Summary: Before we can move forward when facing fearful challenges in our life we first need to stand firm in the Word of the Lord.
Stand Firm and Move Forward
Remember the times you experienced fear? The times when your breath was taken away and your adrenalin shot way up?
I experienced fear when I was eleven years old and we lived on a farm taking care of the farm for one summer. When a neighbor drove into the farmyard and screamed that a tornado was coming I felt the chill of fear like electricity go through my entire body.
One time when our family was visiting my parents in Gypsum I was bike riding with Annette and Janette my young daughters. As we were riding alone on a dirt road out of nowhere a dog came and started trying to bite my right led. I had to peddle with my left leg and kick at the do with my right leg. I knew that the dog was going to munch on my leg for a tasty meal. My daughters saw what I was doing and nearly fell off their bikes laughing.
On another occasion a demon dog tried to attack me. After serving as pastor for five years in Kansas City, KS we moved to Taylor, MI a suburb of Detroit to become founding pastor of a new FMC. For the first year while organizing a nucleus of people in Taylor I served as associate pastor of the Dearborn FMC located four miles away from where we were living in Taylor.
One day I got out of my car in the Dearborn Church parking lot to walk to the church and from across the street a dog was barking and running directly toward me. Fear shot through me like lightening and I froze in my tracks. I turned toward the dog and with intense fear just as the dog lunged at me I gave the dog a boot in the mouth. The dog ran away, but I was so shaken I called Carollyn and told her I had just experienced a mad dog attack. Only the hard toe of my shoe saved me.
Years later I had a wild pig attack me. I was driving early one Sunday morning going to preach at our FMC in West Palm Beach, FL. I was traveling on a two-lane highway near Okeechobee, FL when I looked in the ditch and saw a wild boar running up ahead. As I got close to the pig it darted in front of my car and I hit it head on with my car catapulting into the air. The attack nearly gave me cardiac arrest. I drove in fear shaking all over until I reached Okeechobee and got out of the car and checked to see if everything was okay.
We experience all kinds of fear. We face fear of the future, fear of commitment, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, and fear of death. Fear is often for our own good. It motivates us and often serves to protect us from harm. Some neurotic fears keep people in bed or cause people to withdraw from life and make wrong decisions.
In our scripture text today we have an account of the experience of the Children of Israel crying out in fear for their lives.
Let’s look at the background to our scripture text. The children of Israel ended up in Egypt after the sons of Jacob sold their young brother Joseph to a caravan going to Egypt. Joseph grew up in the home of an official of Pharaoh. Through his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams Joseph became a top leader in the nation of Egypt.
Due to 7 years of famine in the land Joseph’s father and brothers moved to Egypt from the land of Canaan and settled in Goshen. After the death of Pharaoh and Joseph and his brothers the new Pharaoh felt threatened by the ever increasing population of the children of Israel so he made the Israelites his slaves and made them work for Egypt. For 400 years they served as slaves and were oppressed by the Egyptians. They cried out to God and God heard their cry and called Moses, a Hebrew and stepson of Pharaoh to bring deliverance and lead the children of Israel out of captivity and go back to their homeland of Canaan.
When Pharaoh resisted God brought plagues on the Egyptians and the final plague on Egyptian leaders and families was the death angel taking all first-born of every Egyptian family and first born of their livestock.
Moses led the 3 million people out of Egypt and God provided their own GPS as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night so they could travel during the day or night. When the cloud moved they moved and when it stopped them stopped.
After three days journey Pharaoh realized his loss of such a great work force and equipped his 600 best chariots plus his army to pursue the Israelites and bring them back to serve as his slaves.