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.
My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the LORD!” (Exodus 14:17b-18)
The prayer of the people of Israel was finally answered. They were freed from Egypt, and it took 400 years.
For the 400 years, they prayed, but an answer had never arrived. However, they could not give up because their lives were so harsh under the oppression of Egyptians. The prayer was the only hope that the Israelites could cling on to. The Egyptians continued driving the people of Israel to misery as their slaves, and treated the people of Israel poorly. Yet, the 400 years were a really long time. They were about to give up. However, the same prayer was given to God day after day like clockwork. Indeed, the same prayer had been inherited down to generation after generation, but there was no answer.
In fact, God was not deaf. God patiently heard all of the prayers one by one and even one word by word coming out of the mouths of the people of Israel as prayer. Sure. God has not changed at all. Even today, God hears our prayer one by one, and one word by word from our mouth, which is oozing from the deepest part of our heart.
God called Moses, who was 80 years old. Moses were specially trained for 40 years in Egypt as a towering prince, and for the following 40 years, as a humble shepherd in the Midian wilderness far from the homeland. Somewhat reluctantly Moses accepted God’s calling, and God sent Moses back to Egypt. Moses returned to his people, the people of Israel, and they welcomed Moses, which was really different from when Moses fled from Egypt. At that time, the people of Israel rejected Moses, even though Moses tried to help them even by killing one of the Egyptian slave masters. For the last forty years, God prepared the hearts of Moses and the people of Israel.
However, Moses could not free the people of Israel. Instead, Moses made the situation worse. Pharaoh was really angry at Moses, who did not boldly proclaim God’s message to Pharaoh. Indeed, Moses took out the main message and substituted it with a nice speech to Pharaoh. Moses hid the real intention of being completely freed from Egypt to go into the Promised Land. None of these was told to Pharaoh except a small plan to sacrifice to God in the wilderness. Pharaoh asked more details, and Moses responded by just requesting a three-days of journey, which did neither reflect the God’s command to free the people of Israel and take them into the Promised Land. All goodness humanely brought by Moses backfired. Moses was immediately thrown out of the palace. Pharaoh also disgraced the name of God. Additionally, Pharaoh made the life of the people of Israel more miserable than before.
Moses realized that he failed miserably, and his people left him also. His people even cursed at Moses while asking God to punish Moses for making their lives harsher than before. If we were Moses, what would we do?
Moses fled after his first failure, but he did not flee for this time. Instead, he went back to God. This is the best act that Moses chose to do. God heard Moses who cried out before God. Then God, who are compassionate and full of mercy, encouraged Moses. God equipped Moses before sending Moses back again. If Moses fled from God again, what would have had happened to Moses? What Moses did and how God responded gives us an enormous encouragement. This confirms that we always have one place to go no matter what happens in our lives: God. God is always compassionate and merciful Father, and He is always waiting for us.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalm 51:17)
God lifted up Moses again. Then God brought down ten plagues to Pharaoh and Egyptians until Pharaoh freed the people of Israel. After the tenth plague, in fear of God, Pharaoh forced the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt, the Pharaoh’s own land. Please think in the shoes of Pharaoh. He is the king of the big country, and he clearly knew the big nation could not survive without slaves. Eliminating all slaves one day would more like suddenly turning off all electricity in a big nation now. The nation surely will not survive. Therefore, we easily tell how painful the ten plagues were to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and how fearful God’s hand was. Especially, they could not forget the final tenth plague. Pharaoh and all of the Egyptians lost their firstborn son! After this plague, an extreme fear fell on Pharaoh. Although Pharaoh knew the consequence of not having the slaves, he forcefully pushed out all of the Israelites from their own nation. In fear, the Egyptians gave whatever were wanted by the Israelites, who were to their ex-slaves. The people of Israel practically rooted their ex-masters. The world of the Egyptians was upside down, and God made the Egyptians in extreme fear of the people of Israel.
While going through the ten plagues, the people of Israel became one with Moses. They became firmly trusting Moses as watching what Moses did by the power of God. Moses brought down the ten plagues. Throughout the ten plagues, the people of Israel clearly saw what God did, who was with the Israelites. All plagues fell on Egyptians, and none on the Israelites. As a result, all of the people of Israel exactly followed what God commanded. Before leaving Egypt (although there was no real sign that they would be really freed), they kept the first Passover and put the blood of the lamb of the first Passover on the sides and tops of the doorframe of each house. The fearful death skipped over the households with the blood of the lamb of the first Passover on the doorframe. The blood was the sign of the faith under the fearful death of firstborn sons. God loves the faith of the Israelites, and God wants to see such faith from us too.
Almost two millions of people left Egypt with unleavened bread. Each family carried seven days of unleavened bread with them when they set out their journey to the Promised Land, which supposedly only about a week long journey on foot.
However, God made the people of Israel detour. Why did God make them detour? God, who could see through their heart, saw their real faith in their hearts. The Israelites were excited by the ten plagues that hit hard on Egyptians. They also were freed by Pharaoh, who was the center of all evils. All were truly amazing and uplifting, but it was not enough for them to take over the Promised Land. The Promised Land was already occupied by six nations. And each nation had its own king along with well-trained armies of soldiers who protected its own nation. Please visualize who were the people of Israel who were just freed from Egypt. They were just ex-slaves, who never fought before with any weapons against any country. They were just a bunch of ex-slaves. If there was a battle between the ex-slave Israelites and the one of the nations, the outcome was so obvious. The ex-slave Israelites would have been completely slaughtered.
If so, how is it possible for the ex-slave Israelites to occupy the Promised Land? There is only one answer: faith in God. Yes, faith in God. We will see later how the ex-slave Israelites actually conquered the nations and occupied the Promised Land. The ex-slave Israelites did not have enough faith to conquer the nations and occupy the Promised Land. They had to grow in faith, which God exactly did for the Israelites.
First, God asked them to camp beside the red sea, which was not a good idea to camp right beside the shore, but they obeyed in faith. So far, so good! No complaint at all from the mouths of the Israelites. Then God tested their faith. No! In fact, God revealed their true faith.
God again hardened the Pharaoh’s heart to chase down their own ex-slaves in order to recapture and bring them back to Egypt. Pharaoh really needed slaves. 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. In short. Pharaoh assembled the best and most formidable force to reclaim the Israelites as their slaves. Then Pharaoh left with his armies with fist raised in defiance.
Soon the Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. 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)
What a response from the mouths of the people of Israel! It clearly exposed their true faith in their hearts. They saw the ten plagues and God’s mighty hands. They also experienced God’s mercy as leaving Egypt where they served Egyptian for 400 years as slaves. Even so, their hearts quickly changed and their faith fell as they saw the mighty Egyptian armies chasing them. It was not long ago that they saw how powerless the entire nation of Egyptian was before God. Indeed, as soon as they took off their eyes from God, they became immediately vulnerable. They saw the huge wave of Egyptian armies quickly approach. Their hearts melt. Then they feared the Egyptians quickly approaching. What’s happening to the Israelites really explains how quickly a worldly fear can take over our heart, if we take off our eyes on God.
As we shared on the last week. Peter, who was walking on water by fixing his eyes on Jesus, quickly sank when he saw the big wave quickly approached to him. Then Peter looked back Jesus and asked Jesus’ help. Jesus, then, quickly grabbed Peter’s hand and pulled out of the water. What Peter did should have been the response of the Israelites instead of blaming at and complaining to God and Moses. Again, let’s not forget how quickly did the hearts of Israelites changed. They also fell down to the bottom. They even praised their slavery lives in Egypt. Their rationale was being a slave is better than a corpse in the wilderness, which makes sense if we only focus on what is visible in this world.
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)
After all, what we see is temporary. On the other hand, what we cannot see is eternal. Even so, it is a natural tendency that we put all our attentions and values on what we can see. Why? The mortal body physically bounded tenaciously lures us to only focus on what we can see. Then how can overcome this fundamental temptation and to see what cannot be seen and eternality? The answer is faith. Only is it possible through faith to see what we cannot see. Thus, Bible tells us
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Faith makes us to see the existence of what we cannot see. Faith in our heart directly connects us to the reality of what cannot be seen. In other words, without faith, we cannot see the unseen. All of the miracles, and the ten plagues, and the grandiose exodus that was only a dream for 400 years did not help for the Israelites to have a true faith in God. Instead, they saw the quickly approaching Egyptian armies with glittering spears accompanying the thundering noise. The Egyptian armies were formidable and fearful, but God was more powerful. All they saw was nothing before God. This is the reality. However, they shifted their eyes from God to the Egyptian armies, and they became hostage of their own fear of the Egyptians.
How about Moses? He was completely different. He did keep his eyes on God. Without fearing the approaching Egyptian armies, he boldly stated in faith:
“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)
He ordered not to fear, and to stand firm in faith. Moses also asked to wait and see what God would do to the Egyptians. He saw the end of the Egyptian armies in faith. He prophesized in faith that the fearful looking Egyptians would never be seen again! Some of us still remember that Aramean armies surrounded the city of Dothan to captured Elisha, but Prophet Elisha stayed calm. He saw in faith God’s heavenly armies greater than the Aramean armies. Then he calmed down his servant who was in fear by telling
Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16 b)
As Elisha prayed, his servant opened his eyes, and also saw the heavenly armies who surrounded the Aramean armies. This is what God does to His people, and even today, God has prepared greater heavenly armies than the enemies.
Then God said to Moses,
“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:15b)
God asked Moses to command the people of Israel to get moving. Moving where in reality? They were chased by the Egyptian armies, and in front of them, there was Red Sea. They had was no place to go, and they were trapped. How many times have we felt like this before? There is no place to go, but God tells us to get moving. What can we do? As God commanded to Moses, we need to pick up what we have, and get moving as God tells us. The most famous example in Bible who listened to God is Abraham
It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)
Abraham did not know where he was going, but he faithfully followed God’s calling and left home to go to the land that God would give him as his inheritance. He believed God’s promise, and he trusted Him without any doubts. Again, sometimes, God tells us to leave our familiar place to go to another land that God promises to give it as our inheritance of God. Only the faith enables us to believe this promise of Him. Then our faith in our heart continues powering us and making us to believe the existence of the promise of God. That’s why our faith is the substance of what we hope for although we cannot see it right now. As Abraham left home, God continued guiding Abraham through the path of righteousness, which is the secret getting the blessings specifically prepared for those who are faithful.
Then God continued talking to Moses:
Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. (Exodus 14:16)
God sometimes gives a command that none can follow except those who have strong faith. Moses received such a command. Moses experienced God’s mighty hand before. He brought down hales and turned the Nile river to blood, but the new command was at a completely different scale. Anyone who have stood before the vast ocean should understand the massiveness of the ocean stretching from one side to the other seemingly without the end. Then we look at ourselves. We immediately know how minuscule we are when being compared with the vast ocean. We feel as if one grain of sand before the vast ocean. God told to Moses, “Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea.” Then God said, “Divide the water.” Yes, God said to Moses to divide the massive ocean by simply raising his hand. Was it a reasonable command from God? If we were Moses, how did we feel?
Moses saw the Egyptian armies rapidly approaching to the people of Israel. He also heard the thundering noise of the chariots and horses of the Egyptian armies. The people of Israel kept complaining to Moses. God gave an impossible command that was clearly beyond human’s ability. Then silently Moses looked up heaven for God’s help. Then suddenly the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.
God gave a break for Moses and the people of Israel. If we were Moses, how encouraging when we saw what the angel of God did by moving back of the camp and starting to give a protection against the rapidly approaching Egyptian armies. Sometimes we meet something that we cannot handle in our lives. Then we silently lookup heaven and ask His help while believing and trusting Him.
Nehemiah was one of the captives taken to Babylon, but by God’s blessing, he became a cup-bearer of King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah’s heart was broken when he heard about the Jerusalem suffering from great damages. The walls were torn down, and the gates were destroyed. Hearing this, Jeremiah sat down and wept. For days, Jeremiah fasted and prayed to God. His heart was full of sadness, and although he tried to hide, he could not hide completely. His face showed up his sadness to the king. Then king asked “well how can I help you?” Nehemiah, even before the king with the absolute power, first looked up heaven and prayed before answering to the king. This is the faith that God loves to see from us too.
Then Moses was greatly encouraged by God along with the people of Israel. All of the complaints suddenly stopped as they saw the angel of God was protecting them from the rear against the fearful Egyptian armies. Yes, they again experienced that God who was protecting them at the time of needs. All of the people of Israel took off their eyes from the Egyptian armies. Then they focused their eyes on God. They also carefully heard what was told by Moses.
For this time, Moses clearly and boldly repeated what was told by God: “I would raise his hand, and by the power of God, the Red Sea will be divided. Then all will walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.” If this was told before seeing God’s hand protecting them by moving the angel to protect the rear against the Egyptian armies, nobody would have believed. For this time, all believed as told. Indeed, nobody knew exactly how God would do, but they believed: they would walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. Again, this was what God did for the people of Israel. God took away their unbelief from the heart of the people of Israel. Moses and the people of Israel became one again in God. Although they made a small detour of their faith journey, they were ready again. It was what God did for the Israelites, His people.
As all of the people of Israel were carefully watching, Moses picked up his staff and raised his hand over the Red Sea. Then soon an amazing thing was happening before their eyes. The Red Sea was splitting into two, and it exposed the seabed. A strong east wind started blowing. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. The following morning, both Moses and the people of Israel together saw a dry path on the seabed through the Red Sea, and they also saw walls of water on each side. What a majestic scene it was!
Then Moses commanded to cross the Red Sea by walking on the dry path that God had prepared for them. God dried up the seabed so that they could walk without getting wet or muddy. God also browed a strong wind from east, not the other way around. All dusts and debris were blown to the Egyptian armies by being carried by the strong east wind. God meticulously prepared for the people of Israel, His own people. This is what God does to all of His own people. Believing that many of us have already experienced His amazing grace and blessings specifically prepared for us, and all of them were meticulously planned. We keep discovering what God has done to us, and giving thanks for His unfathomable wisdom that made such a meticulous plan to the nth degree. (In fact, God prepared all things behind our comprehension and imagination. Thus, it should be said that God has prepared for us to the infinite degree.)
As the people of Israel walked into the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud also moved together. Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. So the Egyptian armies were getting closer and closer. Just before dawn God looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. God also twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive.
“Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt!” (Exodus 14:25b)
The Egyptian armies were in fear of God and His hand, but Pharaoh kept giving orders to chase the Israelites. The Egyptian armies could not go back to where they came from due to Pharaoh, and they could go forward due to the God’s hand protecting His own people. On the other hand, the people of Israel safely walked without getting any harms from the Egyptian armies. After all, all of the power of Pharaoh was useless before God, and Pharaoh could not touch even one single hair of the people of Israel. Therefore, we should not fear if we meet any danger.
“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Luke 12:6,7)
Yes, for God’s eyes, we are more valuable than a whole flock of sparrows in the air. This is the heart of God toward us.
When all the Israelites had reached the other side, God said to Moses,
“Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” (Exodus 14:26b)
So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but God swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived. Yes, one single survivor was found, but all killed by the hand of God.
The people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground in faith, as the water stood up like a wall of both sides. Then they saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that God had unleashed against the Egyptians, all were filled with awe before God. All of them put their faith in God, and in his servant Moses! All were done by God, not by the might of Moses nor by the power of the people of Israel. God was faithful, and continuously guided the people of Israel through the Red Sea. Pharaoh saw what was happening before his own eyes. Then Pharaoh saw God’s glory and clearly knew who God really was.
Therefore, we can praise Him all circumstances, because we will see His glory. People know who Our God really is. Who is Our God? Our God is Our Ever-Loving Father who loves us unconditionally because He has no rotating shadow. Who can even dare to against us? The One who created heavens and earth is with us always and forever as our Ever-Loving Father.
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? (Romans 8:31)