Having lost a loved one or spending time with someone that has gotten a second chance makes us think that the things we thought were important are not so important any more. Do you know what I mean? There are very few things in life that really matter but one thing does matter. It matters how we choose to live. And who we trust determines how we choose to live. Do you know what I mean?
I have five Scriptures from the Bible to share with you. One from the Old Testament and four from the New that all point to a significant event. See if you can determine what that event is. I will give you a hint it is the greatest display of God’s glory in the Old Testament excluding how He created the universe, this planet, you and me. This one is the first of five.
Psalm 106:6-12 (NLT)
6 Like our ancestors, we have sinned.
We have done wrong! We have acted wickedly!
7 Our ancestors in Egypt
were not impressed by the LORD’s miraculous deeds.
They soon forgot his many acts of kindness to them.
Instead, they rebelled against him at the Red Sea.*
8 Even so, he saved them—
to defend the honor of his name
and to demonstrate his mighty power.
9 He commanded the Red Sea* to dry up.
He led Israel across the sea as if it were a desert.
10 So he rescued them from their enemies
and redeemed them from their foes.
11 Then the water returned and covered their enemies;
not one of them survived.
12 Then his people believed his promises.
Then they sang his praise.
Now this is the second of five.
Acts 7:35-36 (NLT)
35 “So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. 36 And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.
You have to listen closely to this third example especially if you are not yet sure what the event is. The implications, the result, or the purpose of the event is stated in this third reading so listen carefully and we will discuss this text further in a couple of minutes.
Romans 9:14-18 (NLT)
14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses,
“I will show mercy to anyone I choose,
and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”*
16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
17 For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”* 18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
This forth reading mentions the event.
1 Corinthians 10:1-5 (NLT)
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters,* about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
And our fifth example…
Hebrews 11:23-29 (NLT)
23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
Did you see it? Can you tell me what awesome event occurred that forever unified and cemented these peoples trust in the One True God to deliver them?
What I want you to see is how each of these God inspired authors are thinking back to this specific event in the Book of Exodus of how God’s people walked through the Sea!
Before people would sing, “Jesus saves, Jesus saves” they sang of this event and now without further ado—the significant event!
Exodus 14:15-18 (NLT)
15 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! 16 Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. 18 When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the LORD!”
Think back with me of those five examples we read a moment ago. I just happened on to the Psalms section when I was having my Wednesday morning devotions. One of the ways I like to start my day is by reading some of the Psalms. How ironic that out of 150 Psalms I should happen onto where the Psalmist speaks about these people walking across the Sea. God is amazing isn’t he?
Last week I pointed out two Christian martyrs within some of our life times, George Atley working in central Africa and Jim Elliot working in Ecuador, South America. Do you remember who it was that gave his life some 2000 years before these men would give their lives to Christ? After speaking of Moses, Stephen in Acts 7 became the first Christian martyr. Like Moses Stephen’s authority was questioned by the people; however, the religious leaders in the Book of Acts took it to the next level when they picked up rocks and stoned him. Stephen though this event important enough to speak of it.
Remember how I asked you to listen carefully to the third reading? Paul, in Romans 9 helped to answer the question “how could God harden someone’s heart?” Specifically that of the Egyptians in Exodus 14:17.
Exodus 14:17a (NLT)
17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians
see how it parallels Romans 9:18 (NLT)
18 So you see, God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others so they refuse to listen.
Jack Cottrell helps us understand how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (see Exodus 9:12; 10:20 and other places). “God’s purpose for Pharaoh was twofold: to be an instrument for displaying God’s power and for proclaiming God’s name in all the earth.”
I want to get back to how these God inspired authors were led by the Holy Spirit to write of how God’s people walked right through that Sea; however, now is a good time to do some personal reflection. Could God use your own personal extremity as he did in the life of his people who walked right through that Sea to demonstrate to you the glory of His power and presence? I think so and all you have to do is trust God to deliver you.
Does that make sense? Allow me to try and help. On Thursday of this past week I drove to the hospital to see a friend. This friend has had 5 strokes and recently had surgery to remove an AVM nearly the size of two golf ball off his brain stem. Before the surgery was to take place the family and medical staff wanted to make sure my friend new exactly what was going to happen and that there was a chance he would not survive the surgery. What would you say if there was a strong chance that you would not live to see tomorrow? The day before my friend’s surgery, he stated, “If I do not wake up, I am a born again Christian, baptized believer in Christ and if I do not wake up, I will be in Heaven with Jesus, I am ok with that!” May I compare this friend’s surgery to the Egyptian army? Those Israelites did not know if they would live to see another day nor did my friend; however, the similarity between the two is that each made a conscience decision trusting that God would deliver them!
“I am ok with that!” Now that will preach! Will you pray with me?
Father, if there is someone here that has their own personal “Egyptian army” we take that to you in prayer. Help them trust you to deliver them. In Jesus name. Amen.
I hope that you are beginning to see how these God inspired authors such as David in Psalms found in the Old Testament, Stephen in the Book of Acts, and Paul in the New Testament are thinking back —to this specific event in the Book of Exodus of how God’s people walked through the Sea!
Think back to that forth reading in 1 Corinthians 10 when Paul refers to God’s people walking through the Sea to encourage the brothers and sister to keep pressing-on in Jesus and not give in to temptation! Just as this unifying event was forever cemented upon the hearts and minds of these people crossing the Sea; communion that is the breaking of bread and drinking of juice (wine) unifies the followers of Christ today!
Moses and the Israelites are certainly to be commended for their faith as Hebrews 11 pointed out to us. God did performed a great miracle when those unified people walked through that Sea; however, the main idea in Hebrews 11 and for that matter all five of these examples is the people’s faith in the One True God. At no other time in their wilderness wandering does God perform another miracle as significant as this. The next miracle of this magnitude would not be until he sent his Son to live, suffer, die, and bring about our deliverance from sin when he rose for the dead! Jesus is more better. God delivered the Israelite people one time there at the Sea; however, Jesus delivers as my friend pointed out forever.
“If I do not wake up, I am a born again Christian, baptized believer in Christ and if I do not wake up, I will be in Heaven with Jesus, I am ok with that!”
After seeing how much better Jesus’ deliverance is, would it benefit us to go on any farther with the story of how God’s people walked through the Sea? I think so because seeing God’s deliverance is great no matter in the life of those Israelite people 3500 years ago, when Christ delivered us from our sins 2000 years ago, or when God delivers you from your own personal Egyptian army. Therefore, I think the story of when the people walked through the Sea must continue. We have seen God making his intentions clear to Moses (vv. 15-18), now we are about to see God’s people walking through the Sea.
Exodus 14:19-22 (NLT)
19 Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. 20 The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.
21 Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. 22 So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!
That took trust in God for Him to deliver them! It took trust in God for my friend’s deliverance! Sometimes trusting in God may not make sense but does it have to? Bob Russell pointed out in Luke 5:1-6:16 that it did not make sense for the fishermen to put their nets out in deep water but they trusted, it did not make sense to the leper that Jesus could heal him but he trusted, it did not make sense to the paralyzed man to pick up his mat and go home but he trusted, to drop everything and follow Jesus did not make sense to Matthew but he trusted, and it may not make sense to us but we will trust God to deliver us!
Romans 12:19 (NLT)
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”*
says the LORD.
Preachers may be the worse at this that is thinking they have God all figured out. “Figures do not lie but liars sure do figure.” Some of us might think that God is going to deliver all of us just like he delivered the Israelites when they walked through the Sea but God is not going to deliver all of us.
Exodus 14:23-25 (NLT)
23 Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. 24 But just before dawn the LORD looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. 25 He twisted* their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt!”
Exodus 14:30 (NLT)
30 That is how the LORD rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day.
If you notice in your program this is when I am suppose to end the reading. Why should I stop now? Could it be that some of us might have trouble with the rest of the event?
And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore.
Yesterday, I was working at Campus Christians at Pittsburg State. We were taking a break under a shade tree and were talking about when the people walked across the Sea. And one of our friends said “I got trouble with that!” “Why would God allow that Egyptian army to lie bloated and dead along the Sea?” Sitting with him was a Campus minister, and pastor and all we could do say I do not know. But we did think about Pharaoh and why God would use him. “God’s purpose for Pharaoh was twofold: to be an instrument for displaying God’s power and for proclaiming God’s name in all the earth.”
Exodus 14:31 (NLT)
31 When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
May we too be filled with awe before God, may we put our faith in Jesus Christ before it is too late.