One of the quintessential illustrations of being “born again” you often hear is departing Egypt to the Promised Land. For many preachers, Egypt is synonymous with the desert of sin that you quit and never return to. This is often premised on the over 400 years of Jewish slavery in Egypt before they were liberated to go back to the Promised Land given to them by God through their patriarch, Abraham. It is a usual prayer as Christians that we do not think of “going back to Egypt.” Centuries before Israel found herself in Egypt, God had told their grandfather, Isaac, not to go to Egypt. According to Genesis 26:2-3, “The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and bless you. For you and your descendants, I will give all these lands and confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.’”
But it appeared that Egypt would always be on the path of the Jews. Abraham, the patriarch of the Jews, was in Egypt due to famine in his country. He went to Egypt along with his wife, Sarah, who caught the attention of the Egyptian Pharaoh. The King of Egypt treated Abraham well without harassing him or his wife (Genesis 12:10-20). Centuries later, the Jews were again in Egypt through Joseph (one of the twelve children of Israel), who was sold as a slave by his brothers but promoted by God to become a lord in Egypt. God positioned Joseph in Egypt to save nations from famine and to deliver the Jews, his people. God had used Egypt in the life of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to avoid famine. Egypt was a nation helpful to the Jews in times of need (Genesis 42 through 45). Perhaps, the most astonishing part of this story was that God gave Israel free passage to Egypt. “So, Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you and surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s hand will close your eyes.’” (Genesis 46:1-4).
Things changed for the worse when Pharaoh, who knew Joseph and the God of the Jews, died. “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). The Jews were enslaved and scourged in Egypt before God sent Moses to liberate them. The point here is that the problem is not the land of Egypt but the people who do not recognize the true God. And because God’s promises are His bond, He liberated the Jews from Egypt and took them back to the Promised Land. That did not mean God was done with Egypt. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof (Psalms 24:1-2). That includes Egypt. When the Messiah Jesus Christ was born in Nazareth of Judea in Israel, a King of Israel who did not know God plotted to kill the child. “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13). Amazingly, the same God who took Israel from Egypt instructed that baby Jesus, who would deliver the world from their sinful ways be taken to Egypt for His protection from a Jewish monarch who did not know God. Egypt was not the only nation; it was chosen for this important event not by anyone but by God.
It is therefore not about the people of Egypt, or even the land, but about Satan and his followers who do not know God. A bunch of enemies surrounds Israel but only one enemy, Satan, controls them all. At the end of the monarchy in Egypt, and the beginning of the presidential form of government, Anwar El Sadat was the third President of Egypt. Sadat became Egypt’s President in 1970 but was assassinated in 1981 by an Islamic jihadist group who were opposed to the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty put in place by Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin on September 17, 1978, following twelve days of secret negotiations at Camp David, facilitated by President Jimmy Carter of the United States. Amid hostilities against Israel by surrounding nations, people like Sadat were raised by God to give the Jews peace. Unfortunately, he paid the supreme sacrifice. His position in Jewish-Arab relations cannot be forgotten.
When God moves and acts, it keeps us guessing because we do not know what He’s doing or where He is going. The story of Peter the apostle and Cornelius, a centurion and an Italian Regiment of Caesarea was a great reference to some of the things God does. Cornelius was a gentile while Peter was a Jew. The gentile world was considered a no-go area for the Jews because the Gentiles were considered uncircumcised and unclean. But the Lord had a program of salvation for Cornelius’s household and Peter, the Jew, was the chosen vessel to accomplish this purpose. Peter had had a message from God through a vision. All kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds, have been dropped by Peter and a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” This was clearly against the commandment of the Lord to Jews known by all growing up Jews; so, Peter replied “Surely not, Lord!” “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” (Acts 10:12-14). The Jews were astonished as to what God did with the obedience of Peter. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” Acts 10:44-46.
God’s actions are not for any of us to defend or explain. God owes no one an explanation of His actions. As we go through the celebration of Christmas 2023, we should remember the role that God made Egypt play in the arrangement of salvation for the world. The enemy of our soul and his demons are all over the globe. They put us in the world against each other. Jesus Christ was born for the reconciliation of the world to God. Don’t look at your neighbor with suspicion; rather, let us wage war against the principalities and powers – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 6:12. The issue is therefore not Egypt, but the people controlled by Satan. We shall therefore visit Egypt; not the Egypt of Pharaoh who enslaved the Jews but Egypt that saved the world from hunger, and Egypt who provided a haven for our Lord when he was a baby.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.