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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 3: The Birdcage *
Introduction: Sometimes life gets discouraging. This past week I
argued an important religious liberty case. The judge did not want to
hear the argument that I had taken many hours to prepare. Instead, he
wanted me to give "yes/no" answers to a series of questions that
could only be harmful to my client. Worse, they involved potential
defenses of the opposing party which it had never raised - and, in my
opinion, were not properly a part of the case. Many people had been
praying for me in this argument - and I considered it to be a
disaster. Why is it that you do the right thing and disaster comes?
Let's dive into the Bible and consider a story that illustrates this
- Taking the Wrong Turn?
- You recall that God's people were in slavery in Egypt for
hundreds of years. God, working through Moses and Aaron,
forces the Egyptian Pharaoh to free God's people. Let's
pick up the story by reading Exodus 13:17-18. What did
God's people expect? (They expected that they might have
to fight before they reached the promised land. They were
armed for battle.)
- What did God expect? (He expected that His people
might change their mind if they faced armed
resistance. Thus, God seemed to adopt the strategy of
- Read Exodus 13:20-22. What gave the people confidence they
were going in the correct direction?
- Do you wish that God would be as clear in His leading
in your life?
- Read Exodus 14:5-9. God's people were ready for battle.
Were they prepared to battle a force of this size and
- Does it seem odd to you that God would say that He
was leading them to avoid war, and then allow the
Egyptians to catch up with His people as they tried
- Read Exodus 14:10-12. Was God right in His prediction of
how the people would react?
- Put yourself in the place of God's people. They have
been following God's directions. God knew they could
not stand against the Egyptians. Why did God allow
this frightening thing to happen? Why did God allow
them to think they would die?
- Read Exodus 14:13-14. Is this an answer to why God
would allow this when He knew they were not up for
- Is this same answer applicable to us in our
- Is this the entire answer to our question about why
God would allow this - that the people needed to
learn to trust God and let Him handle their battles?
(Read Exodus 14:1-4 and Exodus 14:15-18. The main
answer is that this difficult and frightening
situation would give glory to God.)
- Consider this a moment: how many of your
difficult and discouraging situations involve an
attack on "your glory?" Not God's glory, but
- Are you comfortable with any resolution of a
problem which brings glory to God?
- What if God's glory seems to come at the
expense of you or your family?
- Let's re-read Exodus 14:13-14. If your primary goal in
life is to bring glory to God, how would that affect your
fear? How would it affect your discouragement? (Our
attitude makes all the difference. If we know the goal of
our life, and of every situation, is to bring glory to
God, then we can feel comfortable with the outcome.
Especially, in this situation we see that God promises
them protection without having to fight!)
- Is God's willingness to fight, while His people
"stand firm" and watch, a situation that applies only
here? Or, does it apply to all of our problems in
life? (This is the great thing about "God's glory."
If it is God's glory which is at stake, and not your
glory, then God is going to undertake the battle to
protect His glory. If you would quit worrying about
your glory, and let God fight the battle for His
glory, your "nerves" would be a lot better. Your life
would be more peaceful.)
- The Spectators of Faith
- Read Exodus 14:19-20. What parallel do you see for the
solution to your current problems? (If we want to know
God, He will give light for daily living. If we are
hostile to God, we stay in darkness. The result is
"neither went near the other." You are way ahead of the
- Read Exodus 14:21-22. In my new home, the main freeway
dips into a tunnel under a huge waterway. One moment you
are looking at the surface of the water, the next you are
below the surface of the water. This tunnel is often
jammed with traffic. When I was talking to a local person
about this, she suggested that motorists were nervous
about making "the plunge" below the surface of the water.
What kind of feelings would you have if you were looking
at a towering wall of water on each side of you?
- I painted a picture of God's people as spectators to
this fight. Is that a fair picture? (Only as to the
fight. They are required to "move forward." They are
required to exercise faith in God.)
- Is our faith experience like theirs - that if we
don't move forward, we can look forward to being
captured by "the bad guys?"
- Should that equation be part of every faith
- Read Exodus 14:23-25. Who do the Egyptians credit for
- Should we pray that our enemies will be "confused"
and have the "wheels fall off" their endeavors?
- Read Exodus 14:26-28. The Egyptians are now "believers"
( Exodus 14:25). Why drown them? (Barnes' Notes points out
that in every Egyptian monument Pharaoh is depicted as
leading the army. He also points out that Psalms 136:15
says that Pharaoh died with his army. The total
destruction of Pharaoh and the army meant that God's
people would not be threatened by the power of Egypt in
their journey to Canaan.)
- What does this suggest about the deliverance that God
will ultimately bring to His people? (The wicked,
even those who believe in God, will be totally and
- Read Exodus 14:29-31. What made the difference between
these verses and Exodus 14:10-12?
- What does this suggest is the reason for difficulties
and discouraging times in your life? (When you see
God's deliverance, it strengthens your faith and
trust in Him!)
- Friend, in every problem, every discouraging event, we
have the opportunity to place our faith in God and let Him
fight the battle for His glory. If the battle is for our
glory, we have picked the wrong battle! When the goal of
our life is to promote the glory of God, then a sense of
peace and confidence comes into our life knowing that God
is "on the point" in the battle. Our job is to simply
- Next week: Seeing the Goldsmith's Face.
* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.