Posts tagged ‘Red Sea’

Water and New Life

Credit: Matt Hardy / Pexels.com

When God is first ordering creation, He begins with a formless, watery blob:

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

But the watery blob does not last long. He separates the waters up above from the waters down below, and He separates the waters below into land and water:

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” … And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:6-8)

The separation of these waters eventually sets the stage for God to give life to human beings:

God said, “Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

When God rescues the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, they quickly find themselves backed up against the banks of the Red Sea, being pursued by the full force of the Egyptian army, and being terrified at the prospect of their impending slaughter:

“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:11-12)

But then God steps in and redoes what He did at creation – He separates the waters of the Red Sea and forms dry land:

The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22)

The separation of these waters sets the stage for God to rescue His people and give them a new life.

Over the past few months at the church where I serve, I have been privileged to witness and be a part of many baptisms. In baptism, God does once again what He did at creation and at the Red Sea. Waters are separated by pouring or dipping, and the separation of these waters is the stage on which God promises to give people life – new life as His children:

We were therefore buried with Christ through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)

With water, God not only creates, He recreates. And He does so intimately – personally – for you. If you have not been baptized, now is your time! If you have been, give thanks to God for His creative work in you. It’s a beautiful gift of His love for you.

May 23, 2022 at 5:15 am 2 comments

Don’t Destroy Yourself!

Credit: Bartolomeo Biscaino (1629-1657) / Wikimedia

In the book of Exodus, the Pharaoh of Egypt seeks the destruction of the Israelites because they “have become far too numerous for us” (Exodus 1:9), and he is worried that “they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country” (Exodus 1:10). In response, Pharaoh issues an edict: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live” (Exodus 1:22).

It is at this time a Levite woman gives birth to a son and, at first, attempts to hide him so he might not drown in the Nile:

But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. (Exodus 2:3)

This brave mother follows the letter of Pharaoh’s edict to throw her son into the Nile, but with a twist. She places her son into a basket, and then places the basket with her son into the Nile. Famously, this basket boy survives and grows up to become Moses – the one who rescues the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt.

In a showdown with another Pharaoh of Egypt that takes place some 80 years after Moses was first placed into a basket as a baby in the reeds of the Nile, Moses and the Israelites find themselves backed up against a sea called the Sea of Reeds, which we know today as the Red Sea (Exodus 13:18), with Pharaoh and his army coming to destroy them. But just like God protects Moses from the waters of the Nile when he is placed among the reeds, God protects Israel from the waters of the Sea of Reeds by splitting them into two, so the Israelites can pass “through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14:23). But when Pharaoh and his army try to pursue them, “the water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen – the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived” (Exodus 14:28).

Pharaoh sought the destruction of the Israelites by declaring that they must be drowned among the reeds of the Nile. But instead, he himself is destroyed by being drowned in the Sea of Reeds. Pharaoh’s berserk desire for destruction only destroyed him.

When we are slighted or hurt by someone, it can be easy for us to wish for – and, perhaps, even work for – their destruction – the destruction of their job, their reputation, or our friendship with them. But our desire for destruction – our desire for vengeance – more often than not, only destroys us. The bitterness and anger we harbor toward someone drowns our souls. This is why Jesus says, “If you hold anything against anyone, forgive them” (Mark 11:25). Jesus does not just say call for forgiveness in an effort to let someone who has upset us or hurt us off the hook. He calls for forgiveness to let us off the hooks of our own dangerous desires for destruction that will, if left unchecked, only destroy us. God doesn’t want our souls to get trapped in a vengeful Sea of Reeds.

So, who is God calling you to forgive today? Remember, forgiveness not only helps someone else; it rescues you.

And you’re worth rescuing.

April 25, 2022 at 5:15 am 2 comments

Breaking Down Brexit

London.jpg

It was a shocker of an outcome. British voters backed Brexit.

In a move that sent markets stumbling and the pound tumbling, Britons voted to leave the European Union 52% to 48%.  The fallout from the exit was nearly immediate as David Cameron stepped down as Britain’s Prime Minister, saying:

I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the EU. I made clear the referendum was about this, and this alone, not the future of any single politician, including myself.  But the British people made a different decision to take a different path. As such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.[1]

In support of Brexit was Boris Johnson, a member of Parliament and the former mayor of London, who explained:

In the end this question is about the people…it is about the very principles of our democracy…I think the electorate have searched in their hearts and answered as honestly as they can.  They have decided that it is time to vote to take back control from an EU that has become too remote, too opaque and not accountable enough to the people it is meant to serve.[2]

Back here in the United States, the Obama administration had announced its support for Great Britain remaining in the EU and expressed disappointment at the vote while still pledging its ongoing support for the UK.

As with many things of this nature, there were probably good reasons for Great Britain to stay in the EU and good reasons for it to leave.  On the one hand, fraternal cooperation between nations who support each other in their humanity and not just in their nationality is good.  On the other hand, a governing body as large and as political as the EU is simply too inherently prone to corruption to exercise its power without problems and concerns.

Regardless of how you may personally feel about the Brexit vote, it is important that we, as Christians, pray for the British people.  This much is certain:  this vote has launched that country into turmoil.  The price of gold has surged as jittery investors clamor to find safe financial havens.  British millennials are also broadly upset with the vote, with one millennial tweeting, “A generation given everything…have voted to strip my generation’s future.”[3]  According to one poll, 64% of Britons ages 25 to 29 wanted to stay in the EU.  It was the older Britons who carried Brexit to victory.  But even in the wake of victory, the United Kingdom is still divided.

Ultimately, Brexit can serve as a reminder that no human coalition or government, no matter how seemingly strong, is impenetrable or eternal.  Every earthly kingdom eventually fails and falls.  This is why our hope can never be in nations, international unions, or leaders.  Our hope must finally be in the Lord.

After the Egyptians free the Israelites from the shackles of their slavery to them, and after God miraculously parts the Red Sea so the Israelites can escape the Egyptian army when the Egyptian Pharaoh changes his mind about releasing the Israelites, and after God causes the wheels of the Egyptian chariots to fall off as they pursue the Israelites into the parted Red Sea (cf. Exodus 14:25), and after God swallows up the Egyptians in the Red Sea by causing its waters to fall back on them, Exodus 14:31 says, “When the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him.”

Eventually, the wheels of every kingdom fall off.  Brexit is just the latest example.  Thus, if we trust only in human kingdoms and powers, we will be left with nothing but fear when these kingdoms collapse.  This is why we must put our trust in the Lord.  For when we trust in Him, we can move through even a time of international uncertainty knowing that one kingdom – God’s Kingdom – can never be shaken.  In the words of Martin Luther:

The Word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

___________________________________

[1] Heather Stewart, Rowena Mason, and Rajeev Syal, “David Cameron resigns after UK votes to leave European Union,” The Guardian (6.24.2016).

[2] Kate McCann and Laura Hughes, “EU referendum live: Boris Johnson hails ‘glorious opportunity’ of Brexit as David Cameron resigns,” The Telegraph (6.24.2016).

[3] Ivana Kottasova, “British Millennials: You’ve stolen our future,” CNN Money (6.24.20216).

June 27, 2016 at 5:15 am 1 comment


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