Tell the People of Israel to GO FORWARD!

Tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD! Exod.14:15

This statement was God's command to Moses when he cried to God over the grave danger the Israelite nation was in. They had left Egypt after seeing the mighty and terrible works of the Lord in that land, but Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he would not give up. He pursued them, and "cornered" them: before Israel was the Red Sea, and behind were the armies and chariots of Pharaoh. It seemed like a hopeless situation. The response of the children of Israel was to grumble at Moses and at God; Moses' response was to call upon the God that called him. And God's response was nothing short of revolutionary:

concerning people who were in a hopeless situation, paralyzed with fear, in terror and dread of their enemies, and with death staring them in the face, Jehovah said to Moses: Tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD!

A cursory glance at our times shows the Church in a similar situation as the Israelites were. There is a Red Sea in front of us and the rampaging armies of terrorists behind us. On one side you have a gloomy economy and financial crises, and the other side, the many personal problems and challenges of God's people. It seems a perfect time to stand still, do nothing and just "ride out" the storm. Survival would sound like a great testimony at a time like this but the Spirit of God is saying something quite different: Tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD!    

The reason God can talk like this is because He is God. Once upon a time there was no Red Sea; the Lord made it, and rules over it! He already had a plan for the rampaging armies and chariots of Pharaoh: to drown them in the Red Sea, and to make a great name for Himself! The Egyptians whom the Israelites had seen that day, they would see no more forever! God also has a plan for the strange armies that are after His people and purpose in our generation. They rage in vain; their fingers cannot perform their enterprise, and their lies shall not be so. Amen. 

I feel the Lord saying the same thing to us: Tell the people of Israel to GO FORWARD! This is no time to retreat, to lick our wounds, to hide in our corners, and hope that we survive the events going on in our nation and the world. This is a time for greater exploits. Neither Pharaoh and his armies nor the Red Sea has the capacity to stop the march of a God-given vision. The Great Commission never presupposed that there would be no conflicts. Eternity is nearer now than when God commanded us to "Go stamp eternity in the hearts of My people, cause them to live with eternity in view." The return of the Bridegroom is far closer now than when He told us to "Raise up the Midnight Cry, and get ready for the Lord people that are prepared for His coming." And there remains very much land to be possessed.

 

God's kingdom vision remains the same, and must burn in our hearts with greater intensity as we see the day of the Lord's return approaching. He has not withdrawn His command to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations simply because the nations are shaking and terrorists raging. Courage must rise with danger. And above all, we must find the right strategies to continue to do what the Lord called us to do, while trusting Him to preserve our lives and families, and supply all we need to do His will. The very practical steps below should help:

 

       I.            As has been the case through the ages, the kingdom of God advances in the midst of conflict, for the simple reason that the devil and his agents will not simply surrender territory without a fight. To pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done!" in a territory called earth, where the devil already has his kingdom in place, is nothing short of a declaration of war. What we are witnessing is a clash of kingdoms, but we are the heirs of an unshakable kingdom (Heb.12:26-28), and we must be people of understanding, and not be confused like the rest. We ought to know what is going on as we watch the world.

    II.            We must not call it what they call it (See Isa.8:9-14). We must not carelessly repeat what we hear from others, or echo what is floating around in the environment. Be careful who (and what) you are listening to. We must attend to the written Word of God, and listen to His Holy Spirit, and hear what He has to say about the events happening all around us, and receive His direction on a moment by moment basis.

 III.            We must allow the peace of God to reign in our hearts; our times are in God's hands, not the hands of men or devils, and nobody can take us out of this earth without our Father's permission. As George Whitfield used to say, "We are immortal until our work is done." Who is it that says and it comes to pass when our Father has not commanded it? Phi.4:6-8; Jn.14:1-2; Psa.31:15

 IV.            We must be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. Jesus sends us as sheep in the midst of wolves! (Matt.10:16). A sheep in the midst of wolves is in constant mortal danger and cannot behave as a sheep in the midst of sheep. We must be watchful and not expose ourselves unnecessarily, nor involve ourselves in things that have no bearing on our assignment.

    V.            We must seek wisdom from God, and the divine strategies by which we can still advance His kingdom, despite all that is going on. He who observes the wind will not sow, meaning that the current winds of adversity and persecution should not stop us from sowing the seed of God's Word in the nations. However, we must ask, IS THERE SOMETHING WE CAN DO DIFFERENTLY? Is there another way of accomplishing our objectives without making a lot of noise and attracting unnecessary attention to ourselves?

 VI.            We must be bold, choosing to walk in faith rather than in fear. It took boldness for the children of Israel to leave Egypt. Note this testimony of Scripture: "The Israelites set out from Rameses… the day after the Passover. They marched out boldly in full view of all the Egyptians, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them; for the LORD had brought judgment on their gods." Num.33:3-4 NIV. One version said they went forth "defiantly". Even after God had executed the ultimate plague on Egypt, it required boldness for Israel to walk out on Egyptians doing funerals for their dead sons! Imagine the provocation – of slaves of 400 years not helping their former masters and ex-slave drivers to dig graves, or to mourn their loss with them! It also required boldness to step into the midst of the Red Sea after God divided the waters. What if the waters came crashing back? According to Hebrews 11:29, it was by faith that they passed through the Red Sea!

The Promised Land belongs to the bold and courageous. According to 1 Corinthians 5:7, Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, but like the Israelites, "the day after the Passover", we must step out boldly to lay claim to all that the Lord Jesus has purchased for us, and receive the full benefits of redemption for ourselves and others. Satan's master strategy is to paralyze God's people with fear (this is the principal goal of global terrorism). But "God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control." 2Tim.1:7 Amp.

VII.            We must pray like never before. Our help is in the Name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. Our God holds time and eternity in His omnipotent hands; the nations are like nothing before Him, and He laughs at their rage against His kingdom and truth. As the early church did, we must call upon the Lord – for boldness to declare His truth, for His signs and wonders confirming His Word and confounding the heathen, for protection/preservation, for His provisions. We must ask God to show Himself mightier than His adversaries in their areas of assumed expertise: as Jethro told Moses (Exod.18:11 Amplified), "Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods. Yes, in the [very] thing in which they dealt proudly [He showed Himself infinitely superior to all their gods]." Our prayers must be kingdom focused, not self-seeking. We must pray persistently, earnestly, desperately. If the Lord does not help us, from where can anyone else help us? (2Kgs.6:27). We must pray until the purposes of God are birthed in the nations, until the earth is full of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

VIII.            Next, we must each do our part. There is a specific responsibility the Lord has given you that you must fulfill. As was said to Archippus, see to it that you fulfill the ministry, the task, the responsibility that the Lord has particularly assigned to you (Col.4:17). What is your responsibility in the Body of Christ? If you don't know, seek the Lord until He burns His vision for your life into your heart, then run with that vision. It will be your legacy, the blessing you will bequeath to generations. The Body grows as every part functions properly, contributing its part (Eph.4:16). A vision prospers when each member of the team is bringing his/her unique contribution – in abundance, and zealously – to the entire work. Otherwise there can be no progress. Things must not spoil from your side; God's purpose must not suffer in your hands.

 IX.            Finally, we must take action – both personal and collective. We must do what we can do, and then watch God do what we cannot do. We must preach the Word and do everything to network with, and support others preaching it. We must reach out: we cannot hoard the bread of life in a famishing generation. We must give, fast, share with the brethren, commit righteousness, oppose injustice, speak up, be willing to be persecuted for righteousness sake, refuse to participate in evil. We cannot afford to behave as if we don't know anything while the devil and his crowd hold our nation and the world to ransom. We must act. "The people who know their God shall prove themselves strong and shall stand firm and do exploits [for God], Dan.11:32b, Amplified. According to the New American Standard Bible, "the people who know their God will display strength and take action."

    X.            The consequence of hearkening to the voice of the Lord was that Israel went forward. Set your face: you will go forward – in a multidimensional way. As you listen to the Spirit of the Lord, you will move forward in every area of life. Red Seas will give way as God makes a way where there seems to be no way. Things that seemed ready to destroy us will be downed and drowned by the power of God. The work He has committed to our hands will go forward and prosper. He will give the increase as we plant and water. God will send us help from His sanctuary. Weeping may endure for a night but joy will come in the morning. The eternal Jehovah will turn the table against the adversaries of His purpose, and of His people.

May the Lord who loved us and gave Himself for us bless you, and sustain you, and use you to fulfill His purpose on the earth. May your life contribute maximally to the Cause of Christ. And when time gives way to eternity, may we all hear, "Well come!" and "Well done!" from the one Source that matters most – the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Amen and Amen.