When Comfort Becomes Bondage

Mesu Andrews Featured Articles 7 Comments

2015-02-09 09.05.08

 

I’d had a rumbly tummy and full-out intestinal revolt for five days. I’d narrowed down the suspects to three possible causes: my favorite oatmeal, coffee with creamer, or stress. Faced with the very real possibility of giving up my favorite breakfast food or—heaven forbid—coffee, I began rationalizing…

 

 

 

  • How could anyone be allergic to steel-cut oats? Isn’t that what people eat to be healthy?
  • I’ve been drinking coffee with creamer for years. How could I suddenly be intolerant of the sweetest nectar on earth?
  • Granted, it’s no fun to spend a good portion of my day in the bathroom, but steel-cut oats and coffee are the very fuel of my existence.

I’ve made similar compromises in other areas of life. We kept a junker car because we dreaded the car-negotiating saga. I’ve stayed with a low-quality service provider (hair stylists, doctors, mechanics, etc.) because it was too daunting to search for another. We’ve even stayed at a church because we didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings—even when we knew God was calling us to move on.

Sad isn’t it—what we do in the name of loyalty or fear or dread? What are you willing to endure for the sake of pleasure, convenience, and comfort?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

In last week’s countdown to The Pharaoh’s Daughter, we looked at Jacob’s twelve sons and their families who moved to Egypt. There were seventy (some texts say seventy-five) total members of Jacob’s clan when Joseph, second-in-command to Pharaoh, moved his father and brothers’ families to Goshen. The exact dating of that move is debated, but we know the amount of time the Children of Israel—Jacob’s family, who became a nation—lived in Egypt.

“Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.”      Exodus 12:40-41

Remember why Jacob’s family went to Egypt in the first place? A famine in Canaan forced them to go to Egypt, where God had used Joseph to prosper the land. But here’s a nagging question:

Why did Jacob’s family STAY in Egypt?

The Loyalty Mask

After Jacob died, we could give Joseph’s brothers the benefit of the doubt and say:

“Maybe they didn’t want to make Joseph look bad by abandoning the gift of land Pharaoh had given them—Goshen.”

It was an extravagant gift, after all. It’s not nice—or smart—to rebuff a gift from Pharaoh.

Unfortunately, that line of thinking smells like my rationalizations about oatmeal and coffee. Loyalty to Joseph, fear of offending Pharaoh, and several other excuses could have all been avoided if the Children of Israel had focused on Joseph’s dying words:

“I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Genesis 50:24 (emphasis added)

So, why didn’t Joseph’s brothers leave Egypt when they were happy and healthy and in good-standing with the rulers of Egypt?

Egyptian History Tells the Story

The Children of Israel became TOO comfortable in Egypt. Jacob’s family wasn’t the only Canaanite tribe to move into the fertile lands of northern Egypt when the drought raged through the Levant. The Fifteenth Dynasty (Second Intermediate Period) of Egypt’s rulers begins with a foreign dynasty referred to as the Hyksos. At the time, Egypt was divided and ruled as two separate lands. The Hyksos were Asiatics from the Levant—in biblical terms, people from the Land of Canaan—who took power over the northern portion of Egypt’s Two Lands.

By the end of the Seventeenth Dynasty, the Hyksos were expelled, and Egypt’s Lower (northern) and Upper (southern) Lands were united under a single Egyptian Pharaoh. [1] But not all the foreigners were driven out. Those remaining were deemed Abiru[2]which sounds like the word, Hebrew—and were at first dealt with “shrewdly.” Only later were Jacob’s descendants subjected to forced labor and ruthless bondage.

Disobedience Felt Right

While Joseph lived, Jacob’s family stayed in Egypt. While the Hyksos reigned, the Children of Israel flourished. Why leave when life is going so well? Just because God had promised them ownership of Canaan—a hodge-podge of geographic areas inhabited by hostile tribes—why leave the comfort and safety of the homes God provided in Goshen…right?

If Jacob’s sons had known their children would become slaves a few centuries later, of course they would have returned to the Land God had promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But rather than strive for God’s promise, they settled for human comfort. Rather than trust God’s Word to be true, they trusted their circumstances to provide.

The consequences of disobedience are often delayed, giving us false hope that our sin has escaped God’s notice. God is not blind, nor does His memory fail. He is as faithful to judgment as He is to His promises.

Choosing Promise Over Bondage

We’re a society based on immediate gratification. We have high-speed internet and microwave everything. To wait or to work for something great seems silly when we can have something good with little effort right now.

God’s primary goals are healthy processes and people, not cheap results or quick returns. What has God promised you? If you have believed in Jesus Christ as your Savior, He’s promised you eternal life with Him—that begins right now. Live with Him. Talk to Him. Love Him. Choose the narrow way because the wide path leads to bondage and destruction…

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”      Matthew 7:13-14

Tweet-A-Licious!

Today’s Question:

  • Which of God’s promises can help motivate you to remain on the narrow path?

[1] Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (New York: Oxford Press, 2000), 484.

[2] http://www.hebrewhistory.info/factpapers/fp039-2_israel.htm

Comments 7

    1. Post
      Author

      That’s so true, Kate. And I have to constantly remind myself that Jacob and the Israelites didn’t have a Bible to grab or the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide them. However, we have to trust that the Lord can and will make His will known to those who sincerely seek Him. 😉

  1. OMGosh…this hit home for me. It is easier to stay stuck than to change and that applies to so many things in life. The narrow path is obviously the best but sometimes tight and difficult to navigate. And that should tell us something, shouldn’t it? Oh, and try real half & half in your coffee Mesu:)

    1. Post
      Author
  2. Sometimes it is so hard to get willing for what God wants us to do when it requires a major change in our lives. We say we want His will but to be willing to change is not always easy.

    1. Post
      Author

      Wow, Shirley…you are soooooo right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “Lord, help me want to want to.” Sometimes the DESIRE to do right isn’t there. That’s when I pray Phil. 2:13. It’s been a life-changer for me. God won’t take away my will to choose, but if I submit my will (my free choice) to His direction, He will mold and shape it to “His good pleasure.”

  3. Pingback: Only Two Midwives in Egypt? - Mesu Andrews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *