GETTING STARTED (115 words)
One of my favorite biblical narratives is the story of Joseph. Joseph’s jealous brothers sold him into slavery, his master’s wife falsely accused him of rape and had him imprisoned, and then he spent three years there because of a forgetful friend. Things worked out for Joseph in the end because God had a purpose, plan, and a promotion for Joseph that delivered him, his family, and the people of Israel through a tumultuous time. God allowed Joseph to go through hardships so that he could witness the power, protection, and the perfect plans of God, even amid trials.
- Has God ever ordained a trial in your life? What was the outcome, and how did you know it was God?
READ THE WORD: EXODUS 14:1-14 (ESV)
14:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘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.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Why would God specifically direct Moses to lead the Israelites to turn and camp in an area where they were trapped by the sea?
- How did God use the hardened heart of Pharaoh and the Egyptians in his purpose and plan for the Israelites? What does this say to you about the character of God?
- What were the reactions of the people of Israel as Pharaoh and his army marched after them (vss. 10-12)? What is your initial response when faced with or surrounded by threats and turmoil?
- What three commands did Moses give the people after their complaint (vs. 13)? In what (or whom) was he calling them to trust (vs. 14)?
- How does an understanding of God’s sovereignty help you to endure hardship in life as a Christian?
RESPOND TO GOD (115 words)
God allows and orchestrates trials in our lives so that we will trust and honor him when he delivers us. Even when we’re going through hard times and our backs are against the sea, God is still God; he is sovereign over the hearts of all people, and he’s working his plan for our good and his glory. We can trust that God has every resource that’s needed for deliverance. He neither needs our help, nor wants us to fear or doubt. All he wants is for us to be still, know that he is God, and receive his gift of salvation.
- Give God glory for his perfect plan of protection and salvation in the face of evil, death, and darkness.