Exodus 14:1-14 What seems foolish from the Lord’s mouth are divine wisdom and power for success

Exodus 14:1-14 What seems foolish from the Lord’s mouth are divine wisdom and power for success

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honoured through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Background

While en route to the wilderness of Etham, God instructed Moses to turn the people back to the place by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon… where they were shut in by the wilderness and the Red Sea with no way of escape should they be attacked. This seemingly foolish directive from the Lord was in fact a bait to set a fatal confrontation with the Pharaoh’s army. Despite knowing beforehand the Lord’s plan to destroy the Egyptian army, the people responded to the advancing Egyptians with unbelief. While the people despaired, Moses rose up with great power and was exalted in all the world. Today’s devotion teaches us: What seems foolish from the Lord’s mouth is divine wisdom and power for success.

Observation

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea.

The Lord directed Moses to turn the people back from Etham towards Pihahiroth (see green circle in map). In the same breath, the Lord explained to the people His plan to lure the Egyptians into pursuing them. For the Lord had planned on destroying the Pharaoh’s army.

When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people

The Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart causing him to regret his former decision. Pharaoh got word that the Israelites had fled and had become sitting ducks imprisoned by the wilderness. Seeing this as a golden opportunity, the Pharaoh prepared the choicest of the Egyptian army to attack Israel. As previously announced, God has baited the Pharaoh to set up a direct confrontation with him: Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord (v.4). As we know it, the Lord was honoured through the display of power that wiped out the entire Egyptian army. So much so that the Lord’s name was heard among the inhabitants of Philistia, Edom, Moab, and Canaan (see Exodus 15:14-16).

“Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?

The people upon seeing the approaching Egyptians despaired and complained. Despite knowing the Lord’s plan to bait the Egyptians into pursuing them, they attacked their leader Moses. They accused Moses of intentionally bringing them out of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness. Such disparaging words attested to their unbelief and wickedness of heart.

“Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today.

Amidst the furore and panic, Moses rose to the occasion. He asked the Israelites to turn their eyes away from the advancing Egyptians to look at the Lord’s salvation. The only way to avert fear is to be still while keeping our eyes focused on the Lord who has promised to deliver.

Truth

What seems foolish from the Lord’s mouth is divine wisdom and power for success.

The seeming foolishness of God is that which led the powerful Egyptian army to its demise. Indeed, God’s ways are mysterious and His wisdom infinitely higher than man’s. If Moses had disregarded God’s directives and continued into the wilderness, the Israelites and the inhabitants of Philistia, Edom, Moab, and Canaan would not have witnessed the power and righteousness of God. Moses did well to heed God’s instruction even though he might not have fully understood the rationale behind it. And his decision to obey actually resulted in his exaltation in all the world (see Exodus 14:31).

To whom does God reveal His wisdom?

It is regrettable that most Christians do not find it necessary to consult God in their life’s decisions until they reach a crisis. Some deem it important to consult God but would only follow when it bodes well for them. For such, God distances Himself for they have considered their wisdom and ways as higher than God’s. To whom does God reveal His wisdom that is able to prosper abundantly?

  • To those who receive God as King as opposed to consultant. Those who receive God as their consultant perceives His words as mere suggestions as opposed to commands.
  • To those who seek clarity as opposed to rationale in their conversations with God. Such will follow God’s directives despite not fully grasping the underlying rationale.
  • To those who craft their lives around God’s purposes.
  • To those who treat God’s personal revelations and directives with the same importance as the words of scripture.

What caused Moses to prosper in the face of calamities?

In the face of an advancing Egyptian army, Moses rose to the occasion while the Israelites complained in despair. How did Moses muster such faith and courage in the face of great danger? This has everything to do with the posture of Moses’s heart. Moses cared not for his own life but entrusted his life fully into God’s hands. For he believed that what God has said, He is able to perform. He is also God’s friend, who shared God’s passion to establish God’s kingdom. He found his true joy by walking with God intimately.

Two distinct groups of people in the church today.

Moses and the Israelites represent two distinct groups of people with very different heart postures. These two groups exist side-by-side in the church today. Moses represents those who love God enough to do His will while setting aside their personal agendas. The Israelites represent those who seek their personal concerns above the concerns of the kingdom.

Application

Be accustomed to seeking God’s opinions and directives on a daily basis. Follow His directives even when they do not make perfect sense. Spend 20% of your time reading the word and 80% of your time conversing with God. Treat God’s personal word to you with the same importance as the words of scripture. Spend more time seeking God’s directive and the wisdom behind it. And less time devising solutions to your problems.

Dear Lord, purify my heart and cause me to know your directives. I will put my trust in you even when your directive does not make perfect sense. As I lay my future in your hands, fill me with divine assurances. Cause me to rise up in the face of calamities to overcome them. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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