2017-09-17 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton
RESCUE AT THE SEA…SEE THE DELIVERANCE!
There’s so much to this story…and of course we don’t have time to cover it all, but today, I’m suggesting we NOT take the role of Moses, but instead, let’s come alongside the “gnatter-ers”… the inner circle of 15 or 20 who really trusted Moses (vice-versa) and had that “inner-circlelingering-talks-in-the tent” relationship with him…
what was Red Sea Rescue day like for them?
Moses inner circle posse are feeling parched, exhausted and grimy just like the other 50,000 (?) refugees travelling the dusty terrain to the edge of the sea.
Messengers had sent word that Pharoah’s army was in hot pursuit…but today they saw the sight that would break their hearts and their spirits.
The dust and clamour of 600 chariots, armed with the finest of weapons…
ready to kill and collect their Israelite runaways.
In great fear the fugitives cry up to the Lord and ahead to Moses…
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”
One of the inner circle co-horts is close enough to Moses to grab him by the collar and mutter in his ear:
“What have you done to us…bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you?
“We told you to leave us alone…to serve the Egyptians! It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!”
Moses replies with equal intensity:
“Don’t be afraid! Stand firm!
SEE THE DELIVERANCE that the Lord will accomplish for you today!
The Egyptians you see today? You shall never see again!
The Lord will fight for you!
And you….you only have to SHUT…UP!” [this is not your reader’s digest, warm thoughts on how to win friends with winsomeness stuff].
Moses’ anger continues to burn with his comrades…
With the hurricane winds howling behind their backs they move.
The angel of God is also on the move…pulling up the rear alongside the pillar of cloud…
They come to the edge of the waters and Moses stretches his hand out over the sea…
The LORD drives the sea back for hours on end in the midst of chaos and darkness, the seabed is dry enough for the people of God to scurry forward to freedom…it’s an amazing sight…10 story high walls of water to their right and to their left…
At dawn as Israel is reaching the other side, the LORD in the pillar of fire and the cloud throws the Egyptian army into panic…chariot wheels are clogged, some wheels are so belaboured with gunk/debris that they fall off the axle…
“RETREAT!!!” cries one of the squadron leaders.
His hardened heart has a revelation… “the LORD is fighting for Israel… FLEE! RETREAT, retreat, retreat!”
Moses again hears the voice of the LORD…he raises his hand and the waves come crashing down upon the Egyptian army.
The waters cover the chariots and the chariot drivers…not one of them remain.
THUS THE LORD…saved Israel that day…
AND ISRAEL SAW the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
ISRAEL SAW the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians.
AND ISRAEL BELIEVED…in the LORD and his servant Moses.
* * * * * * *
There are some Bible commentators who call this the most significant story of the whole first testament!
And I can see that…you can even feel it!
Israel’s defining story…the story of their exodus (great escape) from the tyranny of Egyptian rule. Sure, troubles would lay ahead with new foes and new foibles, but Israel would never, ever find themselves under the thumb of Egyptian rule again.
And yet, in the midst of this story we’re left with this grisly image…
“Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.”
With great deliverance, comes great cost. There’s so many victims in this story…so much violence and loss…the cost of human life…and tragic casualties in the midst of the maniacal power of a delusion-filled oppressor…Pharoah.
In the end, this is not a story of good guys VS bad guys.
This is a story of God the protagonist of the story defeating the powers of evil and tyranny.
How then…shall we live?
As those who place ourselves alongside Moses in the inner circle posse… where do we go from here?
“Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.”
As grisly as this image is, Moses companions saw, in plain view, the end of their slavery. The end of their oppression. The end of their tyranny.
And don’t you imagine they wept…tears of relief…but tears that also released the pain and fear and anxiety that had plagued them and their people for 400 years.
Mercy. Grace. Freedom.
And now…3500 years later, what does this mean for us?
The new people of God…in 2017?
Re-telling this story is NOT an “abc’s, how to manual” for how to be moral citizens and superheroes…
Re-telling this story is a way of planting seeds of hope…and a way of reminding ourselves of our identity and destiny and the people of God.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come, ‘tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home…”
Re-telling this story is an opportunity for us to recognize that we, too, have a role in God’s work in the world.
Let’s frame our refection with a Question:
“If God is the protagonist of the story…and if ultimately God will win… how might we discern and then join in the ongoing story of God’s deliverance and new creation for our neighbour, our community, our world?”
We continue to live in a time/era where God is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).
The enemies of God are being subdued upon the sea shore and we are being summoned to continue to be a people who champion life, justice and freedom…
So today…we come alongside the exhausted, sweaty-faced comrades of Moses…
And our hearts are encouraged…for we know and believe that the Lord of the exodus is providing a way for us today…
Last week, we were encouraged to carry Psalm 90 with us (Psalm of Moses)…
This week, let’s add Psalm 66 to mix!
A Psalm of praise and thanksgiving…and song where we remind ourselves not to be enemies of God…not to be doubters, complainers and rebels, but instead to pronounce and proclaim the profound performance of the protagonist God of ours…
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
4 All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.”Selah
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds among mortals.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There we rejoiced in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let the rebellious not exalt themselves.Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living,
and has not let our feet slip.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.
God…continue to lead the way for us…coming alongside us and empowering us with your courage and wisdom…
May we join your ongoing story of deliverance…
And might we close our mouths…and open up our hearts
To see the new ways of life and freedom that you are providing.
God of mercy…lead on!