Most folks are at least a little familiar with the LORD's* deliverance his people from the Egyptian army through the Red Sea. Many folks have seen the old Charlton Heston movie, "The Ten Commandments" since it is on TV most Easter weekends. Several new generations have been re-acquainted with the story through "The Prince of Egypt" that was seen by kids, parents, and grandparents. This great story of deliverance is a reminder that God will see us through when we reach one of those difficult times in life. When there is no way out or around our problems, the LORD will help us find a way through those problems.
Here's the story in a nutshell. Israel is stuck between the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army of soldiers and their charioteers on their back side. The Red Sea blocks their way from going forward (Exodus 14:5-12). They have every right to be afraid because Pharaoh's charioteers were feared by the armies of all other nations. The Israelites were untrained for war, having been slaves for 400 years. All Israel had to lead them into battle was an 80-year-old shepherd with a stick! So if deliverance was going to come for God's people, their obedience and the LORD's grace and power would have to produce it. That is exactly what happened.
God's deliverance involved five incredible steps of grace and power:
- God's presence in the pillar of fire and the cloud moved from in front of the people to their rear to protect them (Exodus 14:19-20)
- Moses obeyed the LORD and stretched out his staff over the waters. God then parted the waters and dried the land in between with an east wind (Exodus 14:21).
- The Israelite people passed safely between the wall of waters on dry ground to the other side (Exodus 14:22).
- The presence of God in the pillar of fire and the cloud confused the Egyptians as they tried to pursue the Israelites through the sea. Their wheels jammed in the mire of what had been dry ground further adding to the confusion (Exodus 14:23-25).
- When Moses obeyed and stretched his staff over the waters a second time, the waters buried and destroyed the army of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:26-28).
This great story of deliverance is a powerful reminder to us as a people and as individual disciples that the LORD will make a way through for us when there seems to be no way! God's gracious and powerful presence will lead us, accompany us, and protect us until he gets us safely to where he wants us to be. This is great news. This is an incredible promise — one that God's people put to music in the celebration song after their great victory:
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling (Exodus 15:13).
This is our story. It is not just a Bible story. This story reminds us of the character and courage that is in our spiritual DNA. We have the same God with the same power today as those people had in their day. We have the same promise that the LORD will get us to our destination (Philippians 1:6). Yet the nagging doubt and repeated complaint that I hear goes something like this:
Yeah, Israel only had an 80-year-old shepherd with a stick to lead them into battle, but that old shepherd was Moses. We don't have anyone near the leadership quality of Moses. So it's hard for me to wait or to follow or to trust when our leaders don't seem to have it together. There doesn't seem to be a plan. If our leaders have one, they sure don't seem to be executing it!
That's why after reading this story from the Bible many times, what I found this last time was so unexpected and powerful — something that I seemed to have missed. Moses didn't know God's plan! What Moses first told God's people to do was only half right. Yet while he didn't know the LORD's plan, he knew the LORD! While he didn't know the way the LORD was going to deliver his people, he did know to obey the LORD in all that he asked:
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them.
They were terrified and cried out to the LORD....
Moses answered the people, "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."
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:10-16).
What Moses told the people was only half correct. God would work deliverance, and the pursuing army would be destroyed. Moses was also half wrong! The people were not to stand still and wait. They were to advance toward God's future following Moses' lead. They were to let the LORD handle the deliverance part, and they were to obey the LORD's call to cross the sea!
What do we do when there is no way around or past our problems and challenges? We go through them trusting the LORD will sustain, empower, and guide us!
But our leaders are not Moses! Yes, but our assurance isn't based upon having a Moses. Our assurance is based upon ours leaders being committed to obey the LORD even if they don't know the way through what they are facing.
Sometimes the only way out or around our challenges is for us to go through them. In the middle of our fearful journey, let's remember that deliverance is the Lord's work. Obeying is ours!
For further thought:
This is the apostle Paul's take on deliverance. Notice the principles that are similar in both Moses and Paul. What are the differences?
For a disciple of Jesus, deliverance is even more comprehensive than with Moses and the the children of Israel. Jesus' defeat of death guarantees us deliverance no matter what happens to us!
Yes I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God's provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me (Philippians 1:19-26).
* When the term "the LORD" is used in this article, it is referring to YAHWEH, the covenant and personal name God gave for his people to call him forever (Exodus 3:14-15).[Return to Top]
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