I’ve been reading through Exodus this season break and it’s amazing how such familiar stories can speak to you in completely new ways. As of this morning, I’ve arrived to the part where Moses and the Israelites had their first encounter with an enemy outside Egypt- the Amalekites (Exodus 17).
As I read deeper and meditated on the word, I realized through the revelation of the Holy Spirit that the Amalekites were not Israel’s first enemies outside of Egypt. While they were their first external enemy, the people of Israel had already at that point faced another enemy to whom they sadly lost to- that enemy was themselves.
From the moment they stood at the shores of the Red Sea to after they had crossed over, the Israelites continued to be their own biggest enemy and they would lose to themselves over and over again, and it was frustrating God, Moses and even themselves.
But let us not forget that some our biggest enemies are foes that exist within ourselves as well.
I’m sure you had a lot of enemies this year that went against your promises. You faced circumstances, spiritual warfare, and probably even some natural enemies. But let us not forget that some our biggest enemies are foes that exist within ourselves as well. As based on Israel’s experience after crossing the Red Sea, here are four internal enemies that we need to fight in order to see God’s promises continue to come to pass this 2017 and how we can fight them.
One thing the Israelites loved to do was complain. They complained about water, food, laws, and God’s timing. Complaining is a problem not necessarily because of the complaints that come out of our mouths but because of the things we let into our hearts. Complaining is a result of allowing entitlement, pride and disbelief creep into our hearts.
Complaining seems easy when we think we’re in charge and that God owes us, but let us remember that everything good that comes to us comes as a result of God’s grace, completely unmerited but still freely given.
Another of Israel’s favorite pastimes was waking up to a fresh batch of comparison. The first thing they’d do after waking up is get around a fire and start talking about what they once had in Egypt and comparing it to the challenges they were facing today. Here’s something we need to realize- if all we do is compare our life now in pursuit of God’s best to the life we once lived, we will always find a thing or two that will drag us back to the past.
Not that our past life is any better, but reality is that promised lands will always be marked with giants and a wilderness. If we can’t look past those challenges, we’ll never see the promise come to pass. One way to increase our vision of the promise is to stop looking back to compare today with yesterday.
The problem with the Israelites was that they were happy where they were in Egypt. They were okay with just being slaves when God wanted them to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Complacency is the great enemy to our dreams. It tells us that we are fine where we are and we don’t need a more meaningful life when we know deep inside that’s what we all long for.
The irony about complacency is that it was also a cause for Israel’s complaining. In their self-satisfaction they were completely dissatisfied. Complacency paralyzes us but keeps us wishing we had more while a passionate mission gets us going while remaining content and thankful the whole way.
4. Commitment Problems
The final enemy the Israelites faced within themselves was an issue with commitment. They had struggles committing to the goal, to their leaders, to Moses, to each other and to God. Commitment is making the decision and acting upon it to remain consistent in the midst of storms.
We see throughout the Bible that commitment had been an issue all the time. In the time of Kings, people were swaying so constantly between idols and God. In Jesus’ time, the same people who shouted “Hosanna!” were the same people who shouted “crucify!” If we want to see our promised land, we need to make a decision to start committing to God and to the misson at hand. Keep our laser focus on the prize that is Christ and we will get there in no time.