Exodus 14:5-14; James 1:2-4; Romans 8:35-37
There are times in our walk as believers during which we experience great victory as well as times of trial. When there is victory, it is sweet and we may even be a bit boastful forgetting who has fought the battle for us. When things don?t go well, however, we are quick to complain. We lose sight of the fact that there is indeed a reason, however obscure it may seem to be, that we are passing through the valley. The Jewish nation provides us with a picture of this.
I am grateful for the Jewish people, for both those who were steadfast in their faith and for those who were not. Both provide us with lessons and insight, and serve as our examples for faith. They are a picture of both the good and the bad of our walk, and provide us a reflection of who we are by nature, and what we should and should not look like as believers. By examining the good of their faith we can see that we should be wholly dependent upon our Father.
It’s funny how we accept the victories in our life as our own. Our focus is misguided?misplaced. We think that the victories are ours and because of who we are as individuals and our efforts, and not because we are the Lord?s possession. We don’t give God the glory for those moments. During our calamities and times of trial, however, we are the first to complain ?why did you do this/ allow this?? ?Don’t you care about me?? ? I thought that you loved me.??our focus again being on ourselves not on our savior.
A perfect picture of this is in Exodus, the Jews had just witnessed 400 years during which they had gone from welcomed and honored guests of pharaoh, to becoming slaves and the scum of society. They were set free by the powerful hand of God after witnessing 10 awesome acts and signs performed by His hand. The last miracle, Passover,, was one in which they actively participated by placing the blood of a lamb over their door. They knew the consequences of not following God?s instructions were real. There was no doubt at all that God was real, at work, and that He lived His people.
Tasting the sweet victory of freedom, when pharaoh agreed to let their people go, Israel went out of Egypt (v.8) with a haughty and bold attitude. No longer were they subservient minions, they were free and leaving with pharaoh?s acquiescence or resignation. When pharaoh saw that the Jews looked lost in the wilderness, he saw his chance to strike against them and to restore his nation back to the way it used to be, they way he knew it should be. The loss of the Jews was a horrible blow to Eqypt?s economy and entire social structure.
God having now hardened pharaoh?s heart, he pursued Israel and it seemed that he was soon to overtake them. Cornered between the sea and 600 hundred Egyptian chariots, the Jews turned to Moses- the focus of their strength and their leader, and they complained. Their faith wasn’t in a delivering God, but in an elderly man that stuttered. Their focus was on the things of this world, the earthly and not the I AM. Seeing the physical, and not the spiritual realities, they longed to go back to the past, even if it most certainly meant slavery. They would have rather been in bondage than to trust in the Lord. They just didn’t see the big picture: A God, The God, of the universe, who loved them so much that He personally delivered them from their chains and set them free, was delivering on His promise to make them a great nation. He had a wonderful future for them, if they would but listen to Him.
By this time, even Moses, that awesome and steadfast rock of faith began to complain. It’s funny how, when we are surrounded by people, we can take on their nature. That is why our friends and family are so important- we must be the example of Christ to one another. Anyway, I digress.
I love what happens next, God asks Moses why are you complaining to me? That’s an important question??why?? Why complain. Do our actions further our faith?if not why not? Then God tells Moses what to do. He tells the Israelites, despite all of their complaining and their self-centered attitude, that they would never see these same Egyptians again, and that they only had to stand and watch. In spite of their lack of faith, despite their spiritual weakness, God would fight for them. We all know what happens after that, as Ramses is swept away into history.
In James we are told to be thankful, even joyful, when we face various trials- it’s an opportunity to grow in faith AND to see God at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Just like the Israelites, we face trials.
Because we have the example of the Israelites, we can learn from them to make sure that we don’t misplace our faith, or the focus of our faith. We can also be sure to know that our loving and Heavenly Father has a greater purpose in mind than what circumstances might seem to dictate. Finally, we can learn that God?s love for us goes beyond our weaknesses and that He will act on our behalf in ways that we cannot even comprehend.
When God destroyed the Egyptian army He had was making a point of teaching a lesson. For the Israelites, God was able to further demonstrate His glory to them. To the Egyptians, He was able to show them that He is God- that what happened in Egypt really was the work of His hands. To us, it is to show that He works His will through imperfect vessels- it gives us the hope and assurance that God can use even me/ us to do His will.
We can be sure and know that His love is as abiding for us as it is for Israel. As it says in Romans 8:35-38
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ?For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Blessing to you all.