The Israelites were an oppressed people. Burdened under incredible demands by their oppressors, they had lost any joy they may have once had when Joseph was Pharaoh’s right-hand man and everyone was prospering in the land of Goshen. Gone were the days of carefree shepherding and freedom to wander. The famine had brought them to Egypt’s bounty and now, many years later, that land of plenty was no longer their savior but the source of their slavery.
From their bondage they cried out to God for mercy, but none came, and, all the while, the merciless Egyptians kept pounding away at their resolve to live. In short, they were a miserable, down-trodden, joyless people who had lost all hope. Death, and the end of this existence, was the only thing for which to live.
Into this bleak picture of despair enters a voice from a burning bush, and, through the means of an exiled Hebrew with a speech impediment, He promises not merely freedom from their oppressors but a life of prosperity and joy, where they would be His people and He would be their God. There was only one problem. The Israelites were too broken to hope, and they turned a deaf ear to these incredible promises. Their deliverance had come and despair had blinded them to its reality. It would take a willing, persistent, and obedient messenger and an act of supreme power before they would finally hope again.
Here in the Yates Baptist Association we just completed our first ever “Kingdom Celebration.” It was a night where we came together with all our diverse brothers and sisters in our community and celebrated the God who came to our rescue. More than that, it was an opportunity for all of us to pray for the poor, the refugee, the sick, the prisoner, the aggressor, and the spiritually broken found all around us. It was a reminder that we live amongst an oppressed people, many of whom, like those Israelites in Egypt, have lost hope.
Like those in Egypt, the broken in our community, have placed their hope in governments and world systems to rescue them, and likewise they have found themselves in bondage to those same systems. Like the Israelites, they are often miserable and down-trodden and long for the day when they might be set free, yet they remain slaves to sin and cut off from everlasting joy. God has once again spoken hope into the darkness. He has promised liberation from the enemy and a fulfilled life, and He has made the deliverance possible through the mighty act of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- his death, burial, and resurrection – and yet so many, because of their broken spirit and hard labor in this life, refuse to listen.
Still, we must tell them. Still, we must be willing to go to the dark places where they reside. Still, we must persist in informing them of God’s great plan, even if they are blinded to its reality. Still, we must be obedient to go to our neighbor, our family member, our friends, and the people to which God sends us with His message of hope. We must realize that it doesn’t all depend upon us. God is the rescuer, He has already defeated the enemy. Sin and death need not have holds on anyone in our community. Freedom is here. Salvation is present. Faith has made the impossible possible, and life, real life, is available to any who will receive it. They may be too broken to hear the message at first, but that only means we must, with healing, caring, and loving action live it out in front of them every day, until, at last, understanding comes and with it hope.
NEWS AND NOTES:
After a long summer hiatus we are ready to return to our regularly scheduled vocal team rehearsals. If you, or someone you know, would like to join our vocal team we meet on most Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm in the downstairs choir room. We are an open group and welcome all. No audition is necessary.
I’m excited to announce on August 20th we will host the 3rd annual ROS Got Talent, variety show. The show will begin at 5:00pm that evening and will feature the many, varied talents of our very own ROS family. If you are interested in being part of the show, and have a talent to perform make sure and sign up as soon as possible in the connection center. All acts are welcome (dance, song, comedy, gymnastics, illusions, etc.), and music is not limited to gospel only, but our production team must approve your act prior to the show.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to serve at ROS. I look forward to worshiping with you soon.
In His Service,