Going all the way by faith
I invite you to open your Bibles in Heb. 11. I remind you that we are in a series of studies on the faith.
I hope that already, through the several lessons we have treated, you have seen the benefits of having faith.
Faith is an extraordinary thing to illuminate our lives. One must understand that today.
This being said, I would like at present that we concentrate on Hebrews ch. 11:27-28
I have titled my sermon: Going all the way by faith.
Letís read together.
Letís put this verse in its context. We are in 1550 BC. The Jews are in Egypt under the direction of Pharaoh. They suffer under his iron fist. They are obliged each day to do hard labor to build the Egyptian cities.
But the tears of the children of Israel donít vanish into the wind. Their cries donít get lost in the void. God is there and he sees the wounds of his people. At the opportune moment, he chooses to act to deliver all his children. To do it, he uses a man named Moses.
Moses was a great hero of the faith. He did exceptional things. But donít make a mistake; it wasnít always easy for him to make good choices. He was flesh and bone like each of us, and inasmuch as a man, he had his own difficulties, his own obstacles to overcome.
No, it wasnít always perfect, but at the end he made the right choices. Today weíre going to talk of one of these difficult choices that he made in leaving Egypt and ignoring the Pharaoh.
And Iím going to try to help us take out some lessons from all of that.
To do so, Iíll need first to remind you of one more thing I said two weeks ago.
In the Bible, Pharaoh is an image of Satan and the way he tempts us. Egypt is an image of the Kingdom of Satan and of life without God. The land promised is an image of heaven, while the march in the desert is an illustration of our pilgrimage on earth.
In reading the history of Egypt, we should see there a call from God for each of our lives.
Yahweh tells us that our life in the long term canít be happy in the country of sin. Do you believe it today? Do you really believe it?
You canít be happy if you are still in the territory controlled by Satan. And donít be deceived, there are only two territories: either that controlled by God, or that controlled by Satan. If God is not the one who controls all your choices today, you are still in Egypt. Whether you want it or not, whether you accept it or not, Satan still has the upper hand on your heart.
But God calls us to leave Egypt to put us under the lead of Jesus, for Jesus alone can lead us to ultimate happiness.
By faith, I must leave the life of sin in which I am.
However, let me tell you itís not easy to leave Egypt. I could stop myself here today and ask you if you have already considered giving yourself entirely to God? If yes, and you havenít done it, what has stopped you?
The king of this country doesnít want to see you leave. He doesnít want to lose his rule over you. According to verse 27 of Hebrews 11, Pharaoh was furious that Moses wanted to leave and dared defy him.
Have you ever tried to take a bone from a dog? I almost lost a hand one time from taking my chance. You know what Iím talking about? But have you ever tried to take a bone from a lion? I saw lions eating in front of my eyes when I was 12. The images are still engraved in my memory. I can tell you youíd have to be crazy to try. The lion would eat you up.
Today you are Satanís bone. Satan is the roaring lion. Itís not easy to leave his claws. Heíll get mad if you try. He will use numerous tactics to stop you.
Because itís true, I believe one can say that if you havenít had a run-in with Satan, itís because youíre still walking in the same direction as he. But if you want to leave Egypt, and still worst if you want to take others with you, you will have a confrontation with the devil himself.
At the time of this confrontation, Satan will probably try to make you adopt 4 compromises, to stop you from embracing the life of a pilgrim.
How is it I know this? Because itís what Pharaoh did and his confrontation with Moses is an image of our confrontation with the devil.
Look in Exodus 8: first of all verses 16, 17 then verse 21.
The first compromise that Pharaoh tries to make with Moses is simple. He says: ďyou can go worship God, but in the country.Ē
In which country? Pharaohís country. In other words, you can worship God but you stay in Egypt.
You can worship God but you stay in my possession when you do it.
What I see here is that Satan wonít stop me from worshipping God, if I really want it. But heíll try to keep me from leaving his territory. Heíll let me reorganize several things, but no question of losing one of his subjects.
You can be religious as long as you donít change camp. You can worship God as long as you donít pass through the waters to leave the country of sin. He doesnít want emancipation, total liberation. He doesnít want to hear talk of new birth. You can rearrange the employment of your time a little bit, redecorate your house with religious statues. You can go to church time and again, but go no further.
In a recent article I read, 34% of Alsatians say they belong to Christianity. But how many of them have really given themselves to God? Why arenít they all at church every Sunday? Why donít they pray and read their Bibles during the week?
Another article says that in the year 2000 there were 2 billion Christians in the world. That corresponds to about one-third of the population of the planet.
1 billion would be catholic.
321 million are Protestants
222 million are Orthodox
74.5 million are Anglicans
449 million are Pentecostals, denominations, and diverse groups.
But how many have really left Egypt and its practices?
To be a religious person isnít enough. You can be religious and still be one of Satanís servants. You can even be one of his best.
In a sense Satan prefers that you be a believing person but lost rather than an alcoholic.
An alcoholic is a bad advertisement for his cause, but a religious person who isnít totally committed to follow God and who is lost can be used much more effectively.
Satan wonít stop you from sitting week after week on chairs, as long as you stay away from the blood of the lamb, as long as you stay spiritually lost.
Satan lets us be in a false religion.
But let me tell you, religion is a terrible thing when it stops a man from being united with Jesus. It becomes a tool of Satan.
Moses understood that and refused the first compromise of Pharaoh.
II. 2nd compromise: ę Worship, but donít go away from the borders of my country. Ľ
Pharaoh then came with a second compromise. We find it in Exodus 8:24.
In other words : ę If I canít stop you from entering into a relationship with God, from leaving Egypt and my service, then still stay close to me.
In modern terms, weíd say: ďdonít be an extremist or a fanatic!Ē
Iíll translate into biblical language, that is to say ďdonít go so far away that you canít come back into the country of sin to pay a little visit to your old boss.Ē
There are many Christians who have walked into this trap. They have been saved by the blood of the lamb, and freed from Satanís yoke, but they donít want to get too far away from their old life.
Are you like that today?
Are you like the little girl who, when she prayed, said: ďLord, make me better, but not too much; just enough to stop getting spanked, but still able to have funĒ?
If this is the case, God doesnít want you to camp just next to Egyptís border. He doesnít want you to occasionally make trips in.
He doesnít desire children who are so worldly that one can no longer see if heís a Christian or an Egyptian. He doesnít want worldly Christians.
If you really think about it, thereís nothing more tragic than a man in this condition: than a man who is just religious enough to stop him from being happy in this world, but who is too worldly to be able to be happy in Christ. Thatís the worst of positions!
Are you saved today? Are you really washed by the blood of the lamb? If so, do you still camp in the outskirts of sin?
Romans 12:1 says ďÖĒ and Hebrews 13:12-14 ďÖĒ
We need enough faith to go all the way to the end of the path and not only to go partway.
And much better to be called an extremist by men than a lukewarm-hearted Christian by the Lord!
God prefers to have you squarely against him rather than seeing you live lukewarmly for him.
Lukewarm-hearted Christians do more to handicap the cause of God than to aid it.
Christians who are lukewarm at heart become the alibi that justifies those who refuse to listen to talk about religion.
Christians who are lukewarm at heart are a disgrace to God; they are the worst form of blasphemy toward the love of God. Think about it! It is to live in a sense saying to the Lord: ďI believe in you, I accept to life for you, but you donít excite me anymore, you donít really interest me any longer.Ē
Letís not be lukewarm-hearted Christians, brothers and sisters, and letís not camp near Pharaohís borders.
III. 3rd compromise: ďWorship with the men, but not with your loved ones.Ē
Moses said no to this proposition. So Pharaoh came with another compromise. Look in Exodus 10:8-11
In other words, Pharaoh wanted Moses to leave and the men as well, but not with their families, not with their wives and kids.
Brethren that is Satanís way! The evil one hates faith lived by the family.
If then the evil one canít stop you from being saved, if he canít keep you from walking a long way from him Ė toward a growing resemblance to Christ Ė then heíll try to keep with him your loved ones and to put you in spiritual solitude in your family. Heíll seek to get you to abandon people in his boat.
Oh, but letís learn today to be firm like Moses.
We need to have the intention, along with all our strength, to take our family to Canaan with us.
Today are you taking your loved ones on the path to heaven with you? Is your father saved? Is your mother saved? How about your sister and your brother? How about your kids? Or are you satisfied to leave Egypt alone?
I donít believe that one single person among us would say today that he wants to leave a loved one behind him.
And yet in our actions of each day, so often we neglect to manifest the good actions for it to be otherwise!
How many among us talk about the bible with their parents? How many of our number pray every day with their children?
God wants all our families to be saved.
He told Noah: ę Make an ark for you and your family. Ľ
Through Joshua, he tells us: ę Choose today whom you will serve. Ľ Like this great man, may our response be: ďfor me and my HOUSE we will serve the Lord.Ē Joshua wanted to bring all of his with him in the right direction.
We can also talk of Cornelius if we have the time. In Acts 11:14 donít we read ďÖĒ?
Do you remember Katherine Booth, of who I spoke to you last week? Of this little woman who encouraged her husband when he was judged for having evangelized the poor neighborhoods. Of this woman who cried during the judgment ďWilliam, William, tell them no! Donít give up!Ē She was a famous little woman. Not only did she encourage her husband in the right direction, but she taught the children correctly. She was known for saying: ďOh God help me that I never arrive in heaven without all my children. That I never stand before you with one missing from the ranks.Ē
If we leave to follow God, may our children and wives leave as well! Donít let Satan have it otherwise.
IV. 4th compromise: ďGo worship God without your belongings.Ē
Moses didnít let Pharaoh keep his loved ones. So Pharaoh tried one last thing.
We read this in Exodus 10:24-26 ďÖĒ
What Pharaoh was saying is that if they all left, then they should leave their material possessions in Egypt.
The evil one is really underhanded, isnít he?
Often we come to salvation; we are well enough engaged except for one thing, except for our material goods. Our cash is never really invested in his cause.
Satan is clever. He knows that if God doesnít have your treasures then he doesnít really have you.
Why? For there where our treasure is, there also is our heart.
Do you know that in the gospels one verse in six treats the subject of possessions and of our attitude toward them?
Do you know that the Lord said 38 (known) parables and that 16 of them are on material goods and our manner of directing them?
Thereís a reason for all that. It seems to me that if we reflect, itís because a manís riches cannot be dissociated from his faith.
You see, either God possesses all, or he possesses nothing.
Itís not that he wants our cash, but he wants our heart.
Satan knows it and wants you to keep your cows and sheep in Egypt.
But we will never find victory and we will never know the spiritual blessings until we can learn the principle that all that we have belongs to God and should be used for him. So do not let the evil one control your finances.
In conclusion this evening what can I tell you? Maybe Exodus 10:26 brings us the final word. We will go and our herds will go with us. There wonít be a fingernail left. Our women, our children will accompany us. We will not camp just alongside Satan. And we will go all the way. Hebrews 11:27 by faith we will not fear the anger of the evil king, but we will look at him who is invisible. Letís pray!