Gary Protheroe - Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Convention - 2017

I have been reading a little more in Exodus these last few days. I love to read the story although it is a story about a natural journey, it also gives us a picture of our spiritual journey. The book is called Exodus which means a departure. We are here because the gospel has caused us to make an exodus, an exodus from the things which kept us in bondage in this world. An exodus from our own will, an exodus from our own plans and desires to enter into something greater. To go as that hymn says that we were singing to a better country. It is better than a better country, it is a higher kingdom. We seek a better country where there is a better lifestyle than there is in Australia. We are here to get out of here, we are not here to stay. Our human nature wants us to stay because our human nature knows it has no place in the kingdom of heaven. The gospel has prepared us to make an exodus the process of exiting this human life and all the attachments thereof and entering into God’s kingdom is a pathway of many steps and there are many things for us to learn along the way.

The story of our spiritual exodus began like in the beginning of this book, when we realised we wanted something better. The vanity and worship of Egypt came so heavily upon these people, it was killing the children and it was squashing their lives and they cried unto God and God responded to their cry. He prepared two messengers and one He had to send out of the country to prepare and bought him back and joined him up with his companion and they bought the message, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey Him?" Then there was a process to show Pharaoh who the Lord was and why he should obey Him. Pharaoh’s close supporters and physicians and to a certain degree imitated those things that would happen. In every one of those plagues and in every one of those miracles, the hand of God was shown more glorious till they reached the point where the magicians could not match what God was doing. They came to the conclusion this is the Lord’s and they saw and as time went on they realised this is the hand of the Lord. We are thankful for experiences the Lord brings us through and first of all to show us His finger and then to show us His hand, His strength and His glory and then His Lamb and His salvation and His plan.

I was reading a little in the 14th chapter of Exodus and then we think of the mass of the exodus that took place out of Egypt and it could only possibly be the spirit of God that can motivate 2 or 3 million people to depart from where they were living. It tells us there were 600,000 men alone and probably the same amount of women and probably more children because they seem to have larger families in those days and it could have been up to 2 or 3 million. They left their homes where they had been dwelling and had been born and they were seeking for a better country and it could never happen with a political persuasion. It is only the law that compels that many people to turn up at a polling booth. These people did not exodus because of the law, they exited because of the message that they heard and the faith that had begun in their hearts. We are thankful that the message of the gospel and when we listen to it, it brought faith into our hearts. Sufficient faith to move us and first of all to go and listen to the gospel and then to begin on a spiritual journey, and one day realising we are going to leave behind things that was so important and so part of our earthly life to enter into something that is far greater.

These people were going to a place they had never been to before. They could not Google it because there was no Google those days. Anything they could create would hardly picture anything in their mind of where they are going to. In the Bible, we may have a little glimpse of what God has prepared for us in eternity. You can read the last two chapters of Revelations and our human minds fail to comprehend, to comprehend this great place the Lord has called home and to go to. The more we understand the greatness of the big picture of eternity it is of little consequence to us that we have to leave certain things behind that is mere sentimental value to us, because we understand what we go on to is of so much greater value.

Here in 14:5–7, “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people and they said, 'Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?' And he made ready his chariots and took his people with him. And he took 600 chosen chariots and all the chariots of each of and captains over every one of them.” I do not know how many the Egyptian army added up to and may be a few thousand and this shows the foolishness and pride of Pharaoh’s heart. He thought, "Maybe we can take a few thousand chariots and horses out there, we can frighten these people and turn them back." He did not realise the hand of the Lord was with them. Pharaoh was very slow to recognise the hand of the Lord was with them. When anyone starts this spiritual journey, the devil wants to frighten them and turn them back.

I remember a crippled girl who professed in Sri Lanka some years ago. The first Sunday morning, she was to come to the meeting and have a little part. She ended up in the police station that morning. Someone had come into the house the night before and bashed her. We rang up to see why she did not come to the meeting and she just wept and she told the story. Satan used her drunk relatives to try and frighten her and turn her back. She continues faithfully unto this day. She knows the journey she has embarked upon leads her do something far greater than what she is leaving behind.

So out comes Pharaoh and his army to pursue after these on their horses and their chariots and then in verse 10, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold the Egyptians marched after them and they were sore afraid; and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.” So they had to lift up their eyes to firstly see this. In our spiritual journey, we need to remember the direction the Lord has sent us on. It is so often the things that come to our ears want to turn our feet and to get our eyes looking in another direction. It says they lifted up their eyes and it is always a good thing to do and our eyes are looking in the right direction. Had they not looked around and looked at the Egyptians, what would they have seen? They would have seen the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. What would that remind them of? It would remind them of the protection and leading of God. They lifted their eyes in the wrong direction and they did not lift them high enough and they never saw the cloud or the fire. They lifted them only high enough to see the hindrance and the enemy. Friends, if you lift your eyes up and you can only see the hindrance, all you can see is the enemy. What we need to do is lift our eyes a little higher and to see the fire of God’s love and protection over us and to see the cloud overshadowing us and it is evidence that His spirit is with us. Because they only lifted their eyes up that far, they saw the Egyptians were coming and they were sore afraid.

Verse 11, “And they said unto Moses, 'Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us a way to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us to carry us forth out of Egypt?'” Verse 12, “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” Here are these 3 million people that had got up and left home and fear had got into them and here they were saying negative statements. They started to forget the help they had already received and all the plagues that came upon Egypt and did not come upon them. It was the hand of God was over them and protecting them and they had forgotten it temporarily and they did not realise in all of this, God had a plan. There is no guarantee that our exodus and our spiritual journey will be trouble free, but you can remember this when things crop up and just remember that in all of this God has a plan. Moses said, "Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." Maybe they were not in the condition to go out and smash chariots and horses and they would have had nothing with them to do that and it was not God’s plan to do that either.

The end of verse 13 and all of 14-15, “Which you shall shew to you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today you shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you and He shall hold your peace. And the Lord said unto Moses, 'Wherefore criest thou unto Me? Speak unto the children of Israel that they may go forward.'” Settle yourself and then go forward. When a problem arises and seemed so impossible in our estimation to face and just do this, stand still and wait upon the Lord and look for the Lord’s help and go forward. When they did that, the Lord said unto Moses, "Lift up thy rod and stretch out thy hand over the sea and divide it." Then the Lord said, "I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they will follow you into the sea." Then the Lord would close the sea upon them and that is what happened and of course, you know the story.

Verse 23, you see the Egyptians came along behind them. After the sea was opened up and the children of Israel went through, they proceeded through the night and they crossed the Red Sea. Someone once crunched the figures and to see how this would work going through the night. If it was opened up wide enough for two people to go, then the queue would be 800 miles long and would take five days to cross. It took them overnight to go through and it was estimated that it would be opened 3 miles wide and so they would walk across roughly 5,000 abreast. It would be quite a wide opening and it would give the Egyptians a lot of confidence to go through and turn them around and bring them back and that was our idea, but we know the story the Lord looked from on high and He made the decision and He chose the time.

Moses simply obeyed and held the rod up at the right time and the waters came back and covered the Egyptians and they sank to the bottom and they were drowned and there was complete closure. Not one of them escaped and God separated them forever. We are grateful for experiences on this pathway of exodus that the Lord can help us by His hand and He knows the right time. There would have been some that were a bit ahead and there would have been some that were a bit behind, and yet the Lord saw the right time to bring the sea back in and  He made a complete closure and God got every one of them. We are glad for experiences the Lord wants us to leave behind and that belongs to our past and the Lord knows the right time to bring complete closure. There was not one Egyptian left that chased after them that day and there was not one left to go back to tell and rare up more hatred for those people that had been released.

In chapter 15, we read of the first hymn that was ever recorded in the Bible, the Song of Moses. It is a beautiful song and I don’t know why they never sang it more often and this song is going to be sung in heaven. It tells us in Revelations 15:2-3 it was a song of deliverance, it was a song of praise. When we praise God and we thank God for what He is and when we thank God, we thank God for what He has done. In this song, they were singing God praises and what He was to them at that point and on that day, that point of their experience.

The beginning of verse 2, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation; He is my God.” This is the very first time in this book and we have gone through 14 chapters and it is the first time the people have said, "He is my God." When Moses bought the message of deliverance and the message of hope and he spoke about a God of their fathers and now they are able as a result of this experience and they came to the point where they could say, "He is my God. He is my strength and He is my salvation and He is my song." We are grateful in our spiritual journey for the time we came to that point that bought that separation and God brought that revelation to us. Not saying my parents and my grandparents are professing, but we can say, "He is my God now." It would be a sad thing if we never reached that point in our life, we came to the realisation and the revelation and that He now is my God and I have a personal relationship with Him.

It says in that song, "I will prepare Him an habitation and now I want Him to be living with me." We do not build temples like they did in those days where they built a tabernacle and God could live amongst them in the form of His spirit. We now prepare the temple of our hearts to have His habitation in amongst us and His spirit. It brings us to this thing that has been like a theme at this convention and this was a beginning of a relationship with God that they had never known before, they had seen God working on their behalf and now they were looking for God to be in them and amongst them. They speak about the hand of the Lord in a number of these verses and the power of the Lord.

They mention in verse 9 which is probably like another verse in this song and they talk about the enemy. The enemy said, "I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them, I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them." I like the thought of the enemy’s intention to destroy us. It has bought immense sadness to my heart coming back looking forward to meet and seeing certain souls and friends at the meetings and sadly to find out the enemy has repossessed them. Satan has taken them away, the enemy has repossessed them.

 Are you going to be here next year and we do not know if you’re going to be healthy or if you will pass away but if you’re alive and still breathing, are you going to be in a convention like this next year? Or in the next 12 months, are you going to be another one that the enemy repossesses? It is a very sobering thought. That was the purpose of Pharaoh and his army coming after the people was to repossess them or as it says, "To destroy them to bring them back into bondage, he did not want them to be God’s possession." Friends, Christ has paid an immense price to possess your soul to make you part of God’s family. Are you going to allow the devil to con you to come back and serve him? Are you going to allow the devil to repossess you for a lesser price? Sadly to say, there are many people that allow the devil to repossess them.

We have been hearing about Job and the devil made one of the most the determined attempts to repossess a soul in this story of Job. It was almost like the Lord was tempting the devil, "Have you considered My servant Job and do you think you can get him out of My hands?" Job assets were taken away or repossessed, Job’s family and children were repossessed. Maybe some of you people here have had a spouse that was professing and the devil has repossessed his or her heart. It is a tragedy and Job spoke very sternly to his wife when she said, "Why are you still serving God? How come you’re still retaining your integrity? Curse God and die." Job said, "You speak as one of the foolish women."

That never worked so in came Job’s good friends. They sat with them for a week and never spoke to him and that was probably the most comforting week of their visit. Then they started misunderstanding him and misjudging him. We can go through the book and see what each one said and it almost bought him to the point where he thought he was a total reject. Job held onto this experience and the gold that has been put into his life was further refined. Despite Job being misunderstood and misjudged and misadvised, he held onto his faith in God. In doing this, it made it impossible for the devil to succeed in reprocessing Job’s soul and Job absolutely avoided anything that was wrong. We can learn something from Jobs experience how not to be repossessed. There are two things and no matter who says what and no matter how close they are to us keep your faith in God and absolutely avoid anything that is evil or wrong and that will make it impossible for the devil to repossess your soul.

I liked reading in I Peter 5:8–9, “Be sober, the vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist steadfast in the faith knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” I do not know a lot about lions and I have not been to Africa and I have not seen them in the wild. I have seen them in a zoo and they were in a large compound with a high wall around it. I heard them and then went and saw a lion roaring. He had been given a good chunk of meat and the bigger and stronger lion came over and grabbed it off him and he realised he was a lesser lion and he was so angry that his prey had been taken away from him and he was marching around and roaring. That gave me a little picture of what this verse is talking about. The stronger lion took us out of the possession of the devil when our salvation occurred. When the lion of the tribe of Judah took us out of the paws of the lion the devil, the lion of the tribe of Judah which is Christ is the stronger one, He did not take us to devour us - He took us to save us from the paws of the devil the evil one. You know what that other lion was doing and the other lion was wandering around looking for his chance when that other lion’s attention was distracted and slip in there and grab the meat. That is why the devil is marching around and roaring and waiting for the opportunity to grab you out of the paws of Christ as it were and out of the paws of the stronger lion and take you back and repossess you. He wants your soul back to destroy it and tear it apart.

I was thinking of a story we read of in I Samuel 17 and David had killed the lion because it had come and taken away one of his little lambs and to repossess it. We have another story there that was like a lion and he was almost 3 m tall and the head of his spear was 8 kg and the armour he was wearing was almost 70 kg and he was a huge fellow. He was coming down morning and evening and ranting and raving and none was game to go out and face this man. David was an accepted king and yet was rejected and one who knew what it was like to get victory over a lion before to risk his life to claim repossession of a little lamb in his flock that a lion had tried to repossess. This man was saying, "Send someone out and if I kill them, you will all be my slaves." Here was a Philistine wanting to take possession and not only the land of the children of Israel but also the lives of the children of Israel and this man was Goliath.

David went and spoke to his brothers who gave him a bit of a scolding and then he went down and spoke to Saul about what was going on. He said, "I have killed a lion and a bear before and I will have a go at this fellow." Saul dressed him up and his armour and he said, "No, I have not proved this and I cannot go in it." He took his sling and his little shepherd’s bag and crossed the creek and picked up 5 little stones and put them in his shepherd’s bag. He went back up to where this horrible fellow was standing. This fellow never saw the weapon that David had and all he saw was a staff in his hand and that was like the staff of faith in a sense. David had never intended to hit Goliath with his staff as that would never have worked and he had a sling which was a small thing and he had wrapped up in his pocket. He took one little stone and slung it and hit Goliath in the temple and Goliath fell to the ground and that put an end to them being repossessed by their enemy.

I would like to spiritualise what those five little stones may represent. The sling is like prayer. There are five things in David’s life that he could use to destroy the one that was trying to repossess.

The first one is the stone of witness and when you pray, you pray that the Lord would be able to show to others that there is a God in your life to help you be a witness. David was going out to put to death this man to show to others there is a God. This is a part of our prayer life that I want to show in my life that God is with me and that is a powerful little stone that will stop the enemy from repossessing you.

In verse 34, we read of the stone of victory or the stone of experience and he used the same sling to kill a lion and a bear. We are thankful that we can remember other times when we pray when God has given us victory and God has given us deliverance and if we remember that it helps us to remember that God can give us victory again. God can deliver me from the one who seeks to repossess my soul.

Verse 29, he was asked, "Is there not a cause?" The cause was salvation. We remember when we pray that it is all about our salvation and I am here and I am making this spiritual journey and I am making the exodus and it is all about salvation and that is the cause and that is a cause I have to strive for. If we have that little stone in our possession, we can use it against the one who is trying to repossess our life. The devil would like to make people busy and all other causes and there is a greater cause than them all and that is the cause of our salvation.

Verse 25, there are two stones and one is a stone of deliverance and that my father’s house may be free in Israel. You pray that you can be free and free from wrong spirits, free from unforgiveness, free from pride and free from influences of this world. That our lives would be free from anything that could repossess our lives. The other one was offering to be part of the king’s family. Just remember when we pray that offering is held out to us to be part of God’s royal family. You can see it is in not even an option to put off the yoke of Christ to go back to the yoke’s and to be repossess and it will never be worth. May the Lord help us to see the One that has possessed us every day that the price that He has paid for us and that is why the emblems are there on a Sunday morning and we are a people that have been possessed and the price has been paid in blood. May we always remain in the Lord possession and never to be repossessed.