The Israelites – God’s people living in slavery in the land of Egypt under the iron rule of Pharaoh. Until God speaks to Moses, an Israelite who grew up as an Egyptian Prince, and asks him to lead the campaign for Israel’s freedom. Moses asks Pharaoh to let his people go and when Pharaoh refuses God sends 10 plagues to sweep through the land.
- TURNING THE NILE INTO BLOOD.
- THE PLAGUE OF FROGS
- THE PLAGUE OF GNATS
- SWARMS OF FLIES
- DEATH OF LIVESTOCK
- THE PLAGUE OF BOILS
- THE PLAGUE OF HAIL
- THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
- THE PLAGUE OF DARKNESS
- THE DEATH OF THE FIRST BORN
Now, I have learnt something interesting about these plagues: For every plague that was inflicted upon the people, Pharaoh and the land, there was an Egyptian god associated with it.
- there were Egyptian gods known as the guardian of the river source, the spirit of the Nile and for the god of Oasis the Nile was believed to be in his blood stream
- there was a frog goddess of Egypt and a god of fertility
- there was a god of the earth
- the fly god of Egypt
- gods associated with bulls and cows
- goddess of epidemic and healing
- the sky goddess, agricultural goddess and a god of the atmosphere
- a deity protector from locusts
- sun gods
- and lastly, Pharaoh himself.
For every plague Almighty God – the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of the Israelites – was showing that He is the God above all other gods.
“I execute judgements against all the gods of Egypt”. Exodus 12:12 (CSB)
When God led the Israelites out of slavery He was giving them more than just their physical freedom. He was setting them free from every power and authority of oppression and slavery – both from things that they could see with their physical eyes and from things that they didn’t even know they needed to be set free from.
I want to remind you today that you serve a God who wants to set you completely free.
And he wants to set you free from things you know you need freedom from and from things you are not even aware are holding you captive. His freedom for you goes so much deeper than just the promise of eternal life and salvation. He came to set you completely free.
“For freedom, Christ sets us free.” Galatians 5: 1 (CSB)
The Israelites didn’t realise their complete freedom. Once they had escaped Pharaoh they went on to develop a habit of continually grumbling and complaining. At every hurdle and every obstacle we see that their response is usually the same.
On the fifteenth day of the second month after they had left Egypt, the whole company of Israel moved on from Elim to the Wilderness of Sin which is between Elim and Sinai. The whole company of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron there in the wilderness. The Israelites said, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat? You’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death, the whole company of Israel!” Exodus 16: 1 – 3 (MSG)
The Israelites were physically free but they were still bound by their slave mentality. They were physically free from captivity and yet they were still held captive in their thinking. They were no longer slaves and yet they still thought like they were slaves instead of like they were beloved children of the Most High God.
The Israelites were like a bird whose wings had been clipped and caged. They had been freed from the cage but were still not free enough to fly.
I think many of us live like the Israelites, we are free, but only to a certain extent. We can be physically free from a past relationship but still plagued by bitterness and resentment. We can be free from our old life of sin but still held captive by shame or condemnation. We can be physically free from any danger and yet we can still be imprisoned and paralysed in our minds by fear, worry and anxiety.
We might be free but are we completely free?
What is it in your life that still holds you captive? What mindsets are you allowing to play ruler in your life that Christ has actually already set you free from?
“For freedom, Christ sets us free. Stand firm and don’t submit again to the yolk of slavery”. Galatians 5:1
What is Paul, the writer of this letter to the Galatian church saying? In chapters four and five we read as he urges them to not get caught back up in the slavery mindset that God has already freed them from. Don’t get caught up in the religious thinking and in the law that once bound you. He’s saying: You are free! Don’t enslave yourselves again!
So how do you live completely free?
Therefore we were buried with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, since a person who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:4-7 (CSB)
How do we have complete freedom? We walk in the newness of life. We can do that in a few ways. I want to give you three of them today.
Keys to complete freedom:
1. Establish a new way of thinking.
A little later on in Exodus 32 we read the account of when Moses was on Mount Sinai and God was communing with Moses and inscribing with his very finger the two tablets. Meanwhile Israel was building a golden calf to worship. Listen to what they say:
They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them; they have made for themselves an image of a calf. They have bowed down to it, sacrificed to it, and said, ‘Israel, these are your gods, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” Exodus 32:8 (CSB)
When you don’t understand your complete freedom, your past will try and tell you that your prison was actually your place of freedom. The enemy will speak lies to you about the brokenness that was in that place, Oh it wasn’t so bad was it…Isn’t it better than where you are now?
For every prison still holding you captive there is a lie you have believed that has kept you thinking like a slave instead of a Child of God.
Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 (CSB)
Establishing a new way of thinking allows us to discern the barrage of thoughts that assault us daily. Have a renewed mind, Romans says, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
The NIV translation says, when you renew your mind you can test and approve. You don’t have to allow every thought access to your life. In fact, this passage states clearly that we are to test and approve anything trying to gain access to our thinking.
I love airports and I love travel. I even love watching those airport shows, you know the customs ones? It always astounds me what people try and bring into the country.
I must admit though, I am thankful. I am thankful that we live in a nation that wants to protect us from nasty bugs, drugs and baddies. I am thankful for airport security and our shipping ports that test and approve anything and anyone entering our country. I’m thankful that they don’t just let anything and anyone in.
I wonder what might change if we were to use the same strategy with our thinking? When a thought enters could we begin asking questions? Do you have anything to declare? What is your purpose here and how long do you intend to stay?
Is there a lie I am believing? Is this thought here to bring me down or lift me up? Is this thought contrary to the word of God?
Test it. Discern it’s purpose before you give it approval to enter your mind.
Being completely free means you have to train yourself to think a new way.
Your freedom begins in your mind before it can take place anywhere else.
2. Teach yourself a new language.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken. ”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 2 Corinthians 4:13 (NIV)
Complete freedom requires a language of faith.
When we are born again, as a child of God, when we enter Gods family we actually have to learn a new language. A language of faith says, while I may not see it, I am going to speak it. It is a language of hope and expectation.
We have all experienced the power that words can have over our lives. Words spoken by others over us, but just as important are the words you speak over yourself. What words are you saying about your marriage? About your family? About your business? About your financial situation? About yourself?
Your words have the power to frame your world.
3. Begin making different decisions.
You can change your thinking, and you can change your language but if you are still making the same debilitating decisions then you are still not free.
Making different decisions begins by changing your first response. Much of our lives are actually built on the patterns of behaviour that we begin developing from a very young age. These patterns of behaviour are what will end up guiding our decisions as we grow into adulthood.
Where the Israelites’ first response was to grumble and complain they needed to change their pattern of behaviour and instead of grumble and complain, turn to God for help, for provision and for the fulfilment of their need.
There is a quote that says,
Live less out of habit and more out of intent.
If your habits lead you toward decisions that continue to imprison you, can I encourage you to begin living your life with intent. Nothing left to chance. Mindful of your actions, your decisions, your responses and the habits that are out to trip you up.
If you want to begin making different decisions you need to begin creating some different intentional habits in your life.
I am going to remind you of the very thought I started this post with; we serve a God who wants to set you completely free. Not partial freedom or once in a while freedom – complete freedom!
Now, go out there and live like you believe it.