As a farmer’s wife who built a house in the middle of a field, close enough to our hog barns it’s convenient to spread manure on, I have certain – how shall I say this – privileges, not everyone gets to experience. Like flies. Thousands upon thousands of flies in the heat of July, covering my lovely abode, like a bunch of sugar crazed elementary kids out for recess.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:20-32
Key Verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
Dare to open the front door and recess just moved inside. The problem is when four children live in your home, you might as well take off the hinges and call it indoor/outdoor living because let’s be honest, kids don’t know how to close doors.
Anyway, with his otherwise even keeled wife (at least that’s how I like to think of myself), about to hop tractors over to the funny farm, my man did what every good husband would do: he googled it. Wherein he was told this fly bag, filled with decaying chicken scraps or spoiled milk, would trap them all. Of course we bought one.
The smell was horrid but praise be to Jesus, it worked. There were still flies, mind you, but we could once again walk outside without being attacked. (Though I still yelled kindly asked my little lovies to CLOSE THE DOOR whenever they went outside.)
The poor Egyptians however had no Google, no Amazon Prime, and no fly bags. (Sheesh, life must have been rough.) So when God sent swarms and swarms of flies to cover their land and houses and food and bodies and everything they owned – I can only imagine, it was crazy town.
Except in the land of Goshen, the part of Egypt the Israelite’s called home. There, not a fly buzzed, not a woman swatted, not a speck of land was ruined, because God protected Israel from the devastating effects of the fourth plague. Declaring it the first ever “no-fly zone” (literally) so that Pharaoh would know He is the LORD. And consequently, so would Israel and Egypt alike.
Because in every other part of the country the land was ruined (v. 24). Devoured by swarms of ruthless flies (Psalm 78:45), yet Goshen miraculously remained untouched.
This truth ruffling Pharaoh’s headdress enough he alas yielded, a little. “Go sacrifice to your God within the land” (v. 25).
Not a bad concession for a guy like Pharaoh. In fact, many would have chalked it up as a win for Moses and Aaron. (Come on guys, just take the deal.) But without hesitation, Moses declined. Telling Pharaoh, no way, no how was that going to work. “The Egyptians will stone us for having a nationwide BBQ right in front of their fly eaten faces.” (My paraphrase.)
Probably true. But the real reason Moses said no isn’t for fear of the Egyptians, but for fear of God. The LORD’s instruction was clear, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness” (Ex. 7:16). Not in bondage, but in freedom.
Egypt’s deliverance a picture of our salvation, it wasn’t going to work to stay in Egypt to worship God. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Made new in Christ, we’re free. He doesn’t lead us half way out of bondage and then tell us “That’s good enough.” No, He takes a repentant sinner all the way to victory, every single time.
The problem is, we tend to compromise. The problem is, us. Given the freedom to make choices we walk right back into Egypt. Right back into the place we’ve been comfortable in for so many years. Because it’s easier. (No one ever said living apart from the world was going to be easy.) Because it looks more fun. Because otherwise we might be labeled one of those fanatical Christians.
Or maybe because we don’t believe we’re actually free. Lured by Satan’s compromises we take the deal. We worship, but we stay in Egypt. Holding onto this habit or that one because we couldn’t really give it up. Making little allowances here and there. Going to church but carefully blending in the rest of the week. Believing the lie, we can be buddies with the world and with Jesus all at the same time, a win-win for everyone. (cf. James 4:4)
But like Moses, no way, no how, can we take the deal. It’s not what God intended. It’s not what’s He’s commanded. He’s instructed wholehearted obedience. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). I know not totally possible while still in the flesh, but we’re to give it a go nonetheless.
He’s instructed us to be set apart. To be in the world but not of the world. No longer conformed, but transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Abhorring what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9).
But it’s not going to happen unless we decide we’re all in. Freed from sin and death and not going back. No matter how good the deal might sound, we’re not taking it. We won’t compromise, not when it comes to God’s word. Though we know the devil will try.
As he did with Eve (And we know what happened there.) As he did with Jesus. (And we know what happened there!) And as he will do again, offering the bait of compromise over and over.
Accordingly, this is the first of three compromises offered by Pharaoh (Satan doesn’t give up easily.) The second came at the threat of locusts. Urged by his servants to “let them go already!” Pharaoh says OK fine the Israelite’s can go, but no taking the women and children! Only the men can go and sacrifice to the LORD.
Knowing he’s in a losing battle, ever seen Satan try that one? Keep us too busy, keep us distracted, keep us entertained long enough to leave our kids behind. To not teach them the ways of the LORD. Or not include them for one reason or another in the ministry we’re involved with. Maybe it’s to protect them. Or maybe like me, it’s because we’re just too tired. So they miss out at seeing the hand of God at work. They miss out on answered prayer. And then what? They grow up and walk away from Jesus.
The third suggested compromise came with the ninth plague. Pharaoh conceded that the entire family could go, as long as the herds and flocks stay behind. A bit of a problem if they were to fulfill the required sacrifices.
We see this one daily too. Don’t give God your time. Don’t give God your talents. Don’t give God your best. Those are for you to enjoy. Besides, it’s too much effort and you deserve the proceeds, not Him. (I’ve certainly been tempted, you?)
But when it came to God’s instructions Moses was nonnegotiable. And the result? A work of God in his life so marvelous it took his breath away. My friend, compromising isn’t worth it. It may look good. It may even look like a win-win, but decide today, right now, you won’t take the deal. Because when it comes to the word of God, victory is never found halfway.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
In what areas are you compromising with God’s word? Have you taken any deals?
How can you experience victory today?
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