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"You Must Not Go Very Far"

Paul the apostle wrote that the stories in the Old Testament that happened to Israel were picture examples to us in this dark age in which we live: "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). For instance, in the Book of Exodus, when God sent Moses to bring Israel out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh would not release them from their cruel taskmasters. To humble Pharaoh, God brought pain to Egypt via ten plagues that grew steadily worse. At first, the Israelite situation worsened because Pharaoh said that the Egyptians would no longer provide straw for the bricks that Israel had to make, yet the quota was not diminished (Exodus 5:7-11). The people of God found it increasingly harder to live under slavery. As the ten plagues in Egypt began to tell, Pharaoh tried to compromise with Israel to keep them under Egypt’s dominion:

Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land" (Exodus 8:25).

This same cry for freedom from debt slavery is what the whole world seeks. Our enemy, Satan, and his minions exact more and more hardships and more and more injustice. When God’s people cry for freedom to worship God in whatever way they wish, the enemy gives in a little and hopes we will settle for less and stay under slavery and not go too far in the hope that he can draw us back under his dominion.

Pharaoh said, "I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me" (Exodus 8:28).

When you became a Christian (presuming you are a believer in Christ), did anyone in your circle of friends and family try to hold you back from being entirely for the Lord? Often, we hear people say, "You are going a bit too far in this." You don't have to separate from Egypt [the world system]. You can worship here. Why do you need to go to church? Satan whispers, "You can worship the Lord in your bedroom and read the Bible." We are tempted to listen to the enemy, compromise, and give in to his attack schemes.

In 1519, Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico with some 600 Spaniards, 16 or so horses, and 11 boats. When they arrived on the beach, Cortés didn’t give a motivational speech but strongly spoke three words, “burn the boats.” Brothers and sisters in Christ, we can only go forward in the Lord; there can be no compromise to return to our former lives. Jesus said, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). When a person comes to Christ, the temptation the enemy puts our way is to not go too far in this newfound faith in which you walk. Satan wants to quiet your testimony and for you to be a secret believer; no, burn your boats and read Jesus' words:

Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels (Luke 9:26).

As the situation with the plagues got worse, Pharaoh’s officials tried to speak some sense into him:

Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?” 8Then Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. “Go, worship the Lord your God,” he said. “But tell me who will be going? (Exodus 10:7-8).

When Moses said that all Israel, young and old, even their cattle and sheep, would be leaving the land of slavery, Pharaoh replied, “No! Have only the men go and worship the Lord, since that’s what you have been asking for” (v. 11). Our enemy would have us keep this salvation just to ourselves, but we must be firm in our faith and tell our enemy that everything we have belongs to the Lord and will not be left behind. Moses told Pharaoh, "Not a hoof shall be left behind” (Exodus 10:26). The enemy knows that if our children or possessions remain in this world system, we can be lured back. Not a Hoof Shall Be Left Behind! Is that a word from the Lord for someone today? Keith Thomas


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