Freed from ‘Egypt’

space-shuttle-992_640Ezekiel 30:16: And I will set fire in Egypt: Sin shall have great pain, and No shall be rent asunder, and Noph shall have distresses daily.

Egypt represents the worldly influence. God said that out of Egypt I have called out my son, talking about his people Israel (Hosea 11:1). More importantly God wants Egypt out of you.

God told Isaac not to make the journey to Egypt (Genesis 26:1-5). He wanted to do what his father did when he experienced famine. But God wanted him to chart a different course from his father’s.

The last time his father went to Egypt he came back with Hagar as their slave-girl. When Sarah did not have children, there was the Hagar-option, but it was not according to the will of God. Abraham slept with Hagar and Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:1-15). The world offers itself as an option, but it is enslaving option.

When the slave-girl gave birth to Ishmael, things became complicated. When we love the world and the things in the world, what happens is that our life becomes more complicated. The world becomes a weight that hinders us from fully following God (Hebrews 12:1-3). It offers only distraction and false satisfaction preventing us from fully following God. Eventually Abraham would stop disturbing God for a child, would stop moving in faith (Genesis 17:15-18). Egypt, the world, offers false comfort, hindering us from being hungry after God. It compromises our love for God, it dilutes our passion.

Egypt represents the lust of the flesh which is one of the components of loving the world, according to John (1John 2:15-17).

When you love the world it means it attracts you, it draws you into itself, sucks you in, it saps your energy. It affects your thinking process negatively as it stamps its influence on your mind, and guides the mind to the wrong conclusion. It controls you, making you its slave. This is the way Paul approaches it. He said: everything thing is lawful for me but I will not be enslaved by any (1Corinthians 6:12).

That is the aim of Egypt “the world” to enslave. That was the portion of the nation of Israel when they went to Egypt. When Joseph sent for his father and his whole household, it was about sustenance. But after some years, they became slaves.

What the world promises is not what it delivers. The world does not give you anything for free, it will enslave you. Egypt initially offered the best help to the people, it was as if Israel could not do without it, but at the end they lost themselves and they became slaves. The end was untold pain. The world is the same. With all its allure, it is a lure into a trap. Period.

The devil tempted Jesus offering him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory, but with only one little line in the fine print, that Jesus bows to him (Luke 4:1-13).

From the way things work in the world, there is no free lunch, the foundation of the earth is greed, which is seeking to take what is others. That was how the devil lost out of the possibilities of heaven, he wanted what was God’s, the place of ultimate dominion. He wanted to be like God (Isaiah 14:12-14).

But Jesus had no greed he had no love of the world, rather he had a firm commitment to his father. There was nothing the devil will offer him that will be strong enough to pull him away from the love of his father, from submitting to the father to submitting to the devil who asked that he bow and worship him to get what he offers.

To bow down is to assume the posture of submission. It is not an ordinary gesture. It is not just a symbol; it is a show of allegiance. That was why Mordecai did not bow to a Man in a foreign land even at the cost of his life (Esther 3:2).

While Egypt is the symbol of the world, and of sin through which we are put into bondage, fire is the symbol of passion. It is passion for God that burns away at sin. Joseph exhibited a passion for God by refusing to sleep with the wife of Potiphar in Egypt (Genesis 39:9). Egypt offers the lust of the flesh, but the passion for God helps us to overcome it. The will of the woman was in the direction of sinning against God, but Joseph’s will was in the opposite direction, forged in the fire of passion for God.

He said how would I do this thing and sin against God? That is not the language of Egypt, but of a lover of God. Joseph was in Egypt, but Egypt was not in him. So also though we are in the world, the world is not supposed to be in us. Joseph was driven by the will of God.

You can be aware of the will of God, but passion fuels us to move in that direction. There was no question about where the passion of Jesus laid when he was tempted by the devil. He refused to be moved by his own physical need of hunger after forty days and forty nights when he was asked to turn stone to bread. Passion for God means that the words of God trumps even his own needs.

In another temptation, Jesus refused to jump from the height to meet the spiritual needs for God’s affirmation in a wrong way as the devil tempted him to do. Also in another temptation, he refused to be affected by the need for meaning on the earth when the devil tempted him with the glory of the world. Nothing on earth, in heaven and even personal in his needs could be enough temptation to move him from the will of God. Similarly, Abraham’s passion for obedience by stronger than passion for his son Isaac (Genesis 22).

Sin can be divided into two forms: moral failure, faith failure and instruction failure. Sin means to miss the mark.

Moral failure

The moral sin is applicable to all people for all time. It is about right or wrong, harming others or helping them. It is about God’s high moral, behavioural laws that are unchanging. Moral issues are always with us.

Faith failure

The lack-of-faith sin is captured in the words of Paul in which he said that anything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). This is the sin of not believing in Jesus, depending on him for salvation. He accused the Jesus of discountenancing the righteousness that is by faith through Jesus, but trying to establish his own righteousness (Romans 10:3). Faith failure is about inaction in the direction of the truth of God. A king told Paul: you almost converted him (Acts 26:28). He refused to move in the direction of conviction he was coming to. Faith issues are decisions we make once that determine the direction of our life from then on. They are commitments.

Moses, not circumcising his sons, was not a moral sin, but God was about to kill him because he violated his personal conviction about what God wanted him to do, in identification with the people of Israel, because on the commandment he gave Abraham (Exodus 4:24-27).

God did not send Israel to kill the people in the land or Canaan because of issues like “circumcision” but their abject moral decadence (Genesis 15:16). What was sin for Moses was not sin for those nations in Canaan.

Instruction failure

These are things that God wants us to do. It is about the will of God and related to the level of spiritual enlightenment that we have, the spiritual instruction we operate under. Jesus said that the servant who knows the will of the father but does not prepare himself for it and do it will be beaten with many stripes (Luke 12:47).

This is linked to obedience and it is distinctly personal. Moral failure is distinctly general, faith failure is the overlap between personal and general. But instruction failure is person, time specific, occasion specific. God asked Abraham and Abraham alone to sacrifice his son, and a few days after, he said he should no longer so it.

Moses was asked to only speak to the rock to bring water but he struck it and it was sin for him, but before then God had said that he should strike the rock (Exodus 17:6, Numbers 20:9-12).

He allowed the anger he felt against the complaining nation of Israel in the wilderness, to be more than his passion for obeying God. Jesus has his opportunity to choose who he will obey in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). Would he obey his fear, or God? He chose to obey God, he was passionate enough to do that. Saul was told to totally destroy the Amalekites, but he modified the instruction and got his fingers burnt (1Samuel 15).

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