When he let go
It is fair to say that the Israelites had a roller-coaster existence since Moses showed up and first asked Pharaoh to let them go. Life wasn’t great before that, but at least it was predictable. They went from hope and excitement when Moses told them that Elohim had heard their cries and was about to win their freedom, to the greatest disappointment when instead their labor was increased. Again, they allowed their hopes to be kindled when they saw the miracles that Elohim performed at Moses’ hand, but returned to shock with Pharaoh’s magicians did the same things. Back and forth their emotions ran as they witnessed the battle between their Elohim, and the world’s super-power. Possibilities one moment only to be followed by desolation as hope was dashed with the words, “I will not let your people go.”
It must have been with mixed emotions then as they finally left. The previous night must have been a mixture of the emotions they had rode during the previous nine plagues. While there was joy at their impending freedom, no one enjoys the cries of your neighbors as they find their son dead. For some, it was no wonder then, when at the very borders of Egypt they looked back and saw Pharaoh’s army descending upon them. The roller-coaster had started down yet another steep hill.
This emotional response is not unexpected. It was clearly a trying time. But for that generation, born in captivity, it was a way of life. Pharaoh’s army was drowned (14:21-31), they rejoiced (15:1-21)! The only water was too bitter to drink, utter despair (15:23-24), followed by joy when Moses miraculously turned it sweet (15:26). On and on though this parsha, and the next forty years of Moses’ leadership. Joy quickly followed by sorrow when circumstances changed.
This is us. We do the same. We are driven by our passions, and quickly turn on and off emotions based on what’s happening around us. But just like for the Israelites, the emotional roller-coaster is dangerous to our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. But how are we to stop the ride and get off safely? This week’s parsha gives us two basic principles that will help. The first given by Moses, the second by Elohim.
1. Stand by and see the salvation of Yahweh which He will accomplish for you today.Moses (Exodus 14:13 NASB)
We must reach the point where we realize that life is too big for us. Pharaoh is too powerful, and we are too weak. It is true that Elohim created us with capable minds, ingenious imaginations, and strong backs. But those gifts were always intended to operate in partnership with Him. When we are in bondage to sin, circumstances, emotions or self, we are not capable partners, and we have to cry out to Him and ask for help. There are certainly times when we are expected to assist, but at our lowest and weakest, He fights on our behalf. Remember that Yeshua alone purchased our justification. But we partner with Him for our sanctification.
This idea is perhaps best summed up in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in Yahweh with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
2. Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.Yahweh (Exodus 14:15 NASB)
When on a roller-coaster it may seem like you are moving, but the track is fixed. You never actually go anywhere you haven’t already been. Elohim’s instruction is simple…”Move forward!” This was perhaps, the scariest command they were given. Forward meant certain death in the Red Sea. They might be able to escape Pharaoh’s sword, they would never survive. The appeal of slavery must have been very strong. When we are faced with the choice of change in our lives we often choose to stay on the path of destruction. Not because we don’t want freedom, but because the old ways are familiar. It is scary to go a new direction. That first step off a roller-coaster is often a dizzy one. We haven’t been on solid ground for some time. But the correct choice will lead to life. Familiar as the old ways are, they still lead to death.
The amazing thing that we, as believers today, have is the assurance that the choice of death was already chosen by our Messiah. He died, so that we wouldn’t. As amazing as that is, the promise is even better, He conquered death!
The path forward, the direction of change, will always be a scary one. But we don’t have to go alone. Like the Israelites who had the presence of Elohim with them, so do we. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.” John 14:16-19 NASB.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith,Hebrews 12:1-2a