February 14, 2016

Leaving Our Egypt

Posted in Faithfulness of God, Teaching tagged , , , , , , , , , at 1:27 pm by tclickenger

As I am sure most posts start, this has been on my mind for a few weeks now.  Percolating I guess.  The topic of this post is the Hebrew word “mitzraim.”  This is a very obscure topic among us non-Jewish people and without intentionally searching out the topic the chances of encountering it are fairly remote.  So it has been surprising to me that information about “mitzraim” has been coming to me from sources consistently all this week.

One of the insights came to me through a video a friend of mine shared on Facebook.  The video was of a Jewish rabbi, Dr. Abraham Twerski (who is also a practicing psychologist specializing in addictions), describing how lobsters grow.  It is a great clip and a fantastic introduction to this blog.  I invite you to take a look then come back and continue reading.

http://www.jinsider.com/videos/vid/393-rabbi-dr-abraham-twerski/7895-responding-to-stress.html#7895

That thing that the lobster feels is “mitzraim.”  What mitzraim means is constriction or tightness.  The root of the word means constriction but it can also mean distress as it is translated in most of our English translations in this verse,

Psalm 118:5, “From the distress (or constriction: hametzar – singular version of mitzraim) I called to God, He answered me in divine spaciousness.”

When we feel severe distress we often feel as though our own chest is constricting our heart. I believe this is the feeling that David is describing in this psalm. I believe David understood the spiritual condition of constrictions in our soul. I believe he also understood the contrasting condition brought by God’s abiding presence in our life, divine spaciousness.

The interesting thing about “mitzraim” is that it also means Egypt.  This adds a whole new dimension to the Exodus story. With this new dimension the story is no longer just about the children of Israel, but is now also a story about you and me.  Since we live in a free and democratic society it is hard to identify ourselves with slavery, even harder to believe that, apart from God’s intervention, we are in fact a slave.  Just as Jesus told us.

John 8:34 NIV — Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

A slave to the demands of our flesh, the twisted desires of our soul and the influences of dark spiritual forces.  They straight-jacket us while we are in complete oblivion to the confinement our captors have put us in.  It sounds illogical, we become slaves by doing what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it with whoever we feel like doing it with.  That sound like freedom doesn’t it?  Then contrast that with what the Bible says, that we should obey, do this, don’t do that, it sounds very restrictive. Sound absurd doesn’t it. 

In fact, this thinking is captured well in a song from my youth. Let me share some of the lines from it. 

Living easy, living free

Season ticket on a one-way ride

Asking nothing, leave me be

Taking everything in my stride

Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme

Ain’t nothing I would rather do

Going down, party time

My friends are gonna be there too

In case you didn’t recognize those lyrics, they’re from the song titled “Highway to hell” by the band AC/DC. 

But even as the song tells you, following your own whim and way is not the road to freedom. Not physical freedom or spiritual freedom. Those who have addictions are slaves to those addictions and it constricts the enjoyment of their life. Anyone who indulges in being lazy become enslaved by laziness and it limits their opportunities in life. Anyone who indulges in gossip become addicted to listening to and spreading gossip. It then restricts their relationships because they become know to be untrustworthy and disloyal. I could go on but ultimately, living life doing what you want when you want is the road to a torturous confinement. 

True freedom requires discipline and boundaries. That’s why God gives us His word, his instruction, to instruct us in how to live our life  in freedom. To show us where the boundaries are. That’s where I’ll continue on my next post in this series. 

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