Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“The Promise God Gave Us”
Thank you very much for allowing me to have a vacation. I got good resting time. I want to talk to you today about a positive farmer and a negative farmer. As you may guess, they each think of whatever they face differently. For example, when they work in the field at the halfway point in their work, the negative farmer says, “I worked hard, but I still have half of what I have to do left,” but the positive farmer says, “I have already done half the job, and only have half left.” When it is raining, the negative farmer says, “I worry that the rain will spoil my garden and farm.” But the positive farmer says, “Thank you, God, for giving rain to my garden and farm to grow healthy crops.” When it is a hot sunny day, the negative farmer says, “I worry that my crops may die because it is too hot.” But the positive farmer says, “Thank you, God, for nurturing my crops with sunshine.”
I wonder which side you prefer standing on. Are you a positive person or a negative person? In other words, when you face something happening, what kind of thought comes to your mind first? I believe that our mind or mindset may lead to what happens in our life. If our mindset is positive, we may have a positive life; if our mindset negative, we may have a negative life. Let us think about people who are around us. What kind of people do you have more of? It is important what kind of people you have around you because they influence your life in many ways. Christians are the people who believe the impossible is possible in Jesus Christ. Christians are the people who can find hope in uncertainty. The apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). It should be all Christians’ beliefs.
In the scripture today, we hear God’s promise to Israelites in Egypt. “No plague will destroy you.” It was an unbelievable promise to them because the situation Israelites faced was terrible. It seemed to like nobody would survive because they were experiencing ten kinds of Plagues [epidemics]. They heard crying of grief every day due to the ten kinds of epidemics. The ten kinds of epidemics include “all water in Egypt turned to the blood,” “the plague of frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts,” “plague to livestock,” “plague of boils,” plague of hail,” and “plague on the firstborn.” Even the king’s son also died. The epidemics were spreading over the country of Egypt.” They saw that many people died in front of them. I cannot imagine how they feared each day that went by. Do you think that their situation might be similar to ours with the COVID-19 pandemic?
One day, God gave them the promise through their leaders Moses and Aron: “I am not going to hurt you at all. No epidemics [pandemics] shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” However, there was a condition to mark the sign on the doorpost and the threshold they lived in. The sign should be the blood of a lamb. God says, “When I see the blood [the sign], I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (12:13). If you were in their shoes, what would you do? If I were in theirs, I will follow the direction to avoid the epidemics [Plague].
Remember that God’s grace is free, and God’s love is also free because Jesus Christ paid them off already for us who believe in him. The Gospel John says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16). God’s promise of salvation is free for everyone. But, to be ours, the promise of God, we have to do one thing. What is the one thing? It is that we believe in him. Otherwise, the promise of God never matters with us. If Israelites did not make the sign of blood on their doorpost and threshold, God’s promise never mattered with them. The epidemics must destroy them all at that time. We know the word “promise.” The “promise” requires keeping or following up between or among people, like that God’s promise also requires us to do something. If we do not keep it or follow it up, the promise will break out automatically.
Today’s scripture is about “Passover by the blood of lamb” shadowing “salvation by Jesus Christ.” John the Baptist called Jesus “the lamb of God;” “Look, here is the Lamb of God” (John1:35). Because he [Jesus] died on the cross, we are saved by faith in him as a lamb’s blood saved Israelite. We are indeed saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by our work. However, faith follows acts. If you say, “I have faith,” and you do not act with faith, your faith is dead. The Letter of James says, “Faith by itself if it has no works, is dead” (James 2:17). God’s promise requires us to keep faith in Jesus Christ. Furthermore, faith should be with acts.
Here is an example. Joshua and Israelites marched around the city of Jericho once a day for six days. It was like during a war. They should pass through the city of Jericho. The people of Jericho were like a well-trained military. God gave them promise, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and fighting men. March around the city once a day for six days, and march around the city seven times on the seventh day.” It sounds crazy. However, they believe in God. And then, they acted in faith. They marched once a day for six days. During the six days, and on the seventh day during the last marching, nothing happened, and they could not see any signs or symptoms. They seemed to like doing silly or crazy acts. However, they kept acts in faith. As soon as they were done with the last performance following God’s direction, the city was destroyed. Remember that Christians have responsibilities keeping faith in any circumstance. Otherwise, we are not Christians anymore, and then God’s promise never comes true into our lives.
Israelites, who traveled through the wilderness, began to complain to their leader Moses and God. They looked back on their lives in Egypt and regretted following God. God sent poisonous snakes among them. They suffered from the poisonous snakes and died by the poison. Moses prayed to God to save the people. So, God gave them the promise of salvation. God says to Moses, “Make a
snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So, Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone who was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, lived. If they did not look up the bronze snake, they died.
Like that, the promise God gave us requires us to keep faith. Sometimes it requires us to have patience until the last performance, like the story of the city of Jericho. Sometimes it requires us to take immediate action like the story of the bronze snake. We are traveling a long journey in our life. At this particular point in our life, we face the COVID-19 pandemic. We hear many crying in grief. Also, we hear terrible news almost every day, such as natural disasters, unjust violence, poverty, and wars. You may ask yourself, “what should I do in this chaotic world as a Christian?”
Sometimes you may feel powerless. However, trust God. God makes things happen that we could not make happen. We are weak, but God in us is strong enough to save the world. The way we keep positive is to care for other people and ourselves, and not be spoiled by the negative mindset. We should live out our daily life with faith in Christ. And then, if you can care for your neighbors, who are in need, that it is good enough now. The Christian life’s way is to live each day, consistently and sincerely in any circumstance. The promise God gave us is “to be with us” in any circumstance. So, trust in God and keep doing what good you can. Do it with no harm to anyone. Live out sincerely day by day with loving God and loving your neighbors, and then we may see one day how God works this chaotic situation out. That is the promise God gave us.
Thanks be to God. Amen!