Introduction: Sometimes life gets discouraging. This past week I
argued an important religious liberty case. The judge did not want to
hear the argument that I had taken many hours to prepare. Instead, he
wanted me to give “yes/no” answers to a series of questions that
could only be harmful to my client. Worse, they involved potential
defenses of the opposing party which it had never raised – and, in my
opinion, were not properly a part of the case. Many people had been
praying for me in this argument – and I considered it to be a
disaster. Why is it that you do the right thing and disaster comes?
Let’s dive into the Bible and consider a story that illustrates this

  1. Taking the Wrong Turn?

    1. You recall that God’s people were in slavery in Egypt for
      hundreds of years. God, working through Moses and Aaron,
      forces the Egyptian Pharaoh to free God’s people. Let’s
      pick up the story by reading Exodus 13:17-18. What did
      God’s people expect? (They expected that they might have
      to fight before they reached the promised land. They were
      armed for battle.)

      1. What did God expect? (He expected that His people
        might change their mind if they faced armed
        resistance. Thus, God seemed to adopt the strategy of
        avoiding battles.)

    2. Read Exodus 13:20-22. What gave the people confidence they
      were going in the correct direction?

      1. Do you wish that God would be as clear in His leading
        in your life?

    3. Read Exodus 14:5-9. God’s people were ready for battle.
      Were they prepared to battle a force of this size and
      military sophistication?

      1. Does it seem odd to you that God would say that He
        was leading them to avoid war, and then allow the
        Egyptians to catch up with His people as they tried
        to escape?

    4. Read Exodus 14:10-12. Was God right in His prediction of
      how the people would react?

      1. Put yourself in the place of God’s people. They have
        been following God’s directions. God knew they could
        not stand against the Egyptians. Why did God allow
        this frightening thing to happen? Why did God allow
        them to think they would die?

      2. Read Exodus 14:13-14. Is this an answer to why God
        would allow this when He knew they were not up for
        the fight?

        1. Is this same answer applicable to us in our
          discouraging circumstances?

      1. Is this the entire answer to our question about why
        God would allow this – that the people needed to
        learn to trust God and let Him handle their battles?
        (Read Exodus 14:1-4 and Exodus 14:15-18. The main
        answer is that this difficult and frightening
        situation would give glory to God.)

        1. Consider this a moment: how many of your
          difficult and discouraging situations involve an
          attack on “your glory?” Not God’s glory, but
          your glory?

        2. Are you comfortable with any resolution of a
          problem which brings glory to God?

          1. What if God’s glory seems to come at the
            expense of you or your family?

    1. Let’s re-read Exodus 14:13-14. If your primary goal in
      life is to bring glory to God, how would that affect your
      fear? How would it affect your discouragement? (Our
      attitude makes all the difference. If we know the goal of
      our life, and of every situation, is to bring glory to
      God, then we can feel comfortable with the outcome.
      Especially, in this situation we see that God promises
      them protection without having to fight!)

      1. Is God’s willingness to fight, while His people
        “stand firm” and watch, a situation that applies only
        here? Or, does it apply to all of our problems in
        life? (This is the great thing about “God’s glory.”
        If it is God’s glory which is at stake, and not your
        glory, then God is going to undertake the battle to
        protect His glory. If you would quit worrying about
        your glory, and let God fight the battle for His
        glory, your “nerves” would be a lot better. Your life
        would be more peaceful.)

  1. The Spectators of Faith

    1. Read Exodus 14:19-20. What parallel do you see for the
      solution to your current problems? (If we want to know
      God, He will give light for daily living. If we are
      hostile to God, we stay in darkness. The result is
      “neither went near the other.” You are way ahead of the
      bad guys.)

    2. Read Exodus 14:21-22. In my new home, the main freeway
      dips into a tunnel under a huge waterway. One moment you
      are looking at the surface of the water, the next you are
      below the surface of the water. This tunnel is often
      jammed with traffic. When I was talking to a local person
      about this, she suggested that motorists were nervous
      about making “the plunge” below the surface of the water.
      What kind of feelings would you have if you were looking
      at a towering wall of water on each side of you?

      1. I painted a picture of God’s people as spectators to
        this fight. Is that a fair picture? (Only as to the
        fight. They are required to “move forward.” They are
        required to exercise faith in God.)

      2. Is our faith experience like theirs – that if we
        don’t move forward, we can look forward to being
        captured by “the bad guys?”

        1. Should that equation be part of every faith

    3. Read Exodus 14:23-25. Who do the Egyptians credit for
      their problems?

      1. Should we pray that our enemies will be “confused”
        and have the “wheels fall off” their endeavors?

    4. Read Exodus 14:26-28. The Egyptians are now “believers”
      ( Exodus 14:25). Why drown them? (Barnes’ Notes points out
      that in every Egyptian monument Pharaoh is depicted as
      leading the army. He also points out that Psalms 136:15
      says that Pharaoh died with his army. The total
      destruction of Pharaoh and the army meant that God’s
      people would not be threatened by the power of Egypt in
      their journey to Canaan.)

      1. What does this suggest about the deliverance that God
        will ultimately bring to His people? (The wicked,
        even those who believe in God, will be totally and
        permanently destroyed.)

    5. Read Exodus 14:29-31. What made the difference between
      these verses and Exodus 14:10-12?

      1. What does this suggest is the reason for difficulties
        and discouraging times in your life? (When you see
        God’s deliverance, it strengthens your faith and
        trust in Him!)

    6. Friend, in every problem, every discouraging event, we
      have the opportunity to place our faith in God and let Him
      fight the battle for His glory. If the battle is for our
      glory, we have picked the wrong battle! When the goal of
      our life is to promote the glory of God, then a sense of
      peace and confidence comes into our life knowing that God
      is “on the point” in the battle. Our job is to simply
      follow Him.

  2. Next week: Seeing the Goldsmith’s Face.