Sunday, 24 January 2010

Be Still and in Awe of Jesus

In my Bible reading plan, I've just reached the part where the Israelites are led out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. Here is that event as depicted by Hollywood:

The animation going on here is amazing - even if it's now a little dated. It still has me in tears though! What it must have been like to know God's deliverance there...

And yet if you go to the Biblical text, significant details are left out of this account. Hollywood, as ever, exalts the human and downplays the divine. For example...

There's no mention of the grief that Moses got from his own people. (And it wouldn't be the only time - despite all that they had already seen of God's awesome saving power.)

No mention of how the Son of God - (the Angel of God), and the Holy Spirit - (the cloud), moved to the back of the Israelites to defend them from the Egyptians.

No concrete person to person interaction between Moses and the LORD (Jesus) just a New Age-y kind of intuitive remembrance of the Burning Bush encounter.

No mention of Christ looking down on the Egyptians from the cloud and throwing them into confusion as they passed through the same Red Sea chasing the Israelites.

No mention of how Moses, already well clear of the water, stretched out his hand and under God brought the water back over their Egyptian pursuers sealing their death.

No mention of the praise given by the Israelites to God once they had passed through the Red Sea, just High-5s all round, as if they had done it themselves.

No mention of how Moses preferred the rewards of faith in Christ, but instead an impression that he still hankered after the old way of life and the pleasures of Egypt.

No mention of the Israelites' covenant relationship to the one who had brought them out of slavery and though the waters of judgment to new life. Only a glib reference to freedom of the human kind and a pat on the back for Moses, the courageous leader - because after all, it is only a human metaphor isn't it?

So OK Richard you've got that grumpy old pointy fingered knit-picking grumble off your chest, now give us something to savour!

As with the whole Bible, there's symmetry here. The Son of God announced and exemplified his saving work through concrete historical events in ways impossible for humans (even we who live in such technological times) or nature to recreate. So that when he, the indestructible, eternal God-Man from heaven, took on the fragile form of flesh that we know all too well, there would be no surprises and we would understand completely. (Only unbelief could keep us from seeing.)

Having acted out his future crucifixion to Moses in the burning bush and to the people of Israel in the Passover, Jesus leads these, his people, out of Egypt, through the waters of the Red Sea (a picture of baptism - of dying to the old way of life and being resurrected to live for Jesus). This Red Sea was parted by the Spirit (a wind from God) a picture of how God guides and carries all those who trust Christ safely through his righteous judgment to be united with them.

Jesus then vanquishes his enemies - the enemies of his people - the ones who kept them captive in slavery by swallowing them up in the waters of judgment, the same waters that should, (but for the love of God demonstrated in the plan of the Father and the tag team of the Son and the Spirit) have swallowed up the Israelites.

What did God's people have to contribute?

After which, they could party hard in praise and worship!

Jesus is awesome. Jesus is everything.

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