My journey through Exodus is almost finished for 2022, and if I return to it this year, I’ll be surprised. In the last couple of weeks, my focus has primarily been on Exodus, but today I have a hodgepodge of thoughts and observations to share, not only about Exodus but also from Psalms. My hope, as always, is that you’ll find something worthy in what I’m sharing. Even if it is just a stew of thoughts and observations. 

Skillful Hands

Whenever I think about the Israelites as slaves in Egypt, I picture them working on the pyramids. Not literally since they weren’t even in Egypt when the pyramids were built. However, the picture of manual labor involved in such undertakings has always come to my mind when I think of the Israelites in bondage. It’s easy to only picture the Hebrews as tools of manual labor when we read about straw withheld from them in Exodus 5. Bricklaying is manual labor. 

A different picture is formed when we read through the latter part of Exodus. 

“All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded:”

Exodus 35:10 (NIV)

God never tells us to do anything without supplying the tools we need to get it done. In Exodus 35:11-19, we read about everything the Lord has commanded the people to construct. From the tabernacle, with its tent and covering to the woven garments used for ministering by Aaron and his sons. There’s quite a list there, and it couldn’t be done by people without the skills to do it. 

Without a doubt, God could simply snap His fingers and give the people the skills they need to build everything He has commanded. God created all of it in the first place. Does that make sense? Why not just bring it all into being without human labor? Jesus walked from place to place when he could have translocated himself wherever he wanted to go. No, the Israelites had the skills to construct everything God wanted them to construct because they learned them in Egypt

I don’t see the Egyptians teaching metalworking, embroidery, perfuming, etc. to the Israelites out of the goodness of their hearts. I also don’t see these as skills brought into Egypt by the Patriarchs. They were shepherds. Therefore, the Israelites learned all of these skills in Egypt and used them to serve the Egyptians.

When I consider the Israelites as skilled laborers, it opens a window of increased understanding about their importance in Egypt. No wonder there was such resistance to their leaving the country! Today such skills as metalworking, embroidery, perfuming, and the like are considered niche. We have industrial processes to fulfill these and similar needs. Many of the essential work that needs to be done in the West isn’t done by people we’d consider “skilled.” We saw this during the early stages of the pandemic when large parts of our countries were shut down and unable to work. 

While there was and always will be, a need for essentials like doctors and nurses, most of us turned to things like the mail and groceries. Who will deliver our packages and stock the shelves in our stores? Who will carry the food and other items we need from one place to another? All of our eyes were opened to one degree or another when we realized our “skills” weren’t essential in the way we once thought. 

This is what I see now, when I consider what it looked like to the Egyptians when the Israelites left Egypt. After 430 years, most of their essential workers left.  

Degrees of Sin

The Psalmist David says in Psalm 19, “who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression” (Psalm 19:12-13 NIV). 

The subject of willful sin is a touchy one for us as Christians. From the depths of our being, it brings up a fear we dare not even consider. Are we really saved if we commit willful sin? After all, how can someone who is a new creation, walking in faith, with the love of God in their heart, sin against God? Knowing that it was our sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. How can we knowingly sin when we know the cost paid on Calvary? 

King David, the man God called, “a man after my own heart” (cf. 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) wrote this Psalm. It was David, who asked the Lord to forgive his hidden sin and to keep him from willful sin. If David had these kinds of issues with sin, how much more you and I? This is, by no means, an excuse for our sin. It’s merely a stab at bringing to light awareness that willful sin isn’t wholly owned by you and me. 

There’s something far more important to learn from these two verses in Psalm 19. We can see there’s a progression of sin. While studying this Psalm, I came across this progressive list of sin commentary about it on Blue Letter Bible.com that I’d like to share with you, since it does a much better job of describing this progression of sin than I can.

But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

Psalm 19:12-13 (NIV)

It goes from passing temptation to chosen thought (errors).

It goes from chosen thought to object of meditation.

It goes from object of meditation to wished-for fulfillment.

It goes from wished-for fulfillment to planned action (hidden faults).

It goes from planned action to opportunity sought.

It goes from opportunity sought to performed act.

It goes from action to repeated action.

It goes from repeated action to delight (willful sins).

It goes from delight to new and various ways.

It goes from new and various ways to habit.

It goes from habit to idolatry, demanding to be served.

It goes from idolatry to sacrifice.

It goes from sacrifice to slavery.

(Guzik, D.)

We can see here that the sin we might focus on more, willful sin, is by no means the start of the problem. Nor is it the worst degree of sin we can achieve. Ultimately, we could return to slavery in sin.

The heart of Psalm 19 isn’t about our sin. It’s about the greatness of God and all of his works. One of those works is the law which David describes as “perfect, refreshing the soul” (Psalm 19:7 NIV). David reminds us of what the Bible can do for us.

By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:11 (NIV)

Paul wrote that he wouldn’t have known what sin was if the law didn’t tell him what it was by telling him not to sin (cf. Romans 7:7). Some see the Bible as a device of condemnation. Rules and commands. However, there’s more to it than that because it’s the very word of God. When we read the Bible, and the Spirit of God is in us, we, like David, can be warned about the things we might be doing in our lives that are counterproductive to living a holy and pure life in Christ. 

We also find a great reward. Not by works and following the law, but by faith in Christ. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and He loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, right now, and He wants you to know Him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be freed from death, and live eternally with Him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.

References

Guzik, D. (21 Feb, 2017). Study Guide for Psalm 19 by David Guzik. Retrieved from https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide2017-Psa/Psa-19.cfm