From Egypt to Sinai—Becoming a People for a Possession (1)
God told Moses concerning the children of Israel, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God” (Exo. 6:7). The story of the Exodus of the children of Israel under the leadership of Moses from Egypt to the Good Land goes through specific stages that show how God took possession of them to make them His people, and how God became their God. These stages represent our growth as Christians today. Every stage has its particular environment and it’s special divine provision. We have to be very thankful that the Lord knows exactly how to raise us up.
Including their starting point in Egypt, the children of Israel passed through eight stations. The first two stations include (1) Egypt and (2) the crossing of the Red Sea. These two stations represent the start of our journey with God—our salvation and baptism. The remaining six stations represent the rest of our Christian journey, which takes the rest of our lives. Through this we become a people for God’s possession (Rom. 9:24-26). Although the children of Israel passed through each station only once, we repeat them over and over. After crossing the Red Sea, Moses led the children of Israel to (3) the Wilderness of Shur, (4) the waters of Marah, (5) Elim, (6) the Wilderness of Sin, (7) Rephidim, until arriving at (8) Mount Sinai. Each stage is significant and full of meaning as the children of Israel were forged into a people for God’s possession. In this issue, we will cover the first six stages, and in upcoming issues we will cover the last two.
The children of Israel began their journey in Egypt. Egypt means “troubled” and represents the troubling world. It especially troubles God’s people, enslaving them and forcing them to serve the Pharaoh of this world, Satan. This is why God’s people must leave this troubling place.
Everything the world gives us is nothing but trouble. Nothing it offers satisfies. Even children jump from thing to thing because nothing can hold their attention. They are always looking for something new and more satisfying. As we grow up this does not change. We pursue new cars, houses, electronics, and even careers, all in the vain hope that the promise of the world will this time be fulfilled. As long as we live in Egypt under Pharaoh we will continue to chase the troubling things of the world. We need an exodus.
Christians are to be in the world but not of the world. Let me give you an example. I enjoy going to a bakery and eating fresh bread. Some might accuse me of enjoying the world and say that I should deny myself. There is a place for denying ourselves, but there is nothing wrong with eating. We must eat, just like we must live in houses, drive cars, and hold jobs. I do not deal with my enjoying fresh bread by only eating stale bread. I simply enjoy whatever the Lord gives me, and if the Lord doesn’t give it to me, I take that from His hand as well. I take whatever comes from the Lord and am satisfied with that (Phi. 4:11-12).
We must leave Egypt with all it’s troubles and enslavement. Yet there are a lot of precious things in Egypt that can be used to serve the Lord after we have gone. God told Moses, “Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” (Exo. 11:2). Gold represents the divine things and silver the redemption of Christ. Everything else can be left behind.
Because of the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart in refusing to let the people go, God sent ten plagues, one after the other, to cause all of Egypt to know that He was the almighty God of Israel. After the last plague, the killing of all the firstborn, Pharaoh was too afraid to say they could not go. Every family in Egypt had just lost its firstborn son, and no one knew what would come next. They were willing to give anything to the children of Israel just as long as they would leave. Thus the gold and silver of Egypt were plundered with permission.
There are things God can use from human culture and we must do our best to obtain them. For instance, if we are students, we should make an effort to get the best education possible. If there is anything that can make us different and enlarge our person, we should take advantage of it. Many Israelite slaves left Egypt as millionaires. They did not have food or water, but they had a lot of gold and silver. When it came time to build the tabernacle, they were able to offer generously.
The children of Israel ate the Passover lamb while still in Egypt. This picture, with all of its details, portrays our experience of regeneration.
Salvation in Christ
In the first detail of this picture, each household put the blood of the lamb on their doorpost so they could be saved from God’s judgement of death (Exo.12:7). Only those who applied the blood and stayed in their houses were spared. God does not want us to be marvelous individuals. He wants us to be a part of His household as His testimony. To be saved is not a private matter. Rather it is a matter of testimony.
A New Life
Second, God told Moses, “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover” (v. 11). This eating is a type of taking Christ as our life and preparing for the journey ahead. It is because we are saved, sitting under the blood of the Lamb, that we are told to eat the Lamb.
The Church Life
Third, the experience of the children of Israel is a type of the church life. When we were saved, we were not saved by ourselves. We were saved within a household. The newly saved children of Israel ate the entire lamb in their households with their families (Exo. 12:3).
We were not saved and born into God’s family by ourselves. We were saved with others into a church life. This is so sweet! We may be saved, love the Lord, and be zealous to serve Him, but where is our church life? This is not a light thing. The normal situation as pictured in Exodus and realized in the New Testament is to be saved into a church life.
The Body Life
God further directed Moses, “Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb” (Exo. 12:4).
Sometimes the church is too small. It cannot consume the all riches of Christ. The directions given by God in Exodus say that if our family is too small, or the lamb is too big, we are to get our neighbors and eat the lamb with us. This is so meaningful. Many times we need our neighboring churches to fully consume all the riches of the Lamb.
Don’t always think about the saints in Germany, Africa, or China. They surely need our prayers, but they are too far away. The Lord would remind us of the dear saints in the cities nearby. Do we know them? Have we visited them? Have we eaten the Lamb with them? It is good to visit. If they ask you why you came, tell them you came to finish the Lamb with them. This is to enjoy the body life.
Pay attention to the churches close to you. Even when the Lord Jesus spoke to the churches in Revelation, he spoke to seven churches that were neighbors (Rev. 1:11). They were very close to one another. He assumed that they had fellowship and that His letter to one was His letter to all. This is very meaningful.
Once we get saved, we should eat the lamb, but not by ourselves. We must eat it in the church life. But we may say, “Our church has only twenty people! The Lamb is so big and we are so small! We can only eat so much! If we try we will stuff ourselves to death!” At such times our church should eat with the church beside it. This is the thought of the Bible. I need my church, and I need the churches close by. Only in this way can we consume all the riches of our Lamb.
How good is our salvation! First, we are saved from God’s judgement by the blood of the Lamb. Second, Christ becomes our nourishment and supply. Third, we are saved right into the church life. And fourth, we are saved into the churches and are with the churches.
Station 2—The Red Sea
The children of Israel ate a very good Passover feast with their family and neighbors, but they had no time to sit and digest their meal. “And on that same day the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts” (Exo. 12:51). As soon as we are saved, our exodus from the world begins.
The Bible makes it seem as though everything was smooth and orderly, but if we were there we would have seen that it was not. Think about it. Over two million people, the size of a large city, had to get up and leave all at once. This included not only healthy men and women, but also the sick and elderly who couldn’t move very well, children who tired easily, and infants who had to be carried. They had to bring all their possessions, including the heavy silver and gold they had plundered from the Egyptians. They likely pulled carts loaded with these items either manually or by ox. They took countless flocks and herds of various kinds of animals for food and to sacrifice in their worship of God. Even more, no one knew where they were going. It was no doubt a logistics nightmare full of confusion. To make matters worse, Pharaoh changed his mind about letting them go and sent his army to pursue them. Had God not blocked the army with a pillar of cloud they surely would have been slaughtered (14:19-20).
The children of Israel now stood on the bank of the Red Sea. Pharaoh and his army were on one side, and the promise and purpose of God were on the other. Behind them was their old life full of the troubles and slavery of Egypt. Before them was a new life full of knowing God and becoming His people of possession. To be freed from the old and enter into the new, they had to pass through the waters of the Red Sea. It was the only way.
This is a picture of our baptism. The apostle Paul wrote, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1-2). “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Just as Israel passed through the sea, we must be baptized into His death to walk in newness of life.
The Bible makes this crossing seem easy. It says, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exo. 14:21-22). But think about how long it would take two million people with all of their young, old, and sick, all of their possessions, carts, and animals to make this crossing. Even if the opening was a mile wide, which is doubtful, it would take a very long time.
The ones in front would go slow, reluctant to enter for fear of the walls of water. The ones in the rear would be pushing them, fearing the approaching army of Pharaoh. If anyone fell, they would be crushed by the ones behind them. The babies were crying, the sheep bleating, the people shouting, the carts rumbling, and the oxen bellowing. But regardless how messy, they all passed through the sea together.
We may enter into baptism thinking it is an individual matter, but we discover when we come out on the other side that we are just one of the millions who have gone before us. Baptism is an experience in the body, together with all the members of the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Baptism is a corporate matter.
The result of our baptism is the same as Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea: “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore” (Exo. 14:28-30). Satan’s whole army with all of its power over us was buried in the water of our baptism. Praise the Lord For His victory!
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