In our last study we saw the Christian’s great conflict with themselves by looking at Israel’s journey from Egypt through the Red Sea and the battle they fought with Amalek. Up until this time, God had fought their battles for them and all they were commanded to do was, “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord for you.” Now Joshua must choose out men and go war against Amalek while Moses sits on the mount with the rod of God uplifted. It was after this victory that Moses’ wife and two sons were reunited with him for He had been alone through the judgments of God against Pharaoh and Egypt and their passage through the sea. As it was with Moses, so it was with the Church of Christ. When Christ was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, He faced the devil and the wild beast alone. When He spoke of His sufferings and death to the disciples, He was alone in this also for none knew or understood what He was talking about. During His mock trial, sufferings, and death, the disciples had forsaken Him or followed afar off so the Church can never enter the innermost agony and pain of the Lord Jesus as He faced Satan and the withdrawal of His Father’s face. He fought the battle with the devil alone. He entered the strong man’s house, bound him, and freed a people who all their life time had been in bondage to him. As Pharaoh was destroyed in the Red Sea, so Satan was defeated at Calvary and he no longer holds dominion over the sons of God. The devil may harass, cause disturbing thoughts, cause imaginations that bring hours if not days of despondency, cause one to doubt his or her salvation, and cause doubts about the faithfulness, goodness, and mercy of God, but he can never do more than our heavenly Father gives permission to do. If you are a guilty and hell deserving sinner in your own eyes and have trusted Christ as your righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, then are you accepted in the Beloved and freed from the domain of Satan.
If you would see more of the depravity of the human heart then read the passage in Num. 11. The people looked back toward Egypt with regret that they had ever left. They had forgotten the brick furnaces, the long hours of toil, the whips, cries, and groan and remembered nothing except the commodities that nourished the lust of the old man. “We remember the fish…cucumbers, melons, leeks, and onions and now our soul is dried away and there is nothing at all except this manna before our faces.” Now, they despised that heavenly food and began sighing after those things that come from the earth. Is not this often the case with the people of God? The heart loses the first love, its excitement of divine things, Christ is no longer precious to them, and the Word of God and prayers lose their sweetness and become a dead, dry, formal duty that is carried out only to still the conscience. Have we not in times past forgotten of the misery we were in when we followed sin and Satan and think only of the enjoyments of this life prior to salvation? When the real conflict with the old man comes into play, the heavy trial of faith, the great work of mortification starts, and the wilderness journey makes us weary and faint, then the things of the Lord become distasteful.
What of the mainstream of professing Christians today? Do not they despise this “heavenly manna” and sigh after the leeks and onions of Egypt? What of the crowd that is caught up in the “second blessing” or the “gifts of the Spirit?” Are not all these things secondary when compared to our Lord Jesus Christ? When the disciples returned from one of their preaching tours, they came excited to Jesus and said, “the demons are subject unto us” and He told them not to rejoice in this but in the fact that their names were recorded in the Lamb’s Book of life. The only thing that is to excite the Christian is his or her Lord and Savior and not the blessings that come from Him. When Christ is no longer the all-sufficient portion of the heart and one begins to cry after the extras, He has moved far from the center and gone to the extreme right or left.
The thing that made this so destructive was because it originated within the ranks of the professing people of God. It did not come from the outside but from the mixed multitude that left Egypt as part of Israel. The devil will not attack one dressed in a red suit with horns attached but from the very place that they do not expect. It is not the atheist, the worldly acquaintance that you have, or the ungodly you might have to be around during your time at work, but those who name the Name of Christ.
It is that one who sits with you during the worship service or that kind, sweet, and innocent person who always approaches you with your best interest at heart. The devil in Mark 3 would hinder the work of Christ by having the Pharisees accuse Him of working by the power of the devil but when he saw that this did not stop Him, he then sends His mother and brothers to get Him away from His work. They thinking that He was, “beside Himself” felt it was in Jesus’ best interest to get Him away from His labors and get Him back home where He could rest and regain a right frame of mind. You are always going to listen quicker and respond more easily to that one who approaches you in this fashion. You will find a similar incident in the life of the apostle Paul in Acts 21. Agabus, an accredited prophet, warned him that if he went to Jerusalem he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles. I am certain that this had an effect upon the Apostle but in no way affected him as much as did those who were his traveling and preaching friends. vs. 12. “…we and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13. What mean ye to weep and to break my heart?” Satan would hinder in what ever way possible and one sure way if you are not careful will be from love ones who advise you contrary to the will of God. Could it also be possible that we are the ones quick to pass out advise prior to seeking the Lord or our conversation take others back to their former life in Egypt where they sat by the flesh pots?
Though it might seem small to some, there seems to be a work of the Spirit of God in the Church in these days as hearts are being drawn with more fervency and love to Christ. You surely know that every time a spiritual movement takes place Satan begins working more also and you can expect that seed sown long ago will spring up choking out the Word of God if you are not careful. Things within which you thought had been dead for years as also those around will rise to destroy the works of the Spirit. Satan will always be sowing the tares as the wheat is being sown and he will always have a mixed-multitude to turn the hearts of the true people of God. Let the Spirit start a work and the devil will work over-time to destroy it and for this reason we have many warnings to, “watch, take heed, be sober, vigilant because your adversary as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may destroy. It is needful for these things that the false professors might be made known and also that the true people of God might come from the fires shining as pure gold. It was the “mixed-multitude” that fell a lusting but this did not stop with them for you find the children of Israel crying after the “flesh-pots” in Egypt. It is from these that the people are in danger of being drawn away for a season. Grow not weary of heaven’s bread and let not your hearts run back to Egypt after those things that are not necessary but only used to spice up the food.
Do you think that this will not have an effect upon you? It did upon Moses, the man who had seen so much of God, as he began to complain and ask the Lord to take him out of the way. He got so low that he asks the Lord to send him help for he could no longer go on by himself. In Numbers 11:17, you see the Lord took of the spirit that was upon him and put it upon those seventy that Moses chose to help. What do you think he lost in that transaction?
May the Lord God keep you from stumbling and falling into the same trap that the devil set for the children of Israel. May Christ become the chief love and devotion of your heart in this very evil and wicked generation.