Exodus Devotional | The Red Sea, Day 2: God's Goodness During Our Trials
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
Exodus The Red Sea, Day 2
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.” - (Exodus 13:17-18)
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the (Red) sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.” - (Exodus 14:1-4)
In our current section of Exodus study (chapters 13-14), the Israelites are preparing to leave Egypt for good. Let’s review God’s promises to Moses and his people from way back in chapter 3:
I will deliver you from the affliction to Egyptian slavery
I will make sure Pharaoh disobeys
I will strike Egypt with many wonders
I will break Pharaoh’s will so that he relents
I will make sure the Egyptians send you out with wealth (Exodus 12:35-26)
I will make sure the Egyptians celebrate at your departure (Exodus 12:35-26)
All of these are fulfilled by Exodus 13. The Israelites are carrying great wealth, dressed for battle (with arms given to them by the Egyptians), and led by God east, toward the Red Sea.
Today’s meditation: God introduces the next problem--and it really hasn’t changed from the old one; by God’s grace, he’s the solution.
I want to point out God’s wisdom and goodness on his people with a few observations:
He doesn’t take them along the quick route toward the Promised Land (Exodus 13:17-18)--the Philistines are there and they were a formidable foe. The Lord had work to do on his people and they weren’t ready for that challenge quite yet. He knew they’d prefer their former slavery immediately in the face of a war-hardened enemy who hadn’t yet seen the might of Yahweh. So...onward toward the desert for forty years for the Lord to shape them as his people.
There isn’t much relaxation and celebration between the victory over the Egyptians and the barrier of the Red Sea...and within just a few days, the Egyptians come raging across the desert, thirsty for revenge.
The people of God, as you’ll see in Exodus 14, are filled with fear once again--and that fear overwhelms them with doubt and anger toward Moses and God: ““Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:11-12)
We, just like the Israelites, are tempted to think that the current problem, once solved, means no more problems. Sovereign God, who rescued them from Egypt, now brings them to the next scene of drama--drowning in the Red Sea, being baked alive in the desert, and being slaughtered in between by their old masters. It’s the same old problem, just with different faces: the curse of sin on mankind and the natural world. We need to see, just like the Israelites did, that one problem may be solved and one trial might be passed, but we are always in need of God to come through for us. The final celebration and the eternal rest won’t come once the financial crisis, the Coronavirus, or whatever problem you face in your personal life is overcome. But, each trial, once passed and each crisis, once conquered by the Lord, show us the future and assured victory over all sin, curse, violence, and danger. That victory has been won by Jesus and we wait eagerly for it to be fully revealed.
We need to know and believe that God is with us, for us, and at work--not losing hope, peace, and discernment when the fiery trials assail us once again (1 Peter 4:12).
I want you to think back to the past seasons of your life and recall what made you terribly frightened. What were the problems assailing you? How doubtful in God’s power and goodness did you find yourself? Preach to yourself today, as we stand at the shores of our own Red Sea, commanding yourself to trust that God is over and in all it today.
Who should you reach out to and encourage today? Who should you call--ask them how they’re doing, invite them to share their fears and worries, and pray with them, reminding them of God’s previous goodness and promised faithfulness.