Thursday, April 09, 2009

Red Sea Rescue

There are numerous applications to God’s saving rescue in the church’s life and the Christian’s life from the account of the Red Sea Rescue of Israel in Exodus 14.

After the plagued power-struggle between God (Moses) and Pharoah, Israel has finally been released to go worship God in the wilderness. But the Egyptians have a change of mind.

“What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”

We forget how the devil desires to rule over us. He enjoys, in a diabolical sort of way, our service to him. And we fail to realize that, apart from Christ, we are always serving the devil. There are only two to serve: Christ, or the devil. And if we are not serving the One, then we are serving the other. So even homes that seem moral and orderly are, unwittingly, serving the devil’s interests, though I do not doubt that, somehow, they also serve God’s general interests in society and culture. The dentist who does not serve Christ serves the devil. He may do fine (painless) work, and he may truly help people in the here-and-now and be a benefit to his community, but the devil has him right where he wants him. He is not serving Christ.

When Israel realizes their predicament, that they are pinned in no-man’s-land between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, they complain. “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’”

And so we say to the preacher, “Mind your own business.” And so we say to God’s Word, “This doesn’t apply to me.” And so we say to the Holy Spirit, “Just this once, and I will ask forgiveness.” And so we say to Christ, “I do not account your death on the cross as being of equal value with my personal comfort and happiness.” And so we say to God, “Leave me alone!” Today, we want to serve ourselves, not realizing that, in doing so, we are serving the devil. At least the Israelites better understood their options.

Moses takes the matter to God, and since God already know what He will do (in fact, He already told Moses what He would do), He says, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”

Just go forward. We think the path is obstructed. But just go forward. We fear our feet getting wet. But just go forward. We fear appearing foolish and stupid. But just go forward. I wonder how often I have lived, stopped in my tracks, waiting for God to move my feet for me, when, what He has promised is to create a path. Just go forward.

The people proceed on dry land through the Red Sea. Walls of water on the right and the left. Drowning Egyptian soldiers behind. Moses and God up ahead. “So the people feared the Lord, and the believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

Perhaps the greatest rescue that God accomplishes is not in the defeat of the enemy and the creation of a path through the sea, but in the conversion of hard hearts. These stubborn people actually came to fear the Lord and to believe. What a miracle! No, I do not want to discount the other aspects of this deliverance. What power, shown in the most God-glorifying of ways!

We need a Red Sea Rescue today. The Church, and individual Christians, need protection from Satan’s molesting designs. We need deliverance from the sickening attitude that we are better off settling for the temporary security that the enemy provides. We need a push in the back and a kick in the butt to push forward. We need true fear of the Lord, and real faith in a rescuing God and in his servant Jesus.

May today be a “go forward” day.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Thought of God

Reflections on “The Thought of God,” by Maurice Roberts. Banner of Truth, 1993. The book takes its title from the first article.

Often times at a funeral home, we will hear the explanation, perhaps to a grandchild, “Grandma is not here. She is gone to heaven. Only her body has been left behind.” Regardless of the sophistication, or lack thereof, of the truth prounounced, it reminds me of the point made powerfully in this reading, “The Thought of God.” When facing trouble, the Christian is really not completely here. He is, or, his attention is, directed to heaven. The problematic visibility does not describe the spiritual reality.

Roberts at one point calls it “intuitive,” at another, “instinctive.” Some men in our church have spoken of it as “our first reflex.” It is what Christians do. They turn to God. Their minds run to God. The are governed by “the thought of God.” In short, Christians pray.

Roberts uses a turn of phrase to communicate a beautiful truth: “godly men are not more ready to raise their minds to God in trouble than he is to hear and help them” (p.4). And this confidence is what makes turning to God an activity in which we can invest significant time and energy. God hears our prayers.

The other quote I choose is from pp. 6,7: “ Panic is the sinful failure to apply our knowledge of God to particular problems.” Could theology be any more practical than this? Does this not apply to issues weighing the mind even today? And, has “the Thought of God” ruled your heart and carried the day?

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV)