A CONTINUING CONFLICT [1/15/21]

The Israelites continue on their journey and come to their last camp before reaching Sinai, and find a similar situation to that of Marah; unfortunately, they still did not learn the lesson God tried to teach them at Marah, for here at Rephidim they are complaining again: “They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” <Ex.17:1-2 (NIV)>. How soon did they forget the Lord’s provision at Marah, but we may say it was not the same situation; and yes, it was not but the need was the same – no water to drink. Was God not able to meet the need here at Rephidim? Yes, He was, but here another lesson was to be learned. In Moses’ response we see the effect of the old sinful nature that plagues every believer in Christ; “Why do you put the Lord to the test?” <Ex.17:2 (NIV)>; is the Lord with us or not? We are all slow to learn and continually doubt the ability of God to supply our need; we are so absorbed by the tremendous weight of our necessity we are unable to appreciate the supply that God has in the making for us; and this uncertainty seems to follow us on a day-to-day basis. Here God is about to teach them, and us, that there is a constant sufficiency in Christ for all our spiritual and physical needs.

God instructs Moses to take some of the elders of the people, his staff in his hand, walk ahead of the people to “the rock at Horeb” <Ex.17:5-6a>. Horeb is a reference to the range of mountains of which Sinai is the main peak, and the reference to “the rock” is not specific, but Moses would recognise it because God would be standing there <Ex.17:6a> and it would be evident to Moses which was that specific rock. God’s command to Moses was, “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.” <Ex.17:6 (NIV)>. Here we see a multitude of people trekking across the desert through mountain passes and away from the lowlands where they might find an oasis, coming to a camp site and there is no water anywhere for them and their animals to drink, so they complain to Moses about his leadership in bringing them to this place so that they and their children and livestock would all die of thirst <Ex.17:3>. They blame Moses, forgetting that it was not he who was leading them, for they, as well as Moses, were all following the “Cloud” <Ex.13:21-22>; so, in effect they are complaining that God is not able to lead them to where they can find water to drink.

What then, is the significance of this for us today? When an individual is delivered from a life of slavery to sin by faith in Christ and accepts His salvation which was accomplished on the Cross at Calvary, a new person evolves <2 Cor.5:17> – a new creation; the old desires that we had, the things we enjoyed (in Egypt – the world systems) should no longer entice us, we must now be drawn to our new diet, we must crave spiritual food and be thirsty for our spiritual drink so that we can be refreshed as we make our wilderness journey. God is trying to teach the Israelites this lesson as they camp at Rephidim, the thirst for God and the blessings that He gives can only come from Him, He is the source, for them, and for us. The apostle Paul explains it: “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” <1 Cor.10:1-4 (NIV)>. They were all identified with Moses and The Cloud (baptised), they all ate the same spiritual food (manna) and drank the same spiritual drink (Christ), and that is the experience of all true believers in Christ today, as Christ is the only satisfaction for our spiritual thirst; we need to be thirsty for spiritual or godly things. So, when we are enticed by Satan to crave, or to return to our previous ungodly and sinful ways, we need to understand that it is a temptation that we face and seek the help of The Holy Spirit to turn our attention, and change our desires so that we can continue to eat and drink the spiritual food found in Christ <Jn.4:13-14; 6:57-58; 7:37-39>. Many times, on our wilderness journey God brings us to a Rephidim where we doubt God because we have experienced some difficulty which seems like a mountain before us, and there is no evidence of a way around, over or under this obstacle; let us not be like the Israelites and ask why does God permit these difficulties; God never leads us to a situation from which He cannot deliver us. Because of the Israelites doubting God’s provision and their complaining, Moses named the place “Massah” (trial or temptation) and “Meribah” (strife, contention); “And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” <Ex.17:7 (NIV)>.

Yet there is another lesson to be learned at Rephidim: “The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.” <Ex.17:8 (NIV)>; who are the Amalekites, and what do they represent? Amalek (warlike) was the son of Eliphaz and was the grandson of Esau <Gen.36:12> and his descendants were the Amalekites, who were a powerful nomadic people living in Arabia between the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. Without any provocation, they attacked the rear of the Israelite company as they journeyed, and as a consequence, a perpetual war was declared against them by God [source: The Book of Life, Historical Digest]. “Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” <Ex.17:9 (NIV)>. The account states that while the battle proceeded Moses, accompanied by Aaron and Hur, went to the top of the hill with his staff in hand, and as long as Moses held up his staff the Israelites were winning; because the battle continued all day until sunset, as Moses’ hands got tired, Aaron and Hur placed a stone for Moses to sit and they held up Moses’ hands. By the end of the day Joshua defeated the Amalekites. God then instructed Moses to record this incident on a scroll as something to be remembered, for God will completely blot out the memory of Amalek <Ex.17:14>. This took the Israelites many years to accomplish after they had conquered the land of Canaan <see Deut.25:19; 1 Sam.15:2-3>, but this delay was not because God was not able to do so Himself. The record closes with an altar built by Moses to commemorate the event: “Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”” <Ex.17:15-16 (NIV)>.

What then does Amalek represent for us today? It speaks to the fact that evil will always oppose the goodness and holiness of God, and such is the result of the sin inherited by all people. In our natural and unrepentant state, we are enemies of God and always in opposition to Him, and unfortunately this is the nature that all of us possess because of our inherited sin. When one believes in Christ and accepts His salvation, we become a new creation, and as has already been stated we now seek to be satisfied by the spiritual food offered by Christ. Unfortunately, the old nature never leaves us, and Satan constantly tempts us to doubt God, to make us desire the worldly pleasures that once we experienced. There is a constant and continuing conflict within us, and this conflict can only be defeated when we seek the help of our Heavenly Father for Him to defeat the enemy within us; the enemy that creeps up behind us and attacks us when we are weary and worn out by our trials and tribulations. Unlike the Israelites, we are unable to defeat this enemy on our own, we must rely on the help of God’s Holy Spirit; we must allow Him to satisfy our spiritual thirst and defeat our enemy. Like Moses, much prayer is required!

So, where are you in your journey today? Are you still feeding on the delicacies of Egypt – enjoying the evil and ungodly desires that life has to offer? No matter what your social standing may be, all people thirst for God, because that is the way God has made us. In your attempt to satisfy this thirst you are enticed by Satan to try all of his methods and are led by him into a life of ungodliness, and he becomes your slave-master. You will find true satisfaction only through the “Rock” who is Christ Jesus The Lord, so you need to ask Him to satisfy your thirst by accepting His salvation so as to be delivered from your sins. If you have already done so, remember that as a follower of Christ your spiritual thirst still needs to be satisfied, so you need to continue to drink from Christ the “Rock”. So, for all who are making this spiritual journey, remember that the battle with the old sinful nature is a constant and continuous conflict, and much prayer for help from The Holy Spirit is needed.

A CHANGE IN DIET [1/1/21]

It was now one month into their journey through the wilderness and the Israelites come to the Desert of Sin; situated just south of Elim on the northwestern side of the Sinai Peninsular (currently the states of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman). “The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt.” <Ex.16:1 (NIV); cf Ex.12:2>. Here we see that the people did not remember, or did not learn from their first lesson at Marah, for it is recorded that they complained because of the lack of food, and to their complaint now was added the desire that they should have died in Egypt rather than facing the possibility of dying of starvation. It should be observed that we should never pray or express such thoughts to God when we fail to trust Him as we face the difficulties of life, for He may just grant us our wish, this, the Israelites discovered later on in their journey: “the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”” <Ex.16:2-3 (NIV)>.

It is often the desire of Christians – followers of Christ – to desire the activities we had before our conversion. We begin with the small things and gradually progress to the bigger things, as we personally decide that we are strong enough in our faith, and such activities do not have the influence that they once had on us. This is another lie of Satan and we must be on our guard! Here we find that the Israelites are desirous for the meat and other foods they had in Egypt; and in similarity, Christians should be aware that being desirous of worldly activities can be dangerous <see Num.11:4-6, 34>. God has saved us from the slavery of sin by the shed blood of Christ on the Cross of Calvary, He has made us a new creation, and as such we have new desires in our activities, thoughts and actions which should bring glory to God, and not direct us back to our old way of living <see 2 Cor.5:17; cf Eph.2:10; Rom.12:1-2; Gal.5:1, 16>.

Here, the record states that God is now going to give another lesson to the people; “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” <Ex.16:4 (NIV)>. Egyptian food was no longer the diet for God’s people; God is now going to change their diet, providing them with the food necessary for their journey; worldly pleasure is no longer the requirement for the child of God, so He provides for us the food necessary for our spiritual journey. What was Manna? There have been many theories, but such theories cannot account for the abundance, the fact that it ceased on the seventh day, the fact that they collected and ate of it for forty years, or the fact that it was their staple food while on their wilderness journey. There is no doubt that it was an act of the supreme Grace of God as the Psalmist expresses <Ex.16:15, 26, 35; cf Psa.78:18-24>.

What then is the application for humanity and the followers of Christ today? God said that He would provide bread from heaven for the people, which was a representation of what was to be a future event, and Christ revealed this to His followers <see Jn.6:31-33>; Christ is the TRUE Bread from heaven! The Israelites had to collect the Manna each morning and eat it for their physical good; there would be no benefit to them just to collect it, they had to consume it. There could be no assimilation of its food benefit unless it was eaten by the people. Christ said to His followers: “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” <Jn.6:48-51 (NIV)>. As the Israelites ate of the Manna, the follower of Christ must also eat (consume of) the Bread of Life, as Christ taught, for that is the only way that we can become more like Christ; it is through the assimilation of the food that one benefits from it. How then do we “eat” the Bread of Heaven? It is by feeding on God’s Word, The Scriptures, Christ Himself <Jn.1:1-5>, for Christ is the Word of God. Christ then is the new diet for the child of God, He is our Manna for our spiritual journey; He is the Manna necessary for spiritual sustenance by all mankind. So, we have to make the daily collection of our Manna by a careful study of God’s word, not only daily Bible reading, but a regular study of the Scriptures to see what God expects of us, seeking His guidance and teaching <see Jer.15:16>.

So, let us follow the instructions given to the Israelites: gather as much as you need <Ex.16:16-17>, neglect of God’s Word causes spiritual starvation. Collect the Manna as early as you can, before the anxieties and concerns of the day <Ex.16:21>, but remember that God is aware of our circumstances as we collect our Manna. Collect your Manna daily, it must be fresh and as it is consumed, we grow in the knowledge of Christ, and we will never lack an appetite for our heavenly Manna. However, never get to the place in your life where you show contempt for the Manna; this is the result of a turning back of the heart to Egypt <Acts 7:39>, they remembered the food they ate in Egypt, the previous way of life that they had left, the worldly enjoyments of their former state, and Satan made good use of these thoughts, and God’s Manna was scorned. In similarity this can occur in the life of Christ’s follower; do not allow your thoughts to take you back to your former way of life that was controlled by Satan; Christ is sufficient for all of His followers, but His sufficiency cannot be experienced when His Word is neglected, so let us follow the commands given to the Israelites and make our daily and constant collection of our Manna.

THE WILDERNESS WAY [12/17/20]

“The words “Wilderness’ or “Desert” do not necessarily denote a mere waste, but rather extensive tracts not under cultivation, yet frequently affording rich and abundant pasturage. The wilderness in which the Israelites wandered forty years while on their way from Egypt to the Land of Promise is included in the peninsula of Sinai.” (source: The Book of Life- Historical Digest). It was God’s school of necessary discipline for His people who He had released from Egyptian captivity, and there was much for them to learn from the experiences that were to come.

They had witnessed the mighty power of their God as the Egyptian army was completely destroyed at the Red Sea, they had their first sense of freedom, and were conscious of God’s guiding presence <Ex.13:21-22; 14:31>. They praised God for their liberation as they sang their song of Redemption and were anticipating great things as they began their journey to Canaan. God’s command to Pharaoh was “Let my people go, so that they may worship me” <Ex.7:16; 8:27>, and so they began their journey. Such is the beginning of the new life of a believer in Christ, freedom from a life of sin is experienced, the song of praise to God is raised and the new convert begins to live a life of worship and service to the God of our Salvation, and then God’s schooling and discipline begins. In similarity to the Israelites, we as new believers still have the old sin nature within us, which has to be brought under control by The Holy Spirit, because the old nature keeps trying to control us in our new life as a Christian, and very soon we experience the first lesson that is to be learned.

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.” <Ex.15:22 (NIV)> The Desert of Shur is identified as being on the north west section of the Sinai Peninsular bordering the Red Sea; this indicated that they were travelling southward along the east shore of the Red Sea. “When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” <Ex.15:23-24 (NIV)>. Marah represents the bitterness of life that each of us will experience on our respective journey. For three days they had journeyed and the expectation was that they would worship God by sacrifices, but by this time they had used all the water they had carried with them, tired and thirsty they come to what they expected to be a source of drinking water, but it was bitter.

The Christ-Follower today faces many Marahs in life. God has been blessing and providing a good income, plans are made, a new home is purchased, then the job ends in a layoff. Good health is being enjoyed and suddenly the diagnosis is cancer.  The family has moved to a new location, a new Church is found and everyone is enjoying the worship; then changes are made upsetting the congregation and a new place of worship is needed. We all have experienced some kind of Marah as we make our life-journey, but let us not be like the Israelites, for grumbling will only make matters worse. “There the Lord .… tested them.” Ex.15:25 (NIV)> for this was God’s purpose in Marah, God knew that the water was bitter but it was His learning experience for His people. When the word “Test” is used, in our perception it is to ascertain knowledge, but the Biblical concept is teaching, for God’s testing is a learning experience, and here God tests them with a command: “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.” <Ex.15:26 (NIV)>. Listen to God’s commands and obey them is the first lesson to be learned by all who follow Christ; God does not say that He will prevent the “Marah” in our life, but He says that He will be with us through the difficulty whatever it may be, and that He will bring healing from the bad experience.

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.” <Ex.15:27 (NIV)> After every Marah there is an Elim, that is the order of the wilderness journey. At Elim the Israelites were able to enjoy the water and the rest, and to reflect upon the experience of Marah; and God is able to do this for every individual that sincerely follows Christ. But the reflection is the manner in which God rectified the situation at Marah: “Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” <Ex.15:25 (NIV)>. It is said that in nature the antidote grows near the poison, and so God showed Moses a tree, nothing special is recorded about this tree, but God uses it to bring about a solution to the bitterness; and so, for every sorrow that we experience in life God has a satisfactory cure, it may not be immediate, it may not be a complete removal of the affliction, but God is teaching us His way. The Biblical example is that of Job; God allowed Satan to rob him of all his possessions, but instead of blaming God for his losses he turned to God in worship <Job 1:20-22>; and although his wife encouraged him to curse God and die, Job continued to endure his difficulties, he may not have discovered the real reason for his suffering but God eventually healed him and blessed him with more than he had before <Job 42:12-13>, because of his faithfulness.

But what about our experiences? Being thrown out of a parent’s house because of faith in Jesus Christ, or belittled by our social group. Suffering through a medical condition that cannot be resolved, and so many other situations that the follower of Christ experiences. How does God help our Marah? Let us remember that the life with no difficulty was not promised to the believer in Christ <Jn.16:33; Acts 14:22b>. God showed Moses a tree, how can that apply to our suffering? Christ suffered for us on a tree (Cross), a tree that He created <Col.1:16>, and we have been fore-warned by Scripture that as a follower of Christ we too will suffer with Him because of the evil world in which we live <1 Pet.4:12-16>; so, we need to look to the Cross, look to Jesus who is the author and perfector of our faith <Heb.12:2>, for it is only through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour that we will find any consolation during our time of hardship and suffering here on our Wilderness journey. Therefore, we need to leave our problems at the foot of the Cross and trust Christ to resolve our difficulties; for this is the way that we get to our Elim.

Our Marah will certainly come, but there will be an Elim; and we can only completely experience our Elim if we follow God’s decree: “Listen carefully…do what is right in his eyes…. pay attention to his commands” <Ex.15:26>, do not complain but praise God for His faithfulness.

THE SONG OF REDEMPTION [12/05/20]

Emancipation – “The freeing of someone from slavery” – became law in the 19th century, when all slavery was abolished in the then British Empire, and when the slaves heard about the coming declaration they gathered together the night before to celebrate and offer thanksgiving for their freedom, and throughout the Caribbean and the United States the celebration began and still continues today in most locations.

“On midnight of July 31, 1838 it was reported with great pride that many slaves journeyed to the hilltops to greet the sunrise of Friday, August 1, 1838 that symbolized a new beginning in their lives. When morning broke, large congregations joined in thanksgiving services held in several chapels and churches across the island.” [How We Celebrate Emancipation Day – Government of Jamaica]. “The tradition of marking the end of slavery with Emancipation Day celebrations began in South Carolina on January 1, 1863–the day the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln declared three million slaves in the Confederate states to be “thenceforward, and forever free.” Since then, African Americans in South Carolina have gathered annually on New Year’s Day to commemorate the “Day of Jubilee” with food, song, dance, and prayer.” [scencyclopedia.org]. “Traditions include public readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, singing traditional songs” [From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia].

And so it began, as recorded in Exodus 15, after the Israelites were set free by God from their years of slavery in Egypt; “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” <Ex.15:1-2 (NIV)>. The song begins with a reminder of God’s proclamation <see Ex.6:6-8>, God had become their salvation; as they all stood on the shore of the Red sea while the enemy approached, they were terrified, but Moses stated God’s promise; “The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” <Ex.14:14 (NIV)>. Similarly, God made a promise to all mankind, He promised to send a Saviour to free us from the slavery of sin because there was nothing that we could do to free ourselves <see Gen.3:15; Rom.16:20; Isa.9:6-7; Lk.2:11; 19:10>; and Christ accomplished our salvation over sin and eternal death through the Cross <1 Cor.15:55-56; Rom.5:8-9; 1 Pet.1:3-5, 18-19; cf Ex.15:3-10>.  The enemy (Egyptians) boasted and pursued in an attempt to overtake the Israelites <Ex.15:9>; God completed the Israelite’s salvation by destroying their enemy, and Christ accomplished this for all mankind by providing our salvation <see Eph.6:12; Col.2:13-16>, by which our greatest enemy, eternal death, was, and will be forever destroyed <1 Cor.15:25-26, 55-57; Heb.2:14-15>.

This song celebrates their freedom as they witnessed the victory over their enemy <Ex.14:30-31> and they could only express it in the terms of God’s holiness, glory and power; “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.” <Ex.15:11-12 (NIV)>, and thus God calls all who follow Him to be holy (separated) and to worship Him in the mindset of holiness <Lev.19:2; 1 Sam.2:2; 1 Chron.16:29>. The song also acknowledges God’s unfailing love to them, a love that they had not fully comprehended at that point in time, for as they continued through their wilderness journey they would experience God’s unfailing love every day of their lives as God led them through the good and bad times of their long trek; “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” <Ex.15:13 (NIV); cf Ex.13:21-22; Psa.77:19-20>

The song not only commemorated their existing circumstances, it also looked to the future promises God had made to Abraham and the Israelites <see Ge.13:15; Ex.6:8>; as they sang about their redemption, the reality that God was leading them to their possession, and the truth that God will reign eternally over His Kingdom; “You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance — the place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever.” <Ex.15:17-18 (NIV)>. This is also true for all who follow Christ, He has promised to lead and guide us through our earthly (wilderness) journey until He brings us safely into His eternal dwelling place <Jn.14:1-3>.

So it is with all of us today who are followers of Christ; we can sing His praise for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do for us; in similarity to the Israelites, we too will experience great difficulties in our life journey, but as we consider all the blessings God has showered upon us we too can sing our songs of praise. But what about those who have not experienced God’s redemption, His emancipation from a life of sinful desires and activities; how can such people sing the Song of Redemption?  So often we hear the song “Amazing Grace” (by John Newton, “who himself was a slave during his lifetime and was later rescued. He later worked on slave ships for many years. He later experienced conversion to Christianity, becoming an evangelical clergyman and a prominent supporter of abolitionism.” [source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]) being sung for various occasions and reasons; but is this being sung through the experience of a real redemption from a life of sin, or is it just because the tune is captivating. Only a real experience of redemption from sin can be expressed by such terms as: “He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.” Can you do so?

THE PATH TO A NEW LIFE [11/21/20]

In the story of the Exodus, the land of Egypt is a representation of the evil sinful and ungodly way of life, and when God delivered His people, the Israelites, it is recorded that “God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.” <Ex.13:17 (NIV)>, so He led them by the desert road by way of the Sinai Peninsular to their promised land of Canaan.

When we are saved from a life of sin and its oppression, God does not immediately allow us to experience the difficulties of serving Him, but He leads us in the quietness of the desert-way so that we can be instructed by His Holy Spirit in living the life of a Christian. The road through the Philistine country would be a picture of travelling through the habitation of all of Satan’s demons, as this route to Canaan was the main highway that would have been guarded by Egyptian fortresses. The desert road however, would be the way of all pilgrims then and now, for it represents the journey that besets us all as God’s children; it is the way of fear, uncertainty, grief, anger, doubt, discouragement, and temptation (A Way Through The Wilderness, by Jamie Buckingham); Moses and the Israelites faced these difficulties, and you and I face them constantly as we journey on with God through our wilderness life. Our wilderness life is God’s tutoring where we learn to deal with all the above through the teaching of The Holy Spirit <see Jn.14:26; 16:13-14>.

Here we see the promise to every believer in Christ that God will never leave or forsake us as we seek to follow Him, He will constantly lead us just as he led the Israelites; “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” <Ex.13:21-22 (NIV); Deut.31:6; Heb.13:5b>. There will be frightening periods in our life where we are faced with difficulties so great that we are overcome by fear, but God encourages us <Ex.14:10,13-14> and protects us from Satan’s attacks <Ex.14:19-22>, and provides us with an eternal protection from the attacks of Satan <Ex.14:26-31>. How does all of this translate to our Christian lives? Paul, the apostle, in writing to Christians addressed this by teaching us, that there is no condemnation (judgment) to those that follow Christ <Rom.8:1-4>, and that we will never be separated from Christ <Rom.8:31-39>. Just as God led His people through their wilderness journey, He leads us today through our wilderness journey. For forty years of their life God led the Israelites through the desert, through many differing circumstances, teaching them His way; and for us He will do the same until we reach our promised land – heaven, for this is His promise <Jn.14:2-3>.  

God made the freedom of the Israelites complete in all His dealings with them in their wilderness journey, they lacked nothing that was needed <Deut.2:7>, God had delivered them from their life of slavery; and God has delivered us as Christians from our life of slavery to sin and will one day allow us to enter His eternal rest <Gal.5:1; Heb.4:1-3>. How is your wilderness journey going? Another lesson to be learned from the Exodus is that of separation, the Israelites were separated from their captors by the crossing of the Red Sea, and this is God’s design in Salvation. God saved the Israelites from their slavery and immediately separated them from the influence of Egypt by leading them through the Red Sea into the desert of Sinai; and in a similar manner God saves the sinner from the slavery of sin and its penalty through His death, burial and resurrection <Col.2:13-15; Rom.5:8-9; 2 Cor.5:17-19>, and separates (sanctifies) the individual unto Himself through His grace <2 Thess.2:13; 1 Pet.1:2>, and the work of The Holy Spirit <Gal.1:3-4>, and encourages us to live in His freedom a life of separation from the ungodly world systems <Col.2:6-8>. There was one problem for the Israelites that caused them to doubt and to disobey God’s commands throughout their wilderness journey, there were Egyptians that joined them in their Exodus. Later on they even intermarried <Ex.12:38; 9:20; Num.24:10>; they caused doubt and fear and rebellion among God’s people; and this is also a problem for Christians today. We have been warned by God’s Word that we should separate ourselves from this ungodly world and not to accept or be influenced by the social systems that encircle us, even to the point of marriage; so often we see Christian young people marrying unbelievers, and Christians involving themselves in other ways with unbelievers leading to their demise and a shattered testimony <see 1 Cor.10:1-6; 2 Cor.6:16-7:1>. Let us all as Christians take our journey through the cross of Christ (our Red Sea) and follow Him in separation and obedience <Matt.16:24-26>. “As the Red Sea rolled between the children of Israel and Egypt, so stands the Cross between the believer and the world” (From Egypt to Canaan by John Ritchie).

SATAN’S IMITATIONS [11/06/20]

Life is filled with many counterfeits, and this is evident in every area of life especially in merchandising; we make a purchase of a name-brand that we trust only eventually to find out it is a fake. Sadly, we find that this has moved into our Christian lives and our Churches, and at times it is shocking to hear the messages from some of our church pulpits, and this is Satan’s design! “Wherever God does a work on earth, Satan first tries to oppose it, and next to corrupt it by introducing a sham” (From Egypt to Canaan by John Ritchie)

In the book of Exodus, we find that Pharaoh is a depiction of Satan, and many of his attempts to avoid releasing the Israelites involve some counterfeit action or suggestion to God’s command. His magicians duplicated Aaron’s rod by doing the same with theirs <Ex.7:11-12>; the Nile water became blood and again and this was duplicated <Ex.7:20-22>; again, the plague of frogs was replicated by the magicians <Ex.8:6-7>; but we find that after this when the magicians could not produce a counterfeit, Pharaoh responded with alternatives.

God’s command was “Let my people go, so that they may worship me…. We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.” <Ex.7:16; 8:27 (NIV)>; and Pharaoh’s first suggestion was, don’t go too far <Ex.8:28>, later after the Egyptians had endured God’s judgments, Pharaoh suggested that only the Israelite men should go <Ex.10:11>; and finally, he suggested that that all the Israelites could go but their animals should be left behind <Ex.10:24>.

So, we find that throughout the accounts recorded in the Scriptures Satan introduced his own alternatives to what God had done or commanded His people. One of the first incidents recorded is that of Abraham, Sarai and Hagar. God made a promise to Abraham and Sarai <Gen.15:4>, but because of Sarai’s infertility <Gen.11:30>, she doubted God and decided on her own solution <Gen.16:1-5>, and the result of this action is evident throughout the centuries to this day in the animosity between the Jews and the Arab nations. After their departure from Egypt and their anticipated entrance into Canaan, Moses rehearsed God’s promises and gave them God’s specific commands, as recorded in the book Deuteronomy; “The Lord your God commands you this day to follow these decrees and laws; carefully observe them with all your heart and with all your soul.” <Deut.26:16 (NIV)>, and one specific command was concerning the inhabitants of Canaan who were under the condemnation of God because of their detestable worship customs, God intended for the Israelites to carry out His judgment upon these people; He commanded the Israelites to completely destroy the people and everything that related to them, because God knew that if anything was left of them the Israelites would be attracted to their form of worship. After Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan river and the conquest began, Satan immediately introduced a deception which, unfortunately they fell for <see Jos.9:3-6, 14-16> and allowed the Gibeonites to live in the land, which later on was to their regret <see Jud.2:2-3>. How often today Christians are faced with similar situations, they know what the Scriptures teach but they deliberately disobey God’s commands to their detriment. Moving forward; during Solomon’s reign his son Jeroboam rebelled against his father, and some years after the death of Solomon we see a division in the kingdom; Jeroboam rules over the northern kingdom of Israel where he introduces a substitute place of worship and sacrifices, no doubt influenced by Canaanite worship, to discourage the people from travelling to Jerusalem for the Temple worship, <see 1 Kings 12:26-33>; which led to the eventual fall of the northern kingdom to the Assyrians. The Kingdom of Judah soon followed the northern kingdom into captivity by the Babylonians for the same sins; they had allowed the Canaanite worship to influence them <see Deut. 28:43; 31:29>.

This pattern continued on to the birth of the early Church after Christ’s ascension. Several times the apostles were confronted by Judaizers and other false teachers, and Paul had to write to Timothy and Titus giving them specific instructions in dealing with false teachers that had infiltrated the early Churches, and throughout the other books recorded in the New Testament we see that false teachers were constantly at work, and we continue to see evidence of their teaching today as Gnosticism and Nicolaitan doctrines continue to creep into the Church. Satan will continue to introduce various counterfeits and suggestions to God’s people and we have to be extremely cautious in bringing these counterfeits into our lives and into our Churches. Sermons are preached, teachings and variations in our worship are introduced in our Churches today that have no semblance to what is taught in God’s Word, and we as Christians, followers of Christ, must be continually on our guard; we must know what the Scriptures teach so that we can readily recognize the Satanic counterfeits and suggestions that are facing us;  “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” <1 Jn.4:1>.

THE PROVISION FOR ESCAPE [10/24/20]

Spiritual oppression is the direct result of sin that we have inherited, and when an individual refuses to acknowledge this slavery to sin and Satan, the downward spiral into oppression begins <see Rom.1:18-32>. Many attempts can be made to be free of this captivity, but unless something, or someone greater influences or controls our life, the captivity of Satan only worsens (see “The Empty House” <Matt.12:38-45> posted 8/17/2019). So, after many requests have been made for Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to make their “three-day journey” to worship their God, God Himself has to intervene, and His judgment is declared: “I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.” <Ex.12:12 (NIV)>. The judgment of God is for all the inhabitants of Egypt, including the Israelites, for all mankind is guilty of sin and is deserving of the penalty <see Rom.3:23; 6:23>; so God must now make a way of escape for the Israelites, and that way of escape is a picture of what Christ accomplished on the Cross at Calvary for all mankind – Jew and Gentile. The judgment of God on Egypt is also a representation of what is to come upon a world that has totally rejected God <see 2 Pet.2:9-21>, and that day of judgment is predetermined by God and will take place. It will be at the most unexpected time, when in a flash like lightening The Lord Jesus Christ will appear to execute His judgment <see 2 Thess.1:7-8>; and as it occurred in Egypt there will be a great cry of the people <Ex.12:30; cf Rev.6:16>, but it will be unfortunate for those that experience this judgment that their cry for relief will go unheeded for they refused to acknowledge God’s Salvation <see Prov.1:24-26, 28-29; Lk.17:26-30>.

To escape this calamity, God provided a way for the Israelites: “each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household…. all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight…. take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” <Ex.12:3, 6, 7, 13 (NIV)>. For the Egyptians it was a night of judgment, but for the Israelites, God provided a ransom and deliverance for their first-born sons; “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.” <Ex.12:12 (NIV)>; and in these verses of Scripture we see an Old Testament illustration of God’s Redemption provided for all mankind – Salvation from sin and the escape from Satan’s captivity.

In these verses of Exodus 12 we see the institution of the Passover – still celebrated annually by the Jewish communities, which is a picture of God’s great salvation accomplished through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Old Testament and the New Testament proclaims one theme: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” <Rev.5:9 (NIV); see also Rev.1:5; Eph.1:7>, and we find today that many teach that our salvation can be obtained in “other ways” and not by the blood of Christ; what they preach is a blood-less religion, just what Pharaoh wanted of the Israelites, but not what God has established, and such teaching will only keep the individual under Satan’s captivity <see Acts 4:12; Heb.9:22>. We are certain that this Passover speaks specifically of Christ <see 1 Cor.5:7b>.

First, we see in the Passover; “The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect” <Ex.12:5 (NIV)>, and in this we see that Christ, as a lamb was led to the slaughter <Isa.53:7>, he was “without defect”, for if there was a defect, the animal could not be used as a sacrifice, so Christ was perfect or sinless <1 Pet.2:22; 2 Cor.5:21; 1 Jn.3:5>. Christ was perfect in all His life, and even at His trial Pilate could find no fault in Him <Jn.18:38b>. Next, we see the testing period for the purity of the animal; “Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month” <Ex.12:5 (NIV)>, for any defect would surely be seen during this time. Similarly, Christ was tested in every way by God, by demons, by Satan, by Pilate, the centurion at the cross <see Matt.3:17; 4:11; Mk.1:24; Lk.23:41, 47>, and found to be holy and righteous and without sin; for if there was any “defect” in Christ, He could not be an atoning sacrifice for our sins <1 Jn.2:2>. We also see that the animal was to be killed in the evening; “all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.” <Ex.12:6 (NIV)>; then God’s judgment came at midnight <Ex.12:12>; so today we live in the day of God’s grace but very soon the midnight hour will come, and God’s judgment will be poured out upon an unbelieving world. There will be no escape for every sinner was represented around the cross of Christ, there was human wisdom, mankind’s power, mankind’s religion, all seen in the inscription placed on His cross in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, all in agreement that The Son of God had to die, and in His death enemies became friends <Lk.23:12; Matt.27:36-37; Jn.19:19-20>.

Finally, we see that “they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.” <Ex.12:7 (NIV)>. The significance of this is very important to the entire Passover!

In this is seen a picture of salvation for the sinner; salvation, when accepted spares the individual from the judgment of God for all sin and sinners: “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” <Ex.12:13 (NIV)>. It was the blood alone that secured salvation, then and now, for all sinners, nothing else delivers us from the captivity of sin and Satan, and that was the whole purpose of Christ’s death on the cross; His blood was shed there for our salvation and redemption <Rom.5:9; 3:25; 1 Thess.1:10>. There was nothing else that spared the Israelite people from God’s judgment; not Moses, not the slaughtered lamb, not the way they were dressed <Ex.12:11>, or the feast of the roasted lamb; nothing else but the blood, for God had said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you”, we are no longer under the condemnation of God or the Law, for we have been set free by Christ <Rom.8:1>.

How is it with you? Are you sheltered from God’s judgment by Christ’s shed blood? It should be noted from the text that none of the blood was applied to the doorstep or sprinkled on the floor, the blood was not to be trodden on, and so it should be in reference to the blood of Christ. Many today consider the shed blood of Christ to be worthless, corruption of the scriptures is rampant in our society by false teaching, and corrupt Christianity considers this as not appropriate for faith, only to be using Christ’s blood as a stepping stone to sure judgment <see Heb.10:29-31>.

So, an escape was provided for the Israelites from their captivity as slaves of Pharaoh; and likewise, salvation has been provided for all mankind who are slaves to sin and Satan.

LIBERATION FROM OPPRESSION [10/10/20]

Similar to any desire to free oneself from sinful oppression, so it was for the Israelites when Moses and Aaron presented God’s command to Pharaoh “Let my people go” <Ex.5:1>, Pharaoh immediately declared open non-compliance and demanded that the oppression be increased; “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go” <Ex.5:2 (NIV)>. This is the method of the devil as he attempts to impede the liberation of the sinner. How often in life an individual, who has become a slave to some depravity or pattern of life, attempts to break away only to be snared and returned to the life of slavery? There seems to be no way of escape and the demands of slavery increases, <see Ex.5:9, 11>. Similarly, the devil does not let go of the sinner and deters in every way the individual’s decision to turn to God in repentance. There are four deceptions recorded in Exodus 5 to 10 used by Pharaoh that can be associated with the tactics of Satan, as he attempts to impede the Israelites from obedience to God’s command; “Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God” <Ex.5:1, 3 (NIV)>. This was God’s method of salvation for His people then and now; the three days are a representation of Christ’s suffering and death, His Burial and resurrection, that completed His work of salvation; this salvation which is the only escape from the bondage of sin.

The first of the devil’s deceptions is observed in Pharaoh’s suggestion to Moses and Aaron: “Go sacrifice to your God here in the land” <Ex.8:25>. Satan understands that he cannot fight against God, but he will do everything in his power through craftiness to cause the new believer, and even the older believer, to stumble and fail; so, he suggests that the Israelites “sacrifice in the land”. This deception is still being suggested today as Satan’s aim is to destroy the very object of our salvation and testimony to the true God, the Cross of Christ. If Satan cannot deter the liberation of a sinner through visible obstruction, he will subtly keep the individual sacrificing in the land, and Satan has certainly succeeded in this deception. Satan has no objection to any person adopting a form of religion where one can uphold a successful moral standing in today’s culture without being a sincere follower of Christ <2 Tim.3:5>, such people are accepted and praised by the social order but do not have an effective witness for Christ, causing the name of God to be ridiculed. A worldly religion embraces everything, condemns nothing except the committed follower of Christ, Satan hates an absolute separation to God. As a professing Christian, have you completed your three-day journey? Have you separated yourself from worldly influences? You cannot present a true testimony for God or worship Him in spirit and sincerity, while at the same time fellowshipping in a worldly religion; the call of God is clear; “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.” <2 Cor.6:14-17 (NIV)>

The second deception of Satan is identified in Pharaoh’s next offer: “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the desert, but you must not go very far.” <Ex.8:28 (NIV)>, or in simple terms “do not go too far away”. Satan prefers that the believer does not go too far, just far enough so that he can draw the individual back under his control, destroying the persons testimony as a separated follower of Christ. A modern-day type of Christianity – “Borderland Christianity” is very common, and is a great tool for Satan as it fits his purpose; a Christian who is “luke-warm” is nothing more than a stumbling block to everyone, a hypocrite, having no capacity for anything, respected by no one, and lives a discouraging life. The account of Lot in Genesis pictures this type of Christianity, where he lived a life of hypocrisy so that he had no testimony in his city and when the judgment of God was imminent his sons-in-law would not believe him <see Gen.19:14; cf Rev.3:15-17>; he was ridiculed as his worldliness completely paralyzed his preaching. All believers in Christ must recognise this deception, for Satan will say to us “don’t go too far”, you can be a Christian but you can still indulge in actions and things that may be questionable for a believer in Christ, why not, others are doing so. But are they correct? We are taught by scriptures that God’s people, or followers of Christ, are chosen, holy, God’s possession, to declare God’s praises <1 Pet.2:9>; and we are also instructed that we should not live an ungodly life <Eph.4:17; 1 Cor.3:3>. It is very easy for us to follow what others are doing, we must be like others is the encouragement, but unfortunately such action will only lead to disappointment and discouragement in our walk with Christ <see Ex.8:26-27>; we are encouraged to be like Christ in all our ways. Therefore, we must insist on our “three-day journey” – a complete separation from the world if we are to be an effective Christian.

Satan’ next deception is seen where he suggests: “Have only the men go; and worship the Lord” <Ex.10:11 (NIV)>; Pharaoh will allow them to go but they must leave the women and children behind. This is a clever deception and can be seen in the actions of some Christian parents today where their children are encouraged to participate in worldly practices so as to be successful and acceptable by the social order of the day; the end result being that their children are so influenced by worldly pleasures and practices they are far from being followers of Christ. Both Lot and Eli the priest were guilty of this and their children are an example of those that are left to worship in a worldly manner <see 1 Sam.2:12, 22-25>, symbolizing a warning to all Christian parents today. The decision is, and always should be; “We will go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds” <Ex.10:9 (NIV)>, since all that we have and are must be dedicated to God.

The final deception recorded is: “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.” <Ex.10:24 (NIV)>. This sounds reasonable since taking their flocks and herds would create great difficulty, but this stopped short of God’s demand; everything that they owned was required to make the journey “until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.” <Ex.10:26 (NIV)>; God must have all when we decide to follow Him, we cannot deny God of what belongs to Him; so, Moses’ response was “not a hoof is to be left behind” <Ex.10:26 (NIV)> everything must go.

Christ’s call to follow Him demands a response of full commitment <Mk.1:17-20; Lk.5:11>, we have to make a decision to follow Christ, and such decision means that everything that we are and have goes with that decision, and we see many examples in Scripture where individuals are called to make that decision, Moses refused to lower God’s claims, Daniel was thrown into the Lions den and the furnace of fire rather than deny God, to name a few. We must understand that it is the responsibility of all disciples of Christ to leave the world behind and take the journey of the Cross when we decide to follow Christ, taking all that we have and dedicating it to Christ.

A LIFE OF OPPRESSION [9/26/20]

Time and again when faced with the constraints in life that we consider restrictive, we desire to be liberated, we decide to leave home and travel to the other side of the city, the country, or travel to a distant country to start life anew away from what we considered confining. Here we can do “our own thing”, what we desire to do, without having to be accountable to anyone; and here the dilemma commences. We get involved with other like-minded individuals and get captivated on fascinations that begin to enslave us, and we get so involved there is no escape from our captivity; we long to be liberated but are unable break away

The first chapter of the Book of Exodus gives us an illustration of what life was like for the descendants of Jacob, the Israelites, who had put down roots in Egypt because of a time of food shortage in Canaan. It is recorded that the original seventy descendants had “multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous” <Ex.1:7 (NIV)>, the older folk had all died and now there was a new group of people. So, the king of Egypt decided to deal deviously with them because he was fearful thy would join with his enemies in case there was conflict with the surrounding nations; “So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor” <Ex.1:11 (NIV)>. This began a life of oppression for a people who were trying to survive a difficult time in their history; they were enjoying life in their new habitat and life was appearing encouraging, now they are faced with a harsh reality as their supervisors “made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.” <Ex.1:14 (NIV)>.

Here, a picture emerges of what life is like for each of us today. We consider ourselves to be at liberty, free to live as we wish, we enjoy all the pleasures that life has to offer. We work, we party, we participate in all the so-called fun activities, and there is no accountability for our actions; not realizing that life is becoming more and more oppressive. Suddenly we awaken to the fact that we are slaves to the habits that we have presumed and there is no escape, as we look for a way out of our oppression.

The Scriptures teach us that this is the condition of all people, as we are under the oppression of Satan. In Scripture, Egypt is a characteristic of the worldly society in which we live, and Pharaoh is a symbol of Satan. Mankind, is sinful by nature <see Psa.51:5>, and is a slave to Satan, and this worldly society in which we live is the scene of his slavery, fastened to him by our sins we are unable to free ourselves for we do not have the power to do so <see Rom.7:14-18>. Not only are we bound to Satan, we are an instrument for his use in doing evil <2 Tim.2:26>; he has blinded our eyes and darkened our understanding <2 Cor.4:4; Eph.4:18>, prompting us to think that our bondage is liberty as we take pleasure in the very sins that bind us to him. Certainly, we continue to have pleasure in our manner of living because Satan allows us to have some freedom to enjoy life, just as the Israelites did <see Num.11:5> in their days of slavery; Satan also deals deceitfully with us. He relaxes our oppressions and releases his chains so that we can enjoy the pleasures of sin and remain bound and blinded for ever. The only escape from physical slavery is the death of the slave; unfortunately, for spiritual slavery physical death is not the end, for Scripture teaches us that the final sentence is eternity separate from, and away from God <Rom.3:23; 6:23a>.

How then can we escape the oppression of sin? Again, we see the illustration in the life of Israel: “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land…” <Ex.3:7-8 (NIV)>. Just as the Israelites were not able to free themselves or pay for their redemption from the oppression of Egypt and Pharaoh, sinful mankind is in the same situation; we cannot deliver ourselves from the oppression of Satan; and just as freedom for Israel came down from heaven, mankind has to be delivered from sin’s enslavement in the same way; there has to be an intervention from heaven because “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him – the ransom for a life is costly” <Psa.49:7 (NIV)>. Therefore, God had to intervene on behalf of all mankind by sending His Son from heaven to pay the price of our redemption <Jn.3:16; 1 Tim.1:15>. And since the penalty for sin is spiritual (eternal) death <Rom.6:23>, Christ had to suffer death on the Cross so as to pay the redemption price for the sins of mankind <see Heb.2:14-17; 9:26b-28; 1 Pet.2:24; 2 Cor.5:21>.

There was only one way out of Egypt’s oppression for the Israelites; and there is only one way in which mankind can be delivered from the oppression of sin, which is by way of the provision that God has made. There is only one way of salvation from sin and that is through Jesus Christ <Acts 4:12>. Certainly, there may have been Israelites that could have remained in Egypt, snubbing God’s redemptive plan for them; and certainly there are those individuals today that have spurned and will continue to spurn God’s provision for salvation, but the results are the same; there will be no liberation from the bondage and oppression of sin, and the final sentence will be served <Rev.20:12-15>.

So, the question is: Have you been delivered from Satan’s bondage, or are you still a slave to sin? If you have not been delivered from your oppression to sin, the way out is acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice for your sins; believe the message of the gospel <see Rom.1:16; Jn.1:12-13; 5:24; Acts 16:30-31>.

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DIVINE PROTECTION [9/13/20]

At the start of each day as we face our daily chores, whatever they may be and wherever they may take us, we face the dangers of travel, occupation or whatever duty we are required to perform. So, we have two choices, face the day with our own determinations or seek the providential safeguards of our God. When we make the choice to go on our own resolve, we face challenges and circumstances over which we have little or no control; however, under God’s guidance and protection He takes control.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT COURSE

“In December 1995, American Airlines Flight 965 departed from Miami on a regularly scheduled trip to Cali, Columbia. On the landing approach, the pilot of the 757 needed to select the next radio navigation fix, named Rozo. He entered an R into his navigation computer. The computer returned a list of nearby navigation fixes starting with R, and the pilot selected the first of these, whose latitude and longitude appeared to be correct.

Unfortunately, instead of Rozo, the pilot selected Romeo, 132 miles to the northeast. The jet was southbound, descending into a valley that runs north-south, and any lateral deviation was dangerous. Following indications on the flight computer, the pilots began an easterly turn and slammed into a granite peak at 10,000 feet. One hundred and fifty-two passengers and all eight crewmembers aboard perished. Four passengers survived with serious injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigated, and . . . declared the problem human error. The navigational aid the pilots were following was valid but not for the landing procedure at Cali. In the literal definition of the phrase, this was indeed human error, because the pilot selected the wrong fix… . .

The front panel of the airplane’s navigation computer showed the currently selected navigation fix and a course deviation indicator. When the plane is on course, the needle is centered, but the needle gives no indication whatsoever about the correctness of the selected radio beacon. The gauge looks pretty much the same just before landing as it does just before crashing. The computer told the pilot he was tracking precisely to the beacon he had selected. Unfortunately, it neglected to tell him the beacon he selected was a fatal choice.” [Source: Perfect Illustrations and More Perfect Illustrations by Christianity Today International.] How often people make similar choices in life, some deliberately, others because of what they believe to be a correct choice; and as the days and years go by, they finally comprehend they have been on a wrong course.

“There is a way that seems right to a man[person], but in the end it leads to death.” <Prov.14:12 (NIV)> This verse describes the end-result of those individuals that make the wrong choice in life, and we must understand that the use of the word “death” does not necessarily mean physical death but most certainly “spiritual death” or eternal separation from God. Every individual person born into this world inherits the sin of Adam our forefather <see Rom.3:9-18, 23> and where no repentance is evident will face the penalty for sin which is spiritual death <Rom.6:23>. God has given to each of us the freedom of choice, just as He did for His chosen people the Jews <see Deut.30:19-20> and the choice we make will determine our destiny, and since we are all under the same condemnation we need to turn to God in repentance of our sins <see Isa.55:6-7> for as in the illustration above, the pilot made his choice but he was on the wrong course.

We are therefore encouraged to seek Divine protection, not only from the penalty of our sins but also from the perils that we face on a day-to-day basis. God promises us safety in travel <Psa.121:8>; safety during the day or night <Psa.91:4-5, 9-11> and safety during perilous times <Psa.27:5>.

FACTS TO CONTEMPLATE

We have no right to put God to the test when requesting His physical protection when we engage in careless or unlawful acts, or by putting ourselves in situations of deliberate disobedience to God’s commands. Neither is it ours to dictate to God which method He should use to protect us; for it is within His power to suspend or to counteract natural laws, or to use supernatural means to protect when it is within His purpose. We should also understand that delays in His response may be because of His love for us as He is able to see what is not evident to us. We must also be aware of, and accept, the possible eventualities of our circumstance as it fits what will be God’s divine purposes and sovereignty.

So, we make our choice each day, and for each circumstance we face we must rest on on God’s ability to protect us, recognizing the fact that we are in His hands and under His control, He is Sovereign, Omniscient, and Omnipotent <see Psa.91:9; Mk.4:35-40>.

“We said a prayer that God would watch over us.” Sherri Conley, of Oklahoma, telling the “Daily Oklahoman” how she, her husband, and two sons had huddled in their hallway linen closet for protection from a deadly tornado. After the storm passed, she discovered the closet was the only thing left standing from the family’s home.” [Source: Perfect Illustrations and More Perfect Illustrations (Tornado Insurance) by Christianity Today International.]