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Prisoners in Paradise
Sin is a place. It’s a place you can go. It’s not just an action or an occurrence, it is a conscious journey you make and it doesn’t take long to arrive at the place of sin. It often becomes a place of slavery. Thank goodness the lockdown can be lifted, the chains can be broken, and thank God that the place of sin is also a place that you can leave!
Ill.--The prodigal son went off to a far country. For him, sin was a place. He wallowed in the mud a good while before he came to himself and decided to leave that place.
Egypt in the Bible is a picture of the world...the place of sin. The Bible talks about people ‘sojourning’ into Egypt. This is just a temporary visit. Abraham left God’s Promised Land and sojourned into Egypt when famine came. He didn’t plan on staying. But while in the place of sin he lied about his wife and got into trouble.
No one plans on going into sin permanently. But as the old song says:
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go
Sin will keep you longer than you want to stay
Sin will cost you far more than you want to pay.”
Ill.—a wealthy couple wanted to hire a chauffeur to drive them in their limousine, which was parked in a tight and narrow garage. They had a fear that someday their limo would be scratched down one side by an unskilled, uncaring driver, so they were careful in their selection. They interviewed 3 men. The wife asked the first man, “How close would you be able to drive my car the edge of the entrance without scratching it?” He claimed to be able to keep it within 4 inches. She asked the same of the second man, who replied that he could drive it within 1 inch. The third had a completely different outlook, saying, “Honestly, ma’am, I think it’s better to play it safe. If I were your driver I’d try to stay as far away from that wall as I possibly could!” She said, “You’re hired!”
“Flirting with sin may lead to a committed relationship!” It’s not about how close you can ‘walk the line’.
I. The Designation of God’s People
A. Their identity.
v. 1-4 This book of redemption and freedom is begun by the Lord naming names. Why is this important? Further, why are the first 9, long chapter of I Chronicles just a list of names? “He begat him and he lived so long, and begat this many, and he died, and they lived this long...” Be honest, how many of you skip those chapters when reading thru the Bible? Why is such a list important?
First of all, it’s a good reminder that you live, and then you die...so make the most of your time. “Do your givin’ while you’re livin’!” More importantly, a list of names is important when YOUR name is on it. That’s what salvation is all about...having your name written in heaven in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Is your name written there?
B. Their security.
v. 5 Joseph was their security, because Joseph had gone before them already. He is an OT picture of Jesus Christ, Who has gone on before us and paved the way for us.
I don’t have to pay for my sins, because Jesus has done that already.
I will one day overcome death, because Jesus has done that already.
And I will walk on streets of gold in heaven, for Jesus is there already!
Spiritually speaking, we are secure. But on a human level, Joseph died, according to v. 6, and eventually their security diminished...the basis of their blessing was gone.
Humanly speaking, on a national level, when this Christian nation threw Christ out, we threw out our blessing. When America threw out the basis of its blessing, it threw out the blessing! When we decided to expel Jesus from public education, we threw out our blessing.
In 1961 prayer was banned, the next year, the Bible. By 1980 the Supreme Court was ruling it unlawful to post the 10 commandments on the wall, and you’ve got to hear the wording of their decision:
“If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the School children to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey the Commandments.”
Let me translate. You cannot display the commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’ because somebody might obey it! And so the biggest killings our nation sees each year are in public institutions of learning. When WILL we truly learn?!
When you throw out the basis of the blessing you throw out the blessing with it!
C. Their prosperity
v. 7 It can be a deceptive thing...prosperity. And there is a great difference between physical prosperity and spiritual prosperity. For the children of Israel, in this paradise, became prisoners. Chapter 20 refers to Egypt as ‘the house of bondage’. It is possible to have everything...except joy. Things do not satisfy. It is possible to have gold, but not have God. You can have silver but without a Savior, you can come to the place like Elvis did just before he died in which this guy who had everything said, “I suppose I’m the most miserable man alive!”
II. The Domination of God’s People
v. 8 Israel is about to be dominated.
A. The bondage of sin.
v. 11, 14 This new Pharaoh is a picture of Satan, the toughest taskmaster you’ll ever have. He’s shrewd and such a deceiver. V. 10 shows this clearly, “let us deal wisely with them...”
ill.—years ago in a harvest field a spider crawled along, minding his own business. A grasshopper came by and extended one of his feelers as if to shake hands. The spider reached out a leg, quick as a flash, attaching one strand of web to the grasshopper. Instead of flying away, as he easily could have, he stayed, and the spider attached another strand. He pulled against the web a little and saw that it was not strong enough to hold him...and so he stayed. The process continued, and the grasshopper seemed totally oblivious to the fact that he was getting into trouble, until eventually when he decided to fly away he realized that he couldn’t! The spider turned his green friend over and had him for lunch.
There is pleasure in sin, for a season. Like the moth to the flame, like a bug to a zapper, like an insect to fly paper, saying I want to taste that sweet honey, and then we realize we’re stuck! You think you can have a little sin, and then you realize the sin has you!
B. The burden of sin.
v. 11 There’s no greater burden than the burden of sin, and no greater blessing than having that burden lifted.
Ill.—an old black man in the south walked along a road, carrying a heavy sack of potatoes. He had recently been saved, and was telling everyone...but the local atheist didn’t believe it, and approached him along the road one day asking, “How can you know you are saved? Nobody can really know such a thing.” The man threw down the sack of potatoes, looked the man in the eye and said, “How do I know I’m not carrying the potatoes? I’m not looking at them.” The atheist said, “That’s easy-because of the lessening of the weight.” “That’s exactly how I know I’m saved...I no longer feel the burden of my sin.”
How many here can testify to the burden of your sin being lifted?!
The OT has 3 Hebrew words which are translated as ‘forgive.’
One means to send away. One means to cover. One means to ‘lift away.’ That’s the meaning in...
“Rolled away, rolled away, rolled away, all the burden of my heart, rolled away!”
The bondage of sin, the burden of sin...
C. The bitterness of sin.
v. 14 It may be fun for a while, but it always ends badly, and with regret.
That prodigal son no doubt had a good time for a while w/ money and friends...but eventually he woke up, hung over, and when he rolled over he was staring a hog in the face!
Ill.—a Memphis article told of a man who found a little baby rattlesnake just after it had been hatched...he made a pet of it. He handled it so much that it became tame, and as it grew it would actually coil around his arm and allow the man to feed it with his fingers. He even trained it to come when he whistled. One day he was uptown showing off his pet, and all were amazed. That evening he went home, and with only the slightest of provocation the animal instinct returned to that creature and it buried its fangs in the man’s arm and he died.
There’s a similar experience coming to some here who think they can make a pet out of sin.
Oh, the bitter end of sin! You wake up sick. Question: are you sick of your sin yet? When you are sick and tired of your sin you are an excellent candidate to be saved!
Ill.—in the early 1900s a young man in Ohio told his girl he loved her and asked her to marry him. She declined. In a vengeful act he killed her. He was convicted of murder and sent to a penitentiary. His mother pleaded with Governor Nash with such importunity that he agreed to interview him for the chance of a pardon. The warden let the governor into the man’s cell, but did not announce his coming. The young man mistook the governor, all dressed up, for a preacher. He told him to get out of his face. “Don’t you want to know why I’m here?” The young man shouted, “No, now get the h--- out of here!” The governor walked out. The warden returned a few minutes later. “What did the governor say?” he asked. “The governor?” “Yes, that was Governor Nash.” The man realized his mistake. “Call him back in here!” “It’s too late, you fool, you just threw away your only chance to get out of here.” The man had a life sentence, and he was never freed from the bondage of that place.
Under the burden of sin you will find only bitterness. In such bondage you have only one hope, and that is that a deliverer will come your way. Jesus is the Deliverer...He wants to deliver you from bondage. He can rescue you from your prison of emptiness and take you to a spiritual paradise, another place not far away, but very different from the place of sin, the Promised Land!
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