Greetings in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
As the sun began to rise, per God’s instruction, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but God wept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Not even one of the Egyptians who chased the Israelites into the sea survived.
All the Israelites had reached the other side of the Red Sea. They walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, and the Red Sea water stood up like a wall on both sides. And all things had happened as God instructed Moses by saying, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.”
That is how God rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that God had unleashed against the Egyptians, the Israelites were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in God and His servant Moses.
Indeed, it took 430 years, which was a long time. To the Israelites, it had been just a promise handed down for countless many generations. All knew, from kids to their parents and grandparents, but it was just the promise without any tangible evidence—no sign that it truly happened to them or even their lifetime on earth. None truly had hope for the promise. But there were very few exceptions, and one of them was Moses.
Moses was born as a son of the Israelites and a slave to the Egyptians. At the time of Moses’ birth, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, feared the Israelites because they multiplied. Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.”
So Pharaoh appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands.
Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: “When you help the Hebrew women as they give birth, watch as they deliver. If the baby is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders. They allowed the boys to live, too. Then Pharaoh gave this order to his soldiers: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.”
But Moses was spared by their parents. They secretly hid Moses, but as soon they realized they could not keep Moses any longer. They put Moses in a basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. Pharaoh’s daughter found the basket and adopted Moses as her son.
As a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses received the best education in Egypt, the most advanced country then, and trained to be a warrior to lead battles and, if chosen, to lead the entire nation. But Moses knew his origin. He always thought about the promise of being liberated from the bondage of slavery. Then he realized that he was the person who would liberate the Israelites and waited for an opportunity.
One day, Moses saw an opportunity and pulled the trigger to fulfill the promise of being liberated from Egypt. However, it backfired. His people did not accept him as their liberator, and Pharaoh searched for Moses to capture and kill for the murder of one of the Egyptian slave drivers. Moses thought that killing one of the Egyptian slave drivers would start the liberation process, which was completely false. Then he became a fugitive in the land of Midian, far from Egypt.
For the next forty years, Moses lived in the Midian wilderness as a lowly shepherd, but God used this period to mold Moses as His instrument to liberate the Israelites. As the time came, God called Moses among the bushes, and Moses returned to Egypt. His people accepted him, and Moses became the messenger of God’s ten plagues to the land of Egypt. Pharaoh was initially stubborn, but he had to release the Israelites and let them go.
However, Pharaoh soon realized his mistake and hardened his heart. He ordered his army to chase down the Israelites with his best army with his best chariots, and horses. The Israelites saw the coming of Pharaoh’s army. They felt they were doomed because there was no place to go. The Red Sea blocked their way, and they were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army.
Thus, many of the Israelites felt that the promise was false after all. Leaving Egypt was not the fulfillment of the promise. There was a next chapter. Pharaoh’s army pursued them, and they thought that they got killed in the middle of the wilderness. Then they complained that They complained to God, and instead, they praised their life in Egypt, which was much better than being killed in the middle of the wilderness. But God was faithful. God opened the passage through the Red Sea, and they walked on dry land through the Red Sea.
Then The Pharaoh’s army stopped chasing the Israelites. They could not believe what they saw and were in shock and fear. But Pharaoh relentlessly pushed them to chase the Israelites. They got into the Red Sea and again chased the Israelites.
It was yet another chaotic moment for Israelis. They thought they were about to be killed by the Pharaoh’s army. They could not outrun the rapidly approaching Pharaoh’s army equipped with the best chariots and horses. They screamed for their lives, but the passage in the middle of the Red Sea was narrow. Indeed, they were again trapped in the middle of the Red Sea, which was even worse than before. Their hope and dream to be freed were about to be completely crushed. Most of the Israelites, especially those at the rear, gave up their hope. Why? They saw the danger coming quickly
However, the danger did not reach them yet. The perception of the danger was not 100% true either. The Pharaoh’s army chased the Israelites to capture and take them back to Egypt, not kill them all. But they were scared by the approaching danger, which made them panic and irrational. Thus they reached a wrong and extreme conclusion which was essentially false.
It is human nature. No one can make a rational concussion if being scared. We are not different. We will be scared when we confront a rapidly approaching danger. Then what shall we do when a dangerous and scary event quickly approaches us?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Rather than being scared and anxious about what we shall do, give all, including our fear and anxiety, to God with prayer and thanksgiving. Yes, not just prayer, but giving thanks is the secret. If we give our true thanksgiving to God under the most unlikely situation, we have already won the battle. As soon as we choose thanksgiving instead of fear and anxiety, God controls our hearts and fills our hearts with God’s peace. Then we start to see that our worry and concern that makes us anxious are under God’s control.
We don’t ignore or deny the danger the Israelites met in the narrow passage made through the Red Sea by God. Indeed, the Israelites at the rear could not run away from the Pharaoh’s army because their people were ahead. The left and right were walls of the Red Sea water. The danger was real and imminent.
However, is it the first time they were trapped? No, just one day ago, they felt they were trapped and doomed between the Red Sea and the readily approaching Pharaoh’s army, but God rescued them by doing something impossible in the eyes of the Israelites: God opened a passage through the Red Sea and let the Israelites walk on dry ground.
It was not all that God did for them. God sent ten plagues to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who got lots of damage and pain and even lost their firstborn son. None of the Israelites hurt or lost their firstborn son. The Israelites witnessed and experienced God and His almighty power, not once but ten times.
Even so, whenever they met danger, they were panicked and fearful while being scared and anxious about how to avoid the danger with their own might and strength. In their heart, the danger was much bigger than God. They forgot what God did for them. They were quickly consumed by the fear of danger and became anxious while figuring out what they needed to do next.
Let’s ask. Didn’t God save them from the danger of the quickly approaching Pharaoh’s army chasing them down in the middle of the Red Sea? Indeed, God did save them with His Almighty hand as He did before starting to cross the Red Sea, which was only one day ago. Their memory of what God did was quickly forgotten as another danger came to them. How many times do they need God’s almighty hand to do to remember what God did for them firmly?
The Israelites, again and again, forget what God had done for them. On the other hand, God was always gracious and full of mercy. Even so, again, God, in His love, stretched His merciful hand and delayed the progress of the Pharaoh’s army. He also sent the pillar of fire and cloud to throw their forces into total confusion. God also twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive.
Even the Pharaoh’s army acknowledged God and His power. They shouted, “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!.” They declared, “God is fighting for them against Egypt!” Then they ran back to where they came from but could not. God completely confused them with the pillar of fire and cloud.
In the meantime, all Israelites arrived at the other side not because they were faithful to God and believed God while trusting God would save them again from the Pharaoh’s army, but because God’s mercy was greater. He is infinitely faithful in His unfathomable love.
Then God’s promise was fulfilled. As God promised, the Israelites were out of Egypt, and Pharaoh no longer became a threat to the Israelites. They found they were in a new land as promised without any fear of the Pharaoh and Egyptians. They had just become new people and a new nation formed by God. Their forefather waited for the day, but they could not see the day, but the Israelites saw the day. They were on the other side of the Red Sea.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthian 5:17)
The Israelites again experienced God and His mercy on them. The Red Sea returned to its place, and they saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore.
“Sing to the LORD,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.” (Exodus 15:21b)
They also praised God,
“With your unfailing love you lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
to your sacred home. (Exodus 15:13)
They truly became a new people in the new land. Yes, God kept the promise.
How had the Israelites become the new people in the new land, detached from Egypt? It was not a smooth journey that had many ups and downs. But they experienced the faithful God and His almighty hand whenever they met danger through the journey.
Then how about the Israelites? How did the Israelites behave? Were they always faithful? Did they believe God would save them again and again and truly appreciate His faithfulness while giving thanks to God? Yes, they did, but it was almost transient, and they went back to who they were while complaining to God and fearing danger coming at them instead of believing His promise and 100% trusting God.
How about us? Are we different from the Israelites? Have we believed God’s promise while 100% trusting Him? Wasn’t the danger coming at us much bigger than God?
Hasn’t God always been with us, protected us, and provided? Then isn’t it time to refocus our eyes on God instead of anything else, including ourselves and any fearful things coming at us as we start this new year, 2023?
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)