Sunday, March 29, 2009

Following God

Exodus 14

Following God's Lead


After the plagues came one of the more spectacular miracles in history.  Because of the blood they were freed from slavery.  Now they are on the move.  Which way do they go?


Before we start, we need to know one thing:  In Exodus 13:18 we are told that they left Egypt “armed for battle.”  In 14:8 we are told they were “marching out boldly.”  They were confident, they were armed, and they were like a swarm of locust with an army of 600,000+ soldiers.


I.          God does not always lead us the direction we think.


            A.        Sometimes the direction is “negative.”


                        1.         Pharaoh's heart was hardened.  [v 4]


a.         We like to think of “love” and “grace” as opposed to God's glory or judgment.  Here is an example of not so much love or grace given for a purpose.


b.         God had a plan (like the plagues) to prove a point, develop a new nation, and bring glory to His name.


                        2.         The Egyptians hearts were hardened. [v 17]


a.         Notice this was not on the individual level we often hear about when “the sovereignty” of God is mentioned.  Both this and the Pharaoh's heart were for a “big picture” historical event NOT a personal level.  (It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to know the difference!)


b.         Notice they had the ability to understand and chose for themselves!


“And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt." [Exodus 14:25b]


“Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea.” [Exodus 14:27]


Observation: Some choices come from emotional decisions.  Some choices come because our leaders take us in bad directions.  Some choices are made TOO LATE.


            B.        Sometimes the direction is “positive.”


                        1.         They were lead by the personal direction to Moses.


“Then the LORD said to Moses, [2] "Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.” [vv 1 – 2]


a.         They were on the northern and most direct road to the Promised Land.


b.         Why “turn back?”  Sometimes these directions (that come through human leaders) do not make sense.


2.         The army was lead by “the angel of God” (a Christophany) and “the pillar of cloud/fire.”


a.         This is the visible manifestation of God.  Humans like human appearances of God… its one reason we are drawn to “idols.”


b.         In verse 20, God kept the Egyptian and Israelite army apart.


Observation: Sometimes God leads us backwards.  Sometimes God prevents us from putting our preparation into practice. 


II.        God does not lead us were we want to go.


            A.        God led them to a place they did not want to be.


“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.” [v 10]


                        1.         Doubling back put them between the Egyptians and the Red Sea.


                                    a.         They were terrified, even though they were armed for battle.


                                    b.         Their terror turned to anger against Moses.


“They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?” [v 11]


                        2.         Even Moses was caught between God and the people.


“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me?” [v 15a]


a.        With confidence Moses had announced God would fight for them and told them to stand still. [See v 13]


b.         God corrected him… “Tell the Israelites to move on.” [v 15:b]


            B.        Faith is able to see beyond what is happening at the moment.


                        1.         Abraham demonstrated this dynamic…


“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” [Romans 4:18a]


                                    a.         If you can see it or have the resources, then it’s not faith.


b.         God often puts us at the point where we have only two choices.  (Like the Passover, obey or die.)


“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” [Hebrews 11:1]


                        2.         All they could see was what was happening.


a.         The Israelites saw the Egyptian army.  Moses saw the Angel of the Lord.


b.         One expected total annihilation; the other expected God to do something.


Observation: Faith is going to require us to follow God’s plan, even when it makes us uncomfortable and we don’t understand it.


III.       God puts responsibility on us.


            A.        Imagine being told to walk into the Red Sea.


                        1.         With water… or without water?  Either way is brave!


“The Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.”[v 22]


a.         Basically they were in a position where death was sure if the “wall of water” would come down on them.


b.         Passover delivered them through death, but the Red Sea delivered them through obedience.


                        2.         The Egyptians followed them.


a.         The choices they made blinded them to what was happening.


b.         Its called a hard heart.


            B.        At some point, God tells us to “get moving.”


                        1.         To follow we must put what we know into action.


a.         Learning is one thing, but there is a point where we are expected to put what we know into practice.


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” [Matthew 7:24]


b.         Eventually something will throw you into a place where faith has to take over.


“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” [Matthew 7:25]


                        2.         Maybe life will be like a riding bull or a curve ball. 


a.         Some things will not make sense… but at some point you have to trust that God is good and that God will take care of you.


b.         As we celebrate Lent, and observe what Jesus did for us, we also begin to invest our lives and obedience back to Jesus.


“And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.” [v 31]

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