“And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness” (Exodus 5:1).
Sister Carpenter and I were honored to minister at the Indiana District World Missions service on March 10, 2017. We were very excited about attending since Indiana District World Missions Director Judd Sears always goes over the top in preparing the district spiritually and in advertising the event. We arrived at Shiloh Temple in Bloomington 30 minutes before the service began and parking spaces were hard to find. As we stepped into the lobby there were several of our missionaries, pastors, and evangelists having fellowship. I began to feel that God was going to do something above and beyond what we expected.
The service started with the praise and worship team from Shiloh. The presence of God fell in a powerful way for the better part of half an hour as we praised and worshiped from the bottom of our hearts. The stage was being prepared by the Lord.
In prayer for the service, the Lord led me to Exodus 5:1. Moses commanded Pharaoh with a simple statement that was easy to be understood: “Let my people go.” This was in reference to their 438 years of Egyptian bondage. However, as I began to look at this Scripture with a World Missions perspective, it had a different meaning: “Let God’s people go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to every person.” People are not being let go from slavery, but are being “let go” to fulfill the great commission.
Then I read the following verses:
“And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-23).
God told Pharaoh the people he had enslaved (Israel) was His son—His firstborn. If God’s son isn’t set free, then God will slay Pharaoh’s son, even his firstborn. Or, put another way, “release my firstborn and I will allow your firstborn to live.”
The word “firstborn” is the combination of two words, “first” and “born.” The word “first” is often used among God’s people because God should be first in all we do. Jesus instructs His disciples concerning placing too much thought on their basic needs to the point it would evolve into worry.
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
Jesus taught that we must seek His kingdom first, and all the rest will be added. Placing God first is the lifeblood of spiritual growth. The word “born” means “to bring into existence through the process of birth.” A firstborn son would represent the future. Placing the two words together brings the meaning to light. The word “first” is the place God must occupy in our everyday lives, and “born” represents the future. We give God first place, and He gives us His planned future.
“And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn” (Exodus 4:23).
God said the purpose for releasing the firstborn was so he could serve God. How would Israel serve God? The answer is found in Romans 3:1-2, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.”
Israel, God’s firstborn son, would be the bearer and container of the oracles of God. An oracle is the revelation and knowledge of God, and He desired to share it with the whole earth. Had it not been for Israel, God’s firstborn son, we would not have the Old Testament which contains the record of creation, the life of Abraham, the tabernacle, and prophecies of the coming Messiah. Israel bore the oracles of God that served as a type and shadow of the New Testament church.
Just as Moses was sent to Pharaoh with the message, “Let my people go;” the ministry today proclaims to the church, “Let my people go!” God’s people should go into all the world and preach the gospel. If we truly desire to serve God, we will make going into all the world our top priority. Supporting the World Missions program of the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ should be at the top of your priority list. You can provide support by calling missionaries’ names in prayer daily before the throne of God, and also by including them in your budget.
Jesus speaks of the misuse and proper use of money in Luke 16:9, saying:
“…Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”
A.T. Robertson’s commentary, “Word Pictures in the New Testament”, explains the meaning of this verse:
By the mammon of unrighteousness. By the use of what is so often evil (money). In Matthew 6:24 mammon is set over against God as in Luke 16:13. Jesus knows the evil power in money, but servants of God have to use it for the kingdom of God. They should use it discreetly and it is proper to make friends by the use of it.
When it shall fail, future time. The mammon is sure to fail.
That they may receive you into the eternal tabernacles. This is the purpose of Christ in giving the advice about their making friends by the use of money. The purpose is that those who have been blessed and helped by the money may give a welcome to their benefactors when they reach heaven. There is no thought here of purchasing an entrance into heaven by the use of money. That idea is wholly foreign to the context. These friends will give a hearty welcome when one gives him mammon here. The wise way to lay up treasure in heaven is to use one’s money for God here on earth. That will give a cash account there of joyful welcome, not of purchased entrance.
Reading A.T. Robertson’s commentary helps us understand we should use our money to reach people with the gospel message. Luke 16 closes with the story of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man used his wealth to help no one but himself. Lazarus was a beggar, yet he lives eternally in heaven while the rich man lives eternally in hell. No doubt this story serves as another example of the misuse and correct use of money. My closing prayer is that, on that day when we step into the heavenly city, we will be greeted by a multitude of strangers thanking us for giving.