This is the 2nd parsha of Pesach. Last week my family and I dug into the 4 cups of salvation on our Seder. The Exodus story, wherein is the first Passover, explains the concept of these 4 cups:
- “I will bring you out” – sanctification
- “I will save you” – deliverance
- “I will redeem you” – redemption
- “I will take you as My people” – restoration
This side of Messiah, we can dearly relate to these things as well. I don't come from a background and ancestry of good behaviors. Just 2 weeks ago to the day, I got a text message from my brother who relapsed into opiates, asking for prayer and needing help in leaving his Egypt. I look upon some of my relatives, most of them, and I can clearly see His call for sanctification in my life. At these moments I reflect that He delivered me first and foremost from my own sin and sinful nature, but also from what I could have been, behaviors that were generationally habitual, and the Egyptian-style bondages of my birth heritage. He redeemed me with His own blood as the price; and since then, He has worked to restore me into "the days of our first Love" as He grows me closer to Him, taking me as His, bringing me into high places.
My prayer this week has been that my loved ones, most inclusive of my own siblings, one of which said "I need help" in leaving Egypt, would know these 4 cups. What a time to pray that people come to know the Lord, than the very anniversary of the exodus.
This 2nd week we go into the Red Sea crossing. The story didn't stop with leaving Egypt. First of all, 'the going out' calls for a 'placement into.' Many things happen between the 2 points, one of which is this Red Sea crossing. Any walking and even non-walking (especially the non-walking) 'believer' knows that being called out of bondage is not the end. In fact, most of the non-walkers came to stop walking because of false belief of this. I reflect on my brother, who was delivered from Egypt once, as I said that and as I read this:
And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him ... And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and the chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon. -- Exodus 14:5-6, 8-9 KJVThe old lord, that hard task-master, surely chases after you, doesn't it? My brother knew a demanding master in Egypt, and obviously his relapse has shown me that just because he was delivered didn't mean that was the end of it: that pharaoh chased him and eventually overtook him.
And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, as thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? -- Exodus 14:10-11 KJVDoesn't that sound ridiculous? God brings people out of Egypt to kill them? However, that is the same mentality many have coming out of Egypt, even before the wilderness wanderings test their faith. Our old Rabbi said (and I am paraphrasing) any one of us is just one bad doctrine away from leaving the faith or even being atheists. He said this as we were discussing how bad doctrine is believing that a single sinner's prayer changes things to the point of completion: no more battles, no more trials, etc. When people think that they leave Egypt and they will never be chased, never see a wilderness, never have to walk in the middle of a sea (the nations/chaos), they are unprepared (instead thinking it is prosperity from hereon) and very often easily allow these things to overtake them -- either take them back to Egypt, renounce the Lord, or refuse to walk forward as their carcasses die in the wilderness. Too often when we approach the faith with a prayer, we think we literally go from Egypt directly to Canaan. Yes, 38 years of wilderness wanderings were unnecessary, but 2 years were necessary, as was a Red Sea crossing, wherein Israel walked in the midst of the sea (chaos, or the nations) untouched by it.
Above, Israel thought God, by Moses, brought them out to kill them. Have you ever seen someone leave an Egypt like my brother's? They think they will die before it is over. The enslaver pursues strongly. Or, even in the wilderness how Egypt kept reminiscing on the cucumbers and leeks in Egypt. Not being prepared for what is ahead after leaving Egypt (falsely thinking Canaan is right outside of Egypt) often leads to people returning -- hence, atheists, non-walkers, faith-renouncers. I saw my brother with his many stressors, picking up the broken pieces and trying to remend the things he broke. I do not believe he was prepared for that part -- the part dry like a desert wilderness. He wasn't prepared to be chased neither. Restoration is the final cup, but you have to drink the first 3 to get there. It is a process. It is important we leave our Egypt realistically, one cup at a time, one step at a time.
That's the thing -- we must take it one step at a time, while remembering to actually take steps forward. When they cried out about the enslaving lord chasing them, God responded, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward," (Exodus 14:15b). Again, not being prepared for what will come after leaving Egypt, and until you get to land flowing with milk and honey, results in not moving. People will not move if they expect the promised land to be directly outside Egypt. Why move any more, if you think you are already there? I reflect on what led my brother to be overtaken and brought back to bondage. Likewise, I reflect on the times I have returned to bondages of which God freed me. How did I get here?
Reflecting more on myself this week, and not just pointing to others... I used to think Washington was a bondage for me; and if so, how did I get back here? We came from the seclusion of Costa Rica back into this chaos that is always here. Then I realized this is not bondage, this is the sea in its chaos. Israel had to walk in the midst of it, but they were not touched by it. No matter what chaos we walk through in our steps toward restoration, we need to know we don't have to be touched by chaos. Then why walk through it? Some call it a mikvah of sorts. Of this I know for sure, Egypt was overcome in that sea. I cannot tell you how many bonds God has broken, how many things He has overcome in my life, just by bringing me back here. As I read the story of Israel crossing the Red Sea and how it was used to destroy the Egyptians, God took me through the Red Sea and used it to destroy many enslavers of old. Praise be to God on this celebration of His Passover and facets of salvation.
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