Home Menu

We are new Christians. Why don’t our children understand the change?

“So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.” Thus the book of Genesis ends. When the book of Exodus begins many years have passed and in the space of a couple of paragraphs we learn that the sons of Israel have multiplied greatly and become mighty. We also learn that the rulers of Egypt are becoming more and more insecure with these non-Egyptians. There is no evidence of aggressive tendencies on the part of the Israelites yet the Egyptians were fearful. What do people do when in fear? They seek to tighten the reins. Is this not what parents of infants do when they don’t know how to handle the constant demands of their offspring’s? What if they are really scared? They begin to try to break the spirit of the child. They behave abusively. This is what the Egyptians attempted. First there were controls of work. Then slave labor. Next they tried to kill off all the male children.

Questions abound. Why did the Israelites tolerate this enslavement? Why not escape into the desert and head back to Canaan? Where was God? Why did he allow this kind of treatment of His chosen people to continue for so long, or even at all?

First, there is evidence that a lot of Israelites did not tolerate this treatment very well and left Egypt years prior to the God initiated exodus. Who left? Probably those who were more extroverted. A person with that temperament doesn’t accept being controlled very easily. Probably they bolted and left. Leaving behind those who were predominantly introverts. Why would anyone be scared of introverts? First there are, in any population, more of them. Second they are hard to read because they generally keep their thoughts and feelings bottled inside, thus those around them can begin to feel paranoia.

Why didn’t the introverts leave? Security. Introverts adapt to their environment. They may not like their environment, in fact, they may resent it bitterly, but they adapt (Sounds kind of co-dependent). Change is anathema to them. They may beg for it, but they remain very fearful of it. The Egyptian lifestyle wasn’t a walk in the park, but they could adapt and complain in the same breath without fear of change.

Why did God allow the Egyptian behavior to continue to deteriorate toward the Israelites? Timing. The Israelites needed to be so sick of their situation (internal and external) that given an opportunity they would in fact follow God. People follow God for one reason: they come to believe that their way of meeting life is inadequate. Thus enter God through Moses and Aaron and ten plagues later everyone is moving out of Egypt.

God understood the folks he was dealing with and chose to take them in a way that would minimize the likelihood of them returning to Egypt. He knew that dis-spirited introverts quake in the face of war (major change) and so He directed them toward the Red Sea. Not only would it minimize the likelihood of their bolting back to Egypt but it would give Him an opportunity to show them how secure they would be with Him as He parted the sea and devastated the Egyptian army.

Having witnessed the ten plagues one might think that this would be sufficient to convince the Israelites that God was for them and that He would see to their welfare. Alas, no. As they camped at the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s chariots approached they became very afraid, cried out to God and complained to Moses. With great patience God, in so many words, said, “Check out this action, go forward and be saved.” The waters parted and they head into the Sinai desert. Thus the people saw His power, feared Him and believed in Him. Sounds great.

Three days later, they were getting seriously thirsty. Did they thank God for His kindness and mercy, point out their need to God and ask for His deliverance? Nope. They “grumbled to Moses.” Watch carefully what is happening. They have a loving Father now but they are still operating the way (according to their “old ways“. . . sounds like flesh) they had under the cruel rulership of Pharaoh. Why? They are resisting a change in their thought life. It was true then and is now that transformation comes as we renew our mind with truth. They still saw themselves as slaves to Pharaoh instead of children of God. Yet God demonstrated patience, led them to a big watering hole and offered them a covenant. The covenant was simple: listen to me, do what I ask and I will keep you healthy.

Forty five days after their departure from Egypt they again “grumbled at Moses” because they were hungry. Moses explained that their grumbling was actually against God. He was trying to help them understand a significant truth. Even though we have earthly parents, they are but representatives of God to their children. If they fail the burden is upon God. If they succeed the credit belongs to God. Therefore, respect your parents for who they are but know that God is God (He brought you in, He can take you out.) Again God was patient but He insisted on a test of their covenant with Him. He provided food with specific instructions for gathering and eating. They failed to obey because they listened to their “feeler” which was screaming, “I’ve got to look out for Number 1 and store some food for tomorrow (Insecurity flesh.).”

Less than three months after they left Egypt they “quarreled with Moses” because they were thirsty again. Note this has elevated from grumbling to quarreling. Both represent an attitude of ingratitude. This is a gross sin. Look at your own response to a lack of thankfulness in your children. Does it tighten your jaw a little bit? Notice how God dealt with it.

In the third month following their departure from Egypt they camped at the base of Mount Sinai. I have underlined the time progression to give you an idea of how long God gave His kids to repent of their old way of thinking and accept that there had not only been a change in management but that it was a good change and that they were now truly safe, secure and precious in the care and sight of God. They did not change and God lowered the LAW on them. In His loving kindness He met them at the point of their need. To them security was spelled S-T-R-U-C-T-U-R-E and God gave it to them. In Egypt they new the rules (hated ’em but knew ’em) and it formed the basis of their sense of security. The truth is it was false security but it felt real. It was something they could count on day in and day out. So God created a security system not based on hatred or fear as the Egyptians had but on His love for them. He knew it was false security but He also knew that the only hope they had of coming to Him freely was to bind them in a system and “hope” they would ultimately see the futility of placing their hopes in a structure instead of Him. Grace had not failed, it merely took on a new form until such time they would be ready for true freedom.

In raising our children we too are being raised. We change, we grow, we slip, we get up and move forward again. As an introverted child develops, they become adapted to what they first experienced. Changes in the parent’s operating patterns, even when they are for the better, are not always welcome. They may point a finger at you and say, “You are my problem,” when for the last year(s) you have sought to communicate love and acceptance in ways that should have been gladly received. Isn’t that what Jesus did and shortly before his crucifixion? we see him on the Mount of Olives anguishing that he can not gather Jews like a hen gathers her chicks.? The point is you may have to appear hard to be gentle just as God did with the Israelites. It’s a little like taking a drug addict from harder drugs through “softer” drugs to no drugs. The love and acceptance is always present but it is a tough love. . . for everyone. This is what agape love is. It always seeks to do the most redemptive thing possible. Trust your Life to make the tough decisions in you and let Him implement them through you.