Moses encountered God in the burning bush. In the conversation which took place, God tasked Moses with going to Pharaoh and demanding that the children of Israel be released from bondage, and allowed to return to the promised land.
God didn’t just want to get his people out of Egypt, but Egypt out of his people. There followed a long period in the desert. The desert was a time of testing and purifying. The Hebrews learned to rely on God, and not on the leeks and onions of the Nile. They also had to get rid of the slave mentality.
This slave mindset is seen repeatedly. They feared Pharaoh’s chariots, and the sea before them. Even though they had already seen the plagues set upon the Egyptians by God. Despite this God again freed them with a spectacular act of dividing the Red Sea. But the slave mentality is seen yet again. Spies are sent into the land, and though reports of the goodness of the place is there, the people focus on the walled cities and the giants, and not on God’s presence, or their own superior numbers. They were slaves to the heart.
The purging in the desert created a people reliant on God. The wanderings weeded out those who wanted to remain slaves in thought, or worse still – those who wanted to physically return to Egypt.
We face deserts or wildernesses in our lives. There are times which seem to be barren and forbidding. But these should not be cues for us to say, “Well I will go back to my old sinful life, where I ‘had fun’ or just ‘went with the flow’ of the world.
Jesus gave us a model of how to face deserts. He went into the wilderness as well! He went into the lonely places for forty days, and there suffered as one who was totally a man. He was hungry like us, and He faced temptations of ‘the easy way’.” But in these temptations He proved himself fully God, as well as fully man. He resisted and rested in the word of God to the point of triumph.
The Hebrews saw God’s glory directly, but still were full of figurative “Egypt.” They had to be tested, and those who trusted like Caleb and Joshua became a people of figurative Canaan (the promised land), and not of the fleshpots of Egypt.
Are we ready to make a good exit from our own Egypts as well?