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God Has Your Back

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Thanks – Pastor, Preachers, Deacons, Choir, Congregation

Read Scripture: Exodus 13:20-22, 14:19-22

God Has Your Back

May 5, 2007

On the horns of a dilemma, driven to a wall, behind the eight ball, in a squeeze, in a jam, up a creek without a paddle, in a corner, back up against the wall, hard pressed, between a rock and a hard place.  No matter how you say it, there is no tougher spot to be in than to be faced with a dilemma where there seems to be no human help or answer.

On the horns of a dilemma, driven to a wall, behind the eight ball, in a squeeze, in a jam, up a creek without a paddle, in a corner, back up against the wall, hard pressed, between a rock and a hard place.  No matter how you say it, there is no tougher spot to be in than to be faced with a dilemma where there seems to be no human help or answer.

Our text provides us with an experience of the children of Israel that must have been uncomfortable.  It had to be a nerve-wrecking situation to say the least.  But everyone of us here today can testify that we have been in a jam, in a squeeze, on the horns of a dilemma, back up against a wall, hard-pressed, behind the eight ball, between a rock and a hard place.  And no matter where you live or where you come from you have to testify today that your life has not been one continuous success.

Everyone here today has had that situation or the experience where they’ve had their back up against the wall.  I am talking about the kind of experience that has drained us of our resources; the kind of experience that summons tears from our eyes, the type of experience that has caused us to toss and turn on our therapeutic mattresses all night long.  That kind of experience that threatens to drive us insane and cross the line of insanity – that’s the kind of experience that I am talking about.  Again no matter who you are or where you live, you have to turn to somebody and say, “Yes, I’ve been in that kind of situation.”

Because no matter who you are today you’ve been on the horns of a dilemma.  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in a situation where it looked dark and it looked like you weren’t going to make it?  Have you ever been in a situation where it looked like the whole world was against you?  Have you ever been there?  Have you ever been in that situation where it looked like everybody left you when they should have come to your rescue?  Why don’t you turn to somebody and say, “I’ve been right there.”

In our text, we see this remarkable story.  And it was not just recorded to leave us in awe but Roman 15:4b suggest that it “(or the Scripture) was written for our instruction that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scripture we might have hope.”  Whether you want to tell it today or not you’ve had your own Red Sea experience.  This documented miracle will provide for us today lessons for living.  And we do need to know how to handle tight spots.  Tight places.  And we have got to leave here this morning knowing that God has our backs.

Well, where did it all start?  It all started in Exodus 1:8, you don’t mind me doing a little homework do you?  I said that it all started in Exodus 1:8.  For the writer said that there “arose a king that knew not Joseph.”  Well, it’s just believable that if he didn’t know Joseph then he was not familiar with Joseph’s God.  For how in the world could a man be familiar with Joseph and not be familiar with Joseph’s God?  And then how in the world could a man not know Joseph and then know Joseph’s God?  For my brothas and sistahs if they know you, then they ought to know your God.  (I wish I had some help in here)  If they know you, if they know that you have been born again then they ought to know your God!  There ought to not be any situation where somebody knows you and not know your God.

But Exodus 1:8 says there arose a king that knew not Joseph again it is believable that if he did not know Joseph he knew not Joseph’s God.  He arose in Egypt, looked at the children of Israel, and said “they are becoming to numerous for Egypt and what we are going to do is put them into bondage because it looks like they are going to take over.

350 years of bondage before Moses was born, thank God for a deliverer.  350 years before they put him in that little bulrush basket out there on the Nile.  350 years had passed by when Pharaoh’s daughter had come by Divine order to the Nile early that morning to find that little baby tucked away in a bulrush basket.  350 years before Marion came out and said I got a suggestion; you don’t really have to take care of him, there is an Israelite lady that I can take him to that can take care of him.  Marion takes this little baby back to his own mother to wean and to take care of him.

Moses spends 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in Midian when the writer declares that he has this burning bush (you’ve hear about that haven’t you?) experience.  But everyone here this day you ought to be able to testify that you have had your own burning bush experience.  When the Lord says unto him, “I want you to go down to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let my people go.”  Moses, being like a lot of us, said who am I going to tell him sent me?  He wrote “I am that I am” on a card and said “just put that on his desk.”  If he asks you who I am you just put that on his desk.  You tell him, I AM THAT I AM!  Whatever he wants me to be at whatever situation that’s who I am but make sure you tell him that I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

You will notice throughout the text and throughout Exodus Moses give 4 or 5 lame duck excuses.  It is in Exodus 3:11 he says to God, I have no ability.  What shall I tell them or who am I?  It is in Exodus 3:13, I have no message what shall I tell them.  It is in Exodus 4:1 he says I have no authority or credibility, they won’t believe me.  It is in Exodus 4:10 he says I have no eloquence.  Exodus 4:13 he says I have no inclination, send whomever you want to send but get me off of the program.  But God answers all of our excuses in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

And so Moses finally agrees to go down into Pharaoh’s territory.  With this charge, with this call, with this challenge to tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go.  And Pharaoh being of (as the writer says) a hard heart - after Moses gets down there he gives the Israelites more work than they had ever had in their life.  He makes them make bricks at the same rate while gathering their own straw.  But thank God for Exodus 6:1, there is a difference between Moses speaking and God speaking.  God gets on the amplifier of heaven and says “Now shall thou see what I will do to Pharaoh for with a strong hand shall he let them go and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of the land.

It is between chapter 6 and our text that the stage is set for a showdown between Pharaoh and God.  The 10 Plagues are instrumental in Pharaoh letting God’s people go.  It would appear that water being turned into blood would be enough but we get word that Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  Frogs all over the land but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  Lice everywhere, it would appear that he would have let God’s people go but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  Flies swarming everywhere but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is still hard.  Cattle with disease, but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart, still hard.  Boils on beast and man but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is still hard.  Hail mingled with fire and falling from heaven, but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is still hard.  Locust (you’ve read that haven’t you?) everywhere but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is hardened.  Three days of darkness but we get word - Pharaoh’s heart is still hardened.

The Lord says to Moses, “I’m going to give him one more chance, I want you to go in and drop my card on his desk one more time, tell him I still am that I am and whatever curse he declares on you it’ll be declared on Egypt.”  Pharaoh says to Moses, well if you come one more time, you’ll surely die.  And so that curse that he puts on Moses, the Lord puts on Egypt.  For the last plague was the slaying of the first born.

May I suggest tonight that the Lord’s will cannot be compromised!  In Exodus 8:25 Moses speaks to Pharaoh but Pharaoh tries to compromise with God.  In Exodus 8:25 Pharaoh says don’t leave just worship that God that you’ve been talking about, you can do that right here in Egypt.

In Exodus 8:28 he says leave but don’t go too far.  In Exodus 10:10 he says you can leave but leave the children here.  In Exodus 10:24 he says now all of you can go but leave your flocks and your herds here.

Hardened, I tell you!  Hayzak – to make strong, to strengthen, to harden.  Kaybed means stubborn.  Gushar; stubborn or stiff-neck.  To sum it all up, put all the words together: Pharaoh was made more terocious or ferocious and tenacious in his chosen path against the will of God.  With all of this suspense and dialog we are finally told that Pharaoh tells Moses (after hearing the cry of the Egyptians and the death of the first born).  He calls Moses and Aaron by night and says “rise up and get you forth, God’s will cannot be compromised with.”

A few days before that he says now you can serve God right here in Egypt but now he tells him, “rise up, get you forth from among us, both ye and the children.”  A few days before he says leave the children here and go serve the Lord as you have said, take your flocks and your herds.  A few days before he says leave your flocks and your herds.  And the writer says that the Egyptians were urgent among the people that they might send them out of the land in haste.  It was a few days before he told him that he didn’t want them to go too far and now he’s telling him that I want you to get as far away from here as you can.

And the writer say in Exodus 12:33 because if you don’t leave we are all going to be like dead men.  The writer says that they leave Egypt.  The 105 number of Psalm verse 38 says that they leave out of there with joy.  They leave with a mixed multitude…  They leave with borrowed jewels…  They take their journey from Raamses in Egypt to Succoth to the edge of the wilderness.  Somebody said now Joseph said if you ever come up out of Egypt, don’t forget his bones.  They stop by the cemetery to pick up the bones of Joseph because what Joseph was really saying is I wouldn’t be caught dead in Egypt.

They make their way from Raamses to Succoth on the edge of the wilderness.  The writer of Exodus said there were 600,000 men, that was beside the children and the women are not even accounted for.  (I wish I had a little help right here)  Someone had suggested that there were over 2 million people that marched out of Egypt.  2 million people on their way to Canaan Land…  2 million people on their way to that land flowing with milk and honey!  2 million people marching to the same beat…  2 million people happy to be out of slavery on their way to that new country flowing with milk and honey.

The writer says that it was the same day 430 years later that they went into slavery that they came out.  They march out of Egypt with the same styles, morals, and standards as the Egyptians.  But thank God that we get word that the Lord went before them.  They leave Egypt with a past life and they are on their way to Canaan for a new life.  It is in the text that we read that the Lord went before them.

How did He do it?  By day in a pillar of a cloud, God’s visible and luminous presence providing for them light at night.  God providing them a cloud in the daytime.  This cloud, this visible indication of his presence, this visible indication of His power, this visible indication of His protection.  What a cloud it was for this cloud this Shekinah Glory that says God is with us, it provided a cloud by day to lead them in the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light.  This cloud provided to prove His presence.  This cloud, provided power.  This cloud, provided protection.  This cloud, a luminous cloud; a visible cloud to let them know that God was on their side.

Well my brothers and sisters you ought to be happy today that God has put some clouds in our lives to let us know He’s on our side.  You ought to be happy this morning that the Lord every now and then gives us a cloud to lead us by day and one to lead us by night.  This cloud to prove that God was on their side – whenever the cloud stops, if you’ll just stop.  Whenever the cloud starts moving – if you’ll just move.  When the cloud starts moving – if you’ll just move, you’ll be alright.

The writer declares that after that cloud had followed them a few days that Pharaoh was sitting around the palace and his servants or the rulers that ruled with him, they began to talk and wonder who was going to build their buildings, who in the world was going to take care of their children, who was going to provide them with sport and entertainment, who was going to work out in their fields, and who was going to work their vineyards?  Who in the world was it that was going to lay their roads and construct their buildings?  We are told that it was told to the king of Egypt that the people fled and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people and they said “what have we done that we let the Israelites go from serving us?”  So the writer tells us in Exodus 14:5-9 of Pharaoh’s decision.  After Pharaoh was told he made ready his chariots and took his people with him.  The writer said that he took 600 chosen chariots and all of the chariots of Egypt; captains over every one of them and we get word that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh King of Egypt.  Pharaoh’s decision was that he pursued after the children of Israel and the children of Israel went out of the land with a high hand.  But the Egyptians pursued after them all of the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army.  They overtook them encamped by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth before Baal Zephon.

Not only is there Pharaoh’s decision there is the people’s despair that can be found in Exodus 14:10-12.  Now you will notice first of all their fear – an when Pharaoh draw nigh the children of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold Pharaoh marched after them and they were so afraid and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.

Not only must you notice their fearfulness, you must also notice their furiousness.  In verse 11 they said unto Moses because there were no graves in Egypt has thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?  Wherefore hast thou dealt with us in this way to carry us forth out of Egypt.

But not only their fearfulness, not only their furiousness, but you must also notice in verse 12 their frustration.  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt saying let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians for it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians that we should die in the wilderness.

Thank God, my brothers and sisters for what Moses said.  Now they did know whether to fight, take flight, or to allow fright to take over this journey but thank God for the words of Moses.   And so not only was there Pharaoh’s decision and the people’s despair, there was the prophet’s declaration.

To their fear in verse 10, in verse 13 Moses says fear ye not.  To their furiousness in verse 11, Moses says in verse 13 stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.  To their frustration in verse 12, in verse 14 Moses says the Lord will fight for you and you can hold your peace.  To their desire to take flight in, in verse 14 Moses says the Lord (to calm down their desire to fight maybe) shall fight for you.  And to calm down the fright in verse 14 he says hold you peace.

Thank God for verse 15 – “and the Lord said unto Moses, why you crying out to me?  You told the people to do something that they shouldn’t have done.”  For you ought to not ever tell people to stand still.  I’ve learned pastor in this journey, that if you ever tell people to stand still, it’s hard to get them moving again.  I wasn’t there that morning when they were encamped at the Red Sea.  They had mountains on both sides and Pharaoh’s army was behind them.  But I heard the Lord saying I don’t want you to stand still I want you to tell them to march forward.  And as a matter of fact, Moses what is that thou has in your hand?”  I heard Moses say, “all I have is a little rod.”  And I heard God say, “well, that’ll have to do for now.  If you’ll lift up that rod, I’ll allow you to walk across on dry land.

I wasn’t there that day but I heard the writer say, they walked across on dry land.  The angel of God that had been out in front of them, in that cloud that had gone on before them…  It moved to the back of the children of Israel.  It came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel.  It was a cloud of darkness to those Egyptians but it was light unto the children of Israel.  And isn’t it strange how the Lord can use the same thing to bless you with and then turn around and curse your enemy with.

I heard somebody say that Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind.  And it was all that night and I’m glad to be able to report to you - we serve an all night God.  For all night last night he watched over me all night long.  All night long he allowed me to sleep and slumber all night long.  And I can hear them in Kankakee singing “all day, and all night the angels keep watching over me.”  And you ought to be happy today that you have an all night God.  Somebody here right now you might have been sick last night and you ought to wave your hand and say “I’m glad, I had an all-night God.”  Somebody tossed and turned all night long but I’m glad to be able to report to you that I’ve got an all-night God.  All night long he watches over me to keep thieves from breaking in my house.  All night He keeps me alive, He keeps blood in my body all night long, I’ve got an all night God!  And you ought to be happy today that your God is an all night God.  He never sleeps nor slumbers He stays on the throne all night long.

You ought to turn to somebody and tell them “all night and all day, He’s watching over me.”  Thank God today!  Hallelujah!  The Lord will keep the wind, the Lord will keep the water.  The children of Israel they walked across on dry land.

I want to close now by telling you, you don’t have to worry about what you’re going through because the Lord has your back.  He’ll make a way out of no way. Anybody here ever been in trouble and the Lord has had your back?  Anybody here, your head has been down and out but the Lord had your back?  Anybody here your children been giving you trouble but the Lord had your back?  You need to turn to somebody and tell them, “no matter how rough it gets the Lord has your back.”  You wonder how I know?  I tried Him, I tried Him for myself.  Anybody here ever tried my Lord?  Anybody here knows He’s alright?  Alright!  Alright!  If you know He’s alright you ought to say yeah!  Say “yeah!”  Say “yeah!”  He’s alright!  Alright!  Alright!

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