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"Why Are You Crying Out to Me?—Move On!"

Exodus 13-14

Jim Davis

What do you do when there is nothing you can do? Where do you go when there is no place you can go? On whom do you depend when there is no one on earth on whom you can depend? When Dr. David Livingstone was working in Africa, a group of friends wrote him: "We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?" According to a member of his family, Dr. Livingstone sent this message in reply: "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all."

God’s battle plan rarely prepares a way so that we can see our way clear to obey his call. God’s plan requires moving out on faith. It is not that God is trying to hold us in suspense. If God revealed his plans beforehand they would be hard for us to accept. God is fighting a war and he doesn’t want our enemies to know what is going to transpire. God’s plans are designed to glorify his cause so the world may believe in him and be brought to salvation.

God’s Battle Plan Is Very Personal

God’s battle plans for each of us are drawn to meet our personal requirements. They are drawn up with regard to our strengths and weaknesses. God never leads us down a road we are unable to walk, though there may be others roads, which seem easier and shorter.

Exodus 13:17-18
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle. (NIV)

God knew the Israelites weren’t ready for battle with the Philistines. If he made them face the Philistines they would have been back in Egypt before nightfall. Sure God could have struck the Philistines dead. But God had a greater purpose in mind. He wanted to bring them to a place where they could learn some important lessons as they faced their greatest fears.

As I look at this story I realize that my lack of spiritual maturity may limit what God can and will do for me when I encounter personal problems. He will not lead me into a situation that is over my head, but he will lead men into situations that will prepare me for deeper waters. God couldn’t lead the Israelites through the land of the Philistines because of their spiritual weakness. There is a very fine line between what God is willing to do for us and what he expects us to do.

Have you noticed something about your children? You don’t expect them to do what they are not capable of doing. You can’t do things for them that they must do for themselves. They must take that first step. They must get up when they fall. They must speak that first word. They must make their own grades in school. There comes a time when they must make their own decisions. They must live with the consequences of those decisions. They must face their own fears.

God led the Israelites to a place where they had to face their own fears. There was no way out. There are times in our lives when God leads us to a place where there is no way of human escape.

Exodus 14:10-12
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" (NIV)

When we find ourselves in an unbearable situation we must look for God’s deliverance. That is not what we usually do. We usually look for an easy way out. If God had led the Israelites through the land of the Philistines, they would have turned and surrendered to the Egyptians. Too many of us are like the Israelites. We want to revert to our old lifestyles when things become unbearable, but there is no going back. Going back would be disaster. Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NIV)

There are lessons we must learn when we find ourselves in such situations. Paul enumerates the lessons he learned in deadly circumstances beyond his ability to endure.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (NIV)

Lesson #1 We must not rely on ourselves. Paul says, " . . . this happened that we might not rely on ourselves.

Lesson #2 Paul said he learned to place his hope in God.

Lesson #3 Paul says God raises the dead; therefore his conclusion was that God could save him from deadly circumstances.

Lesson #4 Paul says, " . . . he will continue to deliver us." Our future is as bright as our hope in God.

Psalms 124:6-8
Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. (NIV)

When we find ourselves in situations beyond our abilities there is nothing to do but lay our lives on the line and trust in God for the outcome.

Daniel 3:16-18
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." (NIV)

We can depend upon God because God knows us better than we know ourselves. This is how his plans can be tailored made for each of us. Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself.

Luke 22:31-34
"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." But he replied, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Jesus answered, "I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me." (NIV)

God put the Israelites between Satan and the Red Sea because he knew that was the only hope of producing faith despite their weaknesses. God works with our weaknesses to make us strong in faith.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (NIV)

God knows when we are reacting out of weakness and when we are acting out of rebellion. He will not tolerate rebellion but he is more than willing to work with our weaknesses. God worked his plan according to Lot's desire because of Lot's weakness in faith. When God was about to destroy the plains of Sodom the angels brought Lot and his family out of the city. They told him to flee to the mountains.

Genesis 19:18-22
As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, "Flee for your lives! Don't look back, and don't stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!" But Lot said to them, "No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared." He said to him, "Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it." (That is why the town was called Zoar.) (NIV)

God’s Battle Plan Is for His Glory

Exodus 14:1-4
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." So the Israelites did this. (NIV)

God's battle plan is designed to bring him the greatest possible glory. It is not that God is some egotistical maniac. God's greatest glory is our salvation. God wants the world to take note of the salvation possible for those who believe. The world is focused on Israelites God who has brought his people between Satan and the Red Sea with no way of escape.

Pharaoh thought the children of Israel were wandering around in confusion. He thought the desert and the Red Sea with no way of escape hemmed in the Israelites. However, God was in the process of revealing himself as never before.

Exodus 14:10-16
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (NIV)

The Red Sea you face serves God's purposes. God will use it to glorify himself and to strengthen the bond between you and him. Have you ever noticed when God delivers you from your Red Sea experiences how easy it is to shout praises because of his glorious work?

Most of our lives are spent between the banks of the Red Sea and the onslaughts of Satan. Only God's perspective will allow us to see that we are not at an impasse. Without God we have no chance of escape and despite our weakness God devises a plan that will work for each us. His plan will reveal his glory for us.

God’s Battle Plan Requires Action

We must look for God's deliverance. Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV)

God promises us that he will solve the problem. Moses says, "The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." We usually look for temporary solutions or we refuse to deal with our problems at all. All the while God is promising us a solution. God promises us that he will fight for us. Moses says, " The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."

There are requirements we must meet to discover God's perspectives for our lives. To discover God's perspectives we must do three things.

  • We must not be afraid. Moses says, "Do not be afraid." Fear is usually something that comes without an invitation. However we can reject it.
  • We must stand firm. Moses says, "Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring." We can choose to stand firm despite our fears.
  • We must be still. Moses says, "Be still." I can just imagine the Israelites running to one another in desperation as they tried to figure a way out. Moses says, "Be still." That is probably equivalent to saying you must stop and focus yourselves. They desired to run from their fears. Moses says, "Don't be afraid--stand firm--be still and focus on God's deliverance.
  • We must move on with our lives."Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground." (Exodus 14:15-16 NIV)
  • I read over these verses in preparation for this lesson and saw something I had never seen. It made me laugh and it opened my eyes to the preparation of this sermon. I didn't laugh because the Hebrew’s situation was a laughing matter. I laughed because I saw myself. The Lord tells Moses the equivalent of "Stop whining and complaining to me and move on." We whine and complain because we are trying to figure out why we are the way we are. It makes little difference why you are there. You need to move on with your life.

    The important factor for you is to get a handle on God's perspective on your problems. I am not sure that it matters how we have arrived at where we are or why or where we accumulated our problems. It makes little difference whether you believe they are the result of the sovereign purposes of God, or the result of some very poor choices you have made in life or that they are the result of being slapped when you were a baby; it makes little difference if you believe you were born the way you are.

    The questions are not "Why do we have problems?" or "Where did they come from?" The question is, "What does God want us to do about our problems?" You must see God's purposes for you regardless of the cause of your problems. If you can get a handle on his perspective the reasons you have problems pales into insignificance.

    We must follow through straight into the center of God’s will.

    John 21:18-22
    I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!" Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." (NIV)

    Conclusion:

    The answer to our problems today is to follow Jesus. When we follow Jesus we accept God’s solution to our problems. When we follow Jesus we develop God’s perspective on our problems.

    It is no accident that Paul compared the Israelites crossing the Red Sea to Christian baptism.

    1 Corinthians 10:1-6
    For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. (NIV)

    If you are not a Christian you need to start allowing God to glorify himself in your life by crossing the Red Sea in baptism. You must place your faith in Christ as you cross the Red Sea of baptism.

    Mark 16:14-16
    Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (NIV)

    If you are a Christian you must allow God to glorify himself in your life through your continued faithfulness to his commands.

    God is willing to provide the necessary essentials to enable us to find solutions to our problems. Heaven desires to intercede on your behalf.

    Exodus 14:19-22
    Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (NIV)

    God’s protection is provided. Are we willing to follow? We must not whine and cry over our problems. We must move on into the center of God’s will through obedience to Christ's commands. It is there that we develop God's perspective for our lives.

     

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