Dear Members and Friends of IBCZ,
Last Sunday we considered how God used the ten plagues, along with the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, to not only win the release of the Israelites from their slavery, but also to demonstrate to the Egyptians that He is the true God. Some of the Egyptians recognized through the plagues that the God of the Israelites is the true God, and they left Egypt with the Israelites when they were finally set free after the tenth plague.
It is interesting to note that three times during the course of the plagues, the Pharaoh did offer to let the Israelites go – but with conditions. In Exod. 8:25-28, the Pharaoh told Moses the people could go and make a sacrifice to God, but they had to stay within Egypt. In Exod. 10:8-11, the Pharaoh offered to let the Israelite men go, but the women and children had to stay behind (in which case, of course the men would come back). In Exod. 10:24-26, the Pharaoh offered to let all the people go, but they had to leave all their flocks and herds behind.
Moses turned down all three offers, for he knew that God desires full obedience from His people, and not a half-hearted commitment. We face similar challenges in our walk with Christ – that of following Christ, but with conditions. As with the first offer of the Pharaoh, perhaps we desire to follow Christ, but not all the way. We want to stay close to our former way of life and the ways of this world. Regarding the second offer, maybe we seek to follow Christ, but we want to leave certain relationship outside of His Lordship. As for the third offer, we face this when we want to follow Christ, but we don’t want to bring our possessions under the Lordship of Christ.
All this reminds us that we cannot follow Christ – with conditions. He asks for a whole-hearted commitment, for He has made a total commitment to us. In addition, it is only when we follow Christ completely that we can experience the fullness of life He offers us, including the transformation of our character, the opportunities to be used in His service in the fullest ways, and the experience of joy as we walk closely with God.
So, by God’s grace, let us follow the example of Moses, and resist the temptation to compromise in our discipleship. Rather, let us follow Christ with a whole-hearted commitment, bringing every aspect of our lives (our relationships, our possessions, our career, our goals, our use of time, etc.) to Him in an act of surrender, so all these areas of our lives can be redeemed by His grace and power.
(Next week we will continue our reading of Philippians with chapter 4. This week, you can consider these three areas of your walk with Christ as highlighted by the offers of Pharaoh, and reflect on what helps you or hinders you in following Christ fully.)
A quick reminder: This Sunday we will observe Communion following the sermon in our live streamed service, so please have ready some bread and either wine or juice if you would like to participate.
Grace and peace,