The Power of Deliverance (Exodus 14:10-31, 15:20-21)

The Parting of the Sea, by Yoram Ranaan

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw that the Egyptians were coming after them. Terrified, the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Did you bring us out into the desert to die because there were no graves in Egypt? Look what you’ve done by bringing us out of Egypt! Didn’t we tell you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone! Let us go on serving the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Moses answered the people, “Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see what the Lord will do to save you today. You will never see these Egyptians again. The Lord is fighting for you! So be still!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to start moving. Raise your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide the water. Then the Israelites will go through the sea on dry ground. I am making the Egyptians so stubborn that they will follow the Israelites. I will receive honor because of what I will do to Pharaoh, his entire army, his chariots, and cavalry. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I am honored for what I did to Pharaoh, his chariots, and his cavalry.”

The Messenger of God, who had been in front of the Israelites, moved behind them. So the column of smoke moved from in front of the Israelites and stood behind them between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp. The column of smoke was there when darkness came, and it lit up the night. Neither side came near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. All that night the Lord pushed back the sea with a strong east wind and turned the sea into dry ground. The water divided, and the Israelites went through the middle of the sea on dry ground. The water stood like a wall on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and cavalry followed them into the sea. Just before dawn, the Lord looked down from the column of fire and smoke and threw the Egyptian camp into a panic. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they could hardly move. Then the Egyptians shouted, “Let’s get out of here! The Lord is fighting for Israel! He’s against us!”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water will flow back over the Egyptians, their chariots, and their cavalry.”

Moses stretched his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the water returned to its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered Pharaoh’s entire army, as well as the chariots and the cavalry that had followed Israel into the sea. Not one of them survived.

Meanwhile, the Israelites had gone through the sea on dry ground while the water stood like a wall on their right and on their left. That day the Lord saved Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore. When the Israelites saw the great power the Lord had used against the Egyptians, they feared the Lord and believed in him and in his servant Moses….

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand. All the women, dancing with tambourines, followed her. Miriam sang to them:

“Sing to the Lord.
He has won a glorious victory.
He has thrown horses and their riders into the sea.” (God’s Word Translation)

Things can change quickly.

One day, you’re living in slavery, and the next, you’re free. One minute, you’re celebrating freedom, then the next minute, you’re backed into a corner, and it looks like the end – only to be dramatically delivered from calamity.

One day (Holy Saturday) the disciples were lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon wheel rut; the next day (Easter Sunday) they’re wondrously slack-jawed with hopes higher than the sky.

Today’s Old Testament reading impresses on us the necessity of trusting God one day at a time, one minute at a time. Circumstances will change; God’s basic character will not change. Therefore, we have the continual opportunity of exercising our faith, and practicing trust in the Lord, by living into a new reality.

In this Christian season of Eastertide (spanning the next 50 days until the Day of Pentecost) we discover resurrection power in putting to death old unhealthy practices and adopting new healthy life-giving habits. Eastertide’s intentional focus is to recognize and celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and so, to exult in our own new life in him.

Revisiting both Christ’s resurrection, and the Red Sea deliverance, helps to remind us God’s invisible power to save is stronger and greater than any visible powers on this earth. Both of these deliverance stories keep us focused on the hope of individual renewal, corporate revitalization, and worldwide revival.

Eastertide is the season to engage in some renewal practices. The following are a few ideas for living into our deliverance from God:

  • Pray for revival of spirituality. Christ brings salvation and life, so praying to God for revival is a deliberate way of connecting with God.
  • Pay attention to words. Gossip, back-biting, slander, and other sins of the tongue kill people. Instead, consider how to use your speech for encouragement, love, mercy, forgiveness, and building up one another. This promotes growth, health, and life.
  • Proclaim resurrection. I believe the church is meant to be the hope of the world because Christ is the risen Lord. Graciously proclaim the resurrected Christ and how the spiritual life makes a difference in life.
  • Put yourself out there. Start the new ministry you always believed would make a difference. Take a risk. You’ve been given eternal life, so can you really fail?
  • Promote daily habits of spiritual health and life. Develop a realistic and workable plan for yourself when it comes to basic spiritual practices of Scripture reading, prayer, worship, etc. And stick to it by involving others.

There will always be people in our lives who try and pull us from what’s most important, even persons who want to keep the status quo to the point of seeking to destroy us. Be ready. Keep Eastertide in front of you; God has raised us to new life.

Allow Christ’s resurrection take root in your heart to such an extent that life itself informs all your thinking, speaking, feeling, and acting. The victory is won. So, sing to the Lord!

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