By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. Hebrews 11, verse 29.
If pop culture wrote the Bible, this verse might say, “by faith they all survived the eclipse of 2017.” Did you see the eclipse in America this week? From all the media hype, one might have thought the world was ending. From what really happened, it was a cool astrophysical yawn. As are all such things, in fact. They’re predicted by mathematics (itself a wondrously baffling knowledge gift from God). Any astronomer who didn’t want to be on TV could have told you that, barring a miracle, the moon would pass between the Sun and the Earth without incident. Animals (like reporters) would get a little freaked out by the mid-day darkness, but most everything would hum along just fine, which is what happened. Eclipses happen about every 18 months or so someplace across the Earth. This one was unique because it would be visible by the easily sensitive US media. Unusual but, in reality, no big deal.
Unlike crossing the Red Sea, which wasn’t witnessed by the network news. Four thousand or more years after it happened, we’re still talking about it (but the media isn’t). We’re still talking about it because Moses, who wrote the book of Exodus, recorded for us what happened.
You know the account. Pharaoh finally obeyed God’s command to free Israel from slavery. Yet Pharaoh also soon developed a royal case of buyer’s remorse. He summoned his army and they set out to chase the departing Israelites. When the Israelites found themselves bounded on one side by the approaching Egyptian host and on the other by the unmovable Red Sea, God delivered a miracle. He moved the Sea, cleared a path, and dried up the ground. Israel quickly hurried through, followed in close pursuit by the Egyptians. When the last Israelite was clear of the ocean, God closed up the Sea over the Egyptian Army and drowned them.
All because of faith.
Faith? I thought it was because of God! Of course it was because of God, but the reason the Israelites made it through and the Egyptians died was that Israel had faith in God. They believed God would deliver them and He did. The Egyptians, despite four hundred years of exposure to the faith of the Israelites, had no faith in God. So God turned them over to the consequences of their unbelief and they drowned. Would they have lived if they had faith? Who knows; ask the Lord. I like to think that, if God saved Israel because of its faith, He would have saved anyone else who believed.
Can you imagine hurrying through the walled up Red Sea? Walls of sheer, rushing water held back by, it would have seemed, nothing. The noise, the spray, the terror of walking through such power on display: if you didn’t believe in God when you stepped down onto that path, you would have definitely believed on the other side. Perhaps there never was before or never has been since such a muscular display of God’s raw power. Perhaps, that is, until that first Easter Sunday. But that wouldn’t come for most of another two millennia. We know about Jesus’ resurrection and the power of God displayed in it, the power of God over death. All Israel got to see His power on display over war, specifically that army which designed to bring war and death upon them had death brought on itself instead. The best made plans of the unbelieving Pharaoh were, once again, made to not be so.
Just like it wasn’t to be this week that the world would end because the moon traveled between us and the Sun. Out here in East Texas, it got dark during the peak time. I made a pinhole viewer and saw the obscured sun through that pinhole. I also saw the crescent shapes outlined in tree leaf shadows on the ground. Stupid me, I forgot to look through a welding helmet. But I and so many others had faith that this was just a natural phenomena, a display of God’s power of astronomy, gravity, and interplanetary motion. Come to Texas in 2024 for the next one. I hope we don’t have to view it while on the run from armed charioteers.
For further reading: Exodus 14:21-31.
Lord God, thank You for the miracle You did in saving the Israelites at the Red Sea. Thank You for preserving this story of faith for us here today.