EXODUS 14-17 & ACTS 12
From my Hebraic studies one thing I keep tucked away in my heart when I read scriptures is the truth that scripture is like a beautifully cut diamond with many facets, each facet carrying different insight at any moment depending on when you read. The Exodus story and the journey of the Israelites are full of gems to be STUDIED and OPPORTUNITIES for us to mature in our journey toward the Promise. The plagues have happened and with the FINAL blow, Pharaoh has relented in his pain and allowed the Israelites the freedom to go. Pay careful attention though because Pharaoh ONLY AGREED to allow the Israelites to go for three days. The enemy loves to give you just enough room to think you are ok but never really free. This we will talk about later.
Israel has been redeemed, RANSOMED by God himself. Redemption is the act of emancipating a slave by means of paying a ransom. The PASSOVER LAMB paid their ransom price. The BLOOD of the spotless lambs paid for their freedom. In the same way
1 Peter tells us that WE have been redeemed, not by perishable things like silver or gold but by the PRECIOUS BLOOD of Jesus. Just like Israel redeemed by the blood of the spotless lamb, we have been ransomed by the LAMB OF GOD so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. In the same way that God TRIUMPHED over Pharaoh, Egypt, and all the gods of Egypt and made a mockery of them, Jesus TRIUMPHED over sin, the rulers and authorities of this world and made a public mockery of them. You see how their story is our story?
Now when they left Egypt they left blessed and full of provision for their journey to the PROMISE LAND. We too when redeemed by God have everything we need to make it to our promise. How many of you know that very rarely if EVER do we immediately get to our promise. It is always a PROCESS of sanctification and a JOURNEY of becoming all that we have obtained. The trip from Egypt to Canaan was at most a three day journey up the coast but God is not in to taking SHORTCUTS. It is important to see why God did not take them the shortest route. Exodus 13:17 says God was worried that if they saw war they would turn around and GO BACK to bondage in Egypt. REALLY! Yes, God understood that they NEEDED the wilderness season so that they could endure when war came around. He had some important things to TEACH them BEFORE they reached Canaan and ONLY the wilderness could TRAIN them. So many times we cry or stomp our feet THROUGH the wilderness or try and pray our way out and fail to see it is a time of TRAINING for the receiving of our PROMISE. God is more interested in maturing us spiritually than seeing us obtain our dreams or goals. He wants us to be able to STEWARD our dreams and successes well and He knows it takes a surrendered heart to His ways to accomplish that. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. Be careful that your CHARISMA does not take you where your CHARACTER can’t keep you. If the Israelites would have just rushed in without the training and leading of God then they would have been overtaken by the surrounding enemies and NEVER reached Canaan. The same goes for us. So many times we have ideas, dreams, and desires that if we are not careful we will rush into and find ourselves overtaken by the challenges. If we would just learn to slow down and submit the entire thing to the leading of the Lord, He will mature us so that we can live out those dreams, ideas, and desires. The WILDERNESS seasons of our lives should never be rushed. We need to slow down and realize that maybe just maybe the GREAT I AM is preparing us for what lies ahead.
The beautiful thing about God is that He walked every step with them. He was before them always LEADING the way. He was in the cloud by day and the fire by night. I think it is interesting that the cloud and fire were ABOVE them. They had to always LOOK UP to see which way to go. When their eyes gazed up they were looking toward heaven and the CREATOR of the heavens and the earth was guiding their footsteps. Let it be said of us, that our eyes are FIXED above on the creator of heaven and earth and that we move when He moves, we stay if He stays, that we REMAIN led by Him alone. Little did the Israelites know that they would be following that cloud for the next 40 years. Sometimes the wilderness season of our life is directly related to how well we LEARN during that season or if we just complain and gripe the entire time. At some point we may actually die in our wilderness all because we could not SUBMIT to a greater plan and TRUST that God always wins!
BY this time Pharaoh has realized that the Israelites are NOT COMING BACK. You see he thought they were just going out for a three day worship journey. When he realized that all his free labor was not coming back he chased after them and caught up with them at the RED SEA. The Israelites now are staring down a huge body of water before them and a crazy blood thirsty army behind them. Seeing the army immediately their hearts sink and they believe that their freedom was just an illusion and has come to an end. They tasted their freedom, they believed Moses was truly leading them out, they got their hopes up and then… THE ARMY WAS THERE TO KILL THEM. Their hopes dashed and hearts heavy they begin to cry out WHY DID YOU NOT LEAVE US IN BONDAGE? At least in Egypt we could be slaves instead of dying in this wilderness. REALLY? You would rather be slaves than die as FREE MEN? It is crazy how sin can warp your way of thinking. How bondage and slavery can trick you into thinking they are better for you than the price of FREEDOM. Pharaoh’s pursuit after the Israelites is a perfect picture of the DIFFICULTY of breaking free from sin. Especially when that sin has become a habit. When we first experience freedom it seems easy and we can quickly say no. What happens though when that old habit, or person, or thing comes around in PURSUIT? When the enemy comes pursuing his old ground and finds you have cleaned house. Scripture is very clear. He returns SEVEN TIMES STRONGER. He will never allow ESCAPE without pursuit. The Israelites are looking at their enemy who wants them back and their only way of escape is a raging sea. Dread fills their heart and they go from hope to hopelessness QUICK! How easy can the enemy SNATCH your hope? When you KNOW God and you are deeply connected to His CHARACTER, we can find the confidence to BELIEVE even when it seems IMPOSSIBLE.
When the Israelites cried out to Moses what do we do now oh faithful servant of God, Moses answers with STAND, BE SILENT, and GO FORWARD. Excuse me the ENEMY is breathing down my neck desiring to KILL ME and my only means of ESCAPE is not happening and you want me to do WHAT? STAND, BE SILENT, and GO FORWARD. Just where would you have me GO FORWARD, Pharaohs’ sword or the watery grave before me. How many times do you feel like you are up against a wall with no way out and you cry out to God only to hear some crazy answer that makes no sense at all. Again let me remind you that His ways are so much higher than ours. God says STAND in who you know me to be. BE SILENT and do not allow the enemy to draw you out into a battle you were NOT MEANT to fight. <neither complain or defend yourself> GO FORWARD in the way that I THE LORD YOUR GOD make for you. God is the God of SALVATION and with Him we should never lose hope. WE can rest in the silent confidence that if He is with us NOTHING can stop HIM. His ultimate plan for our lives WILL come to pass we need only to TRUST. When God swallowed up the Egyptian army in the sea FREEDOM was finished. It was not until God delivered the final blow that the Israelites were slaves no more. When God goes to war on our behalf, He does not stop until our enemies are NO MORE. Be willing to STAND long enough for God to complete all He has started in you. It may take a wilderness to get you through, it may take a confrontation with pursuing armies, no matter what it is STAND long enough to GO FORWARD.
After the Israelites final deliverance Moses SANG, Miriam and the ladies DANCED, music was played, and all of the free men and women CELEBRATED the goodness of God. Singing, dancing, playing instruments are all biblical expressions of worship to God. Do not EVER let someone tell you differently. It is an outward celebration of the inward freedom we experience in Christ. Be careful that you are never sitting alongside Micah the wife of David who MOCKED him as he danced before the Lord. Scripture says that she was barren all her days. Mocking something the Lord has ordained for his people can cause us to have BARREN lives. Read Psalm 149 and 150. And all I can say is DANCE baby DANCE for the Lord is good. I have tasted and seen of the goodness of God and will sing a new song and dance for JOY.
Talk about silent CONFIDENCE in who God is. Man, Peter in Acts 12 messed me up all night. I still cannot move pass this one little passage. King Herod had just killed James, one of the Apostles, and realized how much favor he had won with the people. He liked it so much that he had Peter arrested and thrown in prison with 16 guards! He thought surely killing Peter will win me some favor. Peter is in prison not only guarded by all those men but he had one guard shackled to his right hand and one shackled to his left. He knew that the King had already killed a brother and was promising to kill him in the morning and the scripture says… HE SLEPT LIKE A BABY! Hold up! WHAT? He slept like a baby. Man oh Woman what QUIET RESOLVE this man carried in his heart for his God. Peter was so intimately connected to the source of life that even under extreme stress and threat of looming death HE SLEPT LIKE A BABY! I desire to walk so closely to the Father that regardless of what’s going on around me, I lay hold of the promise that God gives SLEEP to His Beloved. That no matter the storm around me, my soul knows the promise that I can lie down and sleep in PEACE. An UNSHAKEABLE resolve that God is ALWAYS in control.