Recently I was reading the Exodus story in my devotions. I came across this passage in Exodus 13:17, where God said this about his people. “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” I took those words to heart. I thought of myself and the many men who want to make a difference in our increasing secular culture. Would we today, change our minds and go back to Egypt, when we begin to face a more determined and intentional opposition? God has called us to leave Egypt, that is, being enslaved to cultural norms that hinder our life with God. The Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, but they still had a slave mentality. It would be easy to go back to the familiar.
Like the Israelites, we will need to trust God to give us a new mind set. Just as Pharaoh hardened his heart and came after the people of God, beginning their journey in the wilderness, so there will a hardening of the opposition of those who are followers of Jesus in our day. Like the Israelites, who found they had to face the army of Pharaoh, we will face formidable opposition. They were terrified by Pharaoh’s army. They cried out, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt – we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness” (Ex 14:11-12 – The Message). Their fear had distorted reality. In fact God had heard their cry for help and came to the rescue. But they were blinded by their fear.
Men, don’t let the fear of opposition, which will come, blind you to the truth that God is leading you out of cultural slavery into freedom. Don’t let yourself be drawn back into cultural captivity. What Moses had to say to the people should be words we all memorize for the coming days. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Ex. 14:13-14). Why did they have only need to be still and let God win the battle by destroying Pharaoh’s whole army in the Red Sea? Because God would be glorified, that is, recognized as God. “”I’ll use Pharaoh and his entire army, his chariots and horsemen, to put my Glory on display so that the Egyptians will realize that I am God” (Ex 14: 18 – The Message). May God be recognized through faithful men, talking a stand.
As I was preparing to write this blog I read on line an interview with Brother Andrew, the bible smuggler. He knows first hand the persecution of Christians around the world. He said of us in the West, “our problem is that if we have a little opposition we call it persecution. That’s ridiculous. Every Christian is tested; every Christian has and will have opposition.” When he prays for the church, he prays, “not for God to remove persecution, but to use it to purify the church.” Wow. That puts some of our coming opposition into perspective. It is not the same as persecution. But it will begin to purify us. I must warn you men. When the opposition comes, you will have to examine our motives, life style and commitment. Don’t turn and run back to Egypt. Remember God is there with you.
I found it interesting that in one of those Super Bowl ads there was an ad that appealed to the bravery of men. Remember the Audi ad, with the catchy phrase at the end, “Bravery; it is what defines you.” Somehow we are supposed to be brave when we drive an Audi. Pretty far fetched! But the hook is the appeal to bravery. Is there a stirring in the soul of American men to want to make a difference? I hope so. I have always believed – that the hope for renewal of our culture and society are godly men. It’s time to “man up.” It is God who strengthens the hearts of men to go forward on the journey, and not return to Egypt.