The Way Prepared In The Sea
1. Today I would like for us to especially remember the words in verses thirteen and fourteen. Moses said to the Israelites, "You must not fear. Be calm and look at the salvation of the Lord which he is performing for you today. Today you are looking at the Egyptians, but you will not look on them ever again. The Lord will fight your battles for you. Be still."
You Must Not Fear
2. To begin, let's turn our attention upon the circumstances in which these words were given. The people of Israel got out of Egypt by Moses' leadership. The text says, "The Israelites left triumphantly," (verse eight). They didn't take flight out of Egypt running for their lives. On the contrary, because of the disasters that extended through out the land of Egypt, they had left Egypt upon the invitation of the Egyptians. The scriptures put it like this, "The Egyptians urged the people and wanted them to depart the country in haste. If you don't, we think that we will all die," (12:33).
3. But then, the pharaoh and his court had an about-face when they heard the news that the people of Israel had left Egypt. "Well, what shall we do? What did we do in letting the Israelites go and releasing them from their hard labor?," (verse five). After saying that, the pharaoh himself personally led his troops and pursued Israel from behind. Then at last, he caught up to them as they were encamped near to a place called Pihahiroth. It was a beach where they were camped at. They couldn't run away any more. In front of them was the sea, and behind them was the Egyptian army pressing in. The Israelites were trapped in a down right deadly predicament. They shook with fear.
4. But, at that point Moses spoke to the people and said, "You must not fear." How could Moses say, "Don't be afraid," while under the circumstances they were in? He could say that because he knew that this crisis was all in God's hands.
5. Why were they even encamped at a beach in the first place? Because the Lord lead them there. The Lord said to Moses, "Command the Israelites to go back and camp this side of Pihahiroth between Migdol and the sea," (verse two). Because of this order, the people dared to go back on the path and came to the sea shore. In other words, the situation they were facing was all because they had followed the Lord.
6. This means that it was a critical situation that they were facing, but it was not brought about because of lack of knowledge and power on God's part. Nothing happens without God knowing and having a part in it somewhere. The Lord knows all about it. And because the Lord knows and because it is in the Lord's hands, there is no need to be afraid. That's what Moses believed dead sure. Therefore, Moses said to them, "You must not fear."
7. The scriptures are also repeating its message of "You must not fear" to us who are living today. The circumstances that we see now may not be what we had been hoping for or what we had planned to be. We often find ourselves in some unforeseen hardship. But, we have no need to be afraid when we are with the Lord and we are among God's people as the Lord leads us. Through this message we need to recall that we too are in the Lord's hands and even all the circumstances that surround us are in the Lord's hands.
Stand Firm And Look
8. With this message before us let's put our attention on what the Israelites had said next. They said, "Was the reason you brought us out because there were no graves in Egypt? Was it to let us die in the wilderness? For what ever reason did you lead us out of Egypt? Didn't we tell you in Egypt, 'Leave us the way we are. We serve the Egyptians. It is better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness?,'" (verses eleven and twelve).
9. To this Moses replied, "Be calm and look at the salvation of the Lord which he is performing for you today." The word translated "be calm" is by root the word "please stand." Moses is saying, "Stand and see!"
10. To stand firm we must check the foothold upon which we are to stand. We cannot stand firm unless we ascertain why we're there or who we are right now.
11. That's really where the problem of the Israelites lied. They didn't know the reason they were brought out of Egypt. That's why they groaned like they did with, "Was the reason you brought us out because there were no graves in Egypt? Was it to let us die in the wilderness? For what ever reason did you lead us out of Egypt?"
12. Many of them may have been thinking that they got out of Egypt just to escape from the hard labor in Egypt. But, that was not the reason. As they themselves said, they were a people "brought out, lead out." Actually, Moses may have been the one to lead them out, but it was really the Lord God himself who used Moses to bring them out. Since that was so, they should expect for the Lord to have his purpose in it somewhere.
13. "Leave us alone. We serve the Egyptians." It's true, they certainly used to serve the Egyptians. But, God had lead them. He was leading these former servants of the Egyptians to become servants of the Lord. The reason they were led was not to let them die in the wilderness. The reason they were being led was to turn these people who used to serve the Egyptians and who used to serve the Egyptian gods into a people who will serve the Lord, a people who will worship the Lord, the people of the Lord.
14. If we don't know the reason we were led, we will not stand firm. A lot of times that's how we are. If we think that in becoming a Christian it will make all our pain go away, when we face some painful time worse than ever, we are sure to say, "Is the reason you brought us out to let us die in the wilderness?" The reason Christ redeemed us with his blood and the reason he poured out the Holy Spirit upon us was not to let us die in the wilderness. It is so that we will become God's people. It is so that we serve the Lord, worship him, go to the promised land, and become his people.
15. We've got to stand firm holding on and doing God's purposes. We must look for God's deliverance and stand firm. The truly important thing is to stand firm and keep our focus on what "the master" will do as he guides us and not to vacillate over what we are supposed to do.
The Lord Will Fight For You
16. What did the Lord do for the Israelites? Moses said, "The Lord will fight for you. You are to be still." But what they had seen was not just the Lord defeating the pressing Egyptian army. They saw a path in the sea opened up. Where it looked like "the end" they saw right before their very eyes a new way opened right up for them to go on through that "[supposed] end."
17. When a pathway is opened up by God it means we ought to walk on through it. The Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Command the Israelites to set out," (verse fifteen). The Israelites had to keep on keeping on. It was the Lord who opened up the way. It was the people of the Lord who had to go forward. No substitute could do their walking for them. Walking on a path opened in the sea must have been dreadful to do. The scriptures say that "The waters became like a wall on both their left and on their right," (verse twenty-two). They had no guarantee anywhere that they could traverse on through it. They did not have on hand any sort of assurance, except to believe. [All they had was to] believe in the truth of the Lord leading them to the promised land and in God's grace to save them. Thus, they were required to walk by faith.
18. The Lord does battle. We have a part in that battle. We do it by walking in trust upon the Lord. Since the Lord is fighting on behalf of our deliverance, [there is] no longer anything ever that will conclude by destroying us totally. The Lord will open the way. If we are led by him and walk in him, if we are a people who serve the Lord and are heading for his promised land, it is impossible for anything to be "the end" for us. That's right, because the Lord has been fighting for us, even "death" has lost its finality for us!
19. Moses said, "Be still." We shouldn't murmur. We shouldn't doubt. We shouldn't despair. We shouldn't groan in sorrow like a person without hope. We ought to close our mouths and calm down. Then we will depend only on the Lord's truth and grace and proceed on the pathway that he has opened for us.
20. Moses spoke to the people whom the Lord had led and who were supposed to be his servants with, "You must not fear. Be calm and look at the salvation of the Lord which he is performing for you today. Today you are looking at the Egyptians, but you will not look on them ever again. The Lord will fight your battles for you. Be still." Likewise, I hope that we too will remember deep down in our hearts these same words as servants of the Lord looking to the promised land.