Monday, August 29, 2011

The Crossing of the Red Sea

In our Bible Study yesterday, we contemplated the Crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites.  Gang reminded us to look for three things: 

  1. Details (What details jump out at you as you read Exodus 14?)
  2. Similar Patterns (What major themes or patterns do you see?)
  3. Christ (The Whole Bible is about Christ.  How is He presented here?)
Verse 8:  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly.

They'd been slaves in Egypt, and they'd seen astounding things.  They watched as the Lord God Almighty systematically destroyed the false gods of the Egyptians.  When it came time to march out of there, they went out defiantly.  

I can imagine them saying, "Ha!  You got what you deserved, you nasty slave-drivers! "  They took the gold and silver and precious things offered to them by the Egyptians, and left.


They were feeling pretty good.  They had a "high hand".  They were on top of the world.

Until they saw Pharoah pursuing them, that is, with 600 chariots.  Oh, No!  They were going to die in the wilderness.  What was Moses thinking, bringing them out there in the desert to die?  What would they do?  What should they do?

Verse 14 holds the Key:  The Lord will fight for you, and you only have to be silent.

The Lord will fight. 

For you.  For all of you miserable people, who'd only known slavery all of your lives.

And all you have to do is shut up and watch.  

Be still, and know that I am God.

Are you still in the face of your enemies?  Do you know, deep down, that God is the one who fights your battles?  Have you learned to stay silent and watch as the Lord fights for you?

But Moses had something to do.  God gave him an order:

"Stretch out your hand."  

"Moses, I am about to do a marvelous thing here, but I want you to do something, too.  Stretch out your hand over the sea."

Remember, it was God's work.  Moses knew this:

[13] 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. [14] The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
(Exodus 14:13-14 ESV)

God did the work, but He required Moses to stretch out his hand to accomplish His purpose.  Did He need Moses' help?  Of course not!  But He graciously gave him a job to do, and validated his leadership before the people.

Pattern:  God does the work.  He builds the church.  He feeds the family.  He accomplishes His purposes, all of the time.  Nothing can thwart His will.  Yet He has work for us to do.  We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  

Are you doing the work God has prepared for you to do?  Are you faithfully stretching out your hand?  Do you acknowledge that any good thing you do is because of the Lord's mercy and grace, for it is His work?  

Pattern:  They could do NOTHING to save themselves.  Pharaoh and his armies were pursuing them, and there was nothing they could do.  They were weak, and helpless, and afraid.

Take a quick peek at 2 Chronicles 20.  You'll see another pattern there.  Jehoshophat cries out to God, overwhelmed by his enemies.  God tells him, "Don't be afraid.  The Battle is the Lord's!"  

Notice that in 2 Chronicles 20 and in Exodus 14, the children of Israel saw the evidence of God battling on their behalf.  They saw the dead Egyptians on the shore; they saw the dead enemies lying on the ground.  

God not only fought the battles, He made it clear that the enemy was defeated.

Do you live as one who has victory over sin?  It's defeated!  

Christ tore the veil.  He fought the Battle for us!  The enemy is defeated.  The old nature is dead.  

Christ is the Rock - the Way - the Path through the sea.

The path through the sea for the Israelites meant life.
The path through the sea for the Egyptians meant death

Check out 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?
(2 Corinthians 2:15-16 ESV)

Here's a summary of the Chapter:

[30] Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. [31] 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 14:30-31 ESV)

The Lord Saves! (He'll save you, too!)

Israel saw the enemy defeated. (He fights your enemies, too!)

Israel saw the great power of the Lord.  (His great power never changes.)

Israel feared the Lord.  (He is worthy of our praise.  He's a good lion, but never a tame one.)

Israel believed in the Lord, and in His servant Moses.  (Do you believe in Him?  Do you trust Him to fight your battles, to work on your behalf?  Do you pray for your spiritual leaders?)

Remember:  The Lord will fight for you.

You only have to be silent.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hard to Understand

Look around you.  What do you see?  You don't have to look very far to see injustice in this world.  Rioting in the streets of London left innocent people dead - among them an elderly man and a beloved young son.  Greediness and mismanagement has left many national economies in a shambles.  Some countries are controlled by a few outrageously rich and influential families who bribe government officials so they can maintain their power.  The price of a barrel of oil drops and is not reflected at the pumps.  The list goes on.

Worse that that, for you, could be your personal struggles.  Failed relationships, misunderstandings.  Bad communication.  A job that ended with no explanation and no warning.  A terrifying diagnosis.  A feeling of failure.  

You may ask yourself, "Why do others seem to do so well, while my life sucks?"

"I don't understand."

Job's friends insisted time and again that the wicked lived a short life full of inevitable pain and poverty.  They had a simplistic view that the wicked suffer in this world.  Job refutes that claim. (See Chapter 24)

So much wickedness and sadness goes on in the world.  The wicked are friends with the terrors of deep darkness.  Much evil happens in the night.

Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty BY HIS POWER; He gives them security, and they are supported, and His eyes are upon their ways.  They are exalted a little while, and then are gone. They are brought low and gathered up like all the others; they are cut off like the heads of grain.

Do you see?  The oppressor is being supported by the mighty power of God, who holds all things together by the Word of His power!  (Col. 1:17)

Do you see?  He is watching.  Judgment is coming!

Do you see?  The wicked will be brought low and cut off.  They'll bear no fruit.  They'll have no posterity.

Psalm 147 reminds us:

The Lord 

  • gathers the outcasts 
  • heals the brokenhearted
  • binds their wounds
  • lifts up the humble
  • casts the wicked to the ground
Job didn't always understand.  He had no idea why God ordained that he should suffer so deeply.  Sometimes, he didn't even know if God was there.

Behold, I go forward, but he is not there,and backward, but I do not perceive him;on the left hand, when he is working, I do not behold Him;He turns to the right hand,but I do not see Him.

Do you see that?  Job cannot perceive God, but HE IS WORKING.

Life is confusing and difficult.  The trials we endure seem never-ending, and life is hard to understand.  But God is working!

Job continues, 

But He knows the way that I take;When He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Do you see?  We don't know now what God is doing, but we know He is working.  We don't understand why our path in this world leads through thorns and thistles, trials and tribulation.  But we know some day, we shall come out of the fiery furnace, purified.

Farther along, we'll know all about it.  Farther along, we'll understand why.

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
We're all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin' on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I've seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin' the line back home

So much more to life than we've been told
It's full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you've done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left to go
'Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon 

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by. ~ Josh Garrels