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A Separated Nation

Pharaoh spoke the truth when he first refused to allow the separation of Israel when Moses requested it. "I do not know the LORD..." Separation and holiness are part of the essential character of God and are enjoined upon all who know Him; those who do not know Him will find the ideal not only intolerable, but impossible (1 Pet. 1:16; Heb. 12:14).

The principles of separation are taught from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22; holiness is first mentioned in relation to the calling out of a people for God. As God called Moses for the task of leading out this people, He set the standard by allowing Moses to stand on holy ground, but only on the basis of Moses emptying himself of self and personal authority, and giving complete obedience to the command of God (Ex. 3:5). God's self-revelation to and in a nation demanded their separation: "Let My people go, that they may serve Me..." What was true of Israel is also true today of a nation called out of darkness into light. He who rejects that separation, answers m the same measure as Pharaoh, "I do not know the Lord".

Ten times scripture states that Pharaoh hardened his heart, and ten times that God hardened it. But God waited until the king had hardened his own heart seven times before He first hardened it, though God in foreknowledge had predicted that this would be so. Indeed, God had raised him up so that divine power might be demonstrated in him (Rom. 9:17). Yet the fact remains that it was in hardness of heart that Pharaoh rebelled against the purposes of God. Hardness of heart still wars against the separation that God desires for His people.

Pharaoh's claims that sacrifice is laziness, and that the miracles of men could explain away the miracles of God, couldn't convince even his own people (Ex. 8:19; 10:7), yet he continued in his lies, mock-repentance and bravado, and decided that compromise must be the eventual answer. Poor Pharaoh - there is no compromise with God. Had Israel learned this earlier, they too might have been spared much of their torment under Pharaoh's hand (Ezek. 20:8): Israel's idolatry in Egypt showed their unwillingness to trust God completely:

Then I resolved to pour out My wrath upon them, to accomplish My anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. The believer in Christ will also greatly benefit from learning that same lesson early.

The fact that God had made a division between the Egyptians and the children of Israel in the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:22 ff), was not sufficient reason to compromise by sacrificing to God within the land (Ex. 9:25,26). Apart altogether from the obvious, that such sacrifices could only be misunderstood and obnoxious to the Egyptians, God had commanded the separation of His people (Ex. 8:26,27). Present day collective service demands a similar type of separation (Heb. 13:12-15). The prophecy of Hosea 11:1, fulfilled in Christ (Mat. 2:15), still calls for obedient response in the hearts and lives of those who would live godly lives: "Out of Egypt I called My Son". Nor would separation with strings attached answer the command. "Don't go far away" (see Ex. 8:28), is still the cry of a world that has yet to learn that righteousness and lawlessness have no partnership; light and darkness no fellowship; Christ and Belial no harmony. "Come out from their midst and be separate" says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me" (2 Cor. 6:14-18). Not far away? The command to separate from, and separate to, is total and absolute. That only some should go, or that possessions be left behind, must be answered with resolve and fulfilment: "not a hoof will be left behind". Furthermore, when God brought them out they would not go empty. The night of their separation is described as 'for the LORD" (Ex. 12:42). He would bring them out and bring them in full. Their continuation in that fulness and the enjoyment of it would depend on continued political, connubial, and ecclesiastical separation.

Today, right thinking believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have no difficulty in seeing the necessity for separation from the grosser evils of this world. Difficulty sometimes arises, however, in discerning the need for separation in areas where we could seemingly benefit or be a benefit

politics, marriage, religious affiliation. The warnings of Deuteronomy 7 are the claims of God, not Moses:

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all peoples who are on the face of the earth... Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes which I am commanding you today, to do them. (vv. 6,11).

No covenants, no favour in judgement, no intermarriage, no trying to reform the wrong religious worship - separation was to bring spiritual, physical, economic blessing beyond anything that they could imagine; less than separation would cause the nation to perish (8:19). God's standards have not changed in our dispensation. We are in the world and submissive to its authorities (John 17:15-18; 1 Pet. 2:13-17), yet not of it and its ambitions and pleasures. Not only so, but spiritual enlightenment is a progressive thing and does not allow of a return to a degree darkness which at the time meant a measure of light to us:

For if I rebuild what I have once destr6yed, I prove myself to be a transgressor (Gal. 2:18).

We never cease to be one with fellow members of the Body of Christ, but separation from practices inconsistent with the revelation of divine truth to us is ever taught in the New Testament, and involves separation, therefore, from people who are believers also. In the ultimate, this may even necessitate separation from some who are within churches of God, as censure and discipline are carried out according to divine directions (Rom. 16:17;1 Cor. 5:11; 2 Thes. 3:6). If such is enjoined even within the holy nation, have we difficulty with the principles of separation from those without? Separation in itself does not involve enmity as 2 Thess. 3:14, 15 clearly shows. This was illustrated in Israel's experience in Deut. 2:5,9: Israel were brothers with Edom and Moab and were not to be jealous of God's blessings upon them nor envious nor covetous of their possessions. Israel turned away rather than engage in battle with them and took the long way around rather than vex those who also had received God's blessings. God would later show the principle - them that are without, God judges (1 Cor.5:13).

Balaam, with eyes wide open, enlightened by the Lord, saw God's vision of His people:

As I see him from the tops of the rocks, and I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart, and shall not be reckoned among the nations (Num. 23:9).

Who among God's people would have it otherwise? Isaiah says:

The nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales ... All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded as less than nothing and meaningless (Isa. 40:15, 17).


you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a Holy Nation, a people for God's own possession ... you are the people of God (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

The importance of the nation that God chooses is underscored in the remarkable words of Deut. 32:8,9:

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD's portion is His people.


Christ Jesus ... gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own p05session... (Tit. 2:14).

A promise of blessings and curses followed God's call to Israel, each dependent upon the measure of obedience of the people to God's commandments. The checkered history of the nation proved the accuracy of divine promise. The history of God's dealings with the early churches of the New Testament is a re-statement of God's fidelity to His word. God will not be unfaithful to His word

in our day either. Holiness and separation will bring blessing; and hidden manna, a white stone, and a place on the throne of Christ are still offered to the overcomer (Rev. 2:17; 3:21). And to such as are otherwise, the promise of tribulation and pestilence and a spewing from the mouth of God. God's will is to dwell among a separated and holy people; a people who in every sense of the word "know the Lord",

I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out... and be separate... perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Cor. 6:16-7:1).

(Quotations are from NASB).