Sunday, March 30, 2014

On the way home

Last week at Bible study we talked a bit about spiritual warfare.  We had been reading Exodus 17:8-16, where the Hebrew people, traveling from Egypt to their Promised Land, were attacked by the Amalekites.  God had delivered them from slavery and He was leading them to a land of milk and honey; that is, a land where they would prosper and enjoy God's goodness in numerous and delightful ways.  Yet on this journey, when things were looking up, a foreign people attacks them.

As we talked about this passage there were a number of things that we found in common with our own everyday experiences as Christians.  First of all, we have freedom in Christ.  The Hebrews had been set free from their bondage to the Egyptians, and we have also been set free from slavery to sin.  Paul writes about this in Romans 6, summarizing the fact of our freedom in verse 11:

"So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." 

So, like the Hebrews, our freedom as God's people is an established fact.

Secondly, as the Hebrews travelled they encountered a few problems, problems that they could not deal with on their own.  In Exodus 14, 15, 16 and 17 we see examples of challenges that they faced and the ways in which God provided for them. 

In a similar fashion, nearly every person who has been a Christian for any period of time can look back at their life and see places where God was present.  They can see places where the only way they could get from one place in life to another is because God, in His mercy, compassion and love, carried them.

So the Hebrews have their freedom and God consistently provides for them so that they can continue on their journey home.  And still they are attacked.  Things are going well and yet they are violently threatened.  This is a place of spiritual warfare.  God has claimed a people as His own and He is shaping their character as He leads them home.  And God's spiritual enemies, working through the Amalekites, attack. 

The battle that the Hebrews are in is a part of the larger, unseen battle, raging between God and those forces opposed to Him.   Paul writes about this in Ephesians 6:12, saying,

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places."

Often, when things seem to be going so well in our lives, circumstances quickly change and chaos seems to be all around us.  Satan, God's enemy, often knows our character better than we know ourselves.  He knows our weaknesses and attacks them when we aren't expecting it. 

Easter will be here in a few weeks.  It is a time for us to remember that while battles often rage in our lives, the final victory has already been won. Spiritual warfare is a real thing but it is ultimately without power, because in the death and resurrection of Jesus all enemies of God are defeated.  The cross looks like defeat but the empty tomb proves victory.  Like the Hebrews, our journey will not be easy, but our Savior will, without any doubts, lead us home.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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