I am always amazed at how quickly the people of Israel forgot about how powerful God is.
We have been reading through Exodus the past couple weeks. I am not sure how much time elapsed from the time Moses and Aaron first approached Pharoah in Exodus 6 until the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14, but a fair guess would be 6 months or less.
In the span of 6 months, they witnessed God devastate the nation of Egypt through incredible, unbelievable things. Then, just for icing on the cake, they see God give them all the possessions of their slave masters as they plunder Egypt on their way out.
As they head out from Egypt, God gives Moses peculiar instructions. Instead of telling him to high-tail it out of there as quickly as possible, He says, “I want you to turn back and encamp between Migdol and the sea, and just hangout there for a little bit.” (Ex 14:1-3) He tells Moses, the reason I want you to do that is it will allow Pharoah to think you are hemmed in by the sea, so that he will come after you.”
“What? Wait a minute God. I thought the ideas was to get away from Pharoah, not let him catch us!”
It’s so interesting to get a small glimpse into the mind of God here, and compare that to what the people were thinking. If we could remember this picture when we see God doing things that don’t make sense to us, maybe it would help us trust Him better than the people of Israel!
What was on God’s mind as he gave these instructions?
- His plan for Pharoah and the people of Egypt was for them to see how great He is (see His glory), and that they would know that He is the Lord. (Ex 14:4 I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharoah and all his host and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.)
- His plan for the people of Israel was to build their faith and for them to see how great He is also, so that they would believe and trust in Him. (Ex 14:13-14 “…fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord… The Egyptians you see today, you will see no more! The Lord will fight for you.”
That is ALWAYS what is on the mind of God. As Ian Thomas says, “His cherished desire is that He would be seen, heard and loved through our lives.” That when the world looks at us, they will be draw to God. Not because of us, but because of the work God is doing in and through us. But, Israel failed to do that and failed to see what God was doing. Instead of trusting God here’s what it says they did:
- Ex 14:10-they feared greatly
- Ex 14:11 -they cried out to God, “Is it because there’s no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert?
- Ex 14:12 we told you to leave us alone. It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians then to die in the wilderness
They were convinced their way was better then Gods!
They were convinced that slavery and bondage was better then what God was offering.
Ex 14:30-31 The Lord Saved Israel that day. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the shore
- Isreal saw the great power of God
- They feared the Lord
- They believed in his servant
Unfortunately for the people of Israel, their faith was short lived. Exodus 15:22 says, “They set out from the Red Sea, and they went 3 days into the wilderness and found no water… and they grumbled against Moses… Somehow the truths of God’s power, love and sovereignty did not motivate their behavior. God was trying to help them live by faith but they continued to resort to living by sight. God displayed His wonders, but when the next trial came they resorted back to trying to figure out how the handle it in their own strength. The fact that the God of the universe, the one who sent 10 plagues on Egypt, the one who mightily delivered out of slavery, the one who had just parted the Red Sea… now, when they were thirsty and couldn’t find water, this God was irrelevant to them.
May we learn from their failure. This is my prayer for you.