We had a fabulous service at our church just a little while ago. Two ladies got baptised by full immersion, and both their families turned up in their droves. There was a great sense of joy, and amazing worship. I just love baptisms! Before they went into the water, the two baptism candidates were required to stand in front of the church, and speak about what God had done for them, and why they wanted to be baptised. It was really challenging for them, but they both gave great accounts of what God had done in their lives.
When Pharaoh began to realise that he was not commanding all the shots in his relationship with Moses, and that the non-too-pleasant plague of flies was badly affecting his land (Exodus 8:24-32), he tried to do some bargaining. He wanted Moses and the Israelites to make a compromise, and do their God-worship right there in Egypt. He wanted to maintain control, keep them within sight to be sure he would not lose his valuable workforce. Moses, however, was not up for compromise. His plan was for the Israelites to indeed be free, and that could not happen inside Egypt. He kept his eye on the goal, and stood up to the bartering Pharaoh offered. Half measures would not suffice.
And that’s how we need to be in all our Christian lives. When our two baptism candidates declared their decision to be baptised, they were demonstrating that they wanted God to be Lord of their lives. They were handing over control to him. No concessions.
The world often asks us to compromise. People will reason with us, try to help us find a way to follow our faith whilst keeping us rooted in their world. There are times when a middle path does not undermine our relationship with God, but often it does. I suppose one way of working out whether we can go with the suggestion or not, is found in Moses’ answer – v27 – “We must take a three day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.” Can I worship God fully, wholeheartedly, unrestrainedly in the middle-path context? If not, then I am not wholly free. God sets us free to worship him. Be very wary of anything that restrains you.