Brief Notes

Leaving Egypt (1):
Plundering the
Egyptians

22 February 2024

The Children of Israel did not
leave Egypt empty-handed,
but took much of its riches with them
for the building of the tabernacle

Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
— Exodus 12:3-36

When the Children of Israel left Egypt, they took much of its wealth with them. As Witness Lee points out, this was not by any means a robbery; rather, it was a repayment for all of the years they had served as slaves in Egypt. (See the Life-study of Exodus, message #26, pages 294-295.) Moreover, the Children of Israel did not use these riches for their own benefit; rather, the silver, gold, and other materials they gained eventually became the materials used in the construction of the tabernacle, God’s dwelling place.

This shows us a very important principle for our own following of the Lord. That is, in the same way the Israelites plundered Egypt, when we are finally freed from the tyranny of Satan’s world system, we must also bring with us whatever riches we have gained in the world and use them for the building up of the church.

We can apply this in two ways.

First, we should have a deep sense that whatever material things we gain in the world are for the Lord’s purpose. We need to provide for our own living, but eventually, all we have must be for the Lord and for His purpose, as we trust the Lord to care for us (Matt. 6:33).

Second, the experience and training we have gained in the world, such as by our education or in our career, can help us develop a proper character or given us some particular ability; this also should also be used primarily for the Lord’s benefit. The world wants to use us for its own sake, but we should take a firm stand that whatever capability we have must ultimately be for the Lord.

A good example of this from church history is G.H. Pember, the 19th century student of Biblical prophecy. He was educated in the classics at Cambridge University, and eventually received his M.A. After he became a Christian, his knowledge of the ancient world did much to help him open up the truths of Biblical prophecy.

Hudson Taylor is another very good example. Once he determined to go to China for the sake of the gospel, he studied to become a doctor. He also disciplined himself in a number of ways to prepare for the hardships of such a life. This preparation became a solid base for his service to the Lord once he went to the mainland.

And in the Bible, as is so often the case, the apostle Paul is a very good pattern for us in this regard. As one who had practiced the very difficult trade of tent making (Acts 18:3), he had learned what it was to labor in a hard way. That experience of building up his character, in particular in being able to work so hard, served him very well in his later years of laboring so powerfully for the Lord.

And as for what he gained from his trade, he could tell the elders in Ephesus,

You yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.
— Acts 20:34

If we desire to be those who are truly delivered from today’s world system and from bondage to the god of this age, we must plunder the world for the Lord’s sake, offering to Him whatever we have gained from it.

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— 22 February 2024 —