Today???s message is the 2nd in our ???One Book??? series, as we find New Testament applications in Old Testament scriptures. ??Last week we looked at Noah???s Ark, learning that through the flood there was a physical redemption and renewal in God???s will. ??Then we were able to connect to the spiritual redemption and renewal that takes place in Jesus through God???s desire to see the world come to salvation. ??This morning, the theme of God???s desire for a saved???people continues in the story of the Red Sea.
READ: Exodus 14.1-31
Egypt???s Pharaoh had no regard for Israel???s God. ??He had hardened his heart toward Moses??? warnings and the plagues that ravaged Egypt. ??God used Pharaoh???s stubbornness to show his power, eventually breaking his will and enabling the people of Israel to be set free. ??But it didn???t stop there. ??With his pride knowing no bounds, Pharaoh???s heart was hard once more and he sent his troops after the people, attempting to thwart Moses and his God one last time. ??It was one time too many.
In hot pursuit, Egypt is pushing Israel toward a watery death. ??It would seem that Israel has only two options: either death by drowning or death by the hand of Pharaoh???s army. ??Israel is feeling doomed. ??In fact, they grumble to Moses saying, ???it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.??? ??Was Moses leading them toward death? ??Actually, he was. ??You see, God???s intention this whole time was to do more than take them away from an oppressive Egyptian force. ??God???s intention was to remove from them the entire Egyptian way of life.
Why, we may ask? ??The answer to that question is found in another, much broader question, which is, What is God doing in scripture? ??Beginning with Moses, God began creating a people completely distinct from the other nations. ??By driving out the habits and traditions of other cultures, God was in essence able to start over, building a people that would know God and understand what it meant to live a life that was focused on Him and on his intention for the world. ??If the people were going to be bogged down and distracted by the ways of a wayward humanity, then living as God intended would never be realized.
So God leads the people into the desert, to put to death the ways of Egypt inside them and to give them new life through a relationship with him. ??The way through the sea was a passageway to so much more. ??Sure, it was a miracle that saved them from a physical death, but this physical life was meant to lead them to a much broader life in the Spirit. ??And this is where we as Christians come to a serious crossroads and must choose wisely. ??If we choose to focus on the material, then we will miss the fulness of God that is revealed in both the natural and supernatural. ??Life cannot be about just the material side of life. ??The natural is only part of the picture. ??It is the supernatural that compliments life, because life is filled with elements of both. ??God has chosen to reveal himself in both the everyday and the not-so-every-day events of life.
The point of all of this is to understand that God is willing to do the miraculous but not solely for our physical healing but for our total healing, both physical and spiritual. ??Like the people who were led into the desert, the real test begins after our departure from those things that have held us in chains, things that have kept us from truly living. ??But to truly live doesn???t mean to simply be free of something. ??To truly live is to be free from one thing in order to take on another. ??Without taking on a different way, a new way, then we are aimless and without purpose. ??God created us with purpose, for a purpose, and desires to reveal life to us as we live it in relationship with him.
Do you see it now? ??Is the story a little bigger? ??Is it heavier, with deeper meaning? ??God didn???t just save the people from an army in pursuit. ??He didn???t just peel back the sea so they could walk to safety on dry land. ??No, that???s just salvation from physical death. ??What God was really doing was setting the people up for a spiritual salvation; a salvation that was initiated here and would carry them forward into something eternal.
You see, to hold back the waters of the sea is one thing, but to give people life that extends beyond this base, material world is a whole different kind of salvation. ??The real salvation, the real gift waited on the other side of those waters. ??What waited for them was life, not just an escape from death. ??What God was giving them was a journey, an adventure, that began with living differently. ??It began with taking on a new way, a divine-way of living, that was straight from God himself.
We must fight the temptation to be short-sighted. ??If we live our lives looking at the problem in front of us and think it???s the end of the world, then it might very well be. ??But if we can be wise enough to step back and say Now wait. ??What is God doing? then we just may be able to understand that God is using the circumstances in our lives for the good. ??I love what Paul said in Romans 8.28, ???We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.??? ??Being that we are called according to God???s purpose of salvation and godly living, we then can see that in all things, God is working and at work to call us to salvation, but salvation beyond these circumstances. ??What we are facing now is like the water that stands between us and escape, but what comes after ???escape???? ??Life comes, full of more trials and more adventures. ??Beyond the waters of chaos is a journey that will take you up and down but all for the purpose of leading to a kingdom that is greater and more glorious than any earthly city.
God is not merely leading our feet to a piece of ground where we attempt to build a home of earth and stone. ??God is leading our hearts, calling us upward. ??He even meets us earth-ward in Jesus Christ, connecting the mortal to the immortal, bringing together the finite and the infinite, fusing the natural and the supernatural together and opening up our lives to more than just dry land amidst deep seas.
No, the other side of the parted seas was not an end, but merely a passageway to the real journey. ??And so look beyond the waters, to where God is calling you today; calling you through the sea where he has made a way; defeating sin like the drowning of Pharaoh???s army. ??Just as God???s people passed through the waters of the sea, dying to Egypt and arriving in the safety of God???s grace, so we too pass through the waters of baptism, dying to sin and arriving safely in God???s grace so that we, too, may journey with him through the deserts of life, seeking the promised land, the kingdom of God; a kingdom, that begins in your heart. ??Let God lead you out of sin, let him make you a person of his kingdom, and work all things for good. ??Amen.
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor,??New Liberty United Methodist Church
Devotional Blog -??http://revwrm.posterous.com/
Sent from Whit's iPad??