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Monday, January 23, 2006

Avoiding Eeyore; the Missionary Heart of God and Bubba Gump vs. Iron Chef Israel.

Exodus 14:

Understand this unmistakably: He is the Lord. He is the creator of all things, most notably of man. He rules over all things as Sovereign. He is the LORD. He is not far, distant and removed, but certainly a close, at-hand, accessible, relational God.

God has the ability to deliver, regardless of the circumstance. God promised to care of man’s sin problem from the very beginning, in the very beginning and the promise still stands. Unfortunately, so many still react like the Hebrews did when they were trapped between the Egyptians and the sea, “Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?”[i]

I react this way. Sometimes all I see is the circumstance. Sometimes I find myself in a situation that overwhelms me or I see one coming that I fear is too deep, too wide and impassible and I act like the Israelites did. I become an Ancient Near Eastern Eeyore—grumbling, sulking and pathetic.

F.B. Meyer wrote, “Often God seems to place His children in positions of profound difficulty, leading them into a wedge from which there is no escape, designing a situation that no human judgment would have permitted had it been previously consulted. The very cloud directs them there. You…, may be involved in a situation like this at this very hour. It does seem perplexing and mysterious to the last degree, but it is perfectly right. The issue will more than justify Him who has brought you there. It is a platform for the display of His almighty grace and power. Not only will He deliver you, but in doing so He will give you a lesson that you will never forget …..” [ii]

But God said specifically that He would be honored through His dealings with Pharaoh and his army—he said it twice (14:4, 18). The lesson I need to learn is that He is the LORD. He will honor Himself in the situation; rather, He will honor Himself in the elements of the situation themselves!

This all goes back to one’s concept of God. The Egyptians kept a pantheon of capricious gods—no wonder Pharaoh did not know Him. But God was doing two things: 1) He was making Himself known to both Israel and the nations; 2) He was about to give Pharaoh the most full knowledge of Himself following the collapse of the water—after God destroyed the Egyptians, then knowledge would be full. The Israelites knew their God was the God of their fathers, but too much time and space had been put between them and true knowledge was casual. Now they would experience Him directly in a final move that would cement their experience.

When I became a Christian, that knowledge was made full as I came to know the God of my fathers. But I still try to get into my thick skull that what He has accomplished for me is sufficient. There is no “rock and hard place” because of His deliverance. Like the Israelites, instead of being ready to die, I should be pressing forward.

John Bunyan’s approach to life and living in the finished work of Christ is notable: he disallowed his emotions to participate in the application of the promises of scripture to life situations. This does not mean he was a Baptistic Vulcan. He merely held back his feelings and reactions to situations and let God work in accordance to his obedience to scripture through prayer as God answered. Then His only reaction could be that of thanksgiving and worship. He applied the promises of God before he felt the comfort of scripture.

Listen to the voices:

Moses said to “stand and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today.” (14:13).

Despair and depression says, “lie down, give up and die.”

Moses said, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (14:14).

Cowards say, “Retreat, go back to what you were doing before. It is too hard.”

The LORD said, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.” (14:15).

Carelessness says, “Do something, anything! There is no time for obedience! Go bezerk and freak out!”

The LORD says, “I will honor myself” (14:4, 18). Give me the Glory for who I am.

Presumption said, “Charge right in and expect a miracle.” (But, which way leads the charge?)

Exodus 15:

God is a missionary God. His heart is to save all mankind from sin. He raises up a people for Himself that through them may bring to the world the Savior that all nations be blessed and He gives them the chance to get to know Him personally. God gives the nations a chance to get to know Him, and know Him, they shall.

The Egyptians got to know Him on many levels. The surrounding nations took notice. Ex 15:11-18:

“Who is like You among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
The peoples have heard, they tremble;
Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.
“Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
Terror and dread fall upon them;
By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone;
Until Your people pass over, O Lord,
Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O Lord, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”

Exodus 16:

Setting: part of the whole “let my people go” thing was that Israel was to go three days into the wilderness to sacrifice and worship God. Well, here they are. “Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.” (Ex 15:22).

When they arrived, they complained. What a way to worship. Apparently the Baptists had not arrived yet, so there was no water nor was there food. So they complained. What a sacrifice. What a fellowship! What a joy divine!

So God provides. He gave them water in Shur and Elim then provides manna. Manna, the secret ingredient. Manna, Manna, everywhere and not a thing to eat. Chuck Swindoll in his book, “Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life” has a wonderful chapter that beautifully describes the situation here.

“They boiled it, baked it, broiled it, barbequed it, breaded it, and buttered it. They ate it cold, hot, raw, cooked, sliced for sandwiches, baked in pies, and sprinkled on their cereal. You name it—they tried it. When everyone came to in to eat, they didn’t ask, “what’s for supper?’ but, ‘how’d you fix it?’ . . . the most familiar sound around the table was not slurping or smacking. It was gagging.”[iii]

Even if the Bubba Gump-ites could have helped, the Israelites really had a tough time with God’s provision. Even Iron Chef Israel ran out of recipes and the judges stayed out of the arena.

Now THAT’s a tough position to be in—God provides and we can’t stand it. They were no longer between Egyptians and a wet place. They just had to eat “what’s it called?” for every meal. [I am making a face as I write this because I hate beans. My family loves them. You see the obvious implication here . . .]

So what’s my problem—“thanks God for your salvation and all, but since I don’t like how you take care of me, I’ll ‘eat out’”?

That’s what we do. We move from the situation of death to order-in. God just never will be good for many. The problem is that we fail to believe Him. This will catch up to Israel, but it very much describes the situation of most Christians even today, taking the attitude that the gospel is good for hell-escape and that’s about it.

Any wonder why people remain in bondage?

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[i]New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update, Ex 14:11. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.
[ii] F.B. Meyer. The Life of Moses: The Servant of God. (Lynnwood, Washington: Emerald Books, 1996.0 p. 80
[iii] Swindoll, Chuck. Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life. Multnomah: Portland, 1983. P. 295

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