Barriers Removed: Love and Faith
By faith will you endure what appears to be insurmountable in the assurance that God loves you? Your faith has much to do with knowing how deeply God loves you. God loved the Children of Israel as He prepared them for 430 years to be His own people. In love He heard their cries while they were in bondage to a people who did not know God or them. God called and sent Moses to lead Israel out of that bondage as He revealed His own power in various plagues while saving His by-blood-secured people from the angel of death. What greater love can be found than to see God redeem and save His people from the great enemy death? In his love God brought Moses and the Children of Israel to a place where there was no turning back and they faced the greatest test to their faith to that point. With the Red Sea on one side and Pharaoh’s Army on the other (Exodus 14:9), in love God placed a barrier between Israel and the army. The Angel of the Lord moves the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night that served as a guide to Israel. It had been in front of the people leading. It was moved to a place behind the people so that the Angel of the Lord stood between Pharaoh and the Children of Israel (Ex. 14:10-12). What greater love can be found than to have God stand between His people and that which would destroy them! Faced with a second threat of death (this time at the hand of an army) Moses cried out to God (Ex. 14:13-16) and a strong East wind sent from God parted the waters and dried the sea bed (Ex. 14:21-22). Israel “...went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Ex. 14:22). But when the Egyptians took up their pursuit, “all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the Sea…the Lord...brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. And He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty…” The Egyptians turned from their pursuit and began to flee. With the Children of Israel safe on the other side, God has Moses to stretch out his hand again. This time the sea “...returned to its normal state at daybreak while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it...the waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.” (Ex. 14: 23-28) Saved once again, Moses and Israel sang a song of praise to the Lord (Ex. 15) for God had delivered them. “...when Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord, and in His servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31). Let’s note the situation that seemed hopeless and see faith believe as God acts in love.
The fear: “We’re gonna’ die!” (Ex. 14:10-12). Someone has said that the business of life consists in getting over fences and not lying down and moaning on one side of the fence. Seeing their situation, Israel “became very frightened”. Forgetting the love found in the salvation that God had already brought to them, they cried out to God. Hear their statements to Moses--“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt…” and “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”. Fear comes when the adventure becomes unfamiliar. Fear comes when right choices produce even greater problems. Fear comes when we are not willing to make the sacrifice for another but cling to our own safety even if it means being in bondage (selfish not loving). Would a loving God bring them to this place and abandon them? Those who raised the questions and cried out in fear must have not known or must have forgotten the love of God already revealed.
The promise and prayer: “Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today… The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Ex. 14:13-14) Here the relationship of Moses with God is revealed: 1) Moses believes God has an answer to the need and that He will accomplish what He has begun. God is love and love never fails. 2) Moses believes that God will fight for His people even when they do not themselves have the needed ability, creativity, or power . How did Moses come to this great faith? God gave the answer when He spoke in Numbers 12:8, “With [Moses] I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord.” This relationship started at the burning bush and continued on until Moses died and God buried his body in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34). Oh what love! God loves Moses and Moses loves God! It is that love that was the bond for these two and it is why Moses greatly desired the presence of God. When we come from the presence of God and go out with the presence of God to face our fences/mountains/obstacle, nothing can overcome us. Our fears and defeats in life often come when we have failed to be face to face with God through prayer, scripture, and worship. It is that face to face that allows His Spirit to identify our sin, convict our soul and produce our confession. Sin can defeat. However, the secret to victorious living in faith is living face to face with our loving God.
The stretch: “Tell the sons of Israel to go forward… stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.” (Ex. 14:15) It took faith to move forward. To enter that dried sea bed with a wall of water on either side was not a walk in the park on a sunny day (Ex. 14:29). Even when walking by faith, there can be the threat of fear, the temptation to fear, the torment of fear. However if faith is motivated by having been loved and by giving love there is not room for fear. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (I John 4:18) For Israel, there is a confidence in their leader at this moment. God had moved the cloud from leading Israel to protecting as a buffer between Egypt and Israel. Now they must trust their leader to go forward. Moses follows God’s command and does his part. He had stretched out his hand and the waters parted. He again stretches out his hand and the waters returned to swallow up the enemy. Whether leading or following, there is the necessity of faith for victory. God’s love for us is the well-spring of that faith.
The Postscript: Were all who crossed the sea safely people of faith? No! True, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb and many more were people of faith. However, unbelievers will later be the trouble makers among the people of God. They were not people of faith but did share in the benefits of the faith. If you have been enjoying the benefits of those of faith only because of proximity, let me call you to relationship with Christ Jesus our Lord.