“Seeing the Work of the Lord”
II.) Vs. 1-9 I’ve got them right where I want them
III.) Vs. 10-14 Fear not, stand still, look up, & be quiet
IV.) Vs. 15-31 Faiths deliverance, prides destruction
- 15-22 faiths deliverance
- 23-29 prides destruction
- 30-31 results
In 13:17 we are told of God “leading” Israel, now for the nation this was their first experience of being led by God. Moses had some experience with this but to the nation this was all-new. When we become Christians we have a life time of doing things our way. We have been the captains of our own ships, or at least we think we have. Then you give your life to Jesus and the former things have passed away. So you are now trying to live your life by His leading not what seems right to you. Now I don’t know about you but it all felt kind of weird. I mean I really wanted to allow God to lead my life but I had no history of this & no real knowledge of what this looked like. What I discovered was that God had given me some things to go on just like He did Israel which we saw last week:
a.) Vs. 19 He would lead them by faith: Old Joseph’s bones were a testimony of one mans trust in God’s promises above what he could figure out or see. So to we have to learn to trust Gods word in spite of the consequences. Someone once said that “Faith was believing God’s Word in spite of the evidence.” Folk’s that’s not faith that’s SUPERSTITION! No! “Faith is obeying God’s word in spite of the consequences.”
b.) Vs. 20 He would lead them step by step: We all like to have every bit of information we can before we make a commitment to go, but God does not tell us everything. No, instead He leads us to where is best for us not based upon what we see but rather based upon who He is. So when God is leading you get use to moving one step at a time. Again you will notice that He led them to the edge of the wilderness, which speaks to me about how God would have us always dependent upon Him.
c.) Vs. 21 He would lead them by His presence: Now today we don’t have a cloud by day & fire by night directing our every move. No, we have something much better the “sure Word of God”. Ps. 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.” It’s where we get our direction & guidance.
So there you have the basics & you start out following God based upon those simple things. You’re a little shaky on this whole God thing but you start out by faith, one step at a time, looking to His word to guide you. Some time goes by & you start to think, “I can do this!” Then, all of the sudden is happens you find out that you have been following God & He has led you right into a trap which you can so no way out. Now don’t give me any lines, “No way, man it’s been just one great success after another.” When we allow God to lead sooner or later you are going to find yourself in a situation where it looks as though God’s ways & Word was wrong. It is here that you have your first of many crises of faith. Now if you have not had this happen before then you will one day. So what do we do? Well, this morning we get to see how God handled it & why!
II.) Vs. 1-9 I’ve got them right where I want them
Vs. 1-9 What is clear in this section is that:
- 1-2 God was the one that changed their coarse. “Now the Lord spoke…saying turn the camp before “Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, opposite Baal-zephon.”
- 4 God had a reason of why He was changing coarse: “I will gain honor over Pharaoh…that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
- 3, 5, 6, 8, 10 God knew how Pharaoh, Egypt & Israel would see this change of coarse: “They are bewildered by the land…why have we let Israel go…so he made ready 600 choice chariots & took his people with him & pursued Israel…& overtook them camping by the sea.” “And when Pharaoh drew near…Israel saw that the Egyptians marched after them…so they were very afraid…&….cried out to the Lord.”
When you first read this change of direction it means absolutely nothing to you unless you have a great grasp of ancient Egypt geography. We are given some strong clues of what this change of direction looked like based upon how Pharaoh & Israel saw it. Geographically God directs them to a place where their backs were to the sea & on the sides were two mountains. If you will God placed them into a cul-de-sac, which there was only one way out & that was the way in which they came. Pharaoh clearly saw it as a very bad decision one in which left Israel closed in. Israel does not seem to recognize this until 600 chariots closed off the mouth of the valley in which they camped.
So what does all of this have to do with me? Well God had already directed Israel away from the sea route & into the wilderness. Why? Because He knew that they were not ready to fight for their freedom. Now I wonder how many of these 3 million Israelites comprehended that God was taking them away from the natural choices that the world would choose? Perhaps some of them saw that where God was leading was not the normal way to go, but since there was no problems they went along with it. But now as they are heading out in the wilderness, uncharted territory, God suddenly heads them back the road they came in on, further more to a place that hems them in. Now, if you are all new at allowing God to lead you & you are just following Him, by faith, step by step, through His word, & now he has you going in circles the same way you came in. In all practical ways it looked as if they were totally lost & all of this while they were being led by the Lord? Why you might just begin to wonder if this God that you have committed your life to really has it altogether.
Not hitting home yet? Come on now, you can’t tell me that you have never felt as though God was making a bad decision in your life as you are following Him. It just does not make since to you that He led you here & then has you go back to there, only to have to get stuck here. Man that seems all too familiar to me. That’s all cool until you come crashing into a trap with no way out! Then you really begin to doubt God’s ability to lead saying, “Man, I just don’t get it Pastor I’m doing everything the way God said to & now this has happened.”
All of this reminds me of the old T.V. show “Get Smart”. Don Adams, who played agent 86 “Maxwell Smart”, would always find himself in these situations where Kaos, the evil organization, had him pinned in. Then he would call Control on his shoe phone saying, “Chief, I’ve got them right where I want them!”
That’s what the Lord has done, He has led Israel to a place where they have no other choice but to trust Him, further more He led them to a place as bait for Pharaoh & Egypt so that He could show both of them He alone is Lord. Folk’s that seeming dead end place that you find yourself in right now is not an accident, neither is it a demonstration of God’s poor ability to lead you as you learn to follow. No! It is a place designed by Him to show you that He alone is Lord & that you follow Him not because you understand the places He takes you in life. No you follow Him because of Who He is!
This week I was reading in Kent Hughes book, “Liberating Ministry from Success Syndrome”, where he says that early on in ministry he was shown by God the truth of Jer. 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” He shares these important truths with reference to God’s guiding:
“There never has been & never will be a thoughtless action of God towards me. There is not a single item of evil in His plans for His people, neither in motive, conception, revelation, or consummation. This does not mean that we are shielded from hardship or misery, it means that God’s plans are never for evil in the believer’s life, instead they are always with an eye towards their well-being & wholeness – always!”
Folk’s only in eternity will everything come into focus. In the first few seconds in heaven our perspective of God’s guidance will cause us to fall upon our faces in absolute praise of His leading us. The truth of Jer. 29:11 is ours to experience daily if we will only heed the 13th verse of Jer. 29, “If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.” Oh, man do you get it? There must be as Kent Hughes says, “A God-focused obsession in our lives if we are to fully experience the benefit of His promises.”
III.) Vs. 10-14 Fear not, stand still, look up, & be quiet
Vs. 10-12 Here we have Israel’s reaction to God’s guiding them into this trap. Now it ought not to surprise you because it is how most of us react. I will not spend too much time on this these verse but I do want to point out how our flesh responds when we are not trusting the Lord’s guidance.
- 10 Fear: We ever there is a battle over control & we realize that we are not in control our very first reaction is fear. Did you see that they were not afraid until Pharaoh’s army sealed of the mouth of the valley? As long as they could see some way of getting out of their situation they were not afraid, but the moment they were beyond the scope of their intellect they were, “greatly afraid.” Trusting God’s leading is no problem as long as you can understand the whys. No as my son is driving all over Merced, I am starting to get use to the fact of it. The other day he offered to take me to the store. So? Well, I realized that I was no longer ridding with him as a instructor was. No, now I was just a passenger who had no control! Fear seized me but I went by faith & kept my mouth shut, & he did great.
- 11 Unhappiness: Clearly since they can not figure out how they are going to get out of this they are not “happy campers”. Do you get the pun of their sarcasm? Egypt in known for what? The pyramids & what are those pyramids? Well they are nothing more they huge crypts. Egyptians were consumed with the after life, so every where there were burial places. So they say, “Hey, did you lead us out here because there was not enough room to bury us in Egypt?” They are not only questioning the action of Moses they are questioning his motivate as well, “Why have you dealt with us, to bring us out of Egypt.” Hey, Moses did you get some kick back on getting us all killed. I mean are you in the body bag business?”
- 12 Bitterness: They now remind Moses that they told him back in chapter 5 that they just wanted him to leave them alone. “Man, I was never wanting to follow God any way & now that you have made me do so it is not working out the way you promised.” “Better to be a slave to the world man, then to be miserable in this weird place!”
Sound familiar? Hey, we are all at times like these Israelites afraid, unhappy, even bitter. The sad fact is that we like them have seen the Lord do miraculous things in our lives that we all too often forget. The correlation in our lives is all too obvious, we would often chose the worlds ways of comfort, non-threatening, non-challenging, no risks. Because real life in Christ means that we are not in control & that is not comfortable, it is threatening, challenging & risky. So we stay in the worlds slavery instead of going after faith’s freedom. Why? Because we perceive the freedom of faith as Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh, “We are never going to make it!”
But how do we grow unless some time we choose to take the joy of the risk of faith even though it means that we aren’t sure of where that may lead us, what we are sure of is Who is leading us!
Vs. 13-14 Here we are told the words Lord had Moses share with Israel in light of their doubt. Now If I was Moses & I had just heard their complaints after God’s clear leading I would have resigned on the spot. “Look God, you said that these were your kids, so that means that they aren’t mine. So I’ll tell you what I’m just going to swim across this lake just so I don’t have to hear them complain any more & it I drown then a t least I won’t have to hear them for another 40 years.” But instead Moses gives them four clear instructions as to how to handle the crises of doubt & unbelief:
- “Do not be afraid”: Fear will either energize us or paralyze us either way it can be destructive. So the first thing Moses tells them is not to react but rather respond. Don’t react to the wave of emotionalism, don’t give in to the desire to react to fear. The how of your response will only be right in as much as you have dealt with the rational of why you are responding that way. Does that make since to you? If you allow fear to be your guide then your reaction may cause you to make a decision you will regret the rest of your life. It appears by the next statement that Moses makes, that their reaction was going to be to run, (stand still). And if that is the case then they would of looked like they were going to fight Pharaoh & his army which would of meant that they would of been slaughtered & those that survived would have been again enslaved.
- “Stand still”: This is the Lord’s answer to those in a crises of faith. Fear will demand that you retreat or advance, impatience will tell you to do it now, presumption will tell you do what is right before it is time, but faith says, stand & while your standing be still! Paul writing to the church of Ephesus about spiritual warfare in chapter 6 tells them 4 times in four verses to stand. All God ever has us to do in Christ in difficult times is to “stand” on His victory. That’s exactly what Moses tells them in verse 14, “The Lord will fight for you,..” The battle belongs to the Lord! It is amazing to me that God tells them to stand still & then in verse 15 He tells them to go forward. It is as though God says, “Hey, don’t go out in your own strength & effort, but do go out in Mine!”
- “Look up”: You see they are to do something. What was that? Well, it’s to see the salvation of the Lord. Now it is interesting to look at these verses in the Hebrew because the word salvation is the Hebrew equivalent for the name of Jesus, (Yeshuwa) & the word Lord here is the word Yehovah. So this sentence says “See the Jesus of God.” Man is that ever cool, “Don’t go out & do it in your own strength instead look for Jesus your salvation that is God.” So when you are struggling, look to Jesus stand in His victory allow Him to give you His peace. Notice how emphatic our salvation is, “which He will accomplish for you today.”
- “Be quiet”: Here he tells them not to complain about their troubles. All that whining does is show everybody that you are not trusting in the Lord. Before they are ever to take a step the first thing they are to do is shut their mouths. How many times have we talked ourselves out of trusting in God by our own complaining? So why are we to hold our peace? Because the Lord WILL fight for you. So don’t be living & acting as if He is not going to.
IV.) Vs. 15-31 Faiths deliverance, prides destruction
- 15-22 faiths deliverance
Vs. 15 It does not take much imagination to feel what Israel must of felt. Chariots were what tanks are today & Egypt had brought 600 of them & placed them at the mouth of the valley. It must have looked as though Pharaoh was going hunting for fish in a barrel. Any person at all can see a ambush & Pharaoh clearly thought that he was going to exact some revenge.
Now for all of Moses faith & pep talk he was just a man as well, so as soon as he is done talking to Israel for God, he talks to God. That’s a good thing right? Well normally but evidently he was having a gripe session so the Lord says, “What are you crying to me for, get going!” There is a time for prayer & seeking the Lord but after that it’s time to act on it. We on the board here have talked with the Lord, we have discussed together what needs to take place so that in 18 months we will move into our own building & God said, “move forward”. So that is what we are doing! I don’t know how He is going to deal with all the things ahead of us, frankly it’s not my problem it is His.
Vs. 16-22 Here we are told of the “angel of the Lord” which is equated to the Lord being in the pillar of cloud & fire, (13:21). The only conclusion I can come up with here is that the “angel of the Lord” is not an angel but a messenger & here as else where in the O.T. is preincarnate manifestation of Jesus, or a Christophanie.
So the Lord surround them, do you see that in verse 19? The Lord was not only there to guide them He was there to protect them from the advancing Egyptian army. And what was light to the Israelites was darkness to the Egyptians. So to is the Word of God today to us it lights our way but to those in the world it is darkness.
Vs. 21-22. First off the Red Sea of 13:18 is more accurately “reed, or papyrus sea. The term describes the region north of the Gulf of Suez on or near the Bitter Lakes & the Lake Timsah in what is now the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean sea with the Red Sea. We can not be certain of this but geographically it fits better then does the 100 mile across Red Sea. Though it would not of been as deep or as wide does not make it any less of a miracle. What we do know is that there was enough water there to make crossing impossible & at the same time make drowning possible.
I came across a interesting article concerning the possibility of the parting of the Red or Reed Sea. In the L. A. Times 3/14/92 titled “Research supports Bible’s Account of Red Sea Parting” by Thomas H. Maugh It goes on to say, “Because of the peculiar geography of the northern end of the Red Sea, researchers report Sunday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, that a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could have caused the Sea to recede about one mile & the water level to drop 10 feet, leaving dry land in the area where many biblical scholars believe the crossing occurred.” I just love it when science is actually correct.
23-29 prides destruction
Vs. 23-25 Now right here we see the pride of Pharaoh & the Egyptian army. One has to wonder why they would go after the Israelites knowing what had happened to them during the plagues. Several things might give us the reason:
- Israel had the fire by night guiding them so clearly they could see the pillar of water on either side, but to the Egyptians all they saw was darkness. In other words they were following several thousands foot prints with out looking on either side. That’s what pride will do to you, it will blind you of danger.
- 24 Tells us that it was only during the mourning watch that they saw what awaited them. The mourning watch goes from 2 am. tell sunrise.
- 25 Tells us that it is then that they tried to turn around & head back only to have their wheels fall off. It is then that they say, “Let’s get out of here! The LORD is fighting for Israel against us!”
Vs. 26-29 We see the out come was the total destruction of the mighty Egyptian army. Yet the preservation of God’s people. That is the same choice today that people have to trust God or fight against Him.
Vs. 30-31 The results were that they saw the Lord fight their battle & that He knew which was the right way after all. They also believed the Lord, but you know what is sad? They do exactly what we do when we come up to a crises of faith the next time, they fail to appropriate the truth learned about God the last time! So how about it are you ready to
Not react to emotions, stand of His work, trust in His power & rest in His peace?