Monday, November 5, 2018

McGee and Me #4: Exodus 1-18

Exodus 1-18 (Thru the Bible #4) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 170 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again)

His commentary on Exodus is divided into two books. The first covers Exodus 1-18; the second covers Exodus 19-40. 

First sentence: The first few verses of Exodus connect it with the account of Genesis.

McGee's commentary reprints the text of the King James Version. These first eighteen chapters of Exodus are action-and-drama packed. They are weighty chapters as well. God appears to Moses in a burning bush. God begins to reveal himself to Moses as the great I AM. The God we meet in scripture is sovereign, almighty, compassionate. He has heard the cries of his people, and he is ready to act--ready to deliver. It is in the book of Exodus that Passover is introduced. This is incredibly weighty stuff that McGee is covering.

I loved reading this commentary. I disagreed a few times. (For example: "God says to us, “This is the salvation I offer you. Take it or leave it.” He wants us to take it but leaves the choice up to each individual." And, "If we place our faith in the work of Jesus Christ for us, we will be saved. God has a great plan of salvation but man must come to Him for it. He will redeem you with an outstretched arm.")  But overall, he had some great insights. In particular, I found his commentary on the plagues of Egypt and Passover to be insightful.


  • There is a continual responsibility of teaching the Word of God to each generation. If we neglect to teach the Bible, the time will come when it will be forgotten.
  • Satanic attempts to cut off the line leading to Christ run all the way through the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
  • In my opinion no person can study the Word of God and become anti-Semitic.
  • Nothing is begun or ended in this book. It is simply a continuation of the story that started in Genesis and continues on into the Books of Leviticus and Numbers.
  • God asks us to believe that which is good and solid. God never asks us to do foolish things. Jochebed did a sensible thing. She made a little ark and put Moses in it.
  • At that very moment was the right time for the child to cry. In fact, the Lord pinched little Moses and he let out a yelp. And God brought together two things that He has made—a baby’s cry and a woman’s heart.
  • This is a very human story we are reading, friends. God has something to tell us on every page of His Book.
  • The very mother of the child was called to nurse him and be paid for it! You cannot beat that, friends. You cannot beat God when He is moving in our hearts and lives.
  • God gives two reasons for delivering Israel: 1. He heard their groanings. 2. He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  • God saved us for the same reason He saved Israel. He found nothing in us that called for His salvation. He makes it quite clear that we are not saved because of any merit we possess. Paul explains it in Romans 3:23–24, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The word freely means “without a cause.” We have been saved from our sins without a cause. It is the same word our Lord used when He said that He was hated without a cause (John 15:25). 
  • The fact of the matter is that God saw us in the blackness and darkness of sin and ignorance. He saw that we were hopelessly lost and not able to save ourselves.
  • God’s love provided a Savior. God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son, John 3:16 tells us. However, it was not His love that saved us; it was His grace. We are saved without a cause by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • There never has been and never will be anything good in us. This is why we cannot produce anything good. This is why God gives us a new nature when we are saved, and why the old nature eventually must be destroyed.
  • God saw our desperate condition and saved us. God had a plan, but He did not ask the human race what they thought about it.
  • Although Moses had been brought up in the court of Pharaoh, he didn’t know enough to take off his shoes in the presence of a holy God. And I’m afraid many folk today get familiar with God. God is teaching him a great lesson about the holiness of God. We need to learn this lesson too.
  • When God redeems, He not only redeems from something, He always redeems unto something. We have been saved from sin unto holiness and heaven.
  • If you are saved today, you are completely saved. You will be just as saved a million years from now as you are today because you are in Christ. You have been brought out of Adam and put in Christ. You have been brought out of death and put into life. You have been brought out of darkness and put into light. You have been brought out of hell, if you please, and put into heaven. That is redemption: it is out of and into.
  • God cannot use us when we are too strong. It is out of weakness that we are made strong.
  • In Genesis God is Creator. He is Elohim, the mighty God, the self-existing One; I AM WHO I AM. This is the God who is sending Moses to deliver the children of Israel.
  • Probably nothing was ever quite so organized and meaningful as these plagues. They were directed very definitely toward the idolatry of Egypt. Pharaoh asked the question, “Who is the Lord? I do not know Him, and I do not intend to let Israel go.” So God introduced Himself and did it by bringing plagues on the land of Egypt.
  • Each plague was leveled at a different god of Egypt. There were thousands of temples, millions of idols, and about three thousand gods in Egypt.
  • The power in Egyptian religion was satanic and Satan grants power to those who worship him.
  • God directed His plagues against the idolatry in Egypt, against Pharaoh, and against Satan. It was a battle of the gods.
  • It is important to understand that there was purpose in the plagues of Egypt. God challenged the gods of Egypt to a contest and defeated them.
  • The expression “Let my people go” has been made famous in a picture. I wish we could make the question “Who is the Lord?” famous. It is the best question of all today because you have to know Him before there can be any deliverance for you.
  • God is not dependent upon anything in creation. He does not lean upon anything; rather, all of creation leans upon Him for support. God wanted Moses to lean upon Him too.
  • We have a Savior today who tells us who He is and what He is going to do. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to Him. The seven “I wills” of redemption are: 1. I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 2. I will rid you out of their bondage. 3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. 4. I will take you to me for a people. 5. I will be to you a God. 6. I will bring you into the land. 7. I will give it to you for an heritage.
  • God chose believers in Christ before the foundation of the world which places it before all time—in eternity past. The reason for the choice was not found in the believers, but in the all-wise purpose of God. He does not struggle to love His own in spite of their failures. God loves His own because it is His nature to love. He wants to be our God.
  • Frankly, reading all these names is boring to me and puts me to sleep, but they are important and thrilling to God. He is insistent that the genealogies be recorded. God wants us to know about whom we are reading and who His children are. God feels the same way about you and me. He wants us to be the sons of God through faith in Christ.
  • Pharaoh was like the politicians of today who will not say what they actually mean. They feel one way and speak another way. Pharaoh did not want to let the children of Israel go, and yet he wanted to appear as a benevolent ruler.
  • There is some question about the word serpent in this passage because there is very little history concerning the snake in Egypt. Actually the word used here is crocodile. During the days of Moses there were many of these creatures living in the Nile river and ponds throughout the land. The rod changed into a crocodile.
  • The Hebrew word tannin translated “serpent” in this chapter is not translated “serpent” anywhere else in the Bible. In the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel it is rendered “dragon.”
  • Pharaoh said, “All right, you may sacrifice, but stay in the land.” This is the same kind of compromise that many Christians make. It is always satanic. This compromise says we can be Christians but not narrow ones. Be a broadminded Christian and don’t change your life.
  • Chapter 12 is a high point in the Book of Exodus. Here we find the institution of the Feast of the Passover. 
  • The first division (chapters 1–11) deals with Moses, the deliverer. Chapters 12–14 deal with the deliverance of Israel. The first was a deliverer, now it’s the deliverance. The deliverance is actually not by Moses. The deliverance is first by blood. God delivered them by blood and by power. And our redemption today is by blood and by power.
  • The blood that the Lord Jesus Christ shed on the cross paid the penalty for our sins. The power of the Holy Spirit makes it real and effectual in our sinful hearts.
  • Redemption is the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross for us and the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
  • There are two prominent points of emphasis in this verse: (1) the blood, and (2) the family. The Israelites have become a nation and God is going to deliver them, but He will do it by families and by the individuals in the family.
  • Note that each family had a lamb. Thousands of lambs must have been slain that evening, but the sixth verse reads, “Israel shall kill it in the evening.” These many lambs were speaking of another Lamb. God looked at all of these lambs as that one Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was the Passover offered for us.
  • The observance of the Passover was a family affair, and I am afraid that our churches today are guilty of dividing families. Families should be together in church.
  • This sacrifice could not be eaten raw because it spoke of the judgment of sin in human lives, and this requires sacrifice and the fire of judgment. When a person comes to Christ, he comes as a sinner. The sacrifice was not to be soaked with water. This simply means that we must trust Christ and Him alone. Unfortunately there are many today who are trusting in water for their salvation. Everything was to be roasted. It was the judgment of fire.
  • I do not believe that you can be converted and continue living a sinful life. This does not mean that you will not sin occasionally, but it does mean that you will not make a habit of living in a pattern of sin.
  • God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” No one was saved because he was doing the best he could, or because he was honest, or because he was a good person.
  • God cannot arbitrarily or big-heartedly shut His eyes to sin and do nothing about it, any more than can a judge today when the guilty are brought before him.
  • The death sentence is upon all of us. But God is gracious, and an innocent life may be substituted for the guilty.
  • If we receive Christ, we are saved from the judgment that we deserve as sinners.
  • “Leaven” is being mixed into the teaching of the Word. All of the cults and “isms” use the Bible, but mix false doctrine with it. This is what the children of Israel were told to avoid.
  • Unleavened bread is not palatable. There are a great many people who do not like the study of the Bible, the pure, unleavened Word of God.
  • You say, “I’m free!” Are you really free? You have been bought with a price—the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The blessing comes when you give yourself to Him voluntarily and put Him first.
  • We do not need the visible presence of God in order to walk by faith.
  • If we could go with the astronauts to the moon and look down on this little earth of ours, we would see people lost in sin. Actually our world is a pretty hopeless place; a great burying ground. Man has been on the march for over five thousand years. Where is he marching to? Man is marching to the grave. It isn’t pretty, but it is true. Man is the most colossal failure in God’s universe. Unless God moves on their behalf, they are doomed. And you and I could never be redeemed unless God did it, friends. Redemption is the work of the Lord.
  • Before they crossed the sea, they sang the blues loud and long, and they will be returning to the Desert Blues again because it will be their theme song as they travel through the desert. For a time, however, they lustily sang the song of redemption.
  • God does not want anything from the world. He is saying to a lost world, “What will you do with My Son who died for you?”
  • You may not realize it, but the oasis of Marah is a normal Christian experience. When a bitter experience comes to a Christian, it is a puzzling and perplexing thing. Some people say, “Why does God let this happen to me?” I cannot tell you why certain things befall Christians, but I do know that God is not punishing them. He is educating them and preparing them for something. In the pathway of every believer there is a Marah. God has arranged it all. Someone has said, “Disappointments are God’s appointments.” I have found this to be true.
  • God uses a branding iron. I remember West Texas, in the spring of the year when the calves were branded. As a boy I would see the branding iron put down on a little fellow. Oh, how he bellowed! It made me feel sort of sad to hear him cry. But from then on everyone knew to whom he belonged. After a calf was branded, it would not get lost. God does that for us today.
  • It is the Word of God that our Lord wants us to feed upon. If you haven’t had that taste of manna yet, I suggest that you come to Christ and taste of it. Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
  • In addition to this, John 6:51 quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
  • The bread that Israel ate was manna, which was a picture of Christ, the Bread of Life. Christ is also the Water of Life, and the rock is a picture of Him. It contrasts the unbelief of the people (you see, they doubted God here) with the solid rock.
  • The smitten rock is a picture of the death of Jesus Christ. 
  • The world is thirsty. I ask you personally and particularly, Have you been to that smitten Rock for a drink of living water? God says if you drink of that water you will never thirst again.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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