God of the Tides

A reading for Friday, October 9, 2015: Exodus 14:1-31.

Maybe it's because we have seen too many movies, depicting the scene. From high on a rock outcropping, Moses raises the staff over the sea and instantly the sea moves back on each side. The waters flow upwards, with waves crashing over the crest and down the other side. In the middle is the way to freedom, dry and comfortable for the Israelites to find the freedom they have so longed for. In one movie depiction I have seen, as the lightning flashes behind the wall of water, great whales and sea creatures can be seen as images against the backdrop. It's powerful to watch...

But is that what the story from Exodus really says? In fact, a closer read indicates that Moses did in fact raise his staff over the water as God had commanded, but the tides were actually what moved the sea. "The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land..." Anybody who has lived on the coast knows how much the tides can move water in and out, creating dry land where water once covered everything. Would it not still have been a "wall of water" on both sides of a tidal shift, the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Red Sea on the other.

The point is that it is still God who moves the waters, no matter how dramatic it happens. It is still God who provided the way forward, and liberated the Israelites when the Egyptian chariots could not pass over the muddy bog. They drowned in their anger and ambition to destroy God's people when the tide returned sweeping them and their heavy armor out into the sea. God still rescued and liberated his people in this version of the story just as in the movie one.

Moses said, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today..." Perhaps it's easier for us to believe for our own lives when the rescue we imagine is less dramatic than what we see in the movies. What if the rescue is a phone call from a friend at just the right time? What if it's a doctor or a hospital? What if the liberation we need comes in the form of a non-profit's feeding, sheltering, or clothing program? What if it's a mentor who helps us with a new job or a new budget? There are countless ways we might see God delivering us in the same way the Israelites were delivered from Pharaoh. We are only limited by our imagination...

God is still with us, offering us what we need when we cry out to the Lord. God still delivers in order to bring glory to God's self. We are grateful and indeed give the God of the Tides all the glory!


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