by David Neal
Exodus 14:12, “…For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.” The attitude expressed in this verse can also be understood to mean the following: For it is better for us to serve sin and the world than die to self and totally trust in God’s purposes (provision). These Hebrews are very representative of rebellious man (fallen nature). Egypt represented the world and all its idolatry. Many are content to serve such. They are complacent (satisfied, content) in their darkness (Jn 3:19). Perhaps having left once, now seek their way back (Lk 9:62, Gal 2:18, Heb 10:38). This may be done by professing God with their lips, yet justifying their heart for the world (as being acceptable to God, Mt 15:8, Mk 7:6, Is 29:13).
The wilderness represents a place that denies the flesh, what it wants (it’s comfort, nourishment, provision, security, direction, familiarity, etc.), and forces one to rely upon God (Deut 8:15-16). The wilderness requires faith and trust and “bypasses” the flesh (Jn 6:63). God provides His way and in His timing and the flesh does not like this – it is denied it’s control (Rm 8:8). This humbles the flesh to receive what is given rather than what is desired (Num 11:5-6). In the wilderness, God leads “The Way” (as a pillar of a cloud, Ex 13:21). Man is resigned to “follow.” God also gives “Light” (as a pillar of fire, Ex 13:21). This “light” is understanding of God’s will (our hope, our life) and His guidance and direction (Ps 119:105, Mt 4:16, Lk 1:79, 2:32, Jn 1:4-5, 9, 3:21, 8:12, 9:5, 11:10, 12:35, 12:46). Rebellious man (those living in the flesh) does not embrace faith very well: Numbers 14:4, “And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.” In other words, let us make institutions, leaders and doctrines that allow us to remain (be complacent) in our transgressions (old life, that was supposed to have been crucified and forsaken, Gal 2:20) and serve the flesh (our desires, our way, Acts 7:39). Perhaps the people would have loved God (superficially) if He had “served them” in all their fleshly desires (bless “Me”). Numbers 21:5, “And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.” The people rejected God’s deliverance (His Way) from sin and the world (i.e. Egypt) because they were led (had no control) along a narrow path (wilderness) that required absolute dependence upon God (by design) and death to self (self-sufficiency, self-seeking). Rebellious man (religious) wants to do things his way (he wants to do the leading, no sacrifice) and not only rejects God’s deliverance, but also rejects God’s provision (bread, manna, sustenance) for the arduous (Acts 14:22) journey to the Promised Land (reconciliation back to God, eternity).
The bread is representative of Jesus Christ who is God’s Way of leading us back to Himself – the bread that cometh down from heaven and gives life to the world (Jn 6:32-33, 35, 47-51, 58). The account of God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt and His leading them to the Promised Land was a representation (foreshadowing) of God’s ultimate plan for the deliverance mankind through His Son Jesus. This was an allegory of future events. An allegory is a representative event in which the principal subject (God’s restoration of man) is described by another subject resembling it (God’s covenant with Israel) in its properties and circumstances. We can understand this allegory as follows: God gave man deliverance from sin and the world through His Son, Jesus Christ (Mt 1:21, Jn 1:29, Acts 3:26, 1 Jn 3:5). Jesus was the atonement to bring reconciliation between God and man. Christ made it possible for us to be saved through faith and leads us (provides His Spirit) back to God – restoration (Ps 23:3, Rm 5:11). Jesus came and lived a perfect and well pleasing life through submission and obedience to the Father (Jn 6:38). Christ was the firstborn of many brethren (Acts 26:23, Col 1:18). Brethren are those who resemble one another. We must conform to the image of Christ as we are led through the wilderness of life (shadow of death). This was God’s predetermined plan. Romans 8:29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Jesus gives us the power to become sons of God (Jn 1:12). We become such as we “follow.” God’s purpose is to lead man back under His authority, as things were intended to be prior to man’s fall (Adam’s transgression). For this to be accomplished, man must willingly (freely, through choice) and lovingly submit to God (through Christ, 1 Jn 5:11, Jn 14:6, Acts 4:12) in total obedience with a whole heart – surrender (Ps 119:2, 10, 34, Deut 10:12-13, 17, 13:4).
This is where your faith must be leading you. We must realize that God’s Will shall be done in earth as it is in heaven (Lk 11:2) – no compromises. Those who are not “following” (key word, Jn 12:26) in this direction are still under Adam’s rebellion (and continuing in iniquity). The rebellious will not dwell with God (Ps 5:4, Heb 10:31). There will be an eternal and irrevocable separation (Heb 10:28-29). Please understand that you can be a very religious person and still be self-seeking and thereby in rebellion to God. God will judge the fruit of your life (Job 34:11, Eccl 3:17, 11:9, 12:14, 2 Kings 8:39, Ps 62:12, Prov 24:12, 29, Is 59:18, Jer 17:10, 25:14, 32:19, Ez 7:3-4, 8-9, 27, Obad 1:15, Zech 1:6, Mt 12:36-37, 16:27, Jn 5:29, Rm 2:6, 16, 14:12, 1 Cor 3:13, 4:5, 2 Cor 5:10, Col 3:24-25, 2 Tim 4:1, 1 Pt 1:17, 4:5, Jude 1:15, Rev 2:23, 20:12-13, 22:12). Will this fruit be according to your ways or God’s way (Hos 10:12-13)? Those who are “following” Christ in faith (yielded and obedient) and are conforming to His image (which was well pleasing to the Father) are given God’s grace. Grace is the God given ability to complete the course (Ti 2:12-14, Jn 1:16, Rm 5:21, Eph 4:7) – the divine influence on the heart as reflected in one’s actions (or life). The rebellious will use God’s grace as a justification for their continuance in the rebellion. They will twist things and presume grace to be a covering for their continued iniquity which they say cannot be overcome (Jude 1:4). They want to retain their old life (going back to Egypt) that they were supposed to have died to and been delivered from. God delivers us (leads us out) to leave the sin, idolatry and rebellion (that is Egypt); to journey through the wilderness (to learn faith, trust and obedience in Him); and bring us to the Promised Land (dwelling with God who provides abundantly). Returning to Egypt (seeking the flesh) is departing from God.
Let us further consider God’s purposes: Deuteronomy 8:2-6, “And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.” God leads us down the narrow path and humbles us; and tests us (Ps 11:5); requires sacrifices; and self denial all along the way. The Lord breaks our self-sufficiency, self-seeking, pride, and independence. He shows us that we must surrender and live absolutely by His every Word. Our very sustenance (life giving nourishment) is found only in Him (Jn 4:34, 6:35, 48, 51). The wilderness seems so incredibly desolate, but God provides for us along the way (His grace and ability) – for God works in us (Php 2:13). The Lord corrects (chastens, disciplines) us to keep us on course such that we not be condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:32). This is all for the purpose that we walk in His ways (Deut 10:12-13, Ps 119:3, 128:1, Hos 14:9, Col 2:6, 1 Jn 2:6, 2 Jn 1:6). Jesus Christ is “The Way” and we are to walk therein – as He walked, in His steps (Jn 14:6, Ps 128:1). We must conform to Christ and thereby God’s purposes (Rm 8:28-29, 2 Cor 3:18, 4:10-11, Gal 3:27, Eph 4:13, 15, Col 1:20, 3:10, Heb 13:21). Isaiah 48:17, “Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” The way leads us to God!