Exodus 32–The Darker Side of Leadership

One of the most difficult parts of leading is understanding that your passion and commitment to the plan may not be shared with the people you lead.  Forty days earlier, Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Sinai to receive the law from the Lord’s own hand. It was to be the Lords first direct tutoring of His leader on how to build and administer a nation. For Joshua, it had to be amazing and exciting to be there and see Moses’ transformation into more than a shepherd of people–but to be the servant leader of God’s chosen people.
 
Then, the fun was over.  God had to break the news to Moses–“YOUR people, the ones YOU brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves…” In that scene, Joshua was able to learn more about leadership, about God’s passion for the people of Israel, and about balancing one’s personal feelings with the duty of leading–than he had in all the miracles and events that had occurred before.
 
God was ready to wipe the whole lot of them out! the Lord told Moses to allow Him to do so–but, then Moses, personal anger set aside, became Israel’s advocate before God and offered his own life for payment of their sin. Moses literally called God out on His covenant promise–“Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God?” So Joshua saw that leaders were critical and had to do all that was necessary; in good times and bad to represent and ultimately preserve the folks they lead.  Needless to say, Joshua learned from the best.
 
Joshua’s life is a great picture of God’s willingness to devote a lifetime to prepare His own for the plan He has for them.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. That was true in Moses life, in Joshua’s life, in Israel’s life and it will be true in our lives. As Joshua progressed through the years, he would see Moses and God lead the people through almost every scenario. In those events, God would mold Joshua into an amazing leader for Israel.
 
God Bless You

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people

Exodus 17 & 24–He Who Calls You is Faithful

God does not “wing it”.  God has had a plan the entire time, and is executing that plan in our lives.  When we look at the life of Joshua, it is clear that he did not become Israel’s leader by chance.  God selected him. What’s more, God not only selected Joshua, He made sure that Moses trained Joshua to be the right man for the job.
 
In the scripture for today, we see Joshua win a great victory.  As he does, God instructs Moses to memorialize the important note for Joshua that the Amalekites are to be wiped out!  For every generation after, Amalek was never to be a friend or ally. 
 
Then we fast forward to they “giving of the law and covenant”. Here, we see that Moses and the elders went up to the mountain of God and had supper–Yup, Joshua was there. Finally, as Moses headed up the mountain to retrieve the stone tablets, Moses left Aaron and Hur, but Moses took Joshua.  There was a great deal to see and do as the leader of God’s people, and God made sure that Joshua was a part of it.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:24, says, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” God not only called Moses, but, He called Joshua.  And because God is faithful, He not only called Joshua, but God also made sure Joshua was prepared and trained.  When we move forward in our lives, we can be confident that as God calls us to serve Him, God Himself will have prepared a plan to train and equip us for the work that lies ahead.  It is important that we seek the Lord and follow Him; but, it is also important for us to trust that God has a plan and will prepare us for our role in its execution and completion.
 
God Bless You

Exodus 17

13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne[c] of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Exodus 24
 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses rose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever has a dispute, let him go to them.”

Exodus 17–Joshua, the Right Man for the Job

The next Bible character that we will look at is Joshua.  Throughout the Bible, God highlights several kinds of superstars.  Some are insignificant, but, then God uses them in an amazing way to change the world. Others are born for a purpose and have to endure great trial and desperation to prepare for the mission that God has for them.  Joshua, the son of Nun was a man that only desired to serve God and his chosen leader, Moses.  In that service, however, God trained and prepared Him to be the man that claimed the long awaited promise of delivering God’s people to the promised land.  But that is a ways down the road.
 
Joshua started as a slave in Egypt, and  like many in his world, Joshua saw God deliver Israel from the Egyptians in a way that was unmistakably miraculous and final.  After the Israelites were freed, they began their journey toward the promised land. While on their journey, They encountered the Amalekites.  Moses saw in Joshua something he needed–a warrior. So Moses asked Joshua to gather an army and lead them into battle against the Amalekites. Joshua did as he was asked, and with God’s strength and Moses raised hand, Israel, the nation of slaves, won their first battle and became a nation of free people headed toward their inheritance.  
 
It is very unlikely that Joshua was thinking that this day would be the start of a 40 year training regimen. He did not expect he would spend a generation in preparation for Israel to take the land God promised. But, Joshua’s faith and obedience as Moses’ assistant would later shape Joshua into the Man God needed to deliver Canaan into Israel’s hand.  
 
God does amazing things through those that will trust and follow Him.  He is in the constant process of preparing those He uses.  It may take weeks, or it may take a lifetime–but, God will honor the faith of those that will journey with Him. Joshua walked a long way to prepare for God’s plan.  What distance are we willing to walk?  What mountains are we willing to scale? What abuse and stupidity are we willing to endure to carry out God’s plan? As we look at the life of Joshua, I think we will see we have room to take some more preparation.
 
God Bless You

 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne[c] of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Daniel 7-12–Daniel the Prophet

Daniel’s story is an amazing picture of holiness and the power that comes from trusting God in the midst of trials and temptations.  Daniel never lost his faith in the Lord and as such was the advisor to several kings that led the empire. But, beyond the story of Daniel lives a second half of the book that is filled with prophecy regarding Israel and regarding the end times.  
 
Daniel’s visions are filled with wonder and specificity about what was to come after him and what is to come at the end of days.  Scholars have dived deep into Daniel’s prophetic writings for generations, sadly they are not the type of writing that leads to a daily devotion. To close out the book of Daniel I would simply encourage you to realize God valued Daniel as a leader and as a prophet.  His steadfast devotion to the Lord served him and his people well.
 
God Bless You

 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris, I looked up and there before me was a man dressed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze,and his voice like the sound of a multitude.

I, Daniel, was the only one who saw the vision; those who were with me did not see it, but such terror overwhelmed them that they fled and hid themselves. So I was left alone, gazing at this great vision; I had no strength left, my face turned deathly pale and I was helpless. Then I heard him speaking, and as I listened to him, I fell into a deep sleep, my face to the ground.

10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.

12 Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.13 But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia. 14 Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come.”

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man[b]touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

Daniel 6 Part 2–God Was Not Fooled!

The bureaucrats were thrilled.  They won! Daniel violated the King’s edict and they caught him red handed! So,as they delivered him into the King’s hand, he did not react quite as they had hoped.  He was heartbroken.  He was not mad at Daniel for serving God; instead he was mad and disheartened that these fools had outsmarted him. His pride had exposed him as a vain man, and risked His top advisors life. His staff doubled-down on the procedural block for the King to change his mind. They escorted the king and Daniel to the pit and sealed the door along with the King. 
 
While the king had been fooled, God was not.  As God did with the friends in the fiery furnace, he protected Daniel from the lions.  the next morning the king was at the door at dawn.  Daniel was safe and immediately retrieved.  The bureaucrats were not so fortunate, they replaced Daniel–along with their families in the Lions’ den and were done by the time they hit the ground. 
 
In our lives, we need to cling to the pictures of these times when God does what He does best.  He loves us with the same passion He loved Daniel.  He will honor our faith.  He will protect and provide for us in ways that absolutely points back to Him.  We can trust the Lord and follow Him despite the pain that comes in waiting on His lead and timing.  Solomon said it best, “Trust in the Lord with all Your heart. Do not rely upon your own understanding.  Acknowledge God in all your ways, and God will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
 
God Bless You

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. 11 Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. 12 So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or human being except to you, Your Majesty, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

The king answered, “The decree stands—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.”

13 Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.

15 Then the men went as a group to King Darius and said to him, “Remember, Your Majesty, that according to the law of the Medes and Persians no decree or edict that the king issues can be changed.”

16 So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

17 A stone was brought and placed over the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet ring and with the rings of his nobles, so that Daniel’s situation might not be changed. 18 Then the king returned to his palace and spent the night without eating and without any entertainment being brought to him. And he could not sleep.

19 At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den.20 When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! 22 My God sent his angel,and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

23 The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.

24 At the king’s command, the men who had falsely accused Daniel were brought in and thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. And before they reached the floor of the den, the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Daniel 6 Part 1–But If Not, Reprise

Daniel was now serving his third king. He was brought out of retirement and made an administrator of Babylon.  As was his way, Daniel excelled and made the other administrators and bureaucrats angry and jealous.  They watched as the new king wanted to make Daniel the 2nd in command.  So, they set about looking for ways to expose Daniel’s flaws.  After much review, they found nothing.  
 
That of course did not stop them.  They proceeded to create a solution that would ultimately find a problem.  They convinced the king to pull a page from the Nebuchadnezzar playbook, and make everyone pray only to the king or be thrown into the lions’ den. It was a foolproof plan, really.  Daniel and his friends had this issue before, and they always chose God over king.  The bureaucrats  were right.  Daniel simply shook his head, went home and continued to pray and worship the Lord as he had always done–Checkmate! Or at least, that is what the bureaucrats thought.
 
When we settle the issue of which God will be our God, the matter of safety becomes secondary. The friends told Nebuchadnezzar–“Our God will deliver us from the fiery furnace–BUT IF NOT, we still will not bow down and worship your gods or statue!” Now as Daniel faced Jerusalem and prayed, that statement echoed from the past.  That statement needs to be the sentiment of all of us that follow the Lord.  Caving to the pressure of the enemy or world culture, will not bring us safety or relief. Instead, it will only destroy our faith and upend our journey with the Lord.  God has got this. We must continue to trust and follow Him; no matter the attacks and threats.
 
If we will remain faithful in that God will continue to protect, prepare and provide for us.  BUT IF NOT, we must settle in our hearts that that is fine, and that we will not serve the idols of our world!
 
God Bless You

It pleased Darius to appoint 120 satraps to rule throughout the kingdom, with three administrators over them, one of whom was Daniel. The satraps were made accountable to them so that the king might not suffer loss. Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

So these administrators and satraps went as a group to the king and said: “May King Darius live forever! The royal administrators, prefects, satraps, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.

10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel 5 Part 2–Weighed in the Balance

Daniel had retired, so it seems.  The names Shadrack, Mishak and Abednego not mentioned. Time had passed and the king that brought Daniel to Babylon was certainly gone. Now a new king reigned that had no idea that the Babylonian empire had been blessed by God and the late King had honored God aboove all.  So, Belshazzar defiled the temple treasures by using the cups as extra wine glasses for a feast he was throwing.  That is when God said, “Enough”.  God sent a message from heaven in the form of a hand and wrote on the wall in front of the king! Once again, Daniel was brought in to interpret the writing.  Daniel did so, “Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Mene–God has numberewd the days of your kingdom and brought them to an end. Tekel–You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.  Parsin–Your kingdom will be divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.
 
One certainly will not escape the hand of God. This king learned nothing from the reign of Nebchaduneezer.  He went against the very God that humbled Nebchaduneezer and restored him.  His end was swift and his kingdom gone.  The entire exile of Israel humiliated them as a people, for they had failed to honor their covenant with God. Make no mistake, however, even in the midst of exile, God continued to show his majesty. God was never brought low, and whenever it was tried–the opposite occurred. 
 
We can never underestimate God’s power.  We cannot equate it with the failures of those that serve Him.  As God’s children, we have to live lives that honor God no matter the circumstances with which we are faced. Whenever we are called; we must continue to honor God and listen to His leadership.  He will continue to be supreme, and the Lord will honor those that honor His name.  But, rest assured, God will also remove His hand of protection and allow those that refuse to follow to meet their fate.  Help me, Lord to follow You with joy and a humble heart.
 
God Bless You

Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him…

22 And you his son,[f] Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.

“Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered[g] the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed[h] in the balances and found wanting; 28 Parsin, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”[i]

29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed. 31 [j] And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old