We’re in a message series called “Exodus: God’s Plan.” In this series, we’ve learned that God had a plan for His people when they were in slavery in Egypt. He brought them out with powerful miracles, plagues on the Egyptians and their gods. Finally, the Pharaoh let the people go. All seemed good, the story had a happy ending. But not so fast, the story is not yet done.
Today, message is called “No Hope Miracle.” Even though the Israelites had escaped Egypt, something unexpected was going to happen, Something that made their situation seem hopeless. A situation where they needed a miracle.
Do you believe in miracles? 75% of Americans believe in miracles and 75% of Americans believe in God. The two basically go hand in hand. If you believe in a supernatural God, you would naturally believe in supernatural miracles. If you don’t believe in God, it would make no sense to believe in miracles.
The Bible is God’s revelation of who He is to us. The Bible is full of miracles from the first book, Genesis, to the last book, Revelation. Not only does the Bible teach that miracles happened in the past, it teaches us that God is still a miracle-working God. God still works miracles today. What is a miracle? A miracle is a supernatural event that is only possible through God’s power. That is a standard definition. However, when you understand that everything in the universe is being held together and controlled by God’s power, that definition is not adequate. A better definition for a miracle is a supernatural act of God that is outside of the normal course of events. Although God does control the movement of the planets, we don’t think of sunrise as a miracle, as it happens without fail every day.
However, sometimes, things that would be considered natural, are a miracle because of their nature and timing. Other things are clearly miracles, such as being healed of an incurable disease or someone being raised from the dead. When are we in a position to receive a miracle from God? We are in a position to receive a miracle from God when we’re in a hopeless situation. A situation in which there seems no natural way to escape. So, when you face a great difficulty in life, you are a candidate for a miracle from God. How can you receive a miracle? Through prayer and faith.
Mark 11:22-24 (ESV) And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Jesus is not talking here about literal mountains, He’s talking about the mountains or obstacles in your life that create hopeless situations. How do we move mountains or receive miracles? Through prayer and faith. Where does faith come from?
Romans 10:17 (ESV) So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
As we read and believe the stories of miracles in the Bible, it helps our faith to grow to believe God for miracles today in our own lives. So, let’s begin with a miracle story today from Exodus 14. When you’re faced with a hopeless situation …
The Pharaoh had let the Israelites go from the slavery in Egypt and they were now on a journey to the Promised Land. But suddenly, the Lord spoke to Moses and gave him some unexpected directions.
Exodus 14:2a,4 (ESV) “Tell the people of Israel to turn back … 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.
You can imagine what Moses thought. Why turn back Lord? We need to get as far away from Egypt as fast as possible. Yet, the Lord revealed more of His plan to Moses. The Pharaoh would pursue them, which didn’t seem good. But the Lord would get glory over Pharaoh and the Egyptians, so seems like a good ending.
Exodus 14:8-9a (ESV) 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. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea …
God’s plan was working just as He had told Moses. When the Pharaoh heard reports that the Israelites had turned back, he saw a chance to recapture his slaves. The Pharaoh came with a large army consisting of chariots and horsemen. The unarmed Israelites would be no match for them. The Israelites were on foot and certainly could not outrun the Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen. The other problem is that they were camped on the shore of the Red Sea and couldn’t escape if they wanted to. What was the people’s response?
Exodus 14:10, 12b (ESV) 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 [and said to Moses] “… it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
The reaction of the Israelites to this hopeless situation was great fear. They feared that they would lose their lives. They did cry out to the Lord to save them, which was good, but they then grumbled against Moses their leader. We see the people’s prayer, but we don’t see any faith in this hopeless situation. In fact, they were probably wondering why Moses had led them back towards Egypt, which seemed like the cause of their hopeless situation. So, we can learn from the Israelites not to give in to fear when we face difficult situations.
We must understand that in the difficult and seemingly hopeless situations in our lives, God is working. Our situations don’t take Him by surprise. God works in ways that are beyond our understanding. His plans are for His glory and for our good. Fear and faith are polar opposite attitudes. If you are in fear you are not in faith and if you are in faith, you will not be in fear. Fear does have a purpose, it causes us to cry out to the Lord. As we do that, as we choose to trust Him, He begins to replace our fear with faith.
This morning, I’d like to ask you to think about the most difficult situation you are facing in life. If you’re not sure, it’s the situation that you worry about the most. Worry is another word for fear. If you’re not already praying, begin to pray to God about the situation. Then, ask God to help you replace worry and fear with faith in a miracle-working God. Don’t give in to fear.
The people of Israel were in fear, they were grumbling against Moses their leader. But Moses was not in fear, he was in faith, at least a lot more faith than the people.
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 is in faith and he instructs the people to not be afraid. Why needn’t they fear? Because the Lord was going to save them. They were afraid of the Egyptian army, but God was going to fight and conquer them. What did the Israelites have to do? Not fear, stand firm and be silent. That is, stop grumbling against Moses and God. If they did those things, they would also be in faith.
Exodus 14:15-16 (ESV) The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.
The Lord then gives specific instructions to Moses. Moses seemed quite confident in addressing the people, but he was still crying out to God in prayer. The time for prayer was over, it was time to take action in faith. Moses was to command the people to go forward. That didn’t seem possible, because there was a sea in their path and they had no boats. But Moses was to lift his staff and hand over the sea. The sea would divide and the people could go through the sea on dry ground. That would be a miracle, something completely contrary to the laws of nature. A miracle that would allow the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army.
Exodus 14:18 (ESV) And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
The reason for the miracle is so that the Egyptians would know that the Lord was greater than all the Egyptian gods. And the people of Israel would be rescued from death or a return to slavery in Egypt. Moses, the leader, encouraged the people of Israel to not fear, but believe God. The Lord encouraged Moses to take action, believing God would work a miracle.
When you are in a hopeless situation and you’re praying to God, listen for God’s encouragement. He wants to speak to you and give you His plan. There is a time for prayer and then there is a time for action. The action that God instructs us to take always requires faith. Moses had to believe that the sea would part as he commanded the people to move forward.
What is the difficult situation you’re facing in your life or someone close to you is facing? As you are crying out to God, seeking to believe God for a miracle, listen to see what God is speaking to you. Perhaps it’s time to keep on praying. Or possibly it’s time to hear God’s encouragement and plan. Or maybe it’s time to take action and follow God’s instructions. Listen to God’s enccouragement and …
Exodus 14:21-22 (ESV) Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Some people have tried to explain this miracle away with various types of natural explanations. But those attempts are futile. No natural wind could blow a path in the midst of a sea, with walls of water on either side and dry ground in the middle. It took faith to walk along that path, with the mist of the water walls blowing. The miracle happened, only when Moses obeyed the Lord, by stretching out his hand over the sea. As this was all happening, the angel of the Lord in a cloud had come between the Egyptian army and Israel, protecting God’s people. But now, that all the Israelites had come through the sea, the final stage of God’s plan would unfold.
Exodus 14:23a, 26 (ESV) The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.”
Moses and the Israelites were on the other shore of the Red Sea. The Egyptians were now racing their chariots into the midst of the sea with walls of water on both side. Moses received further instruction from the Lord to once again stretch his hand over sea.
Exodus 14:28-31 (ESV) The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. … Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.
The walls of water came crashing down and drowned the entire army of Pharaoh, without a single survivor. The victory of the Lord was complete. Not a single Israelite perished and not a single Egyptian soldier survived. What was the effect on the people of Israel? They feared and believed in the Lord. And the stopped grumbling and put their trust in Moses, the servant of the Lord. The people and Moses trusted in a miracle working God.
What type of difficult or hopeless situation are you facing in your life or the life of someone close to you? It could be a health issue, a relationship problem, a financial or job situation and something else. Whatever it is, God has a plan to bring you through. And usually, God’s plan involves a miracle of one kind or another. There are big miracles and small miracles, but every miracle provides the solution for a difficult or hopeless situation. So, your difficult situation is an opportunity to see God work a miracle.
At the right time, God will give you the instructions you need to follow to see your miracle take place. As you obey and believe, God will carry out His plan. Oftentimes, God’s miracles are not the ones we might expect or imagine. But they will be just the right miracle to bring God glory and to help you. Trust in a miracle working God.
I believe we all need God’s miracle working power in our lives. Some of us need bigger miracles and some smaller miracles. We need miracles because we will never be able to carry out God’s plan for our lives in our power. Thus, we need God’s supernatural miracle-working power to follow His plan. Don’t give in to fear or worry at the difficulties you are facing in your life. Listen for God’s encouragement as He shows you His plan. Let this morning’s story build your faith and trust in God’s miracle-working power. Your problem is like the Egyptian army, much to big for you to defeat. But God’s miracle will defeat your problem and keep you on course with His plan for your life. If God can use a miracle to defeat an entire army, He can give you victory in your situation as well.