Perfect Love Always Succeeded
The Book of Exodus relates the forming of the children of Israel into a church and a nation. We have hitherto seen true religion shown in domestic life, now, we begin to trace its effects upon the concerns of kingdoms and nations. Exodus signifies "the departure;" the chief event therein recorded is the departure of Israel from Egypt and Egyptian bondage; it plainly points out the fulfilling of several promises and prophecies to Abraham respecting his seed, and shadows forth the state of the church, in the wilderness of this world, until her arrival at the heavenly Canaan, an eternal rest.
Some of His purpose for leading Israel to Canaan through the wilderness could be summarized as follows:
· It was in order that His power might be displayed as He brought them through the Red Sea.
· It was in order that Pharaoh and his servants might be destroyed.
· It was in order that the Israelites might receive His laws in the solitude of the desert.
· It was in order that they might be tried and proven prior to their entrance into the land.
Now, in these verses, after an introductory statement about the first born (vv. 1-2), Moses addresses the people again about the Passover and the Unleavened Bread feasts (vv. 3-7. Like the Passover the Feast of Unleavened Bread had great educational value in the home (vv 8-16). It was to be a continual reminder of God’s mighty deliverance from Egypt. Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread the consecration of the firstborn was also a reminder of God’s gracious deliverance from the land of bondage. Just as the Lord used His mighty power to rescue the Israelites from slavery in Egypt He wants to show His mighty power in rescuing us from the power of sin in our lives today.
Items for Discussion
· We have some very specific requirements laid out by God. What might God’s purpose be for such requirements?
· What human desires are being sacrificed in order to respond to God’s commands?
· What benefit is it to us to be willing to sacrifice in the way God is commanding?
· Why does society place such a high importance on the “first born?”
· What is God really after here in his commandment to us?
· If we respond as we are being directed, what might the benefits be to us as individuals?
1 Corinthians 13:8
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away
Corinth was an important city. It was on a very narrow section of land (called an ‘isthmus’) in the southern part of Greece and the capital city of the region called Achaia. It had two harbors. The harbor on the east coast was 4 miles (6 km) from the harbor on the west coast. Today a canal joins these two harbors. In Paul’s time, people pulled small boats across from one harbour to the other one. They dragged them on a kind of ship railway. Porters carried goods from large boats to the other side. They put the goods on a different boat. The journey would otherwise have been over two hundred miles round a very dangerous part of the sea.
As it was a busy center for trade, Corinth was a good place for the *gospel to spread. Merchants and travellers would hear the message and take it with them. There were many different people in Corinth. There were Romans because it was a Roman colony. There were Greeks, Jews, people from Asia and from further east. There were rich people as well as many slaves. There was a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek female god of love. There were thousands of prostitutes in the city. Many of them belonged to this temple. Corinth became well-known for bad sexual behaviour. To live ‘like a Corinthian’ meant to become a drunk often or to visit prostitutes.
The Corinthian church had both Jews, but more Gentiles, and the apostle had to contend with the superstition one group and the sinful conduct of the other. The peace of this church was being disturbed by false teachers, who undermined the influence of the apostle Paul. Two parties were the result; one contending earnestly for the Jewish ceremonies, the other indulging in excesses contrary to the gospel, to which they were especially led by the luxury and the sins which prevailed around them. This letter was written to rebuke some of the disorderly conduct, of which Paul had been apprized, and to give advice as requested by the Corinthians. Thus the scope was twofold. 1. To apply suitable remedies to the disorders and abuses which prevailed among them. 2. To give satisfactory answers on all the points upon which his advice had been desired. The address, and Christian mildness, yet firmness, with which Paul writes, and goes on from general truths directly to oppose the errors and evil conduct of the Corinthians, is very remarkable. He states the truth and the will of God, as to various matters, with great force of argument and animation of style. It is the Apostle Paul at his best.
In verses 1-2, Paul spoke about three gifts. They were prophecy, tongues and knowledge. He said that without love they had no value. Here he contrasts love with these gifts. Love is permanent. These gifts will all become unnecessary.
Items for Discussion
· “Love” and derivatives of love like love’s and loved appear 697 times in the NIV Bible – “Hate” is mentioned 80 times. To what purpose do you see this ratio serving?
· Why is love so hard?
· To what things is love an absolute prerequisite?
· God’s love is permanent – What comfort should we take in this fact?
· How does love transcend time and generations?
· Which is harder to forget, love or hate?
· Why should we love our God?
· How would you tie the focus on first born to loving God?
· How do we help the Christian church love as God would want us to love?
 NIV New International Version Translations