The blog is an extract from a message written a few years ago.
The Old Testament is full of such great experiences, so let’s talk Exodus. I guess it’s here we start to see a different side to God’s nature, unlike when God rescues people back in Genesis; the Exodus rescue mission is different. It’s one of longevity, one that requires patience from Moses & Aaron as well as the other Israelites; it’s a battle in which God hardens Pharaoh’s heart in order to display His majesty and Sovereignty, not only to the Egyptians but to the Israelites too, this time it’s about God being known in the land and so the people would know He was Lord (Exodus 7:17, 8:2, 9:13, 11:9 etc). Fast-forwarding to the good ‘bit’, finally Pharaoh lets the children of Egypt go after the Passover and it seems like the light at the end of the tunnel has come, and all was going well until they faced the Red Sea, this is what God sent me to talk to you about.
The Red Sea!
God takes us out of our Egypt but before we get to our Promise Land, we need to cross a Red Sea. For the children of Israel, they had come so far and to them the Red Sea was an obstacle to their freedom. In our lives, the Red Sea can be a problem, hurdle, trial, tribulation, road block, stop sign, never changing red light, inconvenience, sin and the list goes on. A Red Sea is basically anything that tries to steal hope and joy, the children of Israel thought all hope had been lost and gave up. Anything that tries to stop you from getting to the other side is a Red Sea. Anything that tries to present itself to be bigger than the Mighty God we serve is a Red Sea. Like the vast never-ending expanse of water, far wider and deeper than we can handle, we fear facing it lest we drown, forgetting that our Lifeguard walks on water!
What we need to understand is why God has permitted and allowed us to face the Red Sea. For the children of Israel, just like the plagues He sent down in Egypt, God brought them to the Red Sea to display some of His biggest works yet – the parting. When God asked Moses to approach Pharaoh to request the release of His people, He also gave Moses the power to fulfil wonders in His name for His glory. However, the first two wonders were replicated by the magicians who were also able to turn the waters to blood and bring fourth frogs (Exodus 7:22 & 8:7), until we get to (Exodus 8:18-19) when they could no longer imitate the power of God. This was intentional, God was saying they can try and be like me, but they are not me. He was saying ‘I’ll let you show me what you can do, and when you’re done I’ll step it up a notch, show you what I can do’. So the severity of the plagues and wonders increased, as did the glory of God. Eventually in Egypt, the death of every Egyptian firstborn and the Passover was the crescendo with Pharaoh calling Moses & Aaron during the night (Exodus 12:31) and releasing them from their servitude. Everything went according to how God planned and said it would Exodus 11:1) but it wasn’t entirely over! All the wonders and plagues seen during the 430 period of enslavement were a warm up for one of God’s biggest Old Testament actions – He was setting the stage for the parting of the Red Sea.
Journeying on, faced with the view of the pursuing Egyptians in the backdrop and Red sea in the distance (Exodus 14:10), the children of Israel changed their disposition. The same God they rejoiced over they now doubted God. How many of us have turned on God because things didn’t go our own way? How many of us have been Red-Sea believers, thinking that the Sea is bigger than our God? The problem bigger than the Provider of all solutions? They cried out and gave up, they no longer trusted to God (Exodus 14:11-12). Interestingly, the Bible tells us that God took them to the Red Sea to prevent the very thing the Israelites were doing, giving up and losing heart. Little did they know that should they have been taken round the Red Sea, they would have encountered a battle with the Philistines and God feared that they would give up and return to Egypt, ironic eh (Exodus 13:17-18). God took them from harm (Egyptians) and out of harm’s way (Philistines), yet it still was not enough for them to trust Him wholly.
In life, sometimes we opt to go round our problems and find another way because we are terrified of facing them head on. After all, even if God had presented them with two options and said ‘you can either go round the Red Sea and face the Philistines OR trust Me to take you through the Red Sea’, I wonder how many would have faced the Red Sea head on? What would you have done? Instead the truth is, that by not facing our situations head on, we take shortcuts, bad advice and make bigger mistakes ending up in a stickier situation facing the very Philistine-type problem that God brought us to our Red Sea to avoid (catch that, read it twice if you must!)
So in the end God didn’t take them over or under the Red Sea, He took them to it and through it. For victory to be the sweetest and God’s glory to be the greatest, we have to go through our Red Seas! And by going through and trusting Him, the Israelites walked on dry ground, unblemished by the water but remaining dry and cool as it parted into walls (Exodus 14:22), able to drown and flood away their enemies. As they walked through the Red Sea, the Egyptians perished and Israelites stepped onto the other side as a free people. I think the saying ‘God will only bring you to it, if He’ll see you through it’ rings very true here.
The Israelites had never seen God do anything of such proportions which is why they were initially scared, it seems impossible, implausible, unthinkable; God was saying ‘you’ve seen me turn the waters to blood (Exodus 7:19-21), but the best is yet to come,’. When we trust God with our biggest dilemmas in life, He says, ‘you saw the way I handled the last problem, well trust Me you haven’t seen anything yet, that was a mere lake compared to this Red Sea!’. So the next time you face a Red Sea in your life, don’t ask God for a lifeboat to sail on top of it, for a submarine to go under it, nor a helicopter to fly over it, neither for satnav to redirect your route (lest you encounter Philistines on your way), ask Him to part your Red Sea so you can walk right through it! And guess what, there’s a Promise Land on the other side.
I pray you don’t have to wandering in the wilderness too long to find it.
Spread the word, feed a spirit, encourage a soul!