International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending June 28, 2009
For Week Ending June 28, 2009
Purpose: To step out of fear into a robust faith in God who guides, protects and delivers.
Scripture Text: Exodus 14:15-25, 30 (NRSV)
Exodus 14:15-25, 30
(15) Then the Lord said to Moses, Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward.(16)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. (17)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. (18)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.’
(19) 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. (20)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.
(21) 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. (22)The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. (23)The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. (24)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. (25)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.’
(30) Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Suppose you were God, and you wanted to teach the whole world a lesson about your power, your love, your grace and your holiness; what could you possible do that would make an impression for thousands and thousands of years?
This story is a possible fulfillment of just such a plan. First you call a special people to worship you and you call them by faith to go to a land that you will show them. Then through a series of circumstances this whole family ends up in Egypt, and multiplies into a group of diligent, hard working people that know they have a special calling and have practiced circumcision to separate themselves from the rest of the world. One of them was even raised in the court of the most powerful ruler in the entire world. This special tribe of individuals is united by the persecution and the forced labor that is imposed on them. Then the opportunity comes to gain their freedom, but it would mean leaving all that they knew, and the security of being protected from outside forces by a government they despised.
We should understand that God knew exactly who he was dealing with, in Pharaoh. Pharaoh was not impressed by the great I Am, of the Israelites, Pharaoh considered himself a god. It took the “Great I Am” a series of plagues that would make the Egyptian god's seem powerless; from the locust to the sacred bull, each was shown as powerless when compared to the “Great I Am”. Finally through obedience and faith, Pharaoh said “go”.
Now what final act would be appropriate for all time, for all the nations of the world both then and now; what amazing and miraculous feet would be next?
It is possible to sense that God actually taunts Pharaoh into changing his mind and start chasing this large multitude of people he had just sent away. Now the tension builds as this large multitude of people find themselves between the most powerful army on earth and the Red Sea. There is no way this comes out with a happy ending or teaches anybody anything, except, be content in whatever circumstance you find yourself. But God has a plan, and this plan involves some faith and trust, on the part of the Israelites. Do you think God would have had any takers if He revealed this plan to this tribe of people before the fact? Here is the plan you go toward the Red Sea, and when you get there you raise your staff and stretch out your hand and I will part the Red Sea so you can all walk across on dry ground, and then I will destroy the entire Egyptian army by letting them drown and I will cause the wheels on the chariots to seize up and they will go around in circles. One other thing I will do is put a pillar of fire between you and the Egyptian army, so that they will know it is the “Great I Am” that is fighting for you, and saving you, from the most powerful army in the world.
This story would be the story of redemption for the Israelites for the next fourteen hundred years, until a new plan would be revealed, whereby everyone could be saved by the same grace and faith experienced by those faithful followers on that historical day.
God's plan for redeeming His people has not changed, it is still His grace and our faith, that he has given each of us, that sets the wheels in motion for us to have a relationship that will cause Him to fight for us,to protect us and to nurture us, when we are obedient to His call, we do not need to yield to fear, but to step out in faith and He will guide, protect, and deliver us, just as He did on “that day”.
What would it take for you to let go and let God have His way in your life? What enemies are chasing you? I love the unbelievers prayer “O'God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul”. I think that is about where the Israelites were, they did not have a lot of options. Maybe that is where you are? He will fight for you too.