In yesterday’s post, Tony Evans said God creates dilemmas that force us to trust him rather than ourselves and other people. “[A]nd that usually means it’s a scenario that you can’t solve yourself,” he said. “‘Cause if you could solve it yourself, he knows you would go to that earthly solution rather than his heavenly intervention.”
The Dilemma God Created for the Israelites
“Today, I want to look at an encounter with God’s power, and this encounter with God’s power comes in the context of a dilemma,” Evans said during a subsequent sermon. “[A] dilemma is when you’re in a no-win situation. … I mean, any direction that you look in is a lose-lose. … The most noted story in Israel’s history — the crossing of the Red Sea, which was its biggest celebrated miracle — happened when they were simultaneously in a dilemma. …
“Now, the background to this is very clear. Moses has come through the … 10 plagues, and he’s now leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. … And so the people now are on their way out, from slavery to freedom. They’re excited. They’re looking forward. They’ve been told they have this promised land, this purpose of God that God is going to take them to, and things are lookin’ rosy.
“As they leave — on their way out, it says in verse 17 of [Exodus] chapter 13:
“I want you to catch verse 18:
“So, watch this: their dilemma is going to come about when God is leading them. Their dilemma is going to happen when they’re in the will of God. Their dilemma is going to occur when they’re being obedient, because it says God was leading them.
“Not only was God leading them into what would be a dilemma, it says God led them the long way around. …
“Not only that, but … it says in chapter 14, verse 3:
“… [God] was leading them into a cul-de-sac, or what you and I would call a trap.
“See, a lot of us figure, ‘God wouldn’t do that.’ Oh, God does do that. And the reason God does that is ’cause only in those contexts will you see that he’s God. Because the one thing about a dilemma is you can’t get out of it. The one thing about a dilemma is you don’t see an exit, and every direction you look in is a trap. When God is ready to move you to a new spiritual experience with him, he will regularly do it in the midst of a contradiction and a conflict.”
The Contradiction and Conflict the Israelites Faced
“Verse 4 [of] chapter 14 says:
“Hmm. To harden the heart means to make you more rebellious than you already were. To harden the heart means to make you meaner than you already were. To harden the heart is to make you worse than you already were. … [He did this] because when God is ready to give you a new experience with him, he will allow you to be put into a situation that only he can get you out of. When God is ready to make this move, it doesn’t matter who you know, what contacts you have, how much money you possess, or where you live or the car you drive. When God is ready to give you a new experience with him, he will regularly trap you where you are.
“And what frustrates me about God is he will make it look like he answered your prayer. … You’re ready to give your testimony, and then he goes left on you. They finally get out of Egypt. They’ve been praying to get out of Egypt. He lets them out of Egypt. Then, he hardens Pharaoh’s heart to come after them. [It] looks like [God] changed his mind.
“… Water here. Pharaoh and his chariots [there]. … And so they are terrified. So they do what many Christians do: they cry out to God, ‘Help! Help!’ while simultaneously complaining to man. So the conflict that they are in … produces a spiritual conflict within them, because it says on the one hand they cried out [to] God, but then on the other hand it says they complained to Moses. …
“[A] dilemma will confuse you. They said, ‘[Did not we tell you to leave us alone?]’ We were happy bein’ a slave in those cornfields. We were happy bein’ a slave pickin’ that cotton. … We were just happy slaves.’ … You know what those people were saying? ‘Take us back to Egypt.’ You know what God was tryin’ to do? He was tryin’ to deliver them from something in their past. Egypt was their past. But you can get so used to yesterday that when the day goes bad on you, you wanna go back. He says, ‘I’mma deliver you from yesterday because I have a different tomorrow. But for me to deliver you from yesterday, to take you to a different tomorrow, I’m gonna create confusion today.’ …
So, God may be hardening the heart of your coworker, makin’ them treat you worse. He may be hardening the heart of your boss, making him treat you worse — or that person in your life or that circumstance. See, that’s why you’ve gotta be in the will of God, because when he makes it worse, he’s using it. …
How the Israelites’ Dilemma Ended
“The result of all this is in the last verse of the chapter.
“Why does God put you in a dilemma when you’re in his will? So you can see somethin’. It says, ‘When the people saw.’ It says, ‘When they saw the power of the Lord.’ They encountered God’s power.”
How God Demonstrated His Power to Tony Evans
When Evans started his church in the late ’70s, it met inside a school. Eventually, the school board said it couldn’t meet there anymore and gave the church a couple of weeks to find another place to go. Evans asked for an extension of time but was told he probably wouldn’t get it because a lot of board members had church-versus-state issues.
He prayed for God to intervene.
The day the board members were supposed to vote on whether the church could stay longer, a woman came out to tell him two board members were missing and after waiting two hours for what should’ve only taken 30 minutes, the other board members had taken the vote without them, and the church won by one vote.
As it turns out, the two missing board members had decided to drive in together and got caught in traffic due to an accident.
“[T]he God who can create an accident at just the right time can do whatever he decides to do in the dilemmas in our lives as long as we’re in the center of his will,” Evans said.