Good Morning, Brothers and Sister!
Today we continue our sermon series called “Remember”, in which we remember what God has done for us in the past that we may have strength for the present and hope for the future.
You may recall that our spiritual forefathers, the Israelites, were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. They cried out to God for deliverance, and God raised up Moses, a prophet with a lisp whom God used to deliver Israel from Pharaoh through 10 miraculous plagues. Today’s message comes from Exodus 14, right after Israel exited Egypt. Let us read Exodus 14.
“Then the Lord said to Moses,“Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him,and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them.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.The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”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.The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them,coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic,clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.”So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea.The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 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.”
The Israelites faced a very real predicament. Behind them was the Egyptian army, and in front of them the Red Sea. On still another side of them was a mountain. There was no escape.
Now I want you to notice that God placed the Israelites in this predicament. He told Moses to lead the Israelites there. God created the crisis that He might display His glorious salvation and destroy His enemies.
I want you also to notice that the Israelites are short on faith. They have every reason to believe in God, they witnessed the 10 plagues, but they had a memory problem. So have we, which is why we are working through this series entitled “Remember”! Like the Israelites, we need to remember God’s past faithfulness that we may have strength for today and hope for tomorrow!
The Israelites were so afraid of the coming armies of Pharaoh that they said, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Beloved, sometimes slavery looks really good to us! We prefer slavery which we know to the unknown power and glory of God’s salvation! The fear of the unknown is great indeed! And Satan is the master of controlling with fear! The Israelites were afraid that the army would put them to death with the sword! So they lashed out at Moses! Yes, they started with a cry to God for help, but when that didn’t come quick enough, they turned on God’s leader, Moses. They brought their complaints to him, blaming him for their troubles.
How quickly we too may become motivated by fear! We are often like our forefathers. We place our faith in Jesus Christ, claiming that God is our Father, that he is all powerful, that He loves us, that He will never leave or forsake us, yet when trials come, we find that our faith is weak, and we look to our government, our community leaders, or our church leaders, and we complain and accuse! Fear drives us to do things contrary to God’s will for us.
Beloved, God’s will for us is that we not be afraid! Moses answered the people rightly, “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.The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
It is the calling of every elder, pastor, Sunday school teacher, Godly parent, and spiritual leader to calm those who are under our care with these words of comfort. ‘Fear not! For God fights for us!” For whatever the trial we face, whether temptation, or financial hardships, or sickness, or pain, or death, these are but temporary. We are secure in the hope of our salvation! For God walks with us through these trials as He did with the Israelites on that day! And God will deliver us from the trials of this life and grant us eternal life in heaven where there is no sin, no shame, no guilt, no suffering, no brokenness, only joy, and peace, and love, and life forevermore!
In that day, God had a plan. The only way through the trial was by faith. God forced the children of Israel to walk the walk of faith. They may not have liked it, but they either had to choose to walk through the Red Sea, a terrifying prospect apart from faith in God, or face death or slavery at the hands of the Egyptian army! God parted the Red Sea with His mighty hand. He provided the way of salvation for His people. He did not abandon them or forsake them! God loved them, they were His cherished possession! As are we! But they needed to grow in their faith. They needed to learn to trust in God that their fears might be calmed.
The real problem with the Israelites, the real threat, was not the Egyptian army. It was not the Red Sea or the mountain range. It was certainly not God or Moses! No, beloved, the real threat was a threat we also face. It was the threat of a shallow and unfulfilling faith. Israel’s greatest need was not freedom from Pharaoh’s army, it was freedom from a heart burdened with doubt.
In order for the Israelites to worship God, they had to trust in Him. In order to be satisfied in God, they needed to learn to depend upon Him. Their fears and doubts got in the way of their faith, worship, and contentment in God. So God sovereignly arranged for them to face this trial that they might see the glory of God’s salvation, the depth of God’s love, the intimacy of God’s knowledge of their lives, the faithfulness of their God and His worthiness of their praise! Beloved, I need this myself! I often find that I doubt God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His future protection and provision for my needs. Yet when I consider all that God has delivered me from, I am reminded that God is indeed faithful.
So when God, through His servant Moses, parted the Red Sea, dried up the riverbed, and led the Israelites through on dry ground, they must have been filled with awe and wonder! They must have known the sweet comfort of God’s protection! They saw for themselves that God had not only fought for them in the past, but that God was still fighting for them! For they, like ourselves, had a very short term memory!
But not only did God lead the children of Israel across on dry land, God also delivered them from the threat of the Egyptian Army once and for all! For that foolish army did not recognize the mighty hand of God in the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, but followed after Israel even into the middle of the Sea! Their doubt spelled their doom! Their lack of fear of God was their undoing! For as soon as they were in the midst of the Sea, God set them in mass confusion. The wheels of their chariots fell off! And when Israel was safe on the other side, God, through Moses, caused the waters to return over the Egyptian Army, destroying them utterly, that Israel might never fear them again!
We see from this that God is patient with us when we are slow to learn to trust in Him. He does not require of us a strong faith in order to be faithful to His promises to us! For God loves you and he loves me! Never let anyone tell you that doubts about God can separate you from His love for you, for God is abundantly patient with His children! We can trust in God to build our faith! He will arrange tests of our faith to strengthen and encourage us in our walk with Him!
Beloved, God loves us too much to give us a life without refining trials. He loves you too much to let you be content with this world. He loves me too much to let my schemes of self sufficiency succeed! We need the Lord! Let us place our faith in Him! Then He will deliver us from our trials and our enemies and show us His deliverance! Then we will be able to worship Him with greater faith. Let us remember what God did for our forefathers in the wilderness as we recall how He has provided for and protected us throughout our lives. God will get us through this coronavirus trial! For He is always faithful! Let us pray that we may have faith, that we may place our trust in Him alone, and that He will use this trial in the lives of believers around the world to strengthen our faith and bring glory and honor to God alone!
Let us pray…