Back before there was a family called the Children of Israel, God told Abram (later Abraham) that the great nation which would come from his family would be slaves for 400 years. In Genesis 15:13 there is a foretelling, or prophecy, that the Children of Israel would be strangers in a strange land. Israel would be afflicted as servants.
Certainly this was not a comforting promise from God to Abram. However, when the Children of Israel were living in bondage in Egypt, they probably took comfort in knowing that God would bring them out of their bondage. Besides the promise of escaping from slavery, God promised to punish the nation which held them. After this punishing, they would leave the land with “great substance.” (Genesis 15:14)
It is true that when the 12 tribes of Israel left Egypt they left with great wealth. In Exodus 12:35, 36 the people of Egypt were willingly giving their riches to their slaves so that they would leave and not need to return. The Bible says that they “spoiled the Egyptians.” Spoiling in the sense that they took all the gold, silver and clothing that the Egyptians would give them.
According to Exodus 12:40 and 41, Israel spent a total of 430 years in the land of Egypt.
There are several verses in the Bible which talk about this 400-430 year time period. Genesis 15:13, 14; Exodus 12:40, 41; Acts 7:6 and Galatians 3:16, 17.
Today I sat in on a Sunday School class that was for 8 to 10 year olds. The teacher was covering the last of the 10 Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Covet. The bulk of the lesson was about being content. Not having an attitude of “I want!” Rather, having one of “I’m content.”
She used an illustration that summed up my own thoughts but in a way that I was not sure how to say.
On Christmas morning, or on your birthday, have you ever gotten a gift that you weren’t thrilled about? How about those socks Grandma always gives? Probably as a kid you never thought about how your level of excitement pleased or disappointed your parents. But as adults we understand about giving gifts to people. We want them to be thankful for the gift we gave them.
“Thanks for the soccer ball, Mom. It isn’t the one I wanted, but it will do. It isn’t made out of genuine leather, but it’s okay. It isn’t an official World Cup branded ball, but it will work.” How does mom feel about that? Probably she wants to pack the ball up and take it back to the store.
What about our relationship with God? He is concerned about us. He gives us each day what we need. We certainly receive more from the Lord than we deserve. Yet, we walk out of the house and immediately complain about the weather He sent our way. We complain about the old car we have to drive. We complain that our date nights have to be done from the McDonald’s value menu instead of the steakhouse.
Do you suffer from an attitude of “Yo quiero” (I want). Or, do you have an attitude of “Estoy contento” (I am content). The “yo quiero” attitude breaks the 10th Commandment. At that point, what other commandments are you willing to break in order to get what you want?
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Through Jesus Christ we have access to God. Through the Holy Spirit we have agreement with God’s will.
Of course this comes with living a life led by the Spirit of God (v. 14). When we are led by the Spirit and we allow Him to control us, we have assurance that what we do will be in agreement with His will.
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
While God is a God of justice, He is also loving. His Word encourages us to treat one another with mercy in correction. We often want to focus on the “truth” part of the verse and give the statement, “truth hurts” while unkindly raking someone over the coals. However, along with truth in correction there should be mercy.
The second part of the verse will help answer a lot of questions in a Christian’s life.
Last week an unsaved neighbor wandered into the church at the end of a seminary class and wanted to know what the chapter and verse were for why we should wear ties during classes (he was eavesdropping while the pastor was reading the rules to the students). Of course there is not a chapter and verse for the tie issue, but it is a rule in the seminary and there are verses which say we should obey the authority over us (Romans 13:1; Hebrews 13:17).
If we lived in the fear of the Lord, striving to please Him with an honest respect and reverence, we would not care about a chapter and verse for every little rule. The Holy Spirit would be allowed to guide us and give us a spirit of obedience and meekness.
Tonight in church a guest speaker was talking about Ephesians 2:1-10. When he got to the often quoted verses 8 and 9 he gave an illustration that I had never heard. I have not thought it through completely, but I thought I would share what he had to say.
He commented that he used to think it was faith that saved us. According to these verses, it is God’s grace that does the saving, but it comes to us by faith. His illustration was something like this (loose translation from Spanish to English and the fact that I am paraphrasing 4 hours later).
If I am thirsty and I have a glass of water in front of me, I can use a straw to transport that water to my mouth and into my stomach. While the straw can’t quench my thirst, it can be the method by which the water is transported (or applied) to my body. Playing with the straw does not do any good until it is used to connect the life sustaining water with my stomach.
Faith is like the straw. People put trust in their faith and not in the grace of God that is actually what saves us. We need to apply the faith to transporting God’s grace into our lives for salvation.
His main point was that we don’t arrive in Heaven because of our own works and abilities. We arrive in Heaven because of what God, through Jesus Christ, did in our place. We have no ability to save ourselves, but we can trust in One who can save us.