Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
“Who is like you among the gods, O LORD—
glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?
You raised your right hand,
and the earth swallowed our enemies. (Exodus 15:11-12)
Crossing the Red Sea was a truly daunting task for the people of Israel. They had to break off the four hundred years’ bondage as slaves in Egypt.
In order to achieve this, they had to get out of their slave mentality. Although they wanted to be freed, one part of their hearts actually resisted because of the strange slave mentality to remain in the comfort zone of being slaves to Egyptians. As the sun set, they had places to go and sleep, and they had food to eat with their families although neither of them were great. They lived in a protected environment by giving up their freedom and being slaves to Egyptians.
Of course, being a slave is not easy. On day, they saw their fellow Israelites being whipped by Egyptians, which was an ugly scene. But there was a strange comfort in their hearts that as the day was over, they would be able to go back to their place and eat together with their families. Sometimes, they themselves became the victim of brutality of the same Egyptians. Then they just closed eyes and just called off the day as a bad day, and forgot what had happened during the day. All of these come from a self-protection/self-survival instinct. Many of us have been before trapped in such an environment: being enslaved to someone/something for so many years. Then suddenly, one day, we realize that we have been a slave to someone/something. And sadly, we realize that we actually have been enjoying of being a slave. What is the most seductive and treacherous master of all that makes us all be slaves to eternity? It is sin.
How many times have we said that we have to stop sinning in our hearts? But the more we tried not to sin, the more we get into deeper into sin. Soon or later, it is impossible to take off the sin because the sin is so closely intermingled with our own heart-desires and our own lives. If not, why are sins still around with us? We could have exterminated sins long time ago. Yes, sin is indeed an integral part of us as long as we breathe on earth. Apostle Paul, thus, lamented bitterly by telling,
Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:24)
Then he shared his struggle against sin as follows:
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (Romans 7:21-23)
However, he soon realized the victory in us, but from God. The answer is Jesus Christ, and he gave thanks to God as follows:
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (Romans 7:25)
Jesus Christ is the answer, and He is Our Savior to all. Although we cannot win over the seductive power of sin by our own might and strength, we can overcome the formidable sin with the power of the Holy Spirit in us. We might have been enslaved for 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, being deceived by the seductive power of sins, but in Him, we can stand tall and firm on the rock of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is our faith and the promise given to us by God.
What we need is not complex. Just yield to Jesus so that He can guide us. Give our whole heart to our God authentically as prayer, and listen to the Holy Spirit residing in us so that H can continue transforming us till we are completely His. Then soon we will find ourselves walking the paths of righteousness being led by God.
The people of Israel did not know about their slave mentality. Although they cried out to God for being freed, they were seduced by the strange comfort offered by being slaves, which was a false security though. Our merciful God could not let His people alone because God love them. God was pulling them off from the slavery by leading thought the paths of righteousness – Exodus. God made a meticulously designed special plan for His own people, which included opportunities to reveal their actual spiritual status and divine remedies.
The first opportunity came to the people of Israel through Moses. Moses killed one of the Egyptian slave masters for the people of Israel, but they flat rejected Moses. As a result, Moses fled to the Midian wilderness. Then, God trained Moses in the wilderness for 40 years. The people of Israel also had to suffer additional 40 years.
Then God called Moses and sent back Moses to the people of Israel to free the people of Israel. It was the second opportunity provided by God. However, Moses could not even convey what was told by God clearly and precisely to Pharaoh. Let alone freeing the people of Israel. It was yet another serious failure for Moses. This Moses’ failure caused Pharaoh to give an angry order to the slave maters, and the slave masters gave additional pains and hardships on the people of Israel. They immediately rejected Moses, and Moses experienced yet another rejection from his own people. The faith of both Moses and the people of Israel were tested and again failed.
However, Moses was different for this time. After failure, Moses went back to God with humility, while the people of Israel completely abandoned Moses and God. Then God brought up His remedy. What was the God’s remedy? It was the famous ten plagues on the land of Egypt. Throughout the ten plagues, none of the people of Israel suffered. Instead, the ten plagues only hit hard on Egyptian to an increasing degree. Through the course of the ten plagues, Pharaoh kept hardening his heart. Pharaoh thought that it was his one will, but it was not. Pharaoh was just one piece of God plan specially designed for the people of Israel. He lost his own firstborn son at the tenth plague. Suddenly, fear of God fell on Pharaoh. Pharaoh forced out the people of Israel from His own land.
Through the course of the ten plagues, Moses and the people of Israel became one in God in faith. In faith, the people of Israel faithfully obeyed God’s command by observing the first Passover in Egypt while they were still slaves in the land of Egypt.
For we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
God was pleased with their faith, and God richly blessed the people of Israel. As they were leaving, the Egyptians provided all goodies. Whatever asked by the people of Israel were given to the people of Israel. Why? They were in great fear of God and the people of Israel, their own slaves. So, the people of Israel stripped the Egyptians of their wealth. Then the people of Israel left Egypt while getting blessings from the Egyptians. But the people of Egypt were in fear while watching the people of Israel leaving their own country. This is what God did for the faithful people of Israel, and God equally does today for us. What we need is to truly become one with God through our faithful obedience of His Word by trusting Him in faith. Then what will God do for us? The answer is so obvious.
As the people of Israel were leaving Egypt, God gave another opportunity for the people of Israel to know their own faith. God again hardened the Pharaoh’s heart. Pharaoh suddenly figured out what he did, which was extremely stupid even to his own eyes. Pharaoh took his best troops equipped with the best chariots, best horses, and best weapons, and chased down the people of Israel. Again, he thought that he did according to his own will, but what he was doing was just creating yet another piece of the puzzles of God’s plan specially designed for the people of Israel.
The Pharaoh’s best armies quickly caught up the people of Israel who were moving on foot. The people of Israel heard a thundering noise behind them, and they looked back. The Pharaoh’s Egyptian armies were quickly approaching them. They immediately became panic, and a great fear fell on them.
What did happen to them? Had they had forgotten the God’s mighty hand that punished the entire nation of Egypt. Even all first-born sons of all Egyptians including the Pharaoh’s own firstborn son died by the tenth plague brought down by God. Should they have had reasoned that God would again punish the Egyptian armies? But once fear fell on their hearts, they went blind. They could not see God any more, but their eyes were fixated to the rapidly approaching Egyptian armies. They were in terror. How many times have we been trapped in a similar situation while suffering from an irrational fear?
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)
Deferring from the people of Israel in terror, Moses kept his eyes on God. Moses was calm, and firmly stood before the people of Israel being terrorized, and bold told “the Egyptians you see today will never be seen again,” in faith. This is what God wants. Such an immovable faith pleases God.
“Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” (Exodus 14:13b-14)
However, the people of Israel screamed. Although they said they wanted to be free, they shouted that they still loved the time of slavery in Egypt!
“Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” (Exodus 14: 11b-12)
God, infinitely faithful and full of mercy, ordered Moses to move forward to the Red Sea. Moses knew there was no more way to go, but Moses faithfully obeyed. He mobilized the people of Israel who were terrified and kept complaining to God and Moses. God did not let Moses alone, who did everything that he could do for God in faith. God sent angels, and the angels quickly moved to rear of the people of Israel, and protected the people of Israel by blocking the further movement of the Egyptian armies. God also put fire and cloud between the Egyptian armies and the people of Israel so that no one could cross to the other side.
And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ (Luke 16:26)
This reminds of the eternal separation that inevitably will come. We, His children, will be on the side of God, but the rest will be tormented. And nobody could not get to the other side by crossing the great chasm. In fact, we should not forget this truth: we are on His side not because we are more righteous than the rest, but simply because we are His children. As His children, we will inherit His kingdom that is completely separated by the great chasm from the eternal fire of Hell. Although we want to pull up those whom we love in God’s kingdom, it will be too late. It cannot be done. What a pity! Thus, now is the time to bring those whom we love to His kingdom. Just speak up to those whom we love. Of course, don’t forget to pray to God. Nothing can be done without prayer.
Back to the people of Israel. As soon as the people of Israel saw God’s mighty hand in action, their terror left them, and they became rational. Then they started following Moses by marching toward the Red Sea. They did not see any path to the other side through the Red Sea, but they obeyed. Moses and the people of Israel became one with God again.
God, then, told to Moses to raise his hand over the immense Red Sea. Moses lifted his tiny hand dwarfed by the immense ocean as God commanded in faith. Before Moses’ raised hand in faith, the Red Sea revealed a path to the other side! God dried up the path with a strong east wind so that the people of Israel walked on dry ground. Yes, dry ground, not wet and muddy ground because God made it dry by blowing a strong east wind all through the night. The following morning, the path through the Red Sea to the other side was completely dry and ready for the people of Israel. As God did for the people of Israel, God always meticulously plans in every detail for us, and executes His plan perfectly for us. Thus, we can praise Him and give thanks to Him in all circumstances.
After the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea by walking on dry land, God ordered again to Moses to raise his hand. Moses obeyed. Then the water stood on both sides to provide a path for the people of Israel suddenly collapsed, and the Red Sea returned as it was. None of the Egyptian armies escaped God’s hand. All perished in the water, and the people of Israel saw the corpses of the Egyptian armies washed down to the beach.
The people of Israel did praise and sing to God with their loudest voice from their heart. Many of them were in tears. Finally, they saw with their own eyes that the bondage of slavery had been just ended. Yes, it did end. No more slavery.
“Your right hand, O LORD,
is glorious in power.
Your right hand, O LORD,
smashes the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty,
you overthrow those who rise against you.
You unleash your blazing fury;
it consumes them like straw.
At the blast of your breath,
the waters piled up!
The surging waters stood straight like a wall;
in the heart of the sea the deep waters became hard.
“The enemy boasted, ‘I will chase them
and catch up with them.
I will plunder them
and consume them.
I will flash my sword;
my powerful hand will destroy them.’
But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
“Who is like you among the gods, O LORD—
glorious in holiness,
awesome in splendor,
performing great wonders?
You raised your right hand,
and the earth swallowed our enemies.
“With your unfailing love you lead
the people you have redeemed. (Exodus 16:6-13)
It was the day that nobody could forget forever. It was so dramatic that nobody could describe in any words because it was beyond imagination. Indeed, the new life had just begun. They were no more slaves, but free people. The bondage of the 400 years’ slavery had been completely shattered, and they were in joy. We, all God’s people, will experience such a joy in Heaven. The old will pass away and the new will come to all of us, His beloved children. Here is the glimpse of what we will experience in Heaven:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:1-4)
All sorrows and pains that nobody could get away from as long as we are on earth will be gone forever. God, himself, will wipe every tear from our eyes. Even death will be no more, and God, Our Ever-Loving Father will be with us forever.
For the people of Israel, God abolished their slavery filled with sorrows and pains under the Egyptians. God put the great chasm of the Red Sea that separated His own people from the Egyptians. No more Egyptians, who forcefully dragged the people of Israel into the terrible slavery for 400 years.
The people of Israel joyfully followed Moses, and moved away from the Red Sea. They started a new journey as free people. Things were good. They joyfully walked into the desert of Shur while remembering and sharing what God did for them. On the way, all were laughing, joyfully talking, singing and praising about what God did to the Egyptians. They spent the first day and night in the desert. Following day, they were still in the desert, but they were still in a good mode, and they happily walked throughout the day in the wilderness. As getting to the evening of the day, most of them started getting thirst because they did not have water to drink. They left Egypt in hurry as Pharaoh forced them out of the country. As walking, they searched for water, but they could not find any water because they were walking through the middle of the born-dry wilderness. The sun was high and hot, which made them thirstier. Soon no more joyful noise was heard among the people.
On the third day, they frantically searched for water, but they could not find any. They walked again. The sun was getting higher and became hot again, but they had no water all. Some of them were fainting and carried by others. It was a really hard and difficult march of the people of Israel. Then suddenly someone shouted at the front that they found an oasis. This news quickly spread out to the entire people of Israel. They felt that surely God was with them, and God had sent water to save them. People ran for water to the oasis. As soon as they reached the oasis, they drank the water to quench the extreme thirst. Then they immediately spit out the water in their mouths because the water was too bitter to drink. What a disappointment it was! They thought that finally God provided water, but the water was too bitter to drink. Please put ourselves in the shoes of the people of Israel. How would we respond under this situation?
Medically speaking, not drinking water for three days is life threatening. Our organs begin to shut down especially the brain, which could have lethal consequences including fainting, strokes and in extreme cases, even death.
Then the people complained against Moses and God. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. (Exodus 16:24)
Yes, it is fully understandable for them to complain. They were totally disappointed, confused and even got angry at Moses and God. They were almost dying, and they thought that God answered their prayer, but the water was too bitter to drink.
Also, isn’t it rational to remember what had happened only three days ago under the circumstances? God split the Red Sea and made a path to the other side, and they walked on dry ground through the Red Sea. Had they forgotten the water standing both sides while they were walking on dry ground in the middle of the Red Sea?
However, all of these miracles and manifestations of God’s greatest power were useless before their physical thirst for water because they did not drink water at all for three days. They were truly thirsty and almost dying, and they found an oasis. They thought that God had provided, but the oasis was too bitter to drink. For the people of Israel point of view, we can understand it was very difficult to continue trusting God.
Let’s reason together. Could God, who split the Red Sea, change the bitter water to sweet for the people of Israel, His people to drink? Surly, God could do easily, and actually He did later. Then why didn’t the people of Israel get to this reasoning while trusting God? The people of Israel wanted for God to provide exactly what they wanted. As soon as they did not get what they wanted, they complained like a baby crying as soon as he/she does not get what he/she wants.
Yes, they failed, and complained. The people of Israel were stiff-necked people, and they wanted to have a god that provided what they wanted and when they needed. They were the master and God was a servant, who supposedly provided what they needed on time. If not, they complained. In fact, it was a God’s plan to reveal their faith, which was too small to fully trust God under all circumstances.
But Moses was again calm. Moses immediately went back to God, and cried out to God.
God heard Moses’ prayer, and answered. God showed Moses a piece of wood, and told him to put the wood into the water. Moses did as God told. Moses threw it into the water, and the bitter water became sweet to drink. Then all of the people of Israel ran to the oasis to draw water. Then all drank the water that God turned the bitter water to a good water so that the people of Israel enjoyed the new water provided by God. The complaint had stopped.
Had God turned the bitter water to a good water, because the people of Israel were faithful to God? No, they were not, but God was faithful. This is not the first time that the people of Israel failed before God. Less than a week ago, they failed when they were on the side right after they departed Egypt. God was patient to the people of Israel, and God’s patience was beyond our comprehension. Why did God was so much patient to the people of Israel? The only one reason was because the people of Israel were His, His chosen people. God made this solemn promise with Abraham when God called Abraham. This promise is still coming down to us and will continue to our next generation and after. God, as He was faithful to the people of Israel, will be faithful to us. It is sure that His faithfulness will be with us always as He did to the people of Israel. This is our assurance and also hope in Him.
Let’s see one more together about how the people of Israel complained to God for this time to give them a credit. Indeed, there was a big difference. For this time, they did not praise the lives in Egypt. Nobody said that they wanted to go back to Egypt! Finally, they made a big progress in faith. It is also true that nobody has a perfect faith. We are all short of the glory of God, and our faith is much smaller than the mustard seed. If not, we could have moved mountains. The Israelites’ faith was so small, but it had grown up indeed. It is also done by God.
Another important fact is that the Israelites’ faith was also given by God. God patiently hedged around them so that they could grow in faith. Then God continuously provided opportunities to grow deeper into Him. In this way, their faith was continuously growing, and God’s nurturing hand was always with them. Thus, we always remember His infinite patience and His unfailing love shown to His chosen people of Israel.
Let’s think about what would happened if there was no big chasm of the Red Sea, and the experience of being chased by the Egyptian armies. They might be spiritually at the same place as before. This is the beauty of our mighty and loving God’s hand. Surely, God will guide us faithfully throughout our lives although we might not be faithful, and He removes our temptations as needed or He places a big chasm so that we cannot go back where we used to be although our heart might still yearning for our comfort that we used to enjoyed, but in fact, it was an illusion because it does not exist in reality. It is a mere deception made up by us sadly.
Our God is constantly looking after us while seeing through our hearts. With His infinite patience, He leads us through our journey toward our Eternal Home. Without ceasing, God molds us to have the final shape that He wants from us. Most of all, all things are done by God with His unfathomable love. This is not a just promise, but God had already proved it on the cross. Therefore, we can joyfully fix our eyes on Jesus, and shout for joy and praise Him with our loudest voice. Thus, we can give thanks to Him under all circumstances. Either good or bad, all work together for the good in God, which is our faith and hope in Him. Praise Him!
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)