Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 7 March 2022:
Exodus 14:4 – “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”
God’s plan for your life is the glorify Himself through your life. His glory takes priority over your comfort and security. However, God is faithful to save. God intentionally placed His people in an impossible situation, a totally vulnerable position that was impossible for Pharaoh to pass up. God left His people exposed and helpless (self-helpless). Why? Because He was about to use His people to reveal (glorify) Himself to a watching world (as well to His people). God glorifies Himself by doing what only God can do so there can be no doubt it was Him. Of course, by definition, the infinitely vast amount of what God does anyway is far outside the limits of what man can do, even far outside the limits of what man can even understand. We experience God whenever we have a glimpse of that continuous activity and appreciate that it is God’s power at hand. In the situation of the Israelites pressed up against the sea, God was going to leave no doubt for anyone to question His presence. No surprise, God’s people were overcome in fear by their situation and completely misinterpreted their circumstances, believing that God had left them to die. Most telling was that, in their desperation, the Jews longed for slavery again, that they might have the ‘protection’ of captivity. Doesn’t the bird in a cage get fed far more consistently than the free bird outside? Just like the slave and the caged bird, many Christians are happy to sacrifice the fullness of their joy for the comfortable captivity of worldly compromise, syncretism, and dependence on ungodly institutions – “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25). They problem for these slave-minded Jews is the same as that of the compromised Christian, they are totally out of touch with what God is doing and lack the courage to stray away into freedom and true joy – “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’?” In the midst of what God was doing, Moses, who understood the ways of God, reminds the weak that God is God — “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 14:13, 14) Translation: “Shut up, stand there, and watch God work.” While the weak were worried about what the weak always worry about – themselves; God was about His business doing what He always does – Glorify Himself – “the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” In order for God’s people to experience the power of God in their lives, they had to be freed from captivity and placed in a position of complete dependence on God, and they had to walk through the impossible (in this case the Red Sea in pursuit) with God. Having gone through the impossible, “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31) Jesus said, “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives.” (Luke 4:18) However, freedom requires courage. Christian courage comes from faith, hope, and love – total trust in God, in God’s love, and in God’s word. Without faith it is impossible to please God because God will always take you outside the limited realm of your human understanding and capabilities to function where He operates for His purposes and for His glory. In the faith environment, God becomes ‘real’ to us, and we then can truly witness to what we have seen and experienced first-hand, rather than just recounting stories we have heard from others. Jesus warned his disciples though to carefully consider the cost of discipleship. To follow God means we will have to step into rushing waters, fiery furnaces, and lion’s dens; we will have to face the giants. Unfortunately, most will choose to die in a desert rather than to face the giants in the Promised Land. Most never see the big moments because they prove themselves unworthy with the little things. Ten thousand troops were willing to go to battle with Gideon, but only 300 proved themselves disciplined enough to go at the water hole. The commitment to deny ourselves, take of our crosses, and following Jesus is not just a one-time decision, though that initial commitment is essential. We continuously decide to follow one day at a time, one step at a time, in the face of continuous temptations to do otherwise. Discipleship requires discipline – continuous Spirit enabled self-control to resist our internal desires to return to comfortable captivity, the promised protection of prison. Before we can be chosen to face mighty evil armies, we must handle ourselves well at the water hole. Will we prove ourselves worthy today?
Exodus 14:11 – “What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?”
When the going gets tough, the unfaithful reveal themselves. When things seemed hopeless, the hidden disloyal hearts of the Israelites were revealed. Their hearts hadn’t changed, but it was easy for them to act loyal when there appeared to be an escape option. The fully committed eliminate all other options but obedience.
Exodus 14:12 – “For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
Few people are willing to die in defense of the freedom to worship God. Many people prefer cowardice captivity than courageous freedom. It takes faith to live free.
Exodus 14:13 — “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.'”
Fear is the opposite of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Fear causes you to be more influenced by what can be seen than the God who cannot be seen. Faith trusts the unseen all powerful God and His word when what you see and feel seems to contradict it. What do you believe to be true?
Exodus 14:14 – “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
What a great verse to remember! Shut up and keep moving in faith. Verse 15 continues — “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.” Quit worrying and whining and keep moving forward.
Exodus 14:21 – God reveals Himself by doing what is impossible for people to do.
Exodus 14:22 – “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”
People, attempting to explain away God’s miracles, will say that the ‘Red Sea’ is a mistranslation of ‘Reed Sea’, which was a place of very shallow water and that what really happened was Pharaoh’s chariots were merely stuck in mud. However, the Bible makes is clear that the Sea became walls. And then the walls fell and covered the chariots completely (v28). What the Israelites saw caused them to fear God.
Exodus 14:30 – “Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.”
What happens when you put your trust in an ungodly leader?
Acts 18:24-28 – “Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.”
Have you ever worried about sharing or teaching God’s word inaccurately? Hopefully you have. I have met many Christians who would not participate in small group Bible studies for fear that they or someone else would mislead others with Bible misinterpretation. To that point, if you have been in many Bible study groups, you have undoubtedly heard someone communicate some pretty crazy stuff about God’s word, perhaps even heresy. But, on the other hand, if perfect understanding were required to share God’s word, no one would.
Apollos was a gifted speaker, well-versed in God’s word, and passionate about sharing the truth of Jesus, but his teaching wasn’t perfect. So, Priscilla and Aquila took him aside privately and straighten him out. Then, encouraged by the brothers, Apollos returned to preaching and helped many.
So, was Apollos a false teacher? When you share your imperfect knowledge of the Bible with others, are you a false teacher? Take a look at this 2-minute video of a discussion between John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, and R.C. Sproul on the difference between false teachers and false teaching — https://www.ligonier.org/learn/qas/how-to-define-a-false-teacher/
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Since Christians are called to share God’s truth, but since no one understands the Bible perfectly, it’s important to maintain a humble, correctable spirit and to continually question both our understanding and the teachings of others, no matter how respected the teacher. Always test what others say against the inerrant, unchanging word of God, and encourage other to test your teachings and convictions as well. Referring to Acts 17, we strive and encourage others to be like noble Bereans, constantly validating teaching from the plumb line of God’s word.
- Proverbs 1:7 — The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- Psalm 1:1-6 — Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
- Proverbs 28:26 — Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom [The Logos, the Spirit] will be delivered.
- Proverbs 3:5-6 — Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
- Proverbs 19:20 — Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.
- Proverbs 4:13 — Keep hold of instruction; do not let go; guard her, for she is your life.
- James 1:5 — If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
- James 3:17 — But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. [Judge the tree (teacher) by its fruit.
- 2 Timothy 2:15 — Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
- Romans 12:3 — For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
- Proverbs 27:17 — Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
- James 3:1 — Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
- 1 John 4:1 — Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God.
- Acts 17:11 — Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Mar 22: Share God’s word honestly and humbly to the best of your knowledge, being as careful as you can not to exceed the limits of your understanding. Always validate the teachings of others with your own careful, prayerful Bible study, like a good Berean. The Holy Spirit is your teacher.