This sermon was based on Exodus 13:17-14:31
Pillars of Cloud and Fire
17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
Crossing the Red Sea
1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2″Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11They 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? 12Is 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.” 13And 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. 14The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
15The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16Lift 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. 17And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
19Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Being Free and Living Free
- The Israelites had been declared legally free but were not yet living in that freedom.
- We often want to take the quick way but that isn’t always the best route. Don’t despise the detours of God. These are acts of grace and expressions of his love and kindness towards us.
- The people of God depended entirely on the presence of God to show them which way to go. We no longer need a pillar of fire or cloud because the Holy Spirit illuminates our way.
Standing Still in Faith
- Biblical boldness comes from three sources:
- Remembering Gods victories
- Keeping our eyes on the presence of God
- Keeping our eyes on the promises of God
- Fear emerges when we lift our eyes off the presence of God.
- Our natural techniques when confronted are to either engage (fight) or depart (flee). Moses calls the people to stand still (faith).Standing still in faith recognises that someone else does the fighting for you. This is exactly what Moses is saying to the people, that someone is going to fight on your behalf…and not just anybody but God Himself will fight for you.
We are a People of Advancement
- As we stand firm in faith, we must continue to move forward. The Gospel is an advancing gospel, the mission of God is about advancing the kingdom of God to all nations, tribes and tongues. We’re not to sit on the side lines eating popcorn cheering God on we’re to leave the fighting to God but keep moving forward.
- The purpose of freedom was not to leave Egypt. The purpose of freedom was to enter into the promised land.
- There is a difference between being freed from something and being free for something.