Exodus 7:16 “And you shall say to him, ‘The LORD God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness”; but indeed, until now you would not hear!
The subtle clues in the Bible that reveal God’s heart are like finding a treasure in the sand. The stories in the Bible can lose their significance when we hear of them so many times. Not to take anything away from all of the plagues, the fire by night and cloud by day, the opening up of the Red Sea, and the song of Israel after their deliverance but the focus shifts to God’s proclamation.
The Exodus story has all of the makings of an epic story, but we must not get so far ahead of ourselves to forget the real jewels in this saga.
The Hero of the story is often the central figure and it seems like Moses would be the likely candidate but none of this great story would have been possible without the awe inspiring power of God who takes a broken man in Midian and uses him to redeem a nation.
The Why of Exodus
When we take into consideration why God delivered Israel, the answer seems obvious.
Toiling under the oppressive arm of an Egyptian Pharaoh who was determined to build a legacy devoted to his lineage, seems to be a good reason for freedom. The promise to Abraham that God would multiply his offspring and make them into a mighty nation also seemed like a good reason. A notice to the nations of the world that there was only One God in Heaven and upon the Earth could have been enough to justify God raising up a nation after His own name.
What we witness on Moses’ approach was the declaration to Pharoah, “Let them serve me in the wilderness”.
I can only imagine what the people of Israel were thinking when they heard the reason given. The nation had been toiling under the oppressive arm of Egypt for 400 years, what initially started as a blessing for Joseph and his family, turned into a curse. The task masters were harsh, the demand was great, and the prayers went up from generation to generation that God might deliver them.
When the day finally arrived it must have felt like a dream. To hope so long under such dire circumstances must have seemed like an eternity of waiting. Then, when the day came for their freedom, the reason could have seemed a little despairing….
Moving from slavery to servitude would repulse those who are determined not to have a master over their lives, but service under the leadership of the Lord is completely different than serving under man.
Romans 6:16-20 “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”
The Way of Righteousness
Slavery conjures up images of oppression and abuse against people looked down upon as inferior. We know that in God’s eyes, all people are created by Him and therefore their value remains the same.
Every person on earth is born as a slave to sin.
We are all subjected to a legacy of rebellion against God, and our nature has inherited the rebellion of Adam. With the defiance comes darkness, and in the darkness the path of life cannot be clear.
Sin brings subjection to it’s followers.
The weight of abuse by an Egyptian taskmaster was his whip. Snapping and popping was a reminder to its subjects that pain was just waiting to be inflicted at a moments notice.
Sin reminds us of our failures. Guilt snaps at our consciousness and the weight of shame becomes the oppressive load a sinner must bear. Step out of line far enough under the abusers hand and death was to follow. Sin serves the reminder that death is in the sinners future and there is nothing you can do to escape its claim on your life.
The people of Israel were never Pharaoh’s to own. The proclamation was for Pharaoh to “Let my people go“.
Israel was God’s people, not some nation of slaves for man but God was their master.
Abraham, many centuries earlier had committed his way to the Lord. The covenant between God and Abraham had formed a bond that could never be broken. The promise God made to Abraham was a reminder that through the fires of persecution, a people would arise and the people would become a nation that has endured until today.
God will still use Israel as a nation after His name but the circumstances have changed dramatically since that time of Moses. When Israel traveled to Mt. Sinai, the Lord met them upon the mountain. The law was given on that memorable day, and the standard of righteousness was established. God’s standard is not overbearing, it doesn’t subject His people to a ruthless whip that beats its adherents into submission.
The Law of the Lord is good, and right, and just—-it is perfect because the Lord is perfect.
Psalm 19:7-11 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.”
Those who decide they would rather be slaves to God rather than slaves to sin have a recourse.
Jesus has paid the redemption price.
- Like the Law of the Lord, Jesus brought perfection.
- Through the His sacrifice, He has converted repentant soul from death to life.
- There is fullness of joy for the one who has experienced the fullness of Him.
- Purity is over the life of the redeemed.
The value of salvation has no equal. To those who experience it, the sweetness of the fellowship of His Spirit imparts gladness to the soul.
The Law warns those who transgress it of the judgement to follow. For those who walk by the Law, there remains the reward of walking with God.
I don’t want to be cavalier about a time in history that has been sung about for thousands of years. The astounding way that God established a nation is one that has been studied and contrasted countless times.
My desire is to know God more, and the more I understand what is important to Him is the way I hope to go.
Serving the Lord is the greatest reward. If walking in righteousness is living under slavery to God’s design, then I would hope to be in chains for Him.
Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Serving God has been a decision many have had to make and it isn’t one that has been easy to follow. Faced with the prospectus of doing your own thing versus becoming obedient to God is what many conclude is their choice, but this isn’t the choice that is given.
For those who choose to not follow the Lord, the world of sin becomes your master and the consequences that follow. People often think they are living like a “free spirit”, or going where the wind takes them but lurking in the shadows is a devious control the enemy of your soul is using.
Whom do you Serve?
Colossians 3:24-25 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.”
Living for the Lord means to honor Him with how you live your life. The interactions we have with others, the things we dwell upon, the way we make decisions, these all are offered up to God as a sacrifice of praise when our motivation is to bring Him glory.
There is freedom in Christ.
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.“
Freedom from the bondage of sin is to be released to walk unhindered from this world. The consequences of sin are destructive in nature because they conflict with the order by which God created our world. What seems pleasant to the flesh becomes problematic in practice, all forms of trouble come by way of a pathway of sin.
- broken relationships
- short lives
- anger and hostility
Consider everything that is wretched in this world and sin is a root cause.
We have been offered freedom—the question is whether we will accept it.
Calling ourselves christians will never do, to be a follower of Christ takes an active, purposeful, drive to bring our lives into subjection to His purposes and this will conflict with the world.
You can do it—it takes faith to trust, then let that trust turn into going forth into the freedom that has been laid before you.