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Exodus 14:1-25, Crossing the Red Sea

Wednesday, May 30

Great Escape (Courtesy of God)

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

crossing the red sea

The last time I had a medical procedure done, I was struck by the magnitude of coordination and cooperation necessary to make it happen. First I was overwhelmed by how many people were involved -- the welcome staff, registration staff, nursing assistant, pre-op nurse, anesthetist, operating room coordinator, medical device rep, and of course, the surgeon. Then there was the timing of it all -- scheduling the pre-op room, the operating room, and the post-op room. There was all the equipment -- I don't even know how many tools, machines, computers had been created and implemented that were involved. And the research -- the sterilizing process, the operation itself, and the successes and failures of procedures and tests that came before. It was really quite remarkable and overwhelming just how many moving parts had to be in place before the procedure could work.

I see similar moving parts necessary to free the Israelites from Egypt. There were the people -- the hardened hearts of the Pharaoh and his advisors, Moses, the Egyptians that helped the Israelites escape, the Egyptians that pursued the Israelites into the sea, the Israelites who had to change everything in faith, even the angels God had sent to ensure a smooth escape. Then there was the timing of it all -- the Israelites strategically maneuvering so that Pharaoh's army would be exactly where it needed to be to be defeated, the Pharaoh taking a moment before changing his mind so that the Israelites got a decent head start. There was all the equipment -- the pillars of cloud and fire, the sea, the horses and chariots whose wheels got stuck in the mud, giving the Israelites time to cross safely. And the planning -- God knew exactly where to take the Israelites and when to ensure the plan would be successful. The most amazing thing about all of it was that God was in charge of... Every. Single. Element. Unlike the distribution of responsibilities at the hospital, God was solely in charge of all of it. Every piece and part fell into place because God made it so. Now, that's how you stage a great escape!

Narrative Lectionary Text: Exodus 14:1-25

Then the Lord said to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea. Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.’ I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.” The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”