For several weeks, we’ve taken a detailed look at end times prophecy. It’s important that we have a Biblical foundation of prophecy, but I believe the greatest benefit of diving into end-of-the-age prophecy is that it helps us navigate all challenges to our faith both now and in the future. Faithfully navigating these times is the heart behind Stand Firm.
As crazy as the times are now, we’re far from the first of God’s people to face uncertain times. All the history in Bible, whether Old Testament or New Testament, finds God’s people in trying times. I believe we can learn a lot from those times to help navigate us today. That’s why I recently released a new book, For Uncertain Times: 40 Truths of God’s Care in National Distress. Here’s the first lesson in the book, which is drawn from Genesis 45, when God’s people faced oppression in Egypt.
Have you ever been to a movie, ball game play or any event that required a ticket, and been told you were in someone else’s seat? You checked your ticket and saw the row and seat number, then searched for that row and seat. You sat down and got comfortable, and then someone else is standing in front of you or beside you, looking down at their ticket and then looking at you saying, “You’re in my seat!”
I’ve been there multiple times. When this happened, I checked my ticket. Sometimes I was in the wrong seat, and other times the other person had misread their ticket. I must confess, a few times I knew I was in the wrong seat but played dumb.
When I think about the situation the Israelites found themselves in during the 15th Century, I often wonder if they were where they were supposed to be. They were in Egypt, but they were enslaved by the Egyptians because they posed a threat to Pharaoh and the nation. Pharaoh forced them to carry out major building projects and ordered every male Israelite baby to be killed by an Egyptian midwife. The enslavement and oppression were extremely difficult.
Let’s remember that the Israelites came to Egypt by invitation. The Pharaoh, at that time, invited them to live in the nation so they’d survive the great famine. At the time we pick up the story in Exodus, they’d been in Egypt for possibly 400 years. Egypt wasn’t the land of their inheritance — Canaan was their inheritance. It had been promised to Abraham and his descendants — the Israelites.
So, were they where God wanted them to be?
Were they in His will?
They needed to check their ticket. They needed to reflect on the instruction, directions, calling and mission God had given them. I can’t say with any factual evidence that they were supposed to be in Egypt at that point. I just believe the answer to be “yes.” If they “checked their ticket” they’d find two things.
First, they’d find the clarity that their initial arrival in Egypt had been by the will of the Lord. In Genesis 45, Joseph finally revealed his identity to his brothers who had traveled to Egypt for food. When Joseph did this, his brothers were terrified, for they knew their guilt — and Joseph’s authority to punish them, but Joseph quickly reassured them that what had happened was God’s will. God had sent him ahead so, when the famine came, the whole family would be saved. He went on to say in verses 6-8: “For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”
Joseph was certain God’s will was for his family to move to Egypt. This seems to be confirmed through his family and through Pharaoh inviting them to live in the land of Goshen.
So, although difficulty had arisen, it didn’t change the fact that they went exactly where God led them. Checking their “ticket,” they’d see they were in the right “seat.” However, they also needed to reflect on what God promised their great patriarchs — Abraham and Isaac.
The second thing they would find — if they were able to take a comprehensive look at all God had told them — was that Egypt wasn’t their final destination. Though they had taken the right steps, they wouldn’t stay there; nor were they meant to stay there. This should have led them to ask God, “Is it time to return?” or, to fit our theme, “Is this ticket still good?”
As you look around and see uncertain times in this nation, or maybe in your own life, you’re not the first of God’s people to go through tribulation. It just comes with the territory. But what should you do?
Check your ticket. Yes, check your ticket. Are you in the place where God led you to be? This can be a real physical location, but more than likely this question searches the activity of your life:
• Are you seeking the Lord?
• Have you been seeking Him?
• Have you been in His Word?
• Are you in community with other believers?
• Have you been pursuing holiness so that your heart and spiritual eyes aren’t compromised?
And the simplest way to check your “ticket” is just to ask the Lord. Often, you’ll see you’re in the right seat, but there may be times you walked your own path — you ran ahead of God or did things your own way. If that’s the case, seek Him and let Him guide you to the correct seat.
If you find you’re in the right seat, know it. Difficulties and doubt cause us to second guess what we’ve heard from the Lord and how to take steps of obedience. Circumstances aren’t always an indicator of obedience and being in His will.
If you’re in the right seat, you’ll need to weather the storm — ride it out in faith.
Life is full of difficult trials. Even the right path can lead us head-on into them, but there’s no need to bring unnecessary difficulty upon ourselves. Heed the words of Solomon in Proverbs: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”(Prov. 3:5-6).
— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm (standfirmministries.com). You can get a copy of Jake’s new book, For Uncertain Times, on Amazon.