Christ calls us to live courageously because he is with us.
I. With us in Trauma (13:17-18)
We must live courageously, because Christ is with us in trauma.
Knowing: The Israelites could have made it to the Promised Land in less than two weeks, but God shepherded them patiently, gently, and mercifully by taking them on a different route, because they were a people who had been abused for generations.
Being: This is the same Father you have too if Jesus is your Savior. He holds you accountable for the sinful choices you make, but he also has compassion on you as his image bearer who has been traumatized by the devil, a sinful world system in general, and perhaps evil people in particular.
Doing: No one understands and cares for your trauma as God does, and he will lead you tenderly to the place of your healing if you let him. In what way(s) can you allow God to lead you through very difficult things you have experienced in your past?
II. With us in Death (13:19)
We must live courageously because Jesus is with us in death.
Knowing: Joseph believed God’s promise that he would bring his people to the Promised Land, so he extracted a promise from his family on his deathbed to carry his remains with them so he could be buried with his people in Shechem (Josh. 24:32).
Being: A Christian’s death is not the end of his evangelism and discipleship ministry. Don’t speak negatively of the body God has crafted for you in his image. It is that body God united to Christ and will raise at the last day and place back on this remade Promised Land.
Doing: In what way(s) can you intentionally make preparations for your own death so that your funeral bears witness to the gospel?
III. With us in Front (13:20-22)
We must live courageously, because Christ leads us.
Knowing: The Lord knew that such a traumatized people who had been forbidden to make their own decisions for four centuries needed more intimate assurance and more direct leading. Therefore, God led them personally in the form of a cloud they could see by day which transformed into a pillar of fire they could see and feel by night.
Being: In what ways do you wish God would lead you as clearly as he did the Israelites? Remember Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. He told his disciples it was to their advantage for him to go away, so the Holy Spirit could come and live inside them (Jn. 14:17). The Holy Spirit is with us constantly.
Doing: This is how we find guidance—by living consciously in his presence at all times. By reading God’s word and praying daily, by staying in community with other believers also seeking the Lord, and by being faithful in corporate worship you will do the Lord’s will in the everyday affairs of life and also be ready to make big moves when he does.
IV. With us in Between (14:1-14)
We must live courageously because Jesus is in between us and our enemies.
Knowing: Chapter 14 appears to undercut everything we have observed thus far. God’s next set of instructions seem to indicate he has either lost his mind or has capriciously turned cruel like one of Egypt’s gods. The Israelites find themselves backed up against the sea with Egypt’s army pursuing them.
Being: God explains his strategy—to prove conclusively to the Egyptians he was the one true God. Not only was this essential to prove God’s glory to the Egyptians, it was necessary for the Israelites. They were so panic stricken by the approach of the Egyptians “they rebelled” against Moses (Ps.106:7b) and wanted to return to the familiarity of their captivity in Egypt (14:12). Moses commands the weak-kneed Israelites, “Do not be afraid! Stand firm. . .be still.” God is constructing confidence in a traumatized people by giving them a front row seat to watch him defeat the Egyptians once and for all—they will not lay eyes on Egyptians again.
Doing: What challenges or situations are you facing in your life that you feel inadequate to face? How can you “be silent” and allow the Lord to fight for you in this situation?
For Further Study:
- The book referenced at the beginning of the sermon is called With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God by Skye Jethani
- The catechism referenced in point two of the sermon was the Heidelberg Catechism’s first Lord’s Day question and answer:
- Q: What is your only comfort in life and death?
- A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.