Today's Reading: Exodus 13:1-14:31
God’s deliverance through Jesus is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. As God opened the way into his presence through the tearing of the curtain, so God opened a way through the sea by the parting of the waters.
All the way through, we see God’s initiative in delivering his people out of Egypt: ‘The Lord brought you out... Tell your children, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me”... For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand... The Lord brings you into the land... with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’ (13:3–16).
God led his people all the way – although, interestingly, he did not take them the shortest route (v.17). Sometimes, instead of taking us the easy way, God takes us a longer and more difficult way to prepare us for the battles ahead. Even though they were now out of Egypt they were going to have to fight one battle after another. They needed to learn to rely totally on God’s strength and guidance.
He guided them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (v.21); he guided them constantly. This is what we need individually and as the community of the people of God – his constant guidance.
Sometimes we get into situations where there seems to be no way out. The Egyptians were behind them and the sea was in front of them, ‘they were exceedingly frightened’ (14:10, AMP). Yet Moses totally trusted in God to deliver them. He said, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today... The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’ (14:13–14). I often come back to these verses when I find myself in a situation where I cannot, humanly speaking, see a way out.
Moses had to play his part (‘Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea’ v.16a), God’s part was rather harder; he divided the waters. When we pray, for example, for someone to be filled with the Holy Spirit, God uses us. We have to stretch out our hands and pray. But God fills people with his Spirit – he does the hard part. Nevertheless he involves us in his plans.
God’s part was to bring rescue and salvation: ‘The Lord saved Israel’ (v.30). Our part is to trust in God: ‘the people put their trust in him and in Moses his servant’ (v.31).
God wants us to cooperate with him. This is the way that he has designed his creation – whether it is the natural world (where we plant and God gives the growth) or the kingdom of God (where God brings about his kingdom, yet we have a part to play).