When 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. 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? 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." 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. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." (Exodus 14:10-14)
How little faith we have in the Lord when we find ourselves backed in a corner! How soon we forget all He has done for us and the great deliverance of our souls through His own blood that was shed for us! When we are backed in a corner with no way out, we need only remember the cross, and the love that was proven there, and to trust His hand and wait for Him to act in His power and glory. There was no way out for Israel but to go forward. But first they had to "stand still" and wait for God. Through every hardship He will be glorified in our lives as we trust in Him. "What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?" Egypt is symbolic of the world. Jesus saved us out of the world to make us His own, through His blood. Yet we doubt His hand in our lives when trials come. Some even look back to their old life which was a hard task master yet which seems "easier" and more pleasant than the testings of the Lord. We have to choose Egypt or our Lord. We cannot stay in Egypt and please our Lord. When we try to hold on to both, the Lord has to move us and show us we cannot. It's not possible.
These Israelites were not in this position of danger because of sin in their lives or disobedience but because they were doing exactly as the Lord had led them to do, after He miraculously delivered them out of Egypt by taking the firstborn of all the Egyptians and saving them through the blood on the doorposts shed by the sacrificial lamb. Sometimes we can be walking according to the Lord's will in our lives yet everything suddenly seems to come against us and attack us. We find ourselves in an impossible situation, and we question whether or not we did the right thing. Obedience did not make everything better right off! Did we somehow miss God? Was all of this just our own bad judgment that led us to these circumstances? Now we're in a trap with no way out! Wish we had stayed where we were! At least there we were at peace and comfortable and had good food etc. Now what?
Yes, we can in some ways avoid hardship if we stay in our comfortable place and don't move forward with the Lord. Yes, we can many times find more happiness in our lives even, if we fail to move forward where the Lord wants to take us. Yes, we can avoid danger and persecution and hardship, and toil, and lack in our lives if we stay in our comfortable place of security and pursue that rather than God's will and the path He would lead us on. But when we do, we miss God. How much of God do you want? How much of Him do you want to know? Maybe your content with just enough of God to allow you to keep hold on your life in this world and all its pleasures. But that's just enough of God to make you miserable really. Maybe you don't care if you grow in His love and fellowship and maybe you don't care to know Him intimately. Your eyes are on Egypt. You want to keep God but stay in Egypt. You want God to just make life in Egypt a bit more comfortable for you and keep those Egyptians appeased so they leave you alone.
Israel cried out to God for deliverance, yet the deliverance they wanted was one of their own imagination. They didn't necessarily want to leave Egypt. They just wanted to be comfortable and prosperous and at rest in Egypt. But God had other reasons for delivering them. He has other reasons for delivering us. Israel was being called out of Egypt altogether so that they might worship God and serve Him. We as His church are called out of this world to be a peculiar people, to be His own possession, and to belong to Him.
you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:9-11)
He is preparing us for Heaven itself, and an eternity in His holy presence. Imagine! He calls us to something so much higher than we want for ourselves! Even in the times of impossible circumstances, backed in a corner, surrounded by enemies, He has a plan, and will show Himself powerful in our lives and on our behalf when we are given to His will. We may have to go through many chastisements to free us from the love of this world and trusting in that. But through all He is drawing us to a perfect rest in Him in a promised land flowing with milk and honey. The longer we hold on to this world, the longer it takes for our travel through the wilderness. Until we are freed from clutching to our security and comfort and pleasures here, we are not free to walk in the security and rest of all He has provided for us. The most miserable Christians are the ones who strive to hold on to this world and have their own way in it - those who cry out to God for freedom, but not to the place where He alone wants to take them. Instead of striving and crying out to God to get what we want in Egypt, we must let go entirely of Egypt and let Him take us where He wants us to go. At first, we must go through the wilderness, many times, before we get to the promised land.
The world tells us, "follow your dreams!" Israel was wanting deliverance from the bondage of Egypt only to follow their dreams in Egypt. But do we have the wrong dreams? When we let go of all our dreams in Egypt, and trust in God as our life, He can give us joy and contentment in any circumstance we find ourselves in.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul learned this, not because of always being in cozy circumstances, being warm and well fed and well provided for. He learned it while being shipwrecked, imprisoned, beaten, persecuted, hounded by false believers, etc. He learned to walk in faith by the Spirit, and trust that God would always provide where He led, and would always be His portion, no matter what the lack in this world. And whether or not he lived or died, he knew that to live was Christ and to die was gain.
He had no selfish pursuits in his life. All was loss for the sake of Christ. This is not something only Paul could attain to. It is not some unreachable goal only for apostles and super saints. This is the life of a true believer free of this world and trusting in Christ on the Heavenward path He has called us to.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? (James 4:4-5)
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:16-19)
But God has a rest for those who are His by faith in Christ Jesus alone, who have no confidence in the flesh, and have ceased their own striving. It is a rest of faith in His finished work. Even as Christians we can miss that rest in Him by our unbelief and our looking to Egypt. Our walk must be a walk from that resting place, and in that the Lord is able to conquer all of our flesh and do all of our battles. As we rest in faith, His power is able to work on our behalf bringing deliverance again and again, and to work through us and for us. Israel had to stop at the red sea and put their faith in God and know that just as surely as He led them to the red sea with Pharaoh and all his army behind them seeking their destruction, that He would lead them through it safely onward to all He had for them.
What is your "red sea" today? Whatever it is, don't question God's purpose or His bringing you there. Don't question His will for you or His power? Rest in faith in His love for you, that love He proved to you just shortly ago when he demonstrated it in His own blood on the cross, giving up Himself to be the sacrificial lamb for your sin, freeing you from eternal destruction. Can you not trust that the One Who would do that, would also then have a plan for you and lead you carefully, watching over you and meeting your need at every turn until it is time for your finally being taken to be with Him forever? There's no turning back on this journey. There's no staying in Egypt. Jesus won't stay there with you. He wants to take you with Him, out of Egypt, once and for all.
Abba, open our eyes to see and understand the wondrous plan You have for us, and the glory You have for us! How amazing is Your love!!! It will never fail. Teach us to look for no other deliverance but that which You alone would work for us, for Your purposes alone in Christ Jesus. Amen.
If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.