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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Moses - Part 4

MOSES
(Exodus 14:10-31)
                                                        
1.      This will be our fourth and final session on the life of Moses.  To this point we have explored:
·         The unusual circumstances of his birth and being reared in the court of the Egyptian Pharaoh in Exodus 1-2a
·         His early years, including his killing of an Egyptian slave master, fleeing to the land of Midian, rescuing the daughters of Jethro (also known as Reuel – Ex.2:18), the priest of Midian, and his eventually marrying one of those daughters, Zipporah. (Exodus 2b)
·         His encounter with God in the burning bush, his call to lead the Israelites from Egypt, and his initial hesitancy to accept that mission (Exodus 3-4)
In Exodus 5 Moses and his brother, Aaron, go to the Pharaoh asking for the release of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt.  The Pharaoh refuses, and an epic battle between Pharaoh and God occurs.  Through the course of this conflict, God sends a series on 9 plagues upon Egypt with increasing severity to convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt:
1)      Water is turned to blook (Ex.7)
2)      A swarm of frogs (Ex.8)
3)      A swarm of gnats (Ex. 8)
4)      Death of Egyptian livestock (Ex. 9)
5)      A plague of boils (Ex. 9)
6)      A severe hailstorm (Ex. 9)
7)      A plague of locusts (Ex. 10)
8)      Darkness over the land (Ex. 10)
9)      Death of the firstborn (Ex. 11)
The evening of the last plague God gave the Israelites specific instructions on how to avoid the death angel (Ex. 12:21-32) and these instructions became the basis of the annual Passover celebration.
2.      When the death angel moved across Egypt, taking the first-born of every unprotected family, the Pharaoh decided to let the Hebrews leave Egypt and go back to the land of Canaan.  However, after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind, assembled a great army and began to pursue the Israelites.  I want us to pick up the story in Exodus 14:10-16.
3.      The crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites is the greatest miracle in the OT.  It is the event by which all other OT miracles are measured.  Bible scholars point out that this miracle occupies in the OT a similar place to the resurrection of Jesus in the NT. 
4.      The danger we face when dealing with this event is tend get bogged down in trying to figure out exactly where event took place (some texts say Red Sea and others say Sea of Reeds) and exactly how God did it.  Much has been written about such things as tides and winds in an attempt to explain how the miracle took place.  And while it may be interesting to speculate about such things, to place our focus there can cause us to miss the main lesson of this event for our lives today. 
5.      Oscar Eliason was a Swedish-American Assemblies of God pastor/evangelist who wrote about 50 hymns.  His most famous lyrics are the words to the chorus:
Got any rivers you think are uncrossable
Got any mountains you can't tunnel through
God specializes in things thought impossible
He does the things others cannot do.
In our lives there are times when we come to an obstacle, a barrier which we may think is insurmountable.  We may face some situation from which we can see no way out, and we may feel as trapped as the Israelites felt between the powerful Egyptian army and the sea.  What kind of faith does it take to see us through times like that in our lives?  That's what we can learn from this event in the life of Moses.
T.S. – There is a clear contrast in this passage between faith of the Israelites which crumbled in the face of an obstacle and the faith of Moses which overcame the obstacle.  From this event, I want point out to you couple of things about faith that overcomes obstacles.

I.Faith that overcomes obstacles looks forward in confidence not around in fear
1.   It's clear from Exodus 14 that the Israelites and Moses saw the situation through different eyes...
2.   V.10 says that when the Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians coming after them they became paralyzed with fear ...they expressed that fear in two ways...
·         First, last part of v.10 says they "cried out to the Lord"...while on surface would appear to be admirable thing to do, obvious from the verses that follow their's was not a cry of faith and hope...it was a cry of complaint and despair...
·         Second, they attacked their leader...in effect they said it was Moses' fault they were all about to die...
      Isn’t it amazing how quickly they forgot how God had delivered them from Egypt...how God had sent plague after plague on the land...and how God had protected them from the death angel...(there's whole sermon in that one thought...aren't we often just like the Israelites?...don't we often forget in the face of some obstacle or difficulty or disappointment or crisis how God has been faithful to us and cared for us in days gone by?)
3.   Moses saw things completely differently...instead of looking back at the Egyptians, he looked forward to the deliverance of God...in v. 13 he told the Israelites to stop being afraid and to stand back and see what God was going to do...now those were statements of faith because when Moses spoke those words God had not yet revealed to Him how he was going to deliver the Israelites from the Egyptians...
4.   And then in v.15 God gave Moses significant command...said, "Tell the sons of Israel to go forward."...and as they did the sea opened up providing them a way of escape...

1.   Important lesson in that for us...the way to overcome obstacles is not to stop and fret about the obstacle or to look back to past times when we didn't face the obstacle...the way to overcome obstacles is to keep moving forward in faith doing what God wants us to do...
2.   I remembering reading or hearing somewhere that the Australian coat of arms has two animals on it -- an emu and a kangaroo...these animals were selected for the coat of arms not merely because they are indigenous to Australia but because they have a common characteristic...neither of them can move backward...if an emu with its large, three toed feet tries to back up, it falls over...and the kangaroo is kept from going backward by its large tail...as a result, they were chosen to portray the spirit of Australia -- only going forward...
3.   And that should be the spirit of God's people as well...our goal, our task as Christians is to become more like Jesus each day...we should be moving toward Christlikeness...and if we keep that goal in sight and keep moving toward it, then every obstacle, barrier, set-back can be viewed as nothing more than stepping stones to move us toward the goal...
4.   Faith that overcomes obstacles looks forward in confidence not around in fear...

II.Faith that overcomes obstacles grows out of intimate relationship with God
1.   The basic difference between the Israelites who panicked in the face of an obstacle and Moses who led them to overcome the obstacle was in their relationship with God...the Israelites looked at the situation from a human viewpoint only...humanly speaking, there was no logical way out...on one side there was the sea and on the other side there was the powerful Egyptian army...Moses viewed the situation from the standpoint of God ...made all the difference in the world in what he saw...as one writer put it:  "The great difference between faith and unbelief is that one brings in God, the other shuts Him out.  With God all things are possible.  Bring in God and supernatural displays of power are to be expected ... Unbelief creates or magnifies difficulties ... and prevents us from seeing God's salvation ... Faith, on the contrary, raises the soul above the difficulty, straight to God Himself, and enables one to stand..." [Pink, p.107 & p.110]
2.   It's important to understand that Moses didn't wait until he was faced with some obstacle to develop his relationship with God.
·         For years he had been walking with God...
·         For years his life had been characterized by obedience to God, however reluctant that obedience sometime was...
·         For years he had lived in intimate fellowship with God…
And when the moment of crisis came, the most natural thing in world for Moses to do was draw strength and direction from God...

1.      William Barclay writes that Napoleon had a rather unusual ritual he would go through on the eve of a major battle...he would stand in his tent alone and one by one he would summon his commanders to come to him...as each commander would enter the tent, without speaking Napoleon would look him in the eyes and shake his hand...and without a word being spoken the officer would leave the tent full of courage and prepared to die for the general he loved...[Barclay, p.181]

1.   And the more time we spend in face to face communion with God...the more time we spend in deepening our relationship with God...the more time we spend in prayer and Bible study and in fellowship with God's people,  the more we will develop the kind of faith that overcomes obstacles...
2.   One person said it well when he wrote:  "Moses had the faith he had because he knew God in the way he did.  When we come to any task straight from the presence of God, no task can ever defeat us ... The secret of victorious living is to face God before we face [obstacles]." [Barclay, p.181]

                                           CONCLUSION
1.   Remember the question of songwriter Oscar Eliason?..."Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?  Got any mountains you can't tunnel through?"...if you don't now, can be sure the day will  come in your life when you do...

2.   And when that day comes, drawing from your relationship with God and moving forward with confidence will help see you through...that's the kind of faith that overcomes obstacles...