Exodus 14:26 Then the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.
Foolish Pharaoh lead his army into the sea to pursue the people of God. It is hard to know what he was thinking, since the only thing holding the water back was the power of God. Once God’s people were safely across, God withdrew his power, and the water returned to its place. Pharaoh and his army were buried at sea.
This is one of the greatest scenes in God’s story. In fact, all history can be seen as his-story. We can be the good guys or the bad guys. We can be on God’s side or the wrong side. But since we are born into God’s world, we all have a part in his story. We might even be part of a miracle more dramatic than the exodus.
Someone worse than Pharaoh is coming, and he too will oppose the people of God. [The antichrist] was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world (Revelation 13:7-8), wrote John.
But just when it seems like the cause of Christ has been defeated, Jesus will return to overthrow the antichrist. Then the antichrist will be thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 19:20), and the people of God will live happily ever after. Wherever we live, whenever we live, we all have a part in God’s story.
Exodus 15:13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
After God’s people got to the other side of the sea, they began to worship in song. Since God delivered them from Pharaoh, they could be sure that he would lead them all the way to the Promised Land. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night (Exodus 13:21).
The pillar would stop when it was time to stop, and the pillar would go when it was time to go. All they had to do was follow the pillar, and they could be sure that they were exactly where God wanted them to be.
Likewise, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12), said Jesus. We are not the ancient Israelites, but our situation is similar in at least three ways: we have been delivered from the evil one, we are not home yet, and we need God to lead us. [H]e will be our guide even to the end (Psalm 48:14), wrote the Psalmist. So how does God lead his people today?
There is a harbor in Italy that, at one time, could only be reached by sailing between jagged rocks. So many ships were dashed on the rocks, however, that a navigational system was installed. Three separate lights were mounted on three separate poles. When all the lights aligned, the captain could be sure that he was exactly where he belonged. If the lights did not line up, he needed to adjust his course.
God has also given us three lights: his word, his Spirit and his providence. Whenever we have to make a big decision we should ask if it agrees with God’s word. If not, he is not leading in that direction. But if it agrees with God’s word, we should also ask if it agrees with his Spirit in our heart (2 Corinthians 1:22). If our heart says No, that may be an impulse from the Spirit (Acts 16:6-10).
If the decision agrees with God’s word, and his Spirit in our heart seems to approve, we can also ask if it agrees with his providence. Is it practical? God’s ways are not always practical, but he is unlikely to call a person who is bad at math to be an accountant. God is usually practical, and the most practical thing we can do is follow him.
Exodus 16:31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.
After God led his people out of Egypt, he fed them with bread from heaven, all the way to the Promised Land. As they slept, each night, enough bread came down for the following day. The people called the bread manna, which in Hebrew sounds like, What is it? (Exodus 16:15). This is how God fed his people, every day, for the next forty years. The Bible contains many stories of God’s provision, and this is one the best.
Jesus drew on this story to teach an important lesson about himself. After he fed five thousand people lunch, he became so popular that some wanted to make him king (John 6:15). Instead of being pleased, however, Jesus accused them of wanting another free meal—which they admitted!
I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world (John 6:48-51), he said.
God provides food for temporal life, and also for eternal life. Jesus is the bread from heaven who gives eternal life to all who feast on him through faith. This is another way of describing what it means to believe.
Reflection and Review
Why did Pharaoh lead his army into the sea?
How does God lead his people today?
How is Jesus like manna?