WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 13, 2023
TOPIC: DON’T RETURN TO EGYPT
BY T. O. BANSO
“So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt’” (Number 14:1-4 New King James Version).
Whereas the children of Israel left Egypt through a mighty deliverance, Egypt didn’t leave them. They were out of Egypt but Egypt remained in their hearts. On their way to Canaan after their exodus from Egypt, they kept referring to Egypt and preferring to return there whenever they faced any challenge. It was as if they never appreciated the deliverance God gave them; they seemed not to value their freedom. Eventually, the majority of those who left Egypt never got to Canaan; they died in the wilderness.
The Bible records an instance of this ungrateful attitude of the Israelites in Exodus 14:11-12: “Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness’” (New King James Version).
Notice the way the Israelites talked about Egypt as if it wasn’t in response to their cry that God sent Moses to go and deliver them from their taskmasters (Exodus 3:7). Truly before Moses secured their release they blamed Moses and Aaron for adding to their problem in the hands of the Egyptians (Exodus 5:19-21).
There is no way someone can keep talking like the Israelites did and get to his destination. Just because you have encountered a problem, you are regretting that you left where you were before. What a wrong attitude! Some people erroneously think that because they are in the will of God or doing the will of God, they will not face challenges. When such people encounter some problems, they assume that, probably, they are not in the will of God, or they have missed His will. But truly, the will of God is not exempted from challenges.
Being in the will of God doesn’t mean that you will not face challenges. Whenever someone doing the will of God faces challenges, he should not talk like the Israelites and try to go back to where he left. He must continue on his journey to Canaan and not contemplate returning to Egypt. The will of God sometimes runs into trouble! But ultimately, it shall be established.
Learn from the Israelites; don’t long for Egypt because of challenges. Put Egypt behind you and continue the journey to your Promised Land. Exodus 16:2-3 says, “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’” (New King James Version).
In this passage, because of a temporary lack of food, which was not a big problem for God to solve, having earlier made the Red Sea part for them in addition to all the plagues He brought upon Egypt to release them, they said they preferred to have died in Egypt. This was the height of ingratitude to God. Why would they prefer to die or suffer in Egypt rather than endure a temporary lack of food, which was not impossible for God to solve?
They recalled when they sat by the pots of meat and ate bread to the full. But they were slaves and they had to cry to God to save them from oppression in the hands of the Egyptians. Were they not eating the so-called pots of meat and bread when they cried to God? Were they saying they preferred the pots of meat and bread to their freedom?
Even after God had fed them with manna, the children of Israel didn’t cease to long after Egypt. You can’t get to your Promised Land when all you think and talk about is your Egypt – your past. Numbers 11:4-6 says, “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!’’ (New King James Version).
On their way to the Promised Land, the children of Israel lamented over meat, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic of Egypt they missed in the wilderness. Should all this be more important to them than the great destiny they were going to fulfil? What was all this compared to the land flowing with milk and honey that God was leading them to possess?
Are you ready to forgo or sacrifice the meat, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt to fulfil your destiny? Are ready to endure temporary pain for eternal gain? The Bible says that Jesus for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2). That verse says we should look unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith. We should emulate Him.
These Israelites could not endure temporary pain for the great gain ahead of them. No wonder God was angry with them and punished them for grumbling and craving for meat. They didn’t have to grumble for meat. God knew what was good for them, and He could have given them meat graciously without destroying them if they had honoured Him and asked properly. God gave them meat but while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, His wrath was aroused against them. He struck them with a very great plague (Numbers 11:31-33).
In the pursuit of your destiny, don’t look back. Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). Focus on where you are going. Don’t dwell on the past even amid the challenges of the present. If at the slightest challenge you face, you always talk glowingly about where you left off, one day you may find yourself on your way back there or you will never arrive at your God-ordained destination. This was the case with the children of Israel.
All the Israelites from twenty years and above who left Egypt never got to the Promised Land (Numbers 32:11). Their faith was more in Egypt than in Canaan. Despite all the wonders of God, they saw during their deliverance from Egypt and journey in the wilderness, all they were thinking of was dying in the wilderness! And they died as they had said.
When you’re faced with a challenge in the pursuit of your destiny, don’t think of death. Say to yourself, “No turning back.” The devil makes us think of the negatives many times, as the Israelites did. “And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, ‘Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” (Exodus 17:3 New King James Version). God didn’t bring them out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness. It was the mouth of those who died later that killed them. They invited death upon themselves.
God’s plans for you are for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11). But you must be careful that you don’t kill yourself by the negative words you speak. Don’t speak of death, problems, and difficulties; speak of the goodness of God to you. “I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust’” (Psalm 91:2 New King James Version). Speak what you desire – the solution, not the problem.
In Number 14, the Bible again records the preference of the Israelites for Egypt because of the challenge they faced. “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt’” (verses 1-4 New King James Version). Nehemiah also referred to this incident in Nehemiah 9:17
If anyone has this attitude of these Israelites, it would not be surprising that he doesn’t fulfil his destiny or get to his Promised Land. They didn’t show enough faith in God’s plan for them. God had a great plan for them but they didn’t cooperate with Him to realize it. “‘If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword’; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 1:19-20 New King James Version).
God does not want you to return to Egypt. He didn’t want the Israelites to. That was why when Pharaoh had allowed them to leave Egypt, God didn’t lead them by the way of the Philistines. Exodus 13:17-18 says, “Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt” (New King James Version). Note the phrase “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
Don’t try to return to Egypt. Don’t go back to your abandoned, sinful habits. Don’t return to your vomit (2 Peter 2:22). Don’t give in to temporary difficulties. Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). You may suffer adversity in your journey to your Promised Land but don’t contemplate going back to Egypt. Jesus said no one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). Have faith in God to overcome all challenges you face. Trust God to give you victory. Don’t return to Egypt. Don’t return to your land of bondage.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: In the name of Jesus, I shall not long for Egypt but concentrate on the journey to my Promised Land. Father, I shall not return to what You have delivered me from. I shall not return to my old sinful habits in Jesus’ name.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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