Summary: This sermon is going to review the story of the children of Israel at the Red Sea in order to show that while many battles in life cannot be won through our own effort, God is more than capable and willing to secure our victory if only we would stand still and let Him fight for us!
Where will I Go?
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
“Self-esteem is that speck in the eye which most effectually mars human vision; the Great Surgeon of souls removes this from us chiefly by sanctified afflictions.”
Ever face a situation that was so difficult that endurance or escape seemed like an impossibility? You know the kind of situation that brings that crushing wave of fear that is so debilitating that one either gives up in despair, flees in any direction or worse yet impatiently tries to change it only to find out that it was as you expected; an immovable, heart breaking terror that without mercy crushes your soul! As Christians we know that living in a fallen world where chance happens to everyone means that like Job both good and bad things happen to us. While knowing of God’s promise to do good to those who love Him is of immeasurable value to those whom do not deserve mercy, when the “good” means gaining spiritual maturity at the expense of trials and tribulations … well that can be a cross few Christians are willing to bear! While being stricken by a thousand inflictions of the mind, body and soul is it truly possible to have faith that God can move our mighty mountains of unbelief or are we as believers doomed in our weakened, sinful state to fight battles of which victory cannot be obtained? This sermon is going to review the story of the children of Israel at the Red Sea in order to show that while many battles in life cannot be won through our own effort, God is more than capable and willing to secure our victory if only we would stand still and let Him fight for us!
Facing an Impossible Situation
It is often in the greatest abundance of blessings that storms occur and do the greatest of damage! At the end of the book of Genesis the Israelite people are on the mountaintop of blessings. Their leader Joseph was second in command of all of Egypt (41:37-41) and they lived in the coveted, fertile region of Goshen (47:27). It was here that they increased their wealth and numbers in accordance with God’s promise to their forefather Abraham to make them into a great nation (12:2-3). Upon Joseph’s generation passing away a new king arises in Egypt (Exodus 1:8). Not knowing the legacy of Joseph, he enslaved Israel to limit their numbers and reduce their perceived threat to Egyptian, national security. When this strategy failed to suppress Israel’s numbers, Pharaoh worked them ruthlessly (1:13) and ordered every Hebrew boy born to be thrown into the Nile river (1:22). Ironically it would be through this very order that a new leader would be found by Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses, whom after meeting God at a burning bush (3:1-21) became the vessel of which Ten Plagues would hit Egypt and force Pharaoh to let God’s people go (12:31)! God did these miracles not because Israel somehow deserved it but to keep His promise to Abraham (2:24) and show Egypt and the surrounding nations His might and power!
After having lived in Egypt for approximately 430 years (12:40) Israel finally began their journey to the Promised Land! After having figuratively plundered (12:36) and left Egypt one can almost see their dancing and hear their shouts of joy but alas their tribulations were far from over. In an unexpected twist out of God’s desire to avoid a military conflict with the Philistines and so that His glory might be shown to Egypt, God led Israel “around by the desert road, towards the Red Sea.” With the desert, sea and marshes barring the dead end trail they had taken, God hardened and strengthened Pharaoh’s heart (14:4) to seek the return of Israel, their perceived chattel or run-away slaves. Pharaoh probably reasoned to himself: why is Israel running away (`14:5) when they only asked for a three-day absence to offer sacrifices to their God (8:27) and how could Egypt ever survive without their forced, manual labor? So Pharaoh took a battalion of “his elite corps and everyone else: chariots, cavalry, and infantry,” and set off “filled with indignation, scorned and longing for revenge.” Not only would these slaves not make a mockery of his generous gift of a three day “holiday,” he would break their bold march (14:8) and take back their plunder and freedom! The remainder of this sermon is going to review Israel’s tough situation with Egypt and in doing so suggest five ways to overcome the greatest of tribulations in life.
Step 1 in Overcoming Tough Situations: Turn Fear into Faith
When the Israelites looked back, they caught sight of the Egyptian army in hot pursuit of them and they “were terrified (14:10)!” With the “Egyptians behind, the Red Sea in front, the craggy steeps of Pi-hahiroth on the right, and the fortresses of Migdol and Baal-zephon frowning on the left: destruction seemed imminent. Based on human reasoning this would be true had it not been for the fact that the same God who performed the Ten Plagues of Egypt was still in Israel’s presence! The irony is that the very trap Egypt thought they had cunningly set for Israel was the same trap God had set for them!. The first step in overcoming that gut-wrenching feeling of doom that often accompanies facing impossible situations like the one Israel faced, is to take fear’s antidote, faith! Faith is confidence and assurance of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Anxiety and stress over the largest Goliath’s of one’s life soon dissipate the moment we remember that our Savior is sovereign and firmly in charge of all things seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16). While we are not promised escape from every tribulation we face, we can have great peace knowing that not only does the Devil have to flee the moment we draw nearer to God and resist him (James 4:7-8), our perseverance over difficult situations sharpens our spiritual maturity and Christlikeness (James 1:2-5)!