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Lowell Brueckner

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The Red Sea Crisis


    From the series: “The Gospel in Exodus” 

  By Mike Brueckner, our youngest son and 
                    pastor of the Church of Hope in Elk River, Minnesota

Exodus 14

Mike with his guitar
Here is some background to our study today: The people of Israel are finally free. Egypt is behind them, the future looks bright and they are headed in the direction of the Promised Land, where God would have them go. There is no more bondage, no more slavery, and what excitement must have filled their hearts.

Right here, God does something. It says in Exodus 14:4 that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would pursue the Israelites once again. So Pharaoh gathers his men around him and they say to one another, “Why did we let the Israelites go? Let’s go get them back.” This is a military operation; Pharaoh is gathering the army and this is going to be war. Six hundred of their finest chariots are called and captains are driving them. He means business here; they are serious. 

Let God get honor over society’s idols today, as He did in Egypt

God tells Moses in verse 4, “I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” I have said from the beginning of this series that we would hear this phrase again and again… “that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” The Egyptians knew the Lord through His judgments; the Israelites knew that He was the Lord through His salvation, but everybody knew that He was the Lord.  

There are going to be times, as you go through Scripture that you will bump into things that don’t sit very well with you. There will be things that you don’t understand, and I am going to encourage you, when you encounter those things, wrestle with them. Don’t brush them aside or come up with a new idea, about what it might mean in order to fit your theology. Let God be true and everything else a lie. Let God describe Himself to be who He is. We want to take in the whole council of God. Let’s not be picking and choosing. There are some preachers, who choose what people will like to hear. All they wind up doing is feeding the flesh and they make people feel good for a little while, but in the end they are going to have to stand before this same God of the Bible.

The only way that transformation can take place in your life is by taking God for who He is in His word. You have to embrace him, believe him, and trust Him. He knows what He is doing in every situation. Yes, God is love, yes, He is merciful, He is gracious, but Scripture also tells us that God is just, righteous and holy. He is a God of judgment and a God of wrath. The Scripture tells us these things. Don’t dismiss that! By dismissing the truth that we see in Scripture, and by highlighting only those things that are easily acceptable, you end up creating a god in your own mind. This is called idolatry and false worship. It may make you feel good for a time, but it will do nothing transformational in you. It’s the truth that will set you free.

The greatest thing that we can do is humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God saying, “God You are Who You say You are. I’m not aligned with You, but it’s me, who needs to change, not you. You are the same yesterday, today and forever. I repent; I turn from my ways and humbly commit myself to You.” There is good news for the person, who does that, because the Scripture tells us that, whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

God was already getting honor over all the false gods that the Egyptians hoped and trusted in. God said, “I’m far greater than that!” He shows that He is God and He destroyed the wisdom of those things. Now, he is going to do that one final time, and it will be the last time that the Israelites will see the Egyptians.

In light of the culture and the society that we are in today… Do you think God will act differently towards the wickedness that has risen to the level that we see and the acceptance of that wickedness? Do you think God inspired the idea that we are in the 21st Century now, so we should get with the times? Do you not think that God is going to put the honor of His name on display in bringing judgment upon those things? I just want to say a big, emphatic, “Yes, He is going to do that!”

I’m not going to discard all the sickness and even death involved in covid19, but did you know that since January 1st until today, over 12 million babies have been aborted worldwide? Do you think that God is going to turn a blind eye towards those humans, created in His image, being discarded and thrown out under the name of women’s rights or parental choice? Society doesn’t care what God’s choice is. God is going to bring justice and judgment upon it. It’s time to repent and cry out to God for mercy.     

We live in a sexually perverted society today. Sex outside of marriage is embraced and held as something right and good. Concerning homosexuality, bi-sexuality, transgenderism, all of these things, considered abomination in the Word of God, which society now considers normal… Do you think that God is going to turn a blind eye to those things? Absolutely not! He is going to bring down judgment and justice and show everyone that He truly is the Lord. It doesn’t matter what is popular or that most are walking away from God’s ways, thinking that His Word is old-fashioned and doesn’t relate, He is going to prove Himself faithful to His Word. As an individual, what do you need to do today? Are you involved in these things? Then, repent and cry to God for mercy!

Let the accusations begin

Let’s try to put ourselves in the Hebrews shoes, as they leave Egypt and the future looks bright. They are totally excited as they look into the jewelry that they have gleaned from their Egyptian neighbors. Then they see a dust cloud off in the distance and they realize, this is Pharaoh; not only Pharaoh, it’s his army; not just any army, it’s his finest army. They go from relief into instantaneous panic. The Red Sea is in front and Pharaoh’s army is behind. They have nowhere to go.

Leading praise at European missionary conference
 I’m sure Moses recognizes the look on the faces of the people. He has a flashback of the time, when after 40 years in the desert, he came to these people. He delivered the message that God gave him for them and they got excited. Then, Moses and Aaron went to talk to Pharaoh and at this first encounter, Pharaoh made their work harder than ever. The Israelites didn’t like that. They said, “Moses, it would have been better if you had never come. Things are worse, not better. We thought you were here to bring relief.” Really they were making accusations against God, because Moses was simply acting under God’s command. What are they questioning? It’s the goodness of God. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. “Did God really say…? No, no, that’s not good for you.” They succumbed to that temptation. Today, people face a little difficulty through trials in their lives and instantly, the goodness of God is put on trial.

Maybe we bump into something in Scripture and react: “That doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t see this as good, so God must be wrong. It couldn’t be me.” See what they begin to say in chapter 14, verse 10: “When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?” Was there not enough room in the cemetery in Egypt? “Is this not the word that we told you 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 that we should die in the wilderness.”  

Remember they had seen God’s protection and His hand upon them through all the plagues. God continued to be faithful to His word over and over again. Still, when they were faced with adversity, they didn’t believe God. In essence, they were saying, “God hates us. He doesn’t have good in store for us. God is a liar; He brought us out here to kill us.” Does it bother you, when you think of all these words in the context of what God already has done for them? What an audacity to be able in a moment to throw your hands in the air and say, “What a waste everything has been up to this point”!

Let God’s grace be on display in us

How does God respond to this attitude? How would you and I respond? I think I know how I would respond: “It’s time to teach these ungrateful, little self-serving weasels a lesson.” Maybe you would agree and say, “Yeah, that’s what they deserve.” Did you notice, that is not what they get? They get grace. Look at verse 13: “Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid.’” How many times did Jesus say that to His disciples, when they were caused to tremble? Jesus would say, “Don’t be afraid. You’re my people, I’m looking out for you and caring for you. You don’t have to live in fear.”  “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”

You have to be quiet and just do what you are instructed to do. God, Who is always the one doing the work, is going to fight for you. You just need to be still. Does that remind you of Psalm 46: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” That was exactly the work that God was doing. Grace did not tell them, what they deserved to hear. Were they such a great people that they were worthy of His grace? No, God was doing it, because He was great and worthy of honor and glory from all people. I can take you through the Bible and show you a people, who again and again were undeserving and yet, God continued to pour out His grace upon them.

When this grace will be put on display for all eternity, no one will say, “Wow! Look at those amazing people!” No, he will say, “Wow! God is amazing and gracious.” What does grace look like, when it is on display through our lives? It is seen by someone, who knows he deserves bad treatment, but he doesn’t get what he expects. I want to read a story of a man, Afshin Ziafat, a former Muslim. Today, he is a born-again believer in Christ. He tells about moving with his family to the United States from Iran. It was during the time, when Iran was holding a group of Americans hostage. He shared how people would throw rocks through the windows of their house. The tires of their cars would be slashed and people would tell them to go back from where they came. He said that if any American would have tried to give him a Bible, he would have thrown it away.

However, one lady offered her service to the family and offered to teach the young boy English. She would read through books with him and have him read books. At one point, she brought him a New Testament and asked him to promise her that when he was older, he would read it. He took it and threw it somewhere in his room and forgot about it.  Ten years later, he was playing basketball on a high school team and used Jesus’ name as a cussword. A teammate confronted him and said, “Hey! That’s my God that you’re talking about!” Afshin said, “No, that’s your prophet.” But the boy insisted that Jesus was his God. Afshin went home that day, turned on the TV and, in the sovereignty of God, a channel was running a secular documentary about Jesus. It said that some people worship Jesus as a God and they are called Christians. Afshin had never heard this before, but suddenly he remembered the Bible he received ten years earlier. He ran to his room and found the New Testament on the floor of his closet and began to read it. Every day, he would read a little bit, then go and debate against Christians about Islam. However, shortly afterwards, he was invited to a special service and surrendered his life to Christ.

Preaching in Barcelona, Spain
I add this in relation to the power of prayer: There was a group of kids in his high school, who made a pact that they were going to pray together for a year every day for Afshin. Within a year, not only was Afshin born-again, but he attended a Christian camp with these boys. There’s power in prayer. To this day, he points back to the lady, who taught him English as a little boy, and treated his family differently than everyone else. It was a way, in which they didn’t expect to be treated. That’s how the gospel is put on display through our lives.

How about the story of Elizabeth Elliot?... another great example. She returned to the jungles of Ecuador to take the gospel to the same tribe that had murdered her husband and his friends. Years earlier, they had gone to reach this tribe in a remote jungle area, but instead of people receiving the gospel, they pierced them with spears, killing them. Instead of Elizabeth harboring anger and bitterness in her heart towards these people, she saw an opportunity that the Lord gave to her and took her children with her to this tribe to live among them. The grace of God is put on display, treating them differently than they deserved and expected.  Some of the murderers, who had killed these missionaries, bowed their knees to Jesus Christ, and were transformed by the power of the gospel.

Let the Kingdom of God move forward

This is a biblical principle and is so important: God’s kingdom is always moving ahead. Verse 15: “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward,’” With Israel it was a physical move, but there is a spiritual principle that’s found throughout the Bible, and it states that God’s kingdom always moves forward. Let me give you a couple examples: 1) You remember Lot and his family, who were told to flee Sodom and Gomorrah, because the judgment of God was coming upon the place. They were told to leave and look forward and not to look back. Lot’s wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

2) Jesus in Luke 9 talked to three people. One of them said to Him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then Jesus points to another man and says, “Follow me.” He answered, “Let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”  A third guy said, “I will follow you, but let me first go and bid them farewell, who are at my house.” but Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Paul in Philippians said, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” There is a priority that He must have among His people and that is to fulfill His purposes. There is nothing that can trump it or rank higher than the kingdom of God and it is always moving forward. That is why, if anyone is looking back, he is not fit for the kingdom.

God’s mission does not change. Regardless of the circumstances or what else might be taking place, God’s work does not change. Do you think covid19 changes God’s mission? Absolutely not. His mission is our mission, so our mission doesn’t change. What is His mission? It is to make “disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and behold I am with you always even to the end of the age. That is God’s mission. Move forward in this and make it the heartbeat of everything we do.

I’ve heard many conspiracy theories at this time and, to be honest, there may be two or three that are accurate and true. I don’t doubt that there are things happening behind the scenes that we don’t know about, but what do God’s people need to be doing? The enemy will attempt to get our eyes off the mission and on to secondary things. Let us stay true in these times to that, to which God has called us. If we’re running our own show, building the kingdom of self, we need to repent and get on that mission.

When we are faced with obstacles, we’ll get excited to see just how God will fight His battles for us in these situations. God is doing everything in such a way, so that He gets the most glory. That is why the gospel flourishes and spreads under persecution. The obstacles actually push God’s kingdom forward. He gets the glory, because in the hardest of times, His kingdom continues to go forward – in many cases like never before. Then people say, “God you are amazing.”

If you will turn to Matthew, chapter 24:1-14, I want us to look at something and I hope it will be a great encouragement to you, as it is to me. Jesus’ disciples asked Him about the sign of His coming.  First of all, Jesus said that there would be great deception. Jesus, who told them not to fear, again tells His disciples not to be troubled. He doesn’t want them to allow the rumors, which they hear, to shake them and make them fearful. Why? Because they have a new identity in Christ and don’t belong to the world system. They belong to Christ and He takes care of His people. They have a bright future, because they will be with Christ forever.

He is not telling them this, because things are going to get better, but because things are going to get worse. He goes on, not talking now about rumors, but of wars, pestilence, and earthquakes, actually taking place. Then He says that all these things are the beginning of sorrows. Things are going to get still worse. All nations are going to hate them, to the point of killing them, because they are Christians.

He says there’s going to be deception and false prophets will deceive many people. Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, about the coming of the lawless one and what will happen to people, who did not receive a love of the truth, so that they could be saved. These are not true Christians that He is talking about. They think they are, but they have no love for truth. They want their ears tickled and they want to see signs and wonders, but in having no love for the truth, actually they have no love for God. That fact that there are those, who endure to the end, is evidence that God keeps His people through these times of trouble.

Rachel and her kids on Mother's Day
Then in verse 14, he says something that I think is spectacular. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  Things are going to get bad, then they will get worse, but don’t be troubled, this is just the beginning of sorrows. You are going to be hated by all nations; Jesus warned His disciples that as the world hated Him, so they’ll hate you. If they crucified Him, what do you think they will do to you? You are not going to win a popularity contest. You are going against the flow. Be ready and don’t let it surprise you.

We prayed for the unreached people groups in our meeting today. We call them unreached, because they do not have access to the gospel. People in our area are reached. It doesn’t mean they are born-again, but they do have access to the gospel. During all the chaos, this gospel is going to be preached. Either someone will go to them or they will go to someone, who has the gospel, and then the end will come. You know why I get excited about that? Because it means that in the midst of all this trouble, the rumors, wars, famine, pestilence, false prophets, martyrs, and the love of many growing cold, there will be a faithful people, who are not distracted by all the things around them. God is seeing to it that He has a people faithful to Him, focused on Jesus Christ and the mission that He has given them. Then the end will come.

What camp do you want to be in? Do you want to be in the camp that is distracted by all the things going on in the world, or in the camp that is excited about the gospel?  Do you want to be a part of the mission, which does not change, regardless of circumstance, until we reach the end of this age? I want to be a part of that group and I hope you do.

Let the song of the redeemed be sung

You can read this story for yourself, but here is what happens. God tells Moses to stretch out his rod and the sea divides and the water stands up like two walls. The Israelites go down between the walls, through the middle and cross on dry ground. The Egyptians follow them trying to catch them. On the other side, Moses is instructed to stretch out his rod again and the waters come crashing down on the Egyptians. The Israelites begin to see the dead bodies, the captains and all of Pharaoh’s army washing up on shore. What God said He would do, He did. What a great deliverance!

There is a song of the redeemed that comes from this and it is in chapter 15. We’re not going to read it, but it’s amazing to ponder the words. It goes into detail, telling that the Lord cast the horse and rider into the sea. I think that in modern-day song writing, there is something to be learned from this song. We should be singing about other things concerning God that are true. These people are rejoicing. We see in Revelation a worship offering, after His judgments. Absolutely, He is to be worshipped for His love, but He also is to be worshipped for His wrath. He is to be worshipped for His judgment, because it is all true and right. It shows who He is, so let’s worship Him in the fullness of who He is.

This song, speaking of God accomplishing victory, is very similar to Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel, chapter 2, where it states that all the nations have heard of His awesome name. In this song, it stated that they will hear of His works and tremble and be fearful, because of what God had done for His purchased people. It speaks of His eternal reign.

In verse 20:15, “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. It may not set well with many of you, but this was a completely appropriate response to the great deliverance that they experienced. Sometimes we think that an emotional response to something God has done is off the charts and not fitting, but it is. When we truly grasp the greatness of who God is and what He has done, we should be responding in the same way.

 You might say to me,  “Well, yeah, Pastor Mike, if I saw the Red Sea in front and Pharaoh’s army coming up behind me, and all the sudden, Moses lifts up his rod and the waters split, two walls form and we walk through on dry ground. Pharaoh’s army follows us into the sea, but after we all pass, Moses stretches out the rod again, the waters come crashing down on them. We get to see their dead bodies on the shore and realize the enemy has been defeated finally. Yeah, I might dance and sing a song, too.” But let me ask you today… Is your salvation any less a miracle? Think about this: The waves of God’s wrath were upon you, a sinner, and Jesus stepped in and absorbed it all in your place. He did it so that you can have eternal life.

Rachel, Emily Elayna, Jaykin, Erica, Mike
A contemporary singer said, “Christians are always on the other side of the Red Sea and therefore always have a song to sing.” It is appropriate to be overwhelmed with whom God is and what He has done to redeem your life. You should be moved to an emotional, heartfelt response, to glorify His awesome name. It wouldn’t be foolish to do that; it would mean that you are actually grasping more and more of the greatness of God. You see your salvation as nothing short of a miracle and you will enjoy God forever. Rejoice in the reality of who God is and what He has accomplished.   


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