Who Is This God?September 20-24
The God Who Delivers: Back Against the Sea
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. – Exodus 14:1-2 (ESV)
In his book Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis likened God’s use of adversity to walking a dog. If the dog gets its leash wrapped around a pole and tries to continue running forward, he will only tighten the leash more. Both the dog and the owner are after the same end, forward motion, but the owner must resist the dog by pulling him opposite the direction he wants to go. The master, sharing the same intention, but understanding better than the dog where he really wants to go, takes an action precisely opposite to that of the dog’s will. It is in this way that God uses adversity.
In Exodus 14:1 God had Israel between the sea and a hard place. They had Pharaoh’s army on one side and the sea on the other side. Why did God lead Israel to this place which was militarily speaking a place of sure defeat? Because God knows that the place of desperation can become for us the place of dependence on Him! Adrian Rogers calls this section of Exodus “the discipline of detours” and “dilemma of dead ends.” Rodgers says God turned a dead-end into an eight-lane superhighway, and, dry-shod, they went through the Red Sea.
God specializes in things that seem impossible. Have you ever been led into a situation in which you thought God was leading you, but the situation seemed to be far less optimal than you had thought or hoped it would be? Sometimes God allows us down dead ends to show us His power and glory.
Praise God for His power. Thank God that there is nothing too difficult for Him.
The God Who Delivers: Dealing with Doubts
They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? – Exodus 14:11 (ESV)
An older man approached a young stranger in the post office and asked, “Sir, would you address this postcard and write a short note for me? I have such a difficult time writing these days.” The younger man gladly did so, and when he was finished, he asked the older gentleman, “Now, is there anything else I can do for you?” The older man looked at the card for a few moments and said, “Yes, at the end could you add, ‘Please excuse the sloppy handwriting?’”
The children of Israel were chronic complainers. In Exodus 14:11 “Then they said to Moses, ‘Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?’” The irony is the pyramids in Egypt were great burial grounds and there was plenty of room. Warren Wiersbe claims these verses introduce the disappointing pattern of Israel’s behavior during their march from Egypt to Canaan. As long as everything was going well, they usually obeyed the Lord and Moses and made progress. But if there was any trial or discomfort in their circumstances, they immediately began to complain to Moses and to the Lord and asked to go back to Egypt.
Have you ever found yourself complaining shortly after a clear move of God? When things go wrong are you more likely to look for ways God is at work or more likely to become negative and complaining?
Thank God for His patience with you during seasons of complaining. Ask God to continue to grow your ability to see life the way He sees life.
The God Who Delivers: It’s Time to Move
And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. – Exodus 14:13-15 (ESV)
A woman chuckled as she told about the time she woke her husband to tell him she was in labor and needed to go to the hospital. He jumped out of bed, dropped to his knees, and said, “Honey, let’s pray.” She told him that it was not the time to kneel and pray. It was time to get dressed and head for the hospital. It was time for action!
In Exodus 14:13 Moses tells the people to hold on and get ready to see God rescue them. And in Exodus 14:14 Moses reminds them God is going to fight so be quiet and stop complaining. In Exodus 14:15 it was time for action. All the emphasis is on the saving work of God. They just had to be ready to go with God when He began to work.
God fighting for His people is a repeated theme in the Bible. God is still the same and He is still fighting for you. Psalm 46:10 Reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” How well are you at relaxing and watching God work in your life? Are you leaving room for God to be exalted in your trials?
Reflect on times in the past when God was at work and invited you to join what He was already doing. Praise Him for always being at work even in your trials!
The God Who Delivers: A Planned Route
Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.
– Exodus 14:16 (ESV)
The Channel Tunnel opened on May 6, 1994, nearly two centuries after it was first proposed in 1802 by Napoleon’s engineer, Albert Mathieu. Today the 31-mile passage beneath the English Channel allows thousands of people, cars, and trucks to travel by train each day between England and France. For centuries, people had sailed across the Channel until this surprising new way to go under it was completed.
God planned an unexpected route for His people in Exodus 14:16. Faced with certain death, either from Pharaoh’s army or by drowning, the Israelites were near panic. But God parted the Red Sea and they walked through on dry land. Years later, the psalm writer Asaph used this event as evidence of God’s mighty power, “Your road led through the sea, your pathway through the mighty waters—a pathway no one knew was there! You led Your people along that road like a flock of sheep, with Moses and Aaron as their shepherds” (Ps. 77:19-20).
Many of us like to be in control and like to know where we are headed. Faith doesn’t allow us to always be in control and doesn’t always tell us where we are going. Can you recall when God did the unexpected in your life and it led to a blessing?
Praise God for His planned routes of deliverance. Thank God that even when you can’t see the way out you can trust that He does.
The God Who Delivers: Praise God
Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. – Exodus 14:31 (ESV)
An aging grandmother was reading her Bible and began to shout “Praise God! Praise God!” Her grandson, who was attending seminary, asked what she was shouting about. She told him she just read where God led the nation of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” The young seminarian told her that some scholars believe it was the Reed Creek and it was only a few feet of water. A few minutes later the grandmother began shouting again. Her grandson asked what she was shouting about now. She said, “God just drowned all of Pharaoh’s army in a few feet of water!”
It’s impossible to explain away the greatness of God in delivering Israel from Egypt. Israel saw God do a great work and it convinced them, at least temporarily, that God was able to rescue them and deliver them into the promised land. In the next chapter, Moses and the people break out into a song of praise for all that God had done.
Worship is what we do when we respond appropriately to God’s greatness. When God delivers you, give Him the glory. This applies both to your salvation through the gospel and when He delivers you from a trial.
Praise God for His promise in Psalm 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.”