Saturday, November 16, 2013

From Despair to Deliverance

Scriptural Reading: Exodus 14:21-30
Devotional Reading: Galatians 5:13-21

Many times I watch the news, Dateline and 60 Minutes. I am disheartened by much of the evil that I see. Even when there was great damage, loss, and many deaths due to nature, people felt as if they must resort to looting and violence to survive. Most are in a spirit of despair and are looking for deliverance. But are they seeking for it in the proper way? The apostle Paul explains the road to deliverance as recorded at Gal 5:13-18, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (NKJV) He taught how to be delivered through the sweet grace offered by Jesus Christ, Son of the Almighty God. There is no longer a reason to be in despair. Just believe in Him and His Grace. Call His Name for Deliverance. He purchased all believers with His blood as a ransom. There is nothing that can stop your deliverance toward the Promised Land.

This quarter of study is entitled “First Things”. We are in Unit III – “First Freedom” of the three units of the quarter. This is the third lesson of a four-lesson study. We shall study the development of the story of Israel’s beginning as a freed nation.

In last week’s lesson we studied God’s instruction to Moses to have the Israelites to prepare and feast on a Passover meal of which the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificial blood on the doorposts and lintels was meant to preserve the firstborn of the Israelites. They were to memorialize this meal for all generations as to how the LORD had saved Israel. And it is written at Exo 12:29-30, “And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…and all the firstborn of the livestock. So…there was not a house where there was not one dead.” (NKJV) Pharaoh had enough of the Israelites God! He told them to leave, go serve their God, and to bless him also. The Israelites left the country in which they had been enslaved with articles of silver, gold, and clothing. The dough they had mixed was yet unleavened. There were at least six hundred thousand Israelite men in the LORD’s army besides children and those of a mixed multitude. It was a night to remember after four hundred and thirty years that the LORD’s army went out from the land of Egypt (Ex 12:31-42).

When the children of Israel exited Egypt, God did not lead them through the land of the Philistines. They were close neighbors of Egypt. However, the Israelites were yet in slave mentality. They were not ready for what would probably have been a war. God took them through what seemed the roundabout, much longer route. The Israelites travelled through the wilderness journey of the Red Sea. They “marched” in an orderly rank-in-file fashion with God leading the way in a pillar of cloud by day and were able to see His pillar of fire for light by night. The LORD was ever present to comfort them in their exodus experience (Ex 13:17-22).

The LORD instructed Moses to camp before Pi Hahiroth before the Red Sea. Pharaoh would believe the Israelites were confused as to their directions and were trapped by the wilderness on one side and the Red Sea on the other. The LORD advised He would then harden Pharaoh’s heart once again. As he thought about the release of the slave labor and the magnitude effect it would have on his country’s economy, Pharaoh remarked at Exo 14:5b, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” (NKJV) So he prepared six hundred chariots with horsemen, and he and his horsemen pursued and overtook the children of Israel camping by the sea. When the Israelites saw their slave master they were placed in immediate fear. They did not have faith in the LORD despite the ten plagues that had allowed them to get to the point where they were. Instead they complained to Moses as recorded at Exo 14:11b-12, “…have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” (NKJV) Moses knew they were speaking out of fear rather than faith. It was as if he said, “Hush! The LORD will handle it.”. It is recorded at Exo 14:13b-14, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which HE will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (NKJV)

After Moses received battle instructions from the LORD (verses 15-18), the angel of God reversed the pillar of cloud to the rear of the Israelites’ march. The pillar of cloud “…came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” ((Exo 14:20 NKJV) The LORD tasked Moses with using his rod. Then a strong east wind came along to perform a supernatural miracle before the eyes of the Israelites. The LORD used a human and nature to perform the miracle recorded at Exo 14:21-22, “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” The LORD’s firstborn were not marching across the Red Sea in mud. The strong east wind had dried the floor of the sea for the children of the LORD to march. They had dealt with muddy pasts in bondage and they were marching on dry ground as freed men as ordered by the LORD. Moses and Aaron probably took the first steps of faith and the rest of the Israelites continued after them with walled waters to their left and right sides. Miracles do not occur frequently; this supernatural miracle shall save a nation. But the Egyptians believed they could benefit from the supernatural miracle also. The children of Israel were pursued into the midst of the sea by the Egyptians, all Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and horsemen (Exo 14:23). God had later allowed the Egyptians to continue their pursuit.

It is now the last watch or 3:00 to 6:00 a.m. according to the Hebrew division of time. The LORD was ready to trouble the heartless Egyptians who had the audacity to trouble His firstborn (Exo 14:24). He had blocked their way (Exo 14:20) to allow the Israelites to gain the upper hand in getting across the sea. The LORD then moved the pillar of cloud to allow the Egyptians to see and lure them into the sea as a trap. Little did they know that the LORD did not intend for the miracle of His children to benefit their slave masters but to be their undoing. “And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” (NKJV) It is a little late for them to finally realize the LORD was fighting Israel’s battle against them. They were too far out in the middle of the sea to run back on their own physical powers and their wheels of transportation were down. This can’t be happening! Let us flee from the face of Israel is all they can say? They were in hot pursuit of Israel, and now they want to flee but can’t. Are they embarrassed because the Israelites are watching? They need to be asking for forgiveness before death! I am sure they realize death was imminent. They were losing a battle in which they had believed they would surely be victorious. /br />

It was time for the final victory for the Israelites. The LORD instructed Moses at Exo 14:26b-28, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.’ And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.” (NKJV) God demonstrated His awesome power when the water receded to their normal place and boundary that was created by the LORD. Pharaoh learned the hard way not to challenge the LORD. He had told Moses at Exo 5:2 that he did not know the LORD and had no reason to obey Him to let His people go. Do not provoke the LORD to wrath. He was very patient with Pharaoh, but in the end, the LORD shall always win.

God allowed the Israelites to see the destruction of evil on the day He saved them. He did for them what they could not do for themselves. Their faith was strengthened indeed when they “walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left…the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” (Exo 14:29-30 NKJV) Sight of the carcasses of the Egyptians on the seashore awaiting beasts and birds to eat of the flesh was very revealing. The Egyptians believed in embalming and their bodies thrown in junk heaps in this manner caused the children of Israel to fear the LORD who had saved them from their enemy. They were now ashamed of their lack of trust and complaints for they knew now only He could have saved them.

Written by Deborah C Davis

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