Exodus Message #23 Ed Miller – February 24, 2021 Spiritual Principles at the Red Sea

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Welcome to our look at our Lord Jesus in the wonderful book of Exodus.  I want to begin again with the verse that we started with when we first introduced the book.  Psalm 35:3, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’”  I would be happy to tell you that the Lord is your salvation, and you can read it and you can sing, but until the Lord says, “I am your salvation,” He’s got to communicate it.  Only God can reveal God, and He wants to do that.  God has given us His word, but He said, “Make sure when you read the word, that you hear My voice.”  So, we have the word, but then we need to hear His voice in the word.  And He has promised that He would speak to us.  Let’s trust the Lord and bow together.

Father, thank You for the privilege we have, and we ask that You would tune our spirits to Your voice and heart and protect Your children from anything I might say or even assume that is not from You.  You promise that what our heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up, and we’re so thankful for that.  We want You to do the planting and speak to our hearts, and draw us near You.  We thank You that You are everywhere in the scriptures, and You are in the book of Exodus.  Give us eyes to behold the Lord Jesus in a fresh and in a living way.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen

We come again to this precious opportunity.  It’s the grace of God to allow us to meet.  It’s the grace of God that we can meet in this place.  We thank the Lord for that privilege.  We’ve come to seek Him.  I hope you’ll learn a lot about Exodus, but we’re really not here to learn facts about Exodus.  We’re here to see our Lord Jesus, and be open to all that He has for us. 

Let me give a short review of where we left off last time.  In our discussion we’ve been in chapter 3:17 and we’re going through chapter 14.  We left Egypt, and we’re going to cross the Red Sea.  That’s the section that we’re looking at.  We are not going to cross today.  We’re getting closer to crossing.  Fact is, we’re not crossing next week, either!  We’ll get over.  We’ve begun to look at some of the details that lead up to the great revelation of Christ in the crossing of the Red Sea.  Last week we looked at the wealth that they had when they departed.  Remember they went to the Egyptians’ homes and gathered all of that.  The Bible says, “They spoiled the Egyptians.”  They actually went out as victors.  Then we saw Pharaoh’s determination not to let them go permanently.  He had in his mind three days, and that’s it. 

We also looked at the meaning of the word “Shekinah”.  That’s when God voluntarily limits Himself and an infinite God puts boundaries on Himself, and so He’s in the cloud and in the bush and He’s in your life and He’s in my life; all of God, and not some of God; the presence of God.  At the end of our discussion we were beginning to look at the glory cloud and how the Lord guides.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, but I do want to review the two principles that we ended with.  The first was illustrated by the fact they went out rich.  It’s a fundamental principle of stewardship, of Pilgrim stewardship.  The Lord blesses us, and He says, “The blessing I have given you, use it for your needs.  Enjoy it, and hold it loosely, in case I tell you that I want it.”  God has assumed the responsibility to inform you when He wants you to let something go.  If the Lord is the real owner, then we will have no problem with that. 

This is a new illustration, but it’s a review of that principle.  I want to illustrate it from the book of Job.  Job 1:20&21, “Job arose and tore his robe, and shaved his head and fell to the ground in worship.  He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there.  The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”  You remember that very wonderful word.  Job knew and understood the principle of stewardship.  He said, “When I arrived I came naked.  Naked I came into the world.”  What that means is that he didn’t have one single thing.  If his mother gave him a pacifier, that was a gift.  He wasn’t born with a pacifier, or they say a silver spoon in his mouth.  He came in naked.  He had absolutely nothing.  Then he looked down the road to the end, and he said, “I’m going to leave that way.  Naked I came, and naked I’m leaving.”  So what happened between “naked I came and naked I’m leaving”?  He gets stuff; a lot of stuff.  Because he said that he came naked and am leaving naked, everything in between must be a gift.  It has to be a gift because I didn’t have it and it was given to me.  Everything is a gift.  Everything that Job had he said that he got from the Lord.  There’s a donor.  If there’s a gift, somebody gave it.  I came naked and I’m leaving naked and I got stuff.  Who gave it?  The Lord gave it.

You know the record of Job 1.  He was very rich.  Job 1:2&3, “Seven sons, three daughter were born to him.  His possessions also were 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and very many servants; and that man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”  God blessed that guy.  Job was very, very wealthy.  And then in chapter 1 we see that God said, “I have need of it.”  So, God began to take.  In one case the Sabeans attacked and they stole his oxen and killed his servants.  When he got news of that, somebody else came and said, “You aren’t going to believe this, but lightning struck and you lost a whole flock of sheep.”  And while he was coming, another guy came and said, “The Chaldeans attacked in three different attacks and they killed all your male servants and they stole all your camels.”  By the time that guy finished another guy came and said, “A tornado came and knocked down your house, and your kids were in the house, all ten of them, and I hate to report it, but all ten were killed.”  He got all this news in one day.  How did he respond?  He didn’t say, “The Lord gave and the Sabeans took away.  He didn’t say that.  He didn’t say, “The Lord came and lightning took away.”  He didn’t say that.  He didn’t say, “The Lord gave and the Chaldeans took away.”  He didn’t say that.  He didn’t say, “The Lord came and the tornado took away.”  He didn’t say that.  He said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away.”  He saw the Lord as the Giver and He was not a victim to second causes, and he was not a victim of circumstances.  “I came naked and I’m leaving naked and everything I have is from the Lord.  It’s His hand and it matters little if His hand is giving or taking, as long as I know it’s His hand.”  That’s the important thing, to know that it’s the hand of the Lord.

That principle of stewardship; if God wants it He’ll take it and He’ll let you know, and so you can be at liberty with all the blessings He’s given you, use it, enjoy it, and if the Lord wants it He’ll let you know.  Just keep your eyes and heart on the Lord, and He’ll be able to incline your heart.  It’s all a matter of faith to see that under no circumstance should any Christian ever be a victim of circumstances.  God uses second causes, but everything is from the Lord.

The second principle we looked at was very close to that.  If the Lord wants something that He’s given you from you He’ll let you know, and then with the glory cloud we learned the truth that God has assumed the responsibility of revealing His will.  If He wants you to know His will, He’ll tell you.  They were able to follow the cloud.  They knew God’s will because God told them.  He reveals His will.  You don’t have to discover it.  He reveals His will, and you don’t have to go on a crazy, as I did for many years, “the will of God hunt”.  What does God want me to do?  I didn’t want to dishonor Him.  I wanted His will, and I was out looking for God’s will, rather than setting my eyes, my heart on the God whose will it is.  It’s the Lord.  “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He’ll direct your path.”  If He wants your stuff He’ll tell you.  If He wants you to know His will, He’ll show you.  You ought to be able to be comfortable where you are until God makes it clear that you shouldn’t be there anymore.

That brings us then to our fresh material.  Again, we’re moving toward the Red Sea.  This will take us closer to the shore, but we’re not quite ready to cross.  There are several introductory principles I want to focus on.  As you go through the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you try to follow His spotlight.  The Lord is emphasizing certain things.  I’d like to show a couple of observations that struck my heart as I was studying this particular record.  I’m not going to start in Exodus.  I’m going to give you a verse from Psalms and then we’ll go to Exodus.  Psalm 106:7, “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.”  The NAS says, “They rebelled,” and KJV says, “They provoked Him at the Red Sea.”  So, we’re at the Red Sea. 

Here’s my question; how did they provoke Him?  What is the sin that is mentioned?  It says that they rebelled.  I want to look at that rebellion, and I want to look at it in the light of Hebrews 11:29, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians when they attempted it were drowned.”  Bring those two things together; “They rebelled at the Red Sea,” “They went by faith on the Red Sea.”  Do those two things contradict one another?  That’s what I’d like us to look at.  There’s a very precious principle contained here.  At first sight from Psalm 106 the rebellion would have kept them from crossing, so God must have dealt with their rebellion first, so that they could cross.

Let me show you, and this isn’t everything because we’ll never get to everything, but it’s a possibility.  Exodus 14:10, “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.”  If you are a human being on the level of earth you can read this and say that they had every reason to look back and be frightened.  They were trapped.  The sea was in front of them, there were mountains on both sides, and there was an attacking army of 600 iron chariots plus, if you believe Josephus the Jewish historian, he said there were not only 600 iron chariots and each one was drawn by two horses and each one had two men in it, the driver and then the swordsman that was in there, but there were other chariots besides the iron chariots.  I don’t know where Josephus gets this number, but he says that there also 100,000 foot soldiers.  I don’t know about that.  All I know is there are 2½ million unarmed people of God with their flocks and their herds at the face of the Red Sea, and they are trapped.  The Bible says that they were frightened.  And I can see every reason on the level of earth for their fear.

Pharaoh had in his mind three days.  It’s the united voice of conservative commentaries that they probably had a three day start, that they went out and he didn’t even begin to worry until after three days when they had a three day head start.  Then when Pharaoh learned they weren’t coming back, he got everything ready.  Probably there’s a couple of days before he can get ready and catch up to them.  We might be looking to close to a week here.  That’s all speculation.  When Pharaoh heard that they weren’t coming back and he got his chariots, what was on his mind?  Was he going to go and get them and bring them back to captivity, or was he so angry he’s going to wipe them out?  They’re his slaves, so again, guessing some of it, not all of it, that those who would be willing to come back he would take back.  But if you resisted I don’t think you were going to come back.  And I don’t think he was happy with the leadership.  Exodus 15:9, a little bit ahead, “The enemy said, ‘I will purse, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.”  So we know what he was planning to do.  This is not good for Israel.  On the level of earth there was a lot of reason to be afraid.

But there’s another aspect that might be tied in to what the Psalm calls “rebellion” and that they rebelled at the Red Sea.  Exodus 14:12, “Is this not the word 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.’”  Now all of a sudden they have a complaining spirit, and intellectual doubts.  They are saying, “Wait a minute.  Moses, what in the world was on your mind?  We are in trouble.  This was a dumb idea.  Why did you bring us here?  This is stupid.”  And they began to reason with their mind that you should have left us alone, we were happy as slaves, and we should have stayed there.  Then he says in Exodus 14:11, “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?”  No graves in Egypt?  Egypt was known as the land of tombs, and had pyramids and stuff.  They had graves in Egypt.  Exodus 14:12, “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians.’ If would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’”  Those two things put together; fear and doubt.  They were afraid and they said, “We thought this thing through.  We weighed the pros and cons, and this doesn’t look like a good idea.” 

Leviticus 16:16, God has made provisions, “For all their transgressions in all their sins.”  Every sin is stuffed full of transgressions.  You’ll never get to the bottom.  You say, “I have neglected his word.”  “Why?”  “Well, somebody offended me.”  “Well, why were you offended?”  “Well, because I deserve better.”  “Why do you think you deserve better?”  “Well, I deserve better because I don’t believe God’s word when He says I don’t deserve better.”  “Why don’t you believe God’s word?”  You can dig into your sin and you’ll never get to the end of it.  That’s why 1John 1:9, idolatry, where you are trying to confess your sin.   At any moment you have something to confess.  If you had to confess all the transgressions and all your sins, that’s all you would do all the day long.  You’d be confessing and confessing;  I’m confessing this because of this, which is due to this, and because she burned the toast, and all of that.  There’s no end to it.  That’s what is what is so wonderful about Leviticus that says, “God has made provision for all your transgressions in all your sins.” 

How can Hebrews 11:29 say, “They crossed by faith,” when we know they were filled with the fear and doubt?  I think everybody would agree with this.  I’m not trying to be a psychologist because I don’t know anything about that.  But I know that fear is a matter of the emotions; anxiety, worry.  I have a little grandson who delights to scare the daylights out of me.  I get alarmed with any little noise and I jump.  I’m very jumpy.  The older I get the worse it is.  My grandson whistles when he comes into the room, in order to let me know he’s coming into the room.  Lillian continually frightens me.  (I don’t mean it that way!)  How long was man in the garden before he fell?  It was approximately until he got a wife!  (Laughter – joke).  On the other hand, fear is of the emotions, but doubt is a matter of the mind.  Doubt is mental.  It’s the brain, the intellect.  You think it through.  They made a wrong decision.  You weigh the issues, and so on.  Fear is a matter of the emotions, and doubt is a matter of the mind. 

What about faith?   Listen to John 7:17, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching,” (the translation is doctrine), “whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself.”  Fear is a matter of the emotions.  Doubt is a matter of the mind.  Jesus taught us that faith is a matter of the will.  If anyone is willing to do His will He’ll know the doctrine, the teaching.  We speak about knowing something and we say, “If you are going to know something, then you’ve got to use your head; your mind.  “I need more information.  I want some empirical evidence and proof, and I need to analyze.”  Knowledge is a matter of the head.   Then I can know.  My brain needs to deal with this.  If I want to know history I need to study and I need my brain.  All of the sciences require some perception in the a perceptive man, but if you have nothing in the frontal lobe, you can’t know.  You’ve got to know, and it’s a matter of the mind.  We say as Christians, “We don’t depend on the emotions; how you feel,” and then we think, “If I need to know God, I’ve got to know Him with my mind.”  Jesus said, “No; you know Him with your will.”  Faith is a matter of the will, and not a matter of the mind. “If anyone is willing…”  The Greek is wonderful because it says, “If anyone is willing to be willing, he will know the teaching.”  That’s why my friend Pat who had very limited ability, had a will to know the Lord, and he was so wise, far beyond seminary professors, because he had a will to know.

I don’t want you to miss the wonder of the principle I’m about to share, or to carry it too far.  Did Israel at the Red Sea have fear?  Yes.  Did they have doubts?  Yes.  Did they cross by faith?  Yes.  Here is the principle, and may God help us!  You can have faith, even when you have fear and doubt.  I can have faith even when I have fear and doubt.  Hebrews 11:29, “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians when they attempted it were drowned.”  Exodus 14:15, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”  And the Bible says they went forward by faith.  The point I’m making is that fear and doubt does not contradict faith.  Many a people, many a Christian has gone into condemnation because they have had anxieties, worries (“about my son, about my family”) or doubts (“I’m not sure, I have so many suspicions and questions”), and then somebody tells them, “You aren’t trusting the Lord.”  And they say, “I’m not trusting God, because I have anxieties and fears.  Lord, take away my anxiety and take away my fear, so I can trust You.”  They are not contradictory. 

I want to call this idea that I can have doubt and fear and faith as “struggling faith”.  I can walk by faith in spite of my foolish fears and my anxieties.   A lot of people say, “I would be a Christian but I need more information.  I need to study harder.  I want to weigh it against the false religion,” and all that kind of stuff.  No, you need to have a will.  You don’t want to.  If you wanted to, then you would know. 

I’m not encouraging anybody in this room or on tape or my heart to fear and doubt.  I’m not saying, “That’s the way to do it.”  No!  Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”  There is struggling faith, and there is full assurance of faith.  Of course, God would be delighted if we would have the full assurance of faith. 

At this point in the record, now I’m going to take big steps.  If you know the history, you’ll understand what I’m saying.  Right now Israel is redeemed and running.  In a few moments they will be redeemed and singing.  After that they’ll be redeemed and wandering.  After that they’ll be redeemed and resting.  There’s a history here, and not only of Israel, but of the spiritual man and woman.  There’s a time in your life you’ll be redeemed and running.  And then God will work and you’ll sing the praises of the Lord, and you’ll find yourself wandering.  And then you’ll rest, and so on.  So, we’re at this early stage where they are redeemed and running.  They’ve not yet learned the secret of resting in the Lord.  They have faith, but it’s struggling faith.  May God help you to pull out all the stops to believe what I’m about to say.  Struggling faith is still faith.  God accepts it.  It’s still faith.

I want to give two New Testament illustrations, and then we’ll come back to Exodus, about this idea that faith is a matter of the will.  In Mark 9:14-29 we have the sad and beautiful story that took place right after the transfiguration.  This is the story of a tormented father who had gone to the professionals and they couldn’t help, and now he’s come to the Lord Jesus.  He begins to tell Christ about his son.  He said, “There are times when my son goes mute and can’t speak, and he is possessed by a demon, and the demon picks him up and slams him to the ground, and he begins foaming at the mouth, and he rolls over and goes into convulsions.  Sometimes he throws himself into the water.  Sometimes he’ll throw himself right into the fireplace,” and so on.  Mark 9:22, “It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him, but if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 

Here is Jesus’ response.  Exodus 9:23, “And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can?’  All things are possible to him who believes.”  Now listen to his response.  Mark 9:24, “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.”  It coexists.  “I believe, but I’ve got unbelief.  I’ve got struggling faith.”  Jesus said, “This kind only comes out by prayer and fasting.”  Was that literal?  Who prayed?  Who fasted?  Prayer is laying hold of God.  That’s a principle.  Fasting is letting go of everything.  That’s a principle.  This man laid hold of God and let go of everything.  He’s the one that prayed and fasted.  He had all the answers himself.  The father who had gone to the disciples, now comes to Jesus, and God used Him because struggling faith is accepted by God as faith.  That’s a cause to rejoice.  I get so anxious sometimes, and get to wondering sometimes, that there are these crazy thoughts and say, “I wish I could trust the Lord.”  You might have more faith than you think you have.  God accepts struggling faith as faith.

A second illustration, the same point, is in John 4:49-50, the royal official, “The royal official said to Him, ‘Sire, come down before my child dies.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’  The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.”  Jesus said, “I’m not coming.  You go.”  And the guy said, “I believe. I’m going.”  When he arrived home we read in verse 51, “As he was now going down, his slaves met him saying that his son was living.”  So, he asks when they got the news, when the fever broke, when did he start to recover.  John 4:53, “So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, ‘Your son lives,’ and he himself believed and his whole household.”  When Jesus said “go” he believed; struggling faith.  When he got the word, he believed again, but now he had the full assurance of faith.  So, the Lord would have us come boldly and have full assurance, but I want you to know with Israel they could cross by faith in spite of their doubts and in spite of their fears.  There’s a difference between struggling faith that has a willing spirit and unbelief. 

Peter denied Christ.  Judas betrayed Christ.  What’s the difference?  You look at that and say, “Peter denied the Lord and Judas betrayed the Lord.  It looks like the same thing.”  No.  Jesus said in Matthew 26:41 to Peter, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Peter had a willing spirit.  He was weak, but he had a willing spirit.  Judas did not have a willing spirit. 

I want to make one other qualification.  I don’t want you to think every time you have doubt and fear that you are trusting the Lord, because you might not be.  Let me give an illustration.  Thomas, doubting Thomas, was an unbelieving believer.  Listen to John 20:25, “The other disciples were saying to him, ‘We’ve seen the Lord.’  He said to him, ‘Unless I see in His hands, the imprint of the nails, and put my fingers in the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’”  There was no willing spirit.  And he’s a believer, but he’s an unbelieving believer and he has doubts, and he says, “I will not believe.”  Of course, the Lord never gives up on unbelievers.  John 20:27, “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  “Have a willing spirit.”  And then the Lord did a wonderful miracle.  I don’t want to get into that.

The point I’m trying to make is that it is struggling faith, if it has a will, “I want to do what is right, but I’m scared to death; I’m anxious, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I want to, but it doesn’t make sense; walking round and round and round Jericho.  I’m running in circles, but they are God’s circles, and that makes a difference.  Psalm 56, there are two verses to summarize this and they are piggy back; verse 3 and verse 4.  Verse 3, “When I’m afraid I’ll put my trust in you.”  What is verse 4?  “In God in whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.”  Isn’t that awesome?  When I’m afraid I’ll trust the Lord.  “I”ll trust the Lord and I won’t be afraid.”  One is the full assurance of faith and the other is struggling faith.  You can go forward either way.  You can go forward with struggling faith, or you can forward with a full assurance of faith.  Exodus 14:31, “When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.”  Once they got over they had the full assurance of faith.  We’re going to return to 14:31 in another connection, and another rich principle, but that’s another time.  That’s the first observation, that struggling faith is real faith, and it’s not inconsistent with doubt and fear.

The second principle comes from Exodus 14:15, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”  I try to pay attention while I’m studying.  I got this principle from Arthur Pearson and he said, “Pay attention to first mention; the first time something is mentioned in the Bible.  It’s usually important.  First mention, last mention and full mention.”  I try to do that.  This is the first time in the Bible, “Go forward,” is mentioned.  It’s not before this.  What did it take for Israel to go forward?  First time it’s mentioned.  The answer is that it took a might miracle.  There’s no way they could go forward apart from a mighty miracle.  May I suggest that every time you are to go forward it’s going to require a mighty miracle of God?  The last time it’s mentioned is in 3 John 6&7 when it talks about the brothers that were going forward in the name of the Lord.  That’s the last time that’s mentioned.  The whole point is that it takes a mighty miracle of God.

The illustration God gives for this principle is literal, is actual, and it really happened.  It’s history, and it’s impossible for them on any level of earth to go forward.  They can’t.  They have no bridge, no boat.  There’s no way for them to get across.  It’s an impossibility.  Exodus 14:3, “For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.”   By the way there are wonderful passages about shut-ins and this is one of them.  If you ever know anyone who is shut in, this is good.  Anyway, we’ve got to distinguish the principle from the picture.  The picture is absolutely impossible for them.  The principle is that it’s always impossible to go forward.  The picture is literal, but the principle abides forever.  It’s impossible.  So, He uses an impossible situation to illustrate the principle.

I can imagine situations, If I go literal, where it’s not impossible for me.  I would say, “Well, I’m not completely trapped.  If I look to the right or left there are some things I can do.  I could move, I could call a counselor, we can get together and have people pray about it, I could take two jobs, and I could work this thing out, and I could fight it, and I could sin.  Sometimes in a tight place we think that’s the only way out.  I’m not suggesting them.  Why did God choose the impossible, literal situation where they are boxed in on every side?  It’s because He wants to show us there is no going forward apart from a miracle. 

I don’t think this is on the sheet, but in John 15:5 Jesus said, “I’m the vine and you are the branches.  Abide in Me; I in you, and you’ll bring forth much fruit.”  And then He added this, “Without Me you can do nothing.”  I say, “Well, that’s not really true.  I can do a lot of stuff without Him.  And I have often done a lot of stuff without Him.  What does He mean that “without Me you can do nothing”?  In the context, “Without Me you can do nothing that can be called fruit.”  That’s what He’s talking about, “Abide in Me and you’ll bear fruit. Without Me there is no possibility of bearing spiritual fruit.”  So, I can go forward in the flesh, but I can’t go forward in the Lord without a miracle.  It’s always impossible to go forward in the Lord.  Spiritually we’re always at a dead end.  Exodus 14:4, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.  He’ll follow after them; and I will be honored upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.  And they did so.”  When I know it’s impossible, then God gets the honor and glory.  If I try to do it on my own, then I’m stealing glory from God.  Psalm 62:8, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”

I think I’ve shared this before, but it’s worth saying again.  A Christian will only trust God when he must.  The only time you are going to trust the Lord is when you have to.  You always have to.  That’s the part we miss.  God is faithful, because if you forget you have to, He will remind you.  God is faithful to bring you to the place where you know that you need a miracle of God.  I know that principle can be abused, but when is it legitimate to put confidence in the flesh?  Well, you know the answer.  Philippians 3:3, “For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”  Never; we’re not to trust ourselves.  Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”  

I don’t know if there’s anyone here that I’ve said this to, but I often say it to people when they come to me and say, “This is hard.  This situation is difficult.”  I’ll check them on that.  I’ll say, “You are wrong.  That’s not hard.  That’s not difficult.  It’s impossible!”  You need to know it’s impossible, because as long as you say that it’s difficult you are going to try to do it.  As long as I say it’s difficult, I’m going to try to do it.  It’s always impossible.  We need to trust the Lord at all times and pour out our hearts before Him.  Some people say, “The Christian life is easy.”  They’ve never studied the Christian life.  Some people say, “The Christian life is hard.”  They don’t know either.  It’s not hard and it’s not easy; it’s impossible.  Only one person has ever lived the Christian life and his name is Jesus, and He’s the only One that can live it again.  His name is Jesus.  He lives in you in His Shekinah glory.  He lives in me in His Shekinah glory, to live that life all over again.  But the Christian life is impossible.

When I was in Bible school I was not a good student.  You can take any of my transcripts and verify my testimony.  I remember one final exam.  I drove into the parking lot.  We lived off campus.  The same time  my professor, Dr, Wensel, my theology professor pulled in.  We parked next to each other and walked to class together.  He said, “Are you prepared for your exam?”  I said, “You know, last night the Lord gave me a wonderful verse.  Let me share it with you.  Psalm 119:99, “I have more wisdom than all my teachers.’”  He just said, “Don’t count on it.”  Unfortunately he was right. 

You understand the simple point that the Christian life is a miraculous life.  It’s a life lived by God Himself.  Sometimes we think we’re spiritual.  “I’m really trying to trust the Lord.  I really am.  I want to trust Him.”  I don’t think there’s anybody in this room, if you gave me a promise, and I said to you, “I’m trying to trust you,” you’d be insulted.  If I told you that I’m trying to trust you, you would be insulted.  And we say to the Lord all the time, “Lord, I’m trying to trust You.”  He’s insulted with that. 

Let’s come back to this.  The Christian life is a miracle life.  He’s faithful to remind you.  I like to word it this way and say, “If you forget that you need to trust Him, He will add to your burden to lighten your load.”  He’s so determined that we will trust Him, that He will pile stuff on.  And the more He piles on, the wiser we get as we get crushed down, and finally are smart enough to crawl from under it and call on the Lord.  That’s how He does it.  He adds to the burden to lighten the load.

You know I like to express myself in verse…

In mercy He adds to the cross I must carry.

In grace every trial by Him is bestowed.

He knows in my weakness I’ll run straight to Jesus.

He adds to the burden to lighten the load.

Some burdens I try in my own strength to carry.

Some problems I think my own wisdom can solve.

So God adds a weight, then I run from beneath it.

I cry unto the Lord, and the pressure dissolves.

The Lord knows my frame, the strength of my shoulder.

He knows how I struggle, my labor He sees,

And in His great wisdom He adds an affliction,

Proportioned in love to bring me to my knees.

So, that’s how the Lord deals with us.  Faith is a matter of the will.  The Christian life is an absolute impossibility to go forward.  I want to make one more suggestion, and we’ll develop it next time.  Exodus 14:13, “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.’  Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are crying out to Me?  Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”  Isn’t that a strange connection?

At first it looks like God is rebuking Moses.  Moses gives this great victorious life sermon on the exchanged life; stand still, see the salvation of the Lord, this enemy you won’t see again forever, the Lord will fight for you.  And then God says, “Why are you praying?  Tell them to go forward.”  When the Lord said that in verse 15, “Why are you crying out to Me?  Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”  He’s not rebuking Moses.  That’s not what’s happening.  Let me set it before you and then next week I think you’ll really understand the full principle.  He’s not rebuking him.  What He’s saying is, “That message; they rebuked Moses, “You’re stupid, you brought us out here, that was dumb, should have stayed in Egypt, it’s all your fault…”  If you are a messenger of God and somebody came to you and said that and blamed you, I think my shackles would go up and I’d try to defend myself.  He didn’t.  As a messenger of God he just stood up and said, “You need to look to the Lord, be still, He’ll fight for you,” and he didn’t even take all of that abuse.  He didn’t respond to that.  I think the principle is that when He gives you that message, “Stand still, the battle is God’s, He’ll do it, He’ll accomplish it,” and then God says, “Now, with that message, they are ready to go forward.”  In other words, you can’t go forward until you learn to be still.  I can’t go forward.  That comes first.  I need to rest and I need to know that He’s fighting, and I need to know that it’s His battle, and only then can I go forward.

Hebrews 11:29 says they are going forward in faith.  Up until this time their faith was reinforced by a visible presentation of the Lord.  He was in front of them.  Don’t forget the hour here.  It was night time, so the cloud is now a pillar of fire, and that’s in front of them.  They have that and know that’s the Lord.  He’s been guiding them; cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.  This is night and it’s a pillar of fire.  Now God has given them a word, “Go forward.”  They’ve got to go by faith.  Exodus 14:19, “The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.”  That can become a crisis in the life of a Christian.  My eyes are on the Lord, and I’m in trouble, and He leaves.  They are supposed to follow Him, follow the cloud.  He’s going to turn around and I’m going to go that way?  I don’t think so.  That’s where the enemy is.  He says, “Now I’ve given you a word.  Go forward.  I am going to remove my sensible presence from you, and I am going to go behind you.  I’m still with you, and I’m still for you, and I will be a protection, but don’t follow Me; don’t follow the cloud; follow the word.  Go forward.  It’s time now to go forward.  When the Lord removes His sensible presence….  I want to feel Him, and I want to know He’s here.  I want goose bumps.  I want my hair to stand up.  I want the exuberance of feeling the Lord is here.  But sometimes, if I’m really going to go forward in faith, He will remove Himself.

Let me give you an example.  John 16:7, Jesus said to His trembling disciples, “It’s expedient that I go.”  And do you hear the reason?  “If I don’t go I can’t send a Helper.”  Let me put it in principle.  He sometimes leaves you, so He can get closer to you.  It’s expedient; it’s necessary.  And when we see the record we’ll see how necessary it was for Him to come between them and Egypt.  That was necessary, but He said, “Don’t get distracted, don’t go by sight, don’t follow Me.  I’ve given you a word now.  You go forward based on the word.”  It won’t be a pillar of fire.  It will be a path of light that He’s going to give in between.  There’s a difference.  But the point I’m trying to make is they’ve got to go by faith.  The Christian life is an impossibility on the level of earth.  It’s an advantage to you when the Lord removes His sensible presence.  “I don’t feel God anymore.”

I remember when I got saved in 1958 and after a few months, “Where did He go?”  I had all this joy in my heart, and then it’s gone.  Do you know what I did?  I lived in Waterbury, Connecticut and I hitch hiked to Hartford, Connecticut.  That’s where I got saved, in the little Burns School in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was a Saturday and I couldn’t get in.  I finally found a custodian and I begged him.  I was in tears.  “I’ve got to get in.”  Then I looked for the seat I sat in when I got saved, because I wanted to get born again again.  I thought if I could get in the same place, then I’d have that experience again, because it was terrible for me that I lost the sense of God’s presence.  But it was necessary.  I needed it to go forward.  And sometimes He’ll remove His presence because He wants to take you forward.  Every time He departs from you, it’s so He can get closer to you.  Every time He departs from me in the sense of sense, feeling, it’s so He can get closer.

He accepts struggling faith.  You ought to be praising God for that!  It’s a miracle not depending on you.  You ought to be praising God for that!  And it’s a matter of faith, so He withdraws His physical presence, so that you can go forward and be still.  He’s fighting for you.

Heavenly Father, thank You for these great truths.  That You, Lord, that You don’t throw us away just because we worry, and become anxious, or have some silly doubts.  Lord, we believe; help our unbelief.  Lord, we want to have the full assurance of faith.  So, work that in us, we pray, and thank You for the miracle of advancing and going forward.  We pray that you would deliver us from the stupidity of confiding in our flesh.  Then, Lord, teach us what it means to go by faith, and to know, even when we can’t feel it, that you are closer to us, and protecting us.  We ask You to work these things in our heart.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

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