Summary: It appears that the end is near with the Red Sea in front of them and the Egyptian Army fast approaching from the rear. At the last moment God acts and the sea parts.
Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29 “A Cliffhanger”
Our journeys of faith have many aspects to them.
• God’s declaration of steadfast love and our experience of God’s overwhelming grace and unconditional forgiveness.
• God’s presence, comfort, strength and hope in our times of trials and tragedies.
• God’s call for us to be a blessing to others (service) because we have been blessed, and
• God’s leading to step forward into the future in faith, trusting that God is with us.
The story of the Israelites and the crossing of the Red Seas is a story of turning one’s back on the past, moving forward in uncertainty, while trusting that God will divide the sea, stand between us and those who seek our demise and overcome our adversaries.
The Israelites had followed the Lord’s direction implicitly. They had sacrificed the Passover lamb and painted their doorposts with its blood. Preparing for their departure, they had gladly received the generous gifts of gold and jewels from the Egyptian overlords. They had followed God’s presence—a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. Everything was going good. The Israelites were escaping slavery and traveling to the Promised Land. Suddenly everything turned bad. They found themselves on the shore of the Red Sea with the entire Egyptian army hot on their tails.
This isn’t the only time in the Bible when people answered the call of the Lord and followed the Lord’s leading only to encounter hopeless situations. King David faced a near successful rebellion by his son. The disciples experienced a stormy sea that almost killed them. Paul experienced hunger, torture, shipwrecks and imprisonment, when he answered God’s call to become a missionary to the Gentiles.
Certainly Desert Streams as a congregation has experienced more struggles than overwhelming successes, as we sought to carry out God’s call for us to, “Invite everyone to a new life in Christ, a deeper relationship with Christ, and Spirit filled service for Christ. The book that could be written of our experiences as a congregation would not be like Napoleon Hills, Think and Grow Rich, and much more like The Little Engine that Could.
We understand what the Israelites went through. We also know how they were able to survive their journey. In the third chapter of Exodus, when the Lord is speaking to Moses, God calls the Israelites, “God’s people.” They were God’s beloved. We, as individuals and as a congregation, know that we are God’s beloved, also. At our baptisms God came to us and proclaimed, “This is my child, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.
In verse sixteen, the Lord commands the Israelites to move forward. The only problem was there was a large body of water blocking their path.
As God’s beloved, the Israelites stepped forward, in faith, into the future. They trusted that God was with them and would accomplish God’s will through them.
Only when they began to move forward did Moses raise his staff and the sea separated. It was then that the people were able to journey through the water into a new life.
The Israelites could have refused to move forward. They could have stayed where they were and complained about Moses’ leadership and the faithfulness of the Lord. Annihilation by the Egyptians would have been guaranteed.
We too can do the same—complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves. We can give up and quit, but if we do we will never see the glory of the Lord. So instead, we step forward into the future knowing that we are loved and that God is with us.
GLORY TO GOD
The Lord, reveals to Moses that one of the reasons that Israelites found themselves in such a predicament was so that the Egyptians would know that the God of Israel was the Lord.
Most of the time we want things to go well for us so that we can be comfortable and successful. The Lord has greater plans for us. The Lord wants to move in us and through us so that when things happen people will say that it could only have happened because of God’s power. God is to receive the credit in our lives and not ourselves.
As we read the story of the Israelites going through the Red Sea and wandering in the wilderness for forty years, we can only say that God was with them. Over and over again, God provided for them and moved in their lives in miraculous ways.
Every time that J.S. Bach finished a musical piece, he would write at the bottom of it, “Solo Deo Gloria,” to God be the glory. As we finished each piece of our lives, let us write the same—to God be the glory. By doing so, may the people around us experience God’s love and grace and come to live in God’s kingdom. Amen.