When Reverse Leads Forward

(Exodus 14:13-14 ESV) 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. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

(Excerpts from the Sunday Sermon | 04.02.16)

Chapters 13-14 of Exodus record a very important historical event which is orchestrated by God on behalf of Israel. After having served as slaves to the nation of Egypt for many years, Israel was now standing on the verge of a new and exciting journey that would ultimately lead to their freedom. God was setting the table of blessing and the anticipation was building.

(Exodus 14:1-4 ESV) reports an odd occurrence, “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.” 

Just when they started moving forward, God reversed their trajectory. How crazy is that? The point is this–sometimes reversal leads forward!

As with all major life changes, anticipation coexisted with a feeling of anxiety. Israel was aware of God’s desire to free them from the hand of Pharaoh. But, they did not really know what their new reality would look like. While trusting God during transitional seasons can be difficult, it is possible if we consider some valuable instructions.

  • Beware of Emotional Instability: In these two shorts chapters, Israel’s mood changes from confidence and joy to fear and frustration on multiple occasions. Throw in some defiance, anger and fear and you have what amounts to a severe case of emotional imbalance.
  • Observe God’s Activity: God is always active in our lives. We cannot afford to get so focused on our challenges that we miss the divine activity going on around us. In this instance, God’s presence was visible through a cloud by day and a fire by night. Moses reminded them that Joseph had prophesied years earlier, “God will surely visit (help) you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” (Exodus 13:19 ESV) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, He twisted their chariot’s wheels, and divided the waters allowing Israel to walk on a dry bed. God was busy indeed!
  • Listen Intently to God’s Promises: As many times as I’ve read this story, I never really connected with what Moses told Israel. He said, “For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.” (14:13) We know how the story ended! After Israel completed their journey across the dried sea-bed, Pharaoh pursued them using the same pathway God had created for their deliverance. But, when Pharaoh’s army got halfway across God caused the waters to rush over them and they were utterly destroyed. Moses reports, (Exodus 14:28, 31 ESV) “28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. … 31 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.”

Sometimes God says, “Go forward.” At other times, He may tell us, “turn back or stand still.” Whatever instructions He gives just remember, He is working His will. And His will provides everything we may need while simultaneously bringing great glory to His name!

PRAYER: I’ve had many reversals in my life. But, I can honestly say that each reversal served to move me closer to the blessings reserved for me. Thank you Father. Amen.

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