Candy blogs: The Israelites are such a great example of what not to do, aren’t they? I remember the first time I read through the entire Bible, I was in my 20’s. I kept stopping to whine to the Lord about what idiots the Israelites were as they wandered around in the desert. God would do a big miracle for them and they’d be happy for about five minutes. Then they’d go do something stupid and get themselves in a huge jam that only God could get them out of. And God would save them. And they’d be happy for another five minutes and the cycle just seemed to continue until Jesus came.
In my 20’s this was frustrating for me to read over and over. I just wanted them to learn the lesson, love and obey God and WIN! Get on with it. Start LIVING the life God freed them to live instead of wandering around hitting their heads against brick walls all the time.
And this happened right out of the chutes. They had just barely left Egypt after the HUGE miracles of the plagues. They were all believing God and ready to BE FREE. God had been leading them with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. They could actually SEE the presence of God every minute of their day and night. God’s presence was tangible. I like to imagine going to sleep at night in that camp and perhaps awakening to troubling sounds. But then looking over at the pillar of fire … there it was. God’s presence. What a comfort.
Pharaoh changed his mind about letting them go and sent his army after them to bring them back. So when the Israelites saw that the Egyptian army was coming after them, they were suddenly aware that they were a huge, vulnerable group of newly freed slaves, untrained and unaccustomed to war. The Egyptian army, on the other hand, was the best trained and best equipped army in the world. So they had 600 Egyptian chariots coming at them from one side and when they turned the other way, there was the Red Sea.
They were truly trapped. This was their first huge jam.
Well, of course they were terrified and started screaming at Moses about why in the world they were out in the middle of the desert in this horrible situation when they could be back in Egypt happily making bricks and living in slavery.
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But is it?
What would our first reaction be if we found ourselves figuratively between an army and the sea? We always SAY we would choose freedom. We’d choose GOD’S ways. We would be OBEDIENT because God’s side always WINS.
But the challenge the Lord put before me recently is this: WE SAY THAT GOD WILL MAKE A WAY. We believe this. We know God’s Word, the Bible, says this. We often say this to others when THEY’RE in a huge jam.
But when WE’RE facing adversity, often our life actually reflects something more like: BUT WILL HE MAKE A WAY FOR ME?
God usually leads us one step at a time.
Very seldom do we hear of someone who got the whole life plan from the Lord when they first came to know Him. It was the same for the Israelites. When they set out in the desert, no one knew exactly where they were going. They were just … going. They just followed the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. The pillars confirmed God’s presence and His leadership.
So that meant that God had led them directly to this very tight spot. It wasn’t a mistake. It wasn’t an error in judgment. It wasn’t rebellion. How could there possibly be so much trouble when they were clearly where God wanted them to be?
Moses was just following orders. He didn’t know what to do. He’d just spent 40 years on the other side of the desert. He didn’t know how to lead a million or more people. So God took over.
The pillar they’d been following then moved behind the people to stand between the army and the people. It stayed there all night. And while the pillar was protecting them, God told Moses to stretch out his staff over the sea so that the Israelites could go through the sea on dry land. This took all night long. I bet they weren’t expecting that.
What the Israelites feared (the sea)
became their way to freedom.
God’s plan for us doesn’t include coexisting with “the Egyptians”… he wants us free. Coping … getting by … settling for is NOT the plan. Overcoming is God’s plan. Staying in Egypt means slavery and bondage. God always wants to lead us to a better place. He always leads us forward to the promise.
What do I mean by God will “make a way”? Did God always intervene in the battles of Israel? Did they always win their battles? No. There were many, many years of enemy occupation of Israel. Does this mean that God will always get me out of all my jams … at least as I see jams? No. None of us
escapes hard things. The promise of God isn’t to spare us from conflict but to
help us overcome them.
God only opens the door to the future one step at a time.
This makes me think … does my life really line up with my beliefs, values and the words that come out of my mouth? There will be more in Part II …
This post was inspired by a lesson written by Daniel N. Berg