What does it say?
Moses rallies the nation as they march out of Egypt (Exo 13) carrying the bones of Joseph, guided by the cloud by day and fire by night. The Feast of Unleavened Bread will follow Passover. The Hebrews are to sacrifice to God every firstborn of their male children and domesticated animals. They will not literally sacrifice humans or donkeys (asses), but redeem them by the sacrifice of a lamb. The war-like Philistines occupied the direct route to Canaan, so God leads them to a more circuitous route by the Red Sea.
Pharaoh pursues Israel with his full military fury (Exo 14), his heart further hardened by the death of the firstborn. Despite the Hebrews’ terror and Moses getting his bearings as leader, God demonstrates his power through the well-known miracle of leading Israel across the Red Sea on dry land, while Pharaoh and his army are devastated by the returning waters as they followed in hot pursuit.
Filled with beautiful imagery, Moses composes a song to celebrate the victory (Exo 15). His sister Miriam adds dance to the celebration. God shows Moses a tree to cure the bitter waters of Marah, and from there he leads them to the 12 wells and 70 palms of Elim.
What does it mean?
Life is different as a redeemed people. Freedom is real, but God’s people are on a mission. As such our first steps in the freedom of redemption are not relaxation, but rather faith-strengthening trial. Israel was not ready for the Philistines and was led to take the long way around to the Promised Land.
Observe the tremendous emphasis God gives to remembering who he is and what he has done and celebrating his victories in the closeness of community. Those raised in the Western tradition appreciated individual freedom; yet they struggle with the importance of celebration and commemoration in community.
How will I respond?
How much do I know about the history of God’s mission? I am learning how it threads through the Bible in this missional and chronological Bible reading, but what about the others who have served God and his mission these past 2,000 years? Could I take a class on church history through my church, or perhaps a course such as Perspectives?
How strong is my commitment to assembling with the community of believers and celebrating the greatness of God? Is God leading me the long way around because I am not prepared or equipped? What one thing will I do this week to address this?