1 King 19: 14-21
Galatians 5: 1, 13-25
Luke 9: 51-62
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
This last week I went down home to spend time with my family, and while I was down there I had a conversation with my sister about the events in Exodus. It started with the questioning how God could have killed all those first born children. It was an honest question filled with compassion, but too often have I heard similar well-meaning questions about the goodness of God, which is a dangerous road to walk on. If one was to walk on such a path with the foresight that God is indeed good, in fact the very image of the most perfect good, then such questioning will not cause any concern because no amount of good intended questions will falter your faith in the Triune God’s divine attributes. But if you don’t have such a strong cornerstone then you will surely be lead down the path of hating God, for only an evil god would dare violate the edicts of the true god, Humanity!
There is a thought project I was recently made aware of that helped me explain to my sister the killing of the first born. American Civil War; would you have compromised on slavery to prevent the civil war from happening? If you have a spine, you would answer no, for to compromise on slavery is to still allow slavery. We fought a bloody war and America spilled the blood of way too many sons and daughters, but it had to be done to recognize the humanity of all Americans. Now go back in history,
all the way back to the enslavement of the Jews. What the Hebrews faces in Egypt was far worse than the Africans in America. At one point the pharaoh of Egypt was so terrified of the growing number of Hebrews in his country that he tricked them into slavery, and after a couple of generations, the Hebrews became fully pacified by the extreme conditions their slave holders placed on them. Beating sun, barely any food, work hours too long for the human body, a growing work load intended to break the will of the people, constant wiping, and if you were defective as a working slave then killed. And still the Hebrews bless by God continued to grow in number, so a new pharaoh, out of terror of a potential insurgency of the slaves, ordered the genocide of every child born a son. If you know the child is to be born a male, murder it. After the midwives disobeyed, he commanded his people, the Egyptians, to kill themselves every male child that is born to the Hebrews. Despite this, Moses still survived.
This was the atrocious conditions the Hebrews faced, and out of agony they cried to God to release them from this oppression. God answered, sending Moses with many at first harmless plagues, but pharaoh did not release the slaves. Then God send Moses with some not so harmless plagues, but pharaoh still did not listen. So God send Moses with the warning that if the slaves are not released then the first born of all families who do not place lamb blood over their doors will die. Because the Hebrews feared God they obeyed the instructions; so when the angel of death was came, it passed over their households. But the Egyptians who did not fear God, who did not obey the instructions that they were well aware of, their first born died.
Pharaoh lost his first born, and it was not God’s fault, but Pharaoh’s fault. Out of despair, he relented and let the Hebrews free.
Compared to the Civil War, the cost to freeing the Hebrew slaves was insignificant, for in comparison God saved so many lives all together. This is what I told my sister, and she liked what she heard.
But there is more to the story of Exodus. With all that turmoil that the Hebrews suffered, you would think that they would appreciate their freedom. But they didn’t. Freedom is hard. The Hebrews were on their own and had to find their own food and shelter. They actually complained to God about their mean estate, and even when God provided for them they still complained more. They very quickly started looking back to the days of enslavement with desire. At least back then we had food and shelter. At least back then the cage they lived in was comfy.
This unfortunately is a common reoccurring state of the fallen human psyche. We know that through the death of Christ, who shed His blood for the forgiveness of all sin, that we have been set free from the chains of slavery forced upon us at conception by Satan himself. But this cage that Satan places us in is not a fiery pit of hell, but a comfy cage of darkness. Within his cage you get your needs, you are in a safe place protected from the nasty attacks from evil, and all the atrocities you yourself commit doesn’t exist. The dark pit Satan places you in gives you what you think you need, all while denying you what you truly need. The supposedly cozy prison appears to protect you from
evil attacks by making you the instrument of evil, all while painting what is good and divine as evil and devilish. It is like protecting a caged sheep from the open fields of luscious green grass. And this cage you are in, well it’s so dark that it prevents you from seeing the evils you yourself are committing. A “That which I don’t see doesn’t exist” mentality is broken into you. The darkness shields your fragile eyes from realizing that you are a slave to sin. Satan does not want you to despise his cage, he wants you to love it.
Then comes freedom. Christ, who is our freedom, shines a light on our path forward, but he also shines a light on all that is sinful. It’s hard to recognize your own dreaded self, but Christ shines a warm light and tells you if you follow him he will forgive you of your sins and lead you to a promised land where there is no sin, our own land of milk and honey. But be aware of this, we who follow Christ are not like the Egyptians who have comfy homes, we are like the homeless nomadic Jews who are wandering through the wildness with the full knowledge that at the end of the journey is the promised land.
In this world we live in, Christians are homeless. Yes we live in the world, but we are not of the world, thus the world will always deny us and because the world denies us we are de facto culturally homeless. The world is not your friend, nor should you desire such. I have seen so many pastors who wanted to be loved by the extremist culture today which constantly attacks the Bible that they willingly abandon scripture in order to embrace the culture of our days. Today’s Psalm reads, “The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of
blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips.” Their god is the world, and their worship is not towards God. The world is not your friend.
If you act like them and worship at their demonic temples, then the world will consider you a friend, but if you act as one who belongs to Christ and boldly worships Christ alone, then the world will despise you.
Christ Himself, in our Gospel says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” If we were to follow Christ, then in this world we too will be like the Son of Man, no place to call home.
But there is a tremendous benefit in being nomads for Christ. The most important is that through faith in Him who is the source of life, then we who are dead to sin are no longer dead but alive. One great lie the Devil taught us is that we are alive, wrong. Ever since Eve first ate of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge humanity has been dead. We are not conceived alive, but conceived dead for in sin we are not subjects of the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet, when the Kingdom was proclaimed to us and at our baptism, the Holy Spirit entered into us, gave us faith, and through such faith we are made alive. So to the dead, aka those not saved, let them live out their death as sinners. You, who are not dead, but alive, do not part take in their death culture, but instead bring life to them by proclaiming the Good News.
And while you bring life to the dead, wandering forward in the life bringing light of Christ, giving up your unbiblical cultural
norms, following the vagabond Son of God, will you be like the Hebrews who after being saved looked back fondly at Egypt. Will you be the one who puts your hand to plow but looks back at that comfy dark cage of sin? Will you, so worn down by the onslaught of evil slander, seek the safety of the cage? Will you curse God and fling vile vitriol at your brothers and sisters in Christ so you can be welcomed back into the open arms of the world’s satanic cult?
Or will you place your hand on the plow and push forward, preparing the soil for the seed of faith, doing God’s hard work for the sake of the Kingdom all while looking forward and having complete faith in God?
If so, then know this. If the world is against you, that is because Christ, who surpasses all the powers of men, is with you.
Let us pray,
Dear Heaven Father, whereas we may be nomads in this culture due to our Christian faith we know that so long as we keep pushing and looking forward we will arrive at the most heavenly of homes, your Kingdom, our promise land. Keep us strong in our faith and let not the Devil tempt us into longing for his protection. In your heavenly name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.