PREACHING THE WORD with Dr. John Herbst

John Herbst, our Scholar-in Residence, offers pastors and other church leaders insights into the scriptures. These blog posts focused on books of the Bible, and biblical themes are designed to help those preparing messages and Bible studies.


 

 


Struggling with God’s Calling: Reading Exodus 3–4 in Light of Exodus 1–2

This is the third of three posts about Exodus 3 (and, here, Exodus 4). While I tend to avoid getting into ALL the details of the passages I write about, this introduction to the relationship between God and human beings is worth the extra thought. My last two posts explain how Exodus 3 introduces ideas that get developed and repeated all through the Bible. First, when God meets human beings, he meets us at our point of need: the Israelites were slaves, and God appointed Moses to lead them out of slavery. Second, God shares his personal name, “Yahweh,” (translated “the Lord,” with small capital letters, in most English Bibles), to help human beings develop an intimate relationship with him. In the Bible, God is not just an all-powerful force; he wants to relate to us on a personal level. We now move on to a message that is more ...
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Sharing Names: A First Step to a Relationship With God

My last post looked at a couple of the main ideas of Exodus 3, the story of Moses’s “first encounter” with God. I explained there that just as first times are important to us in the 21st century, we need to think about the first time each Bible character meets God. The Bible authors knew that we human beings naturally remember and ponder the first time each of us felt a special moment with God. So they were careful about how they described the first time each character encounters God. And since the relationship between God and Moses is the most important God-human relationship in the Bible, the “first time” passage of Exodus 3 deserves special attention. God communicates four big ideas to Moses in Exodus 3–4.  I wrote about two of them last time, found in Exodus 3:6–10. First, God claims to be the god that Moses and the ...
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Exodus – Intro

I’m going to start this series with a few posts on the theologically most important book of the Old Testament, Exodus. Not only is Exodus fun to read and explore, but it brilliantly ties together two big ideas: freedom from slavery, and obedience to God’s law. Exodus teaches us that we become free from slavery by one means only: God does a miracle. The Israelites do nothing to save themselves; God does everything! Yet after the Israelites are free, they risk slipping back into slavery. The solution? If the Israelites will only obey God’s law, they will remain free. These ideas from Exodus are at the center of our faith. Each of us starts out as a slave to sin. We cannot free ourselves; God does all the work. Yet once free, many, many Christians slip back into slavery. Tempted by things like money, power, sex, substances, internet, and so ...
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Exodus 3, Part 1 – Meeting God

First impressions are important. Whether or not we’re purposely trying to impress the people we meet, we know that a first encounter can set the tone for a relationship. When people are an important part of our lives, we usually remember the first time we met them – what they said, what they didn’t say, how they made us feel. This means, of course, that when we are going to meet people for the first time, we do what we can to make the right impression. Exodus 3–4 is about a first meeting, not just between God and Moses, but between God and Israel, since Moses becomes the go-between for God and the Israelites. As we look at this chapter, we should think about how this first meeting affects the ongoing relationship between God and God’s people – not just the Israelites, but us, the people of God today. Of ...
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