Observe: The avenging angel has completed the work. Before they leave, God commands His people to dedicate the firstborn of their sons and animals to Him to redeem, to worship; Passover becomes memorial to His deliverance. Israel exits Egypt, fists defiantly raised. Knowing their fickleness, God leads them into wilderness, avoiding the direct route to Canaan, His cloud and fire to guide. Suddenly, Moses receives a strange order. Turn around, camp in a specific place beside the Red Sea, right in the line of Pharaoh’s troops (he rued his decision to let them go), right in the line of God’s plan (formed before time). Pharaoh moves swiftly, God-hardened heart pounding as loudly as his chariots.
The people see them coming -- and trust that God is near to rescue? Not. Afraid, they panic, whine, accuse. Moses says, in effect, Be still, and know that He is God. Yet even Moses hesitates (remember Lot?) until God roars, in effect, Don’t just sit there – MOVE!! They move, all right.
Moses obediently holds his staff over the sea. That night, God sends a preparing wind. Water-walls rise up, lining a dry path. Then, daytime -- men, women, children hurry across to safety, Pharaoh in hot pursuit, chariots breaking down, horses panicking! Moses again holds out his staff as God makes the walls come crashing down over the enemy! Dead -- silence. Awestruck, they witness God’s breathtaking deliverance -- His glory!
And then? Well, what else? Praise, of course! Sing this extraordinary event to the last detail, dance with tambourines in sheer delight at God’s miracle. Direct to the Promised Land? Not.
Wilderness again, more whining and kvetching (ingratitude has a short memory) til they hit an oasis. Bad water but another promise: if they obey Elohim Rapha, God the Healer, they will never have the diseases the Egyptians had. Moving on, they reach Elim; good water, palm trees, momentary rest. God’s love shown, yet again.
Interpret: The Genesis stories often point back to the beginning, to recall God’s acts. Think of the wind blowing over the Red Sea: nephesh, Hebrew for wind/breath/spirit, His Spirit hovering over chaotic waters (1:2). God separating the waters from dry land (1:6-10). Disobedience, deception, blame (3:1-13) – and His mercy, both tender and severe (3:21,23-24).
From the start, God promised a Saviour (3:15). He repeats His covenants -- obey His laws made for their good and good will follow -- all for love of His image-bearers. Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, all failed God at some point. Models for the greatest of Saviours? Really? The stories grind on, pointing to the promised Saviour. The God of love persistently works out His ways, however puzzling, in His time.
Apply: We convince ourselves we can manage very well thank you on our own. When things fall apart, we panic, question, doubt, second guess God. Following Him is hard! And how we grumble when things don’t match our preferences, or we don’t like His way of doing things, or the sacrifices required, or change, or… We make hash of His plans so often, yet He persists in rebuking, calling, forgiving. Loving, always.
Ask: “Red Seas come in all shapes and sizes. What is the Red Sea [of difficulty] you’re facing now?”
-Where is God’s pillar of fire leading me in this present greyness?
- The Israelites, in awe, praised God for His deliverance. How did God lead me out of my “Red Sea” difficulty? Write 2 reasons for praise!
Pray: Lord, we are so in need of Your leading and Your mercy. Guide us by Your radiant Spirit. Deliver us from resisting Your will so we may walk humbly in Your way, remembering Your grace and persistent love far exceed our failures. In Jesus’ name we ask, amen.
1. Red Sea Rules. Robert J. Morgan
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.