LORD! You Want Me to Go There? Exodus 14:1-4
21 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 13:21-22
¨ What Ever Place You are In Life; Realize that God has Led You To That Place!
Then the Lord said to Moses: 2 Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth,
between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea. Verses 1-2
God Says I Am At This Place and In This Time
Ú By His [DIRECTION]
9 The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. Proverbs 16:9
Ú In His [PROTECTION]
14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. Psalms 91:14-15
Ú Under His [TRAINING]
Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Ú For His [TIME]
I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. Ecclesiastes 3:17
¨ God Wants Us To Be More Concerned For His Glory Than Our Relief.
3 Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.’ 4 I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. And they did so. Verses 3-4
To Be More Concerned For His Glory God Wants Us To
Ú Ask the Right [Questions]
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. John 9:3
Ú Embrace The [SUFFERING]
27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” John 12:27-28
Ú Trust Him To [DELIVER] In His Own Way
Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalms 50:15
Ú If It’s Our Fault Then [REPENT]
18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. Isaiah 1:18-19
Welcome to Vaughn Hill. We are delighted that you are here this morning. I say that nearly every Sunday morning. But I want you to know I mean it. It is the highlight of my week to be with you to worship, fellowship, and love you.
About 3500 years ago God lead a group of slaves out of Egyptian bondage through his power and grace. God performed great miracles like turning the Nile into a river of blood, and turning the day into night. He devastated the world’s premiere empire with plagues because He desired to led these slaves to a new kind of life. If I were an Israelite slave at that time, I’m not sure if I would have understood all that God was doing, but I would have been impressed.
Looking at what God did from the perspective of hind sight I am impressed. I’m amazed at his power and his love for them. I’m duly impressed with the fact that he decided to be with them even without a formal covenant. He made his presence known in a very unique way. Moses tells us, “21 The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”
Why God chose a cloud and pillar of fire is only speculation, but they bring to my mind the ideas of God’s invisible nature and His consuming power. Look closely at verse 21. The LORD positioned himself in front of them. Second note that the cloud and pillar are not God, but that God is in those two things. Third he is there to lead them along the way. And fourthly in verse 22 you will note that God never left his place of leadership. He is in charge of the journey to the promise land. It is in this same way that he is in charge of our journey through life to heaven. God wants and desires to be the leader of your life. And the only way you can follow Him is by trusting his invisible nature and consuming power.
God’s goal in leading you is not to make you comfortable but to take you where you need to go to honor and glorify him. This is what he made you for. You were created in such a unique manner, so that wherever he leads and you follow; you will find the greatest amount of joy. But sometimes we balk at the direction God goes. Has God ever led you to go some place or do some thing, and you’ve said Lord! You want me to go there?
You are shocked at the consequences of where he is leading you and of what he’s asking you to do. I must confess that I am forever reacting with disbelief at where God wants me to be in my life. Frankly, the reason I do this, is because I am uncomfortable when God asks me to go where it is dangerous and costly. He leads us to places where only he can be the savior. And it is at these critical moments in our lives that God becomes the most real to us.
God leads us to difficult places that are without human escape hatches. For example He leads us to faithfulness in our marriages, even when our spouses turn out to be real jerks. He leads us to love others, even when they are mean and foul mouthed. He leads us to serve in the churches ministry, even if it costs us vacations. He leads us to tell others of Christ’s saving grace, even when they reject and make fun of us. He led you here to Vaughn Hill not to be comfortable but to glorify Him. God never leads you on an easy path. It is narrow and hard, and the passage is blocked with obstacles that can only be gone through with faith.
This morning I only want to make two major points from Exodus 14:1-4. The first is that wherever you are in life; realize that God has led you to that place. And second, that God wants us to be more concerned for his glory than our relief. The central idea of these two points is simple. God made you to follow him so you could glorify him by your life. If you are living for any other reason than to follow and glorify God then you will never be satisfied. But if you live to follow and to glorify God then you will have joy without measure. And if you ask, “LORD! You want me to go there?” the answer is yes.
The first point in verses 1 and 2 of Exodus 14 is what ever place you are in life; realize that God has led you to that place. God says to Moses, “Then the Lord said to Moses: 2 Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea.” The Israelites turn and camp by the sea because God led them there. This place is a cul de sac. There is no escape to the north because of swamps. There is none to the south because mountains, and to the west is the Red Sea. They had no place to go except bact to where they had been. They are trapped by the leadership of God.
“Consider these men and women who, through no fault of their own, found themselves beset with soul-disabling difficulties while trying to follow God: Hagar, a single mom, was forced into the desert with her boy to die of thirst. Joseph, wanting to fulfill divine dreams, was seized, stripped, sold as a slave, and imprisoned in Egypt. Moses was caught between the splendors of Egyptian royalty and thankless affliction with God’s people. David, being anointed by Samuel, was pursed by Israelite troops. Hezekiah, seeking revival, was trapped by the most powerful army on earth, bent on annihilating his people. The Lord’s disciples sailed at His command on Galilee only to face a terror-filled night of storms and waves. The Son of man Himself, fulfilling the Father’s will, was nailed fast to wood and left to hang by His hands until dead. The apostles, trying to preach this Crucified one, were horsewhipped.” (Red Sea Rules by Robert J. Morgan pg. 9)
You may find yourself there sometimes too. You have follow God and now you are trapped. You’ve taken the risk to serve, and your back is up against the wall. You have to deal with the loss of a job. You are ill and very sick and health costs are rising. Your marriage is a mess. Your kids are breaking your heart. You car broke down and it took every penny to get it running so you could go to work. You are mad at the preacher because he hurt your feelings when you were trying so hard. You feel unappreciated by Vaughn Hill because we forgot to sincerely say thanks. And you want to know why these bad things are happening to you. You want to know why isn’t my path easy, and my life a bed of roses. So now you cry, “LORD! Why am I here, because I followed you there?”
#1 God says, I am at this place and in this time by His Direction: Solomon says, “9 The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” To me this verse explains two important realities. First God gives us the freedom to make choices, and second God insures that He preserves his right to direct our lives. At first glance this verse seems to say we are without choices, and that God predetermines the places we go in life. What God does is to direct us by the consequences of our choices. Sometimes I make a choice for God and the consequence is very painful. I chose to repent and the world calls me a hypocrite. Rather than getting admired I experience loathing. But that is exactly where God wants me to be. I can not know his pleasure until I’m rejected by the world. If you are serving you will experience many wonderful things, but be ready for God to lead you to the cross. It is the consequence of planning to serve God, and God directing your steps. LORD! You want me to go there! The answer is yes.
#2 God says I am at this place and in this time in His protection. God declares, “14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.” God makes you a solemn vow to protect those who know his name and call on Him. God’s care is based on your relationship to him. What father do you know who loves his children would not lay down their life for them instantly. Is this not what God did at Calvary? Don’t we understand that God will deliver us from trouble? Don’t we grasp the reality that God moves heaven and earth to rescue those who know his Son? We don’t because we want our rescue to be comfort and safety. If you were martyred today God would have rescued you beyond you wildest dreams. God will act to honor those who love him, and he will protect you for all eternity. Trust Him to protect you. LORD! You want me to go there! The answer is yes
#3 God says I am at this place and in this time under his training. The Hebrew writer says, “Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God leads you to places in your life to train you to do right. The word for discipline in this verse is a noun that refers to educating a child’s mind, morals, and body for adulthood. When God leads you to a place that is painful it is his purpose to train you to be like his Son. He is the standard that God placed on earth, and though the pain is not pleasant it produces or creates the fruit of righteousness. You will never be ready for heaven or have peace until you experience the discipline of God on earth. LORD! You want me to go there? The answer is yes.
#4 God says I am at this place and in this time for His time. Solomon the wisest man of God’s writer’s states, “I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work.” Because God is the final judge of my life it is comforting to know that what is happening to me is at his appointed time. He would never allow me to experience trouble and heart ache without limiting it. The truth is God wants you to succeed. Every matter of life is always temporary. When we use terms like always, never, all the time we are forgetting that time is always changing everything. You will not always be hurting or excited. You will find that God limits these experiences so that you can grow. Cancer is not forever. Disappoint will come to an end. Life goes on towards eternity, and God is fully capable of ending or beginning what ever you need to stand before him redeemed forever. You ask LORD! You want me to go there and the answer is Yes.
Since we are at the place in life we are because God made us to follow Him; He now wants us to be more concerned for his glory than our relief. The Israelites are trekking along following the cloud and God wants to turn them towards an indefensible trap. He says to Moses, “3 Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.’ 4 I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. And they did so.” God directed the Israelites to Baal-Zephon. The word means god of the north or lord of the north. God wanted them at a place that would signify to the Egyptians and Pharaoh that he is the only true God. God chose the place because of its idolatrous name.
According to the Jewish rabbinical tradition Baal-zephon was a place to worship this false god. In the Jewish Encyclopedia it says “The idol at Baalzephon was the only one that remained unharmed when God sent the tenth plague upon Egypt, which not only brought death to men and animals, but also destroyed the idols. When Pharaoh overtook Israel at the sea, near Baal-zephon (Ex. xiv. 9), he said, "This idol is indeed mighty, and the God of Israel is powerless over him." But God intentionally spared Baal-zephon in order to strengthen the infatuation of the wicked Pharaoh (Mek., Beshalla?, 2; Bo, 13).J”. (Jewish Encylopedia.com)
None of this is part of the story of the Red Sea crossing is from the scriptures. It comes from the rabbis musing on the Scriptures, but it captures the spirit of what God planned to do to glorify himself. Which ought to teach us a great lesson that wherever I am directed by God he is doing that to glorify Himself. My purpose on earth is not to be at ease, but to be His servant and participate with Him in His redemption of the world. Whenever and wherever God chooses for us to be God can glorify and make himself great to his enemy. Behind Pharaoh sits one whose evil knows no bounds. His army is dreadful filled with legions of evil men, fallen angels, and horrible demons. Paul says that the church makes known to Satan God’s wisdom as we glorify him in all generations.
My natural instinct when I have trouble or pain is not to glorify God. Frankly I want relief. Probably the worst physical pain I’ve ever experienced was when I sprained my ankle playing tennis with my sister in law. It was so swollen and black that I had to go to the emergency room. When I got to the hospital I wasn’t saying glory to God. I wasn’t singing Amazing grace. I wasn’t praying deep spiritual prayers. I wasn’t inviting people to church. You know what I was doing. I was asking where the drugs are. Yep I admit it. Knock me out, because my natural instinct is to get relief. To be more concerned for God’s glory is something that we have to decide to do. God wants us to stop in our pain and make a choice from our love for Him to be concerned for his Honor and Glory.
First to be more concerned for His glory God wants us to ask the right questions. In John Jesus and the disciples are walking through the temple and they met a man born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “was this man born blind because he sinned or his parents.” Wrong question! Jesus responds, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him” God made him blind so that Jesus could glorify God. We are asking the wrong questions when we ask God how do I get out of this mess, how quickly can I solve this problem, why did this have to happen to me. God calls us to difficult times to glorify Him, and the question we need to be asking God is how do I glorify you?
Next we need to embrace the suffering of our pain. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ captures a Biblical truth about Jesus. Along the path to Calvary every time Jesus fell he would crawl back and embrace the cross. Jesus seems eager to embrace this pain. He dreaded it and he even asked God to find another way. But there wasn’t any other way, so Jesus embraced the agony of the cross.. Why embrace this agony? It was to glorify God. He says, “27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” We are to take up our cross and follow Jesus for the same reason.
Next To be more concerned for his glory than our relief we must trust him to deliver in his own way. He invites you to “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” God does not specify how he will part our Red Sea. Or save us from Satan’s chariots. He tells to pray and that he will do it. He promises never to give us more than we can handle. There is no temptation or test that is not common to all of us. And the worst way to meet them is with fear, skepticism, and unbelief. Trust and pray. God promises to act in time for you to give him the glory for his providence, or his word, or his body the church. He governs ever atom of the universe and nothing is impossible for him.
Finally some of us are saying to ourselves God didn’t lead me into my mess. I’m here because I made sinful choices. And you are right. God would not lead you to sin. He would not lead you to be immoral, lazy, crooked, angry, envious, or spiteful. We get into messes because that is always the consequence of sin. No sin will bring happiness or what you want in life. And you need to know that God directed your steps right into that mess. And now he wants to talk to you. He says, “18 Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land”. If it is our fault then God want us to repent.
Repentance reroutes you to God’s path. It is the way you become willing and obedient to glorify Him again. Repentance works every time. It is the choice that God looks for so that you can argue it out with him. It is a great argument to lose. One I hope you want to lose this morning. As I close I want to read a short story to you. It was written by 13 year old Kaitlyn Drinkwater, who lives in Alba, Texas.
There is a faint rustle of feathers and brush of wings as the angels re-arrange themselves to allow a newcomer to join their ranks. The door brushes shut, squeaking on its hinges. Feet step in front of it, and the tense silence, broken only by the occasional weary shuffle of feet, is resumed. The demons and the angels stand on their respective sides of the room, which is badly lit. Save for the single, bare bulb hanging over the room's only table and the dim, red neon sign on the far wall reading, 'Welcome to The Game.'
Below the bulb a chessboard is laid out, and a game is in progress. At one side sits God, at the other Lucifer. Quietly the Lord bends down and whispers to one of his pieces, which then moves a few spaces to the right. The angels let out the air they hadn't been aware they were holding in until that moment in a simultaneous sigh. Now it was Satan's turn. He reaches out with a long, thin finger and pushes one of his pieces into a position to take one of his opponent's men. The demons at his back quietly snort and snicker appreciatively. The pieces they were playing with weren't your normal Kings, Queens, Bishops, Rooks, Knights and Pawns. They were people. All shapes, sizes, colors and nationalities. And they were playing on the game board of life.
The angels drew a sharp breath as the Lord bent down and asked one of his pieces to move in a direction that would take it out of harm's way. The room was silent. No one breathed, and everyone present distinctly heard the piece's response to its master: "No. I don't understand. I don't see why you want me to go there, so I'm not going." Quietly, God leaned back. The neon sign flickered as Satan took the piece and a faint scream was heard throughout the room.
I hope you see the relevance in my story. The pieces of God are Christians. The pieces of Satan are everyone else. When he created us, God gave us free will. He doesn't just "move" his pieces like Satan; he asks us to move. We need to trust God and realize that when he asks us to do something, he knows what he is doing, and it is for our own greater good. When the piece was taken, it was not symbolic of us being stolen by Satan, because we are bound to God by unbreakable bonds forever and ever, so much so that we become a part of his body. Rather, this piece shows how easy it is for us to fall into sin. But to God be the glory! For even through all our stubbornness and blind disbelief, he will triumph in the end, and the game of life will be won at last!
Where is God asking you to move? And if you are asking LORD! Do you really want me to go there? The answer is yes. Through the Red Sea was the safest course for the Israelites. And what seems impossible, what seems beyond your strength, what seems like the place you least like go is your Red Sea. God will take you through it. Trust him. He’s called you there to glorify him. Do that and watch the water part.
Pray with me. Heavenly Father, I want to go where you lead me. Open my eyes and heart to your direction. Thank you for protecting, training, timing my life for me. Thank you for the blessings of your grace. Lord I will ask you the right question. How may I glorify you as I embrace suffering? Father you have the power and majesty to deliver me out of all the tight places and I put all my faith in you. And for the places I’ve been that have been my fault. I repent. I’m sorry to not have followed you. Help me Lord to be committed to the journey with you. Forgive my sin. In Jesus Name Amen.