Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Pastor's Corner - April 3rd, 2020

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A Congregation of the United Church of God

Pastor's Corner - April 3rd, 2020

In the days, weeks and months in which God brought plagues against the land of Egypt leading up to the Passover, He specifically set each of them in motion in order to move against the gods that Egypt worshipped. The idols of wood, stone, and belief which they thought controlled their seasons, cycles of crops, their rivers, animals, and the nation itself. 

With each of the plagues that He brought against Egypt, He brought low another god or goddess. As the Nile became blood, frogs boiled over into the streets and homes of the Egyptians, there were hordes of lice and flies… pestilence that afflicted their livestock, boils on the people of Egypt, hail, darkness and finally the smiting of the firstborn; with each event, the Egyptians learned the weakness of their gods, and the Israelites learned the strength of their own.

These events and their aftermath led to the deliverance of God’s chosen people from their captivity. His miracles and His guidance brought them out of their bondage, and into freedom. Moved them from slavery, and captivity, and made of them a nation. 

This incredible act of deliverance is an essential component of the Passover which we keep this coming week. 

As I have reflected on the events of the past months, and considered the impact which the Coronavirus has had upon society, to some extent - it has enslaved us. Our movements have been restricted, our activities have been restricted, we are prevented from gathering with our friends and brethren. I don’t say this to suggest in any way that this is the wrong approach, I merely provide it as an observation. Much of what people in the USA have held up as their idols–sports figures, musicians, celebrities, have in some ways faded into the background in the midst of this quarantine, and the regular folks - our medical personnel, first responders, teachers, and the vast army of logistical personnel in the world keeping the food and supplies moving, store shelves stocked and available for all have taken center stage.

It is almost as though God is helping us to realize that which is truly important. Giving us an opportunity to shift our perspective and providing us with the time and the space to turn to Him, and spend time with Him instead of allowing the distractions around us to take the wheel.

Just like the Israelites leaving Egypt, when God brings this viral outbreak to an end, and when He provides the world with deliverance from it. The world will look quite different. We talk about the pre 9/11 world, those of you that are old enough remember what it was like and how it is different now. After this is over with - things will have changed. Some of those changes will be good, others of those changes will be a serious challenge. There is a very good possibility that some of those changes will set up prophetic events going forward.

Throughout the accounts of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy - we see the challenges which faced Israel. We see their successes and their failures. Even as they were delivered from their bondage, and God cared and provided for them, they desired to return to it. To a time of comfort - not in the traditional sense, but familiar territory.

“Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” (Numbers 11:5-6 Numbers 11:5-6 [5] We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: [6] But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
American King James Version×
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The world will be a different place when we come out the other side of this event.

Brethren, as we process through these things, the social distancing, the months of quarantine, essentially the cancellation of 2020–take care with what we pine for. We’re excited for entertainment. We’re excited for sports, music, and other things to return - but will we do what we can to ensure those things have an appropriate place in our lives? Will we prioritize people and relationships over things? Will we enjoy the simple bliss of a cup of coffee (or tea) with a friend? Will entertainment have such a high priority? We have the power to choose what we put back, what we prioritize and how we go forward from here, just as Israel did.

As with most things - people will change for a time. It will be an incredible few months when the quarantine lifts and people can gather together again, and there will be incredible beauty that comes from those connections… but with time - people will return to their old ways, inflating popularity and fame with importance and value, prioritizing things and money over people and relationships, and eventually raising again to the level of an idol celebrity, fame, and money.

Brethren, let us endeavor to keep a proper perspective throughout this crisis. Let us use the time to recognize what is important, to build our relationship with God and with our families and brethren, and when we are released and God delivers mankind, let us maintain that perspective and lead by example as we return to a life of normalcy.