Bargaining with Pharaoh (6): “You Shall Not Go Far Away!”
After we believe in the Lord,
the enemy will try to tell us,
even through other believers or
through our loved ones, not to
be an “extreme” Christian
After Moses refused Pharaoh’s first offer of compromise (See), Pharaoh made his second offer:
“I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”
— Exodus 8:28
This is exactly how Satan often tries to keep new believers under his authority. He may use those close to us, some of whom may even be genuine believers in Christ, to counsel us not to go too far in following Christ:
It’s fine to be a Christian, but don’t be an extreme Christian, like those who claim to believe all the Bible says. Just go to Sunday morning meetings and maybe you can have some other Christian activities, but don’t be overly zealous about it.
However, until we take a clear and firm stand for Christ, one the world will often call “extreme,” we will never really be able to follow Christ. Until that day comes, the world will always have a way to reach out and bring us back under its bondage. This, of course, means we could never really stand with the Lord for the building up of His kingdom on the earth, just as the Children of Israel could not build the tabernacle or take the Good Land until they left Egypt for good.
C.H. Mackintosh states, in his commentary on this portion, that if Pharaoh could not keep the Children of Israel in Egypt,
…he would at least seek to keep them near it, so that he might act upon them by its varied influences. In this way, they might be brought back again, and the testimony more effectively quashed than if they had never left Egypt at all. There is always much more serious damage done to the cause of Christ by persons seeming to give up the world and returning to it again, than if they had remained entirely of it.
— Notes on the Pentateuch, Exodus 7-11
This is just what the Apostle Peter tells us in the New Testament:
For if, after escaping the defilements of the world by the full knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them, they have been defeated, and the last state has become worse for them than the first; for it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to return from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
— 2 Peter 2:20-21
Somewhat recently there have been stories of a few prominent Christians, such as authors or musicians, who, after speaking out for Christ at first, later turned away from Him. These are among the ones Peter is speaking of here, who in reality never did go “very far away” from Satan’s world system. And as Mackintosh adds,
If people do not “go very far away,” they had better not go at all.
It is so much better to have a clear-cut profession for Christ, so everyone knows we are a believer and have taken a stand for Him in this present evil age:
For what shall a man be profited if he gains the whole world but suffers the loss of his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will repay each one according to his deeds.
— Matthew 16:26-27
Lord, grant us to take such a firm stand for you in these days, that we may be rewarded when You return!
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— 25 January 2024 —