Run from the enemy and miss out on the dramatic, victorious promise God has in store for you!
We are in a generation of runners. At the point of crisis, God’s children tend to run from the battle instead of defeating the very enemy that has them fleeing.
People run from church to church, hoping to leave their past behind them. That never works. Their undefeated enemy, whether it’s a spirit of rejection or anger or outright rebellion, shows up the very first day they visit their new church.
Someone visited Revival Church in Detroit a couple of years ago. One of the first things this child of God said to me was, “I’ve been kicked out of every church I’ve been in. I’m determined that this won’t happen here too!”
That was a great plan, but, unfortunately, she was unwilling to battle the demons of old. Sadly, she didn’t last more than several weeks with us.
We so crave freedom from whatever bondage we are experiencing that we often demand an immediate yet premature resolution to our captivity.
In Portland, Oregon, a man was scheduled for release from prison in less than a week after 272 days behind bars. He couldn’t wait. He escaped with six days left on his sentence!
He was caught just hours later.
Sometimes the quickest route to freedom is not the most direct, or the easiest, or the most obvious. In fact, sometimes it’s to back up and entice our enemy to pursue us!
1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. Exodus 14:1-4 (ESV)
They were already on the borders of the desert, and a short march would have placed them beyond the reach of pursuit, as the chariots of Egypt could have made little progress over dry and yielding sand. ~Jamieson-Fausset-Brown
The Israelites could have continued in the direction they were heading, and they would have been out of the reach of Pharaoh should he decide to summon his armies and chariots to pursue them.
It surely seemed to be madness for Moses to direct the people to turn back!
Freedom was to be had! It was right in front of them! But, their mandate was to turn back and to face the enemy they fled from.
I propose we embrace leaders like Moses today—those who aren’t trying to lead us into the Land of Promise while avoiding the challenges, struggles and pursuing armies that God desires for us to defeat. We need leaders who lead into trouble for the sake of victory!
It is a valid question: Why would God cause freedom to be delayed? Why would he put people he loves in grave danger? Two simple reasons:
- God will get glory.
- They shall know God is the Lord.
God is interested in our freedom. He’s also interested in his glory.
6 “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. 8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Isaiah 42:6-8 (ESV)
This is such an important lesson for all of us. God’s primary motivation is not to make our lives easier, nor to give us immediate satisfaction as we pursue freedom. As it always has been, and always will be, God is focused on his name being known for the sake of the generations.
We must trust God’s wisdom, his truth, if we desire to experience freedom. His truth will very often violate our own wisdom or common sense:
31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 (ESV)
Note how 250 years later Gideon had an important point of reference as he dealt with his own issue of captivity:
And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” Judges 6:13 (ESV)
Gideon heard of the of Moses and the Hebrews. That story would not have been the same if God hadn’t caused them to turn back and face a fierce enemy.
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” Exodus 14:13-14 (ESV)
Instead of taking matters into their own hands, devising plans and strategies and moving according to their own wisdom, God was instructing them to stay put and be silent. How hard this must have been for them! What a lesson in faith this was!
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” Exodus 14:15-18 (ESV)
Quit crying and follow my instructions! Now it was time to advance, in the direction God revealed—right into an impossible sea. What kind of God was leading them? It sure seemed he was a monster, bent on their sure demise. How could any God presume to love anybody if he is pushing people to the limits of their sanity by toying with them as pawns on a great, seemingly demented game board. No wonder they would end up demanding to return to Egypt!
What they needed to understand, and ultimately would, is that freedom isn’t found at the place of safety. It’s found in God’s presence. Where he is there is freedom, even if that means turning back to face the enemy:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 (ESV)
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. Exodus 14:19-20 (ESV)
The cloud that was moving before them moved to the back. It wasn’t simply a cloud, however. It was a mighty angel of the Lord!
We must learn to trust God’s wisdom as he leads us into threatening, deadly situations. There are angels. There is a Holy Spirit. There is a pillar of cloud and of fire that will go before us and guard behind us.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:21-25 (ESV)
There it is!
The Egyptians acknowledged the Lord! That was one of God’s goals. It took a fearless heart on behalf of Moses and the Hebrews. It took radical obedience. It required a resistance to temptation to make a jailbreak prematurely. Faith was key. God’s name was made great among the Egyptians and the generations to come.
You and I will be much stronger, more free and God’s name will be glorified in our lives if we don’t run from the enemy. We must defeat the demons, the Goliath’s, the Egyptians, our fears, our rebellion, our rejection. Turn back and fight!
A young man named Gideon would pull on this amazing, ancient story at the foot of the Red Sea as God, again, encouraged someone to advance in obedience and in the power of God.
And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14 (ESV)
Go in this might of yours and watch God receive the glory as you advance into supernatural freedom!