The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.”
The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
A Tree and Its Fruit1
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.
More and more, thanks to people like Buck Brannaman and Jackson Galaxy, we are discovering that animal care, whether they be exotic pets or livestock, is done better by leading than by driving. It is safer for us and the animals and far less frustrating if we get some degree of understanding of the animals with which we live and work.
Gizmo, one of my two cats has developed her own communication system with me. She is incredibly finicky about her litter box being clean and staying clean all the time and when she wants my attention (a.k.a. she wants her bathroom cleaned) she reaches up near the television and begins to paw at anything she can pull down there. For too long, I thought she was actually after something up near the TV. In fact, she just noticed, that was where my attention seemed to be and she wanted it, and, like many children discover, doing something irritating is a quick way to get attention. Food, Water, Bathroom, these three main needs she has, and her trick to get my attention is to paw at the TV or, if that doesn’t work, paw at me directly, tugging on my elbow if I’m sitting down.
God could have driven the Hebrews from Egypt, but instead He chose to lead them. Even when they had Pharaoh on one side of the parted Sea and the road to the Promised Land on the other, they still had the choice to turn back with every step they took, and they knew it too. Yet God does not drive us like cattle into His kingdom. He invites us. He speaks to us. He understands us. He treats us not as equals, for that would be untrue and not helpful as we do not live and act perfectly the way God does. He treats us instead as His children (although this is still a stretch for us).
There are times when He disciplines us and when the world begins to crash in upon as a consequence of sin and brokenness, and God pulls us out without our say so. Most of the time though, He simply sends the invitation, often with a small gift for the day, and waits patiently for us to follow. He often does this through other people, and in doing so, shares responsibility with us for helping transform the world into the full potential He created it with. Our challenge is then to determine which of the many messengers that come our way come from God.
Thankfully, Jesus gave us some help with that. “You will know them by their fruits.”
Where is God leading you to take responsibility in His Kingdom?
What fruits have come from your efforts serving God?
- (Mt 12:33; Lk 6:43–45)↩