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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sermon 02202013 Wed. of Lent 1


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray! Eternal God, we come before You this day/night to direct us during this Lenten season.  For the children of Israel were sent out of Egypt in haste because of the great fear in the Egyptians hearts of what God would do to them.  Enable us to not act out of haste or fear, but respect for God and His promises for us found in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered during our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN.

When crowds gather at sporting events the ticket sales made give a pretty accurate count as to how many ‘paying customers’ see the event.  Whether it is KU playing basketball, K-State moving the football down the field or even the Chiefs or Bronco’s trying to get to the Super Bowl, the crowds in the stadiums are usually at or near capacity for the stadium.  Today/tonight in our series of the People and Places of Lent we will be considering the crowd of the Children of Israel.

From our Old Testament Lesson this morning/evening, we enter into the story of the children of Israel fleeing Egypt and the tyranny of the Pharaoh.  The booming words of Charlton Heston saying, “Let my people go” resonate for some because of the famous movie, “The Ten Commandments”, but what is most interesting is that the Children of Israel who left Egypt weren’t a tattered band, but an enormously large group of people.  Our text says clearly, “Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.”  What is ironic is that no mention of the numbers of wives or women are mentioned either.  If every man had one wife and two children the number of people leaving Egypt numbered, not a simple six hundred thousand, but over two million people fleeing the Egyptians.

Yet, it is not only the fleeing of the people of Israel, but how the people of Isreal fled Egypt.  Just as when Michele and I moved here to Goodland, it took weeks of planning, weeks of preparation and packing all our worldly possessions.  But for the Children of Israel they left in great haste, even to the extent that the dough that would be used to make their bread had not even leavened and was bound up in their clothes in the kneading bowls.  The Children of Israel headed up and moved out on a moments notice in great haste with the urging of the Egyptians who were fearful of their feeling the wrath of the Israelite God.

What is additionally ironic is that the date of their leaving Egypt is not left to chance, fractions or partial time, but in God’s divine wisdom and provision the people of Israel are in Egypt a certain length of time.  Moses writes, “Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

But of what significance is the length of time, the haste of their departure or the number of people that actually flee Egypt?  Why should that be of importance for us today?  Simply, the children of Israel are models for us of what God can do in our lives when we trust Him fully and completely.  God in His infinite wisdom clearly allowed the Children of Israel to experience the worst of what Egypt would offer and with the speed of a running back removed His chosen children from the gravest situation.  But this was not just a few people like with Noah and his wife and sons wives getting into an ark.  This was a group of people of epic proportion who had to have complete trust in their God to remove them from the tyranny of the men who earlier in the day had beat them into submission as they built the cities for their masters.  And ultimately God fulfilled the children of Israel’s departure in His time.

This is also true of how God has saved each of us as we prepare our hearts, souls and spirits during our Lenten pilgrimage.  We look to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how God sent His own Son at the proper time to enter into the world in a manger.  When Jesus Christ came it was the fulfillment of the plan of salvation and now we are partakers of God’s greatest gift of grace offered for all of mankind.  The numbers are staggering to whom God offers this free gift of grace and eternal life without limit for all of mankind, but this occurs because of His great love for all of us.  And His love perfect and complete not only for the Children of Israel who escaped the bondage in Egypt, but for all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel who receive the gift of eternal life offered through Jesus Christ.  For the gift of grace offered on Calvary is offered for all of mankind, including the children of Israel and all of us saints that gather here at Emmanuel during our Lenten Pilgrimage.  AMEN.
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