“God took them out of Egypt, but Egypt followed them in their hearts.”
10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” – Exodus 14:10-12
Clinging to the familiar. The past. The things that make us feel comfortable.
The easiest thing to do when we’re faced with our “Red Sea” is to think “logically” much like the Israelites did:
- We have a sea in front of us.
- We’re going to die.
- God told us to come out here, but clearly we’re going to die and therefore He has no idea what He’s doing.
- We were better off when we were in bondage.
Entering uncharted, unknown territory requires a lot of courage and faith. Two things the Israelites did not have. Sometimes knowing the right way to respond to God’s deliverance from a place of bondage into the unknown is to look at the examples in the Bible of how NOT to act.
The Israelites had horrible memory. Prior to their deliverance, God orchestrated 10 plagues that affected the Egyptians in such a mighty way that people from all over were talking about it. For example, Rahab, a prostitute who helped the children of Israel a few years later, said this about God’s mighty acts:
10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. – Joshua 2:10-11
The Israelites were quick to forget God’s deliverance from the Egyptians. How many times has God shown how mighty and powerful He is in your life? How quickly do you forget when the next set of troubles come around? Our lives aren’t meant to be easy and carefree. We’re in a world where suffering and pain are inevitable. Trusting God without questioning Him is an act of faith. God asks that of us and in order to honor Him, we need to remember His power and trust Him completely. Trust Him completely when the next “Red Sea” comes your way. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but God doesn’t ask us to do what’s easy – He asks us to trust and obey Him.
The chosen people of God loved to complain, a lot (and they loved their food). I’m sure we have a lot in common with them. When things aren’t going our way, we tend to get irritated with God. We sit in the present and complain to a God who holds the future.
2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” – Exodus 16:2-3
What was God’s response to their complaints? He was merciful. He provided for them. A few chapters later, however, they were complaining again. They forgot God’s provisions and complained. When we read about how ungrateful the Israelites were towards Moses and God, it’s easy for us to judge. We forget the amount of times we’ve forgotten what God has done, and how many times we’ve complained against God. Our view of God will affect how we react to the trials we face. The Israelites saw themselves as entitled to what God gave them. They carried “Egypt” around in the their hearts. It was easier for them to complain about their situation than trust. It was easier to forget what God just did for them in order for them to be free, than to have faith. It’s easier to cling to what we know, the familiar, the past. God calls us out of bondage to our past sins. It initially seems freeing, but we’re bombarded by trials. The way to respond to sufferings gives us an idea of where we are in our spiritual walk. We’re God’s chosen children and as much as we’d like to think much has changed in the last thousands of years, human nature has remained the same. We’re at risk of becoming just like the Israelites traveling through the wilderness.
Remember to REMEMBER what God has done for us in the past, remember to have courage to move forward toward the transforming power of Christ, and remember to honor God with our words and daily walk.