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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, September 7, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Exodus 14:19–31

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. 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.

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. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. 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. 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.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (NRSV)

Grandiose displays of God’s power make rich fodder for discipling young believers and also for cinema. Incorporating biblical phenomena into broader theology, however, is a nuanced task. Should we interpret this story of rescue as a holy miracle, even if we’ve never seen anything like it in our own lives today? Or is the account a metaphor, artistic and pedagogical but not based on historical facts?

Which approach you feel most comfortable with is probably indicative of other factors shaping your theological framework. Regardless, the account was written down to teach a specific audience, God’s people of all ages, about the character of their Creator. What the author wants the audience to take away is this reminder of God’s faithfulness, protection, and provision. It’s a fulfillment of God’s many promises to be “with you.” It’s encouragement that even in harrowing crises, miraculous solutions are possible with God’s help.

Caring Creator, there are daunting situations around me that I don’t know how I’ll get through. Help me trust you without getting tangled up in details. Thank you for your care and compassion for me. Amen.

Written by Michael Mirza, Director of Worship

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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