Sometimes, when a person makes a major purchase, like buying a new car or a new house they come down with a phenomenon known as “buyer’s remorse.” Buyers remorse happens when you second guess that decision. Yes, you like that new car and all. You could think about how wonderful it would be when you drive it down the highway. But when that first car payment comes due and you see how much of your paycheck goes out every month… and will continue to go out for the next 4 or 5 or 6 years, you can have buyer’s remorse. It can be even worse when you realize that that dream house you’ve always wanted requires 1/4 of your paycheck every month and will for the next 30 years. Yikes! Buyers remorse has to do with regretting that important decision.
After the 10 plagues, the last of which included the death of his firstborn son, Pharaoh was so devastated that he let the Israelite slaves leave. He wanted to be rid of them. Their God had displayed His power and Pharaoh’s hubris was finally knocked down. But like a boxer in a ring who has been knocked senseless by a much stronger opponent, Pharaoh still manages to get back up on his feet and try again. He realizes that he’s suddenly lost a significant part of his workforce. 600,000-able bodied men were gone. Who was going to build Pharaoh’s cities and pyramids and harvest their crops? Pharaoh has buyer’s remorse. He wants to get those slaves back. So he assembles his army, the most powerful army in the world, and sends out the chariots and soldiers to chase down the Israelites traveling by foot.
Meanwhile, God is making his visible presence known to Israel. He’s leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This was important. God’s people were no doubt very disoriented. They were leaving a place that was known and familiar to them. For over 400 years they had been living in Egypt. They were now going to a land which they had never been. They may have heard stories from their parents and grandparents about this land, but chances are that after 400 years, it had all but been forgotten in Israel’s memory. They had no idea where they were going. So they needed some visible assurance that God really was with them. So he made Himself visible. I’m sure that this brought some comfort to the traveling Israelites… until they heard the sound of Pharaoh’s army, with it’s galloping hoofbeats bearing down upon them. As they looked forward to their escape route, there was nothing but the vast sea before them, and behind, the most powerful army in the world.
In despair they cried out to Moses- “why did you bring us out here to die, weren’t there enough graves in Egypt to hold our bodies?” The sarcasm would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high. These people truly were terrified. Yes, they could see that God was leading them- his tangible, visible presence was right there… and yes, God had performed 10 great signs in Egypt. But they were still scared.
It is normal to get scared when scary things are about to happen to you. It would take the nation of Israel a long time before they would begin to really trust God in all things.
I’m a baseball fan. Over the last 8-9 years I’ve watched the Washington Nationals play a lot of baseball. They have been a very good team for years, but unfortunately, too many times that great team fell apart during the playoffs. Every time they were in a do or die situation in the playoffs, they lost that deciding game and were eliminated from the playoffs. This happened over and over again. So when the 2019 playoffs started, and the Nationals played the Milwaukee Brewers in the one game wild-card play off and they were behind by 3 runs, I started thinking “Oh no, not again! We’re gonna lose once again.” But they didn’t! They came back and beat the Brewers. Wow! It was different. After all these years they won a playoff series. But then they played the mighty Dodgers. Once again they go behind 2 games to 1 and were facing an elimination game. They were behind and it was getting late in the game, and then miraculously, they tied it up and went into extra innings, and then Howie Kendrick hit a 10th inning grand slam and the Nationals won another series. They moved on to the next round, where they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games. By this time I was becoming a believer. So much that when they played the Houston Astros in the World Series and got down three games to two and were facing elimination, I suddenly wasn’t worried any more. I had become a believer. I just knew that they would come back and win… and they did.
So Israel can be excused for fearing Pharaoh’s army and believing that the worst was was about to happen. But once again, God showed up in a powerful way, the seas were parted and Israel went through on dry land, and Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea as they gave chase.
How many times does God need to show up before we begin to trust? For me, it only took a few come from behind wins for be to begin believing in the Nationals and placing my confidence in their ability to come back and win. It would take quite a few more wins before Israel would finally come to fully trust God. What will it take for you to fully trust God? Israel’s story is, in many ways our story too. We can read these stories and have our faith strengthened to help us keep trusting God even in the middle of hard times. God is with us and God has the power to display His ultimate victory over the forces of evil.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+13-15&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 16-18 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan