doubt felt emboldened after hearing the Lord’s commending words earlier when he was cited for proclaiming that Jesus is the Son of the Living God. In our work and ministry we must never let success or sustained favour go to our heads. We must recognize our need for the garments of humility and meekness to keep us steady and balanced. Peter certainly came to know of these garments as he went forward.
The closing verse in Mathew 16 now point towards the Cross. We will find that the tactics of the enemy will come into view, both towards the Lord and His disciples. Jesus will now set his face like a flint towards His appointed mark. His identity was reaffirmed in Mathew 16 through Peter by the Holy Spirit. His identity and mission was challenged through Peter by Satan himself. The interaction between God and man is now taking on a whole new dimension.