These are unusual and difficult days in our world. I want to encourage you in the truth. In response to quite a few subscribers asking if I might consider writing more than just Lent or Advent devotionals, after some prayer, I decided to continue writing daily devotionals through Pentecost, which occurs fifty days after Easter and will take us this year to May 31st. So you can expect to continue to receive daily devotionals through the end of May. They will continue to appear in your emails each morning after Easter. You need do nothing. The Lord is sovereign.
In thinking and praying this through, I considered the purpose of these daily encounters with Scripture concluding: 1) They can provide an opportunity to encounter the Lord daily speaking through his written Word. 2) They can give us a better grasp of the whole unity of the Bible as one grand story and increase our knowledge of this Library of Books. 3) They can help get us into the daily pattern of reading Scripture. 4) They can give us a daily encounter with vocal music of substance to inspire our faith. 5) And the concluding prayers can introduce us to some of the saints of the past and “sinners” from the present! With these things in mind and since I am “retired” of sorts, I decided to continue with Eastertide. As always, I appreciate your helping to pass the word along. As always, subscribing is free at: sharpdevotional.com
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Reader: “Don’t be afraid.”
Response: “Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.”
Scripture: Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will charge in after the Israelites. My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”
Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night.
Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!
Then the Egyptians—all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and charioteers—chased them into the middle of the sea. But just before dawn the Lord looked down on the Egyptian army from the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw their forces into total confusion. He twisted their chariot wheels, making their chariots difficult to drive. “Let’s get out of here—away from these Israelites!” the Egyptians shouted. “The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!”
When all the Israelites had reached the other side, the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the sea again. Then the waters will rush back and cover the Egyptians and their chariots and charioteers.” So as the sun began to rise, Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the water rushed back into its usual place. The Egyptians tried to escape, but the Lord swept them into the sea. Then the waters returned and covered all the chariots and charioteers—the entire army of Pharaoh. Of all the Egyptians who had chased the Israelites into the sea, not a single one survived.
But the people of Israel had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, as the water stood up like a wall on both sides. That is how the Lord rescued Israel from the hand of the Egyptians that day. And the Israelites saw the bodies of the Egyptians washed up on the seashore. When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced. And Miriam sang this song:
“Sing to the Lord,
for he has triumphed gloriously;
he has hurled both horse and rider
into the sea.”
Reader: “The Word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Yesterday was a glorious day celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his victory over the power of the devil. If it is possible, I think something even greater may have been demonstrated in that event. Put simply, the resurrection is the glory of God being shone. I know there were many theological aspects being fulfilled at the cross, but I want to touch on the glory of the resurrection. We talk about God’s glory, but what does that mean? In our English usage of today, we may refer to the glory of a sunset. It’s beautiful, stunning while it lasts. The Old Testament meaning of glory is significantly different. The Hebrew word for glory is “kabod” and denotes weightiness, heaviness, solidarity, significance and reality. When God’s glory appears it is not a short term experience, but a visible expression of his absolute reality. His visible presence in Scripture was often in a cloud, a magnificent cloud, a cloud of such weight that entering it uninvited brought death. The resurrection was a manifestation of God’s glory, but it had been foreshadowed throughout the First Testament, for example, in the passage you just read. Remember, we are the Israelites. Don’t think of them as those rebellious people from Bible times. We are too much like them! Pharaoh, the arch enemy, had them trapped. They panicked. They wanted the old miserable past. “Let’s go back to the way it used to be. At least we knew where we stood” . . . in misery. Then came Moses’ words, “Stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today.” The Absolute One entered reality. He does that again and again. Stay calm, the Lord is at work! I love the Lord’s response, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” You are in my plan! Then God says, “My great glory will be displayed . . .When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!” Miriam’s song, at the end of what you read, captured this glory of God idea; “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously . . .” God’s glory accomplished (-es) great things on earth as in the Israelites crossing of the Red Sea and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and victory over sin, death, and evil, but the underlying truth is we get first hand glimpses of the glorious Triune God we worship, the weighty grandeur of our God. But even at that, we see only a small part of our great God. The events of God acting in our lives are not the end, but serve rather as pointers to the wonder and weightiness of our great Creator. The glory is in God alone, not in the wonder of parting the water.
Music: “O Gladsome Light” from Vespers by Rachmaninoff Robert Shaw Festival Singers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PmHP-56Npc English Translation:
Gladsome Light of the holy glory of the Immortal One—the Heavenly Father, holy and blessed—O Jesus Christ!
Now that we have come to the setting of the sun,and behold the light of evening, we praise the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—God. Thou art worthy at every moment to be praised in hymns by reverent voices. O Son of God, Thou art the Giver of Life; therefore all the world glorifies Thee.
O God of my Exodus, great was the joy of Israel’s sons when Egypt died upon the shore, far greater the joy when the redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust. Jesus strides forth as the victor, conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might; he bursts the bands of death, tramples the powers of darkness down, and lives forever. He, my gracious surety, apprehended for payment of my debt, comes forth from the prison house of the grave free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death. Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted, that the claims of justice are satisfied, that the devil’s sceptre is shivered, that his wrongful throne is levelled. Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in him I rose, in his life I live, in his victory I triumph, and in his ascension I shall be glorified. This I pray Almighty God in the name of the one who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
―from The Valley of Vision, p.48