Have you ever watched a movie of a guy who is in the desert for a long period of time? You watch as he becomes more and more tired under the blazing hot sun. The man pulls out his canteen to drink some water but it is empty. Soon it becomes very evident that the man is thirsty. All of the sudden he thinks he sees water in the distance. He then travels toward the direction of the water but, when he arrives there is nothing there but dry ground. Then he realizes that it was nothing but a mirage.
What exactly is a mirage? A mirage is something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.
In the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who experienced what it was like to live in a mirage. Let’s look at Genesis chapter 37 and see what happened to him.
This is the story of Jacob. The story continues with Joseph, seventeen years old at the time, helping out his brothers in herding the flocks. These were his half brothers actually, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. And Joseph brought his father bad reports on them. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.
Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are with flocks in Shechem. Come, I want to send you to them.” Joseph said, “I’m ready.” He said, “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are doing and bring me back a report.” He sent him off from the valley of Hebron to Shechem. A man met him as he was wandering through the fields and asked him, “What are you looking for?” “I’m trying to find my brothers. Do you have any idea where they are grazing their flocks?” The man said, “They’ve left here, but I overheard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph took off, tracked his brothers down, and found them in Dothan. They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”
Reuben heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him, “We’re not going to kill him. No murder. Go ahead and throw him in this cistern out here in the wild, but don’t hurt him.” Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and take him back to his father. When Joseph reached his brothers, they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing, grabbed him, and threw him into a cistern. The cistern was dry; there wasn’t any water in it. Then they sat down to eat their supper. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead, their camels loaded with spices, ointments, and perfumes to sell in Egypt. Judah said, “Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing the evidence? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not kill him—he is, after all, our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. By that time the Midianite traders were passing by. His brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph with them down to Egypt. Later Reuben came back and went to the cistern—no Joseph! He ripped his clothes in despair. Beside himself, he went to his brothers. “The boy’s gone! What am I going to do!” They took Joseph’s coat, butchered a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. They took the fancy coat back to their father and said, “We found this. Look it over—do you think this is your son’s coat?” He recognized it at once. “My son’s coat—a wild animal has eaten him. Joseph torn limb from limb!” Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort. “I’ll go to the grave mourning my son.” Oh, how his father wept for him.
Jacob spent most of his life thinking that his son was dead when the truth was that all along he was alive. Joseph brothers were used by the devil to bring deception (or a mirage) into Jacob’s life. Why? Because, they didn’t want to admit the truth. But even though deception (or a mirage) had played its game to the fullest in the end it did not win. God reunited Jacob and his son Joseph by showing Jacob the truth. God restored Jacob’s joy and life. Joseph said this, what the enemy (Satan the deceiver) meant for my harm God turned around for my good.
Before I end this I would like to share with you one last story. There was a person who saw a chicken in his yard. He found a rope and took the chicken. Then he took the chicken and pushed the chicken’s head on the ground and placed a rope over his neck to keep the chicken from getting up. For awhile the chicken struggled but after some time the chicken quit struggling. Then the person took a piece of chalk and drew a line where the rope lay on each side of the chicken. He then left the chicken to lay there. Then someone else came along and saw the chicken lying there. He came over and removed the rope off of the chicken’s neck. The chicken did not move from where he lay as he still believed that the rope was still there because he could see the line.
Isn’t it interesting how the chicken could have gotten up at any time once the rope was removed? And yet because the chicken believed the rope was still real it just laid there. There are times in life where the devil can present something to us that looks like it is real when it is not. Without realizing it, we are basing our belief on something that is only a mirage. For instance, Jesus gave us the promise that when we accept Him into our lives we are free from all sin. He even says that He remembers our sins no more. He said that He has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Before we were saved, we were like the chicken who was bound by that rope (which represented sin) living in bondage. When we gave our lives to Jesus, He removed the rope saying we are free. But at times we can still feel like we are not free because of our feelings, thoughts and the way we still act. This is like the chalk line that the chicken saw that caused him to believe that he was not really free even though he was.
This is where the mirage in our lives can appear. The devil comes in and creates a mirage by telling us if you really are free from sin, then why did you have that bad thought? If you are free from sin, why did you do the wrong thing? We then give in to condemnation believing the mirage that we are not truly free as Christ had said. The result is that we then remain paralyzed and do not walk in the freedom that Christ died for us to have.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. We are not righteous because of all the right things we do. We are righteous because of what Christ did for us.
In Ephesians 2 it says this, For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did…
You may be one who has been looking at a mirage and thinking I must not be forgiven because I still mess up. Well, I have good news for you, it’s not the truth. Yep, it’s just a mirage and God wants to turn around what the enemy has meant for harm in your life for good. You don’t have to live in a mirage anymore. I want to tell you that your forgiveness is not based on how you feel. The moment you received Jesus into your life by believing in Him was the moment you became free from sin. As you keep believing that you are forgiven, you will begin to live like you are forgiven. And when you live like you are forgiven, your life will begin to show it. As you keep your eyes on Jesus, you will become more and more like Him. Choose to believe His Word that you are free. Choose to no longer live in a mirage.