Exodus 14, Hebrews 11:29
In thinking and considering about this text this morning, I entitled the sermon “God Saves His People”. An account in the bible that I would say pretty much everyone in here is very familiar with, yet the truth is that title could be said every week, “God Saves His People”. Again in considering that, my parents were born and raised in the South and lived in the country and in thinking about this text, thinking about Hebrews 11, and in thinking about we would go down there and of course there were bean fields and there were cornfields and there would even be wheat fields. I remember seeing about the wheat fields, and if you haven’t personally seen this I’m sure you’ve seen it in some setting, a book or TV. The wind just blows across the wheat and it seems like the wind just saturates the entire field. I have physically stood and saw that. It reminded me of this text and fitting in to Hebrews 11 and the biblical mantra of the flowing wind across the field of wheat there, how the bible is, throughout the 66 books, moving through how God saves his people. God has done this and done so since the garden. He will do so to the end and the age to come. God will save his people. I find this truth to be so pure and so real that every person in here that belongs to Jesus should enjoy this life sustaining reality as it moves you through the very things that you go through in this life. That is this Jesus, my friends, will never let you go. He will never let you go and he will save you in the end. No matter the tribulation you are under, no matter the turmoil, no matter the life duress or difficulty, please know this (as God created his church to meet together to be edified to go into the world that they live in) and rest in this: God in the end will save you and he is going to save his people.
So we come this morning, as we have with pastor Alex as we’ve moved very quickly through Hebrews, it is an incredible book as it takes us, in Hebrews 11 alone, through the Old Testament and he is pointing, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to teach his people. In this account this morning, it is a very familiar story to us; Israel crossing the Red Sea as the Egyptian army pursues. As you and I now move through Exodus 14 and then we are going to wrap this up with one particular application. I know there are many that can be made, but we are going to make it up into one application that God has for his people. Know this as we move through this, I was you to rest in this and (yes I am saying this correctly) enjoy this. Always understand this in the sermons every week: God is saving his people.
You move through this account and it is just a fantastic account that’s given to us here, the Lord’s presence is evident. The circumstance that the setting gives us in Exodus 14 is that two million Jews or more are leaving Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Moses is leading them out as God had ordained. God had, through their slavery time there, made a people for himself. God now, at this moment in their history, had wanted a greater conformity to his ways and his will so he was calling them out, as we see here, to righteousness, to himself for a way of life. He was calling them out of Egypt where they were unable to worship as God ordained. You get to this and the bible is consistent to remind us this way that God’s people crossed on dry land in this miraculous moment. As we read earlier, God’s presence is with them. What we want to know about the Lord’s presence in this, is that the Lord is demonstrating his sovereignty and his power and his presence in those people’s lives and obviously that is true for us. His presence was with them and you find this in chapter 13. Here is how it took place. He was always with them. In the Lord’s presence, and we know he is calling them out of Egypt and they are being led out of Egypt in chapter 14, they are coming to the account of the Red Sea and the Lord is revealing a plan that he has for his people. His presence is with them and as his presence is with them, the Lord now is giving a plan and that plan has always been true for God’s people and that’s this: trust him. Trust in the Lord. God here is directing them, and as we see and know, his plan at first was not to safety. He designs a predicament for them, as we see. He sets a scenario for them that is impossible for them to obtain their salvation, yet he is going to provide it. Without the Lord’s intervention in this particular case, and certainly it’s true for us, the people are going to perish; they are going to die. That is spoken of, look at Exodus 13:20.
You can picture this, and I am going to try to help shape this. What you have here is kind of a geographical cul-de-sac. We lived in a cul-de-sac for 15 years, and you know you are hemmed in; there is only one way. In that one way out, here comes the Egyptian army. There is no place to go for Israel. They are very vulnerable in a military kind of way. They cannot defeat a well-equipped army. In this cul-de-sac, to kind of put your mind there, to the South is a massive Egyptian fortress of its kingdom, to the North is a barren desert, to the West is the deep Red Sea, and to the East here comes this Egyptian army. They are surrounded entirely. There is no place to go. This, of course, is part of the Lord’s plan.
Sometimes people express this into today’s kind of language. They think, “Well God doesn’t put too much on you that he knows you can’t handle.” And I want you to know, that is never true. God designs things for his people to reveal to them that they can’t handle it, that they desperately need him. That is actually God’s design. Those things are set for us, the trials that we go through, not that we might try to escape them, I’ll be honest with you that is what I often want to do, but rather that the trials would purify and strengthened their strength. That is what he is going to do for them, as he certainly does for each and every one of us that knows Jesus. It is the Lord’s plan that we trust him and trusting him means we rest in him. We rest in Christ, and we rest in the gospel. This is the picture that is for this people, now we know in Exodus 14 the Egyptian army is pursuing them. Look in verse 5. Pharaoh at this point has changed his heart and now he is going to set out to pursue the Israelites. The text tells us here that he takes 600 of his chosen chariots. Obviously there were men that were operating them. Those would be for us the first in, say the Navy Seals. The most trained of army. He is setting them out because his heart has been changed and he wants to pursue Israel and certainly take them captive and kill whatever he needs to. Added on to this elite chosen army, he also sends out all the rest of the Egyptian chariots, which obvious to us it a very formidable army. Now that army, if you can picture the 2 million Jews that are moving through with Moses, this formidable army is now visible to them in the distance. The can see the dust rising, from all the commotion being made as they are charging toward God’s people. If you can picture that and kind of think about that, it’s like the dust of that is rising to the sky as they are coming towards them. Undoubtedly for those people, the children of Israel, what’s attacking and causing their heart this sheer fright, is they know they are being fiercely pursued to be killed.
Look at verse 8. The Lord had hardened Pharaoh’s heart in this. His unbelief in YHWH and his defiance, his rejection has brought him a hardening. Let me say this to a hardness of heart, for any of us, that is the worst place in the world that any of us could be; in a hard heart place. As it is demonstrated in this individual, and there are hard hearts and rejection to the gospel all across the world, it creates a bitterness that leads to an anger that can produce murder. That was the Egyptian pursuit led by this evil Pharaoh. Now again we join in here in Exodus 14:10 and we see the very fright of God’s people. They are scared to death. They are fearing for their very life! “We are going to die!” That is what they are thinking. The people feared greatly. It literally means that their hearts are filled with fear. Now I don’t know if you have ever had that kind of experience where you thought you were going to die, and again I recollected one particular occasion that I can remember in my life where I thought I was going to die. The reason I thought I was going to die is because my mom’s reaction. I had done what I normally did on any other particular weekend day, spent the day on a Saturday playing filthy as can be. My mom always sent me to the basement because I couldn’t dirty up anything of the upstairs, rightfully so. I come in the back door and head to the basement. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old. From having been outside all day, because we didn’t take Gatorades or Powerades or water bottles, we just stayed out there all day and you were parched and thirsty, but you just stayed out anyway. If you were at somebody’s backyard you just used somebody’s hose. But that was not the case on this particular occasion, and I am thirsty and I didn’t have any patience to wait, though my mom sent me to the basement. And I grab this big car jar that’s clear water right? I take that sucker with two hands and start guzzling it. It’s bleach. I didn’t know what bleach was at the time, I just thought, “Man this is water, this is awful!” But I got a couple big gulps in and so I holler out, “Mom what is this?” Well she comes running down the stairs and sees the jar and I am telling you, she turned white with fear. Now, I am scared. I don’t know what it means but she says, “Kevin you will kill yourself.” I am thinking, “I’m not trying to kill myself, I’m just thirsty!” So she runs into a panic for the next half hour I drank about 2 gallons of milk because she was trying to get me to call Earl. That was my closest bought with a super fear of death.
The people’s hearts were filled with fear. There is a panic that is on them. As a result of this, read verse 10. They knew then what was indicative of all sinful man. They cry out to the Lord and they blame the leader. Blame has always been a strong game of people. From the garden to people currently in rejection of the gospel, they will blame their condition whatever number of reasons. It is easy for us to blame. So in their panic or a predicament, in a lack of recognition of YHWH’s sovereignty in their life, they begin to whine. “Oh my goodness, we are going to die. Now Moses you’ve brought us out here and we are cooked!” This is when we get the central part that we read earlier of this particular account. Look again to verse 13. Think of the intensity of the moment, two million plus people are thinking they are going to die. A powerful army in pursuit drawing closer, and Moses responds to the people in verse 13 fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord. It’s God’s grace at work. He is about to intervene for his people and destroy the enemy. God has always worked (I say this and I would ask you to read every account) out the salvation of his people. The Egyptian army is about to be devastated here. Moses lets them know, “You will never see them again.” Why? Because the Lord will fight for you, just stand firm and be silent. This is true because you cannot add to the Lord’s salvation and if you could then things wouldn’t be grace.
Before we continue on in this, how the Lord protects his people here, I just want to offer a few things to you. Three moments that I have found to be incredibly enjoyable to share, things in my personal life that I would like to share with you and hopefully, as they are tied to Christ and the gospel and the bible, they can be encouraging to you. Three moments in my life, it is not just the dramatic nature when they happened but the result of it. The first one is obvious, when I got saved. The whole game changed in that late 12 early 13 year. Everything about my life and my inner man got turned upside down. It was when salvation broke through the pressure, the guilt, the shame, and everything was gone. I felt like I was flying when I got up in the morning. It was so real to me what had taken place. It was right there in the mid-twenties and the doctrines of grace came to me, as I was pouring myself into the bible and how God works and these types of things, they became this incredible rewarding experience. I saw things in a greater light, things I had never seen before became abundantly clear and obvious to me. The last one, I would say that has truly come to life over the past five years, is taking a very simple thing that all of us can do that is really helpful and soul satisfying. When I say soul I mean your inner man, and it will change how you interact at work and with family and others. I am not saying I am doing any of that perfectly, I am just saying that I am finding this. To be so powerfully impactful and rewarding in my life, it makes me feel weak and strong, if that makes any sense. That is, when you are moving through a text and asking yourself the who, what, when, where, why, and how, of understanding what a thing means in a text, then you take that to a greater light and you define how that applies to Jesus and the gospel because has all been accomplished and it all rests on Jesus. For me, even in explaining that to Valerie and my sons and those who are in close confidence with me here at the church and others outside of the church that God has given me relationship with, in terms of pouring out deep personal stuff I have to say this to you, it is has been revolutionary for me. I want to share that with you because you, like me it is no different for any one of us, are going to continue to go through trials, tribulation, turmoil, and difficulty. I know this is what Moses’ is saying, “Rest! His presence is with us. It is before us, behind us.”
Now Christianity is not a “do nothing” thing. The reality of God’s grace is that it invigorates us to do things. Moses is about to lift his hands and God is about to work on the Egyptian army and they pass on dry ground. So I wanted to share those things with you, and I hope in light of that, for whatever way God can use it, you would embrace that and especially see, I turned 57 a month ago, its just been unbelievable these past 5 years experiencing this. Let’s go back to the text.
We have already read the account in the middle of chapter 14 on. The Lord is going to protect them, we see that Israel is clearly hemmed in, Pharaoh’s military is in hot pursuit, the Lord is now going to protect his people, and he is going to bring judgment on the Egyptians. The first part of this protection is that the Lord commands Moses to move Israel to the Red Sea. Now think again about this scenario. They are filled with fright and they are probably wondering, “I can’t swim! What do you mean go towards the Red Sea?” Then you look at all of this, and we aren’t going to re-read it for times sake, but in verse 19 the Lord surrounds his people for protection. It is the Lord’s protection. He is protecting his people in the midst of this trial. Verse 20, this kept the Egyptian army from advancing on Israel. Here is what I want you to know, in terms of you not being able to handle it, no matter what it is, the difficulty that you are under, God is in the middle of it. That is the part that he wants us to understand and believe and trust in, when perhaps things are so overwhelmingly difficult that not only can’t you talk but you also don’t feel like you can breath. That is where God’s people are. He does, as God always does, he provides a miraculous escape, his salvation. The waters are divided, Israel passes on dry land, as the waters are lifted up into this wall and then what follows there, the Egyptians pursue and the Lord causes the chariots to clog. This prolific army in world history is stopped, halted. You have read about it, probably hundreds of times over. What takes place then is probably one of the greatest events that world identifies of the bible; the destruction of the Egyptian army and the deliverance of the Israelites. It really is a graphic scene of God’s miracle and working hand. It’s things you have read about, I have read about and talked about, and people who aren’t even Christians are familiar with. As a result of all of this, the Lord is praised in verse 30 and 31. The Egyptian army is dead, the water has collapsed as the Lord had said, God’s people are spared, and they rejoice in the fear of the Lord. That is, they are overwhelmed by his awesomeness and his power as it is displayed, and they fear the Lord and they believe in the Lord. What those two expressions are, is praise. They are like, “Wow! Our God!” That’s us, right? We are worshipping, “Our God!” In a moment here we will enjoy the table.
In most of this, there is probably not anything new you have learned this morning. What I want to do is make one application point to this that I think is central as parents, grandparents, in a faithful regard to being God’s people. Because God’s people were being called out of Egypt to live in righteousness as God has called you and I, his church, out of the world to live in righteousness. Which has been a most difficult thing that has plagued the church worldwide, especially been true of the church in America. This was a calling out of the world, just like they were. A people made for his righteousness, just like we are, where God will dwell with us. He does, right? In and through Jesus and his presiding even over this service and table and the power of his grace and his word. This picture of Israel as God’s people is a picture today of the church. It is only, before I get to this central application point, proving to us a greater reality of eternity. That is why I want you to take comfort in, but then I want that comforting truth to lead to something. So we will live faithfully to his righteousness! God is going to save us in the end. We will dwell in his righteousness and we will be his people as he intends. Knowing that should stir us to be the kind of people that God has wanted us to be.
I ask you now to turn to 2 Corinthians 6. I am going to wrap this up real quick. I want this point to be made out of this, and it is the only point I am going to make, as it pertains to this account we just read from. It is an area that has been sinned against too often by God’s Church, and even by pastor’s for a cheap buck, $50. That application, friends, though I want us to get the seriousness of it, I want this to strengthen us so that we feel empowered to live to his righteousness. It is a very practical point on marriage. Look at verse 14. Israel was unequally yoked under Egyptian bondage. What joining covenantal accord does Jesus have with Satan? That will make you shiver! What portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, and this is the central text that is used for biblical separation. Now I don’t know your history, I am only going to share my history. Largely, what has been tied to biblical separation has been hair, pants, and alcohol. That has it’s own subject matter, but what I want you to understand biblically is that biblical separation is that a believer should never marry an unbeliever for no circumstance. The people of God should not only believe it, but the leadership of God and pastors should never do it. They are disobeying God himself who created the covenant of marriage. God forbids, and I want you to embrace this, God forbids for biblical separation, same sex marriage, polygamy marriage, or unequal marriage; meaning, an unbeliever with a believer. Here is where the flavor of churches I have been a part of have tried to misappropriate 2 Corinthians 6:14-16. They say an unequally yoked marriage is a white man marrying a black women or a white man a red woman or a yellow woman or a brown woman. You can carry that on. That’s what we have made this! It is an abuse of God’s word. The answer, of course, to that question can a white man or a black man marry a white woman, is yes! If they are believers, yes! Its believer with believer, that is the unequally yoked part. So what I want you to understand about this, what pleases God is that marriage is designed for a believer to another believer. That is what he created the greater picture for, and we have used that example in other ways. But we must embrace this! Christians need to marry other Christians. To raise gospel centered, Jesus loving homes. To impact as homes, the church. Inside of that, we are all to live in celebration of Jesus. Now, that’s been my mantra since I got here 22 years ago. I used to teach stuff like that on Wednesday night when it was just men. Knowing at the time, even then, only having one son that was one and Val was pregnant with Zach. That has been the consistent theme of our household, and I am only saying this as an example just to say things to you in a practical way. So the question you are probably asking yourself as a mom or a grandma if they choose to disobey what do I do? You hold to the mantra. Of course you are not going to hate your children, you shouldn’t hate your children, but you should hold to the mantra. Because God designed it! Because God called us out of this world to be a people designed for himself in righteousness. The story of God’s people crossing the Red Sea is not just a story. He wants his people to live in righteousness. What we want to do in this place is to promote Jesus and God-centered and gospel-centered homes so his name is magnified among us! This should be a faithful theme for all of us. Let me just say this, friends this starts with dad. He will be given the ultimate responsibility.
God rests in his people by faith. Stay with me on this! This isn’t to lead you to despair, because all of us are probably sitting here thinking of a number of ways that that is being violated in our family or extended family. Let me just offer this, I am in a war with my extended family right now, a spiritual war. It is not all rosey colored in the McGuire household. In my extended family there is a war going on for this. I tell you that to encourage you. It’s not like I’m sitting here, “Oh you should look like me.” No this is a war and we are in this together! We should be promoting the things that God promotes. We should be there for each other to encourage each other and to love on another, because we are all standing here as a working of God’s grace because we have sinned. The beautiful thing is this, no matter where your household is, we have to pick this back up because biblical separation is not the length of your hair, its not the fact that a woman has pants on, or the use of wine or beer, the biblical separation is the issue of marriage. That is God defined, not Kevin’s opinion. If we lose the words of God, we have lost is all! Lets hold a guard, lets be faithful and true, and then God give us the strength to get this muddle out and turned around, for right sake!