This Lent season, it’s a time for spiritual renewal and personal examination. It’s a time of reflection and repentance. It’s a time of regeneration and restoration. It’s much like the annual spring cleaning brought about after the long, hard, cold winter where windows are washed clean, closets are cleaned out, and the flower beds are cleared of leaves and debris--all in anticipation of spring and the blooming of a new season.
During this Lent season, I had a friend who was on a personal journey and encouraged others to seek God in deeper ways. He titled this reflective period leading up to Easter or the Passover holiday as, “Leaving Egypt.” Passover is celebrated every year as a reminder of God’s deliverance of the nation Israel from Egypt. And it applies to us as well.
My friend said, “God, wants us to examine our hearts and lives about what we need to leave behind.” The question he posed was, “What kind of Egypt do we need to walk away from in this quest?” It has stirred my heart to ponder a few things and wonder what I need to walk away from as well. Or what needs tending in my heart like the flower beds that require attention or the closets full of junk that should be cleaned out.
Leaving Egypt—it reminds me of the Israelites. God’s children from long ago, were held captive by cruel masters. The Israelites cried out to God for deliverance from their bondage. Some longed for freedom from Egypt’s captivity, some cried out to God for deliverance, others had long lost hope, and some had resolved that this was the way life would always be.
We’re like those Israelites. And the problem for some of us, if we’re really honest, is that sometimes we don’t want to leave our modern-day Egypt with all its foreign gods, materialistic society, and idolatry. Egypt, which is representative of the worldly system, has become our abode. We’ve set up homes here--figuratively speaking. And while we may live a life of bondage to the many masters that drive us, we’re at least comfortable in the familiarity of the many gods that bid us to serve them.
At times we cry out for a Savior and a Deliverer, for a God who’s bigger than all our self-made idols. But then the thought of all the hard work involved in leaving Egypt scares most of us back into submission to our taskmasters.
I know many who are battling addictions, but when the tough work on the road to recovery begins, they quit and run back to their slavery. Or others are far too comfortable in this modern Egypt and don’t want to change their lives simply out of rebellion. They hate the bondage, yet love their sin.
It reminds me of people who battle sexual temptations, yet they continually pursue illicit relationships or place themselves in tempting situations. Like a friend who liked having “friendly lunch dates with a co-worker of the opposite sex.” And he wondered why temptation stared him in the face. Still, others are frightened to leave the addiction to alcohol or drugs they’ve used to help cope with life. Instead, they stay under the oppression of their “gods” and stay bound. I knew a woman who was content to continue in an adulterous relationship with a married man. Rather than face the prospect of obedience to God and the loneliness she felt, she compromised her morals and believed the lies just so she wouldn’t have to be alone. In the long run, the man never left his wife and she ended up alone, hurt, betrayed, and disillusioned. Her false god offered her no life at all.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, wants full devotion and obedience. He’s trying to save us from ourselves and the cruel taskmasters that hold us in bondage. He sees the condition of our hearts and is well-acquainted with us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He recognizes too, Egypt is not our home or where we belong. On the one hand, we’re secure and comfortable in our mud hut mentality, but in reality, we are in slavery. And underneath it all, our hearts cry out for freedom. Yet we are torn between the two worlds and we settle for second best and serve Egypt’s gods and follow the dictates of our flesh or the culture that surrounds us.
But God sees and hears the cries. He knows we cannot deliver ourselves. He knows our rulers and cruel masters. He sees our compromise, our slavery, and our bondage. Fortunately, He sent a Deliverer to liberate and free us from Egypt’s hold. The real question is: “Do we want liberation? Will we leave Egypt for God’s Promised Land?” Just like Moses who was Israel’s deliverer, God has sent us help in the Person of Jesus Christ—but we have to follow and obey!
The way to each individual Promised Land is through a wilderness and desert region just like the Israelites of old. The way won’t be easy. There is no familiar security in the wilderness. Security will only be found in a relationship with and obedience to God. There will be a leaving required and a clinging to the One True God.
It will require boldness of faith, obedience, and courage to leave the old things behind and set forth on an adventurous journey. There will be no smoothly paved roadways on this highway of holiness. At times it will seem there are no easily discernable marked signs on this journey. We’ll have to follow the cloud and trust God beyond our manipulations and control.
Yet in that wilderness, trust is inspired, faith is ignited, self is reduced, and God is exalted. And all the things we once held as precious and dear from our Egyptian captivity, simply lose their hold. And all the false idols and false gods and things we once worshiped and loved are simply left behind.
And when He has our utmost and complete heart’s devotion, He leads us to a better place—far from Egypt’s hold. It’s hard to see the Promised Land for our hearts are too crowded right now with Egypt’s gods and false loves. Many have settled in this foreign place and He is calling us out. He is calling us home. He is calling us back to Himself in true worship, back to a place of life, freedom, and blessing; a place of promise!
It’s time to leave Egypt behind. It’s time to get a move on it. Let the journey begin for we are leaving Egypt! It’s time to embrace a new season.
I hear your heart’s cry. I am your Deliverer from any bondage you face. I have sent you freedom in the life of My Son. Simply accept Him, believe Him, and leave your ways of Egypt behind. These gods will never bring you the life you seek. It is found in Me. Follow Me and let Me bring you into that abundant life. You are My beloved one.
“Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place...” (Exodus 13:3)
“As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst, do not fear.” (Haggai 2:5)