Being set free from Egypt

The patterns, habits, bondages of the old life don’t easily go away. There are wonderful stories of addictions that instantly leave when people come to Christ, but more often than not it takes a little more time.

Israel came out of slavery and still had a lot of Egypt in them. A few days (relatively speaking) out of Egypt and they are ready to default to what they knew in worship.

400 years of slavery wouldn’t be overcome by 40 days of freedom.

It’s a longer process and one we need to understand from the outset. It is a walk of understanding. A walk learning to trust God and quit trusting the gods of this world.

Egypt may be more deeply rooted than you anticipated. Keep walking in freedom.

Too much of Egypt

You must have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:3)

The call of God to Israel was to not only be free of the outward slavery of Egypt, but to have their hearts set free as well. 400 plus years of slavery didn’t just effect their physical and mental status. It enslaved their hearts as well.

The plagues on Egypt weren’t just for Pharaoh. They were for Israel. They needed Egypt out of their hearts just as much as they needed their bodies out of Egypt.

We often have too much of Egypt in us. We play with the gods of this age. We think we “play” with the God of all creation.

He didn’t save us to “play.” He saved us and called us to a new allegiance. No more Egypt.

The Book of Esther, Egypt, and Syria

When Haman was able to convince Xerxes to annihilate the Jews, the end of Chapter 3 says this: “The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.”

Another translation read: the city was in an uproar. There was confusion.

Looking at the text notes of the NET Bible, I found this comment: This final statement of v. 15 is a sad commentary on the pathetic disregard of despots for the human misery and suffering that they sometimes inflict on those who are helpless to resist their power. Here, while common people braced for the reckless loss of life and property that was about to begin, the perpetrators went about their mundane activities as though nothing of importance was happening.

It doesn’t seem to matter the time period, there is a huge difference between those in power and those trying to live daily lives and make it. One big difference is the INdifference the powerful sometimes have toward the powerless. This verse highlights that. The powerful make a decision to wipe out a whole race, then sit down to eat.

This verse has significance as I read the news from Egypt and Syria. These are places we just don’t pay attention to, and when the news finally focuses on it, we whine because there isn’t enough coverage of the latest celebrity scandal.

But we are NUMB to these numbers. HUNDREDS in Egypt were killed last week in protests. Syria is now allegedly using chemical weapons on the rebels and to date, since the rebellion started, 100,000 lives have been lost. ONE. HUNDRED. THOUSAND.

In 1994 Rwanda exploded in genocide and over 100 days the world yawned while 500,000 people were slaughtered. I guess Syria doesn’t even come close. Oh, well.

But that doesn’t mean too much to us. It’s over there.

Somewhere along the line, it MAY start to hit us. I’m not sure. But until then, this verse out of Esther sure puts things in context. The powerful sit down to eat while the powerless are thrown into confusion. This is our world.

When will the body count bother us?

Not as Americans, but as Christians, when will the news we refuse to pay attention to finally start to jolt us? The New York Times has a picture at the top of their website showing body bags of a Syrian family. The report is death by nerve gas. Thousands, thousands, have perished in Syria. Hundreds, if not into the thousands, were killed just this week in Egypt.

I am not asking this as a matter of American intervention. I am asking this of me and other believers: When will the body count bother us? When we will be shocked the point of prayer? When will we cry out to God for solution, and then offer ourselves as a possible solution?

Egypt

There are no easy solutions. The two extremes that are making the most noise and doing the most damage today don’t offer solutions. In the midst of it all, Christians are being threatened constantly. 

All the voices shouting today scream violence and revenge.

I find myself in a place where I can’t pray for “one side” or another. I pray for the safety of the church. I pray for the peacemakers. I pray for those voices who are GOOD (but are being drowned out by the extremes) to be heard… and soon. There is no way of knowing how this ends. I do know I can’t pray for “sides.”

The Church in Egypt

Events in Egypt, or anywhere outside the U.S., so often go unnoticed by us. What is under-reported most of the time is how Christians are treated. So, I was totally shocked to see THIS STORY on the front of the New York Times page this afternoon!

Read these shocking paragraphs slowly, and pray!

CAIRO — The military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi has unleashed a new wave of violence by extremist Muslims against Christians whom they blame for having supported the calls to overthrow Mr. Morsi, Egypt’s first Islamist elected leader, according to rights activists.

Since Mr. Morsi’s ouster on July 3, the activists say, a priest has been shot dead in the street, Islamists have painted black X’s on Christian shops to mark them for arson and angry mobs have attacked churches and besieged Christians in their homes. Four Christians were reported slaughtered with knives and machetes in one village last week…

Dozens of Christian homes were reported burned in the Naga Hassan attacks, and most of the village’s Christians have fled or are believed to be hiding in the local church.

Friends, could we pray for our brothers and sisters in Egypt?

 

Blame, Blame, Blame

The Islamic world is in upheaval again. Once again, Americans look for blame. We look to something we can quantify. Something over which we can wring our hands.

Even after it has become fairly clear the horrific attack on the embassy in Libya were a coordinated effort that led to deaths of four Americans, we are still wringing our hands over the dumb “trailer” that was on YouTube. Something that may have been out for quite some time, that just “happened” to erupt in protests on 9/11… but it’s not about 9/11 or anything else. It’s about that dumb trailer.

The trailer is dumb. I won’t defend it.

There are a lot of dumb things on YouTube and network TV and cable TV.

What we look for are things to blame rather than solutions.

We need to examine that maybe, just maybe, we got this “Arab spring” thing wrong. We need to step back and examine that maybe, just maybe, we didn’t really do the work necessary to this point to win “hearts and minds” in North Africa, and there is a long way to go.

We also need to understand that just like one really stupid YouTube video isn’t representative of American culture or Christianity, there are reports out, finally, that there are SO MANY moderates in North Africa who long for peace.

As believers, we know there is hurt. I wept watching those four caskets coming off that plane at Andrews Air Force Base. I am angered by the taking of American lives who were working for peace in a region that needs peace.

But, as believers, we also pray. We pray for peace. We pray for safety. We pray for truth.

I will not blame my Muslim friends. I will not blame a video. I will not reduce my thoughts to being angry at all Muslims or all Libyans or all Egyptians.

The world is at boiling point and we need a higher spiritual awareness in our lives as to the way forward.

Isn’t It Time to Leave Egypt?

4 You saw what I did to the Egyptians, and how I lifted you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. (Ex. 19:4, CEB)

There are so many thoughts, discussion, articles, etc., on the angst of the American Church. There are some I agree with, and some I don’t. There are certainly those who are so politicized that the only way for the church to return to Jesus seems to be to vote Republican or Democrat. (Ironically, neither side on THAT issue seems to think they’re being political.)

As I read Exodus again, I see the trouble in the church as well. I see it in my own life. As believers, we are having trouble seeing what God has delivered us from and what he is calling us to. 

We seem to forget that a loving God has called us to himself.  He has delivered us from the power of sin. Yet… we seem bent on wanting to go back to Egypt. We want to justify how we live because we like how we live. We fear change.

We think the shackles of the old life are actually gold bracelets.

We fear God’s direction and God’s best. We just don’t see it. So, we insist on justifying our own lifestyles and say, “Well, the God I know wants me to be happy,” or some other jibberish.

I am good at the excuses. I am good at avoiding God’s best. I don’t even need an excuse. I just avoid God’s best. And the shackles stay on.

As the church in America, isn’t it time to leave Egypt? Isn’t it time to quit glamorizing the motives and operational standards of this world and just admit that God may actually have our best in mind? Isn’t it time to lay down our selfish ambitions and think, “Well… maybe God DOES know what he’s doing?”

He has called us to himself. He has done all that is necessary for that to happen in our lives. The call is to trust him. We trust who we know. It is time to KNOW the Lord.

And get out of Egypt.