God provides the way, and He expects us to take it! He expects us to keep moving the direction He’s leading us, even when we don’t see how.
We’ve all read the account of the exodus from Egypt, right? The dramatic crossing of the Red Sea is recorded in Exodus chapter 14—if you haven’t read it in a while, take a minute right now and read it again. A multitude of lessons are presented here, lessons for the youngest Sunday School student up to the most experienced scholar. The astounding power of the Almighty is on full display. But beyond that, I believe there’s a less obvious lesson that is no less awesome.
The pillar of cloud and fire is leading them (Ex 13:21-22), and God explicitly tells Moses He is leading the people to a place where they’ll be hemmed in! The pursuit by Pharaoh and his army is going to happen – God announces it in advance.
The astounding power of the Almighty is on full display.
The people panic. Not the finest reaction, but they cry to Moses, God’s representative, which we should recognize is the right thing to do. Moses responds with a faith I find amazing. “Just stand still, you won’t have to do anything, the Lord will fight for you.” (14:13-14) God has assured Moses that Pharoah would pursue, and that God would get glory over the army of Egypt. Moses believes God, but he does not know what is about to happen. He says stand still—but that isn’t actually what’s going to happen.
As the crisis unfolds, Moses cries to God—he is publicly fearless, but in private he pleads with God for deliverance. And then there is this amazing, amazing response from God: “What are you doing crying to me? Go forward!” (verse 15) As if it should be obvious!
The pillar of cloud and fire move to act as a shield. The rod of power is extended by Moses. The wind blows, and hour by hour overnight a dry channel appears. And the people walk across! (verses 19-22) Who could possibly have thought it? The Egyptians try to follow, and perish.
In the New Testament, Paul says these things truly happened, and more than that, they happened are recorded as types of us, for us to learn from. (1 Corinthians 10)
God knew His people would encounter the apparently insurmountable obstacle of the Red Sea. He led them into it! And then He said, “What are you so worried about? Go forward!”
Don’t just stand there, and don’t turn back. Faced with being pinned between Pharaoh’s army and the sea, how many of us would make the choice of heading into the sea?
It’s almost as if God expected them to simply walk forward, and He would make a path for them as they went. As it turned out, they were paralyzed, and so He showed them the path. He’s very compassionate that way! But, what would have been the result if they’d refused to take the path? They would have had no rescue from Pharaoh’s army.
The lesson, I think: God provides the way, but it may be far from obvious. God provides the way, and He expects us to take it! He expects us to keep moving the direction He’s leading us, even when we don’t see how. Just as to Israel, He says to us, “Go forward.”
Is our faith sufficient to do so? Chances are you’ve faced your own sea in front of you, and maybe Pharaoh’s army behind. Maybe you’re facing something like that right now. The exhortation for us is: No matter how hemmed in we feel, the Lord will not lead us into a situation where we have no way out. It only seems like there’s no answer, because it’s beyond our power to solve it.
But, as afraid and weak as we may be, it’s a good sign if we are crying to God about it, crying to God’s representative, our Lord Jesus Christ. The answer that we are most likely to get, when we cry to God is, “Go forward!” Probably not the answer we want to hear, a lot of the time. It surely must have sounded outrageous to Israel.
Life is going to have trials, tests. Sometimes it looks like there’s no water. Sometimes we just get tired of the same old manna every day. Sometimes we have an army behind and an ocean in front.
Our God, whose arm is not shortened, says, “Go forward! I’ll make a way.”