Godís covenant people, the people who were the promised descendants of Abraham, are stuck in Egypt. Enslaved in Egypt. Through a series of acts of warning, YHWH convinced Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. So, taking everything they could get their hands on, Israel left. But Pharaoh had sellerís remorse, so he took his army and went after Israel. When he and his army caught up with the Hebrew men, women, and children, they were by the side of the Red Sea. Israel had two options, die or go back to Egypt as slaves.
There was no hope. There was no way humanly possible for Israel to cross the massive body of water. God we would have to intervene. Moses spread his arms over the sea and YHWH divided the waters. Land appeared. The water that would have brought them death was now their way into a new life. The overwhelming and deadly sea was rendered impotent because God did something he had done before. He gathered the waters together so there was dry land for humanity. By the hand of the Creator, through these divided waters Israel walked. From the deadness of a life in slavery, they walked to new life.
I donít think weíre supposed to read the Red Sea story and think ďhey, this is just like creation!Ē Itís not. But we are supposed to see the parallels. Israel surely did. There arenít that many points in Scripture where we have this same imagery of the water dividing. The imagery of Godís manner of salvation is the same in the story of the Red Sea as it is in the story of Noah. Dry land appears where once there was only a world of water. The entire world isnít being remade when Israel walks across dry land, but Israel is walking from slavery into a new life in a new world. It is a magnificent act of God that preserves his image in His creation. As we saw in the Noah story, a part of this preservation of Godís image is eliminating those things on earth that are distorting his image and destroying his image.
After Israel had crossed through the Red Sea on dry land, they still had a serious problem. Pharaoh and his armies were still pursuing them. Pharaoh was still set on taking them back to Egypt into slavery. While the Egyptians were between the waters, Moses spread his arms again and YHWH closed the waters over the Egyptian armies and they died in the water. God was saving His image from the distorters and enslavers of His image. And He used water to do it.
Flood anyone? Itís not the same. God isnít flooding the whole world. He isnít getting rid of everyone. But itís very similar. In both stories God uses water to destroy those people who were ruining Creation. He got rid of those people who were messing up the world in order to make the world better. He eliminated those who were destroying the innocent. In both stories the people of God come out of the same water that God used to destroy others. In both stories, Godís image in humanity is being repressed, controlled, ruled over, ruined, and distorted and through Creator acts, God preserves what makes humanity human.
The tale of the Red Sea is about more than just its parallels with the previous stories. This story is about Godís final magnificent act of saving the Hebrew people and judging Pharaoh. The crossing of the Red Sea is about God keeping His covenant with Abraham, preserving the children of the promise and continuing the process of bringing them into the land YHWH promised to Abrahamís descendants a long time previous. The crossing of the Red Sea is an entering into freedom. Israel was now free from the evil that oppressed them so that now they are free to live as the covenant people of God. Israelís freedom gives them the ability to reflect the image of God as a nation, proclaim His power through their story, and live in right relationship to YHWH, that they would be blessed and would be a blessing to all nations.
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