Not just from, but to

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Old Testament here lately, mostly because of prepping for my trip to Israel.  (I still can’t even believe I get to type that ya’ll!)  I just finished up watching a series about the Feasts of Israel and I’m currently reading a book by Daniel Juster called “Jewish Roots.”

I was reading last night before bed and in this bit, Dr. Juster was giving kind of an overview of the Feasts.  At one point he was talking about the Passover, which is a time of remembering when God brought the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.  (That whole saga plays out in the first twelve or so chapters of Exodus.)

Have you ever noticed though that the freeing of the Israelites from slavery was kind of a two-part thing?

See, it wasn’t just that God was trying to get his people free from years and years of being held in bondage in a foreign land.  I mean, that part was important for sure and God sent all kinds of crazy plagues to see that it happened.  But that wasn’t the end of it.  God wasn’t just trying to lead them out of slavery.  He was also trying to lead the to the Promised Land.

It wasn’t enough for God that His people would be set free from their bondage.  He wanted them free AND He wanted them living in a place of abundance.

So after all the plagues, the Pharaoh tells the Israelites to get the heck out of Egypt and so off they go, but then the Pharaoh changes his mind and gives chase after them (Ex. 14:5).  And this is the part where God splits the Red Sea and sends His people across the dry land to safety, closing the waters over the Egyptian army in pursuit behind them.

But even after watching God send all those plagues to free them and then watching Him part the Red Sea to save them, the Israelites still complain, they still don’t fully trust in God, they still don’t believe He will provide for them.  And so they wind up wandering around the desert for the next 40 years instead of entering the Promised Land right away.

I’m wondering if you’re picking up on a pattern here in your own life like I’m picking up on one in mine?

I’ve heard the word repent also has a two part meaning.  That it’s not just the idea of turning from sin, but also then turning to God.  To turn your face from the thing that keeps you tied down, and turn it toward the God who moves heaven and earth to free you.  God doesn’t just want us free from our sin, but He wants us living like we’re free.  You’ve probably heard it put like this before – even though Jesus broke the bonds of sin, we’re still carrying the chains around like we own them.

Yes Lord, and my arms are exhausted from the weight.

Jesus didn’t come to free us from sin just so we could schlep around in the desert.  He came to set us free so that we could live free.

Do you really believe you’re free?  I can’t say I’ve honestly believed it.  I’ve stood on the edge of the Red Sea a hundred times.  I’ve seen the enemy approaching and instead of walking away on the dry land, I let satan carry me right back into bondage even though God has already carved my path to freedom right there in front of me.  I just don’t believe it.  I don’t trust in His provision.  I don’t step out in faith onto the dry land.

Nope.  I just follow the Pharaoh right back to Egypt even though the truth is that the Pharaoh doesn’t own me anymore.

I’ve got to start living like I’m free.  Like I believe that I am no longer satan’s property, but that I belong to God.  Maybe you’re right there with me too?

And look, it’s still going to be a process.  Even if the Israelites hadn’t been stubborn, they still would have had to travel the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land…it just would have probably been a lot shorter and a lot easier.

The same holds true for us.  When we decide to leave our Egypts and follow the Messiah, we are free.  John 8:36 says it this way:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

There’s no question about it.  You.  Are.  Free.

But that doesn’t mean the enemy isn’t going to come after you.  Of course, he is.  And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to follow Jesus today and be the perfect Christian after that.  The enemy will still always give chase and sanctification is still a process.

But we’ve got to stop…I’ve got to stop…letting my doubts and my fears lead me back to Egypt.  We’ve got to…I’ve got to…fix my eyes on Jesus and follow Him to freedom.  His blood paid for that freedom.  And it’s yours and it’s mine to receive.

Receive it, soul.  Receive it and own it.  You don’t belong to the enemy anymore.

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a beautiful exchange

When only love could make a way

You gave Your life in a beautiful exchange.

-Beautiful Exchange, Hillsong Live

I’ve just sitting here trying to pound out something on this keyboard.  I don’t know why this has gotten so hard.  And just about the moment I’m going to give up and go to bed, this song starts playing in my headphones.

…trading Your life for my offenses,

for my redemption You carried all the blame…

And it’s appropriate since we are nearing Easter, or Passover as it’s probably more appropriately called.  And my mind drifts to a place long ago where men were gathered together at the feast of Pesach, or Passover in English, and their Rabbi does the strangest thing.  He breaks the unleavened bread and tells them to take it and eat it,

This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.

The Bible says He then takes the cup and tells them,

This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

 And it would seem then at the moment, that whole thing just went right by the disciples.  Oh, remembrance of you.  New covenant.  Hmmm, yes Jesus.  That sounds nice.  Clearly they missed something because in Luke, right after this part, the next thing you know the disciples are arguing about which one of them was the greatest.

(You know, sometimes as I’m reading this sort of thing going on amongst the men who were closest to the Messiah, I’m thinking man, you guys were a bunch of dunderheads.  But I have no room to talk.  I can be a pretty big dunderhead myself most times.)

They’re sitting there (or I guess reclining there) having a meal with their Rabbi and even in the midst of a meal, He’s teaching them.  In the miraculous, He’s teaching them.  Even in the mundane, He’s teaching them.

In everything, He’s showing them how to walk in His dust.  How to follow Him.  How to live in a way that pleases the Lord and brings glory to His name.

Because that’s really it.  Doing all things to His glory.  Doing everything, all the while remembering Him…

Remembering the beautiful exchange that was made on the cross…His life for mine.

Remembering that I am restored by the grace and mercy that poured out red.

Remembering that I am whole because He was broken.

Remembering that I have life because He conquered death.

Yes, it was a beautiful exchange.  His life for mine.

And what’s even more beautiful to me is that now, I live, having exchanged my life for His.

I remember Him…because He remembered me.