Sunday, September 16, 2018

Faith -- God Always Hears Us.



Good morning!

Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 


But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer. (Psalm 66:19)

God always hears a voice of His people.   

A new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are.  We must plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.”

So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king.  But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. Why? Because God was with the Israel people. So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy.  They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.

Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.  God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.

God heard the voice of the Israelites, and in His mercy, God sent ten plagues to the Egyptians, and freed up the Israelites.   The day of being freed was the day of true celebration.   The Israelites was under the bondage of slavery for four hundred years.   Generation after generation, they waited and waited for God.  Finally, their freedom came through the mighty power of God.   They left the Egyptian land, which was tightly intertwined with their sorrows, pains and misery because there were salves for generations.  

However, soon Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked.  So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops.  He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander.  God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to God, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”    The people of Israel were freed by the power of God, but their faith in God was weak and so fragile.  They could not endure anything in faith.   Their mouths were quick to complain to God. 

But Moses, who was always faithful to God, told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch God rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.  God himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”   Moses comforted the Israelites terribly stirred by the Egyptian army chasing them.

Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them.  The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.  Yes, God protected the Israelites.

Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and God opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.  So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!

When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that was unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before Him. They put their faith in God and in his servant Moses.  Then they were full of joy, and praised God with songs and dances.    It was the most joyous time for the Israelites for the last four hundred years.   They even saw the corpses of the Egyptian army floating, who were the source of fear.  The Egyptians were getting closer and closer, and were about to take over and kill the Israelites with the swords in the hands.    

After experiencing the God’s miracle and His power hands, they moved out into the desert of Shur while praising God with song in their mouths.   They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water.   They were really thirsty, and they felt they were dying from thirst.  Then they show an oasis, and with hope, they ran into the oasis of Marah.  However, the water was too bitter to drink.   They were truly disappointed.   In anger and disappointment, the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.  

They experienced the biggest miracle ever, and put their complete faith in God.   However, only three days later, when they became thirsty, they directly complained to God.   The greatest miracle saving their lives before the edges of swords of the Egyptian could not endure before the three days of thirst!   They believed God because of the miracles and His mighty hand.  As time goes by, the memory of the miracle faded with their excitement.  So did their faiths.  

A faith based on miracle only lasts as the miracle is remembered.   Then how long the miracle was remembered?   By the Israelites, the greatest miracle in history could last only three days!   Even the greatest miracle could not last even a week or a month, when their mouths became thirst in the middle of wilderness, where they quickly concluded with their own reasoning that there was no way to get enough water in the middle of wilderness to satisfy the millions of the Israelites.   The merciful God forgave the unfaithfulness of the Israelites along with their harshly complaints to God.  

This was not the last occasion that they complained to God.   They continued complaining to God whenever there was an opportunity, but God was patient and forgave them.   Finally, they arrived at the Promised Land by God’s hand.   What was the first thing they did?   They sent spies, and they reported the impossibility that was observed by their own eyes – the giants, the strong people, the fortified cities and walls.   Then they made their own conclusion and did not believe God’s promise.   They totally forgot the miracles that God had done for them – the ten plagues on the Egyptians, the cloud and fire pillars protected from the Egyptian armies, the Red Sea parted by the mighty hand of God so that they could walk on dry land into the Red Sea, the corpses of the Egyptian armies floating on the Red Sea, the bitter water turned into a sweet water, and many other miracles, such as manna, and finally the Promised Land that they saw and was promised generations ago.   Even with the goodness of God along with the miracle and His faithfulness and patience, they could not believe God and His promise.   They rejected God’s promise and refused to go into the Promised Land.    God was truly patient with the stiff-necked people, and at the end, they rejected God’s promise only because they figured out that it was impossible in their eyes.  God had to send back the Israelites to the wilderness for the next thirty-nine years till the unbelieving generation perished, and a new generation of Israelites replaced the old generation.   Then God brought back the new generation to inherit the Promised Land as God promised. 

Yes, God is truly patient and always faithful to God.   God provides His early and latter rain for his people with all kinds of goodness and miracles.   (Our faith in God itself is the biggest miracle in our lives.)   However, our stiff-necked heart is always trying to resist and against God because we know how the world works --- which one work and makes sense, and which one does not work without producing anything, and which one is painful, and which one is not, on and on.    However, God has a greater plan for us – His Promised Land for each one of us.    Fix our eyes on Jesus, and walk into the Promised Land.   Yes, our eyes might see impossibility -- giants, strong people, fortified cities and walls reaching to heaven, but this is the time to hold on tight to Him in faith because the battle is not for us, but God.   This is our faith, and what God wants.  

Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.   (Joel 2:23)

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