A Daily Dose of Good News
Friday, July 17, 2020
The Egyptians pursued [the Israelites], all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”
The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” (Exodus 24:9-25)
The Good News of Salvation
This event described in our good news reading today
Is the gospel for our Hebrew cousins in the faith.
The opening of the Red Sea in the hour of their greatest need
Was the revelation that assures them of God’s place in their lives
Just as the opening of Jesus’ grave after his hour of greatest need
Is the revelation that assures Christians of God’s place in our lives.
Until the sea was opened to Hebrews
And the Egyptian chariots got stuck in the mud
They were thinking that all was lost …
Disparaging Moses with their sarcasm:
Were there not even graves left in Egypt
That you had to lead us out here to die!?!
They were trapped,
Until they weren’t.
“The Lord will fight for you,” Moses promised.
And the Lord did…
Leading them through the sea
Which collapsed again behind them
Protecting against the pursuers.
This is the event to which teachers and prophet would point
When guiding the Israelites in the ways of Gods’ people
Throughout the remainder of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Law was handed down by the God who saved you
from slavery in Egypt and all Pharaoh’s chariots.
“Return to me,” the prophet declares on behalf of the Lord,
“For I am the one who saved you from slavery in Egypt and all Pharaoh’s chariots.”
And that promise of salvation extended through many generations
Finally to be delivered once and for all through a Messiah among the Jews
A Messiah who would come to establish God’s kingdom on earth.
A Messiah we have come to know in Jesus of Nazareth
Whose innocent suffering, death and resurrection
Is the revelation that assures believing Jews and other Christians
Of God’s loving salvation not only from slavery and the trap of pursing chariots
But from the trap sin and death itself.
And it’s that revelation to which we cling these days
With our backs to the wall
Of a pandemic, of social unrest and political intrigue
With seemingly no end in sight.
For we too, would be trapped
If not for the gospel of Jesus
Which assures us that no matter the outcome of our current challenges,
A new day awaits.
These times and trials do not define us;
Nor will they be the end of us.
So while we certainly struggle in the moment,
We can be sure that a God who suffered the cross
Chooses to suffer with us too,
Working through the lives of those who trust and take hope
That God fights for all people still
As we accompany and encourage one another
Bear one another’s burdens
Trusting that God can take
even the smallest word or act of kindness, justice and mercy
To beget another and another and another…
With Jesus the Messiah raised from the dead,
We know that life and love wins.
May that good news give you courage and hope
In these days that can otherwise feel like a trap. Amen.