Pastors Report - 26 Mar 2021
From The House Of Bondage

From the House of Bondage

"Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:" (Exodus 6:6)

The Iron Furnace

Many is the time we have travelled from the Bristol area in England along the M4 motorway towards west Wales, heading for home. In doing so we'd pass the industrial steel-making area of Port Talbot. Particularly at night, the sky is illuminated with massive flames shooting from the top of the blast furnaces that have to be raised to the appropriate temperature at which the steel must be produced. Today we have many techniques that the ancient peoples did not possess so that we can produce a metal such as tungsten, which has a melting point of 3,400 degrees Centigrade. But in ancient times the metal requiring the highest temperature was iron – still around a scorching 1,000 degrees – and that therefore became a fitting analogy for the harsh servitude that the Israelites were having to endure while in slavery in Egypt;

  • But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. (Deuteronomy 4:20)
  • For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron: (I Kings 8:51)
  • Which I commanded your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, Obey my voice, and do them, according to all which I command you: so shall ye be my people, and I will be your God: (Jeremiah 11:4)

This aspect is made clear in the commentary of Jamieson-Fausset-Brown: "But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace—that is, furnace for smelting iron. A furnace of this kind is round, sometimes thirty feet deep, and requiring the highest intensity of heat. Such is the tremendous image chosen to represent the bondage and affliction of the Israelite".

Mark of the Beast

As we approach the days of Unleavened Bread this year we find ourselves once again under lockdown and when we see some of the draconian measures being put forward, we can't help but wonder just how close to bondage or slavery we already are! With our liberties being trampled on, and multiple restrictions imposed, it certainly feels like we're witnessing something that eventually will lead up to the fourth beast of Daniel chapter seven:

  • After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7)

This is made all the more real when we consider the economic tyranny that is prophesied with the implementation of the mark of the beast. Comparing the two scriptures below, it's clear that keeping unleavened bread depicts and reinforces our freedom from slavery (mental and physical) and is given as an identifying sign to that intent. Whereas the mark of the beast is more like a brand, forced on humanity, bringing them all under bondage to the imposing beast power.

  • And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten...
  • ... Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters.
  • And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
  • And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth : for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
  • Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. (Exodus 13:3,7-10)
  • And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
  • And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
  • And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
  • Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Revelation 13:15-18)
Spiritual Egypt

The movement of millions of Israelites out of their bondage in Egypt which is remembered each year during these days, did not just come to God's mind at the time of the Exodus by any means. Far from being a spur of the moment decision, it was something precisely orchestrated by Him from the settling of those initial 70 individuals in the land of Goshen at the time of Joseph (Deuteronomy 10:22). And moreover formed part of an incredible plan – revealed to Abraham many decades before that (Genesis 15:16).

God rescued His people just as He had promised: "Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it." (Nehemiah 9:23). But the promised rescue was not even primarily for their benefit either, rather it was designed to serve as a vital example to each of us as well. We not only read of His power, His faithfulness to His word, but also that the bondage of Egypt is clearly identified as a type of sin. This is brought out by the apostle Paul, when talking of Moses in the "faith chapter" of Hebrews 11;

  • Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
  • Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. (Hebrews 11:25,26)

And at the time of the two witnesses - right at the end of this age - Egypt is once again used in the context of sin:

  • And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
  • And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8)

The Saviour – or rescuer – of ancient Israel was Jesus Christ Himself, as the Logos of old (I Corinthians 10:4). And it is the same Saviour who rescues each of us out of our own personal house of spiritual bondage. Right now we are not imprisoned physically – although that time may well come – but all of us suffer the negative results of sin, whether it's our own "missing the mark", or else we suffer the effects from the sins of others. And without the sacrifice Christ willingly gave, none of humanity would have any future beyond the grave – death for eternity being the end result of our sins.

  • Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
  • And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14.15)

The major sins of ancient Egypt seem to be sheer pagan worship, as the plagues of God mentioned in the book of Exodus appeared directed at their specific gods. And it is therefore likely that something similar will take place as we approach the end of this age, for the variety of 'gods' worshipped today is quite staggering – from faith in the vaccine and medical profession, to the 'almighty dollar' or whatever other currency we happen to be using, to our reliance on science and technology and our warfare capabilities, to our educational institutions and media outlets – all founded on godless evolution – and on and on it goes.

  • For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. (Exodus 12:12)
Keep the Feast

Much of the world's "christianity" view these days as merely an ancient ritual, that is interesting but has no relevance to our lives today. They lack the understanding of the very meaning of the days of unleavened bread – which is the picture of coming out of sin – out of the spiritual house of bondage. And one of the clearest scriptures in the New Testament that shows the early church faithfully keeping these holy days is to be found in first Corinthians. At that time Paul was writing to the gentile church in Corinth, and his epistle was written within the context of his dealing with the spiritual leaven within the congregation as the result of their acceptance of the man sleeping with his father's wife.

  • Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
  • Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
  • Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (I Corinthians 5:6-8)

The old leaven mentioned in verses 7 and 8 undoubtedly refers to the individual who needed to be put out of the church and their liberal approach to his immorality. This being the case, the phrase in verse 7 " as you are unleavened" has got to apply to being physically deleavened, as spiritually they clearly were anything but. The phrase found in verse 8 – "let us keep the Feast" – can thus be taken as a clear command from the apostle Paul to this gentile church, and therefore something we also should still be doing today. God knows that there are many spiritual lessons we can learn by the action of physically deleavening our homes, and also by eating unleavened bread for those seven days. Physical actions can impress many spiritual lessons on our minds ... how many of us come to realise it's a sheer impossibility to get rid of all leaven in our homes? By its very nature, it would take a miracle for any of us to be totally deleavened physically - and that applies spiritually as well - the "sin that so easily besets us" (Hebrews 12:1).

With UB of Sincerity

Just as this verse in I Corinthians 5 makes it clear that the days of Unleavened bread are still to be kept today, the same verse also makes clear the emphasis that should be applied in a New Testament setting. Jesus Christ has today magnified the original law, making it so much more meaningful than just physically eating a certain type of bread for seven days.

  • I am that bread of life.
  • Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
  • This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
  • This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
  • It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:48-50,58,63)

You can see this in the way that leaven is equated with malice and wickedness – and also how UNleavened bread is equated with sincerity and truth. The word used for sincerity is particularly interesting as it has as its basis "heile" which is the sun's rays and the word "krino" – to judge. Thus its meaning is given within Strongs as "found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun's light", to which many additional passages should spring to mind:

  • For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
  • But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:20,21)
  • This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
  • If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
  • But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (I John 1:5-7)

Sometimes when we look at the opposite of a word, it brings its meaning home more emphatically, and notice how 'guile' ... deceit, subtilty, craftiness, is tied up with the kind of attitudes prevalent in the world today ... and which originated with Satan (Genesis 3:1)

  • Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
  • As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (I Peter 2:1,2)
With UB of Truth

When Jesus Christ was brought before Pilate, his interrogation centred on the coming Kingdom of God and Christ's role as King within it. In answering Pilate, Christ pointed out that the coming Kingdom is not of this world, and that those that will form part of it would clearly hear – and understand – what He had to say, as they would recognise the truth in His words. The only response that Pilate could give was to throw up his hands in despair, and ask "What is truth?", indicating clearly the vast difference between the two systems – and between the two rulers: Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ! (John 18:38). This huge difference can also be seen in the confrontation Christ had with the Jews of His day, as recorded in John 8:

  • As he spake these words, many believed on him.
  • Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
  • And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
  • They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
  • Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
  • And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
  • If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed...
  • ...Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
  • Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
  • And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
  • Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
  • He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:30-36, 43-47)

Just as was the case at the time of Christ's trial what we are witnessing today are two diametrically opposed ways of life. One based on truth, the other on lies, half-truths and distortions. One based on the word of God, the other on the word of Satan, the father of lies. One based on true freedom, the other on bondage. One based on sure promises, the other on deception. And this is the incredible depth of meaning found within the days of unleavened bread – the vast contrast between two very clearly divergent systems, and our priceless opportunity to be part of GOD'S system.

True Liberty

If we look up the word "bondage" in a thesaurus, we can get a clearer picture of what God wishes to rescue us from: "captivity, confinement, duress, enslavement, incarceration, restraint, servitude, subjugation, yoke". Words that describe the conditions that probably the majority of this world suffer under to this day. In the case of ancient Israel, God physically brought them out of the house of bondage to give them the land of Canaan as His chosen people. In our case, we are spiritually released from the bondage of sin to be the teachers in the world tomorrow - the ultimate "Promised Land" - as spirit born sons of God.

There is SO much more to the days of unleavened bread than cleaning our houses of anything remotely leavened ... or even just making sure we include unleavened bread each day with our meals. What is vital is that we faithfully and consistently eat and digest the Word of God, making it part of our very being:

  • And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:9)

It's paramount we have those words in our mouths – coming from what is in our heart – and be willingly led by His spirit, so we can be fit to teach the Way of God in the future. A way based totally on truth, being completely sincere and bringing 100% freedom – free from physical and mental pain, heartache, fear of death ... true LIBERTY to the world at long last.

  • The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ;
  • To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
  • To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
  • For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
  • For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
  • The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
  • And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint–heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
  • For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
  • For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
  • For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
  • Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God . (Romans 8:14-21)