Summary: Our journey in life is sometimes parallel to the people of Israel, who came out from Egypt, given a promise to inherit the Promise Land, but in between these journeys, they were "stationed" in a place, a trap, with nowhere to go.
When God's People Is Locked Down: Responses, Reflections, and Responsibilities
A Sermon Message on Exodus 14:1-20
By Dr. Joel A. Tejedo, D.Min.
Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ Exodus 14:3
In 2011, my wife and I were gifted a plane ticket by my student to travel to Shanghai and Beijing for 10 days. It was a beautiful ten days of rest, leisure, and prayer time for both of us. But the day that we had to fly back to Manila, we missed our flight and stayed in Beijing airport without enough money to buy our tickets. The thing that added to our worries was the expiration of our visa the next day. We were advised by the Chinese officer to secure our travel itinerary immediately or else we will be penalized or be in jail. It was a very difficult moment in our married life. The planned moment of rest and leisure as a couple now became a "curse." We were wondering and feeling confused about what to do. We were sort of trapped in a place, confused, and wondering what to do!
Have you been in a similar difficult situation? What did you do and how did you respond?
Our journey in life is sometimes parallel to the people of Israel, who came out from Egypt, given a promise to inherit the Promise Land, but in between these journeys, they were "stationed" in a place, a trap, with nowhere to go.
Today's passage shows us the three actors that act when people are trapped or locked down: Pharaoh, the People, and God. Let's examine the responses of these three actors and try to reflect on some of our responsibilities when we are in a very difficult situation.
I. Actor # 1: Pharaoh Called Pi-Hahiroth----A Place of Trap, vv. 1-9.
a. There are different stations on our journey with God. Pi-Hahiroth was the fourth station for the Israelites. God has instructed them to encamp in Pi-Hahiroth for a purpose.
b. How can a wise and a good God who released and rescued His people from the hands of Pharaoh, instructed Moses to encamp at Pi-Hahiroth? What was his purpose?
c. Pi-Hahiroth was the fourth station of the Israelites after they came out from Egypt while Pharaoh was advancing his forces to attack and hem them in.
d. Geographically, if you are in Pi-Hahiroth, you are in between Migdol and the Red Sea. Migdol was a mountain and was perceived historically as a "military outpost" for the Egyptians to watch the coming of their enemies. In front of them is the Red Sea, a formidable body of water that will engulf them if they plan to cross it. The place where they were standing was opposite to Baal Zaphon, a mountain named after the Egyptian god.
e. Pi-Hahiroth means the "end of the river." It was a dead end. It was a dangerous and perilous place for God people. From the perspective of war, Pi- Hahiroth was a strategic place to trap, destroy, annihilate, and massacre your enemies.
f. While we do not like to be at the end of the road, it was God who instructed Moses to encamp in this place.
g. Pharaoh called this place a trap because he knew that he can easily marshall his army to bring back the Israelites to slavery in Egypt.
h. It is interesting to note that Pharaoh's game plan is to trap, ready his army, and pursue them until they are all annihilated.
i. Satan does the same thing. When he sees us wondering, confused, and trapped in a very difficult situation, he pursues to destroy and kill us. He wants us "confused" and trapped in a seemingly impossible situation.
j. Our response is to be armed with God's authority to wage war on Satan because we are serving the Lord of Hosts, whose name is "Faithful and True.' The apostle Peter warned us to be alert and be sober, for the devil is like a roaring lion looking for someone whom he may devour, 1 Peter 5:8.
k. The apostle Paul doesn't want us to be ignorant of Satan's schemes, tactics, or devices, 2 Cor. 2:11. So he commanded us to arm ourselves with spiritual weapons so that we can stand victorious in our trying times, 2 Cor. 10:4, Eph. 6:10-12.
II. Actor # 2: The Skeptic People Called Pi-Hahiroth----A Grave or Cemetery, vv. 10-14.
a. It is interesting to note that after knowing that Pharaoh's army was advancing toward Pi-Hahiroth, the Israelites were terrified, and they panicked.
b. In that passage, they mentioned the word "die" because they thought that Pi-Hahiroth was a "grave" or cemetery for them.
c. Here, they verbalized to Yahweh their fear, complaints, unbelief, anguish, anxiety, and desperation.