Living By Faith
Last time we began to look at the first obstacle (Exodus 14). We said that we would divide our study into four phases. In the first phase, we observed the circumstances leading up to the Red Sea problem. Israel was deliberately led by God into a situation where the Egyptians would be pressing down on them, with no apparent way of escape. They actually had to turn and change directions to get there, but God had a purpose. He wanted Israel to learn dependence upon Him and Pharaoh to think they were trapped. God set a trap for Pharaoh. He would have glory over the final Egyptian god—Pharaoh himself.
II.) The Responses:
The second phase of this miraculous episode deals with the responses of both Israel and Moses. How did they handle the stress of an army of angry Pharaoh-worshipers hotly pursuing after them? Perhaps they should all get appointments with a therapist or shrink.
The modern tendency to “psychologize” Christianity breeds numerous seminars to teach us how to “cope”. This has even crept into so many pastors' sermons that are more about "self-help" than God’s Word. Unfortunately, they omit the one ingredient that can really help. That is relationship. The Word of God is about building a strong relationship of faith in God and His promises that will withstand, endure, and gain victory over the deep water situations of life.
Scripture: John 14:21
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Observe that Christ says that those who love Him pay attention to the commandments of God and try to keep them. He then adds that if we love Him, we will be loved by God the Father and Christ will reveal Himself to us. Therein lies the problem. We do not want to spend the time in God’s Word that is necessary to demonstrate our love for Christ. He does not reveal himself, and we turn to man for help, thinking God failed. In fact, we are the failures.
It is our relationship with God that makes all the difference in how we respond to difficult times. Those seeking "stress relief" should consider Bible belief. Let us begin with Israel’s response.
A.) Israel’s Fear:
Scripture: Exodus 14:10
And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
The first response is Israel’s fear.
The New Scofield Bible and some of the modern translations say, “they were in great fear”, but I like the old KJV. It says simply, “they were sore afraid.” In other words they were so utterly terrified that they literally ached with fright! That is an apt description.
Imagine the scene! Here they were camped by the Sea without a care in the world. No one is listening to God’s plan and purpose. They do not really believe Pharaoh will come. Then, someone notices something in the distance.
3500 years later, with the ending firmly in grasp, it is easy for us to look down our spiritual noses and be very judgmental about Israel. But, how often do we do the same thing? How often do we think we have a handle on everything? How often do we ignore God’s plan and direction? How often do we think we have everything managed? Then something happens. Suddenly, we have circumstances beyond our control. What then? Is it sheer terror? Do we panic and frantically scramble everywhere looking for help? Do we respond as Israel?
B.) Israel’s Complaint:
Scripture: Exodus 14:11-12
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
The first response was one of fear, but the second translated fear into action. They began to complain. There are two ways to cry aloud to God. One is godly and the other is not. One is the cry of faith and the other is one of complaint. Israel began to complain.
Instead of asking God for help, they began to make accusations. They accused Him of leading them to slaughter. They said that it would have been better for them to remain in Egypt as slaves. They forgot what God did for them. Many Christians do the same.
When we find ourselves with our backs against the wall and the Egyptians pressing down, our first tendency is to make accusations. We want to accuse Moses or God. It is their fault and they do not care about us. “We had it so good in the world. Now look how hard it is.”
We forget that we were slaves to a master who could care less whether we lived or died. We existed only for his service and it was hard labor. He did absolutely nothing for us. On the other hand, Christ gave His life for us. He demonstrated His love by sacrificing all. Who is the better master? Christ is by far! He has nothing more to prove. We just need to trust Him.
C.) Moses’ Faith:
Scripture: Exodus 14:13-14
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
In contrast to the first two negatives, Moses responded in faith. Ezekiel 22:30 says that God looked for a man to stand in the gap.
It concludes, “...but I found none.” God constantly searches for a man to stand in the gap. This time He found one. In spite of his fear, Moses responded with faith. He said, “...stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord…” In II Chronicles 20:17 God said to Jehoshaphat, “...stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD.” A similar thought is found in I Corinthians 16:13 where it says, “...quit ye like men.”
God looks for courageous people who will stand in the gap to make up the hedge. Moses was such a man. He stood against the tide of humanity and said, “We are not moving!” God wants us to stand fast and wait for His salvation. God did not save us from the fire of hell just so that we could freeze in the cold, cruel trials of life. He knows how to deliver the godly and reserve the ungodly for the day of judgment (II Peter 2:9). We just need to trust Him.
D.) Moses' Cry:
Scripture: Exodus 14:15-16
15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
The fourth response we see is Moses’ cry. Moses was a man of faith who stilled the voices of the murmurers. But even the faithful have doubts. The difference is what they do with them. Moses took his straight to the Lord and so should we.
Notice God’s answer. He said, “Why do you cry unto me?” Moses made a bold statement of faith and then pleaded with God for a confirmation of what he did. I get the impression that he was hoping and praying that God would back up what he said. Sometimes we do that. We make a bold statement of faith and then wonder if we are foolish to do so.
But God did back up Moses. He always supports those who would live by faith. It is only when we live by faith that we can truly please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
God stood with him and said, “take the rod.” Why the rod? It represents authority. Often we fail to recognize the authority that we have when we go out in the name of the Lord to do the work of the Lord. God told Moses to use the rod of authority that He already gave him. Moses did not need additional power. He only needed to exercise that which he already had.
In conclusion, God has given us the sword of His Word (Hebrews 4:12). It is our authority for life and godliness. We just need to utilize it in our day to day lives. Jeremiah 48:10 says, “Cursed is he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed is he that keepeth back his sword from blood.” God has given us the sword. He expects us to use it.