Exodus 14/15

Exodus 14/15: Trust is a Learned Response

“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”  ( Proverbs 3:5,6)

The verses of Proverbs 3:5,6 are well known and interesting verses. If you trace back to the first verse of that chapter, I believe this is a commandment. I want you to look at the two ALL’S.   Trust the Lord with ALL your heart and acknowledge  Him in ALL your ways.  To live in the land of Gods’ promises call for whole hearted trust . If you and I do not trust Him in an area of our life- in that area we are still in the wilderness, leaning on our own understanding . You can trust the Lord with all your heart to save you, to take you to heaven when you die- but the question is can you trust the same One who took you out of Egypt to take you into the Promised Land?  Why then do we sometimes in certain areas ( ways) lean to our own understanding when we have been told not to? The answer we lean to our own understanding because ‘ the heart is deceitful above all else!”

Learning to trust the Lord requires we attend school.  Life is our classroom and the Bible is our textbook, the Holy Spirit our teacher.  We know from our educational experience there are exams and there are pop tests. The painful experiences of life teach us some of our most important lessons.  That is why Paul admonished Timothy and us to ‘ study to show ourselves approved, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’(2 Timothy 2)

As we begin our walk in the new life, having been set free from the slavery of sin- we said there were three responsibilities we now had:  following God ( obedience); trusting God and praising God.  We will see these in this lesson.

Having followed God, the Israelites find themselves in what appears to be an impossible situation between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. Sometimes to teach us to trust Him, God puts us in a situation where we must rely on Him and Him alone.

Notice what Moses instructs the people to do:  Do not be afraid. Fear Not. ( one of the most often repeated phrases in the Bible.)  Fear is the enemy of faith. Fear enslaves one. You cannot talk about freedom without talking about fear.  Remember the first time ever fear occurred in the world?  When Adam and Eve sinned. Listen to Adam’s reply to God’s question: ‘Where are you? He replied, ‘ I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree..? the Lord asked these questions to get Adam and Eve to look at their situation, and link their consequences to their disobedience.

The emotion of fear first appeared as a result of sin.

FDR in his famous radio address entering into World War II said: “ The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Now I am not talking about a natural fear that comes from when you see a truck coming toward you on your side of the road; or a snake in your path; or a snarling bear in the woods- that fear is a natural fear that causes you to react and respond, often with added adrenalin to flee fear. I am talking about a fear that enslaves one, paralyzes you and keeps you from moving forward or taking action. A fear of failure, a fear of the future, a fear  or phobia that keeps one from becoming and having what God has for us.  You do realize God is not hung up on rules, don’t you?  How can you say that when they are so many do’s and don’ts in the Bible?  God had to make the rules because of our sins.  Look at what God had as far as rules in the beginning:  “ And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “ Of EVERY TREE in the garden you may FREELY EAT;  but of the TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL YOU SHALL NOT EAT, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ( Genesis 2) Only one rule.

Freedom with parameters and boundaries was designed by God, because as our Creator He knows how we function best. Freedom is found within the boundaries of His laws and commandments. He gives us rules to protect us from sin and its consequences.

Paul’s young protégé , Timothy, evidently had a fearful spirit that was keeping him from being all that God had created and gifted him to be.  Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1: “ For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Three things God has given us to overcome the spirit of fear:

  1. God has enabled us with His Person, the Holy Spirit in us, the Power of Christ. A current praise song tells us: “ No guilt in life, no fear in death- that is the power of Christ in me.”
  2. God has enriched us with His love. I John 4 tells us: “ There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.”
  3. God has given us a sound mind. A mind that has been transformed and renewed by the Word of God. ( Romans 12; John 8). This sets us free from fear. If you fear God – you will not experience these other types of fear.

But you say- well I still get afraid when I think about what can happen or even troubling circumstances I am currently experiencing.  Psalms 56:3,4- “ What time I am afraid I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”(Do you see why trusting God is so important? It is the antidote for fear.)

“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your fathers told you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” ( Deut 1)

Moses tells the people not to be afraid. To stand firm and see, experience the deliverance of God.

Exodus 14:15 is an interesting verse. “ Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” There comes a time, when we need to quit praying and move on in faith, believing God has already given us what we are asking for, because He has promised  He would do it.

When you forget God’s promises you start to imagine the worst possible scenarios.  Have you noticed how doubting God’s Word opens the door for fear.  Unbelief creates a type of amnesia that erases God’s Word and His promises from our memory. It makes us doubt God’s word and we begin to worry and become anxious, fearful   Did not Jesus tell the disciples when He got in the boat to go over to the other side. Yet half-way across a violent storm on the Sea of Galilee made them forget and created such a fear the disciples awoke Jesus with the complaint- ‘ don’t you care if we perish?!” The Lord rebuked the storm and rebuked the disciples with a penetrating question: ‘Where is your faith?” God will lead us to the place where our only resort is to rely on Him. In the classroom of life is where God will teach us to trust Him.

As  we continue this study we will continue to see how God brings test after test to the Israelites to teach them to trust Him.  Is this not also true in our lives?  Does your life feel like sometimes God has brought you to a place where you cannot do anything about your circumstances?   Are you angry with God because of these circumstances?  Are you frustrated, fearful, and discouraged and ready to throw in the towel?  There is a time to be still, to wait on God. Here is what I try to do when I am waiting on Him: I pray, I study His Word, I review His Promises.  I confess my sins. Remember – unbelief is a sin. I obey what He tells me to do. I believe He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.  I believe I am who He says I am and can do what He says I can do.  We do this when the Word of God is alive and active in our lives.

But when I study His Word and He tells me I already have what I am asking for- then I move out by faith, for we walk by faith and not by sight.

Let’s open our text book(Bible) for minute and turn to two verses- Romans 5:1,2: “ Therefore since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which now stand.”  Here are some questions to test your knowledge:

*Are we being justified now and or in the future or is this already done? Have been is past tense- this is already an accomplished fact if you have placed your faith in the Lord Jesus.

*Is peace with God something to be accomplished in the future? No it is present tense- we have peace with God. Know what else- Jesus has given us His peace. These are two of the possessions we have- we are justified with God and have peace with God.

Now this is an open book test, so look for the answer to this question in Romans 6:6,7. Here is the two part question:  Do you know what has happened to your old nature?  Do you know why this is important ?  Answer:  Our old nature has been crucified with Christ.  Answer to 2nd question:  This is important because now our old body of sin has been done away with and we are no longer slaves to sin, because anyone who has died to sin has been freed from sin.

Do you believe God has given you everything you need or ever will need?  If you do not believe this- you either are ignorant of His promises and provisions or you are guilty of unbelief.  Again our text book provides us not only with promises but examples and illustrations of God ‘s ability to do what He said He would do.  Paul said : “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry  it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ( Phil. 1)

Are you confident God can do what He says He would do?  As a student you must learn also to discern if there is a condition to the fulfillment of the promise.    Education involves the discipline of learning. Learning how to study and apply what one learns requires discipline and repetition.  Again, we turn to the Apostle Paul as he instructs Timothy to ‘ discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.’

We all know this story of the Red Sea parting: The subsequent miracle that delivers the Israelites on the other side through dry land of a parted sea while the waters drown and destroy the Pharaoh’s army.

What are our three responsibilities:  following God; trusting God; Praising God.

Exodus 15 starts out with a song of praise , a hymn that praises and celebrates their amazing delivery. The enemy is drowned and their freedom is complete.  Has not our enemy been defeated, has not our old nature been crucified?  Our freedom is complete, isn’t it?

This hymn has four stanzas, and is probably why so many our hymns have four stanzas. The first stanza announces Gods’ victory; the second describes God’s mighty weapons and God is called a warrior, a Man of War; the third stanza praises Gods’ character and reminds us there is no God like you, majestic in holiness and awesome in glory, working wonders; and the four stanza reminds them of God’s faithfulness.

Later on we read in Joshua the Canaanites feared the God of the Israelites because they had heard of Him mighty deeds.  Where is that fear of God today?  People laugh at our belief in a Sovereign God who created everything and rules over everything.  Prior to the flood in Noah’s day, the Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time, 24-7.  Jesus said – as it was in the days of Noah, so would it be with His second coming.

I do not imagine we could have found a happier bunch of people than these Israelites on that day of their passage through the Red Sea. God had done a great work and showed Himself faithful to keep His promises.

But just three days later- another tests comes and the going gets tough and the grumbling, complaining, unbelieving returns.   We all like it when life is going well – the cotton is high and living is easy.  We like tasks that are easily accomplished; but God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  We must learn here that we are also to be as watchful after the victory as we were before and during the battle.

Three days in the desert without water will create a dangerous, if not potentially fatal situation. “Where is the water? What are we to drink?” God was testing the hearts of the people, not because He did not know the condition of their heart- but because they did not realize the condition of their hearts.  “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it?”

The Lord tests us to encourage spiritual growth and bring out the best in us. The devil tempts us to bring and the worst in us and to encourage spiritual immaturity.  In every tests from God is the temptation to grumble and complain and try to manipulate our way out of it.

Here is why learning to trust God is so important:  the attitude we take toward difficult circumstances determines the direction our life will go, for what life does to us depends upon what life finds in us. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Peter thought he was a fearless- and Paul who thought a thorn removed would enhance his ministry.

If we trust and obey God and His Word, we’ll pass the test and grow. If we fail the test we will remain immature and not grow.  We could end up wandering through life as the a whole generation of Israelites spent the 40 years wandering in the wilderness instead of entering into the  promises of God.

God has led the people to the wilderness. He will also lead us to our wilderness experiences. The wilderness experience has a purpose: to teach us to trust God and depend on God completely. When we learn to trust Him in the wilderness, we are able to enter into the Promised Land, into His Rest. “ For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the Word which they heard  did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” ( Hebrews 4) The Promised Land always lies on the other side of the wilderness.

Here is what we must learn in our lives from the example of the Israelites’  response to the tests:

*Complaining doesn’t solve problems. Worrying does not- it is counter-productive. Cursing the darkness does not bring light.

*Running from the problem and returning to Egypt does not solve the problem.

The heart of the problem is the problem of the heart. A heart that deceitful above all things and is desperately wicked is a heart that is not right with God.

We must follow Moses’ example and cry out to God. We are to cry out in faith and then obey Gods’ orders. God can change our situation and make the bitter –sweet. He can give us something else like the springs at Elim- 12 of them, one for each tribe. Or God can give us the grace we need to bear our circumstances. He did not give Paul removal of the thorn, He gave Paul an understanding and revelation that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The Lord gives grace to the humble, to those of us who realize we can do nothing apart from Him. Then we realize when we are weak , we are strong. Do you understand this principle?

God showed Moses a tree, which when he casts into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. ( Some would make this a picture of the cross- and I am not saying you cannot use the text in that fashion. However, the main lesson is by following God, trusting Him and obeying Him, God will never lead us where His grace cannot keep us).

Here is the key to passing the examinations and tests of life :

God said,” If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes,if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on any of you the diseases I brought on the Egyptians , for I am the Lord who heals you.” (Ex.15:26)

How many classes have you attended in your pursuit of education where they instructor tells you right up front- if you want to pass the is course you must listen carefully, study the text book and do the exercises I tell you to do. You must also attend class.  If you do you will pass.

Now if life seems to be just one test after another- maybe your complaining is evidence of unbelief.  Obedience on the other hand is evidence of faith.

Understand if life were nothing but tests- we would be discouraged. However if life were all pleasure, we would never learn discipline. The Lord knows exactly how to balance the experiences of life. So be grateful the Lord blesses us enough to encourage us and burdens us enough to humble us. He knows just how much of each we can take.

Follow Him in obedience.

Trust the Lord in all your ways. You see in some ways you have not completely trusted Him and that is way you continue to have worries and grumbling in certain areas of your life. Trust Him in all your ways, and He shall direct your path. Quit leaning to your own understanding.

Trust  is learned in the classroom of Life- where the Holy Spirit is our Teacher and the Word of God is our text book .

Read this text book, the Word of God  to be wise. Let it fill your memory and rule the heart and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully.

It is given to you in life, will be opened in judgment, and be remembered forever.

It is where you will learn your greatest lesson – trust the Lord.

For Trust is a learned response.