Rev. Dr. Niveen Sarras
Exodus 14, crossing the Red Sea
September 13, 2020
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of the Exodus story? What fascinated you about it? Maybe you are fascinated by the ten plagues or Passover, the splitting of the Red Sea, the pillar of the cloud, or the pillar of fire. There are so many things in the story of Exodus that are amazing. What fascinated me about this story comes from the mouth of the Egyptians, "let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt" (v. 25). The Lord is fighting for them! This statement summarizes the book of Exodus and summarizes our Christian life.
The Israelites in Egypt were powerless with no weapons to protect them. They used their hands and strength to make a living. In contrast with the Israelites, Egyptians had the power and the most advanced weapons of their time. The book of Exodus tells us that when Pharaoh chased the Israelites, "He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them" (14:7). The story of Exodus describes a conflict between the oppressed and the poor group and the imperial power of Pharaoh. God chose to fight for the oppressed.
Pharaoh created chaos and disorder for God's creation by enslaving the Israelites. Yes, slavery brings disorder to God's creation because people are created according to God's image and deserve respect. By defending the oppressed Israelites, helping them to leave Egypt, and crossing the Red Sea, God put an end to the chaos, and Pharaoh and his soldiers with all his chariots were left dead and destroyed on the seashore. God trapped Pharaoh with the same weapons he relied on to fight Israel.
Pharaoh built his economy on forced labor, exploitation, and domination, but God, through Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, destroyed his power and empowered the Israelites.
The story of Exodus is not about supernatural power, but about defending the oppressed and those who are in need. The story of crossing the Red Sea teaches us that God sees and hears our groaning and struggle in every situation we encounter. Our Lord Jesus takes on his cross your groaning and suffering, and he is continually defending you. He will always meet you where you are and helps you to cross the Red Sea; to cross all your suffering and challenges, and will help you to be resilient.
Our Lord is your pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to protect you and lead you. When you think that your challenges are bigger and stronger than you, remind yourself that Christ is stronger than your challenges. He will see you through it. Satan enjoys deceiving us by making us think that God does not care or notice our suffering, but the story of crossing the Red Sea assures us that God sees and knows what we need. God knows what you are going through, and God will always come up with good news for your difficult situation. The author of Psalm 139 says
1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
As we struggle to live out our faith in a very challenging world, we have a God who knows us very well. God knows our problems and feelings. Our Lord Jesus brings you good news for whatever bad situation you encounter—"unemployment, family discord, depression and serious illness, doubt, fear, loneliness -- you name it."
The account of Exodus assures us that our hardship is not forever, and the painful experiences are meant to help you learn and grow from them. The challenges you face will come to an end. God foresaw that Pharaoh would harden his heart and not let the Israelites go free, causing them to suffer more and more, but God used their suffering for God's glory and the well-being of the Israelites. God also foresees your suffering and will put an end to it. Remember, you are not waiting alone to see God's victory over your suffering; the Lord Jesus is waiting actively with you to strengthen you to endure your challenging circumstances.
When you meet people going through a tough time, please do not tell them, "do not worry, it will come out fine in the end." Nor does it help you to say to yourself amid of your suffering and pain that you will learn good things from this experience because it might take years to discover good outcome of your suffering. It is essential to acknowledge your feelings and your pain and to remind yourself that our Lord is on your side fighting for you. The apostle Paul teaches us that "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)." He also advises us to "12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer to be patient in suffering" (Romans 12:12).