“And I Will Be Your God”
February 28, 1999 Exodus 13:15-15:27
Scripture: 2Cor. 6:14-7:1 (Heb. 8:7-13)
Introduction: Ex. 6:7 (2Cor. 6:16; Heb. 8:10, 11:16; Rev. 21:3)
The Big Idea: God wants us to grow in our faith relationship to him so we will understand that we are his people and that he is our God who is worthy of glory.
17. This vs. is the key to this section about crossing the Red Sea. It is the key idea to the next 40 years as they wander in the desert. It is the key to the birth of the nation of God’s people.
But you might question God here. I’m sure the Israelites did too. If you look on a map, it is a relatively short shot up to Canaan from Egypt if you go by the way of the sea. Didn’t God make a promise to the Israelites through Abraham of land, descendants and blessings. Didn’t he reinforce it through Isaac and Jacob? Is God playing games with his people here? Is God just a big bully, making them take the hard road? Is God just on an ego trip to prove something here? The truth is that there is a problem. They aren’t strong enough in faith to accomplish what God intends to give them. He wants to give them faith. He wants to give them the courage of faith. He wants to give them the victory of faith. But right now they are too weak. They are not strong enough to wage war. They need to learn who God is. They need to learn just what it means to be the people of God. And there are no short cuts to quality. It is going to be a long road home. It is going to be a hard road to victory. There is no easy way out.
I am reminded about the current debate about euthanasia in our country and its growing acceptance. It would seem to me to be an easy way out. It would seem to me to be a cop out from living the inevitable pain of life through which we can learn so much. Euthanasia is not compassion, it is disobedience. It is the road through Philistine country that is shorter, but there can be no victory because there is no faith building process that gives us the tools for victory. That process often comes to full fruit in the pain and uncertainties of life beyond our control in which we must trust God beyond anything we have known. He delights in giving faith, building faith, and proving faith. He delights in the glory that faith reveals. He delights in being our God. He delights in proving himself faithful. But it takes faith to understand that. And then we will give God glory – genuine glory – from understanding more about just who he really is. He is all powerful and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Hallelujah!
18. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. They weren’t yet fit for war. God requires us to be spiritual warriors. The Christian life is a veritable war against the powers of darkness and the forces of evil in high places – and low ones. There is nothing to which Satan would not stoop to destroy you – of course, with God’s permission. If God ever gives permission, it is to strengthen you, for all things work together for good for them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. So the Israelites get boot camp for the next 40 years beginning with this marvelous test of faith with their backs against the Red Sea and the Egyptians at their throats.
19. At least they got to take something with them to remind them of home and comfort them along the way. Joseph’s bones would remind them of God’s faithfulness over time and that he surely has come to their aid as he said, taking them from this place – and to the next. As the Israelites are carrying out their promise to Joseph (Gen 50:25), God is carrying out his.
20. God is good at giving visual aids. Here he gives the Israelites visible evidence through the fire and the cloud that he is with them as he begins their 40 year faith lesson. God would never leave them. Even though he would lead them by a roundabout way, they would not lose their way as long as they followed his way.
1. Let’s suppose the people said they were going to take the short cut. If God could open up the sea to lead them into the desert, he could open up the desert to lead them into the sea because of disobedience. The Lord not only intended to glory from the deliverance of his people but from the destruction of his enemies. He made it look like they were incompetent by wandering around in the desert so that Pharaoh would think they were easy pickings. This was so the true hardness of Pharaoh’s heart against God would be exposed and crushed as he was lured out into the sea. Even when it looks like God is leading us in circles, we must trust God’s plan.
5. Take note here that it specifies all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, horsemen and troops were in pursuit. This victory was going to be complete. There was going to be no army left to pursue them now or later.
10. This brings to light the reason for God’s plan not to send them on a short cut. They are scared and crying out to God with a lack of faith. The key to this is their complaint to Moses in verse 11. They expect to die. They would rather be slaves to Egypt than die. Would we rather be slaves to sin than die to sin by being delivered from it? Deliverance takes faith.
Have you ever been backed up against a wall when it seemed there was no way out? In Navy boot camp we had to go through the gas chamber as part of our training. The idea was to learn how to use a gas mask. Some thought it was ridiculous. So as incentive, they made us go through one time first without one. The chamber was filled with tear gas. You held your breath and followed in line. You could feel it seeping under your eyelids. You could feel it burning your nose. Your lungs were about to explode from holding your breath so long. Some of us didn’t make it all the way to the end before we just had to take a breath. We retched, we cried, we coughed until we were blue in the face. The experience was excruciating. We learned how to wear a gas mask. Gas warfare was a real threat. We learned to swim the same way. They pushed us in the water whether we could swim or not. We learned. They had to fish several men off the bottom though. They lived, and we had real life lessons in artificial resuscitation. (Other ex.: Jamaica with Joan, violence with Matt).
The idea here is that there are some lessons that are hard to learn, but they will save your life if you learn them. Faith is one of those lessons. God is a good teacher. Perhaps you’ve been backed up against a few walls yourself? Perhaps you are up against one now? Well, God never backs us up against a wall without painting a door of faith in the corner (1Cor. 10:13). Each time we take that door, we grow in faith – and in our love for God who is faithful, not only as a teacher but as a deliverer.
13. Moses told the Israelites to stand still and look for the door of faith. Through that door would be their deliverance. God says once you successfully pass this test you won’t have to see it again, unless you need it again. If we don’t take the door, he keeps backing us up against the same wall, but of course he wants our faith to keep growing.
Is your job threatened? Have you secretly pressed God about why he could allow such a thing at such a bad time? (Ex.: Grass Root Enterprises, Centerville). Be assured that he wants to be your God. That happens by faith.
14. The battle is his. He wants us to see that. He wants us to glorify him. If we take on the struggle in our own strength, then we obviously don’t think we need him. We want the glory for ourselves.
Illustration 1 & 2:
15. God wants us to move out in response to our faith. As they advanced against the Red Sea in expectation of God’s deliverance, God would open it.
17. Glory is the business of God. He will get it from us one way or the other (Php. 2:10-11).
19. The angels of God are able to protect us as we wait upon the door of faith to be revealed and to find it and walk through it.
20. There is always light on the side of God and darkness on the other side.
21. The parting of the Red Sea was no instantaneous thing. God continued to stretch their faith.
Illustration 5: There are always skeptics.
23. “And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men----“
When we act in obedience and take the door of faith, the forces of evil are confused. Many times it will look to us as if the forces of evil will overtake us, but God will slow them down. Their pursuit of us is important – it drives us in God’s direction. Too late, the forces of evil will discover the glory of God displayed both for his people and against his enemies. He is the willing God of those who believe him. He is the vengeful God of those who oppose him. That’s the difference between day and night.
26. The disposition of evil is like that of sin (Micah 7:19). Ultimately it will be in a lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). Like the locusts of the 8th plague, they were swept into the sea.
28. God’s victory over evil is and shall be complete, but we must take the door of faith to separate us from evil (1John 5:11-12).
30. This is the description of the spiritual war zone after God gets done wielding his power in our behalf.
31. This describes the results God intended for his people:
-that they should see God’s power
-that they should believe God’s power for themselves by faith
-that they should fear God
-that they should revere God
1. All glory breaks out in honor of God who has revealed himself faithful in their behalf. The people express the emotion of their deliverance. The name of God is exalted 45 times in this song. This is what God has been after and always will be after. He wants us to be his people so he can be our God. He wants us to be in intimate relationship with him. He doesn’t need us. He wants us because he loves us. We are his creation. We love him because he first loved us (1John 4:19). But he gives us the choice. And this choice is founded in faith that he loves us enough to enable us to discover his love for us, even through the walls and doors that lead us there.
2. This is exactly what he wants us to know and express. Note here the phrase, “my father’s God”. The people have come to understand and believe, at least temporarily, what Joseph had said – that “God will surely come to your aid”. They are beginning to see that they are part of the continuity of God’s promise to Abraham.
Illustration 7: But in our growing understanding, he leads us more than he pushes us.
Illustration 8: I wonder how many times God has helped me to open that door of faith?
11. Illustration 9: He is worthy of our faith because he is holy.
13-18. God’s victory over the Egyptians now prompts faith that the rest of the covenant promise of the Holy Land can be a reality.
20. The women now follow Miriam as she takes a tambourine and dances unto the Lord.
Refrain: The Horse and Rider Song
22-27. But now notice how quickly God’s choice of the desert highway proves correct as the people now carry on their grumbling and complaining on the other side of the Red Sea. This business of being their God is going to be a long process.
Illustration 10: God wanted their whole heart for himself, not just a heart murmur. He knew they were not yet strong enough to fight with faith.
Illustration 11: It is amazing how quickly we can find fault with God – and with each other.
Illustration 12: It is amazing how quickly and easily we pass those faults along.
26. Illustration 13: We must turn to the power of God for healing of our sin-sick faithless souls. He is Jehovah-Rapha, the Lord who heals.
Illustration 14: The answer is faith.
With your back to the sea wall and the enemy at your throat, could you cry out in faith and wait for God to open a door? If he opened the Red Sea for grumblers and complainers under the blood of the Passover Lamb, would he not deliver you who are under the blood of Jesus as the Lamb of God? He wants to be our God. He wants to show us that he is our God. He wants to show the world that he is our God. Trust him by faith and give him glory now. The Red Sea was dry. There was a time to cross before the waters came together. This is the time of grace. Come to the cross while you may (John 5:24; Rom. 13:11; 2Cor. 6:2).
It is the bloody wood of the cross of Christ (vs. 25) that tests us. He would sweetly turn the bitter waters of our faithlessness. He wants to be your God. Trust him now. Trust him always. He is the door of faith to all things (Mt. 7:7). The Red Sea was no problem. Neither is yours if you will trust him. Elim (vs. 27) lies just ahead.
Note the cover of today’s bulletin:
There is a bridge to cross the great divide,
A way was made to reach the other side.
The mercy of the Father cost his Son his life.
His love is deep; his love is wide,
There is a bridge to cross the great divide.