Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us? We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as he tells us.” So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away. Plead for me.” Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord. And the Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go. Exodus 8:25-32 ESV
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? II Corinthians 6:14-15 ESV
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18 ESV
All through history, and in many places in the world today, it is very dangerous to be a Christian. Christians are killed, thrown in jail, lose their jobs or property, or are hurt in other ways. Sometimes Christians keep their worship a secret so they can be safe. If their government or their neighbors knew they were worshiping Jesus, it would mean serious trouble.
The people of Israel had the same problem. The Egyptians thought what they did when they worshiped God was disgusting and bad. Even if they had the permission of Pharaoh himself, they were afraid the people of Egypt would try to kill or hurt them. God’s people took sheep, goats, or cows and burned them as offerings to God. These sacrifices were made so their sins could be forgiven, and they pointed ahead to the promised Savior. Someday God would send someone who would die, and his death would win the forgiveness of sins for all time.
Jesus is the promised Savior, and he died on the cross for our sins. Even if we live in a place where we can worship God freely, the cross seems strange and foolish to people who don’t understand. In fact, many people think what Christians believe is bad or wrong. They don’t want to think of themselves as sinners, or else they don’t want to think of a God who is angry with sin and punishes it.
We hope that more and more people will understand the love God showed all people in Jesus. But sometimes it’s uncomfortable to be different from others. If we have freedom to worship, we don’t have to keep it a secret, but we do want to keep remembering Jesus’ cross even though it seems silly and wrong to others. It’s important not to try to hide Jesus’ cross so that we can be more popular or have more people join us. God the Holy Spirit helps us stay faithful to Jesus, and to always be willing to share his cross with others.
Dear Jesus, thank you for what you did for us on the cross. Please keep my faith in you strong. Amen.