Sunday, December 14, 2008

When things don't seem to be working out...

Church was awesome this morning. It is such a blessing to have continual Biblically-based teaching from the pulpit. :) Yes, it is how it should be, but it seems to be rather rare in today's culture. We have been studying Exodus and we are at the part where the Israelites are trapped by the Egyptian army. Take a look at Exodus 14:1-12.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. "For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, 'They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.' "Thus I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, "What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The LORD hardened the
heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, '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."

The first thing I notice here is the providence of God. God has the people turn around so cause Pharaoh to think that the Israelites don't know where they are going. He does this to show everyone that He is the Lord! Now think of this from the Israelites perspective... walking all day... or several days... and then being told to turn around and go right back where you came from. It would be a bit disheartening for sure. No doubt it's hot out there and walking in the middle of the desert isn't the funnest thing ever. Now notice the incredible reaction of Israel when they get scared... they cried out to God! This is a great example for us when we face hard times. We must realize that He is in control. However, immediately after this, they go back to Moses and complain. Not only do they complain, but they wish they were back in Egypt. Remember that first Passover night?!? It is like the greatest night in all of Israel's history, and the people want to go back! Do you remember what was in the pillar of clouds (by day) and pillar of fire (by night)? It was God Himself! Not only were the Israelites wanting to leave Moses, they would rather choose slavery in Egypt and life than being with God. This is a very sobering thing. How often to I quickly go to my own ways to figure out how to solve problems? The initial thought of dependence on the Lord is great, but when the rubber meets the road, is my heart longing for Him, or am I trying to figure out things on my own? Contrast this with Philippians 1:21 where Paul says, "to live is Christ and to die is gain."... or Psalm 63:3 where David says that God's lovingkindness is better than life. I think it is something that all of us need to think about continually. Is He really all we need, or are we depending on our own strength when the tough times (or easy times) come?

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Sometimes, for me, the hardest time to depend on Him is when things are so easy-going, and the easiest when things get hard. How ironic, eh? :D

Reading about the Israelites can be frustrating because, like you pointed out, they go to the Lord for help and then they complain of wanting leave Him! But it's also very humbling because I realize that I am very much like the Israelites were. That is scary...hehe. It's a good reminder that I'm very small and God is very big, and I just need to shut my trap and say, "God, keep your arm around my shoulder, and your hand over my mouth!" Trust is simple, yet hard, but oh so worth it.

Thanks for the great reminder, Daniel!

Keep up the good work,