Years ago I saw a cartoon in a religious magazine that showed a small boy standing on the doorstep of a large church. Apparently he has just knocked on the ornate door, for the door stands open and a clergyman with his hand on the doorknob is looking down at him. The little boy, neck craned upward, asks, “Is God home?”
How cute, eh. Who but a child would expect God to actually be at home in the house of God? But, out of the mouth of babes…
So let me ask a question. Why did God save you and me? Most likely we answer that He saved us because we needed salvation; we realized we were bound in sin and about to get our wages (death).
And that’s true. But let me ask another question. Why did God save Israel out of Egypt? We need to know this, because the story of the children of Israel coming out of Egypt and entering into the Promised Land is one of the Bible’s great building blocks. It’s this prophetic story by which God builds our understanding of His great plan of eternal salvation in Christ. There are other building blocks, but as we read our New Testament we discover that this one is certainly a major one. Paul tells us that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5.7), and this is of course a reference to the night Israel was delivered from Egypt by the Passover lamb. Peter has the same event in mind when he tells us we have been “redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pt. 1.19).
Then on one occasion in the wilderness when the people were bitten by poisonous serpents, God directed Moses to set up a serpent of brass on a pole. Whoever looked up at the brazen serpent was delivered from the poison at work in his system. One moment they were on their way to the land of the dead; the next they were in the land of the living. Jesus Christ selects this event to open our eyes to Himself, telling us that “even so must the Son of man be lifted up (on the Cross of Calvary), that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (Jn. 3.15).
And so with Israel’s salvation story, God opens our eyes to our own salvation story.
Which is why I asked those questions. Why did God save you and me? But why did He save them? Once we discover the answer to why He brought them out of Egyptian bondage we will have a better understanding of His objective in our own salvation.
So let’s read what God had in mind by delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage. Here are three verses in which we have God’s reasons from His own mouth.
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your yoke, and made you go upright (Lev. 26.13).
This is the reason that most usually comes to mind when we think of why God brought them out of Egypt. The Israelites in Egypt were under the grievous yoke of slavery. They cried to God in their bondage and He sent a deliverer to set them free. By the blood of the Passover lamb He redeemed them from “the house of bondmen” (Dt. 7.8), and they were happily on their way to the Promised Land. This was their gospel—their good news. And here we have a close parallel to our own Gospel, the Good News of our redemption in Christ Jesus, our salvation from the bondage of sin by the blood of Christ our Passover. We have been redeemed, we are free! But free to do what? Here’s another verse:
For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy (Lev. 11.45).
This second verse tells us that God brought them out of Egypt to be their God. What did He mean by this? Wasn’t He their God in Egypt? Yes, but bowed down in the yoke of bondage they were not free to worship Him. He wanted to be their God… and He explained what being their God implies. If God is to be their God, they must be holy—separated unto Him. This they could not be while serving Pharaoh in the iron furnace. God liberated them to the intent that they could worship and serve Him unhindered. And since He is a holy God, this would mean holiness on their part, something that the New Testament writers enjoin on us as well. Peter calls us to holiness, quoting the same words God commanded Israel when they came out of Egypt.
Be ye holy, for I am holy (1 Pt. 1.16, Lev. 11.44).
This brings us to another verse. And to get the impact of it let’s put ourselves back there in Egypt. We have known nothing but grinding slavery all our lives, and it would take an absolute miracle to be free. But one day there is good news making the rounds among the slaves. And suddenly the impossible miracle is actually happening! Oh, what a Name this mighty God is making for Himself! He judges Egypt and brings us out of Egypt and parts the Red Sea and brings us through and utterly destroys our enemies… and we are on our way to the Promised Land rejoicing!
And we come to Sinai, and… what is Moses asking? During the time of the giving of the law at Sinai God tells Moses we are now to bring Him an offering—gold, silver, bronze, blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, rams skins dyes red… oil, spices, onyx stones…. What’s this all about? We are on our way to our Canaan inheritance, but what does this great God who has delivered us have in mind?
And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Ex. 25.8).
Do we see open mouths and wonder on the faces of those around us? I am sure this would have been a real jaw dropper back then. These people had a long history with God. He was the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. But now what’s this? He wants to dwell in their very midst? This is something utterly unheard of. Never before had this great God of their fathers mentioned anything like this.
But this, He says, is why He brought them out of Egypt.
And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them; I am the LORD their God (Ex. 29.46).
What a wonder. Here they are, the Red Sea behind them, hearts full of expectation about the promised inheritance before them. And how wonderful to think that the God of their fathers who just made for Himself an everlasting Name by bringing them out of Egypt would bring them into the promised inheritance. What more could they ask?
But this was not enough for God. He wanted to dwell in their midst on the way there. He wanted a Sanctuary—a Holy Place—so that He the Holy God could dwell in their midst.
Fellow Christian, let us lay this to heart. The great God who accomplished for us so great a salvation in Calvary’s cross is not content to just save us so we can live out our lives and then go happily to Heaven.
He wants to dwell in our midst on the way there.
So I can’t help asking one more question, and I wish more were asking it. Oh, how thankful we are for the salvation we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. But… is God getting the desire of His heart among the saved these days? Is God finding His Sanctuary, His Dwelling Place in our churches? Is God actually home?
“He wants to dwell in our midst on the way there.”
Indeed! Anyone of God’s plans is always multipurpose, multifaceted and multi-leveled. But at the core of all He has revealed to us, stands one thing: He wants fellowship. Not only to give us, but also receive from us. I am stunned at the coldness of my heart as compared to God’s, when I contemplate the ways He speaks and cares to me in an hour. He’s the “universe-in-a-water-drop” Creator, the “world-in-a-word” God. More and more I am impacted by this amazing reality and wish more would hear His heart in salvation, and not just His plan of salvation.
He wants to dwell in our midst on the way there! God wants to “hang out” and get to know us. Jesus in the parable of the sheep and the goats says that there will be an eternal rejection letter which will state that He never knew us. God forbid we would ignore such a salvation, such a gift, such a Savior. Not just to be saved FROM, but to be saved UNTO.
Thank you for the fresh reminder, Allan!
Hi Andre, thanks for sharing. It’s an awesome thing to consider that one word you mentioned– fellowship. Fellowship with God, that is. I love what you wrote: “But at the core of all He has revealed to us, stands one thing: He wants fellowship. Not only to give us, but also receive from us.” This is why He wanted to dwell in their midst back then, and He wants the same thing now. Fellowship. Friendship. In fact our fellowship even with one another is to have this characteristic: our fellowship with one another is to be “fellowship with the Father and the Son” (1 Jn. 1.3). And this is why He has given us the Holy Spirit– that we might have fellowship with God when we fellowship with one another. This is what Paul said: “Now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion (fellowship) of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13.14). The Holy Spirit fellowships with God. And so we who profess to have the Holy Spirit… in another place Paul says that the Holy Spirit dwelling in us makes us a temple of God (1 Cor. 3.16). A temple… of GOD? Andre, I can hardly put into words the longing I have in my heart these days for the kind of fellowship in which GOD is the central participant… and in our times of fellowship He is PRESENT. Oh for His Presence! Oh, for His Presence! What a difference this would make to our times of “hanging out” with one another, our times of fellowship! How disappointing to God (and to me as well) when Christians get together and are involved in so many other things… and where is Christ? Outside knocking at the door, wanting to be invited in. He wants fellowship with us, but He is certainly not going to “hang out” with us when we have so little interest in receiving His fellowship… or giving Him ours.
He that hath ears to hear, after reading this I realized that you needed Gods grace to hear what He is trying to tell us. If we are willing to do, we will hear and let Him work out His purpose in us. I am afraid that I would have been just like them, dull of hearing. I am so thankful for this great salvation and I believe the word that say salvation is of the Lord.
Thank you for all who prayed for my brother Lloyd, I was able to sing a song to him on new years eve Just a closer walk with thee, he died jan 2 2013.
Hi Alden, we know that Jesus reached out to the thief on the cross as he reached out to Jesus at the last minute of his life. And we are trusting that this was the case with Lloyd. That’s a beutiful old song you sang for him. But let’s us all earnestly seek that closer walk with Jesus TODAY, and not wait till our deathbed.
Sadly, He is not finding a home in the churches these days. However, the Holy Spirit is at work searching out those hearts who have not found within the church systems that their longings to enter into Him more deeply have been met. The Lord is seeking a home in those hearts which He has drawn to Himself. There is no route that can go around the Cross for those who are earnest in this calling. It has been made a light and cheap thing; the Gospel that has been bent and twisted to suit every feckless age. He is working out whom He joins with whom. I would like to reflect on what Paul said. That he would seek to share in the sufferings of Christ. What a statement that is. I find there is little in these earthly realms that appeals to me, save the joy of meet with those true sojourners along the pathway of life. It is like reaching an oasis to find these ones. This infinite love that led Him to Calvary; it breaks me. Who I am that He should suffer and die for my sake? What have I to offer but filthy rags?
Let me not run in the true day of testing, let me hold onto Him so I can hear His heartbeat; may I not let Him down as those who let Him down and fled. His precious life, given for me. Where do I begin in my devotion to Him? O, for a thousand tongues, truly. O for a heart that is pure and worthy.
“Jesus hath many lovers of His heavenly Kingdom, but few bearers of His Cross”.
Thomas A Kempis
Hi Martin, as I read your comment I was reminded of a few verses from Psalm 84.
How amiable (beloved) are Thy tabernacles (Dwelling Places) O LORD of hosts.
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD.
My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young: even Thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be still (continually) praising Thee…
There’s that “oasis” you mentioned, Martin. I feel the same way. On the pathway of life, to meet and fellowship with those who have the same longing the psalmist had, and the same cry for the living God… this is truly an oasis in a dry and desolate and thirsty land.
Blessings to you, brother Martin. I’m thankful to have met you in the pathway of life.
The privilege is mine brother. Your heart for the Saviour permeates to all who join with you. The Psalms is one of the few places I find refuge in this ravaged world; that meets my heart’s yearnings. Psalm 84 gives voice and expression to what is in my heart. He is actually our shelter. To be found under the shadow of His wings. Today I awoke and thought of seeing the very face of Jesus in its beauty. To look in His face, the one who has redeemed me. In the Psalms I glimpse His face. I see not with the eyes that God has put in my head but with the eyes of my heart. Oh, the heart is the very centre of who we are. 2013 offers new opportunities to venture into Christ. To explore the depths that are in Him. The vastness that He is. The wisdom, the power, the awesomeness, the supremacy of Him. He is above all things. He is the living God. Unrestrained by man’s feckless and limited philosophies and vain thoughts. Infinite. Muscular. Tender. He is many rivers; He is all things. He is Christ immortal. Christ triumphant. Show forth your Glory in the earth. Magnify your name in all the earth. Every knee shall bow to that name. And today, He has our deepest burdens within His heart.
Amen, Martin. I too anticipate 2013. These are difficult days, but Lord, glorify your Name.