Pharaoh’s Treasure Cities and the Israelites
God’s enemy, Satan, however, will not tolerate this vision being fulfilled by man. So Jacob’s very descendants departed from the place allotted to Jacob. In his dream Jacob was told by God that the land whereon he slept would be given to his children and that they would be a people in that place. But the city of Babel was on their right, Sodom on their left, and Egypt at their back. They were in a very dangerous and precipitous situation. They made their choice: all of Jacob’s children went down into Egypt, where they became slaves to build Pharaoh’s two treasure cities (Exo. 1:1-11). Jacob’s children did not return to Babel or fall into Sodom; they did not go back to idol worship nor enter into a sinful situation; they went to Egypt. For what purpose? To eat! They had to make a living, to have some enjoyment, some security in life. We must learn from their example. So many Christians today have been delivered from idol worship and kept from sinful things, but it is rather difficult to be preserved from falling into the state of simply pursuing a living. If I were to ask a fellow Christian why he wants to go to Los Angeles and he replies that it is to obtain employment, then he is exposed. He should be able to say quickly and boldly, “I am going to Los Angeles for the Lord’s purpose.” If otherwise, he is going into Egypt! Los Angeles becomes his Egypt.
Oh, the poor Christians today who are just out for a living, for their personal welfare! They are not involved in Babel (idolatry), and they have not fallen into Sodom (sin), but neither are they in the land of Canaan, the land which God had promised to Jacob and his descendants. They have been usurped and occupied by the King of Egypt, the prince of this world. Satan has enslaved them over the matter of their appetite and their personal enjoyment. So many Christians are enslaved by the enemy for the sake of a living; they are not free from the enjoyments of this world. Thus they are not in Canaan, God’s promised land. In Egypt, Pharaoh forced the children of Israel to work day by day in mud, to gather straw and stubble to burn the mud into bricks—all for the building of Pharaoh’s treasure cities.
God’s Deliverance and Separation for His Building
One day God sent Moses to command the children of Israel to go forth and serve God. When Moses informed Pharaoh of God’s word, however, Pharaoh’s officers were commanded to press the Israelites even more strenuously, that they might not have time to consider going forth to serve God. He accused them of idleness and forced them to work more rigorously for the treasure cities (Exo. 5). But thank the Lord, first by His redemption, and second by His salvation, God brought His people out of Egypt (Exo. 12 and 14) to the place where they could build Him a tabernacle (Exo. 19—25).
We must be clear where we are today. If we look at the whole picture from an over-all, bird’s-eye view, we will be clear. We will see that the only proper place for us is to be built up as a local, corporate body to express God and to represent God. And in order to experience such a building, we must be separated from Babel, Sodom, and Egypt—the world of idols, sins, and enjoyment—to a place where we can build God’s dwelling place.
We must have the experience of “Exodus.” Exodus means “out of something…” The Israelites were a group of people who came out of something. They were brought out of all satanic counterfeits. If you view the scene from on high, you will see all the satanic counterfeits: Babel, Sodom, and the treasure cities. Praise God that the children of Israel were separated, delivered out, and kept away from all these counterfeits. They were brought to a position where they were available for the building of God.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)