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Saturday, December 10, 2011

All Night

'Moses parting the Red Sea' photo (c) 2005, Bjørn Bulthuis - license:
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22 ESV)
The children of Israel were in a bad spot. They were just a bunch of slaves who had been released by their captors, only to be accused of escaping and pursued by the mighty army of the nation of Egypt. Behind them was that army, camping out, presumably to either recapture or slaughter them in the morning. In front of them, sure, was the supernatural cloud from God which they had been following, but there was also an impassable expanse of water. The proverbial "rock and a hard place" scenario. The people were caving in with fear; the only thing holding them together was the reassuring voice of Moses saying that God was going to save them. Then God told Moses to do something. Moses was to hold up his arms over the water, and divide it so they could cross. God reassuringly and protectively moved his cloud between the Egyptians and the Israelites, and Moses held up his hands, and the wind began to blow.

The wind began to blow? What about parting the sea? All we get is a moving cloud and wind?

Look back at the Scripture passage I quoted above. The wind blew all night. It doesn't even say if Moses held up his hands all night; maybe he held up his hands, felt the wind, and then went to bed. But maybe not... it might have been quite a rough night for the Israelites. I found a news item about a researcher who, using computers, estimated that it would have taken something like a 63 mile-per-hour wind to do this. A gale-force wind, blowing all night. I wonder if that seemed like an improvement to the Israelites?

The wind is strong and the water's deep
But I'm not alone here in these open seas
Cause Your love never fails

The chasm is far too wide
I never thought I'd reach the other side
But Your love never fails

This year my family has been going through some difficult challenges... we've moved to a new town and have been trying to repair and sell our old house. Just moving from one place to another is a big job, but then contracting out the repairs and putting the house on the market brought another whole set of challenges and responsibilities. On top of that, last summer I had an unusually intense period of high-profile projects that needed completing at work. It's been difficult, and frankly, it's still difficult; although things have wound down a little bit, the house is still not sold, and some of those workplace projects are still ongoing. There's a lot to be anxious about, a lot to be stressed about. In the wake of all that, a few days ago I was running on the treadmill and listening to the new Newsboys CD, God's Not Dead, which contains the song I've quoted in this post (it's called "Your Love Never Fails"). And that particular morning something occurred to me.

Just because the seas don't part immediately doesn't mean that God isn't working a miracle.

Take yourself back to that story about Moses. Imagine you are a frightened ex-slave. A ferocious army is within attack distance; you can't see them because of a cloud, but you know they're there. If you don't get across the Red Sea, they're going to re-enslave or kill you. You can't swim it; you don't have a boat. You want God to create a bridge! You want him to send you dry land! And what does He send? A windstorm. All night you suffer through a steady 63 MPH wind. Is this what you asked for? Is this what Moses was crying out for? We need a boat, not a cloud and a hurricane!

What God was giving them became one of the most spectacular, famous miracles of God in history. But it must not have felt like a very good miracle at the time. It may have even felt like God had left them, or was actively punishing them. But God was working in their behalf, parting the sea so that the land they walked on would be nice and dry. God was rolling out the red carpet for His people, and when they had partaken of His salvation, He was going to use the same miracle to completely eliminate the threat to their safety by drowning the Egyptian army.

You stay the same through the ages
Your love never changes
There may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning
And when the oceans rage
I don't have to be afraid
Because I know that You love me
Your love never fails

The next time it feels like you're trapped between an impassable see and an undefeatable army in a 63 MPH windstorm all night, remember: God may be parting the Red Sea for you!

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