"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 3, 2013
In Exodus chapter 14 we read the story of the Israelites making their escape from the bondage of the Egyptians. Pharaoh had finally agreed that they could leave and return back to their homeland, but then regretted his decision as soon as they left.
The Israelites fled, and immediately Pharaoh and his servants said, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?"
He made ready his chariot and took his people with him to go pursue the Israelites. He also took 600 choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. Pharaoh had all these chariots, as well as all the horses, his horsemen, and his army chasing after the children of Israel. He meant business! His every intent was to capture the Israelites and bring them all back to Egypt so that they could continue serving him in slave labor.
The Israelites were camped beside the Red Sea, when they looked up and saw the Egyptians coming in pursuit of them. Fear immediately gripped their hearts and they cried out to God, then immediately began blaming Moses for their predicament.
"Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."
God instructed Moses to, "Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea."
The Angel of the Lord, who went before the camp of Israel, moved behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. It was a cloud of darkness to the Egyptians, but it gave light by night to the Israelites. It gave protection to the Israelite camp throughout the night.
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
The children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on both the left and right side. I can just imagine little kids (as well as the adults) reaching out to touch that wall of water in awe, checking to see if it was really real and if it felt any differently.
The Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea; all Pharaoh's chariots, horses, and horsemen. God looked down and saw the army of Egyptians. Verse 25 says that God took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty.
After the Israelites reached safety, the Lord instructed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea, and when he did, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing from it. The Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea and they were all destroyed.
I find some interesting details in this story; other than the obvious ones of Pharaoh's heart being hardened and him deciding, after the fact, that he had made a huge mistake by letting all his slave laborers leave. Or the fact that the Israelites become fearful when they saw the Egyptians pursuing after them, and then pointing their finger and blaming Moses for their predicament. Or the fact that God miraculously parted the water where they crossed over on dry ground.
In Exodus 13: 21, 22 it says that "The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light," so that they could travel both day and night and know which direction to go. Twenty-four hours a day, they had that pillar of cloud (which was the Lord) ever before them to guide them. God was continuously with them, showing the direction that they needed to travel in order to reach the Promised Land.
But when the enemy came within sight of their camp, the pillar of cloud (which the previous verses say was the Lord) moved between the two camps in order to protect the Israelites throughout the night. The Egyptians saw only darkness, while the Israelites saw light.
When we are facing our most adverse circumstances, it may look as if the enemy is on our heels and in hot pursuit of us. But God will stand between us, so that whatever it is that we are dealing with cannot destroy us. Others may see the darkness of our situation, but if we will obey and keep our eyes on God, He can bring light and protection to our lives. There may even be those times that God is standing between us and difficulties, or between us and enemy attacks, and we don't even realize that He is there protecting us.
The Egyptians had the choice chariots, best horses and horsemen, and a huge army on their side. It seemed as if this was a no-brainer; that they would be able to capture the Israelites and bring them back into captivity as slaves.
But the Israelites had God on their side! And no matter how unbalanced the sides may have seemed, at the right moment God intervened in a way that seemed impossible and even far-fetched and unbelievable. He can do the same for us today!
God took off their chariot wheels. Can you picture this loud, obnoxious bunch of Egyptians who were following in hot pursuit; very likely yelling threats, trying to cause fear to enter the Israelites hearts, and trying to reach the Israelites as fast as possible; then suddenly all their chariot wheels fall off?! It made it difficult to go anywhere. I'm sure it caused confusion and shock.
But it was enough to get the Egyptians attention, for they said, "Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians." They recognized that there was no possible way that all their chariot wheels could suddenly all fall off by themselves, but that God was involved.
I'm sure it caused mayhem and mass confusion when the Egyptians tried to turn around and go back the way they had came; especially those driving the wheel-less chariots. But because of their consistent disobedience and hardening of their hearts, God caused the water to close back up and destroy them. Perhaps He knew that if the Egyptians were allowed to go back to shore safely, a few days later they would rethink the situation and decide to pursue the Israelites once again.
God can intervene in our situation in ways that seem impossible or impractical or inconceivable. Who would have thought that God would have intervened on Israels behalf by slowing down the chariots by taking their wheels off? God often doesn't work in the way we think He will or how our minds conceive He should. But when the timing is right, He will intervene on our behalf. It may surprise us at how it happens, but God is not limited by our imaginations or thinking.
There is only a subtle difference between trust and faith. There are times, like the Israelites, that we have to act on faith. They obeyed God, even though as soon as there was any evidence that God had led them the wrong way, they panicked. They probably told each other, "I knew this was wrong. Why did I come anyway?" They didn't really trust God, but they had acted in faith. The problem was that they lost their faith as soon as it looked worse.
There will be times in almost everyone's life that we will have our faith tested. We might have to act in faith, and follow where God is leading us, even if we don't really feel the trust. There are two big risks, though. First of all, we need to be sure that it's really God's leading. And second, there's a good chance that even while we're acting in faith that we'll see something to convince us it was a mistake (like seeing a dust cloud from horses on the horizon). Regardless of the evidence, God is always with us.
Cheesecake Layer Cake
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup flour
1 large pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 cup chopped nuts
1 small Cool Whip
1 cup powdered sugar
Layer 1: Crust -- Blend flour and butter in 9x13 pan. When well blended, pat to cover bottom of pan. Press chopped nuts into crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool crust completely. Layer 2: Mix softened cream cheese with powered sugar. Stir in 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread on cooled crust. Layer 3: Mix instant pudding as directed on package. Spread over second layer. Layer 4: Spread remaining Cool Whip on top. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Chill in refrigerator for a couple hours before serving.
A while back I was teasing my great-nephew, Jax, who is almost 4 years old. I told him that when he became a grown-up then I would be really old, and he would have to take care of me. I would have to live with him and he would have to cook for me, wash my clothes, and drive the car and take me places. He giggled and said, "It was worth a try!" I told him that Uncle Jon would also be really old, so he would have to take care of him too. He replied again, "It was worth a try!"
I often tell him that when he becomes a grown-up, like his daddy, then he will still have to let me give him hugs and kisses. He will usually respond by saying, "Even when I'm a grownup?!?" Yep! That's just what aunts do; and he will have to endure it!
Your talent is God's gift to you.
What you do with it is your gift to God.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon