Scripture: The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. Exodus 14:28, 31 ESV
Observation: As this epic event of Egypt’s catastrophic pursuit of God’s people concludes, Israel safely arrives at the other side of the Red Sea. There, Yahweh commands Moses to extend his staff over the waters again, but this time to collapse the two seawalls of their escape route onto the panic-stricken Egyptians (verse 28 above). Hence, the corridor to Israel’s freedom imprisons their oppressors, scattering their lifeless bodies along the distant seashore (14:30). Consequently, this extraordinary display of God’s power instills a reverent fear in Israel for their Lord and his servant Moses (above verse 31)—at least for now.
Takeaway: An element of fear threads through this entire story of the Red Sea battle. Fearful of losing their sole source of free labor that prospered their nation, Pharaoh and his advisors foolishly disregard the ten plagues that culminated with the loss of their firstborns. Suppressing their fear in anger, they doggedly pursue Israel across the dry swath of the seafloor, where their chariots become immobilized. Panicking amid the confusion, they no longer run on rage but surrender to their underlying fear of ruin.
As for Israel, they too succumb to fear at the sight of Pharaoh and his armed forces pressing in on them and react with sass and sarcasm toward Moses. But later, when fear overwhelms Israel at the sight of dead Egyptian bodies scattered across the opposite shoreline, this time, they exhibit a healthy fear response: a reverence for their almighty God and his appointed leader.
So what about us? When we suppress fear with anger, like Pharaoh, it will eventually destroy us. Conversely, like Israel initially did, surrendering to fear will lead us to despair. Our best response is to revere, remember, and reroute:
- Revere the One who loves us and gave his best for us by our worship; our loving praise and thanksgiving crowds out our fear.
- Remember the other times in our lives when our circumstances seemed hopeless and how God led us through them.
- Reroute from our present course. With Christ, who is in us, we have the strength to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, who will renew our minds in knowing the next step according to God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Easier said than done? Of course, but he who began a good work in you will see it through to completion (Philippians 1:6).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who gained us victory over the sting (fear) of death. With this in mind, would you please help us follow your Holy Spirit’s lead to revere, remember, and reroute when gripped with worldly fears? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling
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