I’ve been reading through the Bible again (I do it once a year in a different translation every year), and, currently, I’m in Exodus. Today I read how the people cried out to escape the oppression of Pharaoh, and how Pharaoh took away the straw to make their bricks. The people, who had cried out to God, who had bowed to Him when seeing the signs of Moses, then complained to Moses about that same God because their oppressor oppressed them. They wanted to please their earthly master, and didn’t like that He was making their already miserable lives worse! Then, when God did release them, they praised Him, but spent the next 40 years rebelling and complaining, and longing for the days of Egypt where they had it so good. Amazing, right? Yet, if we honestly examine our lives, how many times have we cried out “How long, oh Lord,” desiring His presence and return, yet complain, grumble, and long for our past when the prince of this world puts the pressure on us?
The more things change, the more they stay the same. We may be technologically advanced, and we have the Messiah they longed for, but we still often long for Egypt and slavery. When we take steps of faith, the enemy puts pressures on us that are impossible for us to bear (not for God, but for us) and we get discouraged, dissuaded, and even angry at them. We forget Who redeems and rescues us. We forget from where our Help comes. We complain about our situation rather than keeping our eyes on the One who is rescuing and redeeming us! Loved ones, let us not long for the house of slavery; Our place is a land promised after our wandering through this current wilderness is done. Let us consider that wandering to be a pleasure, because our God goes before and behind us. Let us walk with Him, longing for the day we shall see Him face to face. We don’t have to stay the same; He can change us, but we have to stop looking back at our bondage with longing. Galatians 5
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.