Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Leave Egypt?

"For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the LORD. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory. So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. 
"Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God."
– Exodus 29:42-45 (NIV)


Egypt is headline news this week, with sociopolitical upheaval bordering on anarchy.  May God comfort and sustain that nation, and may His will prevail speedily.


Of course, it won't be the first time Egypt makes global headlines.  One well known instance was about 3500 years ago.  That's the time when Pharaoh's impressive cavalry was defeated at the Battle of the Red Sea, where God fought for His people and thereby led them out of slavery.

But, why did God do it?  In His own words, "...So that I might dwell among them."

He wanted to be close with them, and not just in a poetic sense.  In fact, they were instructed to build a portable

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ONE

“Onward, Christian soldiers / Marching as to war / With the cross of Jesus / Going on before; / Christ, the royal Master / Leads against the foe; / Forward into battle, / See, His banners go.”

Deep calls to deep in one of the Church’s best known hymns.  Indeed, it dredges up memories of countless revivals great and small, which have left their crater on our land.  It’s difficult, though, to sing these words during a time of spiritual drought (such as the present) without feeling their poignant irony. 
   
For my part, the most frightening passage of the anthem is the part about: “We are not divided,
All one body we, / One in hope and doctrine, One in charity.”  What an utter farse!  And yet, I’ve witnessed periods of American Church history—in the ‘60s and ‘70s—when these words didn’t stick in my crop quite like they do today. 

So, what was different during those times?

The answer is that God was sovereignly at work.  And when He moves, the Church seems to forget its petty fractures.  Not that we would ever fully agree on all points of doctrine and practice.  But rather, we have no time to dwell on minutiae because our eyes are on the One Who it’s all about!

If we, the American Church, wish to have an impact once again on them, the American lost, then let us pray effectually and fervently for unanimity of purpose, for Him to manifest Himself once again and “lead us into war” against the enemy who has (for the moment, once again) divided and conquered.

In Ezekiel 28:25, God promises to gather Israel together as one—as a witness to the world of Who He is.

In John 17:15-23, the principal focus of Jesus’ prayer for us, the Church, was that we shall be one—as a witness to the world of Who He is.

Our disobedience leads to fragmentation and defeat (Deut. 28:25), while our obedience and focus on Him alone leads to His sovereign power of unanimity (Deut. 28:9-10).

Christians of America, let us assault the throne with our prayers.  That we may be one.  That He may lead us as one body.  To victory.  That the world may know...!   Amen.

Onward, Christian Soldiers (1864)
Sabine Baring-Gould and Arthur S. Sullivan
 

Chorus:
Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before.

1.
Onward, Christian soldiers,
Marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
Going on before;
Christ, the royal Master
Leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
See, his banners go.

2.
At the sign of triumph
Satan's host doth flee;
On then, Christian soldiers,
On to victory.
Hell's foundations quiver
At the shout of praise;
Brothers, lift your voices,
Loud your anthems raise.

3.
Like a mighty army
Moves the church of God;
Brothers, we are treading
Where the saints have trod;
We are not divided,
All one body we,
One in hope and doctrine,
One in charity.

4.
What the saints established
That I hold for true;
What the saints believed,
That I believe too.
Long as earth endureth,
men the faith will hold;
Kingdoms, nations, empires,
In destruction rolled.

5.
Crowns and thrones may perish,
Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus
Constant will remain;
Gates of hell can never
'Gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ's own promise,
And that cannot fail.

6.
Onward then, ye people,
Join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your voices
In the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honour
Unto Christ the King;
This through countless ages
Men and angels sing.