What kind of follower are you? There are many kinds. (video of me walking my dog talking about Patch learning how to follow can be found on my Facebook page) You might think about your walk with God and realize that you fit into one category or another. Or you might be thinking “On any given day, I could be found running ahead of God or sitting down in the middle of the road mad or afraid to go anywhere!” Or a squirrel could cross my path and I forget that God is a part of my life at all! No matter what kind of follower you are, we have an amazing book to read about all kinds of followers of the faith! Our ancestors of the faith have responded to God in various ways and recorded their journey so that we can read their stories and find ourselves in this story! The story that I want to look at today is the story of the Israelites Exodus out of Egypt.
Our adult Sunday School class is studying the book of Exodus and we are just now getting to the part where Moses is leading the people out of Egypt! The children have also just explored this great story!
The Israelites are at the beginning of this new journey but it is not totally new since God walked with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. But now Moses had this incredible encounter with God and tells the Israelites who are slaves in the land of Egypt that God had heard their cries and had seen their misery. How do you think the people responded? The people of Israel bowed down and worshiped. So the story goes that Moses and the people have a clear direction and everyone follows the plan. Moses swoops in, gathers the people and they all walk out of Egypt and into freedom. That is how the story goes…..right? yes and no.
There are many times throughout the story that the people have the opportunity to choose what kind of follower they are going to be. Are they going to run ahead of God? Sit down and give up? Or turn around and want to go a different way? Today, let’s visit a few scenes to see how the people responded. We are going to make this fun with playing a multiple choice game!
1- First scene is from Exodus 5:20-21-Moses and Aaron are walking into Pharoah for the first time asking for Pharoah to Let My People Go. But Moses’ first attempts to bring them out of Egypt are not successful and not only are they not successful, but Pharoah makes the work harder for the Israelites. The Israelites are already treated very poorly as slaves in the land and Moses has just made it worse! So the people have a few options for how they can respond
a-ask Moses to work faster and to not take NO for an answer
b-sit and cry and wine and complain
c-get mad at Moses
d-pray and believe that the God of their forefathers sent Moses to bring them to freedom
How did they respond? (Slide)
“c” The Israelites get mad that Moses even came to try and free them.
2- 2nd scene is from Exodus 14:10-13. Israel’s first taste of freedom. They are outside of Egypt at the Reed Sea and the Egyptians are chasing after them! Now suspend your knowledge of what happens and think about the options for response. They could
a-rush ahead of Moses leaving him in the dust and go around the reed sea
b-sit and cry and wine and complain
c-give up and head back to Egypt.
d-believe that God will yet again provide a way to freedom and pray to God
How did they respond? (Slide)
“b” and tell Moses that they would have rather stayed in Egypt than be killed out in the wilderness. All while being surrounded by a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud which represented the very presence of God with them!!
Ok so now God has sent 10 plagues to get them out of Egypt and God has parted the Reed Sea. Now they are trusting God, right? Yes and No.
3- 3rd scene is from Exodus 31:18-32:1 Moses left the people to ascend the mountain. On this mountain, God gives Moses the 10 commandments writtenon tablets of stone by the finger of God. This process apparently took God and Moses a long time so what did the people choose to do:
a- Pray for Moses to have the strength to endure such intense time with God
b- Leave Moses and head for the promised land
c- think that Moses is dead and the journey must be over. This is it!
d- Ask to have another god to worship
How did they repond? (Slide)
“d” They did not know what happened to Moses but instead of replacing Moses with another human leader, they decided they needed another god to worship. After all God has done for them, they are ready to ditch God and worship something else!
4- Last scene for today—Israel sent spies into the promised land to check out the people and the situation. They come back fearful ! So, God is upset with the people for their complaining and says that they shall wander in the wilderness for 40 years and that all of the older ones who have complained will die in the wilderness and not enter the promised land but all the young ones will enter the promised land. God told the people that they were not allowed to use military force to enter the land even after they sent spies to see what it was like. So what do the people do according to Numbers the end 14?
a-bow down, worship and pray for forgiveness
b-ask to return to Egypt
c-give in to their punishment
d-go ahead and enter the promised land without the presence of God going with them.
So what did they do?
“d” They ran ahead of God to enter into the promised land. And the people of the land defeated the Israelites.
What kind of follower are you? Where do you find yourself in the story?
We have been in a teaching series in the book of James.
This week James says in 4:13-15
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.”
James & the Israelites teach us this morning that the best way to follow Christ is to be a follower who consistently checks in. Like our dog Patch, we may have tendencies to run ahead or be someone who lags behind but the goal is to have our eyes so focused on Christ that we fall in line with Christ’s steps. The goal is to seek Christ first in all things. Distractions come. Set backs come. Time comes and goes. But we can learn to keep Christ our focus to keep checking in with the master. For me, this means talking to God all throughout my day. I don’t mean setting aside 20 min to pray all throughout the day which would be nice but I mean a few min to ask what I should do in a situation. I mean a mommy time out when I need to gather my already low reserve of patience so that I can ask God for an extra reserve. I mean responding to that voice that says, “Call so and so or do this today.” I mean taking a minute to ask God what God wants from a situation. What kind of follower are you?