Love Looks Like Death

LoveLooksLikeDeath

We don’t normally pair love and death, except to express love for those who have died. But consider God’s love. This is that love that died on the cross for our sins, so that we may have eternal life with God. This is that same love that comes to live within us, and causes us to die to self: die to our fleshly desires, die to our selfish wants, die to putting ourselves first. This is the same love that causes us to put to death the things we loved in our flesh, and instead take up those things that God loves.

John 12.24 – 26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

What needs to die in order for God to get our attention? What needs to die in order for us to commit to Him? What needs to die in order for God’s purposes to be fulfilled for His glory?

Many of us have long been praying for revival. Maybe this is what revival looks like.

Acts 26.18 God appointed Paul a minister To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

I see posts on the Internet about “When life returns to normal,” and “I can hardly wait to get back to normal.” I pray that life does NOT return to normal after this pandemic. Look at the garbage we allow into our homes through Internet and television. Look at the way we speak to and act toward one another. Many of the things we love need to die:

  • What do you watch on television?
  • Whose pockets are you filling with what you feed on? Think food (is it healthy?), Internet (is it edifying?), news sources (is it uplifting, truthful, and unbiased?), other media (does it feed you spiritually?): are you giving your money to Godly causes?
  • How do your words sound and look? If you eat your words, will they be sweet and/or nutritious?

God designed us, and knows best what brings us joy. His love, and sharing that love with others, is what brings true joy. We must kneel before God and accept that His way is best. We must accept that He will allow to die those things that are not glorifying to Him, or that He will use death to bring glory to Himself.

I encourage you to start with prayer and reading of God’s Word.

Isaiah 55.6 – 13 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

I hope you feel God’s call to prayer. If you do, I hope that you heed it. America, the world, must fall on its knees before Almighty God. We must humble ourselves. That means that we give up whatever we think is right and just and true, and that we take to heart His Word, His Truth. (Note: We must find out what are His Word and His Truth by reading the Bible.)

God moves through prayer. He doesn’t need our prayers. We need our prayers. God moves at His will, regardless of our obedience. But He also works through our prayers, in our own lives and the lives of others. One of the great mysteries of God is that He works through people.

Prayer does not “solve” our problems. Prayer lays our concerns before God and gives them to Him. Prayer accepts that God loves us and will do what He deems best in our lives and the lives of our loved ones. Prayer places trust in God and God alone. Prayer strengthens us; through us, prayer strengthens others.

Isaiah 40.28, 29 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

I end with a quote by Elijah Lovejoy (1802 – 1837), an American Presbyterian minister, journalist, newspaper editor, and abolitionist: “If by compromise is meant that I should cease from my duty, I cannot make it. I fear God more than I fear man. Crush me if you will, but I shall die at my post.”

I pray I may be found at my post when God comes for me.

Man with a Colt

ManWithAColtimage from google images

In Mark, chapter 11, Jesus sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

And sure enough, certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? The disciples tell them that the Lord has need of it, and the men let them go with the colt.

Whose colt was it? Did it belong to one of the men standing there?

I think that God put it in their hearts to let the colt go. And I think they followed the disciples and the colt, to see what was going on. Perhaps the owner of the colt knew of Jesus and His miracles. Perhaps the owner’s own wife or son or daughter had been healed. Perhaps he had been one of the crowd who had recently watched Lazarus come out of the tomb.

Imagine the owner’s feelings when he saw the garments spread on his colt, saw Jesus Himself sitting upon it, and entering into the city.

The crowd sang praises to Jesus: v9  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Note: The crowd cried “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The word Lord, here, is the same word that was used back in verse 3, when the disciples told the men that “the Lord” had need of the colt. The language was referring to God in both cases.

The colt owner likely got his colt back after it was all over. Maybe he was proud that his own colt had been used for such an important occasion. Maybe his neighbors and friends, who knew of Jesus, came to touch the colt or look at it.

The man with the colt may likely have been one of the crowd, shortly thereafter, who cried “Crucify Him!”

What was the change? I believe, besides the powerful pull of our flesh, that it was the leaders: the Pharisees and scribes. Those Pharisees had immense power. (In John Chapter 9, the parents of a man born blind were afraid to admit to the Pharisees that Jesus had healed their son. Verse 22: These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.) It was a grave thing to be put out of the synagogue: culturally, socially, and emotionally. The Pharisees had the power to put anyone out, and they would use it. The common people were afraid to displease the Pharisees; they felt the Pharisees must be closest to God, since they served Him all day, and knew all the laws and how to follow them. In Matthew 15.12, the disciples were anxious that Jesus had offended the Pharisees.

It is an immense responsibility to have so much power. Luke 12.48 ends with, For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

And so the people, and perhaps the man with the colt, cried out, “Crucify Him!” And Jesus prayed His Father, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23.34).

This was the most horrible thing in the history of the world! That we could crucify our Savior! We didn’t know. We were blind. We followed the beliefs of the world.

But God made it all better. We cannot imagine, at any given time, that God can make everything all better. But He can! And He does.

That crucified man was God, Himself, and He rose from the dead to save us from our sins.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

We MUST look carefully at those whom we follow. We are to obey those in authority over us, obey our government. But we must carefully discern. We must use the wisdom God gives us.

Listen, God speaks: I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalm 32.8

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30.20, 21

We live in a momentous time. Take a careful look at who holds power: government, media, religious leaders, and celebrities. Please scrupulously groom your information sources. Use God’s Word as your plumb line and filter all you receive through Him. Pray for His guidance and counsel. When He calls you, be His hands and feet.

Matthew 9.36-38 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Will you be a laborer for God’s glory?

Mark 8

Mark8

In Mark Chapter 8 Jesus feeds the 4,000 (this is after He fed the 5,000 in chapter 6, and after He walked on water, also in chapter 6). The disciples are seeing a lot of supernatural love.

In the next passage (v 11-13), the Pharisees seek a sign of Him from Heaven, tempting Him. He sighs deeply in His spirit and replies that there will be no sign given to this generation. My thoughts: How are the Pharisees seeking a sign, when Jesus has been performing all these miracles, some of which they have witnessed? They have not eyes to see.

Then Jesus charges the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees; the disciples can’t figure what He’s talking about, and reason it’s because they forgot to bring bread with them. Jesus asks them several questions: Why reason ye? Perceive ye not? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? Do you not remember? How is it that ye do not understand?

Reading this with my human perspective, it sounds like Jesus is getting fed up with them. BUT I know that Jesus is God, and that the words of His mouth and the meditations of His heart are pleasing in God’s sight (Psalm 19.14).

Jesus never asks a question to which He does not know the answer, because He knows everything. And, because God is love, Jesus is love. He asks and does all things in love. And I’m pretty sure that love showed on His face and in His body language.

Jesus asks these questions to edify them because He loves them. He wants them to see.

Next, Jesus heals a blind man. The blind man first sees men as trees, walking; after Jesus puts His hands again upon the man’s eyes, the man can see clearly.

My thoughts: Jesus is using this as an object lesson, connecting it to their discussion about not seeing / not perceiving. The blind man starts to see after Jesus intervenes. The disciples are starting to see. Jesus continues to intervene for the blind man, and then the man can see clearly. Jesus will continue to intervene for His disciples, and they will be able to see “every man clearly.”

Next, Jesus is walking with His disciples and He asks who others say He is, then He asks who they say He is. Peter answers that Jesus is the Christ. [In the parallel telling, in Matthew 16.17, Jesus answers Peter, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”]

In the final passage in Mark 8 (v 31-38), Jesus speaks to His disciples and others. He says, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”

This ties up the lesson Jesus has for His disciples: In your flesh, in your natural state, you are unable to perceive truth, to see God in His glory. There is the example of the Pharisees: they were unable to perceive Who Jesus was, even after witnessing His miracles and love.  It is important to understand that basic fact – you are nothing in and of yourself (John 15.5). But when Jesus intervenes, truth dawns. We can start to understand that Jesus is the Christ, and that He can do all things. The blind man receiving clarity of sight foretells the coming of the Holy Spirit, when we are given the gift of Very God living within us.

We are not able to see unless God the Father gives us sight. Luke 10.21-23 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see.

We must not get in the way of the Holy Spirit (Mark 8.32, when Peter rebuked Jesus). Mark 8.35: For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.

Step aside. Let God’s Holy Spirit have His way with you. Just like in Matthew 16.17, Jesus answers Peter, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Flesh and blood cannot reveal Truth to you, but only God, Who is in Heaven.

He who has eyes to see, let him see; he who has ears to hear, let him hear. The eyes and the ears must be His.

Supplications

Supplications

In my daily quiet time with God, I like to talk with Him. I read His Word and meditate on what I read. I praise Him and confess my sins. I also have prayer requests. In the Bible, these are called supplications (2 Chronicles 6.21; 1 Kings 8.54; 1 Timothy 2.1; Psalm 28.2; Daniel 9.3; Psalm 143.1).

Following are some of the supplications I pray regularly for myself, my husband, and our marriage. I post them in case they are of help to you. Most of these prayers are interchangeable, in that you can pray whatever for yourself / spouse / friend / parent, etc.

God bless you.

Prayers to Consider:

For Self:

  • Instill in me a love for Your Word
  • Show me how you value me, that I may find my worth, my self-esteem, in You
  • Be strong in me, that I may let Your strength be my strength, and that I may not be a slave to my own fears or selfishness, that I may go forth and do Your will
  • Fill me with Your Holy Spirit
  • Show me new and wonderful things from Your Word:
    • How I may obey You
    • Promises You have for me
    • Insights into the way I should live and serve
    • Your wisdom, Your love
  • I put my flesh to death, that You might live through me
  • Give me gratefulness, mold my heart to be more grateful
  • Work in me so that my desire to do right is more, and becomes stronger, than my desire to be right
  • Thank You for the health You have given me. I pray I would not abuse that blessing, but that I would be a good caretaker of Your gifts. I pray specifically about my eating habits. I pray You would be strong in me when I want to eat too much or eat the wrong thing; make me weak so that I may be strong in You.
  • Teach me contentment in every circumstance
  • Teach me to be humble; give me a teachable spirit
  • Give me Your vision, Lord, I pray; give me Your wisdom and love
  • Lord, change my desires so that they perfectly correspond to Your will for me
  • Lord, guide me through my lifestyle choices
  • Give me discernment as to my daily schedule
  • Open doors to those things that are Your will for me: home, family, work, community, relationships
  • Reveal my sin to me, and lead me to repentance
  • Teach me how to be a people-person as You were: how to remember names and faces and circumstances, how to cherish people
  • May I always be sensitive and obedient to Your leading, Your correction, Your presence
  • Teach me how to surrender to You, and how good it is
  • Being wrong ≠ shameful
  • When I see sin in my husband, show me how to handle it according to Your Word; I pray Your Spirit guide me in my words, facial expressions, actions, and attitudes
  • Teach me how to forgive according to Your will
  • Show me Your intentions for our marriage: I am to be his helpmeet
  • Help me to adjust my expectations to fit Your vision
  • Give me eyes to see Your blessings, and appreciate them

For Husband:

  • I pray You will build up my husband so that no matter what trials come, he will be able to stand strong in You through them
  • I pray You would make my husband a man of integrity, according to Your standards. Make him a man who lives by Your truth; help him to walk with Your Spirit of Truth at all times. Be with him to bear witness to Your Truth. Do not let him be deceived in any way, do not let him live a lie in any way.
  • Show me how to love my husband so that he never feels like he’s “going it alone.” I pray he would so know You that he would know he is never alone, but that You always love him, cherish him, and are looking out for his best interests.
  • Reveal his sin to him, and lead him to repentance
  • Teach him how to surrender to You, and how good it is
  • I pray his eyes and heart are ever with You
  • May he have an obedient heart toward You
  • Give my husband eyes and heart for me; give him understanding for who I am, and respect for what he sees.
  • Reveal to my husband your direction for his daily and long-term life. Show him how to lead his household. Give him eyes to see You. Give him a heart to receive You.
  • Give my husband wisdom in decision-making for our family. Provide wise counsel for him.
  • Instill in him a gnawing hunger for Your Word. May he delight in reading it, may it be sweet to his taste.
  • Fill him with Your Holy Spirit

For Marriage:

  • Show us how to love each other in the way we need, in the way You want us to meet each other’s needs
  • Intervene in our communication so that our words express truth in love; and give us ears to really hear each other
  • Show me how You see my husband, how You love him
  • Help me help my husband through his struggle(s) with sin; show me what You need me to be for him
  • I see much greatness and potential for greatness in my husband. I pray You will grow my respect for him as I am obedient to You in this, that I may honor and encourage that greatness
  • I am to respect my husband. I die to self in this, and submit my will to the leading of Your perfect Spirit.
  • May my countenance be pleasing or edifying to my husband.
  • Pr 24.3, 4 May we build our house through Your wisdom, establish it by Your understanding, and fill the chambers with all pleasant and precious riches by Your knowledge
  • I pray You would remove temptation from our lives. I pray Your hedge of protection around each and both of us. Give us eyes and wisdom to discern and flee from evil.
  • I pray Your protection from any accidents, diseases, dangers, and evil influences
  • I pray our schedules would mesh
  • I pray You bring us good friends, Godly people who love You, in whom we can confide and trust and share and comfort. I pray for Godly friends in couples and for each of us. When our friends are not Godly, not Christian, I pray You lead the words of their mouths and ours, and that You would work through us in them.
  • We each have our own pasts, Lord, and lies and truths we believe because of how we were raised and our experiences. I pray You give us the grace and wisdom to put the past behind us; that You would overcome our lies and strongholds; that You would fill those places with Your light and truth and love.
  • Teach us and lead us to avoid and put away evil in our lives: media influences, music, items in our houses, people
  • Show us how you desire us to handle the resources You have given us to handle: money, food, time, family (close and extended), home, relationships
  • Reveal our sin to us, and lead us to repentance
  • Teach us how to surrender to You, and how good it is
  • May we pray deeply together, regularly; teach us to pray
  • Teach us to live as though we are healed, because You heal us
  • Pr 19.23 Teach us to live in the fear of the Lord
  • Teach us to always forgive each other
  • We stand in need of Your grace, direction, mercy, and moving of Your Holy Spirit within us, of Your light and truth. I pray for ears to hear and eyes to see You and each other.

Isaiah 54: 7 and 8

Isaiah54 7and8

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer. Isaiah 54.7, 8

Isaiah 54.7

For a brief
קָטֹ֖ן (qā·ṭōn) Small, young, unimportant

moment
בְּרֶ֥גַע (bə·re·ḡa‘) A wink, a very short space of time

I forsook you,
עֲזַבְתִּ֑יךְ (‘ă·zaḇ·tîḵ)  To loosen, relinquish, permit

but with great
גְּדֹלִ֖ים (gə·ḏō·lîm)  Great, older, insolent

compassion
וּבְרַחֲמִ֥ים (ū·ḇə·ra·ḥă·mîm)  Compassion, the womb, a maiden

I will bring you back.
אֲקַבְּצֵֽךְ׃ (’ă·qab·bə·ṣêḵ)  To gather, collect

 

Isaiah 54.8

In a surge
בְּשֶׁ֣צֶף (bə·še·ṣep̄) An outburst

of anger
קֶ֗צֶף (qe·ṣep̄) A splinter, rage, strife

I hid
הִסְתַּ֨רְתִּי (his·tar·tî)  To hide, conceal

My face
פָנַ֥י (p̄ā·nay)  The face

from you
מִמֵּ֔ךְ (mim·mêḵ)  A part of, from, out of

for a moment,
רֶ֙גַע֙ (re·ḡa‘) A wink, a very short space of time

but with everlasting
עוֹלָ֖ם (‘ō·w·lām)  Concealed, eternity, frequentatively, always

kindness
וּבְחֶ֥סֶד (ū·ḇə·ḥe·seḏ)  Kindness, piety, reproof, beauty

I will have compassion on you,”
רִֽחַמְתִּ֑יךְ (ri·ḥam·tîḵ)  To fondle, to love, to compassionate

says
אָמַ֥ר (’ā·mar)  To utter, say

the LORD
יְהוָֽה׃ (Yah·weh)  LORD — the proper name of the God of Israel

your Redeemer.
גֹּאֲלֵ֖ךְ (gō·’ă·lêḵ)  To redeem, act as kinsman

In my devotions this morning, I came upon Isaiah 54.8. I wondered what it meant for God to hide His face from us, even for a moment. Jesus cried out, wondering why God had forsaken Him. But God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (first in Joshua 1.5, and again in Hebrews 13.5).

As I studied in the original language, I see that each word has differing renditions in English, as all translations do. But what I see is this:

God never leaves us, never forsakes us. It is not in His nature to do so, therefore He can’t. The translation tells me that, in His love and in His perfect (and highly justified) anger, God loosened us (v7) to go our own way. He hid His face from us.

When we speak of hiding one’s face from another, in colloquial terms it means to turn away from; in so doing we can’t see each other’s eyes. It doesn’t work that way with God. He can hide His face from us (we can’t see Him), but He still sees us, He’s still right there – He’s ALWAYS there, He NEVER leaves us. I think it means that He is shielding Himself from our eyes, that we can’t see Him for a moment. He is showing us what things might look like if He was out of our view.

And it is rightly terrifying. When we can’t see God, when we think He is nowhere to be found, our very knees shake and buckle.

And that’s when we fall on our faces before Him. In that moment / wink / short space of time, we realize our need for Him. When we bow before Him, we are able to see Him again. We can see His kindness and compassion. He will bring us back.

I want God to bring us back.

Humble

Humble

What does it mean to humble one’s heart, to have a humble heart? The book of Deuteronomy is a good place to begin to learn about how God wants to humble our hearts.

Deuteronomy 6.5 Hear, O Israel: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6.11b – 13 … when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. 

God tells us to beware, when we have it good: We’ll start thinking we did all this ourselves, start patting ourselves on the back. We’ll forget our Lord God, forget His goodness and mercy and generosity. He did not design us to function that way. He designed us so that our greatest joys, our most complete fulfillment, our most abundant life, happens when we humble our hearts before Him.

God knows it is good for us to be humble, so He humbles us through allowing trials and tribulations. Deuteronomy 8.3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (By the way, this is the verse that Jesus quoted to Satan when He was tempted in the desert. Jesus humbled Himself and came to us.)

1 Peter 5.6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you (lift you up) in due time.

Lift us up from what / to what?

Lifting up from our pit / morass of slime and sin.

If you don’t know that you are in this slimy pit, then you need to meet Jesus Christ (1Jn 1.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.)

Lifting us to Him, setting our minds on things above, not of this earth.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus ©1922 by H. H. Lemmel

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full, in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Pride is thinking we have control over anything; Humble hearts acknowledge that God owns everything, and we are His grateful servants.

Humble: “giving” all to God, knowing He owns it all; being reduced to simply a heart for God, a heart that HE gave me (Ezekiel 11.19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36.26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.)

 

The Tug of Egypt

TheTugOfEgypt

As I read through Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus in my daily devotions, I am again drawn to the lessons God has for us in all the books of the Old Testament. I understand that:

  1. The Old Testament is God’s Story to show us our need for Him.
  2. The Old Testament shows us our sin state.
  3. Egypt is a picture of sin.
  4. Joseph is a prototype of Jesus.
  5. God wants to show us that, without His intervention, we could not, would not leave Egypt/sin.

Questions arise as I read:

  • If Joseph is a prototype of Jesus, why did God use Joseph to invite his family to Egypt? I don’t think Jesus invites us to sin.
  • After Jacob and all the Israelites moved to Egypt, life was good. But then a new Egyptian ruler came to power. The Egyptians slowly but surely put the Israelites under subjection and forced them into slavery. Why didn’t the Israelites escape while they could, and go back to their homeland? Why didn’t even a few families decide that they should return to Canaan instead of staying in Egypt?
  • After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and all the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes the power and magnitude of God, why, when any little problem popped up, did they cry to return to Egypt?
  • What is God’s lesson to me when the spies went into the Promised Land? Only two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a favorable report and encouraged them to go because God would be with them. And all the people sided with the scared reports; they spoke of selecting a captain to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14.4).

As I prayed and continued reading, God brought these lessons to me:

Jesus doesn’t invite us to live in sin. He goes before us, to prepare the land so that we may live there in God’s grace. God knows we choose sin (Genesis 6.5), and that we will be enticed into more sin, and that we will want to stay there. As Joseph was placed in Egypt to prepare for the Israelites to live there, Jesus came to Earth to live in our sin with us, to show us how to live and give us hope; and, ultimately, to show us that there is a way out if we obey Him.

The Israelites did not escape from Egypt while they could. It is the same with us and sin. We are enticed to live in sin. It looks good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Life was good in Egypt. Jacob and his sons, the first generation of Israelites who lived in Egypt, established a home there. They had children who grew up there and had children and grandchildren of their own. They considered Egypt their homeland. The new pharaoh began putting stiffer and stiffer burdens on them. Still they did not leave.

Look at the Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. They did not try to escape their homes, even after they were required to wear the Star of David. They couldn’t imagine the evil to come until it was too late.

Look at the Jews exiled in Babylon. Even after they were allowed to return to their homeland, many stayed in Babylon.

Look at America. We live in a sinful culture. We are sucked into it: television shows we shouldn’t watch; products we shouldn’t buy but we do because we’re enticed by the ads and we believe they’ll make our lives better somehow; clothing we wear or allow our children to wear; jobs we take; music we listen to; movies we watch; ministries we assume without consulting God; friends with whom we associate and how we associate with them; Internet sites we visit, and amount of time online, both of which detract from our walk with God; words we use or continue to listen to that do not glorify God. These are every day sins we don’t even think about because they are an integral part of our lives, and EVERYBODY DOES IT. We are using our families and friends and neighbors and media as our plumb line, instead of God.

Is there any escaping this? To where do we flee? We haven’t a “homeland” as the Israelites did, no physical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. My heritage is Irish and Czech, among others; am I supposed to try to go back to one of those countries, to live with “my people?” I was born an American, and this is my home. Just like the children of Israel: they were born in Egypt, their families were born in Egypt, and that was their home. They became slaves to Egypt / slaves to sin in a subtle way, and then there they were, crying to God to save them. [I think, in America, many of us have not yet come to the point to realize that we must cry out to God to save us. We have it too good, and we don’t want to be saved.] [We, as Christians, do have a homeland, by the way: it is the Person of Jesus Christ, and God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We get to carry our homeland with us all the time, and go to it for all eternity.]

God allowed the children of Israel, living in Egypt, to come to the point of crying out to Him. He needed them to understand their need for Him, to know that they could not save themselves; but to know that they needed to be saved. [God still works the same way. He brings each of us to the point where we know we must cry out to Him, know He is the only One Who can save us because we are slaves to sin and cannot save ourselves.]

After God displayed His glory to Egypt and the Israelites, after He saved His people from bondage, after His people witnessed miracle after miracle, proving that God loved them and had in mind a beautiful life for them; after all that, when the Israelites faced hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds, they cried to return to Egypt. (Exodus 14.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Numbers 14.1-3 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?)

In our own lives, we easily forget the power of God that saved us, and that same power that is still available to us. The lure of sin is strong. Sin is our comfort zone; it’s where we lived for a long time, and we had conditioned ourselves to arrange our lives around it and make do. This new life of blind obedience to God, depending on Him for our daily need is too scary. We can’t see what it will look like, so we go back to what we knew before. The Israelites could not see into a future with God, could not imagine His glory in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

As modern Christians, we are fortunate to have God’s Word at our fingertips. We are infinitely blessed to have God’s very Holy Spirit living within us! Even with what God has given us, it is a hard thing to live in day-to-day obedience to God and depend on His mercy and grace. It takes strength to step out in faith all the time, and to depend on God to provide whatever we are going to need. We can empathize with the Israelites in their desires to go back to what they knew.

[Sometimes it’s not we, ourselves, who are struggling with sin and the desire to return to it. Sometimes it’s a loved one. We can see it in someone else’s life. We must have compassion on those who struggle with sin. It is a strong force. Thanks be to God, He is stronger; but we must have patience, and pray for those who struggle.]

When the Israelites had finally reached their promised destination, when they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land, when they had traveled in the wilderness for months, when they had lived day-by-day upon God’s provision of water and manna and protection, when they saw the gorgeous fruit of the land they could have; they gave up. The spies came back with a scary report, and everyone believed that the giants living there would swallow them up. They really thought that all this was for nothing, and they wanted to return to Egypt.

REALLY??? Well, yeah. It’s hard to believe that sin has such a strong a pull on us. Hard to believe unless you’re in the throes of temptation, yourself (or love someone who is). Whether it’s finances or sex or power or tobacco or alcohol or drugs or language or anger or fear or bitterness or food; we hear that siren call of sin – the one that’s personal to us. We’re ready to give up all the promises God gives us for the future, in order to have that one little taste again of the past.

If we want sin, God allows us to follow it.

FALL ON YOUR FACE BEFORE GOD, just as Moses and Aaron did so many times. Beg for mercy, beg for grace and forgiveness and strength and guidance. When faced with temptation, turn around and face God. Embrace Him instead of the sin. Ask Him. He’s there. He longs to jump in to save you from whatever it is.

But we must obey God.

Remember: God created the universe, and He created you. We live by His rules. [Also remember, His rules are for our good, and because He loves us.]

God is holy. He will not compromise; but He will forgive.

Read, ingest, swallow and digest God’s Word. He gives it to us for our good, because He loves us so much.

Read what God has to say. Learn His ways. Obey Him. God always blesses obedience.