Longing For Egypt

Numbers 14:3-4

The title at of this sermon is "Longing for Egypt."
It could also be titled "The Security of Slavery."
It is the tragedy of a wasted opportunity.

How often this is the story of our lives, and of our nation.
We stand on the threshold of a chance to do something good, and to better ourselves
and to better our world, but for one reason or another – we let the opportunity slip by.

That was the case in our text.
The Israelites had gone to the edge of the Promised Land.
The people became frightened and discouraged and began to murmur against Aaron and Moses, saying,
"Let's go back to Egypt."

They were meant for the Promised Land.
And here they were at the edge of it, deciding that it would be better to go back than to go forward.

Let us look at some of the reasons why they turned back.
These are some of the same reasons that we often miss our opportunities.
Many opportunities are presented to us to have amazing accomplishments, and to improve our lives,
but we miss them.
So, we head back to Egypt.
Why?
Why do we do this?

First, we want to go back to Egypt because we are too frightened to go forward.

The advance scouts said that the land was "a land of milk and honey."
But it would be difficult to settle that land.
It would require a lot of work.
And also, there are people already there; and they are giants. (Sons of Anak)

By comparison, the majority of the scouts saw themselves as grasshoppers and the Sons of Anak
as giants.
That really scared them.
They weren't ready to do battle with any giants.
They became frightened and decided they would rather go back to Egypt.
They felt that at least they would be alive in Egypt.

The same thing is often true in our lives.
When we face many opportunities, we are frightened.
We are afraid of change, of crime, of cancer, of ...etc.
We are afraid of the uncertainty of victory and probably certain failure.
We are often afraid of what other people think of us.

As a church, we are often afraid of changes.
We seem to define life in terms of what we fear.

Lest us be honest -- there is much to fear.
As we talk about the future – we are frightened by it.
We stand paralyzed, afraid of what the future has in store for us.
There are so many giants in the land, and they scare us.

We must remember that while the giants are there, God is also there.

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt.
God had taken care of them in the wilderness.
And God will provide for them in the Promised Land.
God can handle the giants, and God can handle the problems.
But they didn't take the Promised Land.
Their fear was stronger than their faith.

Some times we long for Egypt because we have forgotten what Egypt was like.

All these people were saying, "Remember how Egypt was?
Let's go back there, remember Egypt
."

But the tragedy of that was that they didn't remember what Egypt was like.
Egypt was a place of agonizing slavery and the cruelty of man's humanity to man.
They would rather have the security of slavery than the responsibility of freedom.

That is so tragic!
And today many are selling their souls for security.

The Israelites were wanting to go back to Egypt.
But they had forgotten that Egypt was a literal hell on earth for them.

We are living in a day that worships nostalgia.
We collect the relics of the past, and we listen to the music of the past.
We are interested in the history of the past, and the people of the past.

So many times we hear people say that they long for "the good old days."
When I hear that, I want to say, "What good old days?"
"Where were they?"

Since the turn of the century, we have been involved in so many wars that I can't even count them all.
And I can't even count how many brushfires and times of tragedy that we have had.
Since the turn-of-the-century, we have lived in a terrible depression, and we are living in another one now.
If you have any money in savings, you are aware that your interest on as much as $1000 is about a dollar.
Crime and gang wars and killings are an every day occurrence.
There have been an increasing use of drugs and an increase alcohol consumption.
Probably more people are getting divorced than are getting married.

The the saddest thing in all this is there is spiritual emptiness everywhere.

This might be a startling thing to say knowing all that is happening in our world,
but these may be the best days that we will ever know.
That depends whether or not we will have the kind of faith in the goodness and the presence of God.
I believe that we can do something good with the time in which we live.
It depends not on the time we live in, but on the faith in which we live.

Our God who led the people out of Egypt to the Promised land is the same God
who can do the same for us.
He can lead us out of our Egypt -- out of our despair into the joy of an abundant life.

Many do long for Egypt because they don't have the commitment and the courage to go forward.

The Israelites didn't take the Promised Land because they didn't want to pay the price for it.
It would be extremely difficult.
It would be a demanding work.
It would mean sacrifice.
It would be dangerous.
It could mean death.
And they didn't want any of that.

They wanted God to deliver them from their slavery.
They wanted God to provide for them in the wilderness.
And they wanted it to be easy.

To all that God said a great big, "No."
God was saying to them, "You can have the Promise Land, and I will help you get it.
But you will have to go and take it – and you must be determined and committed to do that
."

They didn't want to do that for they were use to God taking care of them.
They didn't want to do that, and they didn't.

We would like to have a Promised Land flowing with milk and honey where love is real.
We would like A Promised Land where there is joy and happiness and laughter.
We would like to have a Promised Land, but we are not hopeful and we do not live in faith.

The problem is that we want God to hand our Promised Land to us on a silver platter.
We don't want to pay the price for it.
We want the benefits of the kingdom but not the responsibilities of the kingdom.
We want the glory as of the cross without the sacrifice and suffering of it.
We want the victory without the cost and commitment.

Christ laid down the condition of discipleship when He said,
"If any will come after me, that him deny himself…"

We talk about the Promised Lands that we want.

We want a Christian home.
But there is a price to pay.
It requires honesty, kindness, patience, long-suffering, unselfishness, and faithfulness,
a forgiving spirit and understanding; and a lot of love.

We want a Christian community.
We also have to pay the price for that.
That means involvement – politically and serving the community in various ways.

We want a good church.
But there's a price to pay for that also.
It is a price of involvement in worship, and in the organizational ministry of the church.
It means a willingness to serve, to sing in the choir, to visit the sick, to be involved in missions,
and to be witnesses to the unsaved, and to seek out the unsaved and prospects.

If we want the benefits of the Christian life, we must take the condition to have those benefits.
Jesus said it very clearly: "Take up your cross daily and follow me.
For if you lose your life for my sake, you will find it
."

Are you willing to pay the price?

There is the tragedy of missed opportunities – and there have been many.
The Israelites missed their chance for the Promised land because they were afraid.
Like them, we forget that God is with us.
We don't take God at His word.
The bottom line is that we really don't trust God -- how tragic!

Matthew 13:58 tells us the result of not trusting and believing.
That verse says, "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief."

The future is before us.
It can be a bright future.
It can be a victorious future.
It can be a joyous future.

God will help us, if we will just step out and move forward.

So let us head for the Promise Land, and we will discover that God is with us.

If we head back to Egypt, we will miss the blessings and the joys of the Promise Land.
It is the Promise land or Egypt?
Which one will it be?

"I said: 'Let me walk in the field;'
God said: 'No, walk in the town;'
I said: 'There are no flowers there;'
He said: 'No flowers, but a crown.'"

"I said: 'But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din;'
But He wept as He sent me back,
'There is more,' He said, 'there is sin.'"

"I said: 'But the air is thick,
And fogs are veiling the sun;'
He answered: 'Yet souls are sick,
And souls in the dark undone.'"

"I said: 'I shall miss the light,
and friends will miss me they say;'
He answered me, 'Choose tonight,
If I am to miss you, or they.'"

"I pleaded for time to be given;
He said: 'Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in Heaven,
To have followed the steps of your Guide.'"

"I cast one look at the fields,
Then set my face to the town;
He said: 'My child, do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for the crown?'"

"Then into His hand went mine,
And into my heart came He;
Now I walk in a light Divine,
The path I had feared to see."
-- George MacDonald

We resist from giving ourselves completely to the Lord because we fear what might happen.
He may send us some place that we don't want to go, and we might lose control,
which is exactly what we need to do!
When we let Him have complete control of our lives, we will discover that the place
that we did not want to go is the place we should have been all this time.

In your relationship to God, you win.
If you have it your way -- -- you lose!
If you give up control, and give yourself completely to God, you win!


Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L White