Author Topic: Our spiritual journey  (Read 814 times)

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Offline Deborah

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Our spiritual journey
« on: August 25, 2016, 12:33:20 PM »
Redemption (Exodus 12)

This is where the journey begins: in Egypt.

Israel is enslaved (and has been for generations). They are completely unable to save themselves; God has to send Moses to force Pharaoh to let them go. The preceding few months have seen a trial of strength - not between Moses and Pharaoh, nor between the Israelites and their oppressors, but between two rival spiritual powers. One by one, nine plagues have undermined the credibility of Egyptian religion; the final plague, the death of the firstborn sons, will expose it as completely worthless. During the previous plagues, Israel have been spared automatically; but this time each individual household has to advertise their commitment to God by displaying the blood of a slaughtered lamb - signifying that a death has already taken place. (God doesn't 'need' such a sign to recognise His own people, but they need to understand the mechanism by which they will be spared.)

In every house in Egypt, someone dies that night - either the firstborn son, or the lamb that has taken his place. At this catastrophic calamity, Pharaoh capitulates, and the Israelites are ordered to leave immediately. Those who sheltered behind the bloodstained door that first Passover night are able to go out the next morning and head for the Promised Land. Their new life of freedom has begun!

And this is also where our spiritual journey begins.

We too - all of us - are born in slavery. We are enslaved to idols (Galatians 4:8 ), to the fear of death (Hebrews 2:15), or simply to a life of emptiness and futility (I Peter 1:18). In one way or another, Satan holds us in his grip, and none of us can get free by our own efforts. God must intervene - and He has done so, by sending His Son on a rescue mission. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10)

Jesus is our Passover Lamb (I Corinthians 5:7), the sacrifice that satisfies God's judgement against the whole rebellious world. He died in the place of all those who freely choose to put their trust in Him and shelter behind His blood. And when we do, we are immediately set free. But, like the Israelites, we are still inside 'Egyptian' territory. We have a long way to go...


"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2016, 10:28:49 PM »
Baptism (Exodus 14)

As they march eastwards, the Israelites are confident and cheerful, believing that all their problems are over and unaware that they are being pursued. For even after the near-destruction of his country and people, Pharaoh's heart is unchanged! He will not relinquish his claim to ownership of the Israelites, and he thinks he sees an opportunity to undo God's work of salvation. His swift chariots soon overtake the slow-moving Israelite caravan, encumbered as they are by livestock and vulnerable non-combatants. There is nowhere for them to run or hide, and panic immediately sets in. They are trapped between Pharaoh?s army and the sea - and there seems to be no way out?

Essentially this is a battle of ownership: do they belong to Pharaoh or to Yahweh? The same battle is fought over every believer who is redeemed from the clutches of Satan (who, like Pharaoh, will never admit defeat!). If the outcome depended on us, we would have no hope; but God is stronger than Satan, and He will win the victory for us (Exodus 14:13,14).

As darkness falls, a strong wind and an unusually low ebb tide combine to expose a narrow causeway right across the strait. God has made an escape route for them through the sea!
"Your path led through the sea,
Your way through the mighty waters,
though Your footprints were not seen.
You led Your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron."
(Psalm 77:19,20)
With deep water on either side of them, the Israelites are shielded from any flank attack. Eventually the Egyptians realise that the Israelites are getting away, but all they can do is set out along the causeway after them. Even as they do so, they begin to realise that they are making a terrible mistake: their chariots quickly become bogged down in the soft sand, the tide turns, and the causeway disappears beneath the waves again. Now it's the Egyptians who are trapped, because there is no safe passage for those not following the call of God (Hebrews 11:29). Unable to escape from the rising water, they are all drowned.

The crossing of the Red Sea marks the final, definitive break with Israel's old life and the beginning of their new life with God. The die is now cast; there can be no returning to Egypt now. Paul tells us (I Corinthians 10:1,2) that it is a kind of baptism. Baptism symbolises many things, but one of them is the boundary between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God. This is one reason why the logical timing of baptism is immediately upon conversion (as in the New Testament), just as the crossing of the Red Sea was the first 'event' in Israel's journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. As we go through the water, we are visibly brought out of Satan's jurisdiction and into the Church. There is no going back...
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2016, 09:39:22 PM »
Testing (Exodus 15:22-27)

Full of joy and praise after their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, the Israelites march on - straight into the desert. As they trudge through the hot thirsty wilderness, their enthusiasm steadily evaporates. Eventually they reach an oasis, but their hopes are raised only to be immediately dashed again: the water is undrinkable. The bitterness of the water draws out the bitterness in their hearts, and in no time they are finding fault with both Moses and God.

Moses is the one who prays for a solution to the problem, and God provides one: the wood of a local tree, when added to the water, absorbs the pungent mineral salts and makes it palatable. The people are able to drink and then continue on their way. Only 7 miles further on (another day's journey) is the large oasis of Elim, where they find not only ample space to camp, but also shade and abundant water.

The life of the redeemed is no 'primrose path' - it is very often a life of suffering, frustration and disappointment. And this can hit us at a very early stage; many believers find the days and weeks following their baptism especially tough going. It is tempting to wonder if we have gone wrong somewhere, or to think that God has let us down. Yet it is God?s will for us, as it was for the Israelites, to take the difficult path, because "the testing of your faith produces perseverance." (James 1:3)

We need to undergo spiritual discipline, but the times of testing are usually brief. Through them we learn that God is able to meet us and help us in any situation. He can transform our bitterness and pain, and give us refreshment even in the most unlikely places. And He will also give us times of blessing, a foretaste of our ultimate destination.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2016, 11:28:22 AM »
Food and drink (Exodus 16 & 17)

After a month on the march, all the provisions the Israelites have brought with them are exhausted and hunger begins to bite. And in no time they are looking back with nostalgia at the 'good old days' of slavery! Our memories are notoriously selective: they have already forgotten all the bad things about their life in Egypt, and can only think about the food (which must have been better in memory than in fact!).

But God does not fail them. The next day they are introduced to manna - the supernatural food that is to sustain them all for the next forty years. Each day's supply (with the exception of the day before the Sabbath) is sufficient for that day only; those who try to save some for the next day quickly discover that if we hoard God?s gifts, they go bad on us.

One question is repeated many times over, as they move from oasis to oasis: Will there be water at the next stop? At Rephidim (in the most fertile part of the Sinai peninsula) they find the well unexpectedly dry. But God has the situation under control; water is already there, waiting for them, and needs only to be released.

There is a fundamental issue at stake here: if we throw our lot in with God (as the Israelites had done, irrevocably), can we trust Him to take care of us? Sooner or later we will discover that the journey is long and that our own resources are insufficient. But by miraculously providing the Israelites with food and water in the middle of a barren wilderness, He has demonstrated that ultimately our only real need is God. "They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (I Corinthians 10:3,4) Every time we take Communion, we are reminded that our souls are sustained for eternity by Jesus Himself. "Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven? Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever." (John 6:32,49-51)
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Online davetaff

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2016, 05:09:33 PM »
Hi Deborah
Thanks for some thought provoking posts what do you think Jesus means when he says the bread of heaven is it only what he said on earth or is the whole of scripture was it the spirit of Christ speaking through the prophets.

Love and Peace
Dave

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 06:31:51 PM »
Hi Deborah
Thanks for some thought provoking posts what do you think Jesus means when he says the bread of heaven is it only what he said on earth or is the whole of scripture was it the spirit of Christ speaking through the prophets.

Love and Peace
Dave

Hi Dave

I'm not quite sure what you mean. The 'bread of heaven' that Jesus spoke of was originally the manna. But there is a truer sense in which Jesus is the bread of heaven - because we receive our spiritual life from Him in the same way that our physical life depends on eating ordinary food.

The Spirit of Christ did speak through the prophets (I Peter 1:10,11) - but I don't see the connection with the manna.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2016, 09:56:30 AM »
Facing the enemy (Exodus 17:8-16)

At Rephidim, Israel have their first encounter with an enemy since escaping from Egypt. The Amalekites, a nomadic tribe of Edomite descent who roam the Sinai peninsula, harass the Israelite caravan, attacking the stragglers (Deuteronomy 25:18). At the Red Sea, God Himself had defended Israel against the Egyptian army; the Israelites hadn't needed to lift a finger. But from now on, they have to learn to fight for themselves (albeit with God's help).

Fighting is the job of the younger generation (so Moses commissions Joshua to lead the army into battle); but those who are too old to fight nevertheless have an vital contribution to make, for prayer is the 'secret weapon' of God's people. It is only Moses' continual intercession (signified by his raised arms) that enables the inexperienced Israelite soldiers to win the day. This kind of prayer is exhausting, and not even Moses can do it all on his own; he needs the help of his two companions.

We too have an enemy, the devil, who will continually harass us on our pilgrimage. And God won't do everything for us; we need to put on our spiritual armour and go out to do battle against him (Ephesians 6:10-17). Even so, we cannot win the battle in our own strength; we must not forget also to pray (Ephesians 6:18)! In such situations, group prayer is even more powerful and more effective; that is why Paul wanted the believers in Ephesus to pray for him (Ephesians 6:19,20).
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Online davetaff

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2016, 03:42:36 PM »
Hi Deborah
Another good post jest thought I'd add this bit of scripture for new seeker out there.

Eph 6:13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Eph 6:14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
Eph 6:15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Eph 6:16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
Eph 6:17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

Let us be diligent in building up our spiritual armour so that we can resist the devil.

Love and Peace
Dave