Follow-Up Body Update

Well, we’ve been back for a few days now from our second trip up to Mayo.  This trip really sapped my energy, so sorry this didn’t get put together as quickly as last time!  For those who enjoyed the post from the previous trip, hopefully this is worth the wait.

Day one went much better than last time.  There were no detours on the drive to Rochester, I was able to eat food with flavor when I wanted (no fasting required), and we opted for a handicapped suite at the hotel.  No more stuck-in-the-hall or stuck-in-the-bathroom moments for me this time around!  Also, our daughter J went with us, which was definitely a blessing.  Besides her help with carrying all my junk I need for sleeping and getting around between the car and hotel, she and I had lots of fun keeping things silly… kind of like the X-ray picture I chose for this post above. :)  More on the silliness later.

Before jumping to day two, we did have one minor adventure at the hotel.  T and J headed down to try out the hot tub while I stayed in the room to veg a bit in front of the TV.  I didn’t make it through one round of channel-flipping before they were back.  They were laughing and cringing as they informed me the maximum capacity of the tub was two, there was a sign with rules that you must not use it alone (therefore also a minimum capacity of two), and that there were some unidentifiable substances floating around in it.  They then went on to figure out who got to sanitize in the shower first.

Day two was initially expected to be the only day at the clinic, and that afternoon we would head home.  Our itinerary looked about like this:

  • 8am – Rheumatology
  • 10am – Orthopedics
  • 12pm – Echocardiogram
  • 2pm – follow-up with General Internal Medicine
  • 3pm – random immunization (stupid tetanus shot)

Like last time, “the plan” completely changed with the first appointment.  After some fun examination and discussion with the young rheumatology resident, who originally went to school to be an avionics engineer like T and me, the main doc came in and proceeded to give us a diagnosis.  He cut to the chase right away with: “I’m confident you have ankylosing spondylitis.”  (Stay here though… you can check out the Wikipedia link later. ;)  T likes to think of it as “ankylosaurus spondiferous” or better yet “that dino disease.”  Does anyone else remember ankylosaurus from school?  That dude was awesome… he could take on a T-rex!


The doctor’s language when informing us implied this was an easy diagnosis to make and it needs to start being treated with meds… but only after doing a bunch more testing, which he immediately scheduled.  Suddenly we were looking at another day half-full of testing and a follow-up appointment a week later.  But forget the talk about meds and appointments.  T and I were just sitting there stunned.  Why?  The short story is we’ve questioned this disease various times over the years, and it has been ruled out due to nothing showing up in my spine or hips, which is primarily what it affects.  My issues are in all the other joints… so if correct, this seemed to progress completely backwards.  We bring this up with the doc, and he spends a fair amount of time explaining his reasoning, pointing to my latest X-rays which show for the first time that my spine has the same stuff going on.  My sacral joint is even completely fused.  There’s supposed to be a bunch of back pain associated with this as well and there hasn’t been until just this past year.  You might say the timing of this is… “interesting.”  More on that later… we have several appointments and tests to deal with.

Oh wait, before moving on… right before we left rheumatology, he nonchalantly dropped a bit of a hand grenade on us with, “there’s also this one lab test that shows you might have Wegener’s disease … we may need to keep an eye on that.”  After researching the link I left there for you, I can’t stop repeating the doc’s conversation in my head as “by the way, you might also have a cool Nazi disease.”  You’ll have to read the Wikipedia summary later to see what I mean. :)


While still stunned, we headed over to our appointment with an orthopedic surgeon… the key guy I wanted to see from the start.  The main intent of the original Mayo trip was hoping to get some options for replacing my right knee in order to get walking in some form again.  I considered getting a more definitive diagnosis only as a possible fringe benefit.  Honestly, it was kind of hard to concentrate on the idea of the surgical options when we were still stunned from the “simple diagnosis” surprise of the previous appointment after baffling doctors for more than a couple decades.

The short story of the ortho appointment is: “there are options.”  They aren’t great options by any means.  Basically, they could replace my right knee with a special “hinged” implant which fully encompasses the leg bones and should prevent the re-fusing that happened with the left knee’s implant.  This would allow me to straighten my right knee again, but might not give me much bending motion… all bets were pretty much off in that direction, and would be based partially on major effort in therapy.  To make walking actually work, they would have to rip out the left knee’s implant and replace it with a hinged implant as well.  This would then hopefully get both knees working the same way.  Again, lots of effort in therapy and no guarantees.  After much discussion, we all agreed the best move was to forgo surgery for now and continue working with rheumatology.

But first, it’s time for my echocardiogram.  Why an echocardiogram?  I had told the internal medicine folks during the previous trip that I’ve been experiencing chest pains, though I felt they were perhaps muscular or in my rib cage, probably due to the disease.  They wanted to cover all the bases, so lucky me. :)  This test was far better than being stuffed into tubes or attempting contortionist positions when unable to move most of my joints.  I simply had to lay down while the nurse kept pressing hard on my chest with a metal stick.  Of course, remembering that I suspected all the pain near my heart was in the muscles and ribs instead, this test was… painful.  We learned later in the day I was right.  My heart is fine, thankfully. :)

does-it-hurt-when-i-do-thisThis would be a good time to side-track just a bit and explain some of the fun J and I had throughout the day.  The first would be the “Special Needs” bathroom signs we kept passing in the hallways.  Like a good father, when she asked what those were for, I told her: “You.  You have special needs, my child.”  I nearly got pushed into the wall for that one. :)  I couldn’t stop repeating the joke every time we passed them as she drove my wheelchair all over the clinic buildings.  Of course, she enjoyed making fun of me when I asked her to push me to one of said bathrooms.  (I apologize if you don’t think I should make fun of myself.  You should be used to it by now, though.)

The second bit of fun we had was ribbing T about her new mega-sized purse.  That thing acted like a black hole.  Every time I would set a medical record down, or J would put down her tablet or a book, they would be gone when we looked seconds later.  We would hunt around and find out they magically ended up in T’s purse.  It happened to J a couple times when T and I went to an appointment.  Poor girl wouldn’t have what she intended to pass the time with and had to wait until we returned.  Or, J and I would be running and wheeling down hallways to our next stop, forget the floor and desk we had to get to, and we’d have to block all hallway traffic while waiting for her to locate and extract the schedule yet again.  That thing is a monster.

black_hole_purseBut what was really fun for J and I was all the driving around.  Honestly, it was pretty scary for me.  I kept thinking about those signs you see at roller coasters… “keep your appendages inside the vehicle at all times.”  There were some seriously long “hills” in the underground passage system between the hotel and clinic that she would speed-race me through, making me think back to Christmas Vacation.  Anyone else remember the scene where Clark Griswold, against any sane person’s judgment, applies astronaut-grade lubricant to his metal sled?

Back to the appointments, we next met with general internal medicine, where they followed up from our original visit with a  “goodbye” to us as we seemed to be on the right track with the other doctors.  A funny little tidbit about that original meeting with them is they shook their head when I mentioned my general physician back home usually just wrote down ankylosing spondylitis on my medical receipts since we figured it was “close enough.”  The internal medicine folks had discounted the idea as well with, “no, can’t be that… you don’t have anything in your spine.”  We got a bookmark and a thank you card for “letting us serve you” (with another bill, I thought ;).  At least we also got my tetanus shot covered while waiting at that appointment.  That stupid shoulder still hurts.

Now is when we scrambled all over the clinic trying to get every test scheduled for day three done on day two.  We were told this might be possible, and that earlier results would mean we also might be able to make the rheumatology follow-up our day three adventure.  (By the way, please don’t ask T why her husband insisted before the trip that it would be more efficient to book a hotel on-the-fly if we had to stay another day, rather than book it ahead of time and cancel if it wasn’t needed.  Seriously, don’t bring that up again.  It’s really difficult for me to get into body armor.)

First stop was for blood and urine tests.  As soon as the rheumatologist ordered these in the morning, I understood I needed to fast the entire time before taking them.  We were sitting around 3pm at this point, and boy was I getting hungry.  The blood draws were a great time.  The first vein seemed to work perfectly… until after a minute or so it simply stopped providing blood.  The nurse and I just kind of sat there staring at it for a bit… me wondering if it should do that; her shrugging and pulling out the needle.  Another nurse started filling vials and we were all laughing about how there’s no way she could spread it out enough to hit the minimum marks.  So, back for another poke and we topped the vials off.

blood_memeOnce that was finished, I raced through part of a sandwich and some much-needed caffeine as J raced my modern chariot over to get a chest X-ray.  I believe this was to establish a baseline for how my chest is working due to the state of my spine in order to monitor in the future.  This required a bit of contortion to attempt to stand up flat against the X-ray machine, which simply wasn’t happening.  We called it good enough after a few minutes and moved on.

Next stop was a bone mineral density scan.  The purpose of the test was for a baseline of how much osteoporosis has already set in vs. how much continues to over time.  Again, more contortion as I got to experience a bit of what a piece of paper feels like in a scanner.  Keeping my body low enough for a device to slowly scan over my hips and spine was a bit of a feat… recall how my knees are fused at crazy angles.

The last test of day two was an electrocardiogram to check out the electrical activity of my heart, as this disease will likely affect it… so again, more establishing a baseline to monitor in the future.  This was a simple, quick test until the nurse started having fun ripping out my chest hair from the bajillion patches that she applied when I showed up.  As much of life continually reminds me of movie scenes, this reminded me of a clip I once saw on Youtube from a Steve Carell movie.

We ended the day with enough time to grab a relaxing sit-down dinner near the clinic, race the wheelchair all over the underground subway system to find the new hotel, and veg out in front of the TV.

The morning of day three was pretty straightforward.  We grabbed breakfast and went back to rheumatology in hopes of them squeezing in our follow-up appointment before heading home, rather than having to come back a week later.  After a couple hours waiting, there really wasn’t much news other than finding out they were still waiting for some of day two’s test results.  So, I took a trip over to the closest bathroom and did something stupid.  Their handicap stall turned out to simply be what I can only describe as a “normal” stall turned into a phone booth with a metallic bar contraption bolted to the stool.  With my immovable elbow joints, I should have known not to try it out.  After bashing my rib cage in on the fall down (pain which is still making me quite miserable), I was pretty much ready to leave for the day.  Of course, when we were all done laughing about my mishap upon my return to the waiting area, the girls reminded me I should have used the Special Needs bathrooms.  Ah… how life tends to get me back for my joking. :)

karmaAround 11am, the lady at the desk (who was a rock star for all the help she gave us) informed us one of the tests wouldn’t be done until at least 3pm and likely the next day, so we were probably going to have to add a day four.  As it turns out, it was a Tuberculosis test which was only being done to cover a situation where the treatment for my disease could actually reactivate latent TB if I had it.  After some discussion, she went back to the doctor and they agreed there was no need to keep waiting for that test in the first place.

We got back to see the rheumatologist, and he went through all the drugs I was about to start taking for the rest of my life.  One is a drug also used for chemotherapy, so you can guess at the possible side effects.  The other major player is a “biologic” which will require either periodic visits to town for IVs or self-injections at home kind of like insulin shots.  Maybe J would love to help me out there. :)  Then there are others I will take to attempt to deal with the side effects of these two drugs, and there will be many periodic visits to continually monitor how my body is reacting to the treatment.  Things are definitely going to change in my daily/weekly schedule, but he’s confident these will slow down progression of all the joint fusion.

As it turns out, these are mostly the same drugs I refused to try out when I met with rheumatologists here in town years ago.  When nobody was confident what disease I really had, it never felt right to make such a life change in my early 30s… it just seemed like random experimenting as we wouldn’t even know if they were working for a year or more.  They also didn’t know as much about the drugs back then, and it sounded at the time like I would be well on my way to a liver transplant if started so early in life.  Discussing some of this with the doctor, he clearly felt bad for our situation, thinking maybe this could have gone much better for us if things had been caught and/or treated back then.

This is where my lovely wife stepped in and conveyed to him how we’ve come to see this journey.  While it sure would be nice if I had maintained some better mobility, he should not feel bad for us.  We would never change any of this.  We have come to know Jesus Christ so much more and have ended up with a faith we never would have otherwise.  God used this disease for so much good.  It took years to see and appreciate His perfect timing, but we can definitely look back and see it.  Even this trip was timed such that the doctor had the clues for a diagnosis due to the disease finally showing up in the “normal” places in my body.  My favorite verse, which I have used in my instant messenger note at work for years, pretty much sums up how I see this “adventure” we’ve been on.  Walking is temporal.  Faith is eternal.

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Philippians 3:8 (ESV)

So, the next step is to take his notes (when he’s done putting them together) and get with rheumatology here at home.  Hopefully the Mayo trips are done, and we can move on with the next step in this process.  Before doing that, however, I would like to share one last moment from the trip.  As you can imagine, we were ready to race out of there and start the long ride home.  Well, right at the bottom of the elevators in the Gonda building is a huge lobby with a grand piano that people will periodically play music on.  Right when we got down there, we saw a ton of people gathered around it and they immediately broke into “Amazing Grace.”  I cannot begin to describe to you the beauty of that song, when sung by staff and patients of all sorts, also crippled by diseases, gathered in that area.  It stopped us in our tracks.  We were in awe.  It was such a special God-given gift of worship to end our trip.  While those singing were crippled, they were not broken.

You see, Paul himself asked for God to remove his own “thorn,” and this is what he got back.

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7–10 (ESV)

God’s amazing grace is sufficient for us, too.  May we all learn that life lesson… though I hope y’all are a bit less stubborn than me. :)

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Another Body Update

thor-hammerWell, we finally made it up to Mayo in Rochester yesterday to get me checked out by more of the big boys and girls in the medical field.  For those of you I haven’t seen or chatted with for some time, here’s a quick update summary of the current state of my body since the time of my older posts you can find under the Health category:

  • Left knee replaced in 2002, refused at about 20 degree angle over the next few years (zero range of motion)
  • Right knee fused at about 80 degree angle (zero range of motion)
  • Left ankle nearly fused around 90 degree angle (about 10 degrees of motion)
  • Right ankle fused at about 90 degree angle (zero range of motion)
  • Left elbow in process of fusing (about 45 degrees of motion)
  • Right elbow fused at about 45 degree angle (zero range of motion)
  • Jaw in process of fusing (can open to about the width of a finger)
  • Neck has lost some motion in all directions
  • Right hand has lost some motion in fingers/palm
  • Lots of pain in my ribs, especially the center… think feelings of exploding when sneezing

To further summarize… my body just continues to get worse.  I’m still able to bear enough weight on my left leg to get around the basement at home via a walker.  I pretty much stick to the wheelchair when I leave the house.

So… the Mayo trip.  Lots of you already heard we were headed up there for a day of appointments, and we truly have appreciated all the prayers and thoughts!  It always gives me a good sense of peace knowing you got our back.  I hope you enjoy some of the play-by-play of the quick trip. :)  Oh, and before you read more, know that we found the medical staff at Mayo to be extremely supportive… all of those we saw were super down-to-earth folks just like those back home.  I would say I’ll attempt to be brief, but… you may have seen this blog before and know better.

To start things off, I made a bit of a mistake.  I booked a hotel directly across from the building we needed to be at early in the morning.  I also didn’t book a handicap accessible room (don’t think there were any available on our short notice).  Wow, was this room small.  My wheelchair tires scraped the doorway on the way in and out.  If anyone else remembers the movie, I had to model Austin Powers in his classic scene, spending minutes to turn-around once inside the room.

Later that night, my walker and I got stuck in the tiny phone booth-sized bathroom.  I’m not going to find a video or picture for that, as I just don’t need to relive the experience.  T had a good laugh, though.

As for getting ready for appointments early the next morning, I had the fun instructions of fasting as of 7pm until whenever my blood tests could occur.  I also could not eat any foods for my final meal that had what I would call “flavor,” nor drink anything that I would call a drink with “flavor” either.  Anyone who knows my schedule lately knows I’m used to having “supper” around midnight a couple hours before bed and getting back out of bed between noon and 2pm for “breakfast.”  The next morning I basically felt serious jet lag in addition to being way off eating food.

So, we hit our first of three scheduled appointments for the day at 8am.  Our itinerary looked like this:

  • 8am – General Internal Medicine
  • 11am – X-ray’s
  • 1:45pm – Orthopedics

The short story of the first appointment went something like this:

  • Nurse comes in to grill us for a while, flips through my hand-carried medical history.  “Interesting.”
  • Physician’s assistant comes in to grill us much longer going through medical history in detail.  “Wow.”
  • Physician comes in after debrief from PA, shares he’s the same exact age as me and grew up down in Solon, we spend time laughing about how crazy my case is and how perhaps the only joint working might be my nose.  I instantly graduated to the “cool case” level and he left the room to bring back what appeared to be the rest of his medical staff.  They ooh’d and ahh’d over my condition, poked and prodded me, started talking about the lab photos (for future posterity? :) that must be taken at some point, and left to completely revamp my entire schedule.

Enter the new schedule, which has now become something like this:

  • Today – Lotsa blood work, meet with Ortho folks, lotsa X-rays, MRI after 6pm
  • Tomorrow – Echocardio-something, meet with Immunization folks (because let’s get another Tetanus shot… why not?), another visit with General Internal Medicine folks
  • Few weeks later – meet some different Ortho folks
  • Mid-August – meet with Rheumatology folks
  • TBD – follow-up?

So much for the consolidated get things done all today and return for an outbrief at the end of the day with the medical team plan forward.  Though we completely expected something like this, the schedule turned kind of crazy.  So, while I went through tests at each new department, T worked on the side to get the schedule turned into at least something manageable between today and a single future appointment.  A photo I recently saw on Facebook models what I could only guess things looked like for the rest of the day if you compared her path with mine.

shoppingBefore those paths could even start, our scheduler realized the X-ray’s shifted out after the Orthopedic consult due to all the extra tests being ordered.  Apparently, Orthopedic doctors prefer to actually have X-ray’s to look at when attempting to evaluate you.  So, we raced over to get X-ray’s crammed in prior to blood work.  As you might guess, blood work was the “I can finally eat again” finish line I was sort of focused on throughout the morning.

At some point around 12:30, I lost count of the X-ray’s that were taken for at least an hour.  I believe we covered every joint from three to four different angles.  There was a lot of “OK, move this joint like this,” to which I could only respond with, “Yeh, sorry… that one is fused too! :)”  Lots of laughing and lots of pain as we tried to contort my body in ways the X-ray equipment could be contorted to match up.  On a potentially-related note, my bedroom seemed slightly brighter last night.

By the time we were done, we were well late for all the blood work, which took all the remaining “free time” window we had prior to meeting with Ortho folks.  Speaking of Ortho, saw a couple doctors there, who also were completely perplexed and agreed we really need to be doing more tests and meeting some more of their folks.  Schedules continued to be adjusted.  By the time they were done grilling me over history and evaluating me, it was nearly 3pm and the MRI was shifted up to 3:15pm.

Enter Quizno’s, source of food WITH flavor.  They have a Quizno’s in the building.  Finally some food made so fast we had just enough time to slam it down make the MRI.

The prep for the MRI was fun.  I’ve done these before, so had no real shock at what was about to happen.  I’ll summarize the events:

  • Set me up with an IV in case they decided to inject me with contrast dye at some point.  This is where I model a human pin cushion as my veins marvel the nurses with their ability to somehow move out of the way just at they attack them.  Several armbands later, we’re in.  (The nurses afterward ask if I’d like to keep all the various “war wound” bandages on to impress my wife and get sympathy… I know T too well to bother trying. :)
  • I attempt to put on a “wrap-around” gown by myself.  A wrap-around gown has three arm holes.  Because… you get to wrap it around and not have an open back.  Ingenious design.  However, one of the stupidest things I ever tried to do myself.  If you are confused why, go back to the top of this post and remind yourself of the state of my joints. :)  I spent minutes moving my body in directions I shouldn’t have, feeling a bit like I was playing a frustrating version of human Tetris, but finally got the gown on.
  • I exit the dressing room and T can only laugh.  I still have my shirt on underneath.  Back inside I go, for the 6th (?) dressing room change of the day.
  • Enter the MRI room… where they spend minutes trying to figure out how to position my body in a way to fit down the tiny tube…  all the while asking me to move certain directions after they had already stuffed in some of the most amazing ear plugs I’ve experienced.  About an hour after the contortionist exercises were complete (again, remember the irony that most of my joints are fused :), it was time to stop feeling like the picture below and head on back home.


So, exciting day but not much news in terms of further diagnosis beyond that of the physicians I’ve seen throughout all the years leading to today.  Everyone we saw was just as baffled as folks back home.  We head back up again mid-August for another full day of testing and meetings.  Who knows what will be ordered that time around or how many future visits are in store.

Before I end this post, however, I want to take a bit to mention an interesting article T and I read right after meeting with our very first nurse of the day.  It was the cover story of Rochester Magazine that was sitting in the room, called “The Key to Contentment” with a subtitle that went something like, “Has this doctor found the secret to happiness?”  It was a read filled with interesting comments like this one:

Our brain is designed as a machine. If you were to design a machine to maximize suffering, that would be the human brain. … The brain inflates the negative, it discounts the positive. I compare myself with those who have more, not those who have less. That is my instinct as a human. When I have food, food stops rewarding me. I want an air conditioner. If I have one car, I want two cars. I keep chasing. Why people are struggling often has less to do with personal predisposition, and more to do with how the brain is designed.

All we could think was, “he’s so close to the truth, but so far.”  Yes, our brain is designed by our Creator.  However, the Bible tells us there was a fall, and ever since our heart is the problem.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV)

21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Mark 7:21–23 (ESV)

Only God, through His grace and mercy toward us sinners bought and paid for in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, can fix this issue and bring us contentment.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 (ESV)

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:11–13 (ESV)

Our prayer is that all of you come to know the true source of contentment in any circumstance.  Paul learned to be content… and we are still learning ourselves, to find contentment no matter how my condition progresses.  We pray you do as well.

Thanks again for all the prayers and thoughts!  Until next time.

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A Journey of Self-Discovery

self-discovery“A Journey of Self-Discovery.”  I see this a lot these days in articles online.  I read it in books.  I watch it in movies.  I get to experience it watching the copious number of reality TV shows we’re bombarded with.  Ok, the last one is more like watching a continual train wreck, but you get the picture.

So… I think it’s been a while since I threw a really preachy post on my blog.  I’ve tried to hide between my (infrequent) “Jesus in the OT” studies for quite a while, just trying to slowly continue pointing to Christ.  I have a lot of thoughts stirring in my head that I know are going to come off as too preachy, and like most people, I still want to have friends out there who sort of listen to me.  Oh, who am I kidding… I only have a couple readers still out there anyway.  So, here goes… I’m going to throw one of my thoughts out here.

Every time I hear this “journey” phrase, I can’t help but think back to what the Bible tells us about “self.”  Self is sinful.  Self has the wrong motivations.  Self is against God.

18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.

Mark 10:18 (ESV)

12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

Romans 3:12 (ESV)

I already forgot to mention I even hear the phrase in churches.  Anyone ever see Joel Osteen’s book “Your Best Life Now”?  (If this is the best life now for Christians, we’re in trouble.)  Jesus Christ told us time and again this life is not about us, but about learning to deny ourselves and follow Him.

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Luke 9:23–24 (ESV)

Our life is to be a journey of self-denial and discovery of the One who created us.  The One who saved us from ourselves.

3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

John 17:3–5 (ESV)

That’s really all I’m going to say about this for now.  Not because that is all I think about it, but because one of the reasons for the timing of this post is that T. A. McMahon from Berean Call just wrote an article in their March newsletter on this very topic, “Self: Mankind’s Number One Problem.”  T. A. stated my thoughts far better than I could have done, and this way you don’t have to read any more of my blathering. :)  You can find the page linking to the PDF download below.

Berean Call March 2015 Newsletter

My prayer is that you will spend some of “self’s” precious time reading the 2-page article through and really taking it to heart.  There is so much more in life than self.

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Jesus in the OT – Exodus 20

ten_commandmentsTime for one more post to finish out the year.  We’re here at Exodus 20, where Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God.  This post will feel a bit different than others, as it may not be obvious how the commandments point to Jesus Christ.  However, let’s start off by seeing how Jesus referred back to these commandments while he was here on Earth, and we’ll see where it takes us.

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1–3 (ESV)

Matthew includes a passage describing how Jesus Christ used an example to put the first commandment in terms we might better understand.

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Matthew 6:19–24 (ESV)

While on the surface of the first commandment, we may simply shrug it off as, “Oh sure, I don’t worship any God but the God of the Bible.  No problem.”  Jesus shows there is more to this… we can even setup money as a god in our life, serving it rather than God.  Is there anything else we serve in our lives over Him?  I can recall many examples throughout my life.  Getting squeamish yet?  Let’s try the second commandment.

4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:4–6 (ESV)

Perhaps we can answer this one with, “Not a problem… I haven’t made any statues of gods, humans, creatures of any other sort, nor have I bowed down before any.”  Jesus reminds us a bit why this would be wrong when speaking with the woman at the well.

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

John 4:19–26 (ESV)

God is spirit and we must worship Him in spirit and truth, which is why no object can be worshipped.  Note how the conversation finishes up right after that statement, though.  She immediately turns to discuss how the Messiah is coming, to which Jesus responds He is the very Messiah she has been waiting for.  What does this have to do with worshipping images?  Paul tells us in Colossians.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1:15–20 (ESV)

Jesus is the only valid image of God.  Placing our faith in another idol, image, person, creature, etc. and we are on the wrong path.  Time for the third commandment.

7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

I grew up thinking this simply meant to not use “God” or “Jesus Christ” as swear words.  Sure, we shouldn’t do that.  After all, Jesus tells us to treat God’s name with respect at the very beginning of the Lord’s prayer.

9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Matthew 6:9 (ESV)

Just to go down a short rabbit hole, have you ever wondered why we often use those names as swear words?  Why don’t we yell out “Buddha” or “Satan” or “Zeus” or the name of any other random false “god”?  Does that tell you anything about human nature?  Anyway, Jesus leads us down a road that shows there is more to this commandment.

7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Matthew 15:7–9 (ESV)

Taking God’s name upon us, identifying ourselves as worshippers of the one true God, can be done completely in vain if we don’t worship Him correctly.

33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

Matthew 5:33–37 (ESV)

Jesus tells us taking oaths is another way to take His name in vain.  In fact, the New Testament is packed with demonstrating the things we do in vain as we claim the name “Christian.”  Remember doing anything lately that dishonors His name?  I sure do.  Let’s move to number four.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8–11 (ESV)

Jesus pointed out examples of how the Jews treated the Sabbath quite legalistically and hypocritically – they missed the point.

10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.

Luke 13:10–17 (ESV)

23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:23–28 (ESV)

Ever seen any parallels with how we Christians treat Sunday, which isn’t even the Sabbath from God’s commandments?  I would suggest we still have many similar legalistic and hypocritical issues.  On to number five.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12 (ESV)

Jesus Christ uses this commandment to further point out the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders.

1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. 7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: 8 “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 9 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

Matthew 15:1–9 (ESV)

How often do we claim to do something for God and yet are completely missing the point of one of His other commandments, not honoring God or our parents, but only looking out for our own interests?  Half-way through… will we do any better with six?

13 “You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13 (ESV)

Oh, we got this one, don’t we?  If I even have any readers of my blog left out there in cyberspace, surely there aren’t too many murderers around.  Right?  Let’s see what Jesus says about that.

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Matthew 5:21–26 (ESV)

If you aren’t losing hope of doing well against the commandments yet, then maybe you need to read that passage again.  I know I’m certainly in trouble.  How about the seventh commandment?

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14 (ESV)

Perhaps not too many of us have committed adultery while married, or committed adultery with a married person.  Think Jesus with leave this one alone?  Well, turns out there’s more to this one as well… in the very next verses from Matthew.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matthew 5:27–30 (ESV)

Yup, He got me on that one, too.  How have you done throughout your life?  How about even the last few TV shows or movies you watched… or advertisements in between?  Ready for the eighth?

15 “You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15 (ESV)

While Jesus Christ didn’t point directly to downloading MP3’s illegally, or stealing time or money from God, or any other way we might steal in life beyond bank robbery, carjacking or shoplifting, can you sense the theme of how He approached the rest of the commandments at this point?  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t make the grade there, either.  Jesus Christ does point out in the New Testament that there is a more sinister type of stealing, however…

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”  27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 10:10-18, 27–28 (ESV)

…stealing people away from Jesus Christ Himself.  Two left.

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16 (ESV)

Do you doubt by now that this applies beyond lies against that guy next door, or the crazy folks across the street?  If you’re still treating the commandments legalistically at this point, you really haven’t been paying attention.  I would suggest any lies are baked into this one.  Jesus Christ points out where they all come from.

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

John 8:39–47 (ESV)

Satan is the father of lies.  Just to take it a bit further, recall how Jesus Christ responded to a question from Pontius Pilate on His way to the cross.

37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

John 18:37 (ESV)

He came to testify to the truth.  Perhaps it’s important to steer clear of lies?  Finally we come to number ten.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Exodus 20:17 (ESV)

We’re a coveting culture, aren’t we?  Materialism survives because it feeds so much on our desires for whatever we see someone else has, or maybe even see that we can one-up someone else by grabbing that shiny, new toy.  Anyone surprised that Jesus called us out?

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:13–21 (ESV)

I’ve never done well on that one.  How about you?  So, after all this, how do these commandments point us to Jesus Christ?  So far, we’ve mostly watched as He pointed backward to them to call us out.  As it turns out, if it isn’t already obvious to you by now, we can’t keep them.  I’ve broken them all.  I can’t think of too many days in my life when I haven’t broken the spirit of them all over again.  Paul covers this at length in Romans.

7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 7:7–12 (ESV)

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Romans 7:21–24 (ESV)

The purpose of the law was to point out to us how far we are from the righteousness demanded by God; how utterly sinful we are by nature.  If we continue in the very next verses of Romans, we find the law was to point us toward a righteousness somewhere outside ourselves.  In fact, not really “somewhere,” but to “someone.”

25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 7:25–8:4 (ESV)

That “someone” is Jesus Christ, to whom the commandments all point us toward.  Skipping to a single-verse summary in Romans, Paul tells us:

4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Romans 10:4 (ESV)

Faith in Jesus Christ is the point.  Only His righteousness can satisfy God.  Need more?  The Galatians needed to hear more as well.

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:10–14 (ESV)

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.

Galatians 3:21–26 (ESV)

The righteous shall live by faith.  Again, faith in Jesus Christ is the point.  The Ten Commandments point us to Him as our Savior.  One final note from a website I’ve come to trust over time,, that sums this up well.

The purpose of the Mosaic Law raises these questions: “Are you trusting in yourself to keep all the Ten Commandments all the time (which you can’t do)?” OR “Have you made the choice to accept Jesus as your Savior, realizing that He has fulfilled all the commandments all the time for you, even paying your penalty for breaking them?” The choice is yours.

Put your trust in Jesus Christ, who died for you… and me.  I know myself well enough to know the correct answer.  Who are you going to trust?

In summary, here is what we found today:

  • Exodus 20:1-17 – the Ten Commandments point us to someone outside ourselves to satisfy God… our Savior, Jesus Christ

Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!  Even if you just skipped to the end… if anyone is still out there in the first place. :)  If you are, I’ll see you here again next year.

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Jesus in the OT – Exodus 18-19

israelites_mountainBeen a while, so let’s work through the next two chapters of Exodus today.  We start by learning the names of Moses’ sons.

1 Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 Now Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, had taken Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after he had sent her home, 3 along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land”), 4 and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

Exodus 18:1–4 (ESV)

ESV footnotes point out that Gershom sounds like the Hebrew word for sojourner, and Eliezer means “my God is help.”  As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that we are sojourners on the earth, and that Jesus is our helper/deliverer.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Hebrews 11:13–16 (ESV)

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3:11–13 (ESV)

6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Hebrews 13:6 (ESV)

26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;

Romans 11:26 (ESV)

We next find in Exodus that Moses is acting as a judge over the Israelites, making God’s laws and Word known to them.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.”

Exodus 18:13–16 (ESV)

We know from the New Testament that Jesus Christ will be our judge.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)

We also know that Jesus Christ makes God’s laws and Word known.

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

Mark 12:13–17 (ESV)

23 The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, 24 saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.

Matthew 22:23–33 (ESV)

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 1:1–2 (ESV)

In fact, we are told that Jesus Christ is the Word, and makes God Himself known.

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

John 1:1, 14, 17–18 (ESV)

Next up in Exodus, we find Moses too burdened to do things alone.

17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.

Exodus 18:17–18 (ESV)

While Jethro gave Moses advice to seek out help from others in sharing his burden, we would do well to seek out Jesus Christ to give us rest from ours.

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28–30 (ESV)

Jesus and Paul also command us to bear one another’s burdens.

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34–35 (ESV)

2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

In Exodus 19, we find the Israelites arriving at Mt. Sinai in the third month, where Moses is about to receive the law.

1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain,

Exodus 19:1–2 (ESV)

As noted in the ESV Study Bible:

On the third new moon puts their arrival at Sinai about seven weeks after the exodus. This coincides with the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), which among other things celebrates the giving of the law.

In a sense, we might see this as the giving of the law coinciding with the later giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord.

Leviticus 23:15–16 (ESV)

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:1–4 (ESV)

We next find God stating the Israelites would be a treasured possession, kingdom of priests, and holy nation.

3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

Exodus 19:3–6 (ESV)

In the New Testament, we find that through Jesus Christ, we are His possession, royal priesthood, and holy nation.

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 2:13–14 (ESV)

4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:4–9 (ESV)

In our final passage from Exodus, we find God speaking with trumpets and thunder.

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

Exodus 19:16–20 (ESV)

In Revelation, we find God will again speak with trumpets and thunder during end times events.

5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God,

Revelation 4:5 (ESV)

5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

Revelation 8:5 (ESV)

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

Revelation 11:19 (ESV)

However, while the Israelites feared God, believers in Jesus Christ will have nothing to fear.

18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:18–24 (ESV)

Finally, note in that same Exodus passage that God called Moses to come up to the mountain.  One day, when the trumpet sounds, Jesus Christ will call us to come up to Him.

15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:15–18 (ESV)

In summary, here is what we found:

  • Exodus 18:1-4 – type/picture – we are sojourners on earth; Jesus Christ is our helper/deliverer
  • Exodus 18:13-16 – type/picture – Jesus Christ will be our judge
  • Exodus 18:13-16 – type/picture – Jesus Christ, the Word, make God and His laws known
  • Exodus 18:17-18 – type/picture – Jesus Christ gives us rest from our burdens, and commands us to help bear burdens of others
  • Exodus 19:1-2 – type/picture – giving of the law vs. giving of the Holy Spirit
  • Exodus 19:3-6 – type/picture – we are Jesus Christ’s possession, royal priesthood, holy nation
  • Exodus 19:16-20 – chiasmus – God will again speak with trumpets and thunders during end times events, yet unlike the Israelites, we need not fear Him
  • Exodus 19:16-20 – type/picture – Jesus Christ will one day call us to Him at the sound of a trumpet

Enough for this post… catch you next time.

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Periodic ramblings by an old geek…