It’s a walk around the bases. Rolling a Yahtzee. Getting a hole in one! Yes! Celebrate! Victory! That’s how the Israelites felt as they danced out of Egypt. It’s all in Exodus 13-15 how they went out celebrating. God told them to plan for a week-long celebration each year. It was real. They weren’t imagining it. This was real, and it was going to stay real!
The text shows a little of what God was thinking…He did not guide them into war, but took them to the wilderness. Moses must have felt the irony. Here he was, going back to the wilderness herding people instead of sheep. But God was the one leading this time – in a pillar of clouds by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Can you image how high that would be, especially without any skyscrapers to block the view? Shade and warmth – shields against the weather.
God shared His battleplan with Moses. He would lure Pharaoh out by making it appear that Israel was just wandering around the wilderness. And He would get the final glory. But Israel did not realize that. They panicked when Pharaoh’s war chariots appeared on the horizon.
“11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “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. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.””
Be silent and watch what God will do! But apparently Moses sent up some frantic prayers himself, because God said,
“Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”
Walls of water, like an aquarium without the glass. It would be an exercise in trust as well as a time to worship. And the pillar of fire was guarding their rear.
Pharaoh did not think too hard…who had created this wall of water? Israel’s God. And so why did he decide to pursue Israel through the tunnel of water to oppose God who had just hit Egypt with 10 plagues? Who knows! He and his men were washed up on shore. And Israel started dancing and singing praise to God!
“15 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 The Lord is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
the Lord is his name.”
Never forget how powerful God is! Remember the victory! Let it get caught in your head, hummed under your breath, your marching tune for the day. God is in control!
And yet right after the home run comes a strike-out. Right after the Yahtzee you have to cross off a full straight. Right after a hole-in-one it takes ten puts to go ten feet. And right after dancing in the desert, Israel came to a watering hole that they couldn’t drink from. And they were desperate for water. Why did you bring us here to die? And they started grumbling against God. And God showed them a way to use the water, but He set it as a test. Would they trust Him? They came to an oasis, and no grumbles are recorded.
So how do you respond to hard times? I can start a pity party in the middle of a praise song. And I’ve done it, too. How do we lose focus so fast? Why do our hearts flip-flop away from God? And why does He put up with it?
He is a good Father. And just like He led Israel out of Egypt and into the wilderness and to years and years of grumbling, He leads us to Jesus, to a new life, and picks us up after every stumble. He is so good.
God, why do I run so fast away from You? Why do I look away from the glory of what You have done to the situation I am in and shrink Your strength to how much I can flex my own arm? So God, please bring a change to my heart. Help me to remember the victory, plan a feast sometimes, and celebrate what You have done. Because You are mighty, and You have worked for me, and it is awesome to see. Thank You for what You are doing! Amen.