【제목】그 땅을 네게 주시거든
After the LORD gives you the land
Yesterday morning, I said this was the last early morning prayer of the year. Today, it is the last church service of the year. Tomorrow, it will be the last day of the year 2012--- I feel humbled whenever I think the word “last”, consequently, I think that I have to look back over how I have lived the last year ---Anyhow, how have you lived over the last year? Have you lived without regrets? If I ask these questions, nobody says that I have lived without regrets. Everyone has something to regret even though they looked like to live very well or perfectly. However, this kind of worry is not new one in 2012. This time of every year, we repeat to worry the same thing ---Why we always do the same regrets and worries every year? It is probably because we do not have any clear ideas of how and why we confront or prepare a new age and the times. It is same reason why the resolution we made is fizzled out a few days later even though we make up our mind very firmly seeing sunrise. Thereupon, through today’s scripture, we are going to think about how we confront and prepare a new age and new times, and why we have to do it.
I have always been curious as to why Exodus 13:1-16 is in where it is written. Considering the overall flow of the Exodus, I don’t think that part of the Chapter is suited to be there.
In Exodus, God calls Moses and makes him a leader. Then He brings in the ten plagues to Egypt for the people of Israel to escape Egypt. Of the plagues, the water from the Nile River becomes blood and at last, the firstborns in Egypt all die.
Exodus 12:30 says: Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
Exodus 12:51 says: And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.
So the Israel people were able to escape from Egypt that way. But when we read Chapter 13, we find the following verses.
Exodus 13:5 says: When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites--the land he swore to your forefathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey--you are to observe this ceremony in this month
Exodus 13:11 says: After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your forefathers
The people have just escaped from Egypt in Chapter 12. In Chapter 13, God is telling the people to go into the Promised Land and do what is told. In this sense, God seems very hasty and impatient… Why is God immediately telling the people to go into the land of the Canaanites right after the people have escaped from Egypt?
I think what God considers important is directional nature. Even though the Israel people have taken the first step by escaping from Egypt, the question of which direction they are going towards is essentially the most important question among all other important things. In other words, while the fact that the people have escaped from Egypt may be important, the fact that they should be taking a direction towards the land of the Canaanites is much more important.
Perhaps, there remained in many Israelites old habits and attitudes from Egypt. But once they left Egypt, they became the people who were going towards the Promised Land. This latter fact is more important.
Finishing off one year and preparing for the New Year, we should try to consider which direction we are taking. Just because it’s the New Year, the Words in Exodus do not fulfill themselves. We need to look towards the new land and be prepared to live in that land. I hope that in 2013, we take our first steps towards the Kingdom of God just as the Israelites who took their first steps towards the land of the Canaanites.
Similarly, we must remember verse 12 as we reflect how the Israelites’ lives changed direction towards Canaan: “you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD.” Here, it says to sacrifice the firstborns – especially the male.
When we go to catch crabs, we let lose the female crabs and only bring back the male ones. According to the bible, perhaps we should be bringing back the female ones and returning the male crabs back to God?
In any case, why did God say this? Verse 15 says, “When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.”
Giving the firstborn to God is to remember how they escaped Egypt.
In verse 13 it says, “Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.”
Back then, a donkey was supposed to be atoned with a young lamb because donkeys were seen unclean animals according to Leviticus 11.
Unclean animals had to be redeemed through a young lamb because Canaanites were a group of people who received atonement.
When I was reflecting on this scripture I thought this was the best way to determine whether a person is living a Canaanite life or an Egyptian life. Some people may be living in the Promised Land, but still looking back to Egypt. Others may be living in Egypt, but are living for the Promised Land. This is why the first thing the Israelites must have laid down and established was not how to live on this new land, but conviction in God’s redemption and salvation. As an unclean animal such as a donkey is redeemed through the lamb, those who have escaped the sinful world and are living for the new world of our Holy God must remember this truth.
As we are nearing the end of 2012 and getting ready for 2013, what is the most important thing for us? It is to realize what is at the foundation of our lives. As the Israelites remembered how God rescued them from Egypt by sacrificing the animals, we also must remember the cross of Jesus Christ.
Beloved brothers and sisters! In 2013, I pray that we all can leave our Egyptian lives and live out heaven on earth. But, for us to do this, we must remember that our lives are built upon Jesus Christ’s cross.
At the start of the year, we all say that we will live so that we can leave Egypt in the upcoming year; however, this plan is forgotten as time goes. As more events occur, the plan that we made in our hearts at the start of the year is hard to keep. The Israelites faced the same deal. So in Exodus 13:16, “And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the LORD brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.” It is already recorded in verse 9... This is repeated.
What does ‘the sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead’ represent? Whenever the Jewish wrote the scripture on cloth or leather, they wore it around their hand or forehead. God is telling the Israelites to do this once they enter Canaanite. This is because the Israelites will soon forget the astonishing salvation they experienced.
This is the reason behind why we have to have a religious life even thought we believe that by our faith we will be saved by Jesus Christ. If we want to walk towards Canaanites without losing our objective, we must endure a religious training. We must check our coordinates by looking at the signs on our hands and symbols on our forehead.
One of Osho Rajneesh’s book called ‘Navel’ there is such story: a god created the world containing only beauty. But as soon as humans were created, everything worsened. This is because humans were created with Hell. Also from the non-stop complaints from humans, the god was unable to sleep and no one was able to work. There were many people who knocked on the god’s door, day and night. The god thought about putting an end to the human species. But few wise men made a suggestion. That there is no reason to end the human species, instead the god should move to a different location... Thus, there was no reason to live with the humans. The god asked, “Where should I go then?” The wise men replied, “Everest is a great place.” The god replied, “You folks do not know, but soon people will roam around that location; therefore, this distress will start again.” Then another wise man said, “Go to the moon.” Then the god replied, “You folks do not know, but soon people will go to the moon. Think about a place where people do not know about.” Soon after, an old wise man whispered something to the god, and the god nodded his head and said, “Yes, I think that is the answer.” The old wise man proposed that the god should reside in people’s heart. Since humans will search everywhere externally; however, they will never look internally for god.
Loving Apostles, during the year of 2013 I hope that we prepare ourselves to begin the journey to look for God. Thinking about the signs on our hand and symbols on our forehead... Holding on to the Bible which will resist us from our unstable lives... I hope that we can all start the journey towards Canaanite.
I hope that during the start of 2013, we could examine the signs on our hands and symbols on our forehead. We should contemplate God’s Words every day to find God and to have an endless relationship with God.
The last thing for us to think about is in verse 17, ‘When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”’
The verse describes the glorious moment when the Israelites finally gained their freedom from the Egyptians. However, God did not lead the Israelites along the shortest and the easiest path, a path that would have only taken them at most a week to Canaan. Instead, God lead them through the longer and the more challenging route.
Why would God lead them along the longer route? The latter part of verse 17 says, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” He had known that if the Israelites were to meet the Egyptian army while traveling on the shorter path, it was more likely that they would give up and return to Egypt.
The shorter path was the route the Egyptian kings had taken, when going to war with the northern nations. It also was a path used when other countries were coming to attack Egypt. As a result, the path was equipped with military personnel and thus, traveling down the route would have resulted in a war in which the Israelites would have absolutely lost.
The thing that was needed in the journey to Canaan was ‘absolute trust in God.’ Sometimes, God will lead us on a longer path rather than the shorter one, a more challenging route rather than an easier one. But we must remember that what looks good to us does not mean what was meant for us.
Beloved church members, what will your prayers be as you get ready to welcome the new year? Would you pray for God to lead us down the easier and shorter path? Or would you pray for God to lead us in the right path, the path that God had set for us? I hope that all of us here today will have that faith to believe that whatever route we end up traveling along is the right one for us.
I will finish up today's preach. A Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard wrote a parable of a wild duck.
It was the time for the ducks to fly southward across Europe before severe winter came.
However in the barnyard, there was a plentiful of ripen corns. So the ducks decided to have a feast before they leave. The next morning, all the ducks left to the South except for this one duck. He told himself he would stay for a little more and leave the next day. However, the duck didn't leave the next day, or the day after, or after. Eventually, the harsh north-westerly wind began to blow. The duck ,who was still left behind, finally decided to leave.
But he found that his good fare had made him so soft and heavy that he could not rise up to the sky.
Fellow brothers and sisters, the year 2013 is approaching. It is time for us to leave for our newly promised land just as the people of Israel escaped Egypt for Canaan. In order to do so, we have to set our destination to Canaan, not to Egypt. I hope you keep the Lord's kingdom in mind when you set your vision and goal, and also keep in mind that the reason for our lives lies on the cross of Jesus Christ. Most importantly, I hope you trust and follow God's guidance, so that we may fly towards the new days.
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