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Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. It marks the beginning of Lent. Lent gives us the opportunity to prepare ourselves for Easter. It is a great time to reflect on this powerful question: How am I enslaved? What things, what forces, what desires, and what sins have control over me? In what ways am I living in bondage? The Jews escaped Egypt only to wander forty years in the desert. Now it is our turn to escape. Let’s make the most out of these forty days. Please read more.
There is immense symbolism wrapped up in the Biblical number 40. We find the number forty tied to many, if not most, of the major stories in salvation history. Lent of course, is a time to reflect on Jesus and His forty days of temptation in the desert. In today’s message, we will also reflect on the exodus of the Jews from Egypt. They wandered lost in the desert for forty years before entering the promised land. We spent most of our life wandering lost in sin. Lent gives us the chance to reset out GPS so that we too, can find that promised land.
Throughout the Bible, the number 40 is frequently tied to the end of one thing and the beginning of something new. God once used a forty-day flood to destroy evil in the world. Conversely, the Spirit of God led Jesus into a forty day fast in the desert to prepare Him for His public ministry to save the world from evil.
It is true that we typically associate Lent with Jesus’ forty days in the desert, but one of the more interesting biblical symbolisms wrapped up in the number forty is its connection to pregnancy. Forty is the traditional number of weeks for a pregnancy.
Freelance writer Stephen Beale in his article The Flood & the Desert: The Hidden Meaning of Lent’s 40 Days wrote the following: “Pregnancy is indeed an apt model for the biblical periods above. It begins with the intensity of the moment of conception, is followed by a time marked by both pain and joyful anticipation, and then, only after this period of postponement, is there the birth of someone new.” He goes on to write, “Recall that the exodus account particularly parallels the highs and lows of pregnancy. It began with the extraordinary crossing of the Red Sea, was followed by the long sojourn in the desert, and concluded with the dramatic entrance into the Promised Land by another miraculous river cross, that of the Jordan.”
Is it any surprise then that the salvific plan of God begins with Mary’s pregnancy? So now, as we look down the road towards Easter, let’s use this Lenten Season to focus our attention on our exodus from the bondage of sin and let’s make this our time to experience a spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ.
Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we can equip ourselves for the journey through the desert. Again, I encourage you to ask yourself, “How am I enslaved”?
If you are in the working season of life, perhaps you are enslaved by your quest to climb the corporate ladder? Has your desire for power, control, or recognition placed you in captivity?
If you are in the retirement season of life, maybe you have become enslaved to your desires for rest, relaxation and fun and you have become slothful in your spiritual life. Do your recreational hobbies have you in captivity? Do you spend more time with them than you do praying and reading scripture?
Most people must work in order to provide for the needs of their families. Some people, however, have become enslaved with work, solely to quench their endless desire for nicer homes, cars, and bigger toys. The allure of more and more things prevents them from quality family time. Are you enslaved in this way?
Perhaps the allure of alcohol, drugs, porn, sexual promiscuity, or other sins have you in bondage. Do you feel helpless to escape their grip?
God has always desired to set His people free. Before fleeing Egypt, God instructed His people to cover their door posts and lentils with the blood of the lamb. He called them forth from their Egyptian bondage. You and I have been covered by the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, Jesus Christ. He is now calling us out of our bondage.
Let’s allow God to break the chains that bind our soul. Lent calls us to spiritual action. Now, like the Egyptians, let’s pack our bags and flee from our old ways of living. Jesus is ready to lead us back into the promised land.
My message today was inspired by the music group Ernie Haase & Signature Sound and their song called Goodbye Egypt, Hello Canaanland. The words and music were written by Marty Funderburk and Jerry Kelso. The song contains these lyrics:
Good bye old way of living
Hello loved and forgiven
Good-bye death and the grave
Hello heaven, thank God I’m saved
I encourage you to take a moment right now and listen to this toe tapping song. Maybe you should purchase the song and listen to it every morning during the season of Lent. Allow it to remind you that it’s time to escape the bondage of sin. Now, get up, get going, it’s time to be free!
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Heavenly Father, I know you are calling me forth from sin and bondage. Help me to make these forty days of Lent a time of spiritual rebirth. Like your people of old, help me to cross my Jordon rivers, so that I can enjoy a new life flowing with milk and honey through the grace of Your Son Jesus Christ. Amen!
As always, I love to read your comments below as well as hear from you personally by clicking here.
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Thank you for that message. It touched my soul. Happy Ash Wednesday.
I am glad the message touched your soul. Happy ash Wednesday to you also.
Loved the song! What an uplifting message. Thanks for all you do!
I enjoy almost all of the songs. Thanks for your ministry as well.
Excellent reflection Brian..FYI…in addition to reading the Letters, my wife Dee enjoys us listening to the podcast version on our way in to Trinity High on Tuesdays. Be safe…Bill
Thanks for your post and kind comments. More and more people are learning they can subscribe to the podcast version of 4th Day Letters. I know it helps those who spend a lot of time commuting to and from work.