"Choosing to Suffer"
January 27, 2009 Choosing to Suffer Kathleen Maples Exo 1:7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. These were a people who were brought to Egypt through the intervention of God in their lives, so they might be saved from famine. They were hard working, and God blessed them and prospered them and made them strong-or rather, WAS their Strength. In our time, when God's children are planted firmly in His Word, commune with Him, and are learning to know Him for themselves, and learning to walk in the Spirit, there will be that evidence of the Holy Spirit's presence in their lives. He is their strength, and He is that mighty power that works in their lives, changing them ever from their image into the image of Christ. This never goes unnoticed. Exo 1:8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. This new Pharaoh is concerned because the Hebrews have begun to outnumber the Egyptians in the land. According to Josephus, (Ant. 2.9.1) the Hebrews were hard working and prospered in their labor, earning wealth, and were flourishing in Egypt. This stirred up envy in the heart of the Egyptians. Josephus also declares that the Egyptians had grown lazy and delicate, giving themselves up to pleasure, and the love of gain. God influenced the hearts of the Egyptians against the Hebrews because He had something and somewhere better for them.1 God knew He could never get His people to move out of a comfortable, successful place, for the most part, without tribulation to provoke in them a desire to leave. He had deliverance waiting on His people-but first He had to show them they needed deliverance, and second, He had to create a cry in their heart for His intervention. This is not abusive on God's part, but it is testament to the extreme selfishness of human nature that God would have to go to such extreme to deliver His people. Self has a tendency to want to cling to things, and its own desires. Israel was prospering mightily in Egypt-why would they want to leave? There was not a prophet bringing a word from the Lord, no messenger with a message. So, what about their relationship with God during their sojourn in Egypt? Had it become mere routine? One can be sure, without a messenger carrying the message, and without tribulation, or trial, God's people tend to drift away from Him and grow cold or lukewarm. There is also evidence that Satanic influence was working here as well, to try to destroy the people of God. The new king of Egypt was worried because he recognized the people of God were stronger than the people of Egypt. He viewed them as a threat, though they themselves did not. When the oppression began, they submitted to it. One thing is sure, there was a very concerted effort to keep Israel in Egypt, on the part of the king of Egypt, because he said "lest they escape the land". 2 The Pharaoh had them and he wanted to keep them in bondage, working for him, building up his kingdom just as Satan will do. 1Psa_105:24-25 Gen 15:12-16 2Exo_1:10 I don't know if it was through government seizure or heavy taxation, but the king of Egypt turned the Hebrews into slaves and most likely seized their wealth, as well. Only their flocks and herds were left alone. The Pharaoh set up harsh taskmasters over the Hebrews. He wanted to take the fight out of them before any problem arose that would possibly cause them to rise up against the Egyptians. This is exactly how the enemy of our soul operates. Remember that as we read these Scriptures for the Pharaoh is a type or illustration of Satan. These slave drivers ruled the Hebrews without mercy. It wasn't just the king himself that was disgusted by the Hebrews, but the Egyptian people, too. Remember, the Hebrews killed and ate the animals that Egypt had deified and worshiped. A shepherd is an abomination in the eyes of the people of Egypt. They will have nothing to do with sheep. They became offended by these Hebrews. I believe God drew the Egyptians' attention to His blessing on these people and their wealth, and prosperity. This harsh labor went on for a long time, yet the Hebrews continued to multiply and be strong. Exo 1:12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. The Egyptians were disgusted with the Hebrews, distressed because they just couldn't seem to break their spirit, or bring them to the end of themselves. They wanted to drive them into the ground, where they would no longer be any kind of a threat. What an insecure people-what an insecure enemy. Consider that when the enemy is trying to oppress your mind, and browbeat you down. He does it because he knows the danger of just one believer who will take God at His Word, and trust Him, and yield to Him. He wants to beat God's people down so they are not a threat before they realize they are a danger to his kingdom of darkness. These taskmasters, or slave drivers, were ruthless. They browbeat, and dealt harshly with the people. They forced them to work until they were so weak and depressed, they were humbled. The Egyptians wanted the Hebrews bowed down, and broken. But they still were strong under the oppression. Then, something happened though that caused the situation of the Hebrews to grow darker and more desperate. There are two notable English translations of the Aramaic Old Testament, the Targums, Targum Jonathan, and Targum Onkelos. The Targum of Jonathan tells us about something that powerfully motivated a despicable decision on part of the Pharaoh. "And Pharaoh told that he, being asleep, had seen in his dream, and, behold, all the land of Mizraim was placed in one scale of a balance, and a lamb, the young of a sheep, was ill the other scale; and the scale with the lamb in it overweighed. Forthwith he sent and called all the magicians of Mizraim, and imparted to them his dream. Immediately Jannes and Jambres, the chief of the magicians, opened their mouth and answered Pharaoh, A certain child is about to be born in the congregation of Israel, by whose hand will be destruction to all the land of Mizraim. A certain child is about to be born in the congregation of Israel, by whose hand will be destruction to all the land of Mizraim. Therefore did Pharaoh, king of Mizraim, give counsel to the Jehudith midwives, the name of one of whom was Shifra, who is Jokeved, and the name of the other Puvah, who is Miriam her daughter. " 3 Mizraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt. And, I think it is safe to say that lamb was our Lord Jesus Christ, and in being wounded, and slain, He would triumph over sin! He would bring down the law of sin and death and offer freedom to all. 1Jn_3:8 says for this cause He was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil! Hallelujah! At certain times in the Scriptures, God sent dreams to men, some were His prophets, and some, like Nebuchadnezzar, were not. This revelation provoked the Pharaoh to pass a death sentence on all male Hebrew babies. I always wondered why when he ordered the death of all newborn males, why not all existing male children, too? Perhaps this is why. Only one child was a threat to Egypt. Did you notice the names of the midwives? It could be coincidence that they were named Jokeved and Miriam. There is another writing, according to the ISBE, in the Midrash, Ex Rabbaa', an ancient Hebrew commentary on the OT Scriptures, these two are again identified as being the midwives who were spoken to by the king of Egypt regarding the birth of male babies. Josephus, however, claims the midwives were Egyptian, but the Bible says they were Hebrew midwives. One would think the Pharaoh would have gotten Egyptian midwives to do this, for how could he ever expect Hebrew women to kill Hebrew babies? Josephus tells us Amram, Jochebed's husband was a man of prayer and was seeking God in concern over the decree made by Pharaoh and God revealed to him that the child she carried would be the deliverer. (Ant. Book 2, Ch. 9, v3.) And this is a direct quote from Josephus: And now they nourished the child at home privately for three months; but after that time Amram, fearing he should be discovered, and, by falling under the king's displeasure, both he and his child should perish, and so he should make the promise of God of none effect, he determined rather to trust the safety and care of the child to God, than to depend on his own concealment of him, which he looked upon as a thing uncertain, and whereby both the child, so privately to be nourished, and himself should be in imminent danger; but he believed that God would some way for certain procure the safety of the child, in order to secure the truth of his own predictions. I always felt like somebody was praying and trusting God when they put that baby in that basket and set it adrift in the river. You would have to be. God help us to determine in these uncertain days we are living in, to trust the safety and care of our children to God rather than depend on our own intelligence and ability. Likewise, let us commit BACK TO HIM the life He birthed in us when He saved us. He is able to raise that life up in us and overcome everything in us and around us that would work against it. We can not secure our children or our selves in a insecure world. We must pray and seek God for His wisdom, and divine influence upon our children's and our own hearts to keep us from the pull of the world, for it is very strong. Remember, this new life (Moses) through which deliverance promised would come, was surrounded by hostility and wickedness on all sides. God raised it up in spite of the circumstances. The new life God births in Christians is surrounded by carnal flesh that is determined to work against that new life. It is hostile to that new life. It wants to kill that new life. The Spirit of God wars against the flesh but will not overrule human will. We must agree with Him, that self will not rule. God formed Moses in his 3 Targum Jonathan, Section of the Law XIII. Title Shemoth, http://targum.info/? page_id=8. mother's womb. That child was under a death threat when he was born. His parents hid him, and then his mother put him in a basket in the river. The Nile river was full of predators. There were crocodiles, large birds, hippos, and Egyptians were killing male Hebrew babies, yet this one escaped their notice. God watched over and preserved this life in spite of the hostility all around. He raised up this life in spite of the circumstances. He has begun a work in us, and He will continue to see that new life is preserved in and raised up in us, if we will walk with Him and agree with Him. According to Philo, another historian, who was a contemporary of Josephus, in the first century, A.D., the Pharaoh had a daughter, whom he loved, who was barren, though she had been married a long time. She so wanted a baby, especially a boy, because the king had no other grandsons. He writes that she always stayed indoors, and struggled with anxiety and this desire to have a child, yet she goes down to the river on the day the infant Moses has been placed in a basket and finds him.4 Philo also tells us Moses was an exceptional child, very intelligent, who learned quickly and did not seem at all interested in the normal games of children his age, but more in learning. Philo tells us how teachers from Greece, as well as Egypt, and other neighboring countries were hired to instruct Moses, and he gives quite a lengthy list of the studies of Moses as a child and young man. He was schooled in Egyptian arts, writing, and religion, as well as Assyrian and Chaldean languages, too. He was a very educated, skilled person, whom Philo refers to as a natural genius who quickly outpaced his educators, in his thirst and quest for knowledge. This was a pagan society who had many different idols they worshiped. Their religion was based on worshiping things both seen and ideas in the minds of men that were demonically inspired. Their worship was both of earthly and celestial things, including animals, the Nile River, and the sun, to name a few. You don't have to look far into the mythology of their 'sun god' Ra, to see the Satanic influence at work here in the lives and religion of the Egyptians. It was one of the black arts, and demon worship, though the people didn't realize who they actually worshiped. The Bible calls him Lucifer-Morning Star or son of the morning. A former angel of light, now a pretender. There were names and myths attached to each one of their gods. Surrounding the Pharaoh were his magicians, who delved into the black arts, with spells, incantations, and fortune telling. Two of these magicians were named Jannes (pronounced ee an nace) and Jambres (pronounced ee am brace). The Pharaoh was convinced he himself was a god, and owned all of the land of Egypt and its resources. The people bowed to the Pharaoh and treated him as if he were, indeed, a god. His word was law in the land. You can see the similarities in our culture where any and everything but God is worshiped. Satanic influence is tolerated in our culture, in our media, and in our schools but not Godly influence. Kids can do a book report or read books full of witchcraft, like Harry Potter, but not the Bible. Teachers can show the movie Harry Potter in school but not the Passion of the Christ or The Ten Commandments. When Moses grew up, he went out among the Hebrew slaves. A desire is born in his 4 Philo, on the Life of Moses 1, Section IV, V12-15 heart to go visit his brethren5. I believe God was dealing heavily with him. He had grown up in the palace, in luxury, had the best education that could be had at the time. I believe God had watched over Moses his whole life, and now stirred up an inner knowledge that he was part of these Hebrews. Moses refused to be called Pharaoh's son, and rejected the pleasures of the world and his position, choosing suffering, rather than temporary pleasure. He saw their bondage, saw how they were oppressed. God did a work in his heart. He saw how these people were driven ruthlessly to labor under terrible conditions for Egypt. A desire was born in Moses' heart to deliver these people.6 Php_2:13 tells us it is God who works in us to cause us to want to and be able to do His will. Moses' heart was moved with compassion for these people. He comes upon an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and he looks around and sees no one watching. Moses had seen his people being abused by the Egyptians. He had begun to see their burdens; a feeling of compassion, and a desire to do something was born in his heart. When he sees the Egyptian beating the Hebrew, he gets angry-something stirs in his heart and he looks both ways, seeing no one looking, he intervenes and kills this Egyptian and buries him. He thought his people would understand what he was just coming to realize-that by his hand, God would deliver them, but they did not understand. It was not yet time. What a small and temporary deliverance. Moses is trying to do the work of God in his own strength, with his own wisdom, and fails miserably. Now he's a wanted man, and what he did becomes known. He has to flee Egypt to the land of Midian-which means strife. He just wanted to see God's people delivered. But, all his education, all his power and position in Egypt could not accomplish this. Worldly wisdom and human strength can never work the work of God. Neither does the wrath of man work the righteousness of God. Flesh cannot do it. He spends 40 years in the wilderness of Midian, in a dry place, as a failure, a murderer. How many times must he have thought back to that day, and wondered why he hadn't handled it differently? With all the resources at his disposal, there surely must have been a better way to secure the release of his people or lighten their load. But that was not God's plan. He marries, fathers children, and establishes a life in the desert as a shepherd for his wife's father. He thinks he's blown it, the plan of God for his life can never be. Yet, God has produced a cry in the heart of His people in Egypt. They are crying out to Him for deliverance and His plan is in motion. It took forty years to strip Moses of reliance on self, and personal ability. Oh, God help us not to take that long because I just don't think we have that kind of time. One day, Moses led his sheep to Mount Horeb. Horeb means a dry place. He was in a dry place. His life had become a dry and unfulfilling routine. If he had been fulfilled with his life, and happy, he never would have answered the call of God. But it was there that God visited him. As he walked that day in the hot sun, on that mountain, he saw a bush burning with fire, but it was not consumed. He stopped and focused on this. When God saw he had Moses' attention, He spoke to him. Take your shoes off, Moses, this is holy ground. It was holy because He who is holy was there. Where He is is holy because He is holy. Take off your shoes. Put off your ideas, your ways, your thoughts and plans. I have something much better. 5Act_7:23-25 6Heb_11:24-26 He begins to speak to Moses, revealing how He has watched His people's suffering at the hands of the Egyptians. He's heard their cry, He knows their grief and sorrow. He has come down from heaven to deliver them. God told him to go back to Egypt and tell the people that He, the great I Am had heard their cries for help and help was on the way. Moses immediately thought up reasons why the people would not listen. Gone was the confident man who was mighty in word and deeds in Egypt. Gone was the polish and self esteem his rich education had produced in him. Gone was the reasoning and self confidence that would cause him to try to operate independent of God's leadership and power. He begins to tell God all the reasons why this probably wouldn't work. The people won't believe me. I can't speak well. This is a great idea but get someone else. I can't do this. God is looking for a people who are not satisfied with the religious rut. These are a people who have read their Bibles, saw that it rebuked their life, and the church, and cried out with a God-produced cry for deliverance. They are a praying people, who love God and have undergone a circumcision of the heart-they know they are weak, and they have no confidence in anything but God and His Word and His Power. He's looking for a people who will step out of their comfort zone, be willing to suffer some things and reject everything that would hinder His life in them from operating as it is supposed to do. He's showing them the burdens of the people. They see the suffering all around them. In their own strength, they know they are helpless to change things. But there is a God on the throne who has more power than we can possibly conceive of and He wants to move and change things. He works through surrendered, sanctified vessels. He wants us to have a part in what He is doing but at the same time be unwilling to take any credit for what He does. He used one man to change things and liberate a nation from bondage. Church, what does that tell us? We have families in bondage, neighbors in bondage, spouses in bondage, parents, and children, and friends. God used one man who was willing to give up everything he had and everything he was just to walk with God and do what God said. He used Moses to liberate a nation. I know I said it again. THINK ABOUT THAT. He used Moses to prepare a people to leave bondage, and go into the promised land. OUR promised land is CHRIST-in whom our life must be hid. We can't hold on to it if it is rooted in self or this world. We lose it. It must be hid in HIM. It must be anchored, rooted, and built all in Christ, in His Word, His Spirit-HIS LIFE. How long will we halt between two opinions-between struggling with self and chasing our tails? You know, we are no threat to the devil or his works when we are so busy fighting with ourselves, struggling with our carnal nature. We'd rather fight with our flesh than see it suffer denial and death. That is the problem. Moses refused to be called a prince of Egypt and he refused the pleasures of his position in this world. Think about that. He turned his back on the palace and that easy, comfortable and luxurious way of life. He chose to suffer for a season, with God's people, so deliverance could come. If we don't know how to travail for souls in prayer let us run to the altar, to God, who gives wisdom and understanding to all men, and let Him finish us off so He can raise the life of His Son as governor in us. Let us tarry until He baptizes us with the Holy Ghost so His power can do in us and through us what needs to be done . We get nothing accomplished and we are no good to God trying to live the Christian life in ourselves and our own strength and understanding. But if we just go the altar, recognize it is a place where something in us has to die, and just go, and trust God to put to death what needs to die, and tarry in His presence until He does what needs to be done, things will change. For so long the church has preached the altar is a place to get something from God. Not so. It's a place of death. It's a place to bring something TO God. The throne of Grace is where we go for help but an altar is a place where self dies. Something in us has to die before HIS life can be lived out as it's supposed to be. We can't serve two Masters. Self or Christ. Which one will be Lord? Choose you this day whom you will serve. We know if the altar is repaired, and the sacrifice is broken in pieces and laid on that altar in the manner God prescribed the fire will fall. If we will just tarry in His presence, and let Him break us, the fire of the Holy Ghost will fall. Then, He can use us to make a difference. It is our choice. We can be part of God's plan for deliverance or we can be left out. For the sake of those we love, for the glory and honor of HIS holy name, let us make the right choice. This may sound like a hard truth. But we can stop feeding the flesh, fast from food, and worldly influences such as media, and newspapers, and TV, and computers, and get alone with the Word of God and pray until God changes us. We can seek Him and we will find Him when we are willing to say no to everything else. We are truly on Holy Ground when we put ourselves before this Holy God and want nothing but HIM, His way, His Word, His Will, His plan, and His power. Let us break with self and choose this day to serve the Lord, without reluctance or hesitation. We must not linger just inside the door any longer. We must put all on the altar and trust God with the results.