With God as protector, the Israelites set out. Ahead of them as a “bodyguard” goes the angel of God, while the pillar of cloud moves with them, both in front and behind, giving light for continued travel. I cannot imagine experiencing nightfall while light emerges from the sky. This “pillar of cloud” appeared in such an organized fashion: “The cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.” This divine manifestation is the work of God’s mirac- ulous power. The cloud brings light for the Israelites; they need clear vision while remaining separate from the Egyptians.
God intervenes in a direct way through Moses, who stretches out his hand over the sea. The water parts, and the Israelites walk across on dry land. The Egyptians pursue; and as their chariots get mired, even they come to the realization, “The LORD is fighting for [the Israelites} against Egypt.” Their thoughts of turning back come to naught as the waters close and drown them. Not one of Pharaoh’s army remains. The Israelites see the sobering reality of the Egyptians dead on the shore, which brings fear and belief.
I have experienced God’s mighty acts in my life, acts that only later I acknowledge as God’s hand at work. When we finally do realize that God has acted mightily in our lives, as we recognize God’s miracles of “the right time” or “the right place,” should we not stand back in awe and wonder at the way these God-circumstances have unfolded?
Reflect on areas of your life where events went dramatically in your favor and remember: this God acts to save—with an angel ahead and a pillar of cloud behind.
Almighty God, thank you for guiding our footsteps while pro- viding for our needs. Thank you for watching over us and for the many ways in which you protect us daily. Amen.
Exodus 14 narrates the Exodus event in stylized liturgical statements. It tells of God’s utter commit- ment to Israel and of Israel’s fearful doubt. This is a narrative “toward faith.” Psalm 114 is a buoyant, almost de ant cele- bration of the Exodus, in which all the enemies of Yahweh are put to embarrassing ight. It is recalled that Yahweh’s sovereign power to liberate is decisive for the world, as it is for Israel. In Romans 14 Paul struggles with the issue of free- dom within obedience and moves us beyond the letter of the law to its spirit. For Paul, the attitude of faith shapes human conduct. The parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew reminds all would-be disciples that law must be tempered with mercy in their dealings with one another if they expect to receive mercy from God.
• Read Exodus 14:19-31. How can you tell when God is guiding you? When in your life have you wondered if God was still there? Reflect on those times.
• Read Psalm 114. “Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” Substitute your name for Judah and Israel in this verse and pray the words several times. How does it feel to be called God’s sanctuary and dominion?
• Read Romans 14:1-12. How do you observe a weekly sabbath? Are there businesses in your community that close for a sabbath? How does that practice affect you?
• Read Matthew 18:21-35. Whom do you want or need to for- give? Why and how might you avoid this issue? How will you pray about this?
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