Living by Faith
Last time, we looked at the death of the first born and the introduction of the Jewish Passover Feast. The Jews were to sprinkle the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts and lintel of the house. If the death angel saw the blood, he would pass over without slaying the first born in the house. But if the blood was not there, both the first born of man and beast would die. So Israel sacrificed the lamb and sprinkled the blood.
Scripture: Exodus 12:29-42
29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. 33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. 34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. 40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
Just as God said, the final plague was effectual. Israel was thrust out of Egypt. Every house in Egypt suffered loss. Every house had at least one dead. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, "Rise up, and get you forth." Verse 33 says that the Egyptians were urgent upon the people. They wanted them to leave quickly, because they said, "We are all dead men."
So Israel spoiled the Egyptians (vs.36) and fled. Verse 39 says that they did not even have time to prepare food, because they were thrust out as God had said. So they left Egypt.
Now we would like to call your attention to verse 38 and the expression, "a mixed multitude." This little phrase is very important. It explains many of Israel's difficulties. But what does it mean? This message is called, The Mixed Multitude.
I.) Who are they?
Before we can answer this question, we must first of all understand God's position.
Scripture: Acts 17:24-27
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
God made all nations to be of one blood and says that all nations should seek after Him. God is not a respecter of persons. He does not care one whit what our ethnic origin, economic status, or educational level may be. He wants all men to repent of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ. He is not willing that any should perish (II Peter 3:9).
Having said that, the mixed multitude then is not a reference to some prejudice or bigotry. Rather it is declaration that not everyone who comes along for the ride is truly a child of God. They were a mixed multitude then, and so are we today.
Scripture: Luke 14:25-27
25 And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
Observe that "there went great multitudes with him." Jesus was quite popular. Every where he went the multitudes followed according to Matthew (Matthew 4:25, 8:1, 12:15, 15:30, 19:2). But the last reference in his gospel account is found in chapter 26.
Scripture: Matthew 26:55
In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
The multitudes followed but were not truly with Him. Hence Christ began to sift them by telling them what it takes to be a disciple - i.e., a true follower. What does it take? It takes such love that it makes our love for father, mother, wife, or children appear as hatred by comparison. It takes self-denial and self-sacrifice. On that basis, how many qualify as true followers?
Scripture: Mark 4:1-20
1 And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. 2 And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, 3 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 4 And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. 5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: 6 But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. 9 And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10 And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? 14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
Observe that "there was gathered unto him a great multitude." So He taught them a parable about a sower who went out to sow. The sower is anyone going out to share the gospel. The seed is the gospel, and the field is the world.
The seed fell on four different human conditions. Some fell by the way side. Such people hear, but immediately turn away. Some fell on stony ground. Immediately, it sprang up, but quickly died out for lack of root. Such people seem to be genuinely saved, but quickly die out. Some fell among thorns. Those people hear the message, but are more concerned with the stuff of this world. In the end, they bear no fruit. Finally, there is the seed sown on good ground which bears much fruit.
The big question is this: Of these four examples, how many are truly born again? The answer is: only the one bearing fruit.
Scripture: Matthew 7:15-23
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
A good tree will bear good fruit. If the tree appears good, but bears no fruit, it is cast into the fire. Every born again believer bears good fruit. That is one test to tell a true saint from a false. The question is not whether we bear fruit but how much.
Scripture: John 15:1-2
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
If we are truly His child, the Keeper of the Vineyard will chasten us and purge us to bring forth more fruit. A little pruning goes a long way toward bearing a good crop.
The mixed multitude, then, consists of non-believers who come along for the ride. This brings us to the second question.
II.) Why do they come?
Scripture: Exodus 12:36
And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.
One reason why they come is right here: the blessing of God.
God prospered Israel in a mighty way. They plundered the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Those who left Egypt with Israel saw God's hand on Israel and against Egypt. Under the circumstances, who wants to be with a loser?
Why did the multitudes follow Christ? Certainly, they marveled at His teaching (Matthew 22:22), but they also marveled at His calming of the winds and sea (Matthew 8:27), healing of the paralytic man (Matthew 9:8), and casting out of demons (Matthew 9:33). Did they follow Christ for the loaves and fishes, or for the message He brought? In the end, when the loaves and fishes ceased, the multitudes turned to "Crucify Him, crucify Him!!!"
Scripture: Acts 8:5-24
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city. 9 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10 To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. 11 And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 19 Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. 23 For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 24 Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.
Simon the sorcerer believed what he saw. He liked the idea of having power. He was even willing to pay for it. But he was still in the gall of bitterness. He was not truly repentant of his sin. Simon merely saw Christ as another way to gain power - a new "magic word."
Scripture: Acts 19:13-16
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the LORD Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
The name of Jesus is not some magic word. There is no magic power in saying, "Jesus this," or "Jesus that." Many will say, "I did this in your name or that," but Christ will say, "I never knew you." The real power is in the message of the gospel - the good news that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Do we recognize that we are sinners? Do we want Him to take charge of our lives and change us? That is the real power of God revealed in this dispensation.
The mixed multitude came because they liked what they saw, not because they were repentant. Which brings us to the third question.
III.) What will they do?
They are not truly with us. They do not follow Christ. They have not repented of their sin. They just like the good things that are happening. So what will they do?
Scripture: Numbers 11:4
And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
Observe that the mixed multitude fell to lusting and got the whole camp of Israel to whine and complain. Do you see the seed sown among the thorns here, choked off by the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things? This multitude will come along for health, wealth, and prosperity, but not for tribulation and affliction. The book of Hebrews talks about such.
Scripture: Hebrews 10:22-39
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. 32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; 33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. 34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. 35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The true child of God will persevere, but that pseudo-Christian, who comes for the ride, will eventually turn aside.
Scripture: Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
There is both substance and evidence to their salvation. For those who are saved, Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior.
When Israel departed from Egypt, they went as a mixed multitude. Some were real believers and others were fair-weather ones. We find the same thing in the church today. Not many are willing to take up their cross and follow Christ, our Lord. Lest we deceive ourselves, Paul gives us good advice:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13)
Next time: The Fork in the Road