Friday, November 15, 2013

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday November 17, 2013
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FROM DESPAIR TO DELIVERANCE
(GOD can make a way where it seems there’s none)
(Exodus 14:21-30)

GOD’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt in the Book of Exodus is a literal depiction of HIS OWN power and mercy to deliver all people who believe, from physical and spiritual bondage. However, GOD’s people were not to worship among pagans (Exodus 8:25-27), but rather, were to separate themselves from any unbelievers when they worship.
Moses’ original request to pharaoh was that he allow them to separate themselves from the Egyptians in order that they might worship GOD in the wilderness for three days only (Exodus 8:27).
In Exodus 14, after word reached Pharaoh that the Israelites were not planning on returning to Egypt after three days, he called out his troops and went after them (Exodus 14:5-9). He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with several others, all manned with soldiers, and the LORD continued to harden his heart toward the Israelites (Vs.7-8).   
The Egyptians caught up with the Israelites as they were camping along the seashore near Pihahiroth, across from Baal-zephon. As the pursuing Egyptian Army was approaching a, seemingly trapped Israelite nation, the people turned to their leader, Moses, and literally cursed him for taking them out of their bondage in Egypt (Exodus 14:9-12). 
In the Greek, the word used for faith is “pistis”. It means “to rely upon with an inward certainty, and to consent to evidence of authority”. The Israelite’s “fear” had already overcome “their inadequate faith in GOD”. They did not comprehend that, to wait on, and trust in GOD, would often mean that they must agonize in the process. However, the agony that one experiences always comes from one’s attitude of inadequate trust in the LORD.
GOD will test us in many ways to get us to see just where our level of trust in HIM is, and, to show us how we need to improve upon that inadequate level of trust, so that we can have a successful experiential relationship with HIM. HE wants to show us, both through HIS written word, and, through our own life experiences that there is no problem that we could possibly encounter, that is bigger than HIM. GOD demands a personal experiential relationship of “total trust and reliance on HIM”.
We can also see in this passage that GOD is more concerned with how we reach our destination, than HE is with how quickly we get there. That is why we see HIM leading the Israelites along an around-about path. HE felt that the Israelites, already weary from 430 years of slavery, would not be willing to engage in a war with the Philistines so soon after their departure from Egypt, and would instead, choose to return to Egypt, rather than risk dying in battle, in the wilderness.
And so, GOD led HIS people safely around the area where the Philistines resided. This can be seen as a clear symbolic indication that GOD wants everyone to finish the “Christian race” and make it to the “true promised land”, which is the “kingdom of Heaven”, and, that we must run the race HIS way, by HIS rules, in order to make it there safely.
When the Israelites reached the other side of the “Red Sea” (“Yam sup” in the Hebrew, which is translated “Sea of papyrus reeds”) (Exodus 14:26-31), and were out of the reach of the Egyptian chariots that pursued them, they stood along the shores and watched, as “their problems”, or, in this case, “their pursuers”, were quite literally, “washed away by GOD” (v.30).
Their apparent, impending doom, at the hands of the Egyptian soldiers, seemed inevitable as the pharaoh approached them while their backs were against the sea. In fact, they could imagine having no bigger problem at that time. But GOD intervened, as only HE can, and first parted the troubled waters allowing the Israelites to cross over “on dry land”, and then, HE washed all their problems away, and put them behind them forever.
And so we see, it is not how quickly we get to the end of our journey, but rather, it is “how” we get to the end of our journey. The Christian walk has always been, is now, and will forever be about “endurance”. It is about the way we run the race under duress, more than it is about how quickly we finish the race. It is a race that must be run by GOD’s rules, if we hope to obtain, and retain our rewards at the finish line.
The writer of the book of Hebrews reminds us in chapters 11 and 12 of the “cloud of witnesses” who have ran a successful race, that was fueled by faith. And now, they wait with CHRIST, to see how we will fare in our quests for eternal life. We too, can run and win this Christian race, but, we can run it a lot easier, if we first take the burdens of our problems, from off our backs, and give them to GOD. GOD is much bigger and much more capable of carrying them than we are. When we rely on GOD with an inward certainty, HE will always protect and deliver us into HIS OWN glorious presence at the end of our Christian race.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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