EXODUS 14: WE NEEDED THIS IMAGE, CECIL
I grew up watching Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments, and I loved the scenes depicted in these images. Shoot, I still enjoy watching these scenes! Exodus 14 is the source material for the movie script and where we can see how the events unfolded historically.
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (Exodus 13:13-16, NIV)
The famous story is God saving Israel from slavery. After God through Moses leads Israel out of Egypt, the Pharaoh realizes he’s lost his labor force, and he pursues them.
Israel is hemmed in between 600 attacking chariots and the Red Sea. They are trapped between their past and their future. They are paralyzed between fears behind them and anxieties in front of them.
Have you been there?
The guilt of your past seems to be pursuing you and never gives you peace.
Anxiety about your future plans paralyzes you from making decisions.
You feel hemmed in and you can’t move.
What will you do? Either/Or options won’t work. But the God of Israel is not an either/or God. The God of Israel shows mightily that we only need to be still and wait for God to provide a way out. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today!
This is not a story about inaction, laziness, or passivity. The story is about God’s power to save you, just as He saved Israel when they were hemmed in.
God can forgive all your sins, and the power of the cross of Jesus Christ removes all the guilt of your past.
God allows us to look at the waters of the Red Sea and know He will make a way, when we cannot imagine a way.
God tells us to move, take a step when it seems impossible!
God not only tells Israel to be still and watch God work a miracle, He also tells Israel to start walking!
Exodus 14:21-22 is the subject of the most dramatic movie scene in the twentieth century at the time it released may be the Ten Commandments scene of Moses (Charlton Heston) raising his staff and God parting the Red Sea. Movies compress time, but the text says all night long God drove the waters back with wind and turned it into dry ground.
Scholars and skeptics have written long tomes and articles trying to explain away this and other supernatural stories of the Bible. One reason atheists and skeptics want to disprove the Bible is that religious people have used stories to justify violence. So if the Bible is disproved, violence is disproved.
What is the motivation to disprove miracles? Like Egypt and other nations, there is always a concern that a God who can do miracles like this scary. He might do such violence or miracles against us! We’d rather feel we can control science and outcomes rather than trust in God.
Thank you Cecil B. DeMille for giving our generation a vision of how God still parts the Red Seas in our lives, those places where we think our only two options are falling into the sea of our deep problems or returning to the old way of life in Egypt. This powerful image of parting the Red Sea shows how God gives us The Third Way, the one we could never imagine without God's miracles of mercy and salvation.
Thank you, God, for parting the Red Sea.
Lord, you chose to judge an attacking army and save Israel. We don’t know how to believe all the details of the story, but we ask you to guide us toward the deep meanings in the story.
It’s difficult sometimes to walk when we feel we have failed so many times before, and we can’t see a good reason to walk into the waters of the Red Sea of our lives. Help us each day to take a step closer to you, in simple trusting faith that you have ways to part the waters of life that we know nothing about. Amen.
Think about one area of your life, your organization, church, family, business, a problem in your community that seems like a Red Sea in front of you and others and a pursuit of enemy oppressors behind you. What does God seem to be telling you to do in order to see His salvation? What is He telling you to do in order to take a step and stop crying out!?
Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey. Greg's wife, Jill, teaches math at Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Community College. Greg and Jill have three adult children, Ashley, Anna, and Jacob. Greg is the author of many books, including his latest co-authored with Randy Harris, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.