Exodus: Taking the Road Out
Part 1
A Big Picture of Deliverance
Exodus 1

Now if you have got your Bible I am going to ask you to turn to the book of Exodus, which is the second book of the Old Testament and one of the very important books of the Scriptures.  

We won’t understand a lot of the Old Testament story if we don’t know what the book of Exodus is about.  Nor will we understand a lot of the New Testament without understanding this book of Exodus, because it is referred back to again and again.

A before I read some verses from Exodus Chapter 1, let me just make a few summary comments.  We could call the book of Exodus “The Great Escape”.  Now I know somebody else has stolen that title already.  But it’s about the greatest escape in history when over 2 million de facto prisoners escaped from one of the most fortified nations of the world.

It was a humanly impossible event.  The word exodus, given as a title of this book, literally means “the road out”.  And it’s about the road out of Egypt for a group of people we know as the Israelites who had become enslaved and locked up in bondage, and as a result, in despair.

And the reason that came about is something I need to just summarize for you by taking you back to the beginning of God’s covenant with Abraham.  Abraham came from Ur of Chaldeans and God brought him to this land of Canaan and He made a covenant with him that involved people (that is, the descendants of Abraham through his son), a place (that was the land in which they were to reside – the land of Canaan), and a purpose – that these would not only be the recipients of God’s blessing, but they would in turn be the source of God blessing the whole world.

That’s what God said to Abraham when He made His covenant with him.  It was to begin with a son.  Abraham was 75 years of age.  He was married to Sarah, who was 65 years of age.  They had no son and God gave them a son.  His name was Isaac.  

Isaac in turn fathered twins – Esau and Jacob.  Jacob became the inheritor of the birthright and the blessing that went with the birthright that belonged to the firstborn (though Jacob was the second born of the twins.)  And many of you know the story of how he cheated to get hold of the birthright that belonged to the firstborn. And in fact the name Jacob means “twister” or “cheater”.  

And that is what he was until an occasion, in a place called Peniel; God met with him, wrestled with him, and changed his name from Jacob (twister) to Israel (prince with God).

Jacob had two wives.  He fell in love with a girl called Rachel.  When it came to his wedding day, his bride appeared covered, as would be the custom, and the morning after when he saw her face uncovered for the first time, he realized it was not Rachel he had married but her elder sister Leah.  

His father in law was as big a cheat as Jacob had been.  And Jacob went to him and said, “This is not the girl I have worked for” (because he had to work seven years to get the bride.)

He said, “No, but it’s our custom not to marry the younger one first.  But you can have the younger one as well if you work for another seven years.”

And so eventually Jacob had these two wives, Leah and Rachel.  Leah was fertile; she gave him 10 sons and some daughters.  Rachel seemed infertile until one day she did conceive and she actually gave him a son Joseph and then later the son Benjamin.  Because Joseph was the firstborn of Rachel, he became the favourite of Jacob.  

And Jacob gave privileges to Joseph he didn’t give to the other sons and the other sons became jealous and they decided to get rid of him. And they sold him to some Ishmaelite traders who were going to Egypt.  And they said, “Auction him on the market and make some money out of him”, which they did.

He was bought in Egypt by a man called Potiphar.  Potiphar put him in charge of his family, his household.  And his wife was impressed with him; she tried to seduce him.  Joseph was 17 years of age.  He ran away.  

When Potiphar came home, Potiphar’s wife told him that Joseph had tried to seduce her – the reversal of the truth.  And Potiphar was naturally enraged.  He had him thrown into prison.

In prison, Joseph began to interpret dreams; God gave him that ability.  And he was brought out to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who had a dream nobody could interpret.  And Joseph interpreted for him and he said, “It means this:  you are going to have seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.  You need to prepare during the plenty for the famine.”

And Pharaoh said, “I have not met as many wise people as you; would you come out of the prison?”  And he put Joseph in charge of the country to prepare for the famine.

After seven years of plenty, the famine began.  Two years into the famine Joseph’s brothers in Canaan, equally impacted by the famine, came down to Egypt to buy food.  And they were brought before Joseph not knowing who he was, assuming in fact Joseph, their brother, was dead.

But he told them who he was, “I am your brother whom you saved [sold], but don’t panic; your meant evil against me; God meant it for good.  Go back home and bring our father and (at that stage) the younger brother and bring them back to Egypt.”

And they came back to Egypt, and because of Joseph’s popularity in the land, Pharaoh welcomed them with open arms and gave them some of the best land in the Nile Delta, a place called Goshen and they stayed there.  And they stayed and they stayed.

Let me read to you what happens next from Exodus Chapter 1 and Verse 6:

“Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.

“Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt.

“ ‘Look,’ he said to his people, ‘the Israelites have become much too numerous for us.  Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.’

“So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.

“But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.

“They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.”

Let me pause the reading there.  The key there is that the family that had come down into Egypt, a family comprising 70 altogether with wives and children and grandchildren, had multiplied over the 400 years – this event now is 400 years later – to becoming in excess of 2 million.

And it says, “there arose a king who did not know Joseph.”  That is, he did not know why the Israelites were in Egypt, that Joseph had been the champion of Egypt, that had saved them from inevitable starvation and destruction, which is why the Israelites were treated with special favour.

And they feared that as they grew and their population expanded, that they might join the enemies of Egypt and overthrow them either in the country and take over the country, or they might all leave the country and of course they were already significant in the economic structure of Egypt.

And so Pharaoh decided he would reduce them to slavery.  And the rest of Chapter 1 summarizes the terms of their slavery. The whole people group of the Israelites were oppressed it says.  They became driven by slave masters; they were forced to build cities at Pithom and Rameses.

But they continued to multiply and so they ordered the midwives to kill any baby boy.  Keep the girls alive; kill the boys.  But the midwives did not cooperate and so Pharaoh passed the responsibility from the midwives to the population in general.  In Verse 22 it says,

“Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people:  ‘Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.’”

In other words, he permitted a mass genocide of Israeli boys.  It’s not because they preferred the girls in terms of giving them dignity and sanctity; they no doubt wanted to use them for their own purposes.

And in Chapter 2 you have the record of the birth of a boy, a baby, who his parents, rather than have him killed, put him into a little basket with pitch to make it waterproof and put him out into the Nile amongst the bulrushes, with his sister standing on the side watching him to make sure he stayed safe.  

And he was later called Moses, and Moses becomes the hero of the whole story.  He becomes the deliverer of Israel out of Egypt.  He becomes the one who receives the law from God and establishes Israel as a nation – not a family now, but a nation, a theocracy under the governance of God, and was to bring them out of their slavery and into freedom.

And I want to look at this story over a number of weeks, not because we are merely interested in a piece of Jewish history, interesting though that is, but because there are two stories being told simultaneously alongside each other.

One is the historical story, events that happened at a time and a place in history.  One - alongside that, the other is a spiritual story.  It’s the story of how God intervenes to liberate men and women from bondage and slavery.

One is a story of Israel, a particular people; one is a story of you and me, individuals, who find ourselves in a position of bondage.

One is about release from slavery; the other is about release from sin.

One is about a journey to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey; the other is about a journey into the fullness of our inheritance in Christ, where we enjoy all the resources God has to equip us for life and for godliness.

One is about their failure to enter into Canaan for many years; the other is about the failure of many Christians to enter in to the fullness that should be theirs in Christ.  And instead of living in the richness of a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Israelites lived in a wilderness, in a desert, so many Christians live their lives in a wilderness and a desert.

The second story is told on the back of the first story.  Now let me make this very clear:  we cannot impose an interpretation on stories like this that we make up for ourselves.  

We must let the Bible be its own interpreter.  And I have often said that the best commentary on the Bible is the Bible.  It is also the cheapest as well as being the most reliable.  What does Scripture say about other Scriptures?  

And this interpretation of seeing the deliverance from slavery in Egypt into a land where they were designed to enjoy all the full provision of God, is retold again and again in the rest of Scripture, especially in the New Testament, as being a picture of coming out of sin.  

As I will show you in a moment, the Passover lamb, the final straw that broke the back of Pharaoh, that was the means of releasing Israel from Egypt, foreshadows the blood of Christ.

We can’t make this up.  We have to go into Scripture and say, what is the meaning of this, as the rest of Scripture tells us.

And I want this morning just to give you, if you like, the big picture, the big picture of deliverance.  What is deliverance about?  And I want to just talk about three things from this story paralleled with your story and my story in our Christian experience.

The three points I want to bring you this morning are the deliverances from something, first of all, deliverances to something, second of all, and deliverances for something, thirdly.

Let me talk about those three things.  First of all, deliverances from something.  The Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians and as a result they are suffering bitterly beneath the burdens inflicted on them by the task masters whose whips drove them every day, by the helplessness of their ability to save themselves and the hopelessness of their situation, but for one fact.  

And the one fact was this:  God spoke hundreds of years before about this very situation when He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 – let me read it to you; Genesis 15:13:

“The Lord said to Abraham, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”

God was not taken by surprise by this situation but they knew hundreds of years before the promise had been made that, “I am going to intervene at some stage and I am going to bring you out of your bondage and slavery.”

And of course this picture of slavery is one that Scripture gives us of the natural state of human beings.  At the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden, God withdrew His Holy Spirit from the human spirit.  “The day you eat of that fruit, that day you will die.”  

They became separated from the life of God, in the language of Paul in the book of Ephesians.  And human beings retained their animal body and they would eat and sleep and mate in the animal way.  They would have minds in which to think, emotions with which they would feel, a will with which they could decide, but they would be empty of God, disconnected from the Spirit of God and therefore spiritually dead.  This is the natural condition into which human beings are born.

If the absence of physical life means physical death, so the absence of spiritual life means spiritual death.  And we are born spiritually dead.  1 Corinthians 15:22 says,

“In Adam all die.”  

The life of God was withdrawn from Adam and you and I are born in that state of spiritual death.

Romans 6:23:

“The wages of sin is death.”

That’s not a statement about the future, something that will happen.  It’s a present tense statement.  The wages of sin is death.  They were paid in the Garden of Eden.  We were born dead spiritually, separated from God.  

And therefore we are easy prey to the savage attack of that sin nature with which we were born, that sin principle that comes into every human heart the moment that God went out because there is no vacuum.  And the presence of God in the human heart has been replaced by the presence of sin.

This sin principle that is called in Scripture, depending which translation you use, is called the flesh.  Sometimes that’s the literal translation, not meaning the body but all that a human being is apart from God – the flesh, or the sin nature or the old nature, as some translations put it.  And it is to this that we are in bondage.  

You and I have within us a state of corruption, which drives the way we live and behave. Let me read you what Jesus said in Mark 7:20 – He said,

“What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside a man and make him unclean,” said Jesus.

Of course there are temptations and attacks that come from outside, but our real problem is not our environment; our real problem is ourselves; we’re in bondage to sin.  

Your biggest problem is not what you do; it’s what you are, which is the cause of what you do.  It’s the corruption of the human heart.  It’s this old sin principle called the flesh.

How was Israel to be delivered?  Well, they had to realize something fundamentally that they didn’t realize at first.  And that was that only God could set them free – only God could set them free.

Now there was a time in Moses’ life when he was forty years of age, when he thought that he could set them free.  He thought, and he wondered why other people didn’t realize it, that he was the one who would deliver Israel.

And you remember that he got into an argument with an Egyptian and he looked this way and that way – there was nobody around – he attacked the man, killed him, buried him.  Next day, got into another argument and the guy said, “Are you going to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?”

And Moses said, “How did you know about the Egyptian yesterday?  I buried him.”

“Listen Moses, everybody knows, including Pharaoh and he’s after your blood.”

And Moses had to flee from Egypt and at the age of forty, went out into the local Midian desert and spent the next forty years there because he was discovering this:  “that although I may sincerely, genuinely want to get the people out and get the people free, I can apply human wisdom, human strength, human energy, human tactics, human strategy and I am going to end up utterly bankrupt.”  

And some of you know that, because the way we try to fix our problem is not be going to God; we go to everywhere else.  We know there is something wrong.  

That’s why one of the booming businesses in our world today is counselling.  I’m not mocking counselling but it won’t solve you unless it takes you to God where there’s divine surgery that takes place.

And every human method you try may give you a bit of hope for a while but it will leave you discouraged ultimately, disillusioned and defeated.

God had to set them free, and the final release of Israel out of Egypt was through the blood of a lamb.  Can you think of anything more innocent or more simple?  God sent ten plagues against the nation.  Every plague only had the effect of hardening the hearts of Pharaoh and the people and making them more resistant until the final plague when God sent the Angel of Death - that is, the agent of His wrath - to every Egyptian home.

And the firstborn son of every Egyptian home would die that night in his bed.  The firstborn calf of every Egyptian cow would die in its stall.  The firstborn lamb of every Egyptian sheep would die in the field.

But the Israelites were to take a lamb – a lamb, it says, without defect, without blemish – and kill the lamb and take its blood and put it on the lintel, the doorpost of your house, and eat the meat of the lamb with your coat on, your belt around your waist, your shoes on your feet, your staff in your hand, ready to run in the strength of the lamb when the word comes that you are free.

And the angel of death sent to Egypt, when it saw the blood on the doorpost of the house, he passed over.  Exodus 12:13 says,

“The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you.  No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

Later this became known as the Passover because the angel of death passed over every home on which the blood of a lamb had been painted.  

And this, as many of you know, is a foreshadowing of Christ.  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:7 [1 Corinthians 5:7],

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed for us.”

In other words, the blood under which we find protection and release from the judgement of God is the blood of Jesus Christ.  Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us.

John the Baptist introduced Jesus in the Jordan River when he said, “Look”, as He came towards him, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  And every Jew knew exactly what John was talking about because they celebrated the Passover, as Jewish people still do every year.

Because as the Lamb of God, it’s His sacrifice, His blood that protects us from the wrath of God, because He absorbed the judgement of God in Himself as our substitute.

And when the blood of Jesus Christ is applied to our lives, when we come with empty hands, knowing, as the hymn writer says,

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;  
Naked come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

I have nothing to offer except empty hands and the knowledge that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.  It’s the only way out, the only way out.

And their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, the historical, physical, material bondage of the Israelites is a picture of your deliverance and my deliverance from bondage to sin and to the corruptness of the human heart.  It is through the blood of the Passover Lamb, the blood of Jesus Christ.

I ask you this morning, have you ever thanked Him for that and said, “Lord Jesus, thank You for Your blood, which cleanses, and I confess it to You; I confess my sin to You.”

You see deliverance was from something; it was from bondage, it was from slavery.

Second thing:  deliverance is to something.  You see God’s purpose for Israel was a lot bigger than the convenience of being released from slavery.  That was a wonderful thing in itself.  I mean they could wake up in the morning with no cracking of Egyptian whips to drive them to their workplace, no bellowing of commands by a task master, no harsh working environments, no cruel demands such as make bricks without straw (which was one of the cruel demands the Egyptians made).

Every morning an Israelite woke up, once they were out of Egypt, they could breathe a sigh of relief.  There is no crack of the whip, there is nobody driving me anymore – wonderful, wonderful!  

As forgiveness of sin is a wonderful thing in itself, the joy of a cleansed conscience when you know that all the guilt and dirt of your own heart has been nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ and although you know you are guilty, you have been forgiven; you’re cleansed.  That’s a wonderful thing.

But that is not the purpose why God brought them out of Egypt.  The reason why He brought them out of Egypt was to bring them in to Canaan.  In Exodus Chapter 3 and Verse 7, God spoke to Moses, and we’ll look at this later, but He said,

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt.  I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

So He describes aspects of their suffering, their slavery there.  

“So,” (Verse 8) “I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians” (not period) “and to bring them up out of that land and into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

“I am bringing them out of Egypt,” said God “in order to bring them into Canaan”, a land He described poetically as a land flowing with milk and honey – the idea of that being where everything you need is available to you.

And God’s purpose for the Israelites, as had been His purpose for Abraham 500 years before, but they had gone away from that in going down to Egypt; His purpose was that they would enjoy the riches of the land of Canaan.

And God’s purpose for you and His purpose for me is not just to bring us out of our sin, wonderful as that is, but to bring us into the fullness of life in a wholesome, vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ where He is not only the Saviour who brings you out but the Lord and the Master and your very life and strength, where God is God, where you live under His lordship, in dependence upon His indwelling Spirit, whom you surrender to in such a way that you live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

This again is the way the New Testament explains Canaan.  The Bible must be its own interpreter.  And if you read Hebrews 3 and 4 in particular where the writer there talks about their deliverance from Egypt through to Canaan, he speaks of Canaan as a land of rest in the strength of God, a land of rest in the sufficiency of God.  He says in Hebrews 4:11, writing about this story of the exodus and their journey to Canaan,

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter into that rest, so that no one will” (fail or) “fall by following their example of disobedience.”

The rest there is not the rest of sitting on a deck chair with your feet up; it’s resting in the strength of God and it’s resting in His lordship in your life.

Now the journey from Egypt to Canaan should have taken eleven days.  Deuteronomy Chapter 1 Verse 3 tells us that.  It’s an eleven-day journey from Horeb, which is where God met Moses at the burning bush, to Kadesh Barnea, which is in the southern border of Canaan - an eleven-day journey that took them forty years.  

And the reason it took them forty years is because although they trusted God to bring them out and they knew it was by a divine hand they had been brought out of Egypt, they did not equally trust God to bring them in.  They reduced the process now to purely human tactics, human measurements.  

And so they became scared when they realized who lived in Canaan and the battles they would have to be involved in.  And we’ll have cause to look at that, though that occupies not only parts of Exodus but Numbers and Deuteronomy in particular.

The point is that the reason why God brought them out was to bring them in.  Deuteronomy 6:23, Moses says,

“He” (God) “brought us out from there” (Egypt) “to bring us in and give us the land that he promised on oath to our forefathers.”

He brought us out to bring us in.  Now Moses wrote that in the book of Deuteronomy, which was written in the fortieth year they were in the wilderness.  “So, 39 years ago He brought us out.  We have been stuck in a wilderness all these years.”

Deuteronomy 9:12 says,

“Then the Lord told me, ‘…your people whom you brought out of Egypt have become corrupt.  They have turned away quickly from what I commanded them.”

So, they came out, “I brought them out, but they have not gone in.  They have become corrupted.  They have turned away from Me and turned away from My commands.”

And you know, the reason why this is told with such detail in Scripture is because this is what happens in so many Christian lives.  We become content to come out but we don’t want to come in.  That is, we want our sins forgiven, we want the benefit of a cleansed conscience, we want the benefit of knowing we stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that I am forgiven and that I am acceptable on the basis of Christ’s work in me.  I am very happy about that but please don’t ask me to live my life under the lordship of Christ.

There is even sometimes the impression that the gospel is primarily forgiving us in order to make us respectable one day when we die to go into heaven.  That’s the point.  In the meantime, hang around; you don’t know when you are going to die; you don’t know when Christ is coming back, so keep yourself tidy.  You know, make sure, metaphorically, that you comb your hair and you wash your face and you clean your shoes and you, you know, brush your teeth and spray a bit of deodorant so that when Christ does come or you die unexpectedly, phew, you’re going to be okay without any understanding that God’s purpose in bringing me out is to bring me into a whole new relationship with Himself whereby He is our sufficiency, He is our strength, He is our fullness, He is the One who guides me, He is the One who leads me, He is the One who is in charge of my life.

There is an old hymn we don’t sing these days, but it served its purpose well in its own day. It was often sung in an evangelistic context.  I have heard it sung many times – sung it many times.  Many of you know the words.  The words are these:

Out of my bondage, sorrow and night,
Jesus I come, Jesus I come
Into Thy freedom, gladness and light,
Jesus I come to Thee.

Out of my sickness, into Thy health
Out of my want, into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin, into Thy Self,
Jesus I come to Thee.

There are four good verses that say the same thing.  We came out to come in.  We came out to come in.  We came out to come in.  But the problem is the Israelites came out and did not come in and so they lived in a barren wilderness.

And the writer of Hebrews says, “Be very careful, you Christians; be very careful that you haven’t just come out but then failed to come in.”

I want to ask you this morning, have you come out of your sin?  It’s very likely there are those listening to me this morning and you have never come to the cross of Jesus, where He, our Passover, was sacrificed for us and His blood is the only means of atoning for your sin and releasing you from your bondage to it, and confessed to Him your sin and thanked Him for His death and thanked Him for His shed blood.

And if you have never done that, it’s the only way you can be reconciled to God.  And I encourage you this morning, simply in your heart, to say, “Lord Jesus, thank You, Your blood atones for my sin.  Forgive me; bring me out of my bondage.”

But many of you have come out.  My question to you is have you come in?  Are you coming in?  There is a process attached to this.  You read the book of Joshua. They were always trying to occupy more and more of the land; it’s a process.  And Joshua is the picture of that.

Have you come in?  Not just out of your bondage, sorrow and night, but into the freedom, gladness and light, into the fullness of life that we may have in Christ?  

And we will talk more about that because this story throws that up all the time.  This is the whole object of the exercise.

But there is a third point.  If deliverance is from something and deliverance is to something, thirdly, deliverance is for something.  Why did God want Israel in Canaan?  Was it simply a question of geography?  Was it simply a question of politics?  

We must never forget what the purpose was.  Let me take you back to Genesis 12 and read what God said to Abraham when He made the covenant in Verse 2.

“I will make you into a great nation.” (This is about the land He has given to him.)  “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;” (listen to this) “…and you will be a blessing…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

Was it simply a question of landscape, geography, real estate that I want you in Canaan?  

“No,” says God, “I want you here that you might be the means that all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.  I am going to bring you out of Egypt and bring you into Canaan, and the moment you understand what it’s all about, you yourselves will not simply be the beneficiaries, though of course you are; the rest of the world will become the beneficiaries.”

The end result of God’s blessing Israel was not Israel’s blessing; but in blessing them, they would become a blessing to the world.  The focus was not to be inward on Israel’s blessing, but outward on how they will bless the world.

And if you go through the Old Testament narrative, you find whenever Israel became inward looking, which they frequently did, they lost the plot and they got into trouble.  And God had to chastise them and discipline them and send enemies against them and once sweep them all out into exile.

It’s equally true of the Christian life.  It’s equally true of the church of Jesus Christ, that, whereas God blesses us as He blessed Israel, He blessed them in order that through them He would bless the world.  He blesses us that through us we might be outward looking and be the means whereby God blesses the world.

I have talked about being missional.  We are talking a lot about being missional as a church.  This is not some fad or fancy idea.  This is the purpose for which the church has been left here on earth.  We may be using new terminology to describe it, to try and give ourselves some clear focus about it.  But the purpose why the church has been left here on the earth is not just to make ourselves comfortable in a wilderness, but that we might be the means by which God is going to reach and bless others.

And so the church of Jesus Christ and the Christians who understand what it means to live in Canaan are not inward looking anymore; they are outward looking, enjoying all the resources they have of course, because that’s what Canaan was to provide them with – the milk and the honey (we will talk about milk and honey later and all that that symbolism may refer to).  

Yes, we enjoy all the rich blessings of knowing that we have fullness in Christ (to quote the book of Colossians), but it’s that through us there might come blessing to other people and benefit to them, that they might be embraced and brought in to the blessing of God.

So we might go to a place like Botswana we’ve heard about this morning, because there are people living in that part of the world who need the gospel of Jesus Christ and there are missionaries helping them and trying to reach them.  But they need to get around the country so they need planes and pilots, and so we are sending Andrew as a pilot in order that the people of Botswana will be blessed.

Kids on the streets of Calcutta, meeting down at the railway station to ease the pain, sniffing the glue and getting high on all the things that they can get hold of just to ease the pain, and we’re here to bless them.  Not just feed them with food – thank God for that privilege – but to introduce them to spiritual life, which is the engine of a human being.  But when it is dead, we are just helpless and hopeless.  But when we come alive in Christ we discover, hey life is not just about survival; it’s got so much more to it.

And it’s about what God does in you and in me and through you and through me. And it’s very easy – I know this too well, I tell you – in preparing this message, as is the task of all those who teach the Word of God; we’ve got to let it come to us before it will ever come through us.  We’ve got to be challenged by it, stretched by it, convicted by it.

But the business of being a Christian is the joy of liberation from sin, the joy of fellowship with God and intimacy with God and having all the resources in Him that we need to be blessed with.  Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places is in Christ, 2 Peter tells us, that we just sit here and get blessed?  No, that we become a blessing.  We say, “God, what is it You want me to be doing?  Father, how out of my life, through my hands can somebody sense the love of God, through my lips and my ears listening to them, through me resources, through my money?  What is it, how is it, how am I a blessing?

And you know, the more Israel were a blessing to others, the more they enjoyed the land.  But the more they became preoccupied with their own land and their own benefit and their own blessing, the less they enjoyed what God would do.  Because what God does through us is beneficial because He does it in us first.  And what He does in us, He does through us.  “If you are thirsty, come to Me and drink,” said Jesus “and out of your heart will flow a river of living water.  You will be blessed; you will drink; but out of you will flow life-giving water.”

I don’t know how God the Holy Spirit has applied these truths to your heart this morning.  It’s the big picture I have given you of the big story.  But we’re going to break it down and we’re going to look at it in various segments, ways in which God worked to bring them out of Egypt and seeing something of God’s character, His working.  

But we’re not just looking on and saying, “Wow, it’s interesting God’s like that.”  We want to say, “Lord, do this in me and through me and bless our city because I am here.”  Would you dare to pray that?  Let’s pray together.