They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Camp at Pi-hahiroth

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this .
Exodus 14:1-4

Map of the Sinai Peninsula

Map of the Sinai Peninsula

On day 4 of our first scout trip to Egypt, we left Goshen heading out on the Exodus route. It was amazing how quickly the green turned to stark desert. We crossed the Suez Canal and turned SE down towards the Sinai. We began to read and try to figure out where they might have camped. In Exodus 13:20 it says “After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert.” This is where the pillar of cloud and fire began to lead them.

Then we read in chapter 14, verses 1-4 that God told Moses to turn back and camp at Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the Sea. He said camp right by the Sea, the one that they were going to cross later. As we studied this and put it on a map, we realized that God set the Israelite people up where they are stuck next to the sea. There were several places that they could have gone around the body of water and kept on going, but he purposely put them with their back to the sea and the Egyptians coming after them. He put them in a position where they couldn’t do anything but cry out for help. This was the first time that the children of Israel put their trust completely in God and Moses. And one of the most major miracles in the Bible follows.

The metaphor is clear and obvious; God puts us in situations that are out of our control; no way can we fix it. We add very little, if anything, to the equation. And this is when God comes in power, if we completely put our trust in Him.

Amen.

Thoughts at the Red Sea

Shore of the Red Sea

Shore of the Red Sea

After spending the previous evening reliving the “night of watching” on the banks of the Red Sea, we went the next morning to another Red Sea location to film the story of the Israelites coming out of the water. There, it was brought home to me again, that they didn’t know the ending of the story like we did when they stepped in between those two walls of water. The story says that the Egyptians rode into the Sea after them. Will they come out on the other side also? Ex 14:30 says the Egyptians were laying dead on the shore, so they must have gotten pretty close in their pursuit. How would the Hebrew have people felt? What kind of power is this? Ex 14:31 says “when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses his servant.” They got it! YHWH is God! And they broke out in song in chapter 15 “I will sing to YHWH (not other gods) “He has become my salvation.” He divided sea, this is my God! I’ll leave everything behind, no more Egypt and their gods. The parallels of crossing the Red Sea with our salvation are amazing. Calvary is our Exodus and the Red Sear our baptism. When the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, it was a birth canal through which a new people were born. The water is the grace part of salvation. We had to make a commitment by following Him and stepping in the water, but it was all God that took us through to the other side. The Israelites were saved by grace, just like we are – God took them out. At some point in our salvation experience we had to say, this is my God! I believe Him, I know Him now”, just like the Israelites did.

Celebrating the Crossing

Celebrating the Crossing

The people praised Him there on the banks of the Sea. The Hebrew can be translated not only to mean to “give credit” but also “oasis” or pleasant place to live” and can be translated “This is my God; I will be the place He lives”. The concept of us being God’s temple was already here at the Red Sea. The Israelites were saying, we can’t offer much, but if you want us, we give you our all! They danced for joy because Pharaoh was right behind them ready to wipe them out and YHWH saved them. Can you see why they would be so overwhelmed that they would jump for joy and sing?

A Jew will tell you that this is where the concept of the Kingdom of Heaven began. God acted in great power, like a king and his people called him King. To have a kingdom, you must have a king and his subjects.

If you continue to follow the parallels, being saved was not the end of the story, it was merely the beginning. If the water was the grace, then the desert is the response. We are not going to get to stand on the bank forever. Now comes the obedience part. God says, I not only want you to call me Lord, I want you to make me Lord by the way you live your life. I am going to show you what it means to make me Lord. Jesus said, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” We didn’t have to do the will of the father to get across the sea; we just had to make a commitment (that’s the grace part). Now let’s go out into the desert and let me start shaping you into what I want you to become. That’s the obedience part. He doesn’t want you to just tell him. The language He wants is obedience – now make me Lord, by the way you live. Obedience is never a burden, it is never legalism; rather, it is pleasing to God. Would you marry someone who only loved you because of what they got from you? When He takes us out of bondage and saves us by his grace, we have to leave all of Egypt behind. We must leave all the other gods, no matter how big. We can’t still have Egypt in our soul, we must leave it. God gets the Egypt out of us by taking us to the desert. We shouldn’t look at the desert as a disaster, but as a honeymoon where we get to know God and his provision for us. Be careful about how far you take grace. God did it all; He brought us out of bondage and put us on the banks of the Red Sea. But his salvation didn’t stop there, it started there. Now we have to go to the desert of life with Him and let Him shape us. We are working out our salvation.

Philippians 2:12b-13: “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”