Friday, February 11, 2022

2022.02.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 14:15–31

Read Exodus 14:15–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the Lord respond in Exodus 14:15 to the cry of Exodus 14:10—with what question and what command? What is Moses, specifically, to do (Exodus 14:16a)? What are the children of Israel to do (verse 16b)? What else will the Lord do (Exodus 14:17)? With what result? And what effect (Exodus 14:18)? Who had been where (Exodus 14:19)? To where did He move? What else moved there? Where did this place Them strategically (Exodus 14:20)? What did the cloud do to whom? What did Moses do in Exodus 14:21? What did Yahweh do, with what result? What is Israel called in Exodus 14:22 (cf. Exodus 14:16Exodus 14:29, Exodus 15:1, etc.)? What did they do? Who did what in Exodus 14:23? How many of them did? What did Yahweh do first in Exodus 14:24 (cf. Psalm 11:4–6)? What did He do next? In what way did He confound them (Exodus 14:25)? What did they decide to do at this point? Why? Now Who speaks to whom (Exodus 14:26)? What is Moses to do? Why? What did Moses do (Exodus 14:27)? For what did the sea wait before it returned? What had Yahweh done? How many of what were destroyed (Exodus 14:28)? What had who done (Exodus 14:29)? How does Exodus 14:30a summarize what Yahweh had done? What did Israel see (verse 30b)? What, in sum, did Israel see (Exodus 14:31)? With what effect?

Exodus 14:13-14 established what we are to take away from Exodus 14:15-31: Yahweh saving Israel, and Israel seeing that salvation. Israel is not just a nation; they are the children of Israel. It’s not an uncommon way of describing people by their ancestor, but this ancestor had an uncommon covenant with God—something of which God had reminded Pharaoh when He said, “Israel is my firstborn son” (cf. Exodus 4:22). God is still the God Who delivers His people as a display of Himself to strengthen their fear of Him and faith in Him. So there is an example here for us of what to observe as He does so—and has ultimately done so in Christ. Specifically, we see that God gives His people His prescription, His presence, His power, and His praise.

God gives His people His prescription. He tells Israel to go forward (Exodus 14:15). He tells Moses to lift up his rod (Exodus 14:16a) and stretch out his hand (verse 16b). He tells the children of Israel to go on dry ground (verse 16c), to go through the midst of the sea (verse 16d). 

More foundationally than that, God continues to establish His servant (Exodus 14:31) before the people. The best reason for them to listen to Moses has nothing to do with Moses’s gifts or even his character. The best reason is because God chose him—because God has prescribed a particular way of leading them. They had grumbled against Moses in their crying out against God (Exodus 14:10-12), and God responded by reinforcing the arrangement that He had prescribed with Moses in the lead.

God has given us prescriptions too—all of the instruction in His holy Word. And among those prescriptions are His arrangement for leading us. Husbands shepherding wives. Parents shepherding children. Elders shepherding congregations. Imperfect sinners, and more convenient for us to target when we have complaining hearts (or lips or keyboards), but God Himself is the target of a complaining heart. Let complaints come from hearts that are content with Him, patient with imperfection, and gracious with offenses, because of our confidence in Him Who has prescribed the arrangement.

God gives His people His presence. They already had His presence in front of them, but now the sea was in front of them, and the entire military-industrial complex of Egypt was at their heels. So He moves. The Angel of God (a preincarnation visible manifestation of the Logos) moves from the front to the back (Exodus 14:19a). The pillar of cloud, which they are to identify with Him, does the same (verse 19b). We sometimes think that our greatest need is a different position—the spot between Pi Hahiroth and Baal Zephon was indefensible—but in whatever position we find ourselves, our greatest need is God Himself, which He teaches and provides as He communicates to us His presence.

His presence is dreadful to the Egyptians, putting them in darkness; but, it was cheering and encouraging to the Israelites, giving them light (Exodus 14:20). We ought not expect the unbeliever to enjoy God making His nearness known. The more they perceive this reality, the more dreadful it will be for them; and how well they will perceive it in the world to come (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7–9)! But as the Lord gives us a more clear understanding and proper attitude toward Himself, our perception of His presence to us will be increasingly gladdening and strengthening (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:10).

Ever since the plague of the flies (cf. Exodus 8:23), Yahweh has been emphasizing this difference/distinction-making quality of His actions among men. He operates on a principle of discrimination. The God of the Bible gives equal-opportunity justice, which for all sinners would have meant wrath (cf. Romans 1:18, Romans 9:22)—except that in some cases this justice is satisfied by way of discriminatory mercy (cf. Romans 9:23–24). He decides to show mercy to some, as He is free to do, and when He shows that mercy He makes a difference!

And how much more we may be certain of that presence now! He Himself came as our Redeemer, under the Name Immanuel (“God with us,” cf. Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23). He Himself has promised to be with us always, to never leave nor forsake us (cf. Matthew 18:20, Hebrews 13:5). He Himself (the Father and the Son) has given His Spirit to indwell us (cf. John 14:17–18)—communicating to us the presence of the Father and the Son, Who make their home with us by that Spirit (cf. John 14:23–26). A New Testament believer is one who has been given a gift of a more clearly and emphatically communicated experience of the presence of God. How we should foster our apprehension of that presence by faith, and seek that the Holy Spirit would increase it to us!

God gives His people His power. That is not to say that He makes us powerful like He is, but rather that He continually exerts His almighty power on our behalf, and especially displays this when we are weakest. To use the apostolic phrase, “His strength is perfected in our weakness” (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). 

How completely the military of Egypt is exerting itself (Exodus 14:7), and how easily Yahweh confounds them (Exodus 14:24-25), and how completely He destroys them (Exodus 14:28)! When it says that the Lord looks (Exodus 14:24a), it doesn’t merely mean that the Lord observes, but that He is personally interacting with what He observes. If all that we can see with our eyes is seemingly unstoppable wickedness (cf. Psalm 11:2–3), then we must see with our faith that the Lord looks on in perfect justice and almighty fury (cf. Psalm 11:4–6). 

God gives His people His praise. This is actually another one of His prescriptions: “stand still and see the salvation” (Exodus 14:13). We are commanded to observe the Lord so that we will see His glory and honor and respond appropriately “Israel saw the great hand which Yahweh had exercised in Egypt, so the people feared Yahweh” (Exodus 14:31). 

This was one of the primary purposes of this event: “So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen […] when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen” (Exodus 14:17-18, cf. “I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army,” Exodus 14:4). Indeed, these verses become the name for the song of praise by which this moment of salvation is enshrined (cf. Exodus 15:1, Exodus 15:21). “Cause for praise” was a primary purpose of this deliverance. And we should respond with praise for every deliverance, as He continually gives us cause.

Indeed, our Lord Jesus has gained honor of sin and Satan and death itself. On top of the infinite and eternal reason that He has given us to praise Him for Who He is, in His redeeming us He has super-added an infinite and eternal reason to praise Him for what He has done. And in all of our circumstances, He glorifies Himself. We are to look for the display of His honor, as He gives us a continual stream of reasons to praise Him.

So in every deliverance, let us see that God gives us: His prescriptions (clear instruction about what we are to do), His presence (that He Himself is our greatest need), His power, and especially  that God is giving us is a display of Himself to stir us up to praise!

From what do you currently need deliverance? From what circumstances, people, or powers has the Lord delivered you? What was He giving to you in each of these situations?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are perfectly wise, infinitely powerful, and unfathomably loving. And there is not a single circumstance that could ever diminish any of those things. But, we are often doubting, faltering, even grumbling. O forgive us such wickedness! By Your Spirit’s use of this portion of Your Word, increase our ability to see all of the good that You are giving us and doing us by way of our most difficult trials. For we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH515 “More Than Conquerors”

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