Summary: Any bondage that is not to Christ is a poor choice.
This morning marks the first Sunday of Lent. This is a period of six weeks, leading up to Easter, in which we prepare for the glorious resurrection of our Redeemer. Our deliverer is coming. That’s not a new sentiment. Indeed, it even predates Christ by nearly two millennia. And yet, even in our day, we still feel the grip of sin.
But before we can discuss a Deliverer, we need to spend some time understanding what it is that we are being delivered from.
Lent is typically celebrated by breaking bad habits. The idea is to be delivered from the sin that so easily ensnares us. Maybe you give up chocolate or TV or if you’re really hard-core, your snooze button on the alarm clock. It’s really a liberating experience to see the sunrise or have an extra hour with your wife. It’s a time of practicing what it means to be free.
And that’s why I want to spend sometime this Lent chronicling what that path to freedom looks like.
For hundreds of years the children of Israel were in bondage, enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt. But they knew for a fact, that their deliverer was coming. I want to show you how, in the beginning part of Exodus, God delivered his people from what oppressed them.
I am going to begin talking about the Exodus, but before we get there, I need to start where it all began, in Genesis. If you’ll indulge me, I want to link two of the great stories of the Bible. And, in doing that, I want to show you why it is in fact that we are all still in need of a Deliverer today.
I want to start by giving you a quick reminder of Genesis. You remember Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. You probably even remember the trials and tribulations of Jacob’s son, Joseph. You’ll remember that as Rachel’s first-born, Jacob loved him more than the rest. He gave him a coat of many colors. This made his brothers jealous. And so, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Jacob – the same man who had tricked his father into thinking he was Esau, was now tricked by his own children into thinking his favorite son was dead.
But Joseph was able to make the best of a bad situation. He rose to prominence in Potipher’s house. But he had an unlucky break – in the form of Potipher’s spouse. Because Joseph wouldn’t lie with her, she lied about him. And so, he ended up in jail yet again.
But Joseph was delivered. Pharaoh had a dream, and Joseph knew its interpretation. Seven years of feast followed by seven years of famine. Joseph knew a basic principle of life skills. Save in the good times so you’ll have something for the bad times.
But Joseph did more than just provide for Pharaoh. Their savings plan had left them as the only country capable of providing grain anywhere. That ‘anywhere’ includes Canaan – where Jacob’s family was. You can see then, why Jacob’s family would need to go to Egypt to do their grocery shopping. They really had no choice.
By God’s providence, Joseph is able to see his family again. And, what’s more, he’s even able to forgive the same brothers who had sold him into slavery. Genesis seems to have a happy ending.
Now, if you end there and just start reading in Exodus, all the sudden you just hear, ‘There was a new king who didn’t know Joseph,’ and everybody is a slave. It seems like a big jump.
But then there’s this curious little interlude that ties Genesis and Exodus together. It’s one of those little details that makes me have to stop and ask, “Why did they record this?” Let’s pick up the story now right in the middle of the seven year bad years.
Selling yourself into slavery is a common practice back then. After all, being a slave is a job. It puts food on the table. The only difference between a servant and a slave is that the servant can be fired. The slave is there for life.
So, everybody in Egypt is now a slave. But history is full of reversals. You can see why resentment might build, how the grudge match begins. Who wouldn’t want to turn the tables?
But understand why it is that these Egyptians became slaves in the first place. They needed food. They had no options. Our lives can be a lot like that. Oh, we live in a land of plenty, but we still have needs. And, there are still bad choices out there that can fill those needs, albeit at a high price. When we run out of “options” we truly are in slavery. Our only option is to stay with whatever provides for our need. Sometimes, that can be a good master. Sometimes, not so much. Sometimes, it seems there is no option at all, but my friends, that is precisely why we need a Deliverer.