Summary: Encouragement for believers facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
Text: Exodus 14:5-14 v. 10 As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were Egyptians advancing on them…
There are those instances in life when dubious circumstances have combined to create a seemingly insurmountable situation. You may have been rolling along, going about your business, happily married, raising children, working at a steady job, or serving the Lord at a growing church when first one thing, then another and then perhaps still something else has happened to you to put you on the brink of personal or corporate catastrophe. You had tried to believe, tried to step up, did your very best to make things work out. And still you found yourself looking at a mountain of difficulty and no way out. You may even have come to church this very morning certain that defeat is imminent, ready to concede that your best efforts have produced nothing but failure. But I interrupt the sermon series on evangelism because every now and then, it will do a Christian some good to review some of the old stories of the faith, some of those biblical events that shaped the faith of our forebears and that laid the foundation for centuries of trust in an all powerful miracle working God. Or maybe we’ve forgotten that we serve a God who knocked down walls, a God who heals the sick, a God who provided a table in the wilderness, water from a rock, who gave life to the dead, food for the hungry, power to the weak. Every now and then we need to review the mighty works of who it is that we serve, whose children we are. So let me remind you this morning that we serve an awesome God, that we are children of an all-powerful, wonder working God for whom nothing is impossible.
The text from Exodus concerns the most significant story in the Old Testament, and it was what scholars regard as the pivotal moment among those who believe in God at least until Jesus went to Calvary. This story is familiar, and yet all too often forgotten. It is powerful and yet so many of us who call ourselves people of faith are powerless to recall it. It tells us of one such insurmountable circumstance that the people of God endured, a time when at the brink of obtaining a long sought after freedom, God’s people were threatened with total and utter eradication. Look at that text and see those circumstances with me. Go ahead and contemplate the varying destructive forces that are at work in your own life as you read this text. And in doing so, let us determine if there isn’t anyone else who has gone before us who ever felt scared as we do. Let us understand correctly if there isn’t some biblical account of persons whose faith was shaken as ours is or has been, whose countenance had become weakened as ours is inclined to be, and whose likelihood for survival had been seriously endangered as some of us here today may very well feel.
I read that verse ten, where the Israelites looked back, and they viewed that Pharaoh drew near, and in my mind’s eye there is the picture of some governmental leader determined that God’s people would not be free. There is an understanding in my heart of some school superintendent, some presidents of the United States, some chief justices of the Supreme Court insisting that schools that separated Black children from White children were equal. Pharaoh drew near. I read further in the text of how the Egyptians were advancing on them, with 600 picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And in my imagination I perceive the mighty arsenals of weapons and the billions of dollars spent building these means by which one people can destroy another. I read in that 10th verse how these armies of the Egyptians not only had the children of God within their sights, but how they were advancing on them, causing great fear, making the situation worse, further depleting what little faith and hope and peace still existed in the hearts of the righteous. And in reading this, I am overcome with a sense of déjà vu from having read things this very week in the newspapers, the wars and the rumors of wars, people killing people all over the planet, sometimes in the name of God, sometimes in the name of freedom, but every time in the clutches of hatred. Pharaoh drew near. The Egyptians were advancing. The situation looked pretty bad. The freedom that had seemed so close to attaining was most assuredly beyond the grasp of God’s children now. Gravesites were being contemplated. Funerals were being planned. Complaints were being lodged. Fingers were being pointed. Excuses were being formulated. Fear and spite and defeat were already taking up residence in the hearts and minds of the Israelites. It was 4th and 26. The message is, “don’t give up.”