Paul wrote to the Corinthians that Israel’s journey through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land happened as examples for us. If so, can we learn anything to help us in America’s inner cities?
Let us begin in Egypt.
After Joseph’s legacy dimmed, Israel spent the last three hundred years in Egypt as slaves. None of the three million Israelites, with the exception of Moses, had ever experienced freedom a single day in his or her life at the time of the exodus.
Now, there were leaders in Egypt, like Aaron and Miriam, who reminded the people of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for the nation of Israel. Yet, these promises were kindled under the spiritual atmosphere controlled by the spirit of slavery. Sadly, even the leaders who spoke the promises were not immune to the cruel affects of the demonic principality.
To deliver Israel, God afflicted Egypt with ten judgments, each aimed specifically at an Egyptian god to reveal its weakness to all. The first three plagues did affect the Israelites who lived in Goshen, but for the fourth plague through the tenth, God did something different.
But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. No flies will be found there. Then you will know that I am the LORD and that I am present even in the heart of your land. (Exodus 8:22)
While God showed the worthlessness of Egypt’s gods to all, He openly revealed how He could protect those who followed Him.
After the tenth plague – the deaths of first born sons – Pharaoh finally relented and allowed Israel to leave Egypt. Israel took their herds and flocks with them and also:
… they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36)
Afterward, God led Israel by way of the Red Sea so He could demonstrate His power in the most miraculous miracle of Israel’s history: the parting of the Red Sea. When the Red Sea finally returned to its normal depth, Egypt’s army was destroyed.
Thus, Egypt was left in a shambles, its wealth plundered and its army destroyed. What power could Egypt’s gods possibly have in comparison to the Lord God of Israel? Absolutely none.
But yet, the Egyptian gods still had strongholds in the Israelites.
… “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt we do not know what has become of him”… And Aaron received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 32:1, 4)
The above event took place almost a year after Israel walked out of Egypt. By then, they had witnessed the ten judgments against the Egyptian gods and had been delivered out of Egypt. Plus, the parting of the Red Sea. Manna. Quail. Water from a rock. Heard God’s voice at Mt. Sinai and received His Law and Covenant.
And yet, during a time of distress, the Israelites reverted to putting their faith in one of the weak and defeated gods of Egypt: the golden calf.
How could this happen? And how does it relate to America’s inner cities?
(Continued in Part 6)