Lesson Twenty One
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Jesus and the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose. Thunder rolled, lightning cut the sky, and the waves pounded the boat. They fought the storm, but their efforts were in vain. Panic set in.
After the Mt. Carmel experience, Elijah ran before Ahab’s chariot in the pouring rain. When he arrives at the city he is confronted by the threat of an angry queen. Panic sends him running again.
The Israelites left Egypt under the banner of a powerful God who freed them from bondage. They follow the Cloud to the Red Sea. Then another cloud arose—this one of dust. The ground shook with the pounding of horse hooves. The Egyptian army is headed right for them. And they panic.
Overreaction? Not really. When one experiences what seems to be imminent death from drowning or murder or attack, panic would seem a predictable response. It is what happens next that makes the difference. The disciples turned to Jesus. Elijah turned to God. The Israelites turned on Moses and God. Why the difference?
The disciples turned to Jesus. Elijah turned to God. The Israelites turned on Moses and God. Why the difference?
Practiced faith. One does not simply arrive at being a confident Christian. It takes time to develop a relationship with God, to have complete and full belief in Him, and an experience that assures one of His power and love. It shouldn’t be, but sin causes it to be so.
The Israelites were unpracticed. Although they had recently experienced one of the most amazing displays of God’s power on their behalf, when fear overtook them their instinct wasn’t to go to God or even to Moses. It was to return to where they came, as irrational as that seems. Their panic took over and their courage vanished. When God is not a constant, our vision becomes blurred.
When God is not a constant, our vision becomes blurred.
Read Exodus 14:13 again as Moses responds to the Israelites. It is good counsel: Don’t be afraid. Stand still and watch God work. What you fear will be gone. But don’t stop reading. Read verse 14. He continues: The Lord will fight for you. Hold your peace. But do you know what the Hebrew actually says? An accurate and polite translation is: “Be quiet!” A closer read and more to the point is: “Shut up!”
Really? Meek, mild, never-lose-it Moses says, “Shut up!”? Think of it as one of those television/movie moments when a hysterical person is slapped to get their attention. This is a verbal equivalent. Stop the hysteria. Stop the panic. Remember God. Remember the plagues. Look at the Cloud. He has a way out.
Practice faith each day. Rehearse what God has done.
Practice faith each day. Rehearse what God has done. Repeat His promises. For when fear threatens, running to God is the answer. Only He can provide a way to bring calm to your storm. Rest in Him each day and be renewed.
Have you ever wished for a Cloud? Note the use of the capital C. Not the white puffy kind floating in the sky, but the pillar kind Israel had in the wilderness. I often wish I had this visible presence to show me I was on the right path, to shelter in its shade, and feel the power emanating from it.
If you’ve thought the same, take comfort! Here is a verse I discovered in my study of this Bible story found in Isaiah 4:5.
“Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.” (NKJV)
Now read the same verse in The Message:
“Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.” (Isaiah 4:5)
Do you find yourself exhaling as you read this verse? There is nothing to fear. There is no concern as to what’s going to happen next. We may live in a time of trouble and uncertainty. Sin abounds and life can get scary. But God steps in, like He did in the time of the exodus. He comes and offers protection, shade, and shelter.
May we find shelter in His presence today and every day until He comes.
Making it Real
If you’ve never done it before, take some time to make some unleavened bread. It’s easy to do and if you have children, it’s a wonderful way to tell the story of the exodus as well as have some fun as a family. Follow this simple recipe and enjoy the “bread of haste.”
Unleavened Bread (also used in Communion)
1 cup wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (may use olive oil)
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup water
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Prepare a cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil (or leave it bare).
- Mix the flour, oil, salt, and water until it forms a ball.
- Take a rolling pin and flatten the ball into a thin rectangle. It should be quite thin.
- Take a knife and score the dough into squares. These can be small like for communion or larger like crackers. Cut deep enough so squares can be broken apart after baking. Or you can use a pizza cutter to cut them into squares before it goes in the oven. If you do this cut the dough into horizontal strips. Then cut the horizontal strips vertically. You may want to do this directly on the cookie sheet or you will have to move all those squares to the cookie sheet.
- To keep the dough from bubbling up, put a small hole in the center of each square with the sharp tip of a knife (optional).
- Bake for 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully as they can burn.
- Let the bread cool. Break it apart and enjoy. Enjoy!
Respond & Share
How have you felt the presence and protection of Jesus in your life? Share your answers in the comments.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.
Coming next week:
“GOD’S PROMISES AT MARAH“
Based on Isaiah 50:10, Exodus 15:22-27,
Patriarchs and Prophets: pp. 291-292;
The Story of Redemption: pp. 126;
The Bible Story, vol. 2, pp. 139-140