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Following God … to a Dead End

13 Aug

Have you ever felt like your life hit a dead end? You were heading in the right direction. You were making good progress in your marriage, career, relationships, etc. And then without warning, everything went off the rails. You came to a sudden, inexplicable, jarring halt. You couldn’t go forward and you couldn’t go backwards. Regardless of your best efforts, you were stuck.

That was the dilemma the nation of Israel faced when they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the armies of Egypt (Exodus 14). Before they could go forward, they needed to learn some new lessons about who God is and what he was going to do on their behalf.

God often places us in situations where we have to rely on him (1-14). On those occasions, God displays his glory so that we might know him better.

God led Israel into a cul-de-sac in order to demonstrate his glory (1-4). With armed fortresses to the north, the desert to the south, the Red Sea to the east, and the armies of Egypt advancing from the west, Israel was at a dead end. God led them into this problem so that they might know him better.

It appeared that Israel’s enemies had gained the upper hand (5-9). A few days after the Passover, Pharaoh changes his mind about allowing the Israelites to leave. He dispatches 600 of his best chariots and armed forces to bring them back. It appeared that he had them trapped in a geographical cul-de-sac.

Rather than rely on God, Israel reacted in fear (10-12). They weren’t merely afraid, they were greatly afraid. They were in full blown panic mode. Like many of us, they cried out to God and then blamed the leadership (Moses) for their predicament.

God wanted Israel to depend on him (13-14). God gives them four commands—fear not, stand firm, see the salvation of the Lord, and be silent. Like Israel, we tend to do just the opposite. We are afraid, run away, don’t look for God, and complain to everyone around us. In so doing, we miss what God is doing.

When we trust God, he fights our battles for us (15-29). Contrary to human wisdom, God instructs Israel to move forward (15-18). God then moves to stand between Israel and her enemies (19-20). During the night, God opens a path through the Red Sea (21-22, 29) and then destroys the Egyptian army when they try to pursue Israel (23-28).

Seeing God at work should cause us to trust him and to worship him (30-31).

There are four life lessons I take away from this account. (1) It often takes dead ends to break lifetime habits. God often has to bring us to the end of ourselves and our resources in order to truly change and transform our lives. (2) When you have nowhere else to turn, trust God. Far too often, trust in God is viewed as a last resort. (3) If God is to get the glory, he must fight the battle. If I can do it myself, I will take the credit. (4) Red Seas open and close according to God’s timing, not ours. God’s timing is always best, but it is always different from mine.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 13, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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