Friday, July 3, 2009

Mid-Day Devotion 7/3/09

“And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.”
Exodus 14:21-27

With strength in His hand the Lord God Almighty would part the waters of the Red Sea, making a wall on either side that His children might walk upon dry land and be delivered from the hands of the Egyptians…

For so long the children of Israel had been made slaves, ruled by cruelty and oppression, forced to make the cities of Pharaoh, so long that they knew no other life but the sting of the whip, and the subjugation of the spirit. Generations had come and gone, their fathers had lived and died, their mothers had passed from this life to the next and still, no deliverance had come.

It’s not hard to understand why they would lose hope, why they would find themselves gripped by despair and misery. When pain and sorrow would mark your days, making them as dark as night, the bleak despondency of those merciless times can crush the spirit and the soul of even the most faithful.

Now though they had found deliverance. Moses had come, the word of the Lord upon his lips, the mysteries of God in his staff, and with power and might he proclaimed liberty. He would call out to captive Israel, declaring that the day of the Lord had arrived and that deliverance was at hand with them. He put to shame the glory of Pharaoh and the gods of Egypt, showing that there was, there always would be, only one God, the Lord God Almighty of Abraham and Isaac.

He would lead his people from their slavery, the promise of the Lord now upon his lips.

Yet now… now they seemed like they were trapped. The armies of Pharaoh behind them, the sea before them, it’s not hard to understand why they would despair. Looking at the situation that was now before them, all they could wonder is if they were led out into the desert to die. It would be yet another sign of the hopelessness of their cause, a hopelessness that they abided in for generations.

But God, God was not a God of hopelessness, and He does not lead His Children to death and despair. He would command His prophet Moses to stretch out his arms as he stood before the sea. Then He would send a strong East wind, and while the Armies of Pharaoh were still far off He would part the waters, making way a dry path for the once captive Israel to pass on. As they then found themselves on the dry land of the other side he would send the sea pouring back, putting a quick end to the cruel hold that the Egyptian King had over them.

We look to the stories from the Bible like that of the Exodus and the parting of the Red Sea, seeing the deliverance of the Lord in all its might and its glory, and, in looking to the plight and struggles, the anguish and the agony of the prisoners and the captives, the hostages and the slaves, it’s not hard for us to wish that God would lift His hand in a miracle as He did in those days of old to rescue His children, offering them release from their cruel oppression at the hands of wicked men.

Yet the miracles of God’s liberation are not just in the obvious signs or the great encompassing miracles that part the seas or light the sky ablaze with a pillar of fire. His hand is not just in the great and the wondrous that we see. It’s in every release, every relief that we see of those who are made prisoners and slaves, those who are held in meager estate, ransomed as if sold like cattle. Ours must be to watch for those signs and wonders, knowing that they, in and of themselves, are miracles performed by the Lord in His great love for His children. Perhaps we don’t understand them, perhaps we don’t quite get it, yet it’s not important whether we do or do not, what’s important is that God brought freedom through His precepts and that we give praise to His name for it.

Just as He parted the seas, He now works through governments and authorities, just as He made the land dry, He now gives opportunities for escape in the most basic of ways, just as He once drowned the armies of Pharaoh, He now moves to work against unrighteousness and wickedness by bringing the evil men to justice or working repentance in their hearts. He is there, as He has been, to work His miracles through this age, as He has through all ages.

Just because we don’t see the great and wondrous signs of freedom the Children of Israel once saw so many years before does not mean God is not there. He is… He is there, working His loving kindness, and His tender mercies in the lives of the captive prisoners and the pained slaves to bring them once more to the blessed air of freedom that they may find themselves far from the darkness that once encompassed them. He is there in power and might, in glory, through all things, in all things, to work His will, a will of justice, freedom, liberty and abiding hope.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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