God called Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. And when they were in front of the Red Sea, the people discovered that Pharaoh and his army were chasing them.
January 16, 2023
God called Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. And when they were in front of the Red Sea, the people discovered that Pharaoh and his army were chasing them. They were sandwiched from all sides. They helplessly cried out to Moses.
Exodus 14:11-12 (ESV) – 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? 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.”
Among the 2 million people that left Egypt to possess the promised land, only two actually made it through. The rest died in the wilderness. The journey from Egypt to the promised land was only 10-11 days of journey but they were stuck in the wilderness for 40 years and could not possess the Promised Land. All of them received the promise but only two entered. Throughout the journey these people kept on complaining to Moses. And this is how Moses responds:
Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV) – 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. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Moses asked his people to stand firm on God’s promises. When we are sandwiched with problems from all sides, we need to stand firm on God’s promises and double down on His goodness. This is what Paul also wrote in his letter to Ephesians, “stand firm.” No one stands when they are in a battle. The appropriate battle stance is to keep moving. But the best posture in spiritual warfare is to stand firm in God’s promises.
Throughout the Bible you will see a repeated pattern of God’s proceeding Word before He moves and brings deliverance. People of God give voice to His Word before the miracle happens. During a crisis such as this, Moses released the word of deliverance, “the Egyptians you see today, you shall never see again.” The Egyptians were a powerful, rich and technologically advanced people. But they stood no chance against the word that Moses had released. The entire army drowned in the Red Sea.
But there is an important caution that Moses gives to his people. He asks them to be silent and not complain. Immature people, when they see negative circumstances, go on a rant. And the best they can do is stay silent. At least by staying silent they won’t rebel against God. Mature Christians don’t complain to God, instead they speak to the mountain. We don’t have to tell the mountain it’s size. We have been given the authority to speak to the mountain to be removed. It doesn’t matter how tall the mountain is. We only need to speak. That’s why when Moses went up to God taking the cry of his people, God responded like this,
Exodus 14:15 (ESV) – The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.”
God is asking Moses why he is crying. To God, Moses was supposed to lead his people forward. Most Christians weep and pray when they see a mountain. And sadly, we only pray when there are storms. But Jesus teaches us to speak to the mountain boldly. God wants us to face the mountains and possess them. When we keep weeping at the sight of the mountain, we are not operating in our true identity. We have a wrong mindset of slaves. It was this slave mindset that hindered these Israelites from possessing the Promised Land. The 430 years of slavery messed with their minds. They could not fathom that they could possess what God had for them. Only Joshua and Caleb overcame their slave mindset and possessed the Promised Land. They were able to renew their minds by staying on the promises of God.
Our mindsets won’t change only through praying. It takes the Word of God to change our minds. Prayer can soften our hearts to receive the Word but without the Word, our hearts cannot change. That’s why the Bible asks us to be transformed by the renewal of our minds.
Romans 12:2 (ESV) – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
God’s will for our lives at any given time is good, pleasing and perfect. But the catch is, that it takes a renewed mind to understand and discern His will. So if we don’t feel that God’s will is good, that means our minds are not renewed. This feeling is an indication we have to get back to God’s Word to renew our minds. Through the combination of prayer and the Word, our minds align with God’s mind about His will. If we pray to twist God’s arm, we are only going to get disappointed because it is our minds that need to change. God does not need repentance; we need it.
With the Israelites, God had already promised them that He is taking them to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. They simply needed to go and possess it. But because these people had a slave mindset, they didn’t want to get out of their comfort zone. A slave mindset can draw boundaries to limit us. These limitations can keep us comfortable. Most times we use contentment as a cover for complacency. But the truth is when we follow God, we break every limitation and the trajectory of our lives only goes up. Stagnant life is the one that is backsliding. God’s Word cannot keep us where we are. The power of His Word will take us up and forward. And it will change
everything that we have, and who we are. When we stand on God’s Word, there will always be tangible results of growth – not natural growth but supernatural growth that no man can imagine.
Moses sends twelve spies to spy on the Promised Land. Out of the twelve, only two gave a good report. The rest of them gave negative and discouraging reports.
Numbers 13:27-28 (ESV) – And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.”
The ten spies did agree that the land was good but they were sure that it was impossible to possess it because of the giants living there. Caleb who saw the same giants responded differently.
Numbers 13:30 (ESV) – But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”
Caleb was sure that they could overcome the giants. But the ten spies again resorted to negative criticism.
Numbers 13:31-33 (ESV) – Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
These ten spies began to speak about the giants they were facing. They forgot the great God that was with them. They forgot the promise that God gave when they saw the size of the giants. None of the giants called them grasshoppers. This is how they seemed to themselves. They felt in their own sight that they were grasshoppers. If giants are what we are facing and God has promised that we would overcome them, then imagine the kind of abundant strength God will give us! Once we drive out the giants, the abundance that they leave is huge. Think about it. Giants don’t live in tiny homes. And they need a lot of resources just to survive. When what they need to survive becomes our possession, we thrive. But these people could not receive God’s promise, so they kept on complaining.
Numbers 14:2-3 (ESV) – And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
Instead of confessing God’s promises, they kept focusing on the mountain they were facing. Their slave mindset wanted to return to Egypt. Even though God delivered them out of Egypt, Egypt didn’t get out of their minds. They wanted to return to Egypt because of the comfort of certainty they lived in. Most of us would rather live under the comfort of bondage than walk upward with God. If we put faith in the certainty of His Word, we don’t have to be afraid of the uncertainty of tomorrow. God’s Word can become our reality.
Joshua now addresses the congregation, trying to encourage them by saying,
Numbers 14:7-9 (ESV) – and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.”
Paraphrasing what Joshua said, “do not be afraid because the giant and the mountain that you face is bread.” When we stay on God’s Word, without letting our experiences change the interpretation of His Word, we can speak boldly like Joshua. We should interpret our experiences through the Word and not vice versa. These challenges that we face are an upgrade.
Since the people do not repent, God gets angry.
Numbers 14:22-24 (ESV) – none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
Numbers 14:28-30 (ESV) – Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.”
Interestingly, what they said happened to them. They all died in the wilderness and did not step into the Promised Land. For 40 years they went around the mountain instead of possessing it. These people who were rebelling, saw signs and wonders in the wilderness. They saw the pillar of fire. They ate manna. They saw the glory cloud. They witnessed all kinds of things that no one else did. But these signs didn’t build their faith. Only God’s Word can build faith.
Romans 10:17 (ESV) – So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Joshua and Caleb grew strong in faith because they stayed on God’s Word. The signs and wonders confirmed their faith but their focus was on God’s Word. God’s Word helps us to stay on the blessings of God. Signs and wonders are miracles which happen during a crisis. The people of Israel saw many signs and wonders because they were moving from crisis to crisis. But God’s plan A was always the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. God’s best plan for us is to live in the blessing and not in miracles. Although we would require miracles as long as we are living in a fallen world, living in blessings should be our focus. The blessing of God manifests through His Word. Blessings take longer time to show up than miracles but they are permanent. That’s why we need to stay in God’s word so that we grow from blessing to blessing.
After 40 years in the wilderness, Caleb hadn’t forgotten the Word that God gave through Moses. He was 85 years old but that didn’t discourage him because his faith was in God’s Word.
Joshua 14:6-12 (ESV) – Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
Caleb reminds Joshua of the Word he received 40 years ago. The reason why he had the same strength, audacity and boldness is because he stayed on God’s Word. He kept confessing and meditating on God’s Word which became his reality. His age gave a negative report. But he kept hearing God’s Word. When everyone else was dying in his generation, he focused on God’s promise. If we stay on God’s Word, the Word has the power to become our reality overcoming all the giants and mountains we face. Stay on God’s Word.