Pastor Sherry’s message for 9/13,2020,
Scriptures: Exodus 14:5-31; Ps 114
Osinachi Lalu Egbu is a 47YO Nigerian woman who has written more than 200 Christian praise songs. She has shortened her name to Sinach. Perhaps you have seen T-shirts emblazoned with the words,
“Way-Maker, Promise-Keeper, Miracle-Worker, Light-in-the-Darkness.”
These names of God begin the chorus of one of her currently popular songs, which ends with, “My God, that is Who You are!” This song seems to be currently taking the Christian world by storm because it expresses such deep trust in God’s abilities to…1. Make a way where there seems to be none;2. Keep His promises to us;3. Work miracles on our behalf, often at the 11th hour;4. And provide light to us in our times of darkness.
I cannot think of a more dramatic event from the Old Testament that so fully demonstrates God as Way-maker, Promise Keeper, Miracle-Worker, and Light in the Darkness, as His fabulousrescue of His people in the Red Sea Crossing (Ex 14:5-31).
Remember from last week’s lesson, God had sent the final plague—the death of the 1st born—upon Egypt. Those Israelite slaves, however, who had applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their door frames were spared. This final plague seemed to have broken the back of the Pharaoh’sresistance to losing his free labor-force. He gave the word that they and their livestock could leave Egypt the next morning. So they did…2 million of them.
Our reading today begins with them trekking through the desert region between the Nile and the Red Sea. God had them avoid two well-traveled land routes to the north, both of which paralleled the Mediterranean Sea. He knew that Egyptian spies were watching their exodus. He also realized that they would report to Pharaoh that the freed slaves seemed to be apparently wandering aimlessly. Once again underestimating God, Pharaoh decides to pursue the Hebrews with his 600 chariots. He seemed to believe his crack troops would either make mincemeat of the 2 million untrained slaves, or be able to reroute them back into captivity. Despite the recent lessons of the 10 plagues, Pharaoh appeared confident he could recapture his unpaid laborers. This, as we know, was a massive case of hubris!
Our God was not ambushed! Instead He effected a Divine Rescue:
1. As the Way-Maker, He led the people thru the desert.
The Israelites were not lost; instead they were being guided by GPS—God’s Planned Strategy. With the Red Sea to the left and Egyptian Special Forces to the right, it seemed like the people were caught in a deadly trap between the Devil (Pharaoh) and the Deep Blue (Red) Sea! But God purposefully led them to this situation. The cloud-by-day, fire-by-night suddenly shifted from front, leading the people, to the back, providing a rear guard.
2. God had promised to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. So He instructed Moses to raise his staff, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God blew open the Red Sea. Walls of water stood up on both sides of the escape route. On dry ground—let’s not miss this!—and hidden from the Egyptians, the people were able to cross through all night long. God literally had their backs! He engineered their escape as the divine Miracle-Worker.
3. The Promise-Keeper shielded the people from the their pursuers by essentially turning out the lights.
4. Meanwhile, our God provided bright firelight to reveal the path of escape for the pursed. He provided Light in the Darkness.
There were no phones, drones, or video cameras to record this set of miracles. Nevertheless, word of them made it to the Canaanites, especially those living in Jericho. A Canaanite document dated from 1375BC warned of a fearsome people, called the Habiru (or Hebrews), whose powerful God fought for them. Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute who hid Joshua’s two spies, told them (Joshua 2:9-10), I know that the LORD has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are living in fear because of you. We have heard how the LORD dried up the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt.
So, what are the lessons for us today from the Exodus?
1. We want to remember that God is the Way-maker.
When we are caught in circumstances that seem impossible for us, we are to pray, to ask for God’s help, and to trust He will provide it. Our God hears us and often provides a response we never considered nor could have predicted! Money might manifest from some unexpected source. We might enjoy a needed delay or reprieve from some consequence we had dreaded. We might experience a cure for a disease or from an addiction we had not yet overcome. We might have undergone a sudden change of heart, or seen an altered attitude or positive behavioral shift in a friend or relative. A job or an opportunity we never imagined might have presented itself.
2. We want to remember that God is a Promise-Keeper.
He promised to save us and He has, through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross. He promises to never leave or forsake us. He promises to protect those who love Him. He promises to be present to us. He promises to answer those who call upon Him. He promises to love us, even when we act in ways that make us unlovable. He promises to forgive us if we ask Him. The writer to the Hebrews says that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. James tells us (1:17)…the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows. He does no posing, He exhibits no fakery. He keeps His word!
3. We want to remember that God is a Miracle-Worker.
He has all of the resources of the universe at His command. It’s not like He has to search around for ways to provide for us. He doesn’t have to do fund raisers or set up a “Go Fund Me” page. He can just speak the word and His will is accomplished. Scripture tells us again and again that nothing is impossible with Him. Some people write off the Red Sea Crossing as a myth. They seem to believe even God cannot violate the laws of physics. They must not believe in the God of miracles that I do, that you do. Since God set the laws of physics into being, isn’t it clearly possible that He can override or supersede them? Our God is able to do whatever He decides todo.
Additionally, no schemes of evil men or of the Devil can thwart His plans. To me the greatest example of this is how Jesus is appearing—in dreams and visions—to people caught behind the Moslem Curtain. Hostile Moslems tell their people that Christian missionaries are evil purveyors of sex trafficing and molesters of children. Radical Islamists then use this as a justification for capturing Christian missionaries, torturing them, and thenkilling them in those countries. But no human or government can capture or kill Jesus. It’s already been done and it didn’t stick!4. Finally, we want to remember that God is the Light in the Darkness. The news media daily inundates us with negativity and fear-producing predictions. Consider what they say just with regard to thethe Covid-19 virus:a. It will have a resurgence. So far this has not really happened.b. So it’s very dangerous to send kids back to school, or to reopen businesses with face to face contact. Schools have reopened now in Florida without the dreaded upsurge predicted, as have restaurants and hair salons. The developing vaccines will either not work or will have dangerous side-effects. We will have to wait on this one, but I am willing to take a dose of vaccine when one is released. d. We can never again hug or shake hands. I have been hugging folks and shaking hands with no ill effect for several weeks. In addition, I have been careful to wash my hands well before eating.e. Our economy will never recover. This also remains to be seen; however, some are predicting we will be back to pre-pandemic economic levels by early 2021.
The person of faith wants to focus on their faith in God and not innews casters. The person of faith daily puts on the whole armor of God (Eph 6): the shoes of the Gospel of Peace; the belt of Truth; the breastplate of Righteousness; the helmet of Salvation; the shield of Faith, and the sword of the Spirit. The person of faith recalls 2 Cor 10:3-5àFor though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. The person of faith recites, in Jesus’ name, No weapon formed against us will prosper/prevail (Isa 54:17).
Israel has long celebrated God’s rescue of His people in the story of the Exodus. The freed Hebrew slaves directly experienced God as their Way-maker, Promise-Keeper, Miracle-Worker, and Light-in-the-Darkness. And if we ponder it long enough, we will have to admit that we have probably too. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Copyright 2020 Rev. Dr. Sherry Adams