Introduction: Tonight’s sermon is a look ahead to our study in our Exodus Bible class.
• Exodus 14:10-12 – And 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? 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 than that we should die in the wilderness.”
How would you characterize the reasoning and conclusions of the Israelites? Do they have a legitimate complaint against Moses or God? Have they legitimately evaluated their situation?
Do these folks not know that God is freeing them and their future children from slavery? How could they think it would be better for them to return to Egypt?
But lest we prove too condemnatory to these newly freed slaves, let us look to ourselves. We may also be overwhelmed at the difficulties associated with our freedom.
In Acts 24:25 Paul reasoned with Felix about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, and Felix was afraid, but put off the difficult work of repentance for a more convenient time.” True repentance is never convenient. For many, Satan is able to convince them that the good news is not good enough.
This event from Israel’s past gives us some insight into the foolish reasoning that sin leads us towards.
I. Resisting Our Deliverance – “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt” – The people relate to Moses that they had always been opposed to their deliverance. Although this is clearly an exaggeration, they did not initially welcome Moses’ efforts.
A. Moses anticipated that they would doubt his authority, Exodus 4:1 “Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.'”
B. When Moses’ intervention seemed to be making life harder for Israel, they resented it – Exodus 5:20-21 “Then as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. 21 And they said to them, “Let the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
C. The verses in chapter 14 depict their attitude when they seemed to be trapped at the Red Sea. Despite the miracles of the plagues and God’s power exhibited in their exodus, they still complained and wished they had been left alone.
II. Deliverance from Sin Brings Difficulty: Just as being led out of Egypt was not without hardship for Israel, so being rescued from sin is not without hardship for us. The journey out of sin is a test of faith.
A. Often the curse seems harder than the disease. So the change that repentance requires proves painful. Consider the Hebrew writer’s assessment of God’s discipline: Heb 12:4-11 – You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
1. Sometimes a new set of values and principles involve us in “trouble” that we did not have before — we may suffer “as a Christian”. 1 Peter 4:12-16 “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief; an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”
B. The path of repentance becomes a test of our true desire to be free. How much do we want to be pleasing to God? We may see ourselves as good enough the way we are, and Satan will certainly tempt us to resent God’s discipline.
1. Consider Peter’s statement in I Peter 4:18 “Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”–
a. “scarcely saved” does not indicate that those who are saved are just barely saved (by the skin of their teeth).
b. The 20th Century New Testament translates it as “saved only with difficulty“. This difficulty is ours, not God’s. There can be no salvation apart from suffering. Some of that suffering is the direct result of God’s call for repentance.
III. Do We Really Want to be Left Alone in Sin? This is foolish thinking.
A. Prior to the Civil War, not every slave would risk the perils of the Underground Railroad to gain his freedom. There was seeming safety in remaining a slave. Those who lacked the courage, missed out on the freedom. The Israelites were called upon to trust God’s provision – take the risk.
B. Our attitude may be judged by how approachable we are about sin in our lives. Are you resistant toward those who would point it out? James 3:17 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. (KJV – “easily entreated”)
1. What is our attitude toward those who try to influence us for good?
• Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
• Galatians 4:16 “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”
2. Is there any sacrifice we would not make to reach heaven?
3. Some would rather be lost than endure what it would take to be saved. They are tempted to return to their former place where they assume they are “safe.”
• Matt 19:21-22 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. These may be some of the saddest words in all of the N.T.
4. Nothing can be done to force such individuals to be saved — God will not rescue any person against his will –Matthew 23:37 37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”
IV. Our Deliverance is Worth the Cost – first recognize that our deliverance from sin cost God more than we can ever calculate. He though we were worth the cost.
A. But from our standpoint nothing could be more foolish than to insist on being let alone in sin. We underestimate the difficulty of servitude to sin — Proverbs 13:15 – 15 Good understanding gains favor, But the way of the unfaithful is hard. The word for hard here means uncultivated, as soil that has not been turned. The farmer works twice as hard to plant a seed. Have you seen this in the lives of others? They struggle because of their unwillingness to be obedient to God.
1. Being saved from sin may involve hardship, but have we considered the alternative? We need to “count the cost” of discipleship. (Lk. 14:27-30). But the cost of not being a disciple needs to be counted too!
2. However hard it may be to fix the problem of sin, it is still an easier problem to fix than to live with. The truth is, Israel had it exactly backwards: dying in the wilderness (if it actually came to that) as a free person in the grace of God, would have been better than serving the Egyptians as slaves.
• John 8:32-36 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. “
3. The sinner needs to see Hell as it is described in the words of Jesus.
• Matt 10:28 – 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
• Matt 13:41-42 – 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
• Mark 9:43-48 – 43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched — 44 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’*45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched — 46 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’* 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire — 48 where ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.’*
4. The Israelites certainly did not have an accurate assessment of what God was offering them. The persistent sinner rarely does.
• Rom 6:20-23 – For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
• Rom 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Conclusion: Israel’s attitude at the Red Sea was rebellion: Psalms 106:7-8 – 7 Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, But rebelled by the sea — the Red Sea. 8 Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known.
A. I am impressed with the patience of Moses. He must have been tempted to resent their attitude and want to lash out at their ungratefulness. How does God feel toward us when we decide that repentance is too hard, and what He offers is not worth the pain?
1. We need to be prepared to deal patiently and gently with those seem content to live in sin –
• 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. Ultimately, we may have to turn away from them, but we need to be able to say we have dealt “in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1, 2).
B. When the people of Israel said they wished he had let them alone in Egypt, Moses’ response was: “Do not be afraid Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13, 14). We need to show to others our willingness to suffer in order to be saved. God then orders them to “go forward”. They had to trust God for the courage and power to live as free people. – I Peter 4:19 “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.