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.
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.”
Terrific message! Would throw in the balance of Grace for Living as well as Grace for Salvation. Jerry Bridges classic Transforming Grace is an excellent read on this marriage of grace to our salvation and to our lives. Totally agree however that obedience should be our response. Not downplaying that even a little…