Israel is being led out of Egypt. They are following their earthly ministers: Moses, Aaron and the elders. They are also following the smoking cloud by day and the fiery cloud by night. (Ex. 13:21-22) Additionally, they are being personally guided by the Angel of the Lord. (Ex. 14:19) Ultimately, the LORD is at the helm; he is going on before them; he is the one choosing to lead them down the road less taken. (Ex. 3:17-18, 21). And where does the Good Shepherd lead his beloved flock? Intentionally, he commands them to “turn back” or “return” to the Red Sea and encamp facing the water. (Ex. 14:1-2) To an outside observer, such divine guidance seems odd and unnecessary. Later, as Pharaoh and his army are seen advancing over the horizon, such divine guidance will seem foolish, irresponsible, harsh, and disastrous. However, God is not without his purposes. He wishes to “get glory over Pharaoh.” (Ex. 14:4, 17) He desires to make his name known to the nations. (Ex. 14:4, 18) He is in the process on encouraging his church by flexing his mighty arm, fighting for them on their behalf, and encouraging their faith, reverential awe, and songs of praise. (Ex. 14:13-14: 14:31; 15)
Christian friend, are you one who has followed Christ and his ministers, and now find yourself between a rock and a hard place? Have you committed your way unto the Lord, and now it looks as if you are about to perish? Is Satan hot on your trail? Are former temptations and sinful habits calling your name? As you seek to walk in holiness, are ungodly companions making life difficult? Have you sought to honor God in your financial and business dealings, and yet your business is about to go under? Are you seeking to build a godly church, but external, visible success is evading you? Did you seek to honor God with your body, but cancer, arthritis or some other disease is eating you alive? Did you seek to honor God with your marriage, but now you find yourself currently betrayed or abandoned? Did you and your spouse seek to honor God with your family, but your children are presently dancing with the devil? What are you to do when you have followed God’s preachers, God’s elders, God’s revelation, and God’s Holy Spirit, and Satan is on the horizon, ready to take you down?
First, do not second-guess the road you have taken. God orders the number of a man’s days, the decisions of men, the luck of the draw, the steps of men, and the places where men dwell. And in God’s good plan and providence, he never promises believers a yellow-brick-road experience that bypasses all peril. So, perhaps you remember taking the road less taken. Or, perhaps you recall following the advice of mentors and going with the flow. Wherever you are, God has sovereignly overseen your journey. It may be that your righteous obedience has placed you in harm’s way. (i.e. David, Disciples) Or it may be your sin or someone else’s sin has led to your current predicament. (i.e. Joseph, Esther) Whatever lies behind you, Jesus Christ has led you all the way. Therefore, do not second-guess God or self. Additionally, there is little need to consistently mourn over past decisions or transgressions. Repentance is good, but you cannot dwell in the past forever. Also, cease wondering whether or not you missed the fork in the road or stepped out of the perfect will of God. Do not second-guess the road you have taken, for this will not help you in your present day of trouble.
Second, do not seek to figure out the mysterious future purposes of God. You can spend much time trying to figure God out. You can also spend many words telling others exactly what God is saying and doing, but most often you will be incorrect in interpreting the secret purposes of the Savior. You just don’t know exactly what God has in store for you, regardless of how much you name and proclaim your healing and deliverance. Perhaps God’s design is for you to be killed and wake up in glory. (i.e. Job’s family, Stephen) Or perhaps, God’s design is to part the Red Sea and provide a miraculous earthly victory. However, just as you cannot figure out the past, you cannot predict the future.
Third, do not grumble or complain, but worship. (Ex. 14:11-12) Understand that God is placing you in the position of harm so that he might get glory over Satan, make known his name to the nations, and improve his church. Remember that you are God’s creature, and he can do with you whatsoever he desires. The pottery cannot look at the potter and interrogate him. Additionally, if you are a Christian, you should surely rejoice, for God’s glory is your stated aim, desire, and reason for existence. So do not suffer as the world does. Do not accuse God of forsaking you. Do not blame your fathers, elders and ministers for getting you to this point in life. Do not look back and lust for the false peace of the world. Do not waste your suffering! Instead, worship well; work with God in giving glory to God.
And if you do so, I promise you will end up singing. For, if he takes your life and takes you home to glory, there you will sing with the saints and angels. Or, if he parts the Red Sea and drowns your foes, then too you will sing of God’s earthly blessings. God intentionally leads his people into the valley of the shadow death or the shore of the Red Sea, then he intentionally leads them in victorious worship. Sometimes this worship is proclaimed in song while on this earth, For sure it will be heard in paradise where Satan is finally humiliated, the nations are gathered, and God’s church is eternally improved.