I once had a conversation with a young man who was a Jehovah’s Witness; I can’t recall the context of our conversation, but one thing that remained with me over the years is that I told him, “as Christians though we are in this world we are not of this world according to scriptures.” He said to me, “I always hear Christians say that, but no one could really tell me what it means.” I told him, “I don’t understand it fully myself,” but I tried my best to explain it to him. I don’t know if I did it justice or not. Now almost twenty years later, if I were to help that young man or any other person to understand the meaning of such declaration, I would tell him/her, let’s take a look at the account of how God took the children of Israel out of Egypt, how He made a distinction between them, Pharaoh, and the Egyptians. God sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to “let His people go that they may worship Him,” but Pharaoh refused. Because Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses, God hardened his heart to bring judgment on Egypt. God told Moses that “He will send judgment on Egypt to prove that He is God.” God sent ten plagues to judge Egypt. God allowed the Israelites to experience the first three plagues along with the Egyptians to demonstrate His sovereignty over the earth once He made His distinction between them and the Egyptians. It wasn’t until the fourth plague that God made a distinction between the children of Israel and the Egyptians.
The Distinction. In Exodus chapter eight God separated Israel from Egypt.
16 Then Adonai said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. As he comes to the water say to him, This is what Adonai says: Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 17 Or else, if you do not let My people go, I will send the swarm of flies on you and on your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of the swarm of flies including the ground that they stand on. 18 “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are dwelling—except no swarm of flies will be there—so that you may know that I, Adonai, am in the midst of the earth. 19 I will make a distinction between My people and your people. By tomorrow this sign will happen.” Exodus 8:16-19 (World English Translation, WEB)
God was about to show Pharaoh that His people may live in Egypt, but they were not of Egypt. In other words, though they lived in Egypt, their heritage is not of the Egyptian belief systems. The children of Israel didn’t need to depend on Pharaoh and his gods for survival. While the Egyptians suffered the wrath of God during the last six plagues, Israel was living and enjoying freedom in the midst of chaos.
Before God sent the final plague, the death of the firstborn, He made another distinction between the children of Israel and the Egyptians.
The death of the firstborn plague was against man and animals in Egypt. But for Israel, it was a time of establishment. God establishes His order of worship for the Israelites. Earlier I mentioned that God sent Moses to Pharaoh to tell him to “let the people go so they can worship Him.” God was about to take them from out of Egypt and make another distinction, not just between them and Egypt, but also from all the other nations. In Exodus chapter twelve, God gave the children of Israel the ordinances of the Passover. It was also at this time God established His calendar for His people. Verses one and two states; Now Adonai spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, 2 “This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you. (Exodus 12:1-2, WEB)
God took the children of children of Israel off the Egyptian calendar, so to speak, and gave them His calendar before the tenth, plague, the death of the firstborn. The beginning of a new era was about to dawn for the children of Israel. In observance of Passover on the tent of the month (this first month that God had now established), the children of Israel were to choose a lamb one-year-old without spot or blemish. They were to keep it for four days and then kill (on the fourteenth day) and eat it with unleavened bread. They were to take the blood of the lamb and mark their door post on both sides and over the top of the door, to make a distinction between them and the Egyptians when the Lord passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn. Read Exodus chapters twelve and thirteen for more on the story.
Yeshua, The Passover Lamb
Though we are not living in Egypt as slaves, we come to the understanding that Egypt is a prototype of the systems of the world we are living in. From we are born we live and move and have our being in these worldly systems. Everything we do and say, how we relate to each other is in correlation to the dictates of the systems of this world. So what does it mean to be “in this world but not of this world?” In the same manner, in which God made the distinction between the children of Israel and the Egyptians, he makes the distinction between born again believers in Yeshua and those who are not. Yeshua our Passover lamb, His blood protects us from the judgments of God against the world.
John 1: 26-29 (NKJV)
John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. 27 It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” 28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
As born-again believers in Yeshua, we are now a part of God’s calendar and are expected to live according to His timeline. We are no longer to depend on the systems of the world to dictate to us what we say or do, and how we relate to others. We are grafted into the family of God and become partakers of His ordinances, principles, and promises for our spiritual and daily lives.
Ephesians 3:6 “the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of his promise in Christ Jesus through the Good News.” (World English Translation)
Therefore, since we have been grafted in by the blood of Yeshua, Messiah we should not only look to receive the promises of God but also learn how to live according to His calendar. My prayer is for you to realize that there is a distinction between you and those who rely on the world’s systems. You are set apart by God, through faith in Yeshua. Though you are in this world, you are not of this world. Don’t allow the systems of the world to dictate your faith and how you live it out in a practical way. Seek to know God’s order and live in obedience to His word and enjoy living in His freedom in the midst of chaos.