Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.” (Psalm 46:1-3)
The people of Israel suffered in Egypt as slaves for more than 400 years. They cried to God because their lives were harsh and oppressed by Egyptians. Their slave masters made their lives miserable, and they had no hope. The sun set, and the day was over, but only waited another day filled with the same misery as slaves in a foreign land. They stopped counting of days. Each day was yet another day of misery. The following day would be same as the day, as the day was as the day prior. Just being born as a slave, living as a slave, and dying as a slave, which was the fate of the people of Israel in the foreign land.
There was one man named Moses, who was born as a slave, but became a prince of Egypt. In fact, Moses was the towering prince in Egypt, having all kinds of knowledge, wisdom, strength and power. He also had a heart for his people in slavery. One day, he tried to rescue his people by his own hand by killing one Egyptian slave master. But it did not work as he expected. His people rejected Moses. Egyptians also wanted to arrest Moses. The Moses’ good heart was punished by his own people. Moses fled and became a fugitive. Then spent the next forty years in the Median wilderness, where he met Jethro. Moses soon became Jethro’s son-in-law, and he lived a humble life as a shepherd. But it was God’s plan for Moses and the people of Israel.
After 40 years later, God came to Moses. Moses had completely forgotten his own dream of freeing his own people because his past failure along with his people’s rejection was too painful to remember because his good deed was punished by his own people. God gave Moses His calling for saving the people of Israel by sending him back to his own people in slavery in Egypt. Moses did not want to take the calling. It was almost impossible to take the calling due to the past 40 year’s pain. However, God was persistent, and God tenaciously convinced Moses and Moses almost reluctantly accepted the calling. Moses return to his own people with Aaron, whom God sent as a helper.
When he returned to his own people, the situation had been completely changed. His people welcomed Moses, and they accepted Moses as their leader, who would free them from the slavery in Egypt. Moses suddenly found his dream came true – his people accepted him instead of rejection him. Moses was greatly encouraged by his own people, and he went to Pharaoh. Unfortunately, before Pharaoh, who was sitting on high in throne, Moses could not say what he supposedly to say – conveying the exact message of God. He tweaked, omitted, smoothed out to make the message easy on the ears of Pharaoh. However, the result was a completely disaster. Pharaoh threw Moses and Aaron out of his palace. Pharaoh disgraced God’s name also. Then Pharaoh gave his stern order to all slave masters to make the lives of the people of Israel more miserable than before. Then the people of Israel quickly left Moses. They even cursed at Moses while telling God to judge Moses for his wrong doing. The people of Israel had become too discouraged by the added brutality of their slavery.
Moses suddenly became alone again. All of his newly gained popularity had instantly gone. The people of Israel even became hostile to Moses. Moses cried out to God, and God, who are compassionate and full of mercy, patiently heard Moses. Then God encouraged Moses with His unfathomable love. For example, God had never asked why. Instead, God poured our His love and care on Moses. Indeed, Moses was still a kid before God, who needed lots of God’s care. God patiently helped Moses to grow and mature in God. God’s plan was to make Moses a true leader who could lead the people of Israel for God.
One thing that Moses did right was Moses had never left God. When he failed, all of his own people left him. Additionally, the calling came from God. Moses almost reluctantly accepted God’s calling because of God. Surely, there were many reasons that Moses left God also like the people of Israel. But he didn’t. This is one important lesson that we can learn from Moses. No matter what happens between us and God and between us and others, we have to return to God, and cry out to Him. We tell our failure and heart pains authentically with contrite heart.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17)
God surely raised up Moses with His caring hand, and continued guiding Moses with His mighty hand. Moses followed God. In fact, Moses’ strength to follow God was not originated from his own heart, but the Spirit poured in Moses’ heart by God with His mercy and love. This is the mysterious secret of God, which is reserved only for His own people. Thus, we need to listen to the Spirit sent by God in our heart when we failed and in pain like Moses.
It was not all for God. God also used Pharaoh. In fact, Pharaoh was one piece of His glorious plan to rescue the people of Israel from the Pharaoh’s hand. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, not just once, but nine times. God brought down total ten plagues on the land of Egypt, and the people in Egypt along with Pharaoh suffered to an increasing degree. On the other hand, the people of Israel had never been impacted by the plagues sent by God. Instead, the people of Israel along with Moses saw the almighty God’s hand in action day after day. The people of Israel slowly but steadily recognized Moses as their leader.
Following the series of the plagues, God continued working on the hearts of the people of Israel to be one with Moses. When the tenth plague hit the land of Egypt, the people of Israel completely became one with Moses while believing in God without any doubts. However, Pharaoh was not convinced even after the nine plagues. Pharaoh’s officials and Egyptians begged, but Pharaoh did not hear. Why? God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Surely, God uses even Pharaoh, the king of Egypt to fulfill His will specially prepared for His own people.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
However, after losing his own firstborn son during the tenth plague, Pharaoh finally and truly feared God, and forced out the people of Israel from his own land. God also made Egyptian in fear of the people of Israel. Whatever asked by the people of Israel were given to the people of Israel. Thus, the people of Israel essentially plunder the wealth of Egypt as they left Egypt. This is what God did for the people of Israel and does for His own people even today. Please see the world through the eyes of faith. The world is revolving around God’s people! God owns the world and govern everything happening in this world. We might forget this, but this truth will not go away but with us forever. Thus, we praise Him in all circumstances. We can always come back to Our God who is the true King and Master, and pour out our hearts to Him. God surely hears us and pays His undivided attention to our prayers word by word because He dearly loves us.
Most importantly, while the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt right before sending down the 10th plague, God gave an instruction to have the first Passover feast as a sign that God has delivered the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt. Yes, at that time, the people of Israel were still slavers, but in faith, the people of Israel faithfully followed what God commanded. They all got together had the first Passover meal and put the blood on each family’s doorposts as a sign so that God would pass over His own people when the plague of death stuck the land of Egypt. And it did happen that night, and all Egyptians wailed over the loses of their own firstborn sons, but nothing happened to the people of Israel because the plague of death passed over all the people of Israel.
As God foretold, Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night.
“Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” (Exodus 12:31b-23)
All the Egyptians also urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!” This is what God did, and what God does even today. This is our faith and hope.
That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth. There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children. A rabble of non-Israelites went with them, along with great flocks and herds of livestock. For bread they baked flat cakes from the dough without yeast they had brought from Egypt. It was made without yeast because the people were driven out of Egypt in such a hurry that they had no time to prepare the bread or other food. They ate the unleavened bread for the next seven days.
Truly, Moses and the people of Israel became one in one faith with God, which was what God wanted. God had worked on them by sending ten plagues in the land of Egypt. Remember that the people of Israel were hostile to Moses after Moses failed, which was even before the first plague. The people of Israel had neither patience nor faith in God. Let alone not trusting Moses as their leader who would free from their slavery in Egypt.
Yes, God shaped and molded Moses and the people of Israel until they became one and ready. God’s patience and His unfathomable love changed them together in God. Yes, God’s plan never fails.
As leaving Egypt, God gave instructions to Moses:
“Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” (Exodus 14:1b-4a)
What was the God’s command? God ordered the Israelites not to go straight to the Promised Land, which would take only seven days to get there. Instead God made the Israelites detour. After all, they ended up wondering the wilderness for the next forty years! Why didn’t God lead the Israelites directly to the Promised Land? Was the Promised Land the ultimate goal for the massive exodus of 600,000 men and almost two million people? Yes, it is right. The Promised Land was a land flowing with milk and honey, but occupied by the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. None of the six nations in the Promised Land would welcome the Israelites. The Israelites had to overcome and subdue the six nations living in the Promised Land.
The Israelites lived as slaves in Egypt. Nobody was trained like a soldier who used deadly weapons professionally. Of course, they possessed no weapon either. In other words, they were just a bunch of ex-slaves freed after 400 years’ slavery. The six nations already occupying the Promised Land were well equipped with trained soldiers and deadly weapons. If there was a fight between the ex-slave Israelites and the well-trained armies of any of the six nations, the outcome would be obvious. A complete defeat of the Israelites. If we were God, what would we do for the Israelites?
God’s approach was, however, completely different. God made them equipped with faith, which was strong enough to overcome and subdue the six nations in the Promised Land. The detouring was the sign that God had just launched a new training course specially designed for the Israelites and Moses.
God uses everything for His own people. We know that everything in this world revolves around us, His own people. In fact, the entire human history is His salvation history of saving His own people. God protects with His mighty hand and guide with His love. The Israel had just graduated from the first training course composed of the ten plagues, and nobody asked why they had to detour rather than going straight to the Promised Land. Yes, they were faithful to God and obeyed Him. The Israelites camped along the shore as they were told. Nobody did forget the ten mighty plagues in Egypt, the Passover meal and the awesome experience of being saved by God’s hand in the mist of the tenth plague, and the massive exodus from Egypt which they saw only in their dreams. Even the Egyptians blessed the Israelites leaving Egypt. In their hearts, God was so great, who had the mighty hand. Thus, they obeyed.
In the meantime, let’s see had happened to Pharaoh. Pharaoh realized that a great opportunity came to re-capture the Israelites because they were trapped in the wilderness. The Israelites camped beside the shore. In other words, the Israelites had no place to go if they were attacked from the land. There was no more land to go because of the sea. What a good opportunity to reclaim the Israelites and bring them to Egypt as slaves! God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh could not pass the most attractive opportunity to capture back the Israelites who were trapped between the wilderness and the sea.
So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. The LORD also continued hardening the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance.
The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon. The Israelites, then, found what was happening. Pharaoh was chasing them with the mighty Egyptian armies.
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They were trapped between the mighty Egyptian armies and the sea. The Israelites knew exactly how mighty the Pharaoh’s armies under his direct control. The Egyptian armies chasing them were the best: the bravest and the most fearful at that time in the world. Then they said to Moses,
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 14: 11b-12)
So far, the Israelites were obedient to God. They camped beside the shore as commanded. Surly, it was not safe to camp along the shore, which limited their mobility because one side is blocked by the sea. Even so, they camped because they saw the ten plagues and especially the last plague of death of firstborn sons of Egyptians. God also made the day was memorable by declaring the day as “Passover.” However, such a faith that was quickly gained by just watching God’s almighty power did not go far. When they saw a grave danger approaching quickly, the excitement of watching the God’s mighty hand quickly evaporated. What was bigger to their eyes at that time? The God’s mighty hand seen a few days ago, or the rapidly approaching Egyptian armies with chariots, swords, spears, and mighty horses at the very moment. Their heart was frozen before the thundering noise made by the Egyptians.
In their eyes, the Egyptian armies looked much bigger than God’s hand. Like the Israelites, when we take off our eyes on Jesus Christ, all things around us look much bigger than their reality. Peter was able to walk on water when he fixed his eyes on Jesus. He completely trusted Jesus, but he quickly sank when he took off his eyes from Jesus. He saw big waves approaching to him, and was in fear instead of in faith.
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” (Matthew 14:28-31)
Without exception, there is a strong wind in one’s life. It is also true that there is always a stronger wind than a person can endure. In other words, the word “strong” is relative to one’s own faith. A strong wind for one person is nothing to another person with a stronger faith than the wind. Therefore, regardless one’s faith, a stronger wind than one’s faith surely will find the person, which can easily make off the person’s eyes from Jesus. In other words, nobody can truly safe against a strong wind. Sooner or later a stronger wind than we can endure finds us. This makes us humble before God. Then what shall we do? How to fight back when a strong wind finds us? Only is the way given to use God’s Word and overcome the strong wind.
We should expect to meet a strong wind with a different strength depending our own faith, but all of us, without exception, can be overcome those strong winds by the Word of God.
take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)
Then how to equip us with God’s Word? The most effective way is to memorize God’s Word, which allows for us to immediately and effectively use God’s Word to fight back all strong winds blowing at us
Let’s back to the Israelites. They took off their eyes on God. Instead they fixed their eyes on the big wave of the Egyptian armies quickly approaching to them. They looked like swallowing them up completely. Suddenly, they fell into an extreme fear, and they thought that they would be killed by the Egyptian armies. Was “killing the Israelites” the true intention of the Egyptian armies? No. The goal was to just capture the Israelites, and to bring them back to Egypt to make them again their slaves. The Egyptian armies had absolutely no intention to kill the Israelites, but the ungrounded fear shallowed up the hearts of the Israelites. The extreme fear made them irrational. Soon they blamed at God for being taken out of Egypt to be killed in the wilderness by the Egyptian armies, which was again not true. They fell from the faith to their extreme fear after just one glance at the approaching Egyptian armies. How sad! Just in a split second, they had completely changed. What did happen to their faith? We might think they might be stupid and irrational, but it is not. We are equally vulnerable like the Israelites when we take off our eyes from Jesus.
Let’s see what Moses did? Did Moses complain to God as he did before? We remember that he even objected to God. For this time, Moses was different. He continued fixing his eyes on God, and he believed God while trusting Him completely. Moses had grown up significantly in faith. He was no longer a spiritual baby drinking milk, but an adult who could eat hard food. Here is what Moses said to the Israelites who were in fear of the Egyptian armies.
Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13b-14)
Moses learned from God and how to respond in faith. What he said was:
1. Do not fear
2. Be still
3. Watch what God does.
How could Moses boldly say the above? He believed God, and God would surely fight for the Israelites even thought the Israelites were in fear of the quickly approaching Egyptian armies because they took off their eyes on God. This reflected the faith of Moses. Moses had experienced God, who did not change at all no matter what Moses said to God as long as he came back to God. Then, Moses could even see the victory in his faith although the Egyptian armies were quickly approach while making the thundering noise. What a faith Moses had! Moses then bolly claimed, “The Egyptians you see today will never been seen again!”
This is the faith that God loves, which God wants to see in us. Jesus also used the faith of Peter and told:
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (Matthew 16:18)
Peter was not the most influential person, the most learned person, the richest person, nor the most powerful person at that time. He was a mere fisherman who heard Jesus’ calling and followed Jesus. But Peter had something that other people did not have, which was the faith in him. God has not changed at all. God still search for a faith that can please God, and then God uses the faith in the person to do His Will and to expand His Kingdom on earth. What matters before God is faith, not anything else that we might care about and value on earth.
God uses Moses, whose faith pleased God. Then, in faith, Moses unified the Israelites who were completely disarrayed under an extreme fear of what they saw, and blamed at God. The extreme fear was not grounded on truth either. Instead, Moses saw God and His almighty hand. Then Moses was calm before the horse and chariots of Egyptian armies dashing at him and his people with making thundering noise. Moses did not fear. Instead Moses, in faith, calmly saw what God would do with God’s almighty hand. He was standing firm on the solid rock of faith. His faith was so strong to make all Israelites be one again under the fearsome event so that God could continue do His mighty plan specially prepared for His own people. In the next week, we will see how much God loved Moses and His people, and what God did – making His own people crossing the Red Sea.
Therefore, no matter what happens in our lives, we should not fear, be still and carefully watch what God would do for us. Then we should sing praises to Him for His greatness and His mercy and love on us. Give thanks to God! For He is good and always good to us. Yes, we are His own beloved children purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ on Cross, and God cares for us like the apple of His eye.
Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)