Go Forward

Monday, June 29, 2009

Have you ever had a hard time leaving your past behind? The Israelites had a real hard time. After the series of ten plagues, Pharaoh finally agreed to set the Israelites free for years of bondage. God ordered Moses to go to Egypt and lead his people out of bondage. At age 80 Moses assumes his new role.

Exodus 14 tells of this miraculous journey. God sent the Israelites south to the sea when another direction would have been much easier. Verse 3 tells us that this route would confuse Pharaoh.

The departure of the Israelites meant that Egypt no longer had a work force, so the Egyptians mightily complained. As a result, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army of chariots and horsemen after the Israelites. The Israelites were “sore afraid.” You see their past was coming after them invading their present and threatening their future.

Doesn’t this happen to us sometime? Our past keeps coming back to haunt us either through the efforts of others or ourselves. Are there chariots and horsemen chasing you? Are they in the form of memories? Are they people? Past choices? Do you feel trapped?

The Israelites felt trapped. They arrived at an enormous beach at the Red Sea. A range of craggy rocks was on one side, garrisons on the other, the sea in front, and the Egyptians in the rear. Not only were they being chased, but they were also hemmed in.

After a period of blaming and shaming, the Israelites finally cried out to God. Their leader Moses stood before them and told them,, “Do not be afraid. Stand still.” What did he mean – stand still? Don’t you think he meant “Listen, wait for God.” There is such wisdom in keeping our spirits calm so that we can be in the best frame of mind to focus on our work and God’s leading. Then Moses told them, “The Lord will fight for you.” Aren’t those comforting words! Couldn’t we make our battles so much easier if we would just let God fight them?

Drum roll, please – God spoke to Moses. “Moses, why are you crying out to me? Don’t you know I’m in charge?” Then he gave the command, “Go forward.” Moses had told the people to stand still and wait for God and then God gave the orders. Isn’t it interesting that God ordered them forward into the unknown as a way to escape their past?

Led by Moses and probably Aaron, the Israelites crossed at night. Imagine how dark it must have been. Imagine the total trust and faith it took to go forward…to step out in the dark toward the sea. God saw them through though. He lighted their way, parted the waters, and the Israelites were saved from their past, their life of bondage.

God wants us to move forward too from whatever parts of our past that haunts us. Let’s use the words of Moses and God as our guidelines for moving forward.

Don’t be afraid.
Be still.
The Lord will fight for you.
Go forward.


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