Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

We have several cultural descriptions of situations where the options available are limited, and they are all bad. Do you want the bad news, or do you want the worse news? Or, on the other hand, do you want the REALLY bad news?

Today's story is interesting.*

Moses is the brand new leader of at least 2.4 million refugees. They are fleeing from the most powerful nation and army on earth. They are unarmed. In a desert. They have their kids and livestock with them. And they didn't bring along their battery powered refrigerators...

Moses gets stuck. He leads this mass of people to the edge of the Red Sea. And Pharoah's army and horsemen and chariots are right behind them. In the clear desert air they can hear the sound of the rumble. All choices are bad. All possible outcomes are horrible.

How was he so stupid? Was it sinfulness? He didn't ask the Lord for direction? He was acting in open rebellion?

That is the most confusing, and ultimately impressive, part of this story. Read this with me...
"They moved on from Succoth and then camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness. God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light; thus they could travel both day and night. The Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night never left the people.
God spoke to Moses: "Tell the Israelites to turn around and make camp at Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. Camp on the shore of the sea opposite Baal Zephon." Exodus 13:20 - 14:2

These are very specific instructions, which Moses followed exactly. Yet this is what happens next...
"As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them— Egyptians! Coming at them! They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God."

And although Moses was wonderfully confident in public - "Don't be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you're never going to see them again. God will fight the battle for you. And you? You keep your mouths shut!"

Yet we know he did what many a Christian has done facing terrible trouble. God says to him, "Why cry out to me?"

So in public he is confident. Bold. Declaring God's purposes. But in his tent he falls on his face before God and says "God, if you don't show up, we all die. Please do something. If your purpose is to kill me, and all of us, I accept that. But it seems like an odd end to your plan. And what about all your promises? God, I need you. We need you. PLEASE do something. I am out of ideas. Out of time. Out of ability. God. Please..."

Have you ever been there? I have.

Usually because of my stupidity. Or disobedience. But maybe. Maybe there are times where God puts us there on purpose.

Because he is glorified when we live our lives in total dependance on Him...

*If you are just joining us, I am reading through the Bible this year off of using the chronological sequence, and in the version called "The Message."

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