The First Sunday in Lent

Exodus 5:1-6:1

Tempted to Faithlessness; Tempted to Quit

The desert monks from centuries ago believed that one thing a Christian can depend on is that he will have to endure temptation even to the day of his death.  But we take heart that we experience no temptation that our brothers and sisters haven’t experienced, that we are never tempted above our means, and that God prepares ways for our escaping (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Of course, God uses temptations for our edification; the devil uses them to trip us up.  No one enjoys them, but we must endure them.  So let us determine to become athletes of the spiritual life, always remembering that if we would discipline ourselves, the Lord would not have to do it for us (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).

The people of Israel were not happy with Moses.  So, needless to say, Moses was not happy, either.  He and Aaron had appeared before Pharaoh to proclaim God’s word, “Let my people go.”  And as God had forewarned Moses, Pharaoh would not comply.  He even made the oppression of the people worse because of Moses’ request, forcing them to gather their own straw while not reducing the number of bricks they had to make.  Moses’ words to God sound of complaining, and understandably so.  Moses felt that he had fulfilled his part of the errand God had sent him on. Yet, God had not acted to deliver the children of Israel.  It’s enough to tempt one to quit.

Our Lord understands trial and temptation.  The Bible tells us that “since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things,” and that “he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-18).  And, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).  You are not alone.  All of the great saints endured temptation; all of them wanted at different times to give up, or at least give way.  But our Lord, our Champion, conquered on our behalf.  He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14).  Cry out to him, as Moses did; and be delivered, as Moses was.

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