THE EXODUS: HOLD FIRMLY TO THE VERY END…There can be no doubt that Jesus, the Son of God Almighty, has literally been parting the waters of our fallen world for millennia, providing the only way for God's chosen people to cross over to His Promised Land. He's still doing it right this very moment, perfectly in sync with God’s timetable for mankind.
3500 years ago when He delivered His chosen people from bondage, God laid the perfect foundation for His Word to resonate eternally by gifting His creation with a divinely appointed calendar. God’s 5th month will begin at sunset, July 21 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar. And this is the appointment God wants us to remember: “At the LORD’s command Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor, where he died on the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.” Numbers 33:38-39
This is the year that marked the completion of the Israelite nation’s desert sojourn. A summary of that journey is recorded in the first two verses at the beginning of this chapter. “Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:”
As we read further, we observe there are quite a few stops along the way to the Promised Land, most with a lot of strange names. Why should we even pay attention to where the Israelites wandered during their 40 years? Because the Lord God Almighty led them through each and every one. He has a perfect plan for ALL His people.
4000 years ago, Abraham’s words to Isaac perfectly and succinctly spoke of God's plan through His Only Begotten Son. “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” 500 years later, as appointed by the Almighty, the sacrifice of the innocent and perfect Lamb of God was required so that the death angel would “pass over” the sins of God’s chosen people, and they would not suffer the death they deserved.
We should be able to see ourselves clearly alongside God’s chosen people who journeyed through the wilderness of their sin. Right at the very beginning, we are told how God deals with our fickle human nature. “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18
“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” Verses 21-22
God IS faithful and leads His people ALL the time. Paul tells us this in Romans 8:14-15. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’
And, just to keep us focused, God throws us a few curveballs along the way. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.” Exodus 14:1-4
Though God’s choice of campsites for His chosen people sometimes doesn’t make much sense to us humans, it’s always part of a brilliantly executed plan to accomplish two very important goals: to make us face our fears and overcome them; and to bring glory to the Almighty through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We should be able to see that this year more clearly than ever before as we face uncertain times during this global pandemic. Exodus 14:13-14 delivers words of eternal hope right this minute. “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.”
It is the “still” part that seems to frustrate us 2020 Christians, just as it did the Israelites. We need God’s Word in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 as it summarizes Exodus and tells us exactly what NOT to do in times like these. “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.”
“These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
We stop here and reflect on our wilderness journey with this appeal from God’s Word in Hebrews 3:1-14. “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.”
“So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, if it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.”
THE EXODUS: HOLD FIRMLY TO THE VERY END