“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. Pharaoh will think,’ ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ "1
At some point, everyone who calls on the name of Jesus Christ will find their faith challenged. Some may argue with this statement by asserting, “My faith in Christ has never wavered!”
Faith that wavers and faith that is challenged are not one in the same.
Often when my faith was challenged, I have felt as if I were hemmed in; as though I had no way out. I believe that the enemy of my faith wants me to regret my decision to trust God with the outcome; to somehow believe I can turn around and go back.
The Israelites experienced this challenge in Pi Hahiroth:
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.”2
Fear always accompanies a challenge to your faith. You feel trapped, realizing there is no way of escape. You can’t go back, you can’t go laterally to the left or right, and there in front of you is an obstacle with no visible pathway.
How do you combat fear?
All of us experience fear in some form. All of us deal with fear differently.
A woman waits nervously for her doctor to reveal the news of tests that were run. An athlete anxiously awaits the announcement of his name so that he can race onto the field of competition. A politician tentatively awaits her introduction to a packed audience. A family faces the uncertainty of losing their home unless they can somehow resume making their mortgage payments. A man waits for a job offer after enduring months of unemployment.
Each of these people found themselves in dire straits much like the Israelites were in this passage of scripture; they were hemmed in by their circumstances. God told Moses,
“Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp before Pi-Hahiroth, between Migdol and the [Red] Sea, before Baal-Zephon. You shall encamp opposite it by the sea.”3
Israel reached a dead end at Etham. It was here that God told Moses to turn back. They then camped between the three geographic points of Pi-Hahiroth, Migdol, and Baal-Zephon (on the opposite side of the Red Sea). Etham was impassable, as was the impassable rocky terrain of Pi Hahiroth. Migdol was a military lookout post that many believe sent word to Pharaoh of the Israelites location. From their present position, the Israelites could see Baal-Zephon, but the Red Sea formed a gulf between the shores where they camped and the mountaintop view of Baal-Zephon. To make matters worse, they were being pursued by the military forces of Pharaoh’s army.
They were hemmed in!
They couldn’t go back to that life they left in Egypt, and it appeared as though they couldn’t escape Pharaoh’s army.
Watching as the Egyptians approached, fear grabbed them by the throat.
In their fear, they cried out to God. They cried out to the One who is The God of My Salvation. I wonder if they prayed, “God save me!”
I’ve faced circumstances where I was hemmed in. Thinking about this passage of scripture, I can easily see myself in the position of Israel. I prayed for the God of miracles to rescue me. I called on the same God who provided a Pillar of Cloud and a Pillar of Fire, to demonstrate His miraculous power and might. Some may say that, “God works no miracles today.” Others may say, “There is no God.” But those who by faith trust in The Eternal God, believe that,
“…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”4
I believe that God was leading Israel to a land of promise, but to get there, Israel had to go through trials. They face circumstances that pointed to The One True God as their Deliverer. Israel feared Pharaoh and his army. But God wanted them to move from the place of fear to the place of faith. To get them to the place of faith, God had to deliver Israel and demolish Pharaoh’s army.
To get you to the place of faith, God must deliver you and demolish what you fear.
While your circumstance may have you hemmed in, the place of faith lies ahead of you; to get there, you must move forward.
It doesn’t matter how God opens up your path, all that matters is that you trust Him with each step you take. Sometimes we may go through a Red Sea experience where the doctors have done all they can do, and the sickness has us hemmed in. We don’t know if we will escape, but God says,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.”5
You may find yourself in the wilderness of the unemployed, hemmed in by the lack of opportunity. The bank may be ready to foreclose on your home but God is still the same. He loves and cares about every one of us.
When I’m hemmed in by fear and circumstance, I’ll remember to,
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”6
“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”7
I may be hemmed in by my circumstance, but I’m not without hope. I’m not going to live in fear and hopelessness. I’ll trust God to deliver me. I’m going to walk right up to the shoreline; I’ll do my part and trust God to make a way.
I'm standing on the shores of my very own Red Sea experience; hemmed in by a circumstance, but I'm not afraid. You are the same, yesterday, today and forever; Jesus Christ, Lord of all. Though the enemy of my faith rages, I will not be afraid. You order both night and day, the dawn arises by Your word. You are The God of Miracles. You proved Yourself in the wilderness to Israel. You delivered them from Pharaoh and his army. You completely vanquished the enemy of Israel just as it is written, "The Egyptians you see today you will never see again." My life is in Your hands Lord; I put my faith and trust in You. I wait on You Lord. Open up the windows of heaven and pour Your blessings upon us. You give us more grace that we may resist the enemy. Thank You Lord for delivering us from our circumstance. We thank and praise You, we give You the glory You richly deserve. Amen.
Note: Several months ago, a blogger friend suggested I visit Charlotte and Ginger who host the blog Spiritual Sundays, and that I should link in with fellow bloggers who share encouraging and inspirational posts.
- Exodus 14:1-3, NIV
- Exodus 14:10, NIV
- Exodus 14:2, Amplified Bible
- Hebrews 11:6, NASB
- Proverbs 3:5-6, NASB
- Psalm 27:14, KJV
- Isaiah 40:31, NASB
- King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
- The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
- Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6
- Amplified Bible, BibleGateway.com