Rev. E. Anderson
DEALING WITH LIFE’S
READING EXODUS 14
INEVITABILITY: It appears that one of the inevitable factors of life is that of experiencing threatening situations. One of the things that vividly stands out world-wide is it threatened existence from many quarters that is generating a great deal of unrest, anxiety and questioning. There is an awesome disclosure of world leaders in all departments trying to cope with seeming impossible conditions and circumstances. There has always been the manifestation of things that have created such tumult that people have wondered what on earth to do.
“Sometimes God makes his people’s troubles contribute to the increase of their greatness, and their sun shines the brighter for having been under a cloud.” Henry
“As sure as God puts his children in the furnace, he will be in the furnace with them” - C.H.Spurgeon
INSTANCES: There are quite a number of instances recorded in Scriptures where people were called to confront and deal with some serious threatening circumstances. It is obvious therefore that it is not simply isolated to any individual or group of people. Suddenly, without notice, they can arise and produce varied re-actions. Even natural catastrophes can quickly appear and shatter the seeming tranquil state.
Illustration: Ship that has broken in half with 70,000 ton of crude of oil – the awful effect it can have upon the fishermen and their families on the coast of Spain
Jacob – Genesis 32; Moses – Exodus 14; Gideon – Judges 6; David – 1 Samuel 17; Elisha – 2 Kings 6; Hezekiah – Isaiah 37-38; Daniel – 6; Disciples – Mark 4; Paul – Acts 27
REACTIONS: There can come into evidence the wrong sort of response that is far from helpful and does not answer in a positive manner the sudden, overwhelming storm and problem. One does not always have a lot of time to assess and to consider the best moves to make. Consider some responses even from the Bible sagas:
Jacob having to confront a vengeful brother seeks by gifts to appease
Israel reduced to a condition where they are sore afraid and questions the procedures of Moses
Gideon is intimidated and works in secrecy because of the conditions
The Israelites are scared and like rabbits in the holes when Goliath appears on the scene
Elisha’s servant cries out – “Alas, my master! How shall we do?”
The disciples cried out: “Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG WE CAN EASILY GO WRONG
DIVINE ANSWER: The important thing is to be able to take up the right kind of stance. Instead of being knocked down and overcome by what has happened or is happening or may look to happen, there is a definite mind and heart set that somehow takes control and makes that which threatens serve you and the cause of Christ and others. Instead of being submerged by the storm there is a riding of it and, in point of fact, making it turn out to untold advantage. You are not to be overturned but have the wisdom and power to overturn it with telling effect. It is not allowed to work you over, you work it over. The reason being is that the divine answers are within and help you cope effectively. In the instances recorded in Scriptures there are thing that are seen that need to be taught and received so that we can deal with all the things that threaten us.
“The best way out of difficulty is through it” - Anonymous
1/. THE NEED TO SEE THAT EVERYTHING IS IN SOVEREIGN HANDS
- It is important to know with utmost confidence, right from the outset, the one that is in overall charge and control. Once that issue is resolved then there should be the grounds for the difficult and horrendous to be handled in a way that reveals the genius and skill of the Controller. Is it the circumstance, tempestuous and traumatic as it may be, in the ascendancy, or the One who has the insight and foresight as to what should be done?
“Unless there is within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to that which is about us.” Forsyth
“Beware of despairing about yourself; you are commanded to put your trust in God, and not in yourself.” St.Augustine
- The major lesson that Moses had to learn when God called him to do a mammoth job for Him was the sure knowledge communicated at the earliest moment as to who was in the driving seat in relation to all. It was given in the disclosure of His Name in Exodus 3: 14 - “the I Am that I Am” - summed up in the sacred title -”JEHOVAH.” The One that continues to be and will always be on the scene, whatever the scene, and big enough to handle the scene. It has to be ever understood that He is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent. He cannot be shut out of any situation because He is present. He is never in the position where He does not know how to deal with anything or anyone. He is the place of all power so that He has all the resource to answer. How essential to know and believe He is Sovereign Lord.
Illustration: I heard the story of a man, a blasphemer, profane, an atheist, who was converted singularly by a sinful action of his. He had written on a piece of paper, “God is nowhere,” and ordered his child to read it, for he would make him an atheist too. The child spelled it, “God is n-o-w h-e-r-e – God is now here.” It was a truth instead of a lie, and the arrow pierced the man’s own heart.” – Spurgeon
This was what enabled Moses to do what he did that day when the whole of Israel’s situation was truly threatened. The Israelites saw the Egyptians: he saw the Lord and that is what made the real difference. Over the previous months and experiences he had learned who was the true boss in affairs. He had come to the settled conviction and conclusion that the Lord was no liar and that he was big enough to carry the whole project and mission through. At this particular moment, all he had to do was to put into the hands of the Lord to allow Him to work it all out.
The threat was really against the Lord and at this moment it would provide the opportunity to settle this in a satisfactory fashion. Pharoah had not learned his lesson and so it had to be sorted out in a devastating way. As they were to pass through the Red Sea, those threatening walls of water came down and dashed and devastated Egypt. All the Lord had to do was to lift up His hand to let His people through and then let it down to demolish the Egyptians.
2/. THE NEED TO KEEP CALM AMIDST THE EXTREME CONDITIONS
- This is primarily one thing that God would seek to create before there is any remarkable and outstanding intervention. The inward frame of mind and heart appears to be a crucial part of the exercise before the masterful action. When everything is of a threatening order, it is imperative that the person threatened knows and retains a calmness and balance. The natural reaction tends to be panic and the unusual case is to be that of peace. The first thing that Moses had to do was to effect a tranquil atmosphere and because he was tranquil he was able to redeem this new development. He was ‘Mr. Confidence’ acting with great aplomb and assurance. He addressed the people and scene with the words: “Fear not, stand still.” The same could be said of the apostle Paul, situated in a raging storm when the boat appears to be falling apart and all are possessed with dread and alarm – Acts 27.
- The Lord has to deal with His servants and people before He actually deal with the prevailing, overwhelming conditions. Sometimes it is more difficult to do that than show His supremacy over all that threatens. Jacob was too much taken up with the obvious spirit of his twin that made him do what he did. But he needn’t have done so because the Lord was quite up to Esau. The patriarch had to be brought to peace in a divine wrestling match – Genesis 32. Elijah had to be taught that Jezebel was no real problem to the Lord and so the Horeb experience where he found the ‘still small voice’ of the Lord – 1 Kings 19. Elisha’s servant was brought to peace so that he might see the Lord was in control – 2 Kings 6: 16 “Fear not.”
- It is echoed and emphasised again by the psalmist who gives initially a picture of everything moving and being violently disturbed – Psalm 46: 2, 3. When everything and everyone is in a state of tremor and shaking, there is One who is unmoved and forever calm – the Lord. He has the power to shake all violently, to utmost degree, but at the centre of His being is utmost serenity. He seeks to introduce this calmness – v10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” Only when still can you know.
3/. THE NEED TO HEAR GOD’S WORD IN THESE TIMES
- The real antidote to all threats and answers in a positive manner is the inspired and dynamic word of the Lord. There is nothing better or greater or more effective than the voice and revelation of His word when things are at their worst. His omnipotent declaration provides the answer to the circumstances no matter how overwhelming.
- There is the indication that He is not troubled one little bit by what is being confronted. When it is considered what He has handled in the course of human history, it should be realised that He is not alarmed or agitated in the slightest degree no matter how horrendous the challenge. He is not upset or put off or senses in any way that this is far beyond Him. It has to be remembered that His throne was under threat with the revolt of His chief angel and with a third of the angel beings. Satan was simply dismissed from heaven along with his collaborators.
- It requires that people be in a position to hear and understand what the Lord has got to affirm when everything appears wild and wrong. Not only has He to be seen above these things, He has to be heard above these things. The sounds of fury and vengeance must not be allowed to super-impose upon the voice and word of the Lord. Elijah had to come to terms with the fact that ‘the still small voice’ superseded the mouthing of Jezebel and all the noise on Horeb’s mount and that it contained revelation that answered everything. The reason why Moses and Paul could speak in the way that they did was due to the fact, they had heard from God and knew His mind and could speak it out with divine authority – ” Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord . . . .” “Paul stood forth in the midst of them . . . .And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. . . .” Unless we hear from God we are simply windbags that have no spiritual content or divine dynamic!
4/. THE NEED TO RESPOND IN FAITH AND CONFIDENCE TO GOD
The Lord, above all, takes note of the kind of reaction to what He has to say and such is crucial to the outcome. There is no way that one can sit on the fence and remain nonchalant or indifferent either to the circumstances or to His revelation. A definite stance is called for that reflects what we think about what He is declares.
“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” Bryan
“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” Elliot
- There is the attitude and spirit of unbelief that discredits what He states. This is the awful and evil negative that would seek to rule both God and His word out of the equation. It laughs at the idea that there could come a solution from Him in the horrific circumstances. It limits God and seeks to tie His hands. Unbelief is the assumption and assertion that the outward conditions are the controlling factor and cannot be remedied in any way by Him or anyone else. There is a complete surrender to defeat and despair.
Illustration: The ten spies in their report back to Israel – Numbers 13: 26-33
The lord on whose hand the king leaned – 2 Kings 7
- There is the spirit of faith and assurance that credits God with the ability to deal with the threatened situation. Moses was not for turning in the evidence of the new threat but knew it was yet a further opportunity to discover the tremendous wisdom and power of God. The Lord was not to stand or sit still and do nothing but would show His skill and supremacy in an historic and dynamic fashion. It was time to do something original and different and put to rest this enemy who felt that it had got His people cornered and captured. Israel would be able to ‘go forward’ where there was no way because He would create a new one in an unusual manner. Faith would be answered and responded to by them seeing the Lord doing something previously unknown. In simply trusting there would be the discovery that He could keep His word and provide a supernatural and satisfactory answer.
Illustration: All that David needed to deal with the threatened issue was a sling and stone and a direct hit.
“Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but taking God at his word” - Evans
“You may trust the Lord too little, but you can never trust Him too much” - Anonymous
5/. THE NEED TO MAKE SURE ALL GLORY GOES TO GOD
This is the crucial and ultimate thing that should occur as the consequence of all divine intervention when circumstances of an overwhelming nature have been powerfully dealt with by His gracious and powerful hand. The end purpose must not be forgotten but kept in view and it should trigger of true glorying in God. This can take place
- In worship of the Lord – Exodus 15: 11 – “Who is like unto You, O Lord, among the gods?” This is simply recognising the uniqueness and greatness of God above everyone and everything and affirms and adores His Person. When it’s all over and done we need to cope right with the afterwards and it should mean the honouring of Him. He is to be seen in a new and greater light and so pure adoration of Him should be promoted and accented and accentuated in life. First and foremost should be the consciousness of Him prevailing and a glorious acceptance of His deity and majesty and supremacy. He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord and let Him glory in the fact that ‘He is the Lord.’
“Worship renews the spirit as sleep renews the body” - Cabot
“Worship is the act of rising to a personal, experimental consciousness of the real presence of God that floods the soul with joy and bathes the whole inward spirit with refreshing streams of life” - Jones
“Worship is not primarily for God’s sake for it is a spiritual exercise that is vital for our spiritual well being. Worship has a therapeutic value because as we worship God it elevates our spirit, and enriches our faith. It consolidates our assurance and broadens our perspectives so that even in the darkest experience we know that God is Almighty. Worship heals our emotions, lifting us out of self-pity. So let us worship the Lord with all of our heart in church and in private devotion” - Word for Today R. Hunston
- In praise of His doings – Exodus 15. There is the moment for the song to break forth, for the musicians to lead and for the dance to begin in remembrance of the way the Lord worked and did the job. The time was right and opportune for everyone to get going before the Lord in holy pleasure and praise in the evident manifestation of His unique action. It was time to have a real praise party. One just wonders what happened on the shores of Malta following that wonderful act of salvation – Acts 28
“Praise is the rehearsal of our eternal song” – Spurgeon
- In testimony of a permanent kind- Exodus 15. They had a testimony that day that would be historic and one that they could forth with that day and into the future and be able to tell their offspring what the Lord had done – Psalm 66: 16. There was to be an ongoing witness that they had a God who could and would deal with all threatening factors whatever they may consist of. He had given visible proof of what he was able to do so the future looked bright whatever foreboding factors may arise.