Reading through several online reviews of the movie, "Exodus: Gods & Kings", I find myself feeling like that horse in the movie's trailer, unsure about what-in-the world director Ridley Scott is about to dump on me with the creative liberties he's taken in his retelling of this treasured Biblical narrative.
Not wanting to be too biased before I see the actual film, I've turned to the actual story in the scriptures and been systematically making my way through the Old Testament book of Exodus. Though an encouraging read, I must confess that I've landed on a few chapters where it would appear (from my human perspective) God's not making much sense.
I'm presently parked in Exodus 14.
God has dramatically freed some 2 million Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. His intention is to lead them to their own land, their own home. The text certainly suggests that the easier, perhaps even quicker path to their final destination would be to pass through the land of the Philistines. But God's not taking that option, and He has a completely legit reason for not wanting to do so.
But therein lies my "stuckness".
HE IS GOD! A few books later in Joshua, we'll read of Him defying the laws of nature to make His power known as the Israelites battle and defeat enemy nations. God's reputation as a deity not-to-be-messed-with would have certainly started to spread. In fact, later on, a woman named Rahab would testify to this.
Simply put, nations were afraid of the Israelites because of the God of the Israelites. In light of this, passing through Philistine territory would have been,....should have been a breeze! Even if the Israelites had needed to muster an army to fight the Philistines, it would have been an easy win because God would have fought for them.
If this all be true, then I find myself wondering and asking, "Why take the more difficult option of taking them through the wilderness and getting stuck by the Red sea with an angry heavily armed Egyptian army right behind them?"
Along with God's already-stated-reason, I believe there's another principle at play here.
I think God wanted to first demonstrate to His own people just how powerful HE was without them ever having to lift a finger in battle. Exodus 14:30-31 pretty much says the same thing, “That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, …(31) 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.”
Here’s some truth to take away from this text: BEFORE THE LORD CALLS YOU TO TRUST THAT HE WILL FIGHT THROUGH YOU, FIRST HE SHOWS YOU THAT HE WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.
Israel would indeed need to pick up their swords at a later period to battle enemy nations including all the countries that end with the word, “ites” (Deuteronomy 20:17). But before those battles, they needed to know that God was for them! God took the Israelites through this "more difficult" path so they would see and know that He could use even the very elements of nature to destroy their enemies in battle. The fact is, You tend to be more confident about stepping out in faith when you know God is really on your side. Christian recoding artist and worship leader, Kari Jobe wrote a song about this in her Youtube video, "You are for Me"
Speaking of videos, the movie I mentioned in my intro, “EXODUS: Gods & Kings” hit the theaters this past weekend. If you don't already know, it doesn't attempt to stay true to the Biblical Exodus account. One online review had this to say about the movie's lack of "God-y'ness", "While the movie certainly gives lip service to fate and destiny, there's very little actual religiosity in "Exodus: Gods and Kings." It's more of an ethnicity thing, in terms of the separation between the Egyptians and the Hebrews, and the big G-O-D is referenced only in a weird personification (he's visualized as a small child who communicates directly with Moses).
I'm not shocked at this nor do I intend to whine about it, creative liberties will be taken because that’s what blockbuster movies do. In fact, I have every intention of going to go see it. I saw the movie, "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston many eons ago as a boy and loved it. I've hoped I would see the day when Hollywood would retell the story and FX it up, but alas, that day is not to be as they have chosen to remove the most fantastical God-parts of the movie!
Fine! It doesn't matter anyway. The story of God's redemption is not theirs tell, it is ours to share. It has always been!
Having said all that, take this from the story. God is first and foremost about bringing glory to God. Several times in the Exodus accounts, He makes clear that His purpose in all the supernatural signs in the book is that, “all might know that I AM GOD over all the earth.” (Exodus 7:5, 8:22, 9:14, 10:12, 14:18, 14:30-31, 16:12, and 29:46).
The implication of God being for God is that He ensures that those who follow Him know and experience His loving grace and power FIRST. After which, He then calls us to walk by faith in confidence of what He's already displayed to us.
So, as you ponder trusting God for whatever battle is next in your life, remember: before the Lord calls you to trust that He will fight through you, first He shows you that He will fight for you.
In the words of Moses himself, “[Trust that] The Lord will fight for you,…you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14, ESV).
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.