Let My People Go...
Let My People Go!
For some years people have encouraged me to write a book. They believe that I was a good story teller, a gifted speaker, and had a way of putting things in terms that most people could understand. Though I appreciated their kind words, I was not sure of what to write and/or the approach I would take. Sure I preached on several series that I thought would benefit others, but then I would find out that a book had already been written on the subject matter. During this past summer (2011), I started praying about what series I could present to an audience. As I struggled to discern what message God would have me deliver, my heart steered me to the book of Exodus.
As I started to study this amazing book, the Holy Spirit started to speak to me on every level of my life and the lives of those I have served. For instance, I could see myself struggling with my call to go into the ministry just as Moses struggled with his calling to free the children of Israel. And I saw how many Christians today are no different than the children of Israel. God has come to deliver them from bondage, yet they continue to walk around the wilderness without ever seeing the Promise Land. Every obstacle and every struggle is seen from a physical perspective rather than a spiritual. Rather than seeing how God is trying to teach us and test us—to stretch and strengthen our faith—we see Him as chastising us for no apparent reason. We begin to question God—we grumble, we groan, and we gripe. As a result, we find ourselves wanting to return to the way things were prior to our coming to Jesus Christ. Never do we get the chance of growing in his grace—we are disgruntled, dismayed, and like the children of Israel defeated.
It is my prayer that as you read this book that you may glean some understanding of God and how God works in you and through you. I pray your faith is strengthened and you experience firsthand the freedom that is founded in Christ.
Let My People Go!
From Complacency to Captivity
In 2011 I started a series on how the children of Israel went from a place of complacency to a place of captivity and the lessons we can learn. As I studied the passages from Exodus One, there were a few things I found particularly peculiar. The first of which is Joseph had died. For those unfamiliar with the life of Joseph, it is important to note that Joseph was a man chosen of God and by God to protect and preserve God's nation Israel. In the story of Joseph, we discover that his father loved Joseph more than any of his brethren and that his brethren resented him because of their father's undying devotion for Joseph. When the opportunity came, his brethren sought to slay Joseph, but instead opted to sell into slavery. Joseph, however, never lost sight of God's purpose: he was able to turn a sour situation into something sweet. As such, he found favor with the king and the king left Joseph in charge of everything--yes everything: even the king's wife. Furthermore, Joseph was handsome and well-framed. The king's wife sought to take full advantage of Joseph's youth through seduction, but Joseph would have no part in her diabolical scheme (sounds like a soap opera: doesn't it?). Since Joseph was a young man of great character, he found himself being charged for a crime he did not commit and went from being in charge of the palace to a criminal in prison.
But even that was not enough to stop Joseph. For we find that while in prison, Joseph made the best of a poor situation and as such eventually became second in command over all of Egypt. You see, the king of Egypt had a dream that needed to be deciphered. He called in his counsel, but they were unable to decode the dream. Disturbed by the dream, the king heard about Joseph and how Joseph was gifted in the area of defining dreams. The king therefore summoned Joseph to his court; shared his dream with Joseph; and much to his surprise, Joseph interpreted the dream.
Based on what the king described, Joseph, in great detail, depicted how Egypt would experience seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of poverty—that is, the fields would not yield any harvest. After giving his interpretation of the king’s dream, Joseph went one step further. He advised the king as to handle the impending drought and danger. Impressed by Joseph’s intuition and his instructions, the king placed Joseph in a position of power.
As predicted, Egypt experienced an unprecedented seven year feast followed by a seven year famine. It was there that the famine Joseph prophesied about came to fruition and it was Joseph's counsel that not only saved Egypt from starvation, but spared the children of Israel as well.
Years had past, and the new king did not know about Joseph or why the children of Israel inhabited the land. After all that Joseph had been through and what he had done his legacy soon became a shadow of the past. What we do know is that the king feared the Israelites because they grew in numbers (in other words, they knew their multiplication). To stop and stunt their growth, the king took away their privileges and put the children of Israel to work--they became brick makers and masters. Though they lost their freedom, they continued in the multiplication process (for those who have not figured it out, they knew what was required to make children), so the king sought to discourage them even more by having the first male son put to death while sparing the daughters. But even that was not enough to stop the children of Israel from multiplying.
But that's just the background and the beginning of this saga or story. What I find most intriguing is how the children of Israel became so complacent with their lives that they never took a step forward to improve their lot. Please bear in mind that God led them to Egypt through Joseph. But I do not believe it was God's plan to have them make their retirement villas there. They were chosen by God to spread and to share the news about God and His glory: but instead they remained acquiring the culture and customs of Egypt.
The other thing I find interesting is that the children of Israel were great in number, meaning that if they truly wanted too, they probably could have put an end to the king's tactics and techniques, but they didn't. There again, they remained complacent. They sat back and did absolutely nothing. If anything, they could have left the land--but no, they stayed.
I just wonder how many of us have become so complacent with where we are that we literally become captives to our homes, our habits, our hobbies...? Please understand that there is a big difference between being content and being complacent. For me and to me, being content means that you have found joy in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. Being complacent, on the other hand, means that you do absolutely nothing.
Life for the complacent comes to a complete stop and stand still. There is no effort to move ahead or just move at all. There is no resistance to change and no real ambition to change. Subsequently, that which once made a person content now holds him/her captive to his/her complacency. So what lessons can we learn from the children of Israel?
Simply this, first God wants us to be content with our relationship in and with Him. He does not desire us to find contentment in the customs and cultures of our country. And finally, though we find contentment in God, He deems that our relationship with Him continually grows and matures. In short, He wants us to grow stronger in our faith and not to become strangers to our faith