40 Days to Jerusalem
The New Exodus Begins ‚Äì Day 14
Weekly Theme: The Exodus ‚Äì From Death to Life
Today‚Äôs Meditation: Old Life ‚Äì Red Sea ‚Äì New Life
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh‚Äôs horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24 During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25 He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.‚Äù
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‚ÄúStretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.‚Äù 27 Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28 The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen‚Äîthe entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31 And 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 and in Moses his servant. (Exodus 14:21-31)
We have all heard the expression, ‚ÄúIt is a matter of life and death!‚ÄùUsually this statement is made when a crisis has arisen and people are in extreme danger. In most emergency cases where this statement might apply, a cry for help is heard, and actions are taken on behalf of those who are teetering between surviving and perishing. For instance, if someone is having a heart attack, a defibrillator or CPR must be utilized quickly by an EMT or someone trained to do so‚Ä¶ ‚ÄúIt is a matter of life and death!‚Äù If a person is trapped in a burning building, the firemen must act quickly to extract them‚Ä¶ ‚ÄúIt is a matter of life and death!‚Äù Or, if someone is drowning, a lifeguard must respond in haste to retrieve them from the water‚Ä¶ ‚ÄúIt is a matter of life and death!‚Äù
In our Scripture passage for today, we observe a, ‚Äúmatter of life and death.‚Äù We see that a crisis has arisen, that people are in extreme danger, and something must be done to avert tragedy. In this passage we see that the Children of Israel are struggling, and it is none other than God who is acting to save them. The pattern we discover here is quite familiar. For the Hebrew people, there must be death to the old way of life. This transformation from death to life is followed by coming ‚Äúthrough the water‚Äù. Then, new life occurs as they emerge on the other side. From death, through the sea, to life ‚Äì this is the pattern.
On March 23, 1775, at the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry offered a speech in response to the oppression of America by King George and mother England. In his speech he said, ‚ÄúFor my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery.‚Äù For Henry, if the American people were not free, they were not really alive. One line from that speech is etched in the collective memory of Americans, or should be. He said, ‚ÄúGive me liberty or give me death.‚Äù In his view, to be in bondage meant a living death. To be fully alive meant freedom from the encroachment of repressive government.
For the Children of Israel, 400 years of bondage and slavery to Pharaoh and Egypt had rendered them lifeless. Their spirits were crushed! Using Patrick Henry‚Äôs terms, without liberty, they had been given death. Exodus 2:23-25 reveals their state of mind. ‚ÄúThe Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.‚Äù In great distress, the people cried out. Like those trapped in a burning building, it was a ‚Äúmatter of life and death‚Äù! How beautiful is the message that God looked at their condition and was ‚Äúconcerned about them.‚Äù God remembered His covenant with their forefathers. Remember, covenants create a family relationship. These were God‚Äôs people, His family, and they needed to be rescued. According to God‚Äôs will and plan, help was on the way!
Exodus 3:7-10 reveals the plan. ‚ÄúThe Lord said, ‚ÄúI have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptiansand to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey‚Ä¶ 9 And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.‚Äù Moses, God‚Äôs chosen deliverer, obeyed God and went to Egypt to rescue the people from their crisis. After ten plagues, culminating in the coming of the death angel and the death of the first born sons of Egypt, it looked like freedom had finally come to the Israelites. But, there soon arose a problem.
Pharaoh changed his mind! Imagine, as the Israelites made their way out of Egypt, finally rid of their slave masters, in the distance arose the sound of an army pursuing them ‚Äì to take them back into captivity. Genesis 13:5-7 states, ‚ÄúWhen the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, ‚ÄúWhat have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!‚Äù 6 So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. As the army approached, a crisis of EPIC proportions confronted the people. Terror struck the Israelites and the cried out to the Lord. Moses said to them, ‚ÄúDo not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.‚Äù
Behind the Hebrews was the old way of life in Egypt and the relentless pursuit of their evil oppressor. What lay ahead was the Red Sea! How would God save them? The pillar of fire that led the people moved to the rear of their company, between the people and their enemy. Moses was then instructed to raise his staff. In a breath taking display of God‚Äôs limitless power, the waters of the sea were parted. With the army held at bay, the Israelites walked through the waters, with the sea parted to the left and right. When all of them had arrived safely on the other side, God allowed Pharaoh‚Äôs army to advance. Moses was instructed by God to raise his staff again. ‚ÄúThe water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen‚Äîthe entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. 29 But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore‚Äù (Genesis 14:28-30).
This situation really was a ‚Äúmatter of life and death.‚ÄùAs the Egyptians and the old way of life lay dead on the shore, and the first born sons lay dead back in Egypt, the Children of Israel had come through the waters. As they emerged from the waters, they had entered a new life of freedom from bondage and the evil that had oppressed them. Indeed, the old had passed away, and the Lord was making all things new (Revelation 21:5)!
If you have made a connection between this astounding scene and the waters of baptism, you are not alone. Paul made that connection as well. In 1 Corinthians 10:1-2, he writes, ‚ÄúFor I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.‚Äù
As we have seen, a new and greater Moses was coming to lead a new and greater Exodus (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). If the Israelites were ‚Äúbaptized into Moses,‚Äù it stands to reason that there will be a baptism into the New Moses. In Romans 6, Paul wrote, ‚ÄúOr don‚Äôt you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him 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.‚Äù There is that theme again; death to the old way and life in the new ‚ÄúWay‚Äù. As we will discover on Friday of this week, whether we are ‚ÄúIn Christ,‚Äù or not, really is ‚Äúa matter of life and death!‚Äù
Prayers for Today
Praise God for the freedom we have in Christ Jesus
Give thanks to Jesus for showing us the "Way"!
Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide and your protection this day, like He was for the Israelites in that day
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any unconfessed sin
Repent, confess and ask the Lord to forgive you
Receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
Pray that the Lord would share the Truth to someone in bondage. It is the Truth that will set them free!
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‚ÄúIf you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.‚Äù (John 8:31-32)