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Compromise can sometimes be a good thing. However, when it comes to serving God, compromise is not a good thing. I hope you enjoy this excellent article by Carl Johnson on the subject of compromise.
NOT A HOOF LEFT BEHIND
Mark Twain says that early in his life he moved to a mining town in Colorado. The town was wide open with brothels and bars on every corner. Twain says, “I immediately recognized it was no place for a Christian-so I decided not to be one.” Many people have imitated Twain’s response. When they find it hard to be a Christian, they either quit trying to be one or they compromise their convictions.
Jesus directs some of His harshest words toward the sin of compromise embodied in the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans in the church at Pergamos (Rev. 2:12-17). Both doctrines were efforts to adjust Christianity to the level of the world rather than lift the world to the level of Christianity. They taught the people to go along in order to get along, in short, to compromise. However, Jesus says he “hates” the doctrine (2:15), and the Scriptures warn us repeatedly against it (2 Cor. 6:17; Rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 2:19).
Pharaoh’s dealing with Moses is a classic example of how the devil uses compromise to thwart God’s children from reaching the Promised Land (Ex. 8:25-10:26). At God’s orders, Moses and Aaron demand that Pharaoh release every family and tribe of Israel out of Egypt. Pharaoh does not wish to grant any part of their request, but sees he is going to have to yield to some extent. He feels, however, that he can save his dignity and protect his own interests by yielding less than what is demanded. On four occasions, he offers to compromise.
First, God specifically requires all of the Israelites to be separated from Egypt by a 3-day journey. Pharaoh counters by saying the Israelites may worship Jehovah, but they must stay within the confines of Egypt to do it (8:25). The spirit of this offer reminds me of a compromise offered by a large cups-and classes congregation to a small one-cup church in the same city a few years ago. The preacher from the large church said, “If you will come and join us in our building and be a part of our congregation, we’ll put one loaf and one cup on the end of the communion table just for you.”
In Pharaoh’s second attempt at compromise he tells Moses they can leave Egypt, but they cannot go too far (8:28). He will let them go as the cat lets the mouse go, just so far but no farther-not out of his reach. The offer may have sounded good to Moses. They would at least be separate from the Egyptians. Moses rejects the ofer, however, because it is not what God commands.
After Moses rejects the first and second offers, Pharaoh sees he has no alternative but to release the Israelites beyond his reach. He devises a third compromise, however, by which he thinks he can draw them back. He tells Moses the people can leave Egypt, but they must leave the women and children behind (10:8-11). Pharaoh knows that if the men go into the wilderness for 3 full days they will soon return to their wives, children, and slavery in Egypt. Moses refuses the compromise and demands everyone must go. Male, female, old, and young must be set free.
The fourth offer by Pharaoh is the craftiest of all. He says the people of Israel may leave Egypt, but they must leave their flocks and herds of cattle behind. God has not made specific mention of the animals to Moses and they are not descendants of Israel, but a nomadic people cannot subsist for many weeks scarcely for many days without its flocks and herds. The Israelites would have been starved into surrender. Furthermore, they cannot leave Egypt empty-handed; without the means for worship. The flocks and herds will be needed to make sacrifices to Jehovah. Even though God does not mention them specifically, Moses necessarily infers the livestock must be kept as part of God’s plan. He rejects Pharaoh’s offer by declaring, “Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind” (10:26).
Pharaoh is enraged by Moses’ refusal to compromise even “one hoof’ (10:27-28). Pharaoh’s response is typical of evil men when they are unable to overcome the convictions of good men by compromise. They usually throw off the mask of friendliness and show their true colors.
May God give us the wisdom to learn from Moses’ example! He teaches us to suspect, to doubt, and to examine carefully every proposed compromise in religion. Obviously, compromise is permissible in matters of liberty or indifference (Rom. 14). In matters of faith, however, compromise is absolutely unacceptable. We cannot surrender anything divinely ordered or instituted for the sake of some supposed convenience or expedience. It can never really be right to give up willingly the smallest fragment of revealed truth, or to allow the infraction of the least of God’s commandments (Lk. 16:10). Therefore, as Satan pressures us relentlessly to compromise, remember the spirit of Moses that says, “Not a hoof shall be left behind.”