sermon: Unleavened Bread and the Holy Spirit (Part One)
John W. Ritenbaugh
Given 01-May-21; Sermon #1595; 62 minutes
In the aftermath of the American 2020 election, followed by a number of unconverted persons waking up to the immorality of the concerted attacks against faith-based institutions, it is time for God's people to get their spiritual ducks in a row. In the Middle East, followers of Christ's risk the danger of decapitation; in the Western world the progressive left uses higher education, 'woke' activists, and oppressive government regulations to persecute faith-based institutions. We must re-evaluate our only partially correct understanding that removing leaven and eating unleavened bread refers merely to putting out sin. Rather, God's command to eat unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread teaches His people that He, through power and sacrifice, rescued His people from the bondage of sin, something they had no power to accomplish of themselves. God the Father hand-picks each member of the emerging God family, serving metaphorically as the Gardener, while Jesus Christ serves metaphorically as the Vine, from which God's people draw the power to bear fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8). While God certainly does require His people to put sin out of their lives, He makes it equally clear that bearing fruit requires tapping into His gift of the Holy Spirit. Without remaining attached to the Vine, they can accomplish nothing (John 15:5). God's people must unconditionally yield to God's creative purpose for their lives.
Richard informed me the Sabbath after the Days of Unleavened Bread were over that I would be giving the sermon on May 1. I knew almost immediately the sermon that I wanted to give was one that I had given before. Now, do not misunderstand. I did not want to give it because it was going to be an easy assignment since I had already given it once before, nor will it simply be an almost word- for-word repeat. I am giving it because it is, I believe, needful for the intense times we have just emerged from with this really nasty election campaign and the very strong possibility the times that we are moving into more deeply are giving signals that we had better have all our spiritual ducks in the right row, the ones that are ready for use.
The theme of this message involves a scriptural technicality we may have never paid much attention to, for whatever the reason. It might be a subject that one may have considered of lesser importance and so that person did not really commit it to its proper order of understanding within the faith, and therefore use. It may have simply slipped quickly into unimportance without giving it due respect as though it was of lesser value. It also may be something that we just sort of took for granted because everybody knows this technicality is the truth. Or is it? Perhaps your foundation is not as true and as solid within you as you think.
Now I am not saying that this truth is being avoided—far from it. I am saying that it is possible its importance is being overlooked because it is so well known and we follow it, but may not grasp its importance in our relationship with God. Brethren, we need to consider that we need a good foundation everywhere, even with things that are well known and quickly accepted.
However, a couple of items appeared in the news sources since the Days of Unleavened Bread that are intriguing, and I want to alert you to them as we begin because it will help you see that things are beginning to "happen." I know they started me thinking and I want you alert to them because maybe they will be of help to you to be a bit more motivated as you move forward with your life in Christ. The news items that alerted me did not make my hair stand on end with excitement. But they did make me think there is a distinct possibility that some notable unconverted personalities are waking up to the truths of America's badly deteriorated immoralities and actually beginning to do something.
One of these news items was from a person and an organization rarely in the news reporting religion, but it was at least somewhat encouraging to me to see this man and this organization in this light, and it might be good to be reminded of this technicality because it is not unimportant in the overall view of our future. My subject is a truth that I believe we church members need to be better exposed to the depth of truth of what a few scriptures clearly state.
The first news item was about three weeks ago, when publishers of Newsmax Magazine (that is not a very old publication, I think it began last year), held a meeting of their top writers and their staffs, along with their publishers, and along with them was one writer whose name is David Horowitz, and he, brethren, is truly a top level writer within the entire news industry and noted for his detailed accuracy. He has written a book titled Dark Agenda. Its theme is a planned attack of the worldwide Left. Not merely the American Left, but again, the worldwide Left against worldwide Christianity. The book includes naming names as the author focuses on the United States of America and the American Left's attacks against American-style Christianity.
During this meeting, the Newsmax staff and publishers determined that they would stop selling the book. Instead, they are going to freely give it away as an incentive to inspire more subscribers to Newsmax, and by that method people can be exposed to its message given by their top writer. So what they are doing is, if you subscribe to the magazine they give you the book in exchange.
Horowitz is Jewish and as many, many Jews have done in this nation, he, for the most of his life, presented himself as a dyed-in-the-wool liberal. But as the saying goes, through the years he gradually saw the error of his ways, and through those years, increments by increments, he has steadily moved into the conservativism camp, and he is there now full bore. Horowitz is one of the better known conservative names in the news industry. Incidentally, Newsmax Magazine's cover story for their March issue was titled, right on the front page, right on the front cover, "Biden Versus the Faithful." That is certainly a pretty direct pointing to where Horowitz believes the attack is being focused from here in America.
Now having someone of the reputation like Horowitz leading this expose’ is an interesting turn because he is right out of the world, with no direct connection to religion, of which I am aware anyway, and as the saying goes in gangster movies, he smells a rat. Here he is, a former liberal, warning of persecutions of Christians and that the attempted destruction of Christianity in our times is underway. Be aware though, my sermon is not on Horowitz. That was just a news report.
A second news report hit the Internet about two weeks ago now from WorldNetDaily. They are much more involved in religious items on a daily basis than Newsmax. But what they reported also may surely strike us also as them being adding to the mix. The author was Art Moore. He writes on religious things for WorldNetDaily fairly regularly. He reported on the recent meetings on the topic of Religious Freedom in the World, held by an internationally membered organization (but Germany headquartered) meeting of a group called Aid to the Church Needy.
Moore wrote this on the meetings, "Beneath the cloak of progress, an increasingly hostile world secularism is threatening Christians in the West with what the report titled, "Polite Persecution," contends an annual report on religious freedoms worldwide." The article goes on, saying, "If Christians in the Middle East need to fear the machete, Christians in the Western world need to fear: first, higher education, second, activists organizations, and third, government." He was quoting Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, in his reports. Donahue continues, "Those groups are the ones most frequently forcefully advocating or imposing a secular agenda on religious institutions."
This morning a third news item stirred my mind. It was in my email inbox and they were talking too about "Polite Persecution." What they were reporting on was coming from the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Now, what I am going to give you, since the Faith and Freedom Coalition was on the same theme as the WND thing, here is an example of polite persecution and possibly impacting is from two of those groups combined—activists and the government. Their note begins this way:
Churches, private schools, Christian nonprofits, and other religious groups may soon face an impossible decision. Either abandon their time-honored beliefs about sex and gender or break the law and accept the possibility of the crippling [here it comes], Equality Act, which is making its way through this democratic controlled Congress.
They want to stop this act before it even ever gets passed out of Congress itself.
The Equality Act seeks to classify sexual orientation and gender as protected [there is the key word] classes which would ultimately block any American [any American], even a church or religious school, from arguing that complying with the act is contradictory to their religious beliefs.
As you can see, these enemies are moving to block every avenue we might have in the Constitution to continue to live as we have been living.
For churches, passing this act would mean that if they host any public events they'd have to open women's bathrooms and changing areas to biological males. Catholic schools would be forced to abandon their teaching on their beliefs of human sexuality and marriage, and even get rid of faith-based conduct policies.
The way the bill is worded right now, Americans would simply have no choice.
Now, in a nation where religious freedom is inseparably intertwined with our founding, we [this group] cannot allow radical extremists to destroy our right to be Christians in America.
Brethren, when the world's Christianity and Christ's church, His own church, are clearly seeing their and our enemies in the same organizations, I believe that something potentially very dangerous is clearly on the move. These movements reported on here are not just only taking place in the United States. Now, I am not preaching that Christ's return is imminent, but this same sort of antireligious movement does seem to be clearly growing worldwide as well.
I have titled this sermon "Unleavened Bread and the Holy Spirit" partly because it touches on some of the same themes that fits both festivals and we are partway through this fifty-day gap between the two. This is because both festivals are part of God's salvation plan and are even observed only fifty days apart as God planned, thus suggesting a more direct connection than with the other festivals. Now, all the festivals are most solidly linked to each other, but perhaps Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost are the most obviously directly-connected festivals. So the subject of this sermon begins chronologically during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Now, I am giving this with this theme because there is a lack in some minds and I want to expose them to this technicality because it has very much to do with whether we are going to rightly use God's Spirit, and at the same time, giving credit to whom credit is due with clear understanding for the kind of life that we are living under God. Perhaps we need to have this technicality more vividly connected to what God the Father may be doing so we have a more direct picture of what is going on.
I want to clarify this because all of our time in the Worldwide Church of God, and perhaps maybe in some of its spinoffs, we have firmly held the belief that the Days of Unleavened Bread represent our coming out of sin, and that is a major reason why we eat unleavened bread for seven days. Well, let me inform you right now, that is only partly true. There is much more to the story. (I mean the eating of unleavened bread.) Something that is important to us from the time it began in the dawn of time, from the time it was practiced by the Israelites as they left Egypt, right down to this day when we were introduced to it by virtue of Herbert Armstrong preaching it, that we need to be doing that. There is something much more important to the story.
Now this subject directly involves some things God says regarding Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. But it applies to God's entire purpose and His involvement in His purposes processes.
In the Ritenbaugh family the fact of this understanding first came to Evelyn's mind and she mentioned it to me as we were studying the Wave Sheaf issue a number of years ago. She commented to me while she was studying, saying, that she "had never noticed before how directly God said what He did" where she was reading. Now, she said what she did because some of the WCG's argument is based on the symbolism of coming out of sin, and that is not entirely wrong, just incomplete. We are not getting, maybe, the main thing in that practice that we go through every year of eating unleavened bread.
But we are going to begin here today with some verses that we are becoming much more familiar with. And so I want you to turn to the book of John, chapter 15. Pay attention even to the first phrase.
John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser."
I looked at a modern Bible this morning and they changed that vinedresser to something that we are more much more familiar with, "and My Father is the gardener." That is an important distinction. Jesus, in a sense, reduces His part in what They are doing working in and through us, where He is a vine. Not near as important as the gardener. There would be no use for a vine unless the gardener came first and did the planting. So just remember that. And so Jesus continues,
John 15:2-5 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away. [Does He snatch us right out of Jesus' hands? No.]; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide [continue] in Me, and I and you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing."
That is an incredible assertion! With what we are involved in with the Father and Son, without the Son we can do nothing. Now if the engine in your automobile could speak and it said to you this statement regarding your relationship with it and the use of it to produce things for your benefit, you get the point immediately because you would ask yourself, how in the world am I going to get anywhere? We cannot get anywhere in this without Jesus! He is that important. We better not diminish it, the relationship with Him. We would say further to ourselves, "I'm absolutely stuck here and I'm going nowhere." We would very quickly get the drift of this declaration by Jesus.
But here brethren, we are being told this about a relationship with another person and that Person is that important to our being in the Kingdom of God for all eternity. In one sense it comes down to one Person—one relationship with one Person. Suppose Jesus repeated Himself a great deal more sternly. "Sirs and madams, without Me you can do nothing!" And He really drove it home. One of the things He is teaching us here is how incredibly close the union is that we have with Himself, and therefore how heavily our salvation hinges on the quality of our relationship with Him.
We are described in several places that Christ is in us and in other places that we are in Christ. You cannot get any closer than that description of a relationship. Now answer this: Within this relationship, how much skill and strength do we have to produce spiritual fruit that will remain eternally as part of our character? The answer to Jesus' assertion is, absolutely nothing. He Himself said, "Without Me you can do nothing." He is absolutely necessary. We can produce zilch, zero, nada. All productivity to glorify God comes from the relationship with Him. And, I think we can add the Father to that because They are both working on us.
Now, it is stated in Genesis 1:26, "Let Us make man in Our image." Those Two are making the images of Themselves. Therefore, I can only conclude that since They are doing the construction work and we are the product of Their construction, we most certainly are not doing the making. Let that one sink home.
I want you to notice again back there in John 15:1-5. It is kind of interesting that Jesus deliberately and rightly makes Himself the lesser of the Two. He is just a branch, a twig, by comparison to the Father who is the Father. Now, I think that there is a reason for that. We have to get an adjustable companionship between the Two into its right order. We know this is true. The Father is greater than the Son. I am going to get to something in just a minute here.
Does the Bible reveal that Adam and Eve created any aspect of themselves before they had that set-to with Satan in the Garden of Eden? Of course not. We most certainly must humbly submit our lives to these realities and adjust our thinking regarding overcoming, growth, and our relationship within the congregation to Them and each other. In other words, They are doing the creating, we are just a piece of clay that they are shaping into shape. And how much does the clay do with building itself?
We are going to start looking more directly at the eating of unleavened bread. As important as eating unleavened bread is, it only indirectly relates to coming out of sin in regard to the leaving of Egypt. We are going to follow their coming out of Egypt, and it is here we learn a very important part that the Father plays. He plays more than this one part, but it is an important part. So as important as eating unleavened bread is, it only indirectly relates to coming out of sin in regard to Israel leaving Egypt, and this is where the connection to this sermon and the Days of Unleavened Bread comes in. And though unleavened bread is indeed associated with leaving Egypt, it rather relates most directly to something quite different.
The eating of unleavened bread is intended by God to directly serve as a reminder of something often overlooked and maybe even completely forgotten. And yet it is, at the same time, also very important to our salvation. Now keep your ears peeled because right at the beginning of this sermon, in just a few minutes, I am going to give away what should never, ever, ever be forgotten regarding eating unleavened bread. And in some ways it applies to our entire calling. I am going to read it right out of God's own Book why He says we are to eat unleavened bread during the Days of Unleavened Bread. What is involved here is something that applies to our lives as well. I am going to tell you right now, the emphasis is on what God says, what He says. If anybody knows why we are supposed to eat unleavened bread, it is Him.
Let us go to the book of Exodus in chapter 13. Now, do not tell anybody that I said that the eating of unleavened bread does not apply to coming out of sin. Oh, yes, it does. But God states right away why we are to eat it. He does not hide it at all.
Exodus 13:1-2 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Consecrate [sanctify is another word that might be used there] to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine."
From that point on, God claimed the firstborn. Now, what did He also do with the firstborn of Egypt? He killed all of them. But when an Israelite firstborn came along, that baby belonged to God. Did you know that? Of both man and beast they are Mine. He claimed them. They were His. And I will give you a little advanced notice here. What God is doing, in a way, is making up for the killing of the firstborn. He has not against firstborn by rule. But you will see what He does with these kids.
Exodus 13:3 And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten."
And immediately that law was uttered.
You are beginning to see here that unleavened bread is connected to more than just coming out of sin. The direct command to eat unleavened bread immediately follows the command by the Lord Himself to remember this day because He, the Lord, brought them out. That is what it says. "Remember this day," this is verse 3, "in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place."
Are you beginning to see it? We are to eat unleavened bread because the Lord brought us out. How much did the Israelites do to get out of Egypt? I do not hear any sound. They did almost nothing except walk. Who brought them out? That is what God wants us to remember. That He brought us out. And we find this in the book of Ephesians, in the very first chapter, where the apostle Paul shows that we were handpicked by God. Boy, I hope that makes you tingle all over—handpicked, just like the Israelites were handpicked by God. He ignored the Egyptians but he paid attention to those that He chose and He brought them out despite their weaknesses. He got them out. No, it is what He did that freed them.
The same is true for us. It is what He does that frees us. It is what Christ does that produces fruit. We are being handmade, brethren, by the two greatest Creators in the universe.
Now, it appears to me that the eating of unleavened bread is intended as a tool of reinforcement. It is an exercise so that we will never forget that we do what we do because of what God did. Is that drilled into your mind? We do what we do spiritually only because of what God did. That is the lesson, the fundamental lesson of why we eat unleavened bread. It is because of what God does! He is the Creator—He and His Son—and He is the one that handpicks us. Everyone that comes to Jesus, Jesus said in John 6:44, has been touched on by the Father before they ever get to Jesus. I wonder how much credit we give to God the Father for what He is doing in what He has created in us. What God, by His own initiative accomplished. He got them out.
So what did the Israelites accomplish on their own initiative to become free of Egypt? We are still in chapter 13. I want us to go the verse 4.
Exodus 13:4-10 "On this day you are going out, in the month of Abib. And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. [now listen, here comes an important part] And you shall tell your son [of course, your daughters too] in that day [when the son begins to question], saying, 'This is done because of what the Lord did for me [There it is again, so that we do not forget we eat unleavened bread because of what the Lord did.] when I came up from Egypt.' And it shall be a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year."
What did God do there? First, God reminds them of their historical past and then He looks to the future from that point, at that time chapter 13 was unfolding, and directly tells them the words they are to use to teach their children with about why they are eating unleavened bread. Nobody ever told me that until Evelyn did. I kid you not. She said we are to eat unleavened bread because of what God did—not what we do in overcoming. We are to eat unleavened bread because of what God did! We would not be eating unleavened bread unless God did what He did. I mean, that makes sense, does it not?
Now, what is God doing? He is putting us through the paces to see how much we think of the Father and the Son, and how much They are needed in our lives. That is why I began the sermon the way I did. If we are indeed moving toward a period of time when it is going to get worse in the United States of America than it is right now, then we better be in touch with the Father and the Son, because we have what we have because of what They do and we have to have Them as the focus of our lives. God does not dodge the issue at all. Jesus said, "You can't give the Father any fruit until I make it possible for you to do it." And we are in a relationship with Jesus because of what the Father did. Sounds like a close community, does it not? Very interesting.
So the emphasis is on what He has done, not us. The eating of unleavened bread and what God has done are directly tied together in verses 7-10. And this is especially true of the first day of unleavened bread, because at that point in our conversion one has not overcome anything to speak of. But as you will continue seeing, the point here is not about what we have overcome, it is about what God did and continues doing in our lives that is important. God must not be forgotten as the one really doing the creative labor in the process. How much character do we actually grow? It does not seem like we grow, create very much. But we at least learn to yield to Them because They are awfully good to you too. And so this is what needs to be remembered as a vital point in our salvation.
Now, we are not done with this teaching yet, because God added yet another element that does not impact directly on us at this time in history, except perhaps in terms of learning a way in which God judges, so that those judgments are not only fair, but still have, I am sure, more than normal impact. His way tends to stick in the minds of those who are directly affected.
Let us go back to verse 2 of Exodus 13 once again. We are still within the context of Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 13:2 "Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine."
So they were to sanctify their own firstborn, that is Israelites, both human and animal. Now, what is He doing? If you are consecrating somebody, or you are sanctifying somebody, you are setting them apart as different for some reason. We are going to go same chapter, but we are going to pick it up in verse 11. Incidentally, I just picked up a word here that I should be maybe saying every once in a while. What God is doing is setting these people free. When God calls us, that is part of what He is doing. He is setting us free. It may take years for us to get there, but if He had not set us free in the first place (this is just another thought), we would never be free. We just keep right on sinning.
Exodus 13:11-16 "And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that opens the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord's. But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem it with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. So it shall be, that when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him, 'By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. And it came to pass, that when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all males that open the womb, but all firstborn sons I redeem.' It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt."
But as I said a little bit earlier, God is not done with this episode yet.
We are going to go to the book of Numbers, chapter 3. First I am going to give you a little bit of a background of what is going on here.
Numbers 3:2-3 And these are the names of the sons of Aaron: Nadab, the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazer, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the anointed priests, whom he consecrated to minister as priests.
That is the setting. The Levites are being set into their position as a priesthood and God took the sons of Aaron to do that with.
Numbers 3:9-12 "And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons, and they are given entirely to him among the children of Israel. So you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall attend to their priesthood; but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death." Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine."
Now, the story, I think, is incomplete to my understanding at this point. But when He said that the "firstborn are Mine," that God put them into, we will call it a group, at least by name if nothing else, that amounted to being somewhat of a minister in the sense of a servant, but at least they were His and they worked for Him through His operations there.
We are seeing a transfer taking place. God is removing the firstborn from that position and replacing them with the Levites who will be a full time ministry.
Numbers 3:13 "[B]ecause all the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast. They shall be Mine: I am the Lord." Then the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying: "Number the children of Levi by their fathers' houses, by their families; you shall number every male from a month old and above." And so Moses numbered them according to the word of the Lord, as he was commanded.
Now we at least see what He did with those people that open the womb.
However, I think that we ought to be able to grasp that this entire sequence of assigned responsibilities is no minor item in regard to our salvation in God's part, by means of unleavened bread, is no minor thing.
The Days of Unleavened Bread are indeed about overcoming. However, the coming out is primarily about God overcoming Satan, the Egyptians (the world), and sin—not about the humans doing it in their lives. And though we must make efforts to overcome, the Days of Unleavened Bread and eating unleavened bread must be understood first in this context or we are missing much of the point. Much of the point of eating unleavened bread is for us to put God back in His place in our minds.
Now, Jesus is not jealous of Him, but He is secondary to the Father. And (this is something to let roll around in your mind), every single one of us who was called is called by the Father—handpicked and added to the Family. The coming out of Egypt is primarily about God overcoming Satan, the Egyptian world, and sin, and if we put ourselves into this as well, not about us doing it in our life, so we must make efforts to overcome. The Days of Unleavened Bread and eating unleavened bread must be understood in this context or we are missing the real point that God the Father Himself made.
Brethren, Passover is primarily about peace being established between God and mankind, even an individual, in order that God's purposes for us might continue. The key term is "continuing." What we must understand for our relationship with God to peacefully proceed, is that we must conduct our life knowing fully and acting on this: We must understand that God is Creator and live with it in our life. He is so often gets pushed into the background. As I said earlier, Jesus is not jealous, does not have a jealous bone in His body, but we get things tilted in the wrong direction. The Father is the Head of the Family!
Things in the outworking of His purpose move at His pace, or we might even give up in despair regarding our life in Christ as being so slow-paced. Maybe it is slow-paced because we are resisting strongly the correct understanding of things.
Let us keep on going. (Boy, my time is almost up. I only just finished page six.)
Then again, things regarding overcoming and growth towards salvation must be put into the proper place of importance or it will move us to exaggerate our own importance to the process and we will unwittingly create a "works religion" which will indeed be frustratingly slow.
So I want us to focus our thinking for a fair amount of time about the analogy of Israel coming out of Egypt. How much did the Israelites actually overcome in order to be free? Now, if you are thinking right along with me and you know the story of the Israelites coming out of Egypt, I think you know that what I am saying was pretty much true. The extent of their participation was to be convicted firmly enough—this is a mental thing—that God was indeed working through Moses. Also, added to that, to believe sufficiently to prepare the lamb, eat the Passover meal, stay in their homes overnight, gather in Rameses the next day, and then walk out when the signal was given to march. How much overcoming do they show the Israelites doing to get out of Egypt?
Now, I do not want you want you to look down on them. I want you to understand that in many regards, we are just like them! The real truth somehow escapes us, that God is the one that breaks us away from the world. It is His calling and His working in our minds that gets us moving in the right direction. Is that not the way Jesus worked on Nicodemus? When Nicodemus came to Jesus he was, I do not know what you call it, fuzz-busted by what Jesus was saying. But Jesus was leading him right along to think about things that were important to Nicodemus' salvation, and Nicodemus undoubtedly thought on it because by the end of the story, he was a disciple.
So brethren, God does not show in the story of Israel coming out of Egypt of them doing a lot of overcoming. Undoubtedly their minds were being affected by what they were going through, what they were watching the Egyptians go through, and they knew that God was working through Moses, and so they were being hooked. But God was making them think.
And that is what I am trying to do now with you—to not let the Father get away from the picture that is in your mind, because He is the one who started this whole thing in your mind. You were touched by the breath of His Spirit to get you thinking in this direction. What a privilege we have! There used to be a program called "Touched by an Angel." How about being touched by God? We were! We just did not see Him, but He was working there.