Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What Does The Exodus Mean For Modern Christians?

The Exodus, or departure, of the Hebrew people from Egypt is among the most important events in human history. I frequently hear people allegorizing this historical narrative, or applying it to their lives in the wrong way. Let's take a look at some of the main occurrences of this journey and what we can learn from them.

Rescued From Slavery
In the same way that God redeemed Israel and brought them out of slavery in Egypt, He saves each Christian from bondage and slavery to sin.

Released From Pharoah's Clutches
When God called Israel to come and worship Him, He told Pharoah: Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me." Hosea 11:1 recalls this event: When Israel was a child I loved him and Out of Egypt I called my son. God called Israel as His children and Pharoah refused to let them go. Even after He released them, he came chasing after them to try to force them back into slavery.

In 2 Corinthians 6:18, God tells us: I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters. When God calls us as His own children, Satan acts in much the same way as Pharoah, tempting and trying to pull us back into sin. Jesus said: Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the house forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the son sets you free, you are free indeed. God set us free to be His children and members of His household forever. Don't go back into slavery.

Israel was warned not to look back or long for their old life in Egypt. Think about the way that Lot's wife was turned to a pillar of salt when she longingly looked back at the sinful towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is an important principal with God. We should be grateful and not long for our old life of sin, but live in freedom.

A Crooked Path
God did not take Israel on the most direct path to the Promised Land, He took them on the safest path.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter/nearby. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So He led the people around toward the Red Sea along the road of the wilderness. (Exodus 13:18)

In our lives, we might not always understand where God is leading us, but we can trust Him that it is for our good and for our benefit. His path might not be the Fastrack, but it is the Best track.

Parting the Red Sea
When the Egyptian army came chasing after Israel, they were pinned up against the Red Sea. The Red Sea represented an insurmountable obstacle, keeping God's people from being saved and entering into His rest. The Red Sea has 2 arms reaching upward in a V-shape. In between is the Sinai peninsula, where Moses received the law. The left arm, the Gulf of Suez, where they likely crossed, is 20 miles wide. Like this body of water that separated Israel from the place God wanted to bring them, because of sin, there was an in-crossable gulf separating us from God. 1 Corinthians 10:2 tells us that when God parted the Red Sea and Israel crossed over on Dry ground, they were Baptized into Moses, the Law. In the same way, we are Baptized into Jesus, our Savior, through Grace. Where there was no way, God made a way, a bridge to cross the gulf between us and that way is Jesus. As huge of a miracle as the parting of the Red Sea is, it also serves an object lesson to show us what an enormous miracle was necessary for us to be saved.

The Wilderness and The Promised Land
The Promised Land for the people of Israel was Canaan. The Promised Land for Christians is Heaven. Our promised land is not here on earth. It isn't the perfect job or the perfect marriage or the perfect life circumstance. It isn't the fulfillment of our goals, dreams, plans or visions for this life. Our promised land is much bigger and much better than that. Our Promised Land is Heaven.

Although Christians are citizens of Heaven, we are God's representatives here in the wilderness. But there is good news, Wonderful news in fact. There are blessings in the wilderness.

Blessing #1: PROVISION

FOOD: God provided the people with sweet manna from heaven to eat. He will provide for our daily needs. He also provides us with spiritual food from His word.

WATER: Twice, God miraculously brought forth water out of a rock when the people were thirsty. He also provides us with living water through His Spirit that restores, refreshes and quenches our thirsty souls.

SHELTER: The people of Israel had strong tents to live in. God cares about our daily needs and that includes a safe, clean place to live.

CLOTHING: The entire time the people of Israel were in the wilderness, their clothes and shoes never wore out:
Your clothing did not wear out on you and your feet did not swell these 40 years. (Deuteronomy 8:4)

Matthew 6:25-34 tell us not to worry about what we will EAT or what we will DRINK or what we will WEAR because God knows that we need those things and He will provide for us: Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be PROVIDED for you. God has always provided me with a job and I am very grateful for that provision. We can trust Him. Just don't forget to ask.

Blessing #2: PROTECTION
God protected Israel and fought for them. Jesus did battle for us on the cross. God protects us in this life and it is appropriate to pray for the protection of ourselves and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Blessing #3: POINTING
God's points us the right way. He GUIDES us. God went before Israel, leading them in the way they should go by a column of fire and He will lead us through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, who is our guide and helper.

Blessing #4: PRESENCE
Joshua spent times of sweet fellowship in the very Presence of God inside the tabernacle, or tent of meeting. As Christians, we have direct access to God's Presence and the privilege of fellowship with Him

Blessing #5 PEACE
God gave the people Sabbath rest in the wilderness. We too, can have peace and rest in this life.

Blessing #6 PEOPLE
The people of Israel were surrounded by family and friends in the wilderness. They had fellowship. God blesses families. He has also has provided that fellowship for us through His people, the church. We are part of Israel, grafted into Abraham's family tree. We are the family of God.

Blessing #7 PURPOSE
For 40 years, Joshua and Caleb were stuck in the wilderness because the people of Israel lacked the faith to enter Canaan. Why couldn't they go in by themselves? Because they had a divine purpose, to lead others in. So why doesn't God just take us to heaven the moment we are saved? Because we have a divine purpose to lead others into His rest. God has a purpose for us to fulfill in this life. Ephesians 2:10 gives us some very encouraging news:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

God has prepared a PURPOSE for us in this life. That is encouraging and that is good news. We aren't meant to wander aimlessly. We are meant to impact our world right where we are at, right here and now.

In the same way that Israel was delivered from bondage and slavery in Egypt, we have been saved out of bondage and slavery to sin. In the same way that God parted the Red Sea to rescue and Baptize them into the Law of Moses, He has provided salvation for us to be Baptized into Jesus through Grace. In the same way that Joshua and Caleb had a purpose to lead God's people in the wilderness, we have a purpose to bring people to Jesus so that they can enter the promised land with us. In the same way that God defeated the Egyptian army in the Red Sea as they pursued Israel and then defeated and drove armies out of the Promised Land before them, Jesus has defeated Satan and will ultimately defeat and destroy all evil. Then we will enter into His perfect protection and rest in Heaven. 

Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass. -Joshua 21:45

The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance....But in keeping with God's promise, we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. -2 Peter 3:9,13

In the same way that Israel entered into God's rest and every one of his promises to them was fulfilled, we will enter into heaven and every one of God's promises to us will come to pass.

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