August 16, 2015: God Makes a Way Where There Is No Way

Posted on : Aug 13th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Certainly, one of the most memorable scenes in all of cinematography is when Charlton Heston playing the role of Moses, raises his staff and touches the waters of the Red Sea. Miraculously, the sea separates and the Hebrew peoples pass through on dry land.

This joyous event of liberation and freedom was a long time coming. The biblical story says the Hebrews were held captive in Egypt for 430 years! (Exodus 12:40). We know that the way they used numbers in the earliest years of biblical writing were not quite as exact as the way we use them today. But, 430 years whether exact or not means they were in captivity as slaves for a very long time!

As we’ve witnessed these last weeks, the ten plagues leading up to the Hebrew people’s release did not bring about instant results. According to the authors of Exodus, the people suffered through the plagues of the Nile river turning into blood, a stifling infestation of gnats followed by an infestation of flies, the death of livestock, excruciatingly painful, puss-filled boils on the skin of the Egyptians, a hail storm which destroyed just about every living thing that was not sheltered, swarms of locusts that finished off whatever the hail hadn’t destroyed, thick darkness covering the land for days and finally, the death of the first born of all people, and livestock in Egypt.

These plagues, which probably happened over many, many years, each begins with a word of hope and ends with God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which is the “holy” way of saying, the Israelites were not set free to go and worship their God. But finally Pharaoh let them go!! Or as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the concluding words of his “I Have a Dream” speech: “Free at last! Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we’re free at last!”

Freedom seldom comes quickly or easily, whether it’s in our lives or in the lives of our spiritual ancestors. I thought of this last Sunday evening as I watched a documentary on the plight of refugees from Syria and other countries in the Middle East who are pouring into Jordon and countries in western Europe. The pain and human suffering these people are experiencing in the quest to save their lives and the lives of their children is unbelievable. I think of this also as I journey with friends who are in recovery and trying to stay clean and sober. And I think of this often as we engage in what seem to be endless conversations about race in America, conversations that seem to get us nowhere.

So imagine the exuberant joy our spiritual ancestors must have experienced when finally they were set free. This time it was real. The Israelites were well on their way before Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his armies after them. Seeing the storm of dust rising from Pharaoh’s chariots, the Israelites knew Pharaoh was once again not far behind them. Would they make it this time? They hoped so. But then the unimaginable happened. As we would say today, “they hit a wall.” They raced straight forward into a dead end: the Red Sea or perhaps more accurately, the sea of Reeds. Imagine having Pharaoh’s army on your tail and a massive body of water in front of you!

Then, in that moment that Charlton Heston made so memorable, Moses touches his staff to the water and the sea waters part (separate). A fierce wind from both east and west holds the waters back and allows the sea bed to dry. The Israelites passed through the waters on their way to freedom.

This story contains a wonderful lesson of faith for us: God makes a way where there is no way. Think about the times in your life when you’ve “hit the wall;” the times when you’ve thought “Gosh, everything is going just fine” and then you encounter the unexpected and what seems to be the insurmountable. It is often at moments such as these that God makes a way where there was no way. We continue with this portion of our journey of faith on Sunday.

Blessings!

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Exodus 14: 10-22

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to God. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, “Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ But Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that our God will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. Our God will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.’

Then God said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. 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. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them…

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. God drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

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