Phase one, the wealth of the wicked

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So here we are, America has reopened its economy. Businesses are firing back up, churches are reopening their doors, restaurants are providing in-person dining, and people are going back to work. It’s the new normal, and it’s being labeled as phase one of the restart. All of this because of a small invisible thing with a powerful punch. But what does “phase one” look like for the average person, and how are we to respond?

How do we find a good example to follow in this new restart since the world and especially our country and state have never been in this situation in our lifetime? The world simply has no recent platform to glean from for an adequate example. The only direction we can go is backward, into history. Do we stop as far back as 100 years to see how our country restarted after the Spanish flu? Does the great plague of the 1300’s give enough evidence for successful forward progress? I think the best place to learn from is the Old Testament.

In the book of Exodus the Israelites had suffered many generations of punishment and cruelty at the hands of the Egyptians. God sent them a deliverer out of their own nation. This man not only risen from the bloodline of Israel but he was also an Egyptian prince. God lifted Moses from the desert, set him in Egypt, established him as his chosen instrument, and, after decimating Egypt with plagues, phase one of their freedom began.

Notice something in chapter 12 in that the people of Egypt ordained the Israelites leaving by financing their journey. In verses 35 and 36 we find that Moses had instructed them to ask for the wealth of their oppressors. He didn’t tell them to take or to steal their belongings. That would eliminate the hand of God in the situation. He gave them favor and, whatever they asked for, the Egyptians freely gave. They were favored by God so much that in verse 36 the word “plundered” is used to describe the vast transfer of wealth. Egypt had deposited everything of value the Israelites requested into their possession before they said their final goodbyes.

So phase one began with unimaginable wealth to finance an indescribable future. God would be giving them a land of their own. They would be sleeping in houses they didn’t build, drinking from wells they didn’t dig, and eating from vineyards they didn’t labor to plant. Israel left with wealth for the immediate and distant future. They instantly accumulated from the Lord prosperity for generations to come. For every Israelite that died in Egypt, another would establish himself in the land of promise for the future. God had just secured them as independent for the world to see.

Now, when all you have ever been taught is slavery, Egyptian governmental control and poverty mentality then knew freedom under a new divine presence and prosperity can become quickly distorted. Israel entered phase one of their new life with a level of wealth many will never experience and few will understand. So what did Israel do with their new freedom? What did they accomplish with their new found wealth? Did they establish a new kingdom, populate the pastures with cattle and livestock, build churches and worship centers for Christ? Did they seek out the lost and non-believers and expand the message of God to other cultures? One would think they would have used what God gave them to serve him and expand his kingdom, but that’s not exactly what they did. Yes Israel, with unimaginable availability and power potential, spent what God gave them on another god. They used their wealth for idolatry.

The story continues into chapter 32. After miracle upon miracle from God, they spent their new riches on something to worship. A thing. A graven image. Not only did they spend God’s gift of wealth on a golden calf, they gave the image the credit for what God had done. Israel failed their “reopening phase one test.” They held the wealth of a nation in their hands and poured it out upon “nothing” and gave it to the devil for no return on their investment.

“All in” with God brings favor beyond comprehension as we’ve read in Exodus chapter 12. “Half in” with God makes him sick. He says in the book of Revelation that lukewarm Christianity is sickening to him to the point of spewing. Now, rebellion against God, or should I say “all against him,” angers him to the point of destruction. As the story continues in chapter 32, God threatens to kill each and every one of them and recreate a new society of true believers through Moses. His servant, Moses, alone turned his anger against the people and spared their lives. Through this story, we know a few things. If God is for us, then no attack, large or small, can stand against us. If we rebel and want to kick him out of our lives, then there is no limit to the level of danger we can place ourselves under.

So how do we successfully navigate phase one of this reopening? For starters, we can invest wisely. Each time in biblical history when God’s people were faithful in serving the Lord, God in turn blessed them. So our best option to reopen is to do it responsibly. I’m not talking about wearing masks and gloves and obeying proper distancing protocols. What I’m mentioning is much greater and far more important. We simply must invest ourselves in the Lord and remain there. It’s our “phase one God plan.”

Let’s invest wisely. We are Christpoint Church. We’re on the square in Sparta. We would love to see you this Sunday at 9:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. We’re real people, living real lives, serving a real God. Welcome home.

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