Hemmed In: God On Our (Back) Side


Today we look at how God has our backs.  In the story of Israel at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh’s army approaches behind them, God moves in between the enemy and his people.  When we are hemmed in by threat, God hems us into his hand by the Spirit…

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.
Exodus 14:13a, 14, 9-20

When Israel was camped at the edge of the Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s army approaching from the northwest, Moses encouraged his people with the promise that the Lord would fight for them.  They were hemmed in by the desert, the ocean, and the mountains.

What happened next is an example of how God keeps his promise.  The angel of God, who had been present in the pillar of cloud and of fire leading Israel forward, moved to behind them.  This is God.  Exodus 13:21 reveals that the Lord Yahweh went ahead of them in that cloud.  Now we see him referred to as the angel of God.  This manifestation of God appears several times in the Old Testament, and many believe this is pre-incarnate Jesus.

When God fights for me, he has my back.  My back-side to be specific.  When I am being chased by my dragon, God moves from leading me to standing behind me, between my enemy and me.   In Psalm 139, David speaks of being hemmed in, not by the desert and the enemy, but by God himself.  This is what happens.  When we are hemmed in by threats, God hems us in with himself:

5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
Psalm 139:5-7

God’s presence is there to protect us in times of threat.  And there is no mistaking that we will have those times.  Jesus confirms in John 16:33 that we will have trouble in this world, yet he has overcome this world.

When God has our back, we ought not be afraid.  Hem us in, God.  Lay your hand on us…

Amen.

Marc Kinna

 

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