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06
Top Ten Old Testament Stories: #5 Moses and the Crossing of the Red Sea
TIMING: While there aren’t definitive sources that corroborate the traditional timing of the life of Moses (1400-1201 B.C.), for the sake of the chronology the crossing of the Red Sea is about four hundred years after Joseph dies. This gives time for the pharaoh that loved Joseph to die, and for a new king to come to power and treat the Israelites harshly (Exodus 1: 8-22).  REASON TO READ: There are several levels on which one could read the story of Exodus: Historically as a story of the Israelites, As a metaphor of our struggle against sin, To study Moses as a model of leadership, To study the character of God in how He deals with his difficult people, and many more perspectives that we could not cover in a single article. We will explore each of these reasons when we discuss how this story fits in the top ten, below. BRIEF SUMMARY: This is one of the most popular stories in the Bible, so we will not spend too much time elaborating here on the details. The main events are Moses grows up in Pharaoh’s house (Exodus 2:1-10), He realizes his people are being oppressed, tries to liberate them by his own strength, kills an Egyptian, and flees to Midian (Exodus 2:11-25), He sees God in the burning bush and God tells him to go back to rescue the Israelites (Exodus 3), Moses tells God that he is not the right man for th...

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04
Top Ten Old Testament Stories: #4 Joseph and Pharaoh’s Dream
TIMING: The historical timing is controversial with multiple accounts: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/02/18/Joseph-in-Egypt-Part-I.aspx http://www.freemaninstitute.com/Gallery/joseph.htm http://creation.com/egyptian-history-and-the-biblical-record-a-perfect-match The take home message is that Joseph went to Egypt around 1600 B.C. give or take a few hundred years. REASON TO READ: The story of Joseph in Egypt marks a milestone in the story of the Hebrews in that it is the means by which Israel and his sons to go to Egypt, which is the prequel to their descendants’ Exodus with Moses. BRIEF SUMMARY: Just as with Abraham, Joseph has many spiritually beneficial stories, starting from his birth Genesis 30 until the end of the book in Chapter 50. For our purposes here, we will focus on his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream in Chapter 41. Joseph had been put in jail for a crime he did not commit, and while he was in jail he had correctly interpreted dreams for the baker and the chief butler of Pharaoh. He had asked the chief butler to put a good word in for him with Pharaoh, but he had forgotten until Pharaoh had a dream that nobody could interpret. When the chief Butler told Pharaoh about him, they brought Joseph out of the dungeon and Pharaoh told him his dream: "Behold, in my dream I stood on the bank of the river. Suddenly seven cows came up out o...

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20
Introduction to the Top Ten Old Testament Stories
Question 1:  Why have a top ten? I'm guessing that a majority of us do not sit down and read the Old Testament in a structured fashion.  Why is that?  One of the reasons may be that we find it unmanageable:  "it's too long", "there's too many funny names", "it has too many irrelevant rules", "it's just too much" ... or is it?  I think the Old Testament is in many ways much simpler and much more straightforward than the New Testament.  "Yes, but what about all the Levitical laws and the lists of names and ..." - I say that studying them has its spiritual benefit, but you can skip some things for now and focus on the more accessible parts.  You can't swallow the ocean in our gulp, so you have to take it one sip at a time.  "But how do I know where to start?"  Excellent question, now we're getting somewhere! Answer:  To give you a good place to start and give you a foundation before reading the rest of the Old Testament. Question 2:  Who is in the top ten? If you have attended Sunday School for any length of time then you should have some familiarity with most of the cast of characters that you will find in the top ten.  The reason to read them again now is that they are organized in order for you in chronological order so that you understand where they fit in the big picture.  You may know that Adam came wa...

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13
The Ark Took How Long to Build?
In Genesis chapter 6 we read about Noah building the ark according to God's commandment.  We can estimate the length of time it took Noah to build the ark from a few verses.  Genesis 5:32 and Genesis 6:10 mention that Noah was 500 years old.  Genesis 7:6 reads "Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth."  This tell us that the ark took about 100 years to build. A question that comes to mind is why did it take that long?  Obviously it's a very large vessel built by a 500 year old man, but why did God allow this to take 100 years to build?  Remember at that time the earth was filled with corruption and unrighteousness but God didn't destroy it yet.  The Bible reads "The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth." (Genesis 6:11-12)  Yet God tolerated man's atrocities for over 100 years while the ark was being built!  How can God let evil flourish for that long?  Even today we might find ourselves asking the same question.  We're living in a time where innocent people are being murdered, Churches being burnt, Christians' homes and shops being destroyed, and yet God is letting it all happen.  It might seem to us that God is looking the other way w...

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05
Did Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ Have Other Children?
I recently received the following question in email:  Did Mary the mother of Jesus Christ have other children?  Since the answer to this question might be useful to others, I decided to post it on the website. To answer the question:  Of course St. Mary had other children.  She's the mother of all saints, and the mother of us all.  She will also become the mother of many other children. But of course the question is asking if she physically gave birth to other children than the Word of God.  The short answer is no.  We believe in her perpetual virginity.  She was a virgin before giving birth to God and she remained a virgin after the fact. The long answer is through prophecies, her life, tradition and through logic as well.  Let me explain… Old Testament Prophecies There are many prophecies in the Old Testament about the Theotokos (Mother of God) St. Mary.  Some of them address her perpetual virginity.  A couple of them jump to mind.  The first one is in the book of Ezekiel where he saw the outer gate of the sanctuary which was shut.  "And the Lord said to me, ‘This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter by it, because the Lord God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall be shut.'" (Ezekiel 44:2)  Here we see that the Gate is a symbol of Saint Mary through...

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23
Noah - An Example of Righteousness
 "... Noah was a righteous man, who was perfect in his generation and well-pleasing to God." (Genesis 6:9) Continuing on with the Story of Noah, this verse raised many questions.  In a previous article we talked about The Righteousness of Noah.  In describing his righteousness, the above verse adds "in his generation".  Why did the bible need to say "perfect in his generation"?  Does this mean that perfection is relative?  Is perfection in Noah's generation different than todays? Certainly not!  Perfection is from God, and perfection is God.  Our Lord Jesus Christ in His sermon on the Mount teaches us saying "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48).  Also, from St. Paul we know that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8).  If God is Perfect, and we know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then it must be the case that perfection is the same as well.  So now the question still remains, why did the verse add "perfect in his generation".  Also why did the verse need to add "well-pleasing to God" since it already said that he was a righteous and perfect man? The verse starts by saying that "Noah was a righteous man", then it goes on to explain this righteousness in two parts:  The first ...

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08
Out of the Presence of the Lord
Genesis 4 talks about how Cain kills his brother Abel.  Verse 16 describes Cain's condition after his sin by saying: "Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod opposite Eden." (Genesis 4:16) Cain could have and should have repented to God, like King David when he sinned, and say "Do not cast me away from Your presence..." (Psalm 50:13)  However, not only did Cain not repent, he also chose to live away from the presence of God.  Notice that it was Cain's choice to live in this state.  The bible says that "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord..." not that the Lord cast him out of his presence.  Never!  "'Do I ever will the death of a lawless man,' says the Lord, 'since My will is for him to turn from the evil way and live?'" (Ezekiel 18:23)  The Holy Scripture also says "Who desires all men to be saved..." (I Timothy 2:4) But what does it mean to live "out from the presence of the Lord"?  Living out from the presence of the Lord means living without the following: Love: for "God is love" (I John 4:16) and "love is of God" (I John 4:7) Protection: "But You, O Lord, are a shield for me" (Psalm 3:3)  Also, "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." (Exodus 14:14) And "I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell i...

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06
How to Gain God's Respect
In Genesis 4 verses 4 and 5 we read the following: "...The Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his sacrifices." The question is: How did Abel gain God's respect? What did he do differently than Cain? "Now Abel was a shepherd of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. Now in the process of time Cain brought a sacrifice to the Lord from the fruits of the ground. Abel also brought a sacrifice from the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. The Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his sacrifices..." (Genesis 4:3-5) Abel had faith and through his faith he understood the proper sacrifice. In Hebrews we read "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain..." (Hebrews 11:4) Abel by faith learned that a blood sacrifice had to be offered. Perhaps he observed the garments of skin that the Lord God made for Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:21. The skin garments had to have come from a blood sacrifice. Perhaps also he learned from his parents that they tried first to sew fig leaves together and that wasn't sufficient (Genesis 3:7). Abel's faith was one of the factors that caused him to gain God's respect. In Hebrews we also read that "...without faith it is impossible to please Him..." (Hebrews 11:6). Abel had a discerning heart through faith to offer a more excellent sacrifice. Another factor that ca...

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