Freedom. Redemption. These words are so familiar in the church world that we have lost sight for the meaning and message to us today. A preacher can say, “God gives you freedom” or “Jesus redeems us” and move on with very little thought to the actual implications of such profound statements.
I mentioned in last week’s Easter message that we must not read the Bible as an individual reading a book but as a cast of actual characters inside the story of God’s redemptive work. Today’s message hopes to continue reminding us the truth of these themes in the Exodus story; Ex 13-15.
Freedom does not escape fear (Exodus 13:17-22; 14:5-12)
After the plagues, and especially the last plague of the firstborn dying, Pharaoh lets the Israelites leave Egypt to worship God. God won. Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods were defeated. Israel was set free. Moses succeeds by following God’s leadership. God leads the Israelites away from Egypt through the wilderness. There could have been a shorter route but it would have meant facing the Philistines.
µ God knows your destination better than you, trust His directions.
After Israel left Pharaoh regretted his decision and chased after them. The closer Pharaoh got the more Israel feared. Pharaoh was in the rearview mirror, and we all know that objects in the rearview mirror appear closer/larger than they really are. The Israelites were confused – were they not free? Why were they in the wilderness? Where was God? Why did Moses take them away from Egypt just to die in the wilderness? They complained and criticized the actions of Moses.
– Fear can be paralyzing.
– Fear can be a powerful and gripping emotion that controls your every move.
– Fear can cause you to be paranoid of others.
- Why did that person look at me?
- Why is that person talking to another person… are they talking about me?
– Fear can cause you to doubt personal worth.
- Is life worth all the troubles I face?
- Why shouldn’t I give up? Why bother?
Our perceptions about life and reality can grow misguided because we view problems or people as greater than God. When we prioritize our selfish desires or acceptance before others rather than trusting God in all things then we become overpowered by fear. FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. We must decide whom to fear more – God or others?
In Luke 12:4-7 Jesus says, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
µ We should fear God but trust His care for us. God’s ways are often through the wilderness.
We do not understand why God leads the way He does. His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). The point is that when we are going through the wilderness it is not a time to fear but to trust.
µ God precedes your every problem; He is in front of your future (13:21-22). God’s pillar of cloud led along the day and pillar of fire along the night.
Psalm 77:17-20 “The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
Nahum 1:3b “His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet.”
µ Sin chases us even when we are running to salvation. Pharaoh chased the Israelites even when they were in route to God’s salvation.
- Have you ever noticed when your trying to serve God that sin & satan attack?
Sin pursues God’s people and the only way to escape is to quit running. That’s right, the key is not running faster or doing more but simply standing still to rest in the salvation promise of God.
Freedom increases by activating faith (Exodus 14:13-31).
Moses’ response to the fearful Israelites was to activate faith. They were not to fear Pharaoh but God. They were to stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, God fighting for His people. God even tells the people to stop complaining and crying and simply move forward into the sea.
“It only took one day to get the Israelites out of Egypt; it took a life-time [and then some] to get Egypt out of the Israelites.” – Mark Batterson
God’s saving of the Israelites is similar to believers today. We are not called to fight for victory but from victory. The gospel is not something you earn but receive. Therefore, in the moment of our fears we face a critical decision; will we flee or will we have faith?
The same process is true even for believers who have already received the gospel. Our sanctification process is measured by sin looking less like a refuge than our Redeemer and His redemption. Pharaoh would never be a refuge for Israel; neither will our sin bring us satisfaction.
ð Are you wandering away from God in search for a greater refuge? You won’t find it!
- Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs to it and are safe.”
- Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.”
ð Are you failing to move forward in an area God has called you toward?
- You will miss the miracle.
- You will stall others from seeing God, they’re behind you waiting for you to move.
In Exodus 15, THEN Israel sings to and worships God.
ð But, wouldn’t they have had more joy and marvel at their faith if they had sang BEFORE entering the Red Sea? What do you complain about the most… with what are you troubled to trust God?
- Philippians 2:14-15, 4:4-7 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God… Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Unbeliever: Are you prepared to face God?
Exodus 15:3, 11, 18 “The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name…Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? … The Lord will reign forever.”
Believer: God has triumphed over every enemy, including death. You have nothing to fear, stand firm.
Exodus 15:21 “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”