The Perils of Forgetfulness
Topic: Forgetfulness Passage: Exodus 14:1–31
This week is Thanksgiving.
What's Thanksgiving all about? It is a federal holiday. We celebrate it. Well, for most people, it's about food. It's about family, right? And for some of us, it's really about football.
So this is just once a year that we have this holiday. Gratitude actually goes much deeper. It's a very biblical thing. “Give thanks”, that phrase, comes up in the Bible 68 times. If you count the word “thanksgiving” another 35 times, and I counted up where the concept with that word ”thanks”, “thanksgiving”, comes up about 140 times in the Bible. It's actually a very biblical thing, very important thing.
My question this morning is: are you a thankful person? Do you have a heart of gratitude? Are you thankful even when life is hard? Because as I look through this week and thought about this concept, often that concept comes out in the middle of hardship. And I was reading Psalm 79 this morning, and that's a perfect example of that.
But are you a thankful person? Why or why not? You can think about that as we go through this and I think what I'm gonna argue this morning is it depends on what you see. It depends on what you look at. The next two Sundays we're gonna look at two biblical stories that show the importance of Thanksgiving. The first is a story of Israel's exit from Egypt and the second is of their entrance into the promised land, the land of Canaan.
Both of them have the themes of remembering and forgetting, and remembering and forgetting are actually very important things in our lives. What we remember and what we forget are really important. And you'll find that out if you ever forget your anniversary or something. All of a sudden that will become a very important thing.
Today we encounter one of the most well-known stories, a vital story in the Bible. The crossing of the Red Sea, this week is about the Exodus from Egypt, next week will be about the entering into the Promised Land.
But this story of the Red Sea was a mighty and gracious act of God, on behalf of a forgetful and an absent-minded people who were grumbling ungratefully even as God acted in grace toward them. We'll see that God is the Almighty Savior who fights for his people.
And as believers, we know this, we acknowledge this truth about God, that God is an Almighty Savior and he fights for his people, but we're prone to forget that. We're prone to allow our earthly struggles to overcome that so that we forget that. When hardship comes, we tend to only see the hardship, to see the trouble that brought it about. My prayer is that we would see something different, that we would see the power and the goodness of God, and we would respond with a grateful heart, even in those times.
So our passage this morning is Exodus 14. I’ll just spend a minute here putting that into context because you have to know where Israel has been. So if we if we look through Exodus 1 through 13, we'll see that the people of Israel have been slaves at this point in Egypt for 400 years. God raised up Moses, his servant, to go and lead them out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan, the Promised Land where they began 400 years earlier with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob and his family went into Egypt originally when Joseph was there. So God brought a succession of plagues, you see, because Moses went to Pharaoh talking for God, and Moses said, you know, let my people go, right? You know, that whole thing.
Okay, and Pharaoh said, no, okay, not gonna let your people go. And he said, no, you have to let my people go. And Pharaoh said, no, I'm not gonna do that. And so God sends this succession of plagues. The water turned to blood. There were frogs and gnats and flies. There was utter darkness. And the 10th of those plagues was the firstborn of Egypt who died. And by the way, all of these plagues that God sent on Egypt was to demonstrate the power of God over the gods of Egypt and the gods of Pharaoh. Every one was really about that. And this last one was the death of all the firstborn of Egypt.
God saved Israel from that by telling them to take the blood of the perfect lamb and put it on the door frame. That way the angel of death that went through all of Egypt that night would pass over the houses that had the blood on the door frame, and that's what we call Passover. It's still celebrated today when the angel of death passed over the houses of Egypt, and with this Pharaoh let them go, and that's why Exodus, the book of Exodus, is called Exodus. They exited Egypt on that very night, and Israel had witnessed the great and awesome power of the Lord in many ways.
This is where we pick up now in Exodus chapter 14. So if you would go there, if you want to take notes, number one would be the story. I'm just going to work our way through this story and this chapter. It's kind of the bird's eye view, the big picture of what's going on. I'll make a few observations along the way to help us understand and then we're going to talk in the second part about what it all means and the conclusion as well.