January 31, 2014
Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot…I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel…I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth; my flesh also shall rest in hope.”
Psalm 16: 5, 7-9
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“God spoke to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baalzephon. Pharaoh will think, the Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them. Then I’ll make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn again and he’ll chase after them. And I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God. And that’s what happened…Moses answered the people…you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.’”
Exodus 14: 1-4, 13
The Message Bible
“You’ll See Your Deliverance”
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. All praise to Him, praise forever! Oh, yes!”
II Timothy 4: 18 N.I.V. and The Message Bible
What do I need God to “deliver” me from?
Do I trust my “Deliverer” to make a dry path through the Red Sea for me, today?
“If God sends us on stony paths, He provides strong shoes.”
Corrie ten Boom
“The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.”
Corrie ten Boom
I’ve told you this before, but I just have to say it again, I love the Bible. I’m so thankful our Father’s Word carries in it messages that apply to you and me today. Messages which give us the hope we need to carry on when times are tough and dark and frightening!
This is exactly the situation we find God’s children in, when after leaving Egypt at God’s direction, they headed across the wilderness toward Canaan and found themselves in such a dreadful plight, there seemed, from a human perspective, to be no way out.
In order to capture a complete picture of the calamity that was about to crash in around the Israelites, I decided to go back to Exodus 13 and read about God’s detailed instructions to Moses on the Israelite’s exit from the land of bondage – Egypt. When I got to Exodus 13: 19, where the Bible tells us the detailed account of how Joseph’s bones were taken with God’s children to the land of promise, I found myself transfixed by the way God’s plan for the departure of His children appeared to be going off without a hitch. Exodus 13: 20 says that the journey took the people, a huge multitude I might add, from Succoth, where they “encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.” This is where I said to myself, “So far…so good!” If you had been one of the thousands of people in this throng, I am certain you’d be happy to be out from under the taskmasters’ daily whip and on your way to a land flowing with “milk and honey.” Especially when we read in Exodus 13: 20-21, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from the people.”
Now I ask you, “Knowing that God was with you at all times, and having the visual witness of His presence with the pillar of cloud and fire, wouldn’t that have been enough to sustain your confidence in the truth that your God knew exactly what He was doing?”
However, somewhere in my hurry to get to the portion of Scripture which leaves a record of the Israelites miraculously walking through the riverbed of the Red Sea on dry land with walls of water piled up on either side of them, I found out that I didn’t gain the full impact of the verses contained in our study text for today, Exodus 14: 1-4.
Here we find that God came to Moses and told him to go to the children of Israel and tell them to get ready to move for He had a plan for them and for the Egyptians. God’s children were instructed by God to put themselves in a very vulnerable position. In fact, God warned Israel that Pharaoh, when he heard about their baffling move, would come to the conclusion that, as The Message Bible so clearly states: “The Israelites are lost; they’re confused. The wilderness has closed in on them.”
Forgetting completely that it was the God of heaven and earth who was leading His chosen children out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, Pharaoh – God’s enemy and God’s children’s enemy – ignored the fact that God was in charge. This is what happens quite frequently in the world of “Pharaoh.” The world in which you and I attempt to survive in on a daily basis. Whoever and wherever Pharaoh resides, we find that “he” or “she” overestimates their power. Not only against God, but God’s children, too! Thinking that the weak are their prey, when one of God’s children is struggling along the way, the “Pharaoh’s” of this old world put their ropes around the necks of God’s children, thinking that the tighter they yank, the more power they have over us.
But praise God, what “Pharaoh” forgets – in the end -- becomes lethal for “Pharaoh.” As Jesus told His’ disciples in John 15: 5, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” And later, the Apostle Paul, when writing to his friends in the church in Corinth reminded them that, “We can do nothing against the truth” (II Corinthians 13: 8).
You see, it’s not a good idea for “Pharaoh” to get a false sense of “his” or “her” own importance. And this is exactly what happened, when pride-filled Pharaoh, came galloping, with his 600 finest chariots and army across the barren desert, believing he had the Israelites blocked in by his power and the sea.
However, there’s one other element to this story that really hit me in the face. And it is this! Moses told all the Israelites, before Pharaoh’s army arrived, that trouble was coming. He also told them that God had been the “One” who had led them to the Red Sea. This perplexing event didn’t happen by accident. God’s hand was leading all the way – make no mistake about it. This was not some unplanned event. In fact, God even told everyone the reason this situation unfolded as it had – and here is the reason God gave Moses: “I’ll use Pharaoh and his army to put my Glory on display. Then the Egyptians will realize that I am God” (Exodus 14: 4, The Message Bible).
Knowing that this entire crisis was designed by and led by God, should have given the Israelites all the confidence they needed when they saw the army of Egypt approaching.
Sadly, their response to this emergency was the same response I’ve had myself, way too many times when a crisis hits my own life. I witness trouble on the horizon, and in complete despair, I holler out to God, “How did You let me get into this mess? Where are You when I need You most? What are You doing for me? I thought You really loved me? I believed I was doing Your will? I pray! I give my money and time to You! Why aren’t You helping me when I need You the most?”
Now, quite possibly, your faith, when stretched to the limit, is a lot greater than mine is. But when we are over-tired and over-burdened, like the children of Israel, it’s easy to come up with some real “doozies” when we talk to God about the “Pharaoh” and the Red Sea we are facing! If you need an example, here is what the children of Israel hit God and Moses with as they realized the problem they faced. “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. 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? 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” (Exodus 14: 10-12)(KJV).
This is quite a nasty tirade, not only against Moses, but against God who had told His children, very plainly, that He was guiding them every step of the way. And to give them even more assurance, God had a pillar of cloud and fire daily following His children as a signal of His actual presence in their midst.
At this point in time, if I had been God, I might have concluded I had chosen the wrong people to be My “special” children. And as for Moses, in my book he had every right to lose his cool but instead, his message to the people was, as we have studied during the past two days: “Fear not, stand still.” Then, as our study text tells us today, God told Moses to reassure the Israelites with this message of total confidence: “See the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: ye shall see them again no more for ever” (Exodus 14: 13).
God didn’t demean the Israelites for their lack of faith. He didn’t criticize them for not trusting Him more. He, instead, worked to build their faith by pointing to the “One” on whom the results of the battle depended – and it wasn’t this band of frightened Israelites. It was our great God – the God of heaven and earth. The God I love to look up to in the dark night sky and call “My Father.” It’s the God that Job reminds us keeps the heavens in order. It’s the God that the prophet Isaiah tells us renews our strength when we are weak. It is the God that Jeremiah says is so faithful that His gifts to us are new every morning. And it is the God whom the prophet Habakkuk tells us makes our feet like hinds (deer’s) feet, so we can walk on the high places God has prepared for us. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and it is the all-powerful God of Mary, Janet, Esther, Veronica, and yes, of Dorothy, too!
“Remember that your Father is just ahead of you in the shadow.”
Keep Up The Song of Faith
“Keep up the song of faith,
However dark the night;
And as you praise, the Lord will work
To change your faith to sight.
Keep up the song of faith,
And let your heart be strong,
For God delights when faith can praise
Though dark the night and long.
Keep up the song of faith,
The foe will hear and flee;
Oh, let not Satan hush your song
For praise is victory.”
M. E. Barber
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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