Text: Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward -- Exodus 14:15
Proposition: In the story of Israel and their progress to Canaan we find an example for the believer in his journey to heaven, and in this particular interaction between Moses and God we see that there is a time to pray, and there is a time to act!
Introduction: God's word always urges the Christian to look upward and to move forward! God's program is one of victory, not of surrender! God's people are to be soldiers in battle, not spectators on the side lines! We are to be engaging the enemy, not indulging our ego! We are to be gaining ground, not losing it! Advancing, not retreating!
Christianity is not a spectator sport, but a life of active participation. Victory is promised the believer, but he must slay the enemy to win the battle.
There were many instances when the children of Israel complained of the hardships that they had to face but they had to learn that it was their effort empowered by the God that was with them that would secure their victories along the way, and bring them into their promised inheritance.
In a very sketchy form, let's set down four points derived from this passage these points are also totally applicable to the life of the Christian who must also fight many battles on his or her way to eternity.
1. The children of God must go forward: Verse 10 contains this message: quit crying to the Lord and go forward. There is a time when prayer alone is out of season! So be careful not to substitute prayer for faith. Equally, beware of substituting prayer for action.
Combined with verses 11-15 we too can hear God saying: quit crying about the past, go forward!
2. The children of God are under command to go forward: Verse 3 reveals that there is no option other than going forward!
Imagine the faith and trust that this required faith and trust in God and their leader Moses: ahead of them was nothing but the Red Sea. There is no way out for this company: go forward!
3. God's people have a promise and must go forward: Even though presently they have to face battles, the promise to them includes God's best, therefore they must go forward, forward into the land of Canaan. Charles H. Spurgeon wrote: The Holy Spirit works in us not to be idle and powerless, but to WILL and to DO! Someone else reminds us of the fact that some people never WILL or DO, they just WON'T and DON'T!
God's people have a promise to inherit, but they must go forward! Forward into trials forward into testings this is the only way to gain and enjoy victory.
4. God's people have a mission and must go forward: There are enemies to be conquered God's people must go forward.
There is one important difference in the nature of the enemies that Christians are facing and that of the Israelites. The Israelites had literal people and nations to conquer, while the Christian is up against enemies like laziness, negligence and lack of vision, to name a few.
There are also victories to be won, therefore God's people must forward. Again, for the Christian the victories consist of overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil this from the personal as well as corporate perspective. The Christian is also to be conquering hearts of men and women and bringing them into the love of Christ.
Conclusion: How did it turn out for the children of Israel? Well those who trusted the Lord ended up inheriting the promise those who rebelled against God never did.
Each one of us those who are the genuine children of God we must take our lesson from this passage and the experience of the Israelites, that even though we are commanded to pray without ceasing, yet our prayer life must not end there, but our prayer must be that which opens the doors for effective living and ministering.
("From the Pulpit" is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)