If you are reading this blog for the first time during Lent, you should be aware that you have entered a story that overlays the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt to the Promise Land with the Journey of Aspiring Immortals to the Kingdom of God that is on the new immortal Earth. The parallels are striking. The Exodus can teach us Christians some very important lessons about attitude and relationship. For more about this comparison go to Exodus II explained. The series began with Two Wait for Lent.
In Egypt this holy band of pilgrims had been known as the explosion of Joseph’s family, nothing more than the reproductive success of his father Jacob also known as Israel. It was during the exodus and long monotonous walk to the Promise Land that the pilgrims became acquainted with the God of their forefathers.
It was not because the Promise Land was so far away or because they had no wheels to mobilize them that it took forty years to get there; it was that the children of Israel were to become the children of God and there was so much to learn.
A man, even a woman, is born with certain traits that determine appearances and intellectual and psychological capacity. The human bio-machine can spend a lifetime responding to every pitch that comes its way with programmed accuracy. That is fine for Egyptians, Philistines, and Samarians but the future residents of the Promise Land were to be holy. Holiness means different in a sacred way.
The God of Israel fathered them. He offered them protection from enemies, abundance, health, wealth and happiness for the small price of “if”.
(Ex.15:26)” If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians for I am the Lord Who heals.”
If you do as He said by your own free will – no slavery, no genetic imperative – by your own self rule and with His help then you will inherit the Promise Land.
‘If’ was the tiny invitation into a university of being.
Besides the Ten Commandments there are hundreds and hundreds of ifs. There are ifs about how to relate to God and ifs for how to relate to each other. To pilgrims who wanted to become holy, assistance is given for strengthening and repair. For strengthening there is the exercise of what not to eat, there are divine interventions (you know: miracles) and for repair there is the blood of atonement.
“Asa, Asa there are so many rules to follow I can’t even remember them all, I am doomed. How will I ever reach the Promise Land in one piece?”
“Ben, tell me, do you love God?”
“Asa, how can you ask such a question?”
“Who do you love more, God or yourself?”
“Okay Asa, I’ll play along. You tell me who I love more.”
“Last night you were telling me about how Barak offended you. You said that he stole your money and used it to help your sister abort her baby, your nephew. You are still angry about these things and they happened so long ago.”
“True, God I love but this man I will never forgive. Such a man should not be allowed to walk healthy in this world. Such a man should never enter the Promise Land. If I see him there I’ll leave. I’ll go somewhere else!”
“Ben, listen to me. If God tells you to invite Barak to your tent and feed him can you do that?
“Asa what does this all have to do with my love for God? God, I love. He is good. He has always helped me. He can protect me, and heal me and give me things. I like that! God I love. Barak, I despise – He takes from me without asking, he is a bully with a nice smile.”
“What if God tells you to love Barak? Do you love God enough to obey?
“Asa, I’ll tell you a secret. I never do what I don’t want to do. I think God loves me the way I am and whatever I think, do, or say is okay with Him. Oh, every once in a while I take the blood treatment in case I am wrong.”
“Ben, my friend what a gambler you turned out to be!”
“”What gambler? I love God and love covers a multitude of sins. I’m covered.”
“’If’ is such a mighty word Ben, you should take it more seriously. Did you know what the man of God said, ‘The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who REALLY loves Me, and whoever really loves Me will be loved by God.’ Ben, love is not as wide and tall as you make it out to be. Love requires sacrifice, sometimes a ton of sacrifice. Didn’t the man of God prove that to you? Do you think he wanted to be crucified?
“Pay attention to that little word ‘if.’ If you obey God’s commands and the man of God’s commands, then and only then you are not fooling anyone even yourself into thinking you love God and He loves you.
In a whisper with neck stretched out to reach Ben’s ear Asa breathed the following words, “Let me tell you a secret. I myself even overheard the man of God say, 'Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way to destruction and many are those who are entering it. But the gate is narrow and straight that leads to life, and few are they who find it.'” And then as if Asa could hold back no longer the sound of his voice surged, “FEW!!! (Matt 7: 13,14). Do you see this highway of people?! Most of us will not make it into the Promise Land. Was the man of God lying to scare me? All this walking and starving, and then when I get there, maybe I don’t enter. Are you right to think that because you love yourself so much God feels that way too and He doesn’t mind that you don’t obey Him?
“Ben, maybe you subdue your stomach a little more then will you be strong enough to subdue your mind and heart into obedience. This is a difficult road we walk. Have you noticed as the years go by, fewer and fewer people are with us? Never mind; the Promise Land will not be crowded, that is good.”