“Exposing the Exodus”
The Destruction of Egypt – (Chapter 14 Verses 15-31)
The deliverance of Israel spells judgment for Egypt. Zion is redeemed by judgment. We see this time and again through redemptive history. The last plague poured out upon Egypt broke their power, their resistance. But they are still not humbled. There may be fear, there may be sorrow and grief but without the sorrow that leads to a biblical repentance, the end is more God hardness, “for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2Corinthians 7:10). The further hardening is evidenced by their recovery from the fear caused by the last plague. Now they are in hot pursuit of the Hebrews again (v23). And that to their certain and final destruction (v23-25). Pharaoh’s intelligence service informs him that the Israelites are trapped. But after what he has already seen, i.e., the power of God at work in destroying his nation. And Egypt’s infrastructure razed to ground zero. Plus what he sees here before his eyes ought you would think to at least warn him of imminent danger. But here is the fury of blind rage against the Almighty (Psalm 2). The wind, the walls of water, the darkness, the manifestations of the wrath of God are screaming in his face! Blinded by enmity against and hatred of God (Romans 8:7). The awful black raging look of Jehovah is upon the Egyptians (v24). He is about to strike in wrath. Their fall is great (v26-28). Again the rod of Moses is lifted (v27). The walls of water begin to crumble and fall, the Egyptians try to turn back but it’s too late. God shakes off his enemies in the raging waters of the Red Sea, overtaken and swallowed up in judgment. O don’t leave it too late, “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthians 6:2). “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him“ (2Corinthians 5:11, 20-21). God is glorified in both the salvation of his people and the judgment of the wicked. “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4).
This signifies the salvation of the church and the judgment of the world. It is a down payment a guarantee of what is to come at the end of the age. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2Peter 3:10-12). The ruin of the ungodly will be great, “he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:49). Pharaoh heard, Pharaoh saw the manifestations of God’s power but he would have none of it, he perished and took his army down with him. Now amongst God’s people there is both fear and salvation (v29-31). Noah and his family were saved in the judgment upon the then world by a flood. Israel is saved here in the judgment of Egypt is delivered by the hand of God. Times are often dark for God’s covenant people, seemingly hopeless even. But God has promised, he has pledged himself to us and his promise of a future paradise, the real promised land is not empty hope. Jehovah, our faithful covenant Lord, remains true to his name, faithful. He always and always will deliver his church. Here typically through the Red Sea, in reality through Christ and his finished work, our only hope of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Behold! The sufficiency and salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 7:25). Who has the ability to deliver his elect in every circumstance 0f life and whatever the world has to through at us? Only believe (Mark 9:23)!
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Divine Glory – (Chapter 14 Verses 15-31)
The sheer logistics of this move is a nightmare without the added threat of the Egyptian armies coming at the people of Israel. They hit the panic button. But that doesn’t alter anything, it’s not only unproductive it is destructive, paralysing. The thing to do is to stop and think, and think in terms of what God has said and promised. This way you begin to see and realise the sufficiency and the trustworthiness of God. That way faith is also encouraged and strengthened for the future. Of course, it’s the Devil who seeks to destroy our faith and peace. Our safety is in the Lord. There is some irony in the complaints of Israel (v11). They appear to be obsessed with death, they have been living for too long amidst the tombs and pyramids of Egypt (Proverbs 8:36). There is no true and saving faith with these people at this juncture in their history, the New Testament appears to affirm that. Jesus destroyed most of them (Jude 5). It is only the gospel that reverses this obsession of and terror of death (John 11:25). If anyone has a problem with the signs already performed in the Exodus account, they will have mega problems with this one. Faith needs a promise, this they have (v14). And command needs obedience, go forward (v15). Faith must see the invisible, the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 11:8). This is a dead end, an impasse, no way out. Only faith, only believing in God. There is a divine impatience with is servant, “wherefore criest thou unto me” (v15)? It’s a time for action not praying. This in faith life is where you move from the theory to the practical. Both are necessary and important. If the theory isn’t right the practice won’t be. We need to study, meditate, engross ourselves in the theory, in God’s word. Only then are we ready for action. The thing is these people have heard and seen enough, they ought by this time to be trusting in God. This is a test to see to discover faith. There are times when God takes and leaves us in extremities for this end, to test and to discover faith before he puts forth his hand to deliver. See the book of Job for example. See the trials of the apostles (2Corinthians 1:8-9).
God would have us look to him, do what he says, even when it seems beyond us. Then he works, opens a way, and we get the benefit, our faith is increased (Hebrews 11:29). Otherwise, our pilgrim walk would be by sight and not faith (2Corinthians 5:7). The Lord begins to open up the way, but not completely, each step forward is a fresh step of faith (v16). Such is the way of faith in any generation, even now. Yes, there is fear, confusion, sometimes totally baffled, but God isn’t. He always knows what he is doing and going to do. It is afterwards, we look back afterwards, then understand what God was doing. We must keep in mind that God is doing things here, he is judging Egypt and he is delivering Israel. Yes, unlike me God can do more than one thing at once. Both are for his own glory (v17-18). The Egyptians would not plough into the see were they not blinded, “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear” (Romans 11:8). The secret counsel of God’s purposes are being worked out here, that is, “the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Romans 9:11). There is a double sign, miracle here. Israel, God’s covenant people are saved (v13a). Egypt, i.e, the unbelieving world is destroyed (v13b). The full final weight of God’s justice falls on Egypt. If men will not serve the Lord they will be judged. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish Psalm 1:1-6).
“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Conflict is a Spiritual One – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)
We are thus instructed, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (v18). That is with the help of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Now this has nothing to do with speaking in tongues as some would have us to believe. It is praying with a reliance upon the Holy Spirit to supply the necessary help, energy to pray. There are times are there not when we just don’t know what to pray, it may be just simply a sigh. But the Holy Spirit knows how to present that sigh at the throne of grace in terms that God fully understands our state and our need. We are told here we must persevere in prayer, not because God is slow to answer or because he doesn’t hear us. We just do not know the extent to which our prayers can set activity in motion in high places. It is in high and heavenly places where the real work of God is done and progresses. Think of the far-reaching effects of the prayers of former saints. “And whiles I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation” (Daniel 9:20-21). “Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Daniel 10:12). We are assured our prayers are heard. The value and significance of our prayers are seldom realised. Think of a small insignificant group of Christians gathered, “just to pray.” The prayers of the saints are the decrees of God beginning to work. It is nothing short of unbelief that caused the church prayer meetings in the West to diminish. It is the Holy Spirit’s indwelling the Christian, without whom a person is not a Christian, who prompts and encourages us to pray. Without this divine Enabler, we would not know what to pray for, he is our inspiration (Romans 8:26).
We see in the book of Revelation just how much the prayers of the saints on earth is so effective. There we see them being worked out on earth. We see the heavenly Lamb seated in the midst of his throne surrounded by his angelic helpers. The one who makes the throne a throne of grace, “seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession…Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16). It is there we see our poor, feeble, stammering, limited prayers mingle with heaven’s incense. And reaching the throne of God in perfection, a sweet aroma in his nostrils. Beloved, if this is prayer in biblical terms then how important is our praying? Its nature and its significance. We must see this aspect of our Christian warfare as the deepest secret and strongest power, and engage. If praying is something that Christ ever lives to do (Hebrews 7:25), it must be important, it must be worth doing. Daily, hourly pleading our case before the presence of God. If God be for us, will he leave us alone to pray (Romans 8:31), never. If he has given us his Son will he not give us all else we need for this so great conflict that we’ve called up and into (Romans 8:32)? And since we pray in his name, not our own, will he not give us those things which ask for? He will indeed.
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Lord’s Promise – (Chapter 14 Verses 1-14)
The Israelites came out of Egypt triumphant looking to the grace and glory of God. But their faith had to be tested, for a faith that is not tested is worth nothing at all. They were given the unmistakable signs of God’s presence, they were assured by his divine promises. Now they are further assured of his presence as they leave Egypt with the assuring pillars, of fire by night and cloud by day (Exodus 13:21-22). But there is no indication of their looking to these pillars signifying God’s dynamic presence. It was not only the Egyptians but Israel too had forgotten God. This was to become a besetting sin in Israel. For many, it would cost them dearly, eternally even (Jude 5). There is such a thing as faithless praying (v10). They are overwhelmed by fear. Now fear is not necessarily a bad thing altogether, but it is bad when it controls us, paralyses us. They jump to a wrong conclusion here based on immediate appearances. And inevitably they get it wrong. Yes, from a human perspective the situation is a difficult one, impossible even. But in such times and circumstances, we need to pause and ponder the facts of our salvation. God does not deliver by half measures, he does begin a work and leave it half finished as we often do. When he commits himself, when he promises to do a thing, we can be assured he will see it through to its conclusion, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “Fear not, stand firm” (v14). And now their fear turns to fury (v11-12). Expressed to Moses the servant of the Lord, which means ultimately against the Lord himself.
A torrent of scorn, of contempt and criticism. What short memories people have? You cannot pray in faith and reveal the man God’s appointed to lead you. And especially so when his ministry has borne signs confirming his appointment. Note their criticisms. One, they consider themselves to be dead men walking (v11). Two, it is all the fault of Moses (v11b). Three, they told Moses it wouldn’t work (v12). Four, they wish they had not listened to him (v12). But the man God intervenes with a military-like command, “Fear not, stand firm” (v13-14). But faced with such an impasse how can you not be afraid? Well, you stop and think. Who brought me here, and for what purpose did he bring me here? The honour of God’s name is at stake here, for he promised deliverance. The integrity of his work is at stake also, has he ever done a thing before and failed at it? The safety of his people is also at stake, what will all the nations say of God’s purpose for them fails? When we find ourselves in trouble like this, faced with what appears to us to be an impasse if our concept of God is wrong, so too will we be. It is at times like this that we need to be solid on the doctrine God, nothing else will keep us afloat. If our expectations of life are wrong we will also be in serious trouble. God has promised eternal life to those who believe in him through Christ Jesus. We will only stand at such times as these as and when we stand upon and know the doctrine of God. Then we will be able to obey this command, “fear not, stand firm” (v14). This command is thundered out before them by Moses as a military leader would, in order to turn them from themselves to God, the Lord of hosts. “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)? Who else can deliver us, surrounded by a sea of sin, a world of flesh, the devil and his army? “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).
“Fighting the Good Fight”
The Conflict of Prayer – (Ephesians Chapter 6 Verse 18)
There are many aspects to prayer, worship, adoration, praise, thanksgiving and intercession. There are two things that prayer most certainly is not. It is not preaching and it is not for the correcting of others. I have heard people using prayer to both these ends, this is a great evil and must not be tolerated. But, prayer is warfare. It could be said that this is the very epicentre of the battle, where it is won and lost. Our praying should be uttered in a way that all can understand and all can say a whole-hearted amen to at the close (this, of course, excludes what people call praying in tongues). If we are taking part in a prayer meeting we should stand and speak clearly and loudly so all can hear what is said. The early church gave itself to prayer and the ministry of the word (Acts 6:1ff). If any of them were persecuted they would pray for them. When they prayed stuff happened, society was shaken, prison walls were breached, lives were changed. In the Old Testament, we have the example of the battle ebbing and flowing as Moses prayed in direct proportion to the direct support given (Exodus 17:8-13). This surely emphasises the importance of our attendance at the church prayer meeting. The Lord Jesus sees the needs of the people and he bids his disciples pray, “this kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29). Whatever the need or the situation we are instructed to take it to the Lord in prayer. Because we are always on a war footing and so our eyes and hearts need to be focussed upon the Captain of our salvation.
We have this privilege, we go to him, wait upon him in confidence. But we do so prepared to obey his orders whatever they may be. We are told here to pray “with all prayer and supplication” (v18). With all kinds of prayers, that is. It doesn’t always have to formal, but simply speaking to God in general terms as go through our day. This is the means by which our relationship, our friendship with the Lord is established and maintained in freshness. It is vital. This is the Christian’s life. Where there is no prayer there is no life. We can be on the move, walking, driving etc. We may be sitting, kneeling, the posture isn’t the most important aspect of praying. We could very simply call chatting to God as we go about our daily chores. Supplication is getting down to specifics. If we are going to pray about world affairs we need to make it our business to know about world affairs. The needs of people near and far. People in our own families, churches, our Minister. Then the needs of missionaries that we have a particular responsibility for and others the world over. There is no place in this Christian warfare for a cosy, self-centred isolation. We are in this fight together, all the Lord’s people. Prayer is work, it is hard work, it takes effort. We need to remain alert. It is so easy to fall asleep at the wheel. Satan would rather rock you to sleep than come at you in a direct confrontational way. You know the penalty a soldier pays for falling asleep on duty? “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Lord’s Hardening – (Chapter 14 Verses 1-14)
The acts of judgment upon Pharaoh and his regime appear to have had no lasting effect upon them. Maybe like many today just a temporary effect. When God in his displeasure brings his rod across people it brings a measure of fear and perhaps even some reform. But then the fear wears off and chastisement is forgotten and they are back to their same old ways. So it seems to be with Pharaoh, back to his old materialistic mindset and doubtless very confident that he can redress the situation. But there is one thin that he always forgets. The same one thing that the enemies of God always forget. Who it is they are dealing with, God! “The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17). This is their folly. One could mistakenly think that Pharaoh repented when he decided to let Israel go, but there is no repentance with this man whatever. The consequences of his actions have not sunk in. All he is thinking about now is that he has lost his labour force. Who will build his monstrous monuments, pyramids? With no slave labour, the Egyptian people will have to graft themselves and this would be very hard for them, they have become soft, flabby. For a long time, they have sat and watched the Hebrew slaves do all the graft. It’s a bit like our own society today. The many years of prosperity and the increase in technology have left us in a similar state, soft and flabby. Now we find ourselves dependent on immigrant labour to do the manual work, the hard graft. Our own people have become soft, flabby like the Egyptians. But it goes deeper than just the social structuring. This God’s people, Israel. We must not forget this is the world’s expression of enmity against God and his people. Jesus tells us not to be surprised at their hatred (John 15:17-21). But God is in all this, and in all our circumstances too. “Fear not, stand firm” (v14).
This (v7) is the effect of the Lord’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (v8). He was told to let Israel go, he refused, then he negotiated, then he asked for prayer, then he changed his mind. He cannot defy, rise above his sin-nature no more than he can defy the law of gravity. It just pulls him down and back to what he really is. Only regeneration can alter that and that has not happened in this man’s heart. It is only by the sovereign, saving grace of God that a person can be led to true gospel obedience. Like many in our Western society today Pharaoh is in a big hurry, he cannot get to hell quick enough (v8-9). He is rushing to his destruction. This is the irrationality of unbelief in any age, it will self-destruct before it will yield, submit to God. Israel, on the other hand, were animated, inspired, they are a free people now, heading for the promised land. Until that is they are faced with a seemingly impassable barrier, the Red Sea, and an implacable foe behind them, the Egyptian army. Pharaoh’s assessment of Israel’s situation was correct, from a human point of view at least, utterly hopeless, defeated. Except for one thing, the one thing the enemies of God always forget. God! “Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).