Monday, February 29, 2016

A God of Deliverance

No message is more oft repeated in holy writ than God's power to deliver His children from every possible ill. From Enoch to Abraham to Moses to Nephi to Alma to Christ to Joseph Smith to you, God has extended the promise He can and will deliver us. However, it is often not in the way we would expect to be delivered. Each of us have various things keeping us captive, possibly for large chunks of our lives: depression, suicide, abuse, eating disorders, loneliness, greed, lying: you name it, we are trapped individually in the shackles of slavery to our pains, our sins, and our fears. A famous Old Testament story will provide the backdrop for the principles. Search for parallels, and focus on how the principles can influence your situation.

In the days of Joseph, Egypt became salvation for the house of Israel. The famine spread throughout the land could seemingly only be conquered by the saving grace of Egypt. Egypt drew in people from across the world, hoping they would survive the famine. Israel fled to Egypt at God's command, and was saved through Joseph's diligence in Egypt. However, the situation did not last for long. There arose a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph, and only saw the alien race inhabiting his lands. While the scriptures remain silent, one could assume Pharaoh slowly took rights and freedoms away from the sons of Jacob, until they were totally in bondage and completely dependent on Egypt and her gods. None dared question the natural order, though the long train of abuses became painfully obvious to see.

The Israelites toiled under the oppressive yoke the Egyptians rung around their necks for 400 years. All assumed life as they knew it, serving strange gods in a strange land, was right. However, the Egyptians became more cruel to the point of attacking and killing Israel's sons. At this time, God sent down a baby to deliver Israel. This child would be raised as by the very people who subjected his family into bondage. He would be unable to complete the task for 80 years, after 40 years living with Egypt and 40 years living under the priesthood in Midian.

God sent this man, Moses, back to Egypt, to demand that Egypt release Israel. Miracle after miracle unfolded, and God painted Pharaoh into a corner, forcing him to relent. Israel was finally free! Jubilee and rejoicing filled the multitude; they were finally free from bondage! Or so they thought.

God led His people in a cloud by day and a fire by night through the lands just outside Egypt to the Red Sea, and took them to a very specific place, Pi-hahiroth. This land had two mountains nearby: Baal-zephon to the north and Migdol to the west. To the east lied the Red Sea. The only way in or out was through the South. God commanded His people to camp there.

Egypt understood where God led Israel led Israel. In their hearts, they scoffed, and believed that Jehovah had no brains to lead Israel to Pi-hahiroth. The whole of Egypt's army piled up along the southern exit. Israel's children flipped out when they saw this army. Some, I'm sure preferred to join the army and go back to Egypt safely, but that was not God's plan. Instead, he gently nudged Moses towards the water. With the spiritual prompting, Moses walked to the water, and hit it with his staff, maybe not knowing fully what would happen.

Then, the miracle came. The water parted, and the ground was dry, allowing Israel to walk through without being slowed down by carts getting stuck in mud or anything like that. Meanwhile, God may have allowed mud to return for the Egyptians, but the sea swallowed the Egyptians, every last one of them.

How does this relate to you? I do not know specifics. Perhaps for a Young Single Adult, God sent a baby 20 years ago to deliver them today. Perhaps, God opened paths for you to be able to escape from terrible situations with friends or family. But for each of us, God will lead us from bondage in one thing at a time. He shapes us; he molds us; he works us into masterpieces.

But one thing is certain, he takes each one of us to Pi-hahiroth, so we must fight. We must choose to flee from our fears, choose faith, and allow Him to take us through the Red Sea, so he can utterly destroy each and every fear, sin, and doubt. Yes, the journey will be hard. Yes, for some battles, we may digress back to Egypt for a season. But if you allow Him, He will deliver you through Pi-hahiroth every time.