I have been praying for ways to get more involved in the lives of the people there - and all of a sudden this job opportunity came up (the senior evening position in the Mission), and the job was basically dropped in my lap. Because of the work the Lord was doing in my heart prior to this point in time, I knew this was exactly where the Lord wanted me to be. A lot of things fell into place - including His peace like a blanket covering my heart and mind. I am finished with the full-time graveyards at the hotel, and am adapting to the days at the Mission now - though yesterday I just slept most of the day...
It will be 4 days on, and 4 days off (plus whatever odd shifts I might still get at the hotel - no set schedule there though). That will give me plenty of time to work on studies, my websites, my blogs, etc. and still work on my messages at the Mission. I was thinking that if I had to preach up to 4 days in a row that would mean I would have to shorten my messages and not have as much time as needed to develop them - but even will a full hectic week last week, the Lord still gave me two messages - the second one (this is the one below) actually went a little longer than planned, but it sure had everyone's attention! Praise the Lord for His grace - especially for this step into greater ministry opportunities, for a day job that will allow me more time to get involved in church soulwinning times (could not easily do that before with full-time graveyards), for being able to be around the people at the Mission throughout the week (not just on the day I was to preach), and for more opportunities to preach the Word of God (which gives me more experience in this area too - not just more opportunities to get the Word of God out to those in the Mission) - also, I am looking foward to being able to do more series and build upon prior messages (which I can easily do if I am preaching two to four days in a row).
My message today is what I preached on Sunday - the basic idea is not new to me, as someone has pointed out these four passages in a message I have read before (though theirs dealt with Satan trying to hinder us from being involved in our local church - attempting to hinder us from worshipping God in the manner and place He has designated - and using work as one of the main hindrances from assembling together with other believers). Using the same four passages as my springboard, I took it in another direction, aimed at presenting the Gospel to the lost at the Mission.
Pharaoh's Four Proposals
The other day I was reading through parts of Exodus and was reminded of what happened to the nation of Israel. During a world-wide famine, God led them to take refuge in Egypt, where He had already placed Joseph ahead of time. Because of the wisdom the Lord gave Joseph, he was able to protect the nation of Egypt, many surrounding areas, and even his own family, from the dire effects of the famine. With his family dwelling in Egypt, they began to grow mightily as a nation. As the years passed, the Egyptian Pharaohs put them into slavery, cruel bondage and hard labour - and the Israelites cried out to God to deliver them. In God's timing, He led Moses to go back to Egypt and lead His people out of their slavery to Egypt and bondage to the Pharaoh.
This is literal history, of which we can learn many lessons from - but one I want to most impress upon you today is how Egypt is often pictured in the Word of God as the world, and the Pharaoh as Satan. The lost are living in the world, enslaved to sin and Satan - and the Lord God wants to deliver them out from that bondage! In each of Pharaoh's four proposals (should we say, compromises) we see pictured the Devil's proposals to mankind.
The Lord commanded, "Let my people go." But the Devil had four proposals to offer instead:
1) Stay In Egypt.
Exodus 8:20, 25, 27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me... And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land... We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.
It was the Lord's will for the Israelites to completely leave Egypt - but Pharaoh had other plans. His first proposal was that they simply stay in the land. You don't need to go anywhere - you can stay in Egypt and live with us, be like us.
And here we can see one of the Devil's compromises to lost humanity: Stay in the world - don't go anywhere; stay here, live with us, be like us. Just dwell here in a world opposed to God, living according to its philosophies, and be just like the rest of the lost around you. Be an atheist - follow the philosophies of the world. Believe in evolution - that this whole world, and you yourself, just came here by chance. You don't really need to believe the God of the Bible. Just live for yourself and be one of us!
But that is not what God wants - that is not His plan for fallen mankind. God wanted them to completely leave Egypt, and the Devil's compromise would have them still living in the midst of a world that is against the True God...
2) Don't go too far away.
Exodus 8:28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me.
Sure, you can go worship your God in the wilderness - just don't go too far away. Look there's a patch of wilderness over that hill, you can go seek your God there, or perhaps over there in that grove of trees. It's silly to head off into the great unknown when you can seek Him nearby.
The Egyptians had many gods - and the Pharaoh's second proposal was to merely add Jehovah - the God of the Israelites - to the gods of Egypt. One god is as good as another - oh, you want Jehovah? Okay, just add Him to all of our gods and we can worship all our gods together.
The Devil's second compromise: Don't be too radical; don't rock the boat. Okay, you want to be religious - but don't go teaching that your God is the true God and your way is the only way. The world's philosophy is that all religions are equal, all ways lead to Heaven - one religion is as good as another. The world's media is good at trying to give us this impression - many cults do this likewise - especially the New Age movement. But we also see glimpses of this in the ecumenical movement - where apostate Christendom is moving closer and closer to a one-world religion, as prophesied in the book of Revelation.
Have your own beliefs - have a mix of this and that - but don't get too hung up on that Book - that Bible that teaches that Jesus IS the ONLY way of salvation, the ONLY way to Heaven, the ONLY name that you can be saved by, the ONLY way to God the Father; that ONLY the Bible is true, that it is to be the SOLE authority for your faith and daily living, that God's Word is the ONLY guide for every area of your lives. That's going too far.
Be like the Hindus with their 300,000 million gods - just say a prayer and add Jesus to whatever else you want to believe in. Be like the Samaritans in 2 Kings 17, that added Jehovah to their pagan gods - have a mix of the "best" of all religions - they are all the same anyway.
But that is not what God's Word teaches - that is NOT the plan God set in motion. If any way was as good as another, if all ways led to Heaven, if we were all good enough to make it there on our own, Jesus would never have had to come from Heaven, shed His blood and die on the cross of Calvary...
3) The men can go.
Exodus 10:8-11 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve the LORD your God: but who are they that shall go? And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto the LORD. And he said unto them, Let the LORD be so with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve the LORD; for that ye did desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence.
At first it seems like Pharaoh was going to let the men leave with their children too - but we see from the context he was simply being sarcastic. His third diabolical proposal is this: The men can go, but leave your families - especially the children - behind! Let me control your homes, let me have your families - I don't care how religious the fathers get, as long as I can have the families! (P.S. that means the men will really never go too far, because that would mean leaving their families behind them.)
Here we see one of the Devil's greatest attempts at compromise - personally I think this is the worst of the lot! Men - the heads of the home - you can be religious, oh go ahead and get converted and get involved in some church - but leave me your families, especially your children! Because if I can control the home, I've got you.
Even if the fathers truly got saved, with Satan having his hand in the home - with the children being raised by the world's philosophies, being entertained by the world's music and the world's movies and the world's video games and following the world's heroes - he's still got control of their hearts and minds! The Devil says, "Go ahead and 'be spiritual', but leave your families behind - let me influence your wife by the fashions of the world, control your home by my philosophies, and I know you can't do anything to hinder my kingdom of darkness! Your home, your family, your children, will never amount to much... and will never be a hindrance to me or ever be used by God!"
Be a Sunday Christian - but don't let the Bible influence your home. Go to church and make business contacts - put on a outward show - but don't let it really affect your home. Just be religious - be religious when it is convenient, when it suits your purpose - but don't let it affect your personal, day by day, life.
Even this compromise is against God's plan for the home - His will is to train your children in the way they should go (ie. according to God's Word), to train them up in the ways of the Lord, to teach them God's plan of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary - then to raise them to serve the Lord...
4) Leave your flocks behind.
Exodus 10:24-26 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. And Moses said, Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the LORD our God. Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind; for thereof must we take to serve the LORD our God; and we know not with what we must serve the LORD, until we come thither.
Go ahead - get religious, but don't go all out. Sure, go into the wilderness, do whatever you want, pick and choose what you want to believe - but make sure you hold back on God. He wants you to leave Egypt - go ahead, but leave your flocks behind. There were two main problems with this proposal: 1) they would still have one foot in Egypt; 2) They were leaving the heart of their religion out!
You see, the flocks and herds were for their animal sacrifices. These were the God-ordained way for the Old Testament believer to deal with their sin. They would offer an animal sacrifice, shed its blood to cover their sin - these sacrifices were a picture of the coming Messiah, the Lamb of God, who would one day shed His blood and die on the cross for their sins. Satan didn't care how religious they got, as long as it was either just going through the motions, OR as long as the heart of their religion (faith in the Redeemer) was neglected or put aside. Without faith in the Saviour and His deliverance, they would still be living in Egypt, never to leave!
In the same way, the Devil doesn't care what religion, what philosophies, what path fallen mankind takes - as long as it is without the ONLY Saviour - as long as true faith in the Jesus of the Bible is neglected, he doesn't care what you do or what you believe - he still has you! Without the redemption that the Lord Jesus Christ provided by His finished work on the cross of Calvary, without believing in His death, burial, and literal physical resurrection on the third day, the heart has been taken out of your religion - it is NOT Biblical Christianity then - and as such, offers no real hope of salvation. Go ahead - believe Jesus was just a good man, but don't believe that that He is the Son of God (God manifest in the flesh) and that He died to personally save you! Believe what you want, but don't repent and trust in Christ ONLY for your redemption, for your hope in Heaven, for the gift of eternal life. Anything else is fine with the Devil.
But none of these compromises fit in with God's plan. He came to completely deliver fallen mankind from their bondage to Satan and the world, from their slavery to sin, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Shortly after this point in time, the last of the ten plagues was poured out on Egypt. This was the death of all the firstborn. The Israelites heeded God's Word, the lambs were slain, and the lambs' blood covered their doorposts - then that night when the angel of death passed through to slay the firstborn, the Israelites were saved from the wrath of God because of the blood - He saw the blood and passed over their houses. Then the nation of Israel completely left Egypt, going through the Red Sea that the Lord had parted. Once they were on the other side, the Sea closed in on the Egyptian army, killing their old master, Pharaoh, and making it so they could not go back to Egypt.
Likewise, when someone trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ's finished work of redemption, they are saved from the wrath of God because of Jesus' blood that was shed and applied to their hearts. They are delivered completely from their old master, Satan - his power over them is broken. Any sins that a believer commits is committed willingly, as God has broken the power of sin in their life, and Satan no longer has dominion over them. They are delivered from this present evil world, from the kingdom of darkness, into the kingdom of God's Son. It is a complete deliverance - God does not offer a salvation that has one foot in the world and one foot in Heaven, that has partial allegiance to Satan and partial allegiance to God - Jesus came to set us free from sin and Satan.
Romans 5:8-9 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Please also read the rest of this chapter to see how the Lord has delivered us from being the servants of sin.)
Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Colossians 1:12-14 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ to save you? Has He delivered you from your old master, Satan, and from his kingdom of darkness, from this present evil world and its philosophies?