Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Unshackled and Prosperous

So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey..."  (Exodus 3:8a)

Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness?  (Numbers 16:13a)

The Israelites were miserable in Egypt; they were slaves.  No incomes, no land to call their own, no rights -- slaves; strictly subsisting on whatever the Egyptians decided they could have. In fact, it had gotten so bad, the pharaoh had tried keeping their numbers in check by exterminating them!  When Moses petitioned him to let the Israelites go, he increased their workload.  It eventually took the death of every firstborn son in Egypt (Pharaoh's son and livestock included) to convince the Egyptian leader he was better off without them.  Even before his son had gotten all settled in at Canopic Suites of Pyamid Place, Pharaoh reconsidered and had his property chased down, only to lose all his army in the Red Sea!  Talk about your control issues!

God promised His people a "land flowing with milk and honey."  Don't picture "River la Leche" or "Honeybee Hills," but a land of untold, infinite prosperity; so much so that you could say "the land flows with milk and honey."  What a contrast from the life of slaves -- much less slaves in the deserts of Egypt, held against their will by a tyrant!

Now, fast forward to the scene in Numbers 16.  Dathan and Abiram have been summoned by Moses to answer for their role in an uprising against the current -- translated God's hand-picked -- leadership.  They refuse to come forth, justifying it by turning God's own words back on Him and His chosen authority.  Boy, are they gonna get it!  Growing up, I think I threw my dad's words back at him once -- just once -- my dad was a certified belt Samurai!  Anyway, they wind up swallowed by the earth -- not an earthquake, mind you -- think very intentional, the earth closed back over them!  All that aside, though, how could they even utter those untruths about Egypt?  How could anyone call slavery an opportunity for prosperity or happiness?  How could anyone ever say I'd rather face extermination than this? 

The answer is rather simple -- Satan.  They don't call him The Father of Lies for nothing.  He's always happy to help you change your point of view; he supports your choice to rebel, will even help you distort the truth so you can feel better about it.  So long as you open that door, he'll keep his foot in it.  And he's sure to be smooth about it.  Let's face it, school prayer wasn't in on Tuesday and out on Wednesday; complete erosion of values takes time, stealth, cunning.  You're not on your knees one day, and eating from pigs' troughs the next.  But you make the choice.  You're either gonna step out in faith, or step out of bounds; it's God's Truth that sets the slave free.

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