Turn Back

Turn Back

Daily Reading: (Exodus 14:2):

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon.”

It would appear that they are hemmed in. They are turning back to camp. They are located opposite the center for worship of the lord of the north (Baal Zephon) who is the god of the sea and storm. What God will do by splitting the Red Sea right in front of the center of worship of the god of the sea and storm is to declare that Baal Zephon is no god at all. There is only one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

How did the Israelites camp? We learn in Numbers chapter 2 that God had a prescribed way in which the Israelites were to camp out? They would form a cross. The children of Israel all faced the tabernacle and trusted the Lord to defend them from their enemies. The message is that we are to look unto Jesus and trust Him to be our rear guard! We don’t have to look around us at what the enemy is doing, trust that the Lord will take care of us against the attacks that come from the enemy.

Why did God tell His people to turn back? 

“Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this” (Exodus 14:3-4). If God didn’t reveal why He was doing this, I’m not sure the people would have listened.

What was the Israelites’ part of the plan in order to experience the victory of the Lord over the Egyptians? Camp out, rest up, and trust in God. This hasn’t changed. Our job is to enter into the rest Jesus gives us. It is His finished work at the cross that gives us victory over what comes against us. 

Did you know that Exodus 14 is a picture of Psalm 23 and our Good Shepherd leading us? Listen to this.

They encamped Pi Hahiroth which means a place adorned with green grass. He makes me lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23:2).

I use to think “why would God need to make me lie down in something so beautiful?” Wouldn’t I want to volunteer to lie down in green pastures? Exodus 14:2 shows us why we might need the Lord’s help to rest in such a beautiful place, perhaps we are hemmed in at this place by a powerful foe that is against us. We might not feel like lying down and taking up camp in the green pastures if it involves camping out near a powerful enemy. When we lie down in green pastures it says; God has got this, I trust Him. I will rest in Him and believe He is orchestrating something amazing because He led me here. God is preparing a victory feast for me. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

Green pastures in Psalm 23:2 is plural, there is more than one. God is leading you from one green pasture to another. That is why the end of Psalm 23 declares “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What comes next in the 23rd Psalm? “He leads me beside quiet waters,” What do we read next in Exodus 14? “Encamp between Migdol and the sea” Exodus 14:2).


Psalm 23:3 “He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths”. How do we know that the Israelites were guided to the right path here? We learn from the previous chapter that God was the one who was leading them.

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night” (Exodus 13:21).

Why would God do this? The Psalmist says, “He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake”. What are we told in Exodus 14 of why God is doing all of this. “But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (Exodus 14:4).

The parallelism continues as Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staffthey comfort me. It is obvious that God is with His people, but is there also a mention of a staff in Exodus chapter 14?

“Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:16).

“And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant” (Exodus 14:31).

The people (yare’) stood in awe, in reverence and put their trust in God.  The journey to the miracle led the people to a place where they put their trust in God (Exodus 14:31).

The victory in our lives is already ours, so don’t let fear fill your hearts. Walk in the victory of Jesus Christ by faith as you rest and receive His love for you. Know that God is with you as a Good Shepherd leading you from one green pasture to another. Sometimes the path goes through an unexpected desert path but the journey will strengthen our trust relationship with Him as He prepares a table for us in the presence of our enemies. God’s actions will display His glory for His name’s sake and so others might receive the salvation of His Son.

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Friend of God: Name Dropping

Friend of God

Daily Reading: (Romans 5:11):

“Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

We have the opportunity every day in our lives to boast about the victory Jesus has given us. We boast about different stuff all the time. Just look at bumper stickers, “my kids is an honor student”, “I ran 26.2 miles”, “I am an alumni of XYZ University”. Social media is full of places we have been, the food we ate, and things we have experienced that we are proud of and want to share with the world. There is something within us to want to share the wonderful things we have been a part of, and here Paul is saying we can and should boast in the greatest thing to ever happen to us, we are now reconciled to God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What is crazy is God didn’t give this great gift to His best friends, God gave the gift that was the life of His son, to His enemies. Enemies? That’s strong language but it is what we were apart from Jesus,“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life” (Romans 5:10)!

That is why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:44 “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, because this is what I did for you. When someone is persecuting you, causing you trouble, we have the Holy Spirit who gives us love, joy, peace, etc… This person who is not acting like a friend, but more like an enemy, I can pray for them, they are the perfect candidate for someone who needs Jesus. This is where miracles take place. God loves them too and wishes for them to have their lives forever changed by the Gospel.

So, we use to be enemies with God (Romans 5:10) but being reconciled to Him through Jesus, we are now friends of God and part of His family. We are friends and even family of the One who made the Universe.

We have now received the reconciliation. The word “received” means that this reconciliation is a gift that we receive by grace through Christ. Reconciliation is special in that it is not like most other gifts. Let’s say it is your birthday and your significant other buys you a lantern. A lantern is a practical yet fairly lame gift. Most people don’t ask for a lantern for their birthday, you might even question how well they know you or have been paying attention to you over the year. But if your power goes out you might be thankful for the lantern. Then when the power is restored, you put the lantern away, and then forget about it entirely until the power goes out again. Then you feel thankful again for the gift again.

This is different from what Paul means by receiving the gift of reconciliation. He means receiving it in such a way that what is in the package makes you rejoice all the time. And what is in the gift, is God reconciled. The gift of reconciliation is God offering us Himself so that we might rejoice in Him.

James 2:23 says: And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ‘And he was called the friend of God. In John 15:15 Jesus said, “I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” Jesus made us righteous through His sacrifice on the cross and our faith in Him. We now are friends of God (John 15:15, James 2:23).

What we should be doing is name-dropping about who we are friends with. God is my friend. God is my Father. It changes our perspective on things. Paul is so confident in his relationship with God, that he says to other believers who gave to him to help him while in prison “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). I am friends with God, He has abundantly blessed and abundantly supplied me in Jesus.