Thursday, August 23, 2007

LOOKING TO EGYPT



After they had suffered for hundreds of years under the oppression of the Egyptians, the Lord delivered His people from their bondage with a mighty hand (Deuteronomy 4:34). One would think that after they had obtained freedom in such a glorious way, Egypt would be far from the minds of the Israelites. They were headed to a land of promise and hope. Moreover, God Himself would be their guide: “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:21-22). Furthermore, this vast multitude of people would be fed with manna from heaven and given fresh water to cool their thirst: “Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst” (Nehemiah 9:20). The Lord had certainly demonstrated His all-sufficient grace. How did the Israelites respond? Sadly, they murmured and complained (Exodus 16:2). All that the Lord had done and promised to do was not enough for their carnal appetites; but the story doesn’t end with their complaints and God’s judgment on that generation (Hebrews 3:7-19). Although Egypt stands for man’s supply as opposed to God’s supply, the children of Israel, for many generations after Moses, continued to look to Egypt for help. The prophet Isaiah gives a striking reminder of their unbelief when he wrote, “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt” (Isaiah 30:1-2). This indictment occurred in the reign of King Hezekiah, who was tempted to make an alliance with Egypt when faced with a hostile Assyrian foe. Had the King not learned that this was the sin of the Northern Kingdom which had resulted in defeat? The phrase “that cover with a covering” (Isaiah 30:1) may also be translated “that weave an alliance,” as noted by biblical scholar W.E. Vine. I think of it as fashioning a plan that does not include the Lord. This was a plan which was not of God’s Spirit (Isaiah 30:1).

The question I ask myself is this: How many times have I looked first to Egypt for help in a crisis? How many times have I taken counsel that was not biblical when I felt the pressure of circumstances? Brethren, may we never forget that “…the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Isaiah 59:1). Yes, the problem of God’s failure to hear can be due to any manner of personal sin as the next verse specifies; but what about the sin of simply failing to trust in Him? Bear in mind that the Israelites, who perished in the wilderness, failed to enter into God’s rest because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). The sin of unbelief is one which will send a man to hell: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). Spurgeon once said, “A fearful form of unbelief is that doubt which keeps men from coming to Christ; which leads the sinner to distrust the ability of Christ to save him, to doubt the willingness of Jesus to accept so great a transgressor.” The Scripture says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). I believe that the sin of unbelief is the root of all sin, and it manifests itself in many ways. In the life of a Christian, it will keep him from enjoying the sweet assurance of God’s presence and the power of His deliverance in life’s trials. He is able to deliver us from all our fears- fears which can literally engulf us like the darkness of storm clouds covering a mountaintop, hiding the rays of the sun shining above.

Dear Christians, the storms of life will never cease, but the rays of God’s providential care are always shining above the clouds. His goodness will come in due time. Beneath the clouds, there is a hiding place which the Lord has provided, and that place is under the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Let us take our refuge there. I am absolutely convinced that the God who led his children out of Egypt in the day of Moses is the same One who will keep His children safe today and secure forevermore. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).


May the Lord Jehovah be your Helper. May His promises be your hope and strength.


Pastor Tom





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