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Dan Augsburger
Exodus Lessons 1

Longing For Heaven


Key Thought: God’s plan was for them to return to Canaan—the land that had been promised through Abraham—but they were not ready to return, nor were they fit to return. So far as arousing a desire to return, God allowed a new Pharaoh to take the Egyptian throne who was paranoid of the many Israelites in his country. Seeking to demoralize and weaken them, he began having all the male babies killed off, and enslaved the men. Pharaoh was God's instrument to awaken a godly longing to return to Canaan.
 
Longing For Heaven

Last evening I shared a devotional with an internet-based revival prayer group about the children of Israel when they were leaving Egypt. You recall that they came to Egypt as invited guests, were settled in the best land of Egypt—Goshen, were given leading roles, and enjoyed a special relationship with the ruling people. Over time they came to enjoy living in Egypt, adopted the ways of Egypt, and were more Egyptian than Israelite.

God’s plan was for them to return to Canaan—the land that had been promised through Abraham—but they were not ready to return, nor were they fit to return.

So far as arousing a desire to return, God allowed a new Pharaoh to take the Egyptian throne who was paranoid of the many Israelites in his country. Seeking to demoralize and weaken them, he began having all the male babies killed off, and enslaved the men. Pharaoh was God's instrument to awaken a godly longing to return to Canaan.

I wish I could say that they quickly figured out what was going on—that God was trying to awaken them to their spiritual condition, but they didn’t. For over 80 years they endured the killing of babies and the enslaving of men—Moses was in Egypt for 40 years, then in the wilderness for 40 years, before he returned to lead the people back to Canaan.

I am certain they were sending up many prayers: "God, please protect our babies"; "God, please stop this slavery"; "God please deliver us from this new Pharaoh"! But their prayers went unheeded apparently.

Why were their prayers not being answered? They were asking God to solve their problems IN Egypt, instead of asking God to deliver them FROM Egypt. They were praying “bless me in Egypt” prayers. When we pray such prayers, God answers our prayers the same way: by making our lives harder instead of easier.

Now, note that God wasn’t planning to make their lives harder forever, but difficulty was the only way He could awaken them, so that they would even agree to leave Egypt.

You would have thought someone would have asked, “Why is God allowing these things to take place? What is God trying to tell us? Is God upset with us?”

For them the answer was “yes.” They neither wanted to return to Canaan, nor were they fit to inhabit Canaan. We also get the impression their lives were not honoring God and that Egypt had truly taken over their hearts!

I think the same thing is happening in the world today. Life is falling apart for everyone in the world, and God is trying to send a message. Everyone is being affected by natural disasters, social upheavals, anarchy, unrest, scarcity, disease, crippling poverty and there are dire predictions of a pending financial meltdown. But we are not recognizing the hand of God in these events!
The governments of the world are busily trying to figure out how to restore stability, establish democracies, shore up finances, quickly solve disasters, and do whatever else they can to bring back the prosperity of former times. But they are failing, and will fail, because God, the creator and ultimate sovereign of this world, is trying to awaken the people of planet earth to the fact that things have gone terribly wrong.

Sadly few people are asking, “What is God trying to tell us?”

The same is happening in families. Marriages are crumbling, children are rebelling, jobs are being lost, health is failing. Modern society is directing a perfect storm against the sanctity of marriage, happy families, respectful children, etc.. Sadly, few are asking, “What is God trying to tell us?”

We need to pause and learn what God is trying to say through His word, and then take the appropriate steps.

Perhaps you are like me, recognize God's call to seek the heavenly Canaan, but are so busy doing many things, that there is hardly time to think or do anything about it. I am being honest here. Many of us are so afflicted. I think we need to start living like Abraham, recognizing that this earth is not our home, and living for the coming Kingdom, more than this earthly Kingdom.

For the children of Israel, the first step on the journey back to Canaan, was wanting to go back. There was still much growth that was needed, but God would lead them if they followed.

Our Father is calling us to leave this earth and go to the heavenly Canaan. Do you want to go? Are you willing to leave this world behind? I hope so!

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