“Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you — majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them. “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. Ex 15:11-13
The same faith that delivered us from past problems will direct us into future pressures. Faith in God brought Joseph to the pit, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to the fiery furnace and Daniel to the lion’s den. It is only a matter of time before the God who called and saved us will lead us into a situation where our trust in His faithfulness and power will be tested. Finding ourselves in a tight spot does not necessarily mean that we are being judged for our sins. It is the way of God to lead us into situations that stretch our faith and our love for Him. It is in the darkest of night that the light of God’s glory shines the brightest. The psalmist sums up God’s intention like this: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” [Ps 50:15]
Romans 15:4, reminds us of the power of Scripture to give us hope. Paul writes, “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” [Rom 15:4] As we go through times of pressure which demand endurance, we can turn to the Bible to see how God was faithful in similar situations to the ones we are going through. And, because God does not change [Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8], we can expect him to do the same kind of things in our lives that he did for his people in the Bible.
In Ex 6:6, Moses is given a message from God to the enslaved people of Israel. In it God reveals his gracious plan to them. To Moses, God commands:
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.'”
God is calling out this slave nation to be his own people. So that they will know that He is their Lord, he promises to deliver them with “an outstretched arm and with mighty acts.” In other words, what God will do on their behalf will be so wonderful and so spectacular that his glory will be seen by all. Through a series of ten plagues, God demonstrates not only his superior power, but his covenant love for his people Israel. After a series of terrible judgments, the death of the first born of the Egyptians is the final blow. The Pharaoh comes to Moses in the night and tells him to take the people and leave immediately. But, that is not the end of the Pharaoh’s involvement in this story.
We can only imagine the joy and expectation the Israelites must have experienced as they fled the land of slavery. Eventually they would make camp between the wilderness and the sea. Then, we are told that Pharaoh and his kings had a change of heart. Realizing they had lost an irreplaceable and valuable asset, they decide to chase down the Israelites and force them to return to Egypt.
So, the freedom celebration of the Israelites comes to an abrupt end. Looking behind they see the forces of the Pharaoh overtaking their position. With the sea in front and the armies of their former slaveholders behind, they do what you might expect. In fear and anger they blame their leadership, saying 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? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” [Ex 14:11-12]
If you are one who has heard God’s call and was powerfully freed from the bondage of sin to become a child of faith, I think you can relate. Although God has freed us with his mighty power on the cross, although we have been given a new heart and a new love, we discover that the challenges we face in our new walk, quite honestly, shock us. Although we heard the call to discipleship and heard the predictions of tribulations [John 16:33], we didn’t sign on for this kind of pressure. Maybe we blame our Pastor, the Church or maybe even blame our God, for misleading us. But, the bottom line is that we find ourselves between the “devil and the deep blue sea,” and we feel trapped. We may think that there is no hope and the only way out is to return to the old life of “survival” in Egypt. That is the moment we need to hear a fresh word from the Lord. Here is what He says to us: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” [Ex 14:13-14]
Being trapped and fear go together. When you are in danger and there is no way out, fear is a natural response. But, God’s Word promises us that there will always be a way out. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” [1 Cor 10:13] Your box is not unique. Others have been trapped in the same kind of box and found God faithful. He will either open up a way through the sea or he will give us the grace to stand firm against the attacking enemy.
What we need to see is what is happening behind the scenes. God is in charge. God is ruling. God is directing. In fact, it was God who was instrumental in causing the Pharaoh to change his mind and pursue Israel. “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.” [Ex 14:3-4] Why would he do that? Here is the answer: “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” [Ex 14:4]
What are we to learn from this episode? First, when trapped we must learn to be quiet. That doesn’t mean “shut up.” It means that we are to be at peace. No matter how bad it looks, we are still God’s people. His name is attached to our well being. Second, we are to stand firm. We must refuse to allow the lies of the enemy to cause us to run or fall apart. God’s past deliverance and future promises are designed for our present strength. Third, we are to see. We are to pray for, wait for, and look for the strong hand of God to work in our situation. Fourth, we are to prepare to walk. No sea or army can keep God’s promises from ruling over our lives. If he said we are going to the promised land, to the promised land we will go. It may not be the direct way we had expected. It may be longer and more difficult than we could have imagined, but we will be victorious. How can we be sure? God’s love for his glory is at stake. He has chosen to bring glorification to himself by bringing satisfaction to his people. Finally, we are to sing. That is what the Israelites did after they walked through the sea on dry ground.
“I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Ex 15:1-3
May the pressures of faith and the work of the Spirit cause the eyes of your heart to be enlightened so that you may know in a greater way, the “hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparable power that is for those who believe.” [Ephesians 1:18-19] Our God is glorious and he is working in pain and pleasure to show you just how great and good He really is.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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