Playing With The Cat

(Exodus 14:1-4 ESV) “1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.”

Playing with a cat is fun and can be quite interesting. One of my favorite things to do is to get the cat to chase a laser pointer on the floor. The cat goes crazy as the laser appears, darts from side-to-side, climbs the side of the wall, and then disappears again leaving the cat scrambling in utter confusion. Its instincts kick in as it tries to destroy something that it has no ability to catch and no power to destroy.

The Scripture passage for today records the escape of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians. As they were leaving, God spoke to Moses and told him to turn Israel around and have them establish their camp in view of Pharaoh. But why? It would seem that turning back was counterproductive to the ultimate goal of escape. Wouldn’t opening up distance make more sense? As usual, what makes sense to us often conflicts with God’s plan.

God wanted to play with Pharaoh the cat! He wanted him to try to catch and destroy a nation that he no longer had any authority over. It was Pharoah’s lack of power that God intended to expose while simultaneously establishing His own divine power.

In moments like these, we must learn to  “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 3:5-6 ESV)

Moses, along with all of Israel, had one goal; they wanted to escape Egypt. God’s plan included their escape, but He wanted the escape to humiliate Pharaoh and cause the Egyptians to declare, “that I am the LORD.”

As good as God’s plan was, it required one element that only the people of Israel could provide. What was it? Obedience. Even though it made no sense to them, they realized that God had spoken and He was directing their path. His presence would surround them and He would be their protection. Their obedience verified their trust.

It is very difficult to remain in the danger zone. Ask Daniel about the den of lions. Ask Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego about the fiery furnace. Ask Paul about that pesky thorn. But, it is in the danger zone God receives the greatest glory!

God had promised their escape. But first, He wanted to play with Pharaoh the cat!

PRAYER: Father, I should know by now that trusting you is always the best option. Obedience requires that I swap my plans for yours. When I do that, you always rise to the occasion, provide my victory, and receive the glory you deserve. Amen

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