Years ago, two of our grandsons and I went mountain climbing. We thought it would be a blast … and it was, but in a different way. Before I relate the story, after the event I realized why a friend of mine who taught at the Military Academy was totally sold out on the use of a sextant and why my late friend Bob, who was a major in the British Military, was never without his compass.
The three of us went up this mountain, not a high one and the first obstacle was spiders, then came the ticks by the hundreds, followed by spider webs, thorns, rocks … and once we reached the top all we saw was a flat terrain. On our way down we lost the pathway because of the thicket and eventually decided to descend through the bush and trees, eventually reaching our cottage. We knew where the cottage was. We could hear my wife and our daughter speaking but we could not see them. Eventually with cuts and bites we reached home base. A rather frightful experience for a granddad who should be looking after the grandchildren and leading them away from danger and not into it!
There was another man who led people and he led them away from danger. His name was Moses and in his favor was the immediate guidance from God! We read on in Acts 7:
Ac 7:36 He led them out of Egypt and did wonders and miraculous signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea and for forty years in the desert. 37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’ 38 He was in the assembly in the desert, with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers; and he received living words to pass on to us. 39“But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.”
1) Verse 36 covers the period of Moses’ interaction with Pharaoh and all the miraculous signs he performed under the good hand of God, the celebration of the first Passover, the Exodus, crossing the Red Sea and the forty years of desert wandering because of their rebellious ways. From verse 36 he returns to some of the events in this period. I would like to mention two things here …
(1) The purpose of crossing the Rea Sea. In 1758 Robert Robertson wrote the hymn … “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. One of the lines goes like this … “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love”. As true as this is of Mr. Robison, it is true of us and it was true of Israel. On more than one occasion Israel wanted to return to Egypt. They wanted to go back to their days of slavery … look at this”
Nu 14:1 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
In those days they did not have maps, sextants, compasses and other methods of finding their way. God therefore gave them a cloud by day to follow and a pillar of fire to follow at night. In that cloud and pillar was God’s presence amongst His people, yet they were prone to wander, prone to leave the Lord they loved! If God wanted to He could have taken the people north from Goshen to where the Suez Canal is today. In those days it was dry land … but this generation did not know this! Rather God took them south to the Red Sea. There God did two things to prove He is God Almighty … the Sovereign one in who Israel needed to put their trust!
(i) First He worked a miracle through Moses and divided the Sea. This is not mythology or story-telling to make the Bible sound exciting … something like a make believe character in his spaceship doing make believe wonders. No … this is God who created, doing a miracle with salvation in mind. The escape route was on dry land with water walls on either side. Once across and God allowed the water to return to its flow, there was no way back into Egypt for Israel. They might hanker for the past but there was no way back!
(ii) Pharaoh changed his mind. As soon as his mourning subsided he realized that he lost his entire “free work force” and commissioned his Defense Force to return Israel immediately. As Israel was exiting the Red Sea, the pursing Defense Force reached the middle of the Sea. As the last Israelite set foot onto “dry land”, God released the water drowning all the soldiers and their horses. Now Israel, who only had God leading them into the “unknown” under Moses could not return to Egypt and there was no immediate threat or danger. They could proceed in peace. These two significant miracles ought to have caused Israel to trust and depend upon God even though their future travels, hardship and difficulties were unknown to them. They knew where they were going to, the Promised Land. The land of milk and honey. The land God promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Sadly the journey would become hard and difficult, not because it was desert and heat and lacking water and food … rather, because … “Prone to wander. Prone to leave the God I love.”
2) Another prophecy with reference to Messiah.
Ac 7:37 “This is that Moses who told the Israelites, ‘God will send you a prophet like me from your own people.’”
Moses as a leader was a prophet speaking God’s Words to the people and he was a type of Savior. As he led Israel to salvation he was demonstrating what the Real Messiah … you a prophet like me from your own people … would do. Israel were without excuse … God spoke through many prophets pointing to Messiah but Israel would not listen. To pacify the conscience, man has, throughout time created gods, idols and images to placate, to deal with their guilty because they refuse to accept God’s Messiah. New religions are started if the old existing ones don’t offer the morality bent of the individuals. Israel did this. She wanted a leader other than Moses because Moses spoke fearlessly from God. They wanted a leader, prophet, god and messiah they could manipulate and control.
Tomorrow we will see how God provided them with His “Ten Words” … the Ten Commandments but that was too tight for them. They wanted a loose arrangement which allowed them to live as they please. Sadly we are like this too! “Prone to wonder. Prone to leave the God I love.” Beloved the clock is ticking and anyone who has not trusted Jesus alone for their eternal salvation when the Day arrives, will be left behind … and cast into damnation!
Father, forgive us for our persistent drifting from Your loving Fatherly heart. In our hearts we know better yet in our practice we buckle when we are seduced by the world, our peers and our lusts. Cause us to drink heartily from the wells of Living Water within Your Word to remain true to You. Amen.