For the a couple of days. I have looked at the experience of those exiting Egypt. I showed you how the Pharaoh began to chase them down, in hopes of taking them back into enslavement.
What I didn’t mention was how, in the midst of their trial, YHWH told Israel to do three things: “Fear not . . . stand still . . . see the salvation of the Lord.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound very motivational and comforting to me. Why didn’t he say, “Okay, don’t worry, I will sink them in the water . . .” or, “I’ve got it taken care of. Don’t worry about it . . .” No. He said, “Fear not, stand still, watch me do my thing.”
How many of you can accept that? You are in the midst of your own crisis, so how are you going to handle being told that? In the case of Exodus 14, Pharaoh knew exactly where to find the Israelites: camped at the very seashore spot that Yehoveh had led them. It must have been just before sunset that the Hebrew watchmen spotted the Egyptian army in the distance, and they flew into hysteria. People being people, naturally the first thing they did was to find someone to blame: Moses. And, they sarcastically confront him wanting to know if the only reason he brought them out here is because there wasn’t a sufficient amount of cemetery space back in Egypt. If Moses didn’t know before they left Egypt, he knew now that in the unlikely event they survived Pharaoh’s army, this group of people was going to bring him little joy. They were ungrateful-whiney-childish-of little faith and of little courage.
Can’t you just picture Moses standing in front of the elders of the people, as they point their boney, withered fingers at him, reminding him that they never really wanted to leave Egypt in the first place? After all, slavery is not so bad, right? Better to serve Pharaoh and survive than to die a painful death. Translation: better to serve the evil that we are familiar with and live the life we’re comfortable with, than to follow God in faith and, what to us, is uncertainty
I’m thinking of the final scene of Braveheart . . . William Wallace, after being tortured, castrated, cut, jabbed, probed, and as the executioner tries his hardest to make his victim beg for mercy, but Wallace is tough enough to defy his tormentor. The executioner silences the crowd, and William Wallace yells out: “FREEDOM!” Proof enough that a true Scotsman would rather undergo brutal torture than appear weak in front of a wee Englishman—yet these released Israelites would rather be slaves than free! What about you?
Look at Paul, he was confronted with the knowledge that when he arrived in Jerusalem he would suffer tremendous persecution—imprisonment and suffering. But he told the believers in Macedonia that, “I am going to Jerusalem.” Why in the world would he do that? Because he was compelled by the convictions of his own spirit, or as he said, “the Holy Spirit clearly and emphatically affirmed” that imprisonment and suffering awaited him. Now what do you with that? Run? Hide? Avoid Jerusalem whatever the cost? Nope! Paul says, “None of these things move me; I don’t even esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which was entrusted to me by the Lord Jesus.” Whoa! What an attitude! Moses is unshaken, too: he fires back at them “Don’t be afraid. Stand fast and see Yehoveh’s deliverance of you today.”
Then Moses goes to YHWH for some help, and He tells Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?” Now what a minute, is the Lord irritated that Moses approached Him with a problem? Of course not. The problem is that the Lord fully expected Moses to already know that the first step of this “problem” was to keep moving forward—don’t stop. Go forward, God will make a way.
Alfred Edersheim says in his tremendous work, The History of the Old Testament: “There are times when even prayer seems of itself to represent unbelief, and only to go forward in calm assurance is our duty.” How true. Balaam kept going back to God hoping for a different answer; an answer more in line with the one he wanted.
Sometimes we find ourselves in challenging situations that, just hours before, we were so confident it was a “God ordained” action. Suddenly, an unexpected problem confronts us: and now, do we go forward or pause? Of course going to the Lord in prayer can never be a poor choice; but apparently, when our duty before our YHWH is already crystal clear, we are to move on—as we pray. Rather, that is, than stopping and rethinking whether or not we should have begun this journey in the first place.
In Exodus 14:16 the Lord tells Moses to “hold your staff high, stretch out your hand.” Just like back in Egypt, when Moses spoke, he spoke in God’s authority. In fact, YHWH told Moses that when Moses spoke, it was as if YHWH spoke. Moses was already empowered with God’s power to do what was necessary to carry out God’s will. We should also know that our Father also empowers us for whatever tasks He gives us. Of course, we never hold within us more than the tiniest fraction of the infinite power that is Yehoveh, because some things He reserves strictly for Himself.
YHWH never asked Moses to do the thing that YHWH and YHWH alone had determined what would be His sole doing: changing a heart for the good or bad. When we are going about the business of spreading the Gospel, we need to keep that in mind: God has never and will never empower us with the ability to change a human heart. We cannot soften a heart nor harden a heart. Our job is not to convert anybody: our job is to simply speak and demonstrate with our lives—and His power—the truth of the Gospel.
When people ask me to pray for them, you will not hear be beg and plead with the Lord to heal the person. Jesus said, “All power and authority has been given to Me, you go in my stead—you lay hands on the sick—they will recover . . .” He has already provided the healing, my task is to simply release God’s Kingdom in whatever situation I stand before. If it is healing the person needs, I simply lay my hands on the person and thank my Father that He has already done the healing, and in the name of Jesus, healing comes . . . that’s it. No screaming, shouting, demanding, begging . . . the Scriptures simply tell us to lay hands on the sick—they will recover!
To return to Israel’s problem with the Pharaoh coming after them, the Lord called to Israel and said, “I am going to fight for you. All you have to do is hold on to your peace. Just be quiet, and put everything in my hands. Right now, I am doing a work in the supernatural realm. Everything is under my control. So, don’t panic. Trust that I am fighting the devil. This battle is not yours” (see Exodus 14:13-14).
If you read the story, you learn that soon a deep darkness fell over the camp. This was the beginning of Israel’s dark and stormy night. It was also the beginning of YHWH’s supernatural work. He sent an awesome, protective angel to stand between his people and their enemy. I believe the Lord still sends protective angels to camp around all who love and fear him (see Psalm 34:7).
The Lord also moved the supernatural cloud he had given to Israel for guidance. The cloud suddenly shifted from the front of Israel’s camp to the rear and it loomed as a pitch-black wall in front of the Egyptians. On the other side, the cloud provided a supernatural light, giving the Israelites clear visibility all night long (see Exodus 14:20).
It is important to know that even though Pharaoh’s army was in total darkness, they could still raise their voices. So, all night long they shouted out threats and lies. Israel’s tents shook from this barrage of lies throughout that dark night. However, it didn’t matter how loud the enemy shouted at them, an angel was on guard to protect them. YHWH had promised his people that He would bring them through.
Friends, if you are a blood-bought child of God, I assure you that he has put a warrior angel between you and the devil. He commands you, just as he told Israel, “Do not fear. Stand still. Believe in my salvation.” Oh sure, Satan might come against you breathing every evil threat he can think of, but at no time during your dark, stormy night is the enemy ever able to destroy you.
“Moses put out his hand over the sea. And the Lord moved the sea all night by a strong east wind. So the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21).
The Hebrew word for wind here means “violent exhaling.” In other words, YHWH exhaled and the water congealed in walls. Israel’s tent-dwellings must have shook fiercely as those mighty torrents wind blew through the camp. Why did the Lord allow Israel to go through an entire stormy night, when he could have simply spoken a word and calmed the elements? Even destroyed Pharaoh and his army?
Before we consider that, I want you to picture what a storm that must have been. Imagine the fearful time Israel had to experience. I am sure the people were wondering if their God was even going to help them—or had he deserted them. Why would he allow such a terrible windstorm to go on the entire night? Why didn’t he just tell Moses to touch the water with his mantle, and part the waves supernaturally? What possible reason did YHWH have for permitting this awful night to take place?
Well, I think you already know: The Lord was trying to turn them into devoted worshippers. He was at work the whole time, using the terrible storm to make a path for his people out of the crisis. Yet the Israelites couldn’t even see it at the time. Some of them were hiding in their tents, but those who came outside witnessed a glorious light show. They also saw the glorious sight of waves mounting up, mighty walls of water rising to form a dry path through the sea. When the people saw this, they must have shouted, “Look, YHWH has used the wind to make a way for us. Praise the Lord!”
That my friends, is what you have to envision. Your Father has not abandoned you. He knows full well what you are enduring, and He is working on your behalf. Trust Him. Praise Him—don’t wait for the deliverance, praise Him now, in the midst of your turmoil. Cast out any fears and concerns. The bills will be paid! You will be taken care of! That Wisdom you are seeking, will come! You are to trust in His absolute care and concern for your life—even your work and relationships.
Wait . . . the Spirit of God gave me a word for someone reading this:
Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood ~Isaiah 54:4
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours ~Isaiah 61:7
Lay aside your past experiences. They are enslaving you, and I have called you to freedom. Cast your past sins and hurts that you have experienced and I will bring healing to you.
(I send out messages like each morning. If you are interested, let me know. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)