Life of Moses
Into Life’s Sea!
Introduction…Have you ever read or heard a story or watched a film in which the protagonist had absolutely no means of escape—they had reached the end of their rope, only to have the author or writer, much like a magician pulling a rabbit out a hat, write the script in such a manner in which the character is unexpectedly delivered? I mean you the reader saw no means of escape, and then suddenly the unexpected happens and what was not possible is possible? I meant that is good writing or story telling, and the tighter the jam and the more unexpected, but realistic rescue, the better the story.
I remember watching the earlier episodes of the cliff-hanger 24. Every episode ended with special agent Jack Bauer or someone close to him, including his family, about to be killed. One couldn’t wait until the next episode to see how this plot device would find its resolution. Since I watched the episodes on DVD, I remember watching like two-thirds of a season one night. I would tell myself I was only going to watch a few minutes of the next episode to see how Jack would save the world, but again and again, I would watch the full episode which would lead to another cliff-hanger ending, which would lead to my repeated bargaining that I would only watch a few minutes of the next episode. And this all took place, according to the show’s premise in one 24 hour day. I mean think about it, the writers got me to buy into Jack saving the world 24 times in one season or day! Thus the power of the cliff-hanger.
Well, life can seem like a cliff-hanger at times. Ever had your back completely up against a wall with seemingly no means or way of escape? How did your drama turn out? Did God rescue you? Did you live to tell about it? How?
Previous Lesson… Yahweh uses the Israelites as a trap in order to destroy Pharaoh’s armies and bring Yahweh his true glory.
General Overview…Exodus 1-14…
What were the devastating costs required for Yahweh God to redeem (buy back), his chosen people, the Children of Israel, via their miraculous Exodus (way out) from harsh Egyptian enslavement?
1) Moses makes 12 appearances before Pharaoh.
2) There are 39 mentions of Israel’s “release” or “deliverance” in order to celebrate a festival to Yahweh God in the desert.
3) 7 times Yahweh predicts that Pharaoh will not listen to Moses.
4) In order to motivate Pharaoh to release his enslaving grip upon the Israelites, Yahweh unleashes 10 Consecutive, Pervasive and Devastating Curses upon Egypt.
5) 10 times the text clearly says that Yahweh God distinguishes between Israel and Egypt with respect to the plagues’ devastating affects.
6) Neither Pharaoh’s diviners nor his gods are any match for Yahweh’s mighty hand. In delivering Israel from Egypt, Yahweh God could be defeating as many as 118 Egyptian deities.
7) It is also interesting to note that Yahweh’s last and greatest curse against Egypt, the curse of Egypt’s firstborn, is not just directed against the firstborn of man and beast, but also “against all the gods of Egypt” (Ex. 12:12).
8) Under intense national pain and pressure, Pharaoh is momentarily contrite (3x) while admitting his sin (2x), as well as, asking Moses to prayerfully intercede on behalf of Pharaoh’s disobedience to Yahweh for not having released the Israelite as commanded by Yahweh in order that the Israelites may fully serve Yahweh God in the desert with a festival of sacrifices (4x); Once even, Pharaoh asks for forgiveness.
9) In fact, 7x Pharaoh will declare that Israel can go and sacrifice (after plagues 2, 4, 7, 8, 9 [2x]; 10);
10) But because of the hardening of his heart, Pharaoh will change his mind and recant his promise 4x;
11) In fact, there are 17 references to the “hardening” of Pharaoh’s heart. Moses makes mention of this “hardening” a total of 17 times, with 9 references being attributed directly to Yahweh’s divine intervention, 6 neutral occurrences, which could be inferred to as being attributed to Yahweh and 3 more occurrences in which Pharaoh and his servants are given the credit of “hardening” their own hearts.”
12) 4x Pharaoh unsuccessfully attempts to make bargain with God or Moses so that not all of Israel will go and worship.
So what’s the point to all this protracted salvific divine drama?
With this one protracted drama acted out on history’s grand stage, God reveals the truth concerning himself and his broken creature. God is big; the creature is small. And though for a time, it may seem that the creature is capable of being or imitating God, when the creature attempts to play God, he is ultimately crushed by God himself—the Creator will not be robbed of his true glory–and those who chose to keep God, God, and man, man–or those, that through trust and obedience, ally themselves with their Creator will not only be delivered or saved from the creature’s corruptness, but rewarded for their incredible trust! In other words, despite the temptation to only see life through the visible, but limited, salvation is found in a fallen, imperfect world through trusting the holy invisible—God!
Read the Passage two-three times…
Ask Questions (no answers)…
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.
So the Israelites, seemingly trapped between the sea and Pharaoh’s fast-approaching military onslaught, have turned on Moses and are now regretting their decision to leave Egypt. Moses in turn has tried to calm the people by telling them to be silent and witness Yahweh’s deliverance.
And now God asks, “Why are you crying out to me?” Why wouldn’t they, unless, steeled by ten previous acts of God, they wouldn’t possibly imagine God bringing them out into the desert to die? I mean it would make sense. Why go to all the trouble of delivering them in the process to drop the ball now? And yet, aren’t most of us like the Israelites, asking God, What have you done for me lately? Like today? When will we ever learn that the God of Creation is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow and who has continually delivered us again and again, as well as so many others, can and will deliver us from our latest fear or threat?
God tells them to go forward as if nothing has changed. Stick with the plan. But forward leads into the sea, God. That doesn’t make sense. Faith. Trust…that the invisible, heaven is real and that it can impose its will upon the earth or the physical at any given moment. Be silent! Go forward! The LORD will fight for you!
16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
Divide the sea? Are you kidding? I mean the other ten plagues were amazing, but this–this miraculous act of God–seems that much more staggering than everything that has already taken place.
17 As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.
No, God. It’s one thing to part the sea, but to allow Pharaoh’s chariots to march in after us, why? They will slaughter us? How will you be honored by this, LORD?
18 Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
Somehow, God is about to be honored by the Egyptian pursuit of the Israelites into the about to be parted Red Sea.
19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them.
So the angel of God who seems to be cloaked in a great cloud and who has been leading them now moves backward to protect them.
20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
So it would seem that night was approaching or that this event possibly even took place at night?
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided.
A wind from the northern Arabian peninsula or Saudi Arabia today? Or perhaps even further from present-day Iraq?
Note: the Hebrew verb translated “swept” here is the Hebrew verb halek or “to walk.” Literally, Yahweh caused the waters “to walk” back until they were joined together in the shape of a wall “chowmah.”
Note: it would seem that something very much akin to how water molecules within a tree’s vascular delivery system, using the laws of adhesion, cohesion and surface tension, overcome the forces of gravity and climb as a high as 300 feet in order to deliver water to the tree’s leaves for the process of cellular photosynthesis might have taken place here. In other words, the east wind creates an air tunnel in which the water molecules cling to one another, defeating gravity and thus forming two walls of water.
22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea.
24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.
25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”
Is this a momentary delaying action of God on behalf of the Israelites, so that instead of catching up to and capturing the Israelites, the Egyptians doubt and attempt to turn around? But it’s too late…
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.”
27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
So even in the Egyptians’ attempt to flee in panic, it is too late. Nothing will save them from God’s mighty judgment.
28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained.
29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
31 When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.
Thus, this would seem to serve as the 11th plague or miracle?
The creature doing, over a long period of time, in the modern times, what the Creator did in a moment during ancient times. This is the new Panama Canal being built across Panama’s land bridge. Of course, Yahweh created a momentary land bridge through the open sea, whereas the new Panama Canal represents a water bridge over land.
• Yahweh asks Moses why is Israel crying out to him? Tell them to go forward.
• As the Israelites go forward into the sea, God tells Moses to stretch out his staff over the sea so that the staff will divide the waters and thus allow the Israelites to go forward on dry land, as if they see were not there at all.
• In so doing, God will once again, harden the Egyptian’s heart so they will foolishly go against their instincts and pursue the Israelites into the divided sea. When the Egyptians do this, God will be honored.
• That night the angel of LORD dwelling within the pillared cloud by day that also appears as pillar of fire at night comes between the Israelite and Egyptians camps, thus protecting the Israelites.
• Moses then stretches out his hand over the sea, and, using a strong east wind, God parts the sea, so that the Israelites bravely crossed the sea on dry land.
• Eventually the Egyptians also entered into the sea in pursuit of the Israelites, but at some point in time the LORD causes the chariots to swerve and have difficulty.
• At this point, realizing that the LORD was fighting for the Israelites once again, the Egyptians attempt to retreat, but it is too late. Moses once again stretches out his hand, and the divided waters return together, drowning all of Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen, even washing their bodies up on the shore.
• Thus the LORD saved Israel from the hand of the Egyptians and the Israelites feared the LORD and trusted his servant Moses.
Summary… Yahweh first parts the sea, allowing the Israelites to escape the pursuing Egyptians, but then after Israel safely reaches the other side of the sea, Yahweh causes the waters to return together, drowning Pharaoh’s chariots and horsemen and in so doing, saves the Israelites from the Egyptians.
Why’s? Why did God include this passage in his timeless word? Or What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself?
• When it seems that a believer or a community of believers backs are up against the wall and there is no escape, that this is simply not true. With God there is always a means of escape. How? Who knows? But with God all things are possible, even the using of an east wind to divide the waters of a sea so that an entire nation can walk to safety through the sea on dry land.
• Sometimes following God’s will is nothing more than moving forward, even if moving forward seems impossible on first glance. It’s as if God seems to be saying to the Israelites…you know what to do. Do it!
What did I say? Move forward. Don’t stop, even if slowly. Just keep moving. Stop doubting. I brought you to this point; I am not about to abandon you. What you don’t see is a greater purpose—not just your momentary safety, but the destruction of your greatest threat. Trust me. Just keep moving.
• Much like the fiery pillar of cloud, does the Spirit protect God’s children today?
• God can and does harden hearts for his greater purposes. In this case, when God hardens the Egyptians’ hearts, they foolishly pursue the Israelites on into the Red Sea. I mean think about it. Why would they think that they could do the same as the Israelites? They have just suffered through ten miraculous, destructive plagues in which Egypt took a beating. Why would participating in the impossible—crossing the Red Sea on dry land—not be a foolish strategy. And yet, God harden their hearts so that they wouldn’t think about it, but instead, seeing vulnerable Israelites, the Egyptians could smell blood in the water. And yet it was there own destruction they were foolishly pursuing. It’s called a trap, and the Egyptians fell for it hook, line and sinker. God will not be trifled with.
• The victory that God fought on behalf of the Israelites was a total one. Yahweh delivers and Yahweh delivers completely.
So What’s? How does this truth personally apply to one of my life’s struggles?
Thanksgiving… Feels like I have gotten a lot done here lately. Still a lot more to do.
But I did get to babysit my Spiritual granddaughter today as her mother had some cavities filled at the dentist. I was nervous at first, but the pacifier saved me. One elderly lady did ask me when was the last time I had done something like this? I said 27 years ago and then tried to relax. Later she commented, “now you have it down”.
Also enjoyed taking pics and visiting with my church family at a fun-filled Taco Wednesday. Apparently, I was so busy, I got to eat two tacos with no fixins while on the run. But it was a joy to see everyone enjoying themselves. In addition, since this was serving as a rescheduling of our winter tradition of Taco Sunday, our out-of-town taco posse was not there. They had come up a week and half before, bought the food, cooked the meat and then got snowed out, so Fellowship’s “B” team stepped up, did an amazing job and still cooked, prepared and served over 250 tacos.
As it is Rhonda’s spring break from school, we plan to get away and go back to my hometown to check on those, who, for the most part, played significant roles in my Spiritually development. Since my mother no longer lives there, but lives near my brother in another part of the state, I haven’t been back to the home of my roots in quite a few years. The health of the farmer I worked for as a youth has become quite fragile, and I want to make sure I see him. After that, Rhonda and I plan to take a few days to revisit some of the annual Spring Pilgrimages in Mississippi and Louisiana.
In other words, God has been very gracious, fitting together my life schedule here lately, and I am very grateful.
Struggle…It seems that during this later part of the winter, as winter has seemingly struggled to release its unforgiving grip, quite a few of the sheep have been struggling as well. Not quite sure what to make of it. Perhaps it is just a season. But despite my reasonable best efforts to check on them, I am afraid I have missed a few. Spiritually shepherding can be quite a fragile process at times. It seems all it takes is one mistake, one slip up, one momentary neglect and you can lose a sheep really fast. So despite getting a lot done, as well as, not getting even more done, such as the writing I am committed to doing, I still fall short in my shepherding. True Spiritual shepherding is not for the faint of heart.
Truth… There is always Spiritual escape, salvation and deliverance, even when are backs are seemingly backed up against the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his armies in white hot pursuit. Just keep moving forward. We live, walk, trust, not by sight, but by faith or trust—trust that not all is seen, but that there is much NOT seen, including God, his heaven and angels, and that when we as obedient children of faith seek his deliverance, he hears our cries for help and causes the waters to walk up into walls so that we might pass through our seemingly desperate moments into our salvation. And as he parts the sea, he protects our backs with his presence. And someday, his righteous truth will destroy our enemies, which are also his enemies. We need to just keep moving forward, even if slowly, even if into what appears the impossible. Amen! Because it is through the impossible that God, through his saving of the children of Israel through the Red Sea, seeks to save us through and from.
Application… I can’t think of too many days or seasons of my over thirty years of pastoring God’s flocks or over forty years of seeking to walk with God that my life has NOT been at the mercy of some kind of threat. Life has never really been easy, and yet, God has proved himself worthy of trust, prayer, hope and obedience again and again and again. In fact, threat forces me to seek, trust and love him, and in doing so, more and more, I have learned to live in his peace, despite life’s constant threats. In other words, life’s threats will probably never cease. If it is not one thing, it will be something else, but what is constant is God and his Spirit, presence, peace and protection. It is not the absent of threat that gives me peace, but trusting God’s presence in the midst of threat that gives me lasting peace, and no one can put a value on that. If I could give anything to anyone, this is perhaps the one thing I would want to give away—the ability to be at Spiritual peace, regardless of the seemingly outwardly or inwardly circumstances. It is a power beyond all powers…a truth beyond all truths. Thus, regardless of my present schedule, dreams, hopes, frustrations and failures, my peace is not in the untrained, fickle outward, but the everlasting, constant inward—that God is with me and has promised to deliver me through his Son and Spirit… no matter what! And you can take that to the bank. Why are you crying out to Me? Tell my children to move forward! That is my mission; my purpose; my singular calling, and that is what I hope to continue to preach, pray, sing and do until my dying breath… Tell my children to move forward!
What about you? Struggle? Truth? Application?
What about your students? Their struggles (list a few; think about several of your students)?
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).