Joy and Celebration – Exodus 15:1-21
The enemy is Pharaoh in today’s story and he has said of God’s people “They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.” So, he gave orders and an elite division of the Egyptian army chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea. Obviously, Pharaoh is about to demonstrate his might and return his laborers back into slavery. Sadly, this has become an appealing option to most of the Israelites to being buried in the wilderness.
The chances of Pharaohs’ success were not 100 or a 1000 to 1. The odds makers were not even giving a prayer of a hope for God’s people. Back into bondage would be the inevitable slam dunk outcome. While this may have been the apparent reality, Jehovah’s perspective was radically different. He said, “I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” In other words it was the Lord who had lured Pharaoh into His trap. God had His enemy precisely where He wanted him.
One of the great truths in the New Testament happens to be about the Old Testament. It is this…
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
The evening news and the Forward of seemingly every Christian book is a troubling reminder that the human race (including God’s people) are wandering in the wilderness, hemmed in between the evil hordes and the apparent impossible circumstances before them. Most people (including God’s) anticipate the chaos and carnage this inevitable squeeze will cause. Its not a matter of “if” to most, its a matter of when and how much. Here is a radical but fair question in light of the outcome of Israel’s story; “Is it possible that in our times, God has maneuvered His enemy into the same trap He lured Pharaoh?” Could your faith be aroused to imagine that God has His enemy (in our individual and corporate circumstances) right where He wants him? Let’s refresh our memories in regard to our current reality.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The real rulers of this world (known in scripture as principalities and powers), operating under the command of Satan (the prince of this world) are not armed with AK-47’s and nerve gas. They are armed with sophisticated and strategically organized lies. In scripture these are referred to as empty deceptions, traditions of men, philosophies, elementary principles, fortresses, speculations and lofty things, all raised up against the knowledge of God. My catch word for all these deceptions is strongholds. May our refresher course remind us that our primary and ultimate residence is not America the Beautiful, the Land of the Free. We live on a battle field.
We, like ancient Israel, look around us. In front of us we see a future that looks like an impossible obstacle – an increasingly economically and geopolitically unstable world ready to be grabbed up by any one of a seemingly growing pool of opportunistic and well-armed despots. We look behind us and see a formidable array of ill-intentioned forces gathered there as well, all just too ready to escort us back into slavery.
Remember, the enemy’s tools are lies intended to deceive. What we do not realize is where we are bound in deceit. Our shackles are not on our legs and arms. We are shackled-in-heart where we are agreeing with one or many of the attractive options laid out on the enemy’s smorgasbord. If we are saying, “This does not apply to me; I an American! I am free to choose”, we are just feeling the steel grip of our shackles. While we are touting our freedom, the enemy looks upon us and laughs as we robotically feast upon the half-truths and blatant lies that have become our reality – the codes and traditions we live by. Again a reminder. Jehovah has a plan up the sleeve of his mighty right arm. He has actually revealed it already.
One of God’s 5-Star generals, Paul would say to us, “You are bound in heart because you are looking at things as they are outwardly. (2 Corinthians 10:3-7) He would go on to say…..
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the sake of destroying the well arranged lies that infect men’s hearts, which consequently control and manipulate the world. We are destroying all the lies and unlocking all the shackles.
One day the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Habakuk 2:14)
I don’t believe this knowledge of God will just be God-facts gathered and recorded by academics. It won’t be second hand or propositional truth stored in books or data-banks by the scribes. I believe the earth will be covered with God’s people who found themselves just about where Israel found herself and we today find ourselves. We will discover where this world’s empty deceptions have woven their way into our beliefs and values and we will repent. We shall renew our minds and thus renovate our hearts. Then we shall be filled with the knowledge of God. Living Truth will one day be manifest in the story of God’s people as the earth is inhabited by those who have realized they themselves are the temples of God, the place where God’s glory now dwells. The earth then, shall be filled with knowledge and the glory of God. The Word shall become flesh in aggregate. This will be our story and a formidable weapon in our warfare.
This ultimate “then” will be established because God’s people discover what we have in Christ “now“. The kingdom of God has come and it shall never decrease. It grows as one lie after another is exposed and displaced by living Truth. In Christ, a new Exodus began and God invites us to face our enemy and our obstacles in faith. Those who have discovered abandonment will be led to their Promised Land. The question is will there be sheep driven into Canaan unwillingly? I believe an honest read of the New Testament will not provide security for those holding on to their rights to live life as it suits them. Holding on to our independence is not at all a safe place to be in our hearts spiritually. The kingdom is where Christ rule is expanding. How could we be a part of His kingdom when we insist on having our way?
This battle is so close to home we most often do not even see it. The enemy has done an exceptional job at hemming us in but simultaneously the Lord has him right where He wants him. That is why I have distributed 100 copies of “The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner to a host of my friends and family. It says much about the front-line of spiritual warfare. Our hearts are the beachhead of God’s invasion of His planet. That is why the wisest man who ever lived told us to……
Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts.
Benner’s book says as much about securing this beachhead and cooperating with our Commander in retaking that which has been stolen as any book I have found. If you did not receive a book from me and would like one, please let me know. I knew I might accidentally leave a few folks out.
Father, raise up fresh divisions of the kingdom family-army who will surrender their hearts to you and submit to your rights of rulership. May they rise with a militant heart and discover that it was for such a time as this that they were born. May they say with a warrior’s heart that they will not be denied the right to lay their lives down in this ultimate conflict. Equip us to say, “We shall not shirk this responsibility. We will not squander this opportunity.” Amen.
May the song of the growing kingdom regiments begin to fill this earth……
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to God, giving voice together, I’m singing my heart out to God—what a victory! He pitched horse and rider into the sea. God is my strength, God is my song, and, yes! God is my salvation. This is the kind of God I have and I’m telling the world!This is the God of my father— I’m spreading the news far and wide! God is a fighter, pure God, through and through. Pharaoh’s chariots and army he dumped in the sea, The elite of his officers he drowned in the Red Sea. Wild ocean waters poured over them; they sank like a rock in the deep blue sea. Your strong right hand, God, shimmers with power; your strong right hand shatters the enemy. In your mighty majesty you smash your upstart enemies, You let loose your hot anger and burn them to a crisp. At a blast from your nostrils the waters piled up; Tumbling streams dammed up, wild oceans curdled into a swamp. The enemy spoke, “I’ll pursue, I’ll hunt them down, I’ll divide up the plunder, I’ll glut myself on them; I’ll pull out my sword, my fist will send them reeling.” You blew with all your might and the sea covered them. They sank like a lead weight in the majestic waters. Who compares with you among gods, O God? Who compares with you in power, in holy majesty, In awesome praises, wonder-working God? You stretched out your right hand and the Earth swallowed them up. But the people you redeemed, you led in merciful love; You guided them under your protection to your holy pasture.