Following is not Easy

The Mission of the Church  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  24:05
0 ratings
Let us pray…Gracious and Holy God, as we come before you this day, there is so much in our hearts and in our minds…we are concerned about much and so in this time, we ask that you would help us to clear our hearts, our minds, and our spirits so that we may clearly hear your voice above all the others and that your still speaking voice may be clear enough for us that it is unmistakable in this day. In your Son’s precious name we pray, amen!

What did we miss?

Before we get into looking at the passage from Exodus that we have before us today, I want to take just a moment to recap some of what we have missed over the last 8 chapters of Moses’ life. What we learned last week is that Aaron has begun speaking for Moses and the two men have begun going to the Pharaoh to demand that the Israelites be freed from captivity. We also learned that God would work on the Pharaoh’s heart and make him stubborn so that God could show how powerful our God truly is.
The pieces that we missed are these 10 attempts to get Pharaoh to release the Israelites. Because God was determined to reveal how powerful God truly is, the Pharaoh resisted and as such the 10 plagues were visited upon Egypt...
The 10 plagues of Egypt are as follows…see side sheet with the list of the plagues…the final plague, the death of the first born, institutes the first passover. In Jewish culture, Passover is one of the great festivals each year. Essentially what happens during this time is that families celebrate the fact that their first born sons were not killed as the Egyptian sons were. God knew not to rain down death upon a family because of the lamb’s blood that was smeared around the doorways of Jewish homes. This is also why many believe that Jesus sacrificed his life during Passover, to be the final Passover lamb sacrificed as lambs were also used for sin offerings. I want you all to understand that this time, these plagues, and the resultant release of the Israelites has a significant impact on our lives as Christians because, ultimately, Christ becomes the sacrifice for us and our sins...
The flip side of this is also that God was relentless with the Egyptians. All of these plagues affected the entire nation and caused the Pharaoh, ultimately, to release the Israelites from captivity. Now, this is where the story of God’s true power begins. In the very next scene, we read that the Israelites are fleeing through the desert toward the Sinai peninsula and Pharaoh once again changes his heart and mind and begins pursuing the Israelites. In one of the greatest miracles of the Bible, Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites escape, only to watch the Egyptian armies be swamped and drowned by the Sea when they try to follow.

Freedom at Last!

And so the Israelites are free from slavery and have begun their 40 year adventure in the desert. The first part of Chapter 15 gives us glimpse of the elation and joy the Israelites felt at being free. The second part of the chapter, which we started with this morning, gives us an idea of how the people reacted when things were not as they expected or desired...
One last note on Chapter 15 before we begin looking at the passage we read this morning…the first part of the Chapter is the poem attributed to Moses. It is a rather lengthy poem which retells the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt and the subsequent death of the Egyptian Army. It is the longer of two songs included in this chapter. It is a poem of elation and joy and shows how the Israelites praised God for their freedom. While it is one of the oldest poems we have in our Old Testament, the second of the songs, attributed to Moses’ sister Miriam and the women of Israel, I think is much more eloquent and we have discovered is likely the older of the two poems…just a little trivia for you. These two songs, one from Miriam’s view and one from Moses’ view, show how joyous the mood was immediately after the Israelites escaped from Egypt.

How Quickly Things Can Change...

So, when God finally heard their pleas and helped them to escape from Egypt, why wouldn’t they have joy in their hearts? Right? I mean, think about it this way…for four hundred years, the people of God had been enslaved and kept in captivity. They had been abused and worked nearly to death. They had suffered many long days doing the hard labor of the Egyptians without a lot of gratitude for the work they were doing. This is certainly not how they had come to Egypt but it is how they were treated after the first few generations had died. It was not a pleasant place to live and they were oppressed for hundreds of years.
And now that they are free, they are able to do and be and live…except, they are in the desert. And this is where their lives turn once again. Let’s look at a piece of the passage again...
Exodus 15:22–24 (NLT)
Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled...for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink...the people complained and turned against Moses.
And so the grumbling begins. As we will see throughout the remainder of our stories this fall, the people of Israel can sometimes be described much like many people of today, Not happy unless they have something to complain about. Now, I do not want to diminish what the Israelites were complaining about because this was a real concern for them…they were in the desert...and as you can see from this image, there is not much in the way of water in this area.
The Israelites had every right to be concerned but here is what I want us to take away from this story this morning…God never promised the Israelites that they would have an easy time when they followed Moses out of the land of Egypt. God did not give them any indication as to how life would be but the thing is, even for us today, it is often much harder to follow God’s plan than our own.
We as a creation like having things come easy to us and to be easy along the way. But the thing is, if you look back over your life, at the times when you have achieved something great in your life, was the road to get to that achievement easy? I am guessing it was likely not. I know in my life, anything that I have valued in my life took a lot of hard work and determination to make happen.

Following is not easy...

It is that way when we follow God’s plan for us…and I do not think that it is necessarily that God is testing our fortitude, our patience, our strength or any other of the gifts of the spirit that we may have. I do, however, think that when we go through rough waters or challenging times, it might be God testing our faith and trust in God’s promises for us in our own lives.
At this point in my journey, I do fervently believe that God tests our faith in many ways and through many situations. I mean think about it…all throughout scripture, we are told about God’s love and faithfulness to and for us. This story of the Israelites escape from Egyptian oppression is a perfect example of that. The people were given freedom and able to conquer an army that should have easily caught them and enslaved them once again. Yet, God provided the means for them to cross a body of water on dry ground and when the Egyptians tried to do the same, they were drowned. When they entered the desert, they were led to a place with water and sustenance, despite their grumbling against the one who was listening to God.
We are even told in this passage how God tested the Israelites’ faithfulness...
Exodus 15:26 NLT
He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.”

Listening is the key

God states to the Israelites that if they would but just listen, God will give them what had been promised to Abraham and would not let them suffer.
For us today, it is no different. I think we believe that we are listening and that we are following but for many folks, the problem comes in when things get hard or challenging. We are so apt to give up and throw in the towel. We are so apt to complain and grumble when things are not just as we want them. Society has taught us to be this way. The thing is though, we have the ability to change how we respond and I think as 21st Century Christians, we really need to be doing things differently. We need to be the Moses’ of this world…listening more than speaking, willing to take on the challenges and work through them, trusting that God’s purpose through them is really for our greater good…and I truly wonder what this world would be like if we actually did listen and follow rather than grumble and complain…Amen.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more