Tuesday, March 12, 2019 -
I believe God has given us a very detailed account of His deliverance of the Israelites and their journey and conquest of the promised land for a reason—for his people throughout all history to learn from. And that includes us today! It is provided to me to learn from! And for that reason, I must not ever neglect it. There are so very many lessons for you and me to learn. Indeed, the history of, and after the Exodus of God’s chosen people is brought to our attention over and over again – not just in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament.
For starters, just as God through His prophets and other servants constantly reminded Israel and Judah of what miracles God had already done for them, so He wants you and me to recall the miracles and amazing things he has done for us! And so, when I first came to prison back in early December 2018, this was one of my first self-appointed tasks – to make a list of each and every miracle that God has done in my life and the life of my family. I have written of many of these things in this journal over the past three months and the Lord continues to remind me of such miraculous things He’s done for us. I’ve got 45 miraculous deliverances, healings, and provisions listed – and God continues to do things for me I consider miraculous! Not only that, I’m certain there are many more that haven’t even crossed my mind. This is a wonderful exercise that I encourage you to undertake as well! Some of the blessings are easy to miss, like when I moved to California pulling a U-Haul trailer up a long, steep climb toward Los Angeles from Death Valley. The long climb was just too much for my 4-cylinder engine, but God saw that the engine blew at the exit for Barstow, California rather than 50 miles out in the desert where they are no people.
So what lessons can we learn from God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Pharaoh’s grasp? Most importantly, as evidenced by the Passover, is the fact it is a picture of the greatest miracle of all, that of God’s redemption of you and me from our slavery to sin. Through His Son’s brutal and torturous death on the cross, I was set free from my life of slavery to sin. I confessed and repented of my sin as a child, on my knees next to my mother, but it wasn’t until I was a teen that I fully surrendered my life to Christ. Later, after a period as a young man where I put my own desires before the Lord’s, I had to repent again of knocking God off the throne of my life. I realize now that that transformation of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2) is a lifetime process, and not merely a one-time event! God has been working on me my entire life – and is still doing so! And usually those periods where my obedience came up short, it was during the time I wasn’t adequately renewing my mind through the reading and study of Scripture and communing with God. Again, I would be putting my desires and passions above what God wanted me to do. But just as it took the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness, so God has been working in me for more than 55 years!
Yet, I mustn’t ever forget where my hope lies. Just as the Israelites were promised “the land which the Lord swore to give your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them,” so I am promised by my Jesus, “In My Father’s house there are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” That is my hope! That is my promised land! And just as the Israelites who were set on their journey to the promised land and because of their sin were left to wander 40 years in the wilderness, so I am left here on this earth and confronted with many of the same trials and tests of faith as the Israelites!
Yet those who constantly grumbled and lacked the faith in God for their deliverance from their enemies failed to enter their promised land (Deuteronomy 1:26-27). They did not trust God even though He constantly told them, “The Lord your God who goes before you in Egypt will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes.” And so, I am constantly called not just to remember what God did for the Israelites, but what God has done for my family and me. God then told the Israelites, “But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God, who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go” (Deuteronomy 1:32-33). This lack of trust, just like their grumbling, angered the Lord, and cost them the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:34-40). They grumbled and refused to trust God even though the Lord their God blessed them in all that they had done; He knew their wanderings through the great wilderness for forty years – the Lord their God was with them and they did not lack a thing (Deuteronomy 2:7)!
Grumbling happens to be the thing I hear in prison more than anything! And I instead must remind myself to count my many blessings – even here in prison! I remind others of this. Things could be much, much worse. I have much to praise God for, and the New Testament, which God has given to me, which the Israelites did not have, tells me to expect such fiery trials, but yet God will always be faithful and see me through. My trust and faith must remain strong and I must never gamble or complain – no matter what! Moses, in handing the leadership to Joshua, told him, “Your eyes have seen all that the Lord your God has done to these kings; so the Lord shall do that to all the kingdoms into which you are about to cross. Do not fear them, for the Lord your God is the one fighting for you” (Deut. 3:21-22). Moses also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, “O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours?” (Deut. 3:23-24). Let us never forget what God has done for us, and the promises and hope He gives us for tomorrow!