And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war. and they return to Egypt.
It’s fascinating to me, the foreknowledge of God; in his omniscience looked into the future and knew these people were ill-equipped for war. It brings to memory events of my own life, seasons of isolation, confusion, uncertainty and aimless wondering through life. These seasons are difficult to bare, it’s here when we face the challenging questions; did God forget me? Did God bring me this far to die? Did I do something wrong? Looking back I realize how confused I really was; then again hindsight is always 20/20. I now understand that God never forgot me, to do so would violate his own word; for he said “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” –Hebrews 13:5. He never left me, even when I felt all alone, he was simply preparing me for war. When I first found Him at age 16; I was no where near prepared for the warfare Satan was about to launch. Jesus told Peter in Luke 22:31, “…Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” The objective of your adversary isn’t to just discourage you or make you feel useless, he wants to destroy you. So to prevent His children from returning to the bondage they were just delivered from, sometimes we are forced to abandon the easy road in exchange for the road called somewhere.
Yup… that’s what it feels like! No end in sight on this road. So we inevitably give up. set up camp, and call this place our home. It’s not so bad after all, at least I’m not where I was, we justify. But we were never called to live in this deserted place called somewhere. But as I take a landscape of the apostolic faith, I can see the unfortunate reality. Too many saints have become complacent somewhere between their past and their promise!
But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baal-zephon. And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
Israel found themselves bound to this corrupt mindset; they had allowed their minds to become so warped, that they actually convinced themselves that this deserted, isolated piece of wilderness was their destiny! How many apostolic people are victims of this mentality? How many precious pentecostal people have allowed themselves to believe that they have seen their best days; that they have witnessed their greatest seasons; and they have experienced their greatest victories. God never called us to be average! God never intended for us to allow that weak and defeated mentality to define us! Notice according to this passage, the only way their past was able to catch up to them, was because they stopped short of where God had called them. When you and I settle for the banks or normality, and concede that we’ve reached our destiny, we will become vulnerable to an assault from our past. Your past can be the most destructive force against you! And you this adversary is most active somewhere between your past and your promise!
In the book of Esther, we find a compelling story of an orphan girl who finds herself in the palace of the king, as his bride. It’s a script that even Hollywood would find hard to print. This arrangement is so unprecedented that it causes our minds to consider the unlikeliness of our own salvation. When I read this story, I can understand why the Psalmist so adamantly inquired, “what is man that thou art mindful of him?” Who am I god that you would take a punishment that wasn’t reserved for you? Who am I, that you would look over the bowels of heaven with mercy instead of judgment? Imagine if you can the emotions of Esther, as the Jewish people are in danger of extermination at the hands of Haman; and now the pressure of survival is on her shoulders! What can I do in this place? What kind of influence can I make here? Esther had difficulty removing herself from her past. She understood she had no business in this palace, she knew that she had no royal background, no pedigree or any kind of royal affluence! She was just an orphan, who didn’t even know her own parents, who was raised by a simple Jewish man. And as the entire Jewish population inched closer to extinction, Esther stood paralyzed in the palace; she was too ashamed by where she came from, and too intimidated by where she is being forced to go! Now, she’s imprisoned…
In Judges 11, we find an interesting story involving a man by the name of Jephthah. Jephthah was dealt a bit of a rough hand. He was the product of his daddy’s poor choices; as he was the son of a harlot. However, being born first he was entitled to the birthright. And due to the fact that he was the son of a harlot, he was now due a double portion. But when his siblings get old enough they conspire against him. After all it only made sense for their daddy’s blessing to go to someone with more of a pure bloodline, somebody who wasn’t the product of dysfunction. So they throw him out of the house, and Jephthah is not forced to live in a land known as Tob. A place that we would call the wrong side of the tracks. The Bible says he lived among vain men, that word vain literally translates into the word worthless. This once promising young man, who actually began to think he was entitled to the birthright; now through his circumstance has allowed his past to isolate him in a deserted land. When war comes, the men of the city need a leader, and someone remembers a man by the name of Jephthah. They come to him and ask him to lead them into battle and overcome the onslaught of the enemy! Wow! what a beautiful story of a man, whose misfortunes have been turned around! Only, Jephthah wasn’t thrilled. Instead of realizing the opportunity in front of him, he began to accuse those men, and his bitterness began to show…
I thought you didn’t like me… I thought you didn’t want me around… I thought I was just the son of a prostitute… Now that you need something you need me? This is what happens to those who get stuck somewhere between their past and their promise, you begin to allow your emotions to boil over, and instead of helping those in need, you become isolated and bitter!
If I could talk with this man I would tell him; I know you it wasn’t fair what they did to you. I know you didn’t choose your mother, and you’ve been the victim of other people’s poor choices. I know it hurt when your brothers, your own flesh and blood turned their backs on you and robbed you of your blessing. But Jephthah understand, all that stuff does not signify that God has forgotten about you! God designed this season of isolation to prepare you for the greatest season of your life! But Jephthah, don’t miss out on your promise because your so consumed with your past!
I know in 2013, most of us have a past. Most of us have been done wrong, and have been left to pay the price for other people’s mistakes. But we can never allow our past to make us bitter! Our past is designed to make us better! If Jephthah could only see it was the people of Tob that developed him! It was those worthless savages that taught him how to fight! Jephthah could’ve have stayed on the easy road, but he would never have been able to fight when he needed to!
So how do we overcome this trap? Back to the book of Exodus, we find the answer. God speaks to Moses in Exodus 14:15 and actually rebukes Moses; he tells him what are you doing here? Command the people that they GO FORWARD!!! Vs 21 says that when they began to go forward, hen they finally had enough of somewhere, God rolled back the sea! What I wrote this blog to tell somebody is this, Esther and Jephthah proved that when you are called of God to action, there will be obstacles in your way, like that red sea. But when you just decide to go! When you decide that the fear of your future and the intimidation of your past no longer define you; God will begin to remove the opposition that once stood in your way!
After Esther went, she discovered that she had been chosen and was granted up to half of the kingdom!
After Jephthah went. he discovered that God had anointed him!
After the children of Israel went, they walked over on dry land!
What will your testimony be? It’s time to GO!!