Exodus 14: Risk-taking and the faithfulness of God (Day 62)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

Crossing the Red Sea

1Then the LORD said to Moses, 2“Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the Red Sea, near Baal Zephon. 3The king will think that the Israelites are wandering about in the country and are closed in by the desert. 4I will make him stubborn, and he will pursue you, and my victory over the king and his army will bring me honour. Then the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” The Israelites did as they were told.

5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had escaped, he and his officials changed their minds and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites escape, and we have lost them as our slaves!” 6The king got his war chariot and his army ready. 7He set out with all his chariots, including the 600 finest, commanded by their officers. 8The LORD made the king stubborn, and he pursued the Israelites, who were leaving triumphantly. 9The Egyptian army, with all the horses, chariots, and drivers, pursued them and caught up with them where they were camped by the Red Sea near Pi Hahiroth and Baal Zephon.

10When the Israelites saw the king and his army marching against them, they were terrified and cried out to the LORD for help. 11They said to Moses, “Weren't there any graves in Egypt? Did you have to bring us out here in the desert to die? Look what you have done by bringing us out of Egypt! 12Didn't we tell you before we left that this would happen? We told you to leave us alone and let us go on being slaves of the Egyptians. It would be better to be slaves there than to die here in the desert.”

13Moses answered, “Don't be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the LORD will do to save you today; you will never see these Egyptians again. 14The LORD will fight for you, and there is no need for you to do anything.”

15The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out for help? Tell the people to move forward. 16Lift up your stick and hold it out over the sea. The water will divide, and the Israelites will be able to walk through the sea on dry ground. 17I will make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will go in after them, and I will gain honour by my victory over the king, his army, his chariots, and his drivers. 18When I defeat them, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.”

19The angel of God, who had been in front of the army of Israel, moved and went to the rear. The pillar of cloud also moved until it was 20between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud made it dark for the Egyptians, but gave light to the people of Israel, and so the armies could not come near each other all night.

21Moses held out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind. It blew all night and turned the sea into dry land. The water was divided, 22and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides. 23The Egyptians pursued them and went after them into the sea with all their horses, chariots, and drivers. 24Just before dawn the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw them into a panic. 25He made the wheels of their chariots get stuck, so that they moved with great difficulty. The Egyptians said, “The LORD is fighting for the Israelites against us. Let's get out of here!”

26The LORD said to Moses, “Hold out your hand over the sea, and the water will come back over the Egyptians and their chariots and drivers.” 27So Moses held out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the water returned to its normal level. The Egyptians tried to escape from the water, but the LORD threw them into the sea. 28The water returned and covered the chariots, the drivers, and all the Egyptian army that had followed the Israelites into the sea; not one of them was left. 29But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on both sides.

30On that day the LORD saved the people of Israel from the Egyptians, and the Israelites saw them lying dead on the seashore. 31When the Israelites saw the great power with which the LORD had defeated the Egyptians, they stood in awe of the LORD; and they had faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

Sin

1Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen! 2It would be better for him if a large millstone were tied round his neck and he were thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3So watch what you do!

“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4If he sins against you seven times in one day, and each time he comes to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Faith

5The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith greater.”

6The Lord answered, “If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it would obey you.

A Servant's Duty

7“Suppose one of you has a servant who is ploughing or looking after the sheep. When he comes in from the field, do you tell him to hurry and eat his meal? 8Of course not! Instead, you say to him, ‘Get my supper ready, then put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may have your meal.’ 9The servant does not deserve thanks for obeying orders, does he? 10It is the same with you; when you have done all you have been told to do, say, ‘We are ordinary servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

Jesus Heals Ten Men

11As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease. They stood at a distance 13and shouted, “Jesus! Master! Take pity on us!”

14Jesus saw them and said to them, “Go and let the priests examine you.”

On the way they were made clean. 15When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself to the ground at Jesus' feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. 17Jesus said, “There were ten men who were healed; where are the other nine? 18Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?” 19And Jesus said to him, “Get up and go; your faith has made you well.”

The Coming of the Kingdom

20Some Pharisees asked Jesus when the Kingdom of God would come. His answer was, “The Kingdom of God does not come in such a way as to be seen. 21No one will say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’; because the Kingdom of God is within you.”

22Then he said to the disciples, “The time will come when you will wish you could see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, over there!’ or, ‘Look, over here!’ But don't go out looking for it. 24As the lightning flashes across the sky and lights it up from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25But first he must suffer much and be rejected by the people of this day. 26As it was in the time of Noah so shall it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27Everybody kept on eating and drinking, and men and women married, up to the very day Noah went into the boat and the flood came and killed them all. 28It will be as it was in the time of Lot. Everybody kept on eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29On the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulphur rained down from heaven and killed them all. 30That is how it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

31“On that day someone who is on the roof of his house must not go down into the house to get any belongings; in the same way anyone who is out in the field must not go back to the house. 32Remember Lot's wife! 33Whoever tries to save his own life will lose it; whoever loses his life will save it. 34On that night, I tell you, there will be two people sleeping in the same bed: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind. 35Two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken away, the other will be left behind.”

37The disciples asked him, “Where, Lord?”

Jesus answered, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will gather.

Elihu's Speech

(32.1—37.24)

1Because Job was convinced of his own innocence, the three men gave up trying to answer him. 2But a bystander named Elihu could not control his anger any longer, because Job was justifying himself and blaming God. (Elihu was the son of Barakel, a descendant of Buz, and belonged to the clan of Ram.) 3He was also angry with Job's three friends. They could find no way to answer Job, and this made it appear that God was in the wrong. 4Because Elihu was the youngest one there, he had waited until everyone finished speaking. 5When he saw that the three men could not answer Job, he was angry 6and began to speak.

Elihu

I am young, and you are old,

so I was afraid to tell you what I think.

7I told myself that you ought to speak,

that you older men should share your wisdom.

8But it is the Spirit of Almighty God

that comes to human beings and gives them wisdom.

9It is not growing old that makes people wise

or helps them to know what is right.

10So now I want you to listen to me;

let me tell you what I think.

 

11I listened patiently while you were speaking

and waited while you searched for wise phrases.

12I paid close attention and heard you fail;

you have not disproved what Job has said.

13How can you claim you have discovered wisdom?

God must answer Job, for you have failed.

14Job was speaking to you, not to me,

but I would never answer as you did.

 

15Words have failed them, Job;

they have no answer for you.

16Shall I go on waiting when they are silent?

They stand there with nothing more to say.

17No, I will give my own answer now

and tell you what I think.

18I can hardly wait to speak.

I can't hold back the words.

19If I don't get a chance to speak,

I will burst like a wineskin full of new wine.

20I can't stand it; I have to speak.

21I will not take sides in this debate;

I am not going to flatter anyone.

22I don't know how to flatter,

and God would quickly punish me if I did.

1So I made up my mind not to come to you again to make you sad. 2For if I were to make you sad, who would be left to cheer me up? Only the very persons I had made sad. 3That is why I wrote that letter to you — I did not want to come to you and be made sad by the very people who should make me glad. For I am convinced that when I am happy, then all of you are happy too. 4I wrote to you with a greatly troubled and distressed heart and with many tears; my purpose was not to make you sad, but to make you realize how much I love you all.

Forgiveness for the Offender

5Now, if anyone has made somebody sad, he has not done it to me but to all of you — in part at least. (I say this because I do not want to be too hard on him.) 6It is enough that this person has been punished in this way by most of you. 7Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely. 8And so I beg you to let him know that you really do love him. 9I wrote you that letter because I wanted to find out how well you had stood the test and whether you are always ready to obey my instructions. 10When you forgive someone for what he or she has done, I forgive them too. For when I forgive — if, indeed, I need to forgive anything — I do it in Christ's presence because of you, 11in order to keep Satan from getting the upper hand of us; for we know what his plans are.

Paul's Anxiety in Troas

12When I arrived in Troas to preach the Good News about Christ, I found that the Lord had opened the way for the work there. 13But I was deeply worried, because I could not find our brother Titus. So I said goodbye to the people there and went on to Macedonia.

Victory through Christ

14But thanks be to God! For in union with Christ we are always led by God as prisoners in Christ's victory procession. God uses us to make the knowledge about Christ spread everywhere like a sweet fragrance. 15For we are like a sweet-smelling incense offered by Christ to God, which spreads among those who are being saved and those who are being lost. 16For those who are being lost, it is a deadly stench that kills; but for those who are being saved, it is a fragrance that brings life. Who, then, is capable of such a task? 17We are not like so many others, who handle God's message as if it were cheap merchandise; but because God has sent us, we speak with sincerity in his presence, as servants of Christ.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: Exodus 14

The crossing of the Red Sea is an event of tremendous drama. Older generations might remember Charlton Heston in the famous scene in The Ten Commandments (1956), in which the water literally forms walls in the sea on either side of the fleeing Israelites. It probably wasn't much like that: the 'Red Sea' was really the 'Sea of Reeds', an area of lakes and marshes at the head of the Gulf of Suez. But the point of the story is that God did something remarkable and rescued his people.

So the story is about risk-taking and the faithfulness of God. The Hebrews despaired, saying of their life in Egypt that it would be 'better to be slaves there than to die here in the desert'  (verse 12). Humanly speaking, they were right: while life in Egypt was hard, at least it was life. But no, says Moses – God called us to freedom, and he won't let us down.

Faith often looks ridiculous. It means looking for hope in a different direction – or as one writer says, 'believing in spite of the evidence, and watching the evidence change'. 

That doesn't mean we're excused from being wise and sensible in what we undertake or how we plan things. But it does mean that we don't let 'common sense' dictate what we do. If God can part the sea for the Israelites, he can do it for us.

Pray

Pray

God, help me not to be always ruled by what other people tell me is reasonable and sensible, but to trust in your power to work miracles.

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