AGCC Sun. a.m. 3/26/00

TEXT:     Ex. 12:11; I Pet. 1:13; Eph. 6:14


This preparation for Passover almost seems minor compared to the other things. They were to "tuck their cloaks into their belt, have sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand" when they ate the Passover meal. Seems like a strange request until you understand the dynamics behind it. The long flowing robes were both attractive and practical. They were great for social events or relaxing around the house but a nuisance when you had to work or fight! The only way you could work or fight without tripping over your cloak was to either remove it or tuck it into your belt. If you were moving from one place to another without returning you would never remove it, only tuck it into your belt. This is what the King James Version calls, "girding your loins." What is the point? To tuck away the loose ends so you don't get bogged down in the escape from bondage! To be ready to roll when the exodus happens. It would be horrible if they couldn't move fast enough to escape, the Egyptians could easily enslave them again if they were slowed down enough during the escape. While seemingly unimportant on the surface, asking them to tuck in their cloaks, get their sandals on, and have staff in hand were the simple things, but the things that were of great importance in order to make a clean escape. So often it is the simple things that God uses to help us escape bondage. Too often we complicate the escape by too many loose ends. Most Christians get tripped up by simple things, not big things. The simple ideas or things are often the most powerful. ILLUS:During the troubled years of the Second World War, the Italian forces were driven out of Eritrea in North Africa. In an effort to make the harbor unusable to the Allies, the Italians took great barges, filled them with concrete, and caused them to be sunk across the entrance to the harbor. When the Allies entered, their problem was to remove those barges in order that the harbor might become usable. They did so in a very ingenious way. They took great gas tanks--not the kinds of tanks we have on our cars or in our homes, but those huge tanks, which are used to hold hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel in great oil refineries. They sealed those tanks so they would float, and they caused them to be floated over the place where the barges were below. When the tide came in, the barges were lifted by the tanks floating with the tide. The barges were pulled from the sucking sand at the bottom of the bay. It was then a relatively easy matter to remove them and make the harbor usable again. Think of the power in that! The barges were chained to the tanks. The tanks were dependent upon the tides. The tides were pulled by the gravitational attraction of the moon, and the moon was moving in accord with the whole cosmos, the great sidereal system. Tremendous, unimaginable, dynamic power belongs to the tides. -- Bruce Thielemann, "Tide Riding," Preaching Today, Tape No. 30. PROP. SENT:      The Bible teaches us the importance of not getting bogged down with so many loose ends that we cannot even walk well … to "gird up our loins" means to remove the hindrances that might make us trip up, to escape from the bondage of sin so we can walk with God.

I. SELF-CONTROL       Ex. 12:11; I Pet. 1:13

A. Priorities     Ex. 12:11 1. Most meals are eaten by sitting down and relaxing, but Passover night God instructs Israel to eat the meal by standing up with their cloaks tucked into their belt, sandals on their feet, and staff in their hands … and eat quickly ready to move out! a. The normal long flowing robes were often ornamental and designed to be both practical and beautiful. They were "outer garments" though and not absolutely necessary. b. They were fine for just lounging around, but could create a huge problem when working or fighting … they easily got in the way when the person needed to be active. c. This was God's point, He wanted Israel to tuck them into their belt because the priority was escape, not looking good! 2. This was an issue of priority … they were to be thinking of fleeing bondage, not dressing up to impress others. a. In a relaxed atmosphere the robes would be loose and hanging down, but not here … they were to have them tucked so they could move quickly without tripping over their robes … the priority was on leaving! b. Normally their sandals would be removed in the house, but not here, the priority was fleeing bondage, so they were to keep them on. c. Their staff would normally be put up when home, but not now, it was to be in their hand … they were traveling soon. 3. Everything they did here was to speak of the priority of leaving bondage … so only those things that helped this process was important. a. Same with us, when God calls us out of the bondage of sin we are to prioritize our life in such a way that those things which do not help us escape are eliminated or put into their proper place. b. There could be no compromise here with these little things … or it could slow them down enough as to prevent their escape! c. Are there things keeping you from escaping the bondage of sins in your life? 4. We must be careful to see clearly what is important, failure can make the difference between being tripped up and making a clean escape! ILLUS:I heard a joke this past week about a young man who was driving his BMW around a curve when he realized the car was out of control and about to plummet over a cliff. The young man jumped out, but his left arm was severed from his body. He stood there looking down at his burning BMW and said, "Oh, no! My car! My car!" A man, who had stopped to help, said, "Mister, you have just lost your left arm, and you're crying about your car?" The young man looked down and said, "Oh no, my Rolex watch!"-- Frank Pollard, "Do You Like Where You Live?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 104. 5. Their adherence to these simple requests would indicate the level of their faith and commitment to God and leaving Egypt. a. If they took seriously God's promise to deliver them they would understand the call to prioritize and follow the guidelines. b. Tucking in their robes, wearing the sandals on their feet, and taking the staff in hand while they ate indicated that they had faith that God would make good on their deliverance. 6. Do we obey God in the simple things that we know He calls us to as evidence that we take seriously His promise to deliver us from the bondage of sin? B. Prepared     I Pet. 1:13 1. The call of Scripture is to prepare our lives for action … this is really what God was asking of them … be prepared for action! a. There should be real evidences that we are prepared for action … examining what our priorities are give clear evidence of what we are prepared for. b. Spiritual people should reflect priorities that are spiritual in nature! 2. This is not an issue of blind emotions at work, in fact as Peter says in this verse (KJV) "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind…" a. What does Peter mean? The same thing Moses meant in Exodus … prioritize your life - SELF-CONTROL, be ready. b. Our thinking should be uncluttered with loose ends … we need to be clear in our thinking, focused on Christ. 3. Just as God wanted the Israelites to be prepared to leave, God wants us to be prepared to leave behind our sinful bondage too. a. Too often as Christians we live by our emotions rather than our disciplined thinking! ILLUS:As long as the devil can keep us terrified of thinking, he will always limit the work of God in our souls. -- Oswald Chambers in If Thou Wilt Be Perfect. Christianity Today, Vol. 33, no. 17. b. We need to discipline our lives so that we do what is right whether we feel like it or not! 4. The secret to a successful escape has a lot to do with good preparations! a. If Israel did not follow God's directives here, if they chose to relax and eat their meal as they had always done before they would have found an Egypt that quickly changed her mind and came after her again … and with a slow departure, Israel would have been an easy target to get back again. b. This is still true, it is vitally important that when we are going to leave behind the bondage of sin that we prepare to walk away from it quickly and completely … lest it catch up with us again and draw us back. 5. The idea of eating with cloak tucked, sandals on feet, and the staff in their hands must have made them apprehensive … but it was better to fear God and obey and find deliverance than to be fearful of Egypt. ILLUS:The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. -- Oswald Chambers in The Highest Good. Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 1. II. STABILITY     Ex. 12:11; Eph. 6:14 A. Power     Ex. 12:11 1. The purpose of asking Israel to eat prepared like this was to put them in a position of power rather than weakness. a. In a hurry it would be easy to trip over a long robe, or to injure their feet trying to quickly escape a dark house, and to be without the shepherd's staff in the wilderness would have been a disaster to their flocks and herds … b. By being prepared FIRST they would be empowered in the moment of need. 2. We too should keep our lives spiritually prepared so we are not caught off guard or deal with things from strictly an emotional response. a. Stability comes from being prepared before the crisis. b. Disciplining ourselves with all the small important principles of discipleship can be critical to a successful walk with God during a crisis. 3. Too often we fail to see these small matters of discipline as that important, we fail to believe that all these "little things" can be that effective. ILLUS:If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito. -- Betty Reese. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 2. a. These "little things" God tells Israel to do the night of Passover could make the difference in their freedom! b. They could not be brushed aside as unimportant! c. Neither should we brush aside the simple things of Christianity, the basic things that truly prepare us to handle life's difficulties. 4. If they would not obey these smaller things they would not obey God in the larger things. 5. What about our lives, are we obedient to the simple or basic things in God's Word? a. These are the things that give power to our escape from sin's bondage. b. These early steps of faith with little things teach us to trust God during the crisis moments. B. Purity     Eph. 6:14 1. Paul speaks of the girded loins as integrity, "Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth…" (KJV) a. The simple function of this "girdle" was to hold everything together that the soldier wore in battle … and it was an undergarment. b. It was hidden - but its presence was easily seen by it function. 2. Israel's obedience in tucking in their cloaks and thus being ready for the journey was an act of pure faith … evidence of their conviction that God was telling the truth about delivering them. a. It must have seemed silly to eat a meal with your cloak tucked in, sandals on, and the staff in hand … this was the opposite of how one would normally have eaten a meal. b. The only reason to do so was because they really believed God was going to deliver them just as He said, quickly and with a mighty hand. c. They didn't care how foolish it must have looked to eat this way, they only cared about God's power at work through them. ILLUS:If I take care of my character; my reputation will take care of itself. Dwight Lyman Moody (1837-1899) - Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) - Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 1020. 3. For Roman soldiers the girdle was the first item put on, everything else hinged on it literally! a. And this is still true … Paul says the girdle is the girdle of truth (meaning integrity since the "sword of the Spirit" is the "truth" of God's Word) b. This became fundamental to everything else. 4. For Israel to ignore the simple commands found in Ex. 12:11 meant the likelihood that they would not escape their captives for very long. a. Who would have ever thought such simple things could be so important? b. This is still true today, who would have ever thought that such simple things of obedience to God's Word can have such a huge effect on the success of living the Christian life … but it does! c. If you are going to be relaxed in the presence of the enemy you will likely be held captive by him too! 5. Do you want to escape the bondage of sin in your life? a. Have you prepared yourself to escape? b. Have you tucked away all the loose ends that might make you trip up your walk with God? c. Living a successful Christian life is not just what God does, it is also what we do! CONCLUSION:    Moses is instructed to tell Israel to tuck in their cloaks, have sandals on their feet, and a staff in their hand as a preparation for Passover - why? Long flowing cloaks looked great but could easily get in the way when they needed to leave in a hurry, so they are to bundle up all the "loose ends" so their journey isn't encumbered by the unnecessary flowing robes. The message - Keep our lives uncluttered with low priority things when we need to deal with the enemy.