The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” ~Exodus 16:1-3
I often wonder what the conversations looked like among the Israelites during this crazy time in their history. Did they really complain this much? Did they really wish they were back in the land of slavery? Did they seriously prefer death in Egypt, even after they’d seen the Lord part the sea?! I shake my head in disbelief, shocked that they would be so shortsighted to miss out on the glory that was to be theirs if they could just be patient and go forward– trusting in the One who had faithfully brought them all this way!
But I must admit– Egypt did look good.
From what I understand from history, Egypt was a great place to be. Egypt was flourishing with food, trade, water, and land. Egypt’s economy was booming. It wasn’t so bad to be a worker in this place… And until administration changed, the Israelites were treated pretty well because of Joseph, an Israelite who through unfortunate yet God-ordained events, was Pharaoh’s right hand man. God had used Joseph to help Pharaoh store up food for when there was an extreme famine that had lasted seven years. Because of his character, faith and diligence, Joseph had been God’s vessel to save the Egyptian people from starving to death. Pharaoh was indebted to him. During his ruling, the Israelites were highly regarded and treated respectfully in their land. When Pharaoh died, however, and a new Pharaoh came to rule, he had no ties to Joseph (who had also died) or these people who were infesting his land. They were multiplying and becoming potentially too ‘powerful’. Enter the beatings and working to death and the slavery of the Israelites, and enter Moses, who God used to lead His people out of Egypt.
Whew! You didn’t know a history lesson was going to hit you this morning did you?! Neither did I. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is, Egypt– even though it was a place of extreme work and slavery for the Israelites, was also an economic powerhouse and a pretty amazing place to be.
Not as amazing as Canaan, though.
Canaan was the land God had promised the Israelites. A land flowing with milk and honey. A land flourishing with enough for everyone, and then even more. It could put Egypt to shame. It was good, real good. Even better, the people wouldn’t be slaves. A gorgeous, cultivated land that was all theirs! Imagine the best vacation spot, and then told it’s all yours, and you don’t have to go back to that day job you’ve been working. Sound too good be to true? But it wasn’t. That was Canaan. So. Good.
And yet, along the journey to get to Canaan, the people grumbled and bickered. They complained against God. They lost sight of the land ahead, and actually wished they were back in Egypt as slaves! They thought it might be better to die where at least they had meat to eat, rather than be in the desert.
Really?! They want Egypt over Canaan?! Come on!
I know. It sounds crazy, doesn’t it?!
So now I pose the question to you… And me.
What’s your/my Egypt?
- What looks so good to you right now that you’re losing sight of Canaan?
- What’s tiring you out so much that you throw your hands up and settle for Egypt when the promised land awaits you?
- What journey are you on that you wonder if it’s worth it and if you’d be better off back there… A slave to whatever it is… In Egypt?!
- What can’t you let go of that’s preventing you from really realizing Canaan in your life?
You want Egypt over Canaan?!
No you don’t.
You really don’t.
I know you don’t!
I don’t either! But there are so many things that I allow to hold me back from realizing the Canaan in my life that God is trying to lead me to. Whether it be money, health, success, popularity, friends, jobs, homes, vacations, more children– whatever it is– (a little bit of all of it for me!) I sometimes have such hard time of letting go of my Egypt that I forget that Canaan awaits me. God forbid I would spend 40 years in a desert wandering just so I could figure out what I really want. I want Canaan!
Lord help me see that you are orchestrating all things for the good of those who LOVE you and are called according to your purpose! Help me realize you are planning a future with hope and goodness, and I will find you when I seek you with all my heart. Allow me to experience joy in the journey, but keep my eyes on you so I don’t go wandering in the desert away from you. Keep my eyes on you Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, who has gone and goes before me. Keep me out of Egypt Lord. Make my feet swift, my eyes forward and my heart and head on the Canaan you are preparing for me.