Saturday, March 27, 2010

Which Will It Be: Egypt or Promised Land?

The story of the Israelites leaving Egypt is a story that we can relate all relate to…leaving Egypt means leaving slavery. What things once enslaved you? I was enslaved to many things that held me and kept me in bondage for a great number of years. But then my day of Exodus came when God called me out from my own land of Egypt and brought me into the Promised Land.

Egypt for me meant searching for love in all the wrong places, it meant filling the emptiness in my life with alcohol and drugs. It was really an empty, meaningless life. I am so thankful for the day that my red sea was parted, when my next-door-neighbor invited me to go to church with her. It was then that I saw the mighty hand of God part the waters that would lead me to a better place. Leaving Egypt was the best thing that ever happened to me. You would think its how the Israelites would feel as well.

Sure, once they actually crossed the red sea there was a great deal of celebrating that took place. Many of us, when we left behind our Egypt probably experienced something similar. We had something to celebrate! We were once slaves but now we were free! However that celebration would die out quickly for some of them. Suddenly there would be a longing to go back to Egypt. What? How could that be? Why would anyone want to go back to slavery? The problem was that many times the Israelites only remembered the “good” things. They would fail to remember what it was like to be enslaved. It is sad to see this happen but it does with many people. They are like Lot’s wife who can’t help but look back at what they left behind.

For some people it is almost immediately after their deliverance from Egypt that they desire to go back to their old life. In Exodus 15:20 Miriam brings out a timbrel and the women begin dancing. They have just witnessed a mighty act. God not only delivered them but parted the red sea and caused the Egyptians who pursued them to drown. Yet in Exodus 15:24 just four verses after we read about the dancing, the people already begin to complain. This reminds me of the parable of the sower and the seeds. In Matthew 13:18-23 we read about the seeds of rebirth in Christ that are planted and what happens. When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path (Matthew 13:19). The seed doesn’t seem to stand a chance. Any seed that is sown “along a path” can’t take root. The Israelites, who immediately began complaining just after their deliverance, is like the seed planted along the path.

Even when the Israelites complained and longed to back to their Egypt, God would provide for their needs. He wasn’t willing to give up so easily on their longing for slavery. He knew that they could enjoy freedom in a way they had never before experienced. But they were so foolish at times and yes, there were times that God allowed them to have what they wanted but made it so that they wished they had never complained. Some would trust God throughout the entire journey but others would not. Time and time again there is “murmuring” and “complaining” or some type of rebellion taking place. Discontentment is something that can easily settle in our hearts unless we guard against it.

It can be easy to long for the “old life.” We remember the “good times.” We forget about the enslavement part of our old life, our Egypt, and we fool ourselves into thinking it was a better life. Thankfully some who return to Egypt quickly realize the error of their ways but others remain in Egypt. It is very sad to see.

I can honestly say that I have never once longed for my Egypt. Once I was delivered, once I was set free I never wanted my old life back. It was nothing but chaos, strife, unrest, and disappointment. My promise land is peace, assurance, contentment and satisfaction in a life I would never trade.

Where are you at? Are you in the promise land and fully enjoying it? Or is there a part of you that longs for Egypt? Do you really want to be enslaved or do you want to enjoy the freedom that is found in Christ? Will you be like the Israelites who finally made it to the place God had for them or will you get lost in the journey, destroyed along the way? Don’t look back. Egypt has nothing for you. Look ahead to the promise land and all the goodness that God has in store for you!

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