BIBLE STUDY LESSON # 13...January, 03 , 2010
“How Did We Get Here?"
We’ve gone through another year, and we’ve seen a lot of changes. This is a time when we all look back and reflect on the
events of the past year and also make those dreaded resolutions. By the end of January most of us have broken those resolutions or forgotten them completely.
Have you ever stepped back and looked at where you are in your life and wondered “how did I get here”? Some of you may be looking back over the past year and are asking yourself that right now. We make mistakes and we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t expect with consequences that we could never have imagined. We go through trials and many of our circumstances are out of our control, yet some are simply due to bad decisions.
I look at the state of affairs in our Country and the world in general, and I see a world that is turning its back on God. Tim has been teaching us about the end times and the dangerous predicament that we are in, and often times I stop and ask myself “how did we get here”. Truthfully, none of us have to look very hard to realize that we are in this dilemma because of sin, plain and simple. We have become tolerant of, comfortable with, and in some cases oblivious to sin. It’s as if we don’t even know what it is anymore. We spend more time listening to the world and less time studying the Word of God and it has blinded us.
I can think of lots of times in my life when I have found myself wondering just how I got into the mess I was in, and many of those times it could be traced back to sin. Sin can take root in your life and totally destroy you, and in the same way it can take hold of a nation.
I want to look back at a time when an entire nation found itself in distress due to the sins of a few men. You might say that we are in a state of distress right now in our country, and I would have to agree with you. In fact, if you don’t think this nation is in a state of distress, then I hope by the end of this lesson you will see things differently.
Before we start making comparisons, lets look at the book of Exodus chapter 1.
Israel's Suffering in Egypt -Exodus 1:1-22 (NKJV)
Now these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt; each man and his household came with Jacob: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin; Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.All those who were descendants of Jacob were seventy persons (for Joseph was in Egypt already). And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land." Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage--in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor. Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live." But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, "Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?" And the midwives said to Pharaoh, "Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them." Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them. So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive."
By the end of the first chapter of Exodus it is clear that things have gone from bad to worse for the children of Israel. Notice in verses 7 and 12 it mentions how fruitful the people were and even in their affliction they grew in numbers and in strength until it came to a point that they were feared by the Egyptians. Not only were they in bondage, but now the Egyptians were trying to annihilate their entire race by killing all the male children.
The children of Israel had been in Egypt for about 200 years (Exodus 12:40, Galatians 3:17) and the bondage started sometime after the death of Joseph who live to be 110. Joseph was around 40 when Jacob and all his family came there and there were 75 of them. So over a period of 200 years, seventy five multiplied into more than 2,000,000. For at least the first 70 years there was no bondage. So it is fair to say, that when things started to go bad, the people were pretty much settled in. All but a handful had been born there and didn’t know anything else.
I am going to take you back and look at the events that brought them there, but before I do, I want to point out the obvious - and that’s the fact that they should never have been in Egypt to start with. Let’s look at the book of James Chapter 1: verses 14 and 15 and 1 John 2:16
But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:14-15 (NKJV)
For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world.1 John 2:16 (NKJV)
It was because of sin that they came to Egypt in the first place and because of sin that they stayed as long as they did. Let’s go back and see how it all started in Genesis 37. I’m not going to include the entire chapter. To keep it brief I will just include the references.
Bondage began as the result of sin.
The sin of Jacob – Jacob showed favoritism of Joseph over his other children. Genesis 37:2-4 (James 2:9 states that showing partiality is a sin.)
The Sin of Joseph – Pride: Joseph had 2 dreams (verses 7 and 9) in which he was shown to be a ruler over his family, but rather than keeping those dreams to himself, he immediately bragged to his brothers which resulted in a rebuke from his father (verse 10). The purpose of the dreams was not for Joseph to boast, but rather a message that should have been kept between Joseph and God.
The Sin of the brothers – Joseph’s brothers despised him because he was their father’s favorite and also because of his pride. Their hatred of their brother led them to put him in a well, report him as dead, and sell him into slavery Genesis 37:12 – 37
I want to look at the life of Joseph. It is a fascinating story of a young man who was sold into slavery and then rose to power becoming the 2nd most powerful man on earth, answering only to Pharaoh. Joseph showed a remarkable dedication to God in the face of adversity and as a result God blessed him. The fact that most people overlook is that Joseph’s pride played more of a role in his people’s bondage than any of the other circumstances. At age 30 Joseph came to power (Genesis 41:46) and he was 39 when his brothers came to Egypt (Genesis 45:6). Let’s look at these verses and we will clearly see Joseph still had a pride problem.
Genesis 45:4-13 (NKJV)
And Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt.5 "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.
"For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting."And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance."So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph: "God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry."You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children's children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have."There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine." "And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you."So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here."
Notice in verse 11 he states that “I will provide for you…”, rather than “God will provide for you”; and in verse 13 he instructs his brothers to “tell my father of all my glory in Egypt”.
I don’t want to pretend to know what Joseph was thinking or to understand his motives, but this encounter with his brothers sounds like a big “I told you so” to me. Joseph was in a position to take care of his family no matter where they were, but he had become comfortable in Egypt and made the mistake of bringing them all there to live.
When Joseph was 74 his father died and his brothers were worried that with their father now dead, Joseph would finally take his revenge on them. During the 35 years that they lived in Egypt prior to their father’s death the brothers were still carrying around the events of the past. In Genesis Chapter 50 we see how the brothers worried about what Joseph might do to them. It also makes me wonder if Joseph kept his family in Egypt because it was there that he was able to control them. Regardless, we see a family that could not let go of the past and refused to settle their differences. I think we all probably know families just like that.
Genesis 50:19 - 21 Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?”But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.21 "Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Once again Joseph is referring to himself as the provider rather than God, and rather than leaving Egypt, they remained there and multiplied. Joseph became a grandfather and a great grandfather. He lived to be 110 years old and it was in his last days that he realized that they shouldn’t be in Egypt.
22 So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father's household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.23 Joseph saw Ephraim's children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph's knees.24 And Joseph said to his brethren, "I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here." 26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. Gen 50:19-26 (NKJV).
I truly believe that Joseph knew all along that his people did not belong in Egypt, but Egypt was comfortable and he had been there since he was 13 years old. Though Joseph was a Godly man, he had become very comfortable and tolerant of sin, living among idle worshippers all his life. It is not a coincidence that the book of Genesis begins “In the beginning God created…” and ends “…in a coffin in Egypt”.
So we see that the sins of a few men resulted in a people eventually becoming enslaved and on the verge on annihilation. Such is the nature of sin.
Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:15 (NKJV)
It is no wonder that the descendants of Joseph and his brothers continued on the path that eventually led them to cry out to God for deliverance.
The Israelites had become a pagan people.
They became comfortable in Egypt.
They began to intermingle with the Egyptians.
They began to adapt the ways of the Egyptians
particularly idol worship.
They finally cried out to God for deliverance when
the oppression reached a point of desperation.
I don’t have time to go into the story of Moses but I do want to say something about the plagues that God brought on Egypt prior to Israel’s deliverance. I think people misunderstand the purpose of the 10 plagues. If you saw the movie “The Ten Commandments”, it appears that God is using the plagues as a way to convince Pharaoh to release His people. Remember that God is God and he did not need to convince Pharaoh of anything. He could have immediately freed the people if He wanted to. I believe the plagues had a much different purpose.
The Purpose of the Plagues
1.) The people needed deliverance not only from their physical bondage but also
from the evil ways that they had acquired while in Egypt - Some had married Egyptians and adapted their ways
2.) Many of the Israelis had become idol worshipers
3.) Each plague represented a particular type of idol worship
4.) I believe God did not send the plagues for the
Egyptians but for the cleansing of His people.
It has been said that you can’t expect to walk for three days into the woods and then walk out in one. The further we drift into sin, the more difficult it is for us to be delivered from it. The Israelis had been living in Egypt for a long time and the process of deliverance was severe. Many of the Israelis died during the plagues. Even after their exodus, they were in for a long difficult journey with the Lord.
The same is true for America today. The further our Nation drifts away from God, the harder it will be for Christians to take our country back. We seem to be waiting until we are in a state of total desperation before we cry out to God, much like the Israelis did and there is no guarantee that we will ever be able to reestablish ourselves as a Godly nation.
ARE WE IN EGYPT?
Does any of this sound like the world we live in?
* People were living according to the flesh
* People were becoming tolerant of sin
* People were more concerned with their physical well
being than their spiritual well being
* Idolatry was rampant
The resemblances are clear, but have we reached that point of desperation that we are willing to change our ways and cry out to God? Are we willing to do what it takes to get out of Egypt and put this country back on the path of righteousness? In order to do that we must:
* Realize where we are (separation from God)
* Turn and walk away from sin
* Put God first and that means putting aside all forms of idolatry
1 And God spoke all these words, saying: 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me, 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
I can’t stress enough the resemblance I see between the idolatry of the children of Israel and the idolatry that goes on in America today. If we want to start this new year out with a resolution, let’s each make a resolution that we as individuals are going to act on the same faith that Joseph acted on when he was on his death bed. The sins of a few put a nation in bondage, but the faith of one put them on the path to deliverance.
Deliverance Through Faith
You may have a personal Egypt in your life that you need to be delivered from. There is only one way to be delivered from the Egypts that keep us in bondage and that is through faith in Jesus Christ, and the only way to build faith is from God’s word. I want to challenge you to build your faith by getting into the word of God.
Definition of Faith:
Hebrews chapter 11 is often referred to as the faith chapter. It starts by given a clear definition of what faith is.
Reading from the King James Version
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb 11:1 (KJV)
Now that is about as clear as you can get. I’ve read all the other translations and none of them explain it better than the good old King James.
If that is not clear enough, I’ll give you the MWVLP version. What’s the MWVLP? That’s Marty Ward’s “very loose paraphrase”.
So here is the VLP….
Faith is the manifestation of things that you hope for but can’t physically touch or see. It is a spiritual understanding (not an intellectual knowledge) of things that can’t be comprehended in the physical realm.
Is that still too complicated? How about this, “You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, and you can’t hear it, but you know it’s there, and it’s real!
I’ve heard it referred to as a 6th sense. I guess you can say that, but I’d rather call it a spiritual sense.
I can go on about it all day, but it’s not going to get any clearer.
How do you get faith? Well, that’s also very clear.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. D.L. Moody once said “Some of us need to stop praying and get into the word”. Hebrews 11:3 says "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."
Real Faith vs. Counterfeit Faith
James Chapter 2 verse 17 says this
…faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (NKJV)
It is repeated in verses 20 and 26. Now the literal translation says: “this faith, if it does not have works, is dead,” referring to a different faith or a counterfeit faith. Now there is a lot of talk today about various faith’s. Let me make it clear that any faith other than faith that comes from Jesus Christ is a counterfeit and is dead. You can recognize true faith because it has a result and that will be works. So if there are no works, then there is no faith… plain and simple.
Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith which is to say that he created it and he brings it to pass. He does this by being an active participant in it through his word.
We all need to be aware of what faith is and how it works in our lives. So many people struggle through life and stumble from day to day looking for answers to their problems when the answer is right in front of them.
Now in that latter part of Hebrews 11 we see the faith of one old man (Joseph) on his death bed.
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.
24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,
25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in[e] Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.
28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.
We are living in a time of great peril, where people are being persecuted for being Christians. We arrived at this particular place because we as Christians stood idly by while Satan was at work. Much like the children of Israel, we desperately need deliverance. Deliverance only comes by having a genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, let this new year be a new beginning for you. Bow your head right now and call out to God.
I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John 3:16-18 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
If you are in your own personal Egypt, reach out in faith and get that deliverance. Just as God was faithful to deliver His people out of bondage, He will also be faithful to deliver us out of our own bondage. We just need to reach out to Him in faith. Jesus is only a prayer away.
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