Summary: Have you ever found yourself in a predicament? We have a lot of word pictures in the English language to describe being in a predicament.... Moses and the people of Israel found themselves in such a predicament. The Israelites found themselves trapped b

A Study of the Life of Moses

Sermon # 9

Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

Exodus 14:1-15, 21-31

by Dr. John R. Hamby

Have you ever found yourself in a predicament?

We have a lot of word pictures in the English language to describe being in a predicament. We hear phrases such as “you sure have painted yourself into a corner,” of being caught “between a rock and a hard place,” being “up against the wall” or “in a pickle. ” A least one person has defined a predicament as being , “A lawyer who specializes in suing doctors for medical malpractice finding himself in need of major surgery.”

[Charles Swindoll. Moses: A Man of Selfless Devotion. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999). p. 211.]

Moses and the people of Israel found themselves in such a predicament. The Israelites found themselves trapped between Pharaoh’s Army and the Red Sea. I hope that after today’s message you are not like this little boy.

“Nine year old Joey was asked by his mother what he had learned in Sunday School that day. ‘Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind the enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his engineers build a pontoon bridge, and all the people walked across safely. He used his walkie-talkie to radio headquarters and call in an air strike. They sent in bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.’ ‘Now, Joey, is that REALLY what your teacher taught you?’ his mother asked. ‘Well, no, Mom, but if I told it the way the teacher did, you’d never believe it!’”

After the death angel’s appearance resulted in the death of all the first born among the Egyptians, Pharaoh finally allowed the Israelites to go free. Exodus 13:18 tells us, “So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.” Moses tells us how God guided the children of Israel in Exodus 13:21, “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. (22) He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.” The great pillar began to lead the children of Israel in their journey. The pillar took on the appearance of smoke by day and fire by night.

Today’s passage has four things to teach us about God’s Plan’s.


In Exodus 14:1-2, God ordered a change of direction which to many of the children of Israel must have at best seemed strange and at worst, risky and dangerous. “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: (2) “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea.” The children of Israel were in effect asked to backtrack to go back in the same direction that they had just traveled. Their course was to take a direction which in a very short time would place them with the Red Sea on one side, on the other side trackless wilderness and in front an insuperable barrier of mountains. They were boxed in, there was no escape! It was like running from you life from a gang intent upon taking your life and realizing that you have just turned down a dead-end street. They can’t go back and they can’t go forward. The future looks impassible and the present seems impossible.

But you need to understand that they have been led to the place they now stand, not by Moses, not by coincidental wandering, but by God Himself.

“Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape, designing a situation that no human judgment would have permitted had it been previously consulted. The very cloud directs them there. You…, may be involved in a situation like this at this very hour. It does seem perplexing and mysterious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you there. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power. Not only will He deliver you, but in doing so He will give you a lesson that you will never forget …..”

[F.B. Meyer. The Life of Moses: The Servant of God. (Lynnwood, Washington: Emerald Books, 1996.0 p. 80]

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Perry Friesen

commented on Mar 10, 2016

Some of the same insights as God gave me, but you've added some good quotable stories. Thank you!

Russell Lyon

commented on Apr 5, 2016

Thank you for the great insights and applications. I appreciated your ministry in my own study. - Pastor Rusty Lyon, Faith Community Church, Fort Atkinson, WI.

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