The Old Testament has always intimidated me. Every year I plan to read through it, but only accomplish getting through Genesis. I know I’m cheating myself out of incredible stories of faith not to mention the nuggets of Godly wisdom just waiting for me to digest and apply in my daily life. So I’ve made a conscious and determined effort to read through the Old Testament and stop depriving myself of the stories that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on my spiritual journey. Well, I made it through Genesis and began reading Exodus. Wow, Moses was one faithful servant wasn’t he? But, what really blew me away was the power of God! When I read, Exodus 19:4 “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself,” I thought about how God continues to leads us out of our own slavery and bondage much of which is usually self-induced. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the numerous times he has lifted me from the depths of slavery and into his loving arms, just as he delivered the Israelites from their oppression in Egypt.
King Pharaoh was one stubborn guy and regardless of which plague was laid upon his land or his people he refused to let the Israelites leave Egypt. I would think that after frogs, locusts, gnats, darkness, boils (yikes!) dead livestock, hail and water turning to blood he would have held a going away party for the Israelites! But, instead his heart was hardened and although he may have told Moses to take his people and leave he just couldn’t let them go. What is interesting is that the Lord already knew that Pharaoh’s heart was going to be hardened and God himself allowed it to be that way. I believe King Pharaoh was all part of God’s plan to reveal to the Israelites all he was capable of doing for them. God showed both the Israelites and the Egyptians his awesome power. He showed the Egyptians the great wrath he could bring down upon them because of their disobedience and he showed the Israelites his loving protection, but let them witness his hand against King Pharaoh. Doesn’t God still do this in our life today? When we’re disobedient he’ll chastise us because he loves us and wants only the best for us. But then, he is also a gentle God that provides for us time and time again.
We have a tendency to be hard on King Pharaoh, but how many times have we fought hard to hold onto something that God clearly told us to surrender? I know I’m guilty of being reluctant and downright defiant of letting go of something and ignoring God’s nudges for me to release whatever it is I’m grasping onto so tightly. Sometimes God has to rain down his plagues on me. There may not be frogs hoping on my bed or locusts in my coffee, but there are other consequences that can be long lasting and painful. His discipline opens my eyes to my sin, a form of slavery that holds me in bondage to all the Lord has in store for me. Sin wraps its chains around our bodies, soul, and minds leaving us gasping and separated from our Father.
But, lucky for us our merciful God shows us with undeserved grace that he can and will bust off our chains of bondage. Then just as he did with the Israelites he will take our hand and lead us out of our own slavery of sin into a land of freedom. He will part the seas of destruction and stop the enemy in his track, whether it is an abusive relationship, a harrowing addiction or any ball and chain that hinders with God’s plan for your life. The beauty of the exodus of the Israelites is that it is a testimony that no obstacle is insurmountable for God to overcome and accomplish his will. His desire is for you to be molded into his image and live a life of excellence and freedom. The Lord may go about doing this in ways that startle and surprise you, but remember he never ceases to work on your behalf.
Can you imagine how the Israelites felt walking through the parted Red Sea? Did they experience awe, disbelief, fear or did they feel the extraordinary love of the Lord? One thing is for certain they experienced a miracle. Although they became discouraged and doubted God after he brought them out of Egypt the Lord continued to show his love by providing food and water for them. Just as we are hard on King Pharaoh we tend to be a bit judgmental about the Israelites also. Many of us can’t comprehend how after seeing all God’s miraculous feats, how the Israelites could possibly still doubt God. But, don’t we do the same? How many miracles big or small has God performed in your life that you too soon forget? Then when the next issue arises you’re right back to agonizing and doubting God? What does God do? Does he shun you and turn away? No, thankfully that’s not his style. Instead, over and over again he breaks our chains and carries us on eagle’s wings bringing us safely back to him. Now that is a faithful God.
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