Bible Study: November 17, 2013

Exodus 14:21-30

“Beginning of Freedom”

This week’s study text is the parting of the Red Sea so the Israelites could get across on dry land. This is the stuff of great, dramatic scenes in movies. This is the intense miracle that captivates our storytelling. This is a scene for stained glass windows. But, truth to tell, it is not a huge part of the account of God’s work to deliver God’s people. It runs about nine verses.

In the Book of Exodus, there are eleven chapters preceding this moment, eleven chapters in which God is working to rescue the Hebrew children.

There are about seventeen chapters that follow this moment, chapters that lead up to the gift of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments (Exodus 31:18). So, in a sense, this parting of the Sea is just a blip on the screen of God’s amazing work.

Isn’t that the way it usually works? The story of the parting of the Sea is a shorthand way of telling the whole story: God at work in myriad ways to liberate God’s people.

We tend to gravitate toward the theatrical scenes, while the truth is that God has been at work in a lot of hardly noticeable, easy-to-overlook ways. In some faith communities, it is important that persons name the time and place of their conversion.

It is important, in other words, to have a “parting of the Red Sea” story. Indeed, that part of the journey is worth remembering!

But to suggest that God is absent except for that moment is to disregard the biblical reality. To suggest that God is present only in such moments is to ignore the biblical evidence.

God’s prevenient grace has been at work in your life long before you knew it or could name it. God’s sufficient and sustaining grace will move ahead of you into your tomorrow.

And this moment? This day? Perhaps you are walking on dry land where others see waves.

Perhaps you are finding those addictions that had captured you no longer have power.

Perhaps you are looking at a raging river of distress.

Maybe that river is in front of you or maybe that river is yesterday’s crossing.

Before, now, and after, God is at work. Thanks be to God.

What Someone Else Has Said:

Bob Farr (in Get Their Name, Abingdon Press, co-authored with Doug Anderson and Kay Kotan) has written: “These ‘other hand’ moments have occurred through numerous events, people, and experiences in my life…It has to be God! For me, it is always easier to see God in the rearview mirror instead of the windshield.”

Prayer:

As you prepare this lesson, let your prayer begin: “For then, now, and not yet, thanks…”