“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Lord God

When Jacob’s family began to dress, talk, and act like the surrounding Amorite neighbors, he led them to forsake their worldliness and to reconsecrate themselves to the God of his fathers. (Gen. 35:1-4.) But that revival wasn’t deeply settled in their hearts and the root of idolatry remained. They thought they were reformed and revived and doing pretty good; but God knew better. So He put their professed consecration to the test. Through a providential drought He forced them to leave their haven, and He brought them into Egypt.

Under the greater pressure to live apart from Him—greater due to their new proximity to paganism—they would learn through experience the deeper lesson of righteousness by faith: that acting good doesn’t necessarily constitute being good.

Down they went from the countryside to the big city, down to the innocent looking and hope-filled land, led by their father Israel. Oh, what a thrill! Look at that pyramid! Look at those stately columns in that gigantic temple to Isis! Look at the size of the Nile River! See the Palm trees and lush greenery along its banks! Admire the army of hundreds of infantry and cavalrymen, all so proud and uniform in step and in clothing. Hmm, this could be a nice home after all!

Of course, the Lord God didn’t just throw them into temptation; that would be their decision. He provided them a place separate from the Egyptians that could have been a barrier if their consecration was in reality what they imagined it to be. Nevertheless, the better place for them was where God had originally had them, up in the arid highlands of Canaan. But too much weighed on them to be lukewarm toward Him. If they wouldn’t be hot, He preferred them cold in a foreign land. So if by choosing to unite in the spirit of the Canaanites they would defile His holy place and His plans for them and for the redemption of the world, then He would give them the desire of their hearts—and a big dose of it, in the very center of the most flagrantly rebellious empire on earth.

They were suspicious and cautious at first, the sons of Jacob having learned humiliation and some sanctification. But, slowly a familiarity with the Egyptian practices bred a contempt for righteousness, and one by one, the Israelis joined with Egyptians in covenant after covenant, and compact after compact. Their conscience at peace, Israelite minds justified living more and more like the rest of the empire and heathen religious methods made their way into the Hebrew sacrificial services, displacing holiness and faith.

Now the devil had the rights to them by their own choice. They had sold their soul for a taste of the good life. Soon a king rose to power who felt no particular affinity or obligation to these strangers who still acted peculiarly because they were good at acting and especially acting righteously. Soon, under a little pressure by Pharaoh, the friends they loved more than God became their bitterest enemies. How fickle the relationship that isn’t solidly founded upon the true God! Now they were in real trouble. They couldn’t just leave their houses and go back to roughing it in tents. Moving back to Canaan was simply inconceivable. They had become attached to the convenient and comfortable life in Egypt.

Presently, they were put to work like never before. God had originally blessed Adam with discipline; and His blessing came in the form of hard work. Again, He would permit forced labor upon His children as a discipline for their choice to serve the world and thus serve the god of this world, instead of Him. If they preferred to serve a better master than their Father, then let them see how good that other master really was.

Harsher the measures grew, and stricter the enslavement. They never had time to rest, never time to themselves. Living so closely beside the master of their choice, they had no weekends, no Sabbaths to rest on. They had no time to raise their children properly; the home became just an extension of the work place.

But God had not forgotten them. As His eye was on the small craft, being beaten about in a storm at night, loaded with 12 precious but self-seeking disciples of His, even so His notice never left those disobedient but equally precious children of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

Almost 200 years of slavery and after many generations of only an agnostic memory of Yahweh, He said, “It is finished.” They were ready to listen, some of them. They felt their need of a better master, their original Master. Those old, ritualistic stories of the past began to take on a new character; the God of their fathers was real! So when the long, lost Moses appeared bearing a message of deliverance, the people’s faith arose with repentance toward God’s goodness and relief that He hadn’t abandoned them after all their carelessness regarding Him, and they “bowed their heads and worshiped.” Ex. 4:29-31. That must have been like incense coming up before God. “Sacrifices and offerings Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened.” Ps. 40:6.

What they needed was a new master, a new Lord. Not a lord who would threaten and demand his way into their will, but One who would win their hearts and motivate their will through love. Not that, as Lord, He would be forbidden to make threats and demands. But His disciplines would be only for their best interest. Any glory He worked to achieve would be purely by His subjects’ choice. He provided a schedule for praising and worshiping Him in order to communicate to a vast nation, which was almost wholly ignorant of real liberty. He retained a framework of forced obedience because that is all they understood, as former slaves. But His intent was to gradually teach them the real freedom under loving consecration, as Abraham, Isaac and Israel had known. As individuals learned that lesson they would demonstrate its wonderful advantages to the others. “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion…To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Is. 8:18, 20. Without throwing off the restrictions of His laws, they would find freedom in those laws. “I will walk at liberty: for I seek Thy precepts.” Ps. 119:45.

God would be their Lord. He would be their Boss, the ultimate Supervisor.

“When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law. To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” Gal. 4:4,5. “Before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” “being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ.” “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Gal. 3:23-25; 1Cor. 9:21; Rom. 3:31.


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