Summary: 2nd in 4 part series on God’s X-Files -"unexplained phenomenon" and the lessons we can learn from it.
Woody Allen in addressing a Harvard graduation said, "You have entered a crossroads of life. Down one road is despondency and despair.. down the other road is total annihilation. I sure hope you make the right choice." Now, I’m confident that Woody Allen was being humorous but he was describing how many people feel sometimes. There can be for all of us periods when we just see no way out, when we feel huge burdens, waves of despair. Well, that’s the story in a nutshell in Exodus 14. The children of Israel came to an impasse at the Red Sea. Just hours before they were celebrating their release from 400 years of slavery in Egypt but now emotions reverse and they are dire straits. But I don’t want to look at their despair this morning as much as I want us to watch what happens when they placed their trust in God. The Psalmist wrote about this incident saying, "Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were never disappointed."(Psa. 22:4-5 NLT) How God created this “unexplained phenomenon” and miraculously saved the people of Israel should be a source of inspiration to us. So, let’s examine how God delivered them and gain some lessons on how we can trust Him to deliver us in the times where we are up against it too.
I. THE TRAP AT THE RED SEA:
The children of Israel were absolutely trapped between the devil and, in this case, the deep red sea. The devil was Pharaoh. The Red Sea, which is not red but the mountains surrounding it have a red tint, was uncrossable by human standards. The Red Sea is over 1200 miles long and in places over a mile deep. Ron Wyatt, a well known archeologist, about 20 years ago, found what many think is the exact spot this event occurred. It is at the Aquaba gulf. Some scuba divers have actually found old chariot wheels & human remains. As you can see, this place is a perfect description of how the Israelites were boxed in by mountains to the south, an Egyptian fortress to the north, Pharaoh’s army behind them and the sea in front. Here, the Sea is some 5 to 8 miles across & 250’ - 300’ deep. The Israelites are trapped.
But let’s take a moment to look at how the children of Israel got trapped. This wasn’t a military blunder but incredibly it was by God’s design. God could of led the children of Israel on a more direct route to the promised land. A direct route from Egypt to Israel is about 350 miles. Even 2 million people could walk that in 6 to 8 weeks. But God said if they went the short route they would encounter the Philistines, who were a warring people, and the children of Israel were soft from 400 years of slavery and not ready for battle. Ex. 13:17- "God said, “If they see that they have to fight a war, they may change their minds and go back to Egypt."(GW) So, God took them the long route. It would be kind of like 2 million people leaving Colorado Springs headed for Denver and going by way of Grand Junction or someplace out of the way. But God took them on this indirect route for 2 reasons. (1) He was going to test their faith. He was going to perform a miracle so that their trust in Him would increase. They were like children and God knew they had some growing up to do, spiritually, before they were ready to enter the land of promise. (2) He wanted to demonstrate His care for them. The children of Israel needed to understand that God had not delivered them from slavery and just left them. He was still there, still protecting them and they could depend totally on Him. So, the indirect route strengthened them and showed God’s care. The plan was simple: Place the Israelites in such a predicament that it will be impossible for them to escape without His intervention. God’s plan was to deliver His people in such a fashion that it would be plain to all that He was the One, True, God. Look at the text starting at vs:5- “When the King of Egypt was told that the Israelites had left, he and his officers changed their minds about them. They said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites leave. We have lost our slaves!” This was an incredibly tight place. The Wadi Watir. No escape possible and all in God’s plan.
But of course, the Israelites don’t understand God’s design and so they panic which is just a symptom of a lack of trust. Vs:10- “When the Israelites saw the king and his army coming after them, they were terrified.” They responded like most who feel trapped. They cry out to God. They pray. Isn’t that what happened after Sept 11? It seemed everyone was calling out to God.. Congressman on the Senate steps, world leaders, everyone, praying and also telling others to pray. But how much do you see of that now? Or to be real blunt, how much of that did we see even 6 months after the attacks? But that is so like us isn’t it? When you can’t go forward, or right or left or backwards the only way you can go is up! And so the Israelites lifted up prayers and cried out to the Lord.