Beautiful Collision pt. 5 [Exodus 14:10-31]

・This Red Sea narrative is not only a great biblical drama, but it is also the definitive and paradigmatic act of salvation. After using the ten plagues as opportunities for deconstructing Pharaoh’s power, God will now form the people of Israel into a new creation people. God never rescues people from a situation unless there is something He will rescue in to.

・While most people will make associations of the words "salvation" and "heaven", in the Old Testament, salvation was an escape from empires. Empires were recognized as systems that were built upon the backs of those who were marginalized. Empires tend to benefited one person or party. The conniving nature of empires is that the ultimate goal always looks more attractive than it really is. Pharaoh's goal was to become the ultimate powerhouse, but eventually led to death.

・ All of the pieces of the Genesis creation account (and also from the Noah story) are present here: waters of chaos, wind (Spirit) from God, and the separating of the waters. The parting of the Red Sea is a form of re-creation.

・ God’s forming of a new people comes with an interesting Hebrew word play. The Hebrew word used for “hardening” the heart of Pharaoh and the “glory” God will receive from the deliverance of the Israelites both come from the word kabod.

・The theme of Spirit and Water runs throughout the Bible. Creation, Flood, Red Sea, Crossing the Jordan, Jesus Walking on Water, etc. all follow the same patterns. It should not surprise us when Jesus tell Nicodemus (John 3) that we must be born of Water and of Spirit.

・ The Red Sea narrative places God’s people in the midst of a cosmic battle between the forces of chaos. The waters are the embodiment of primeval chaos and Pharaoh is the human version of the same category. Both Pharaoh and the sea are forces of un-creation; it tries to undo what God has been trying to build. What the waters do by nature, empire has chosen to replicate.

・ In between are God’s people who are just trying to survive and recognize that their lives are at risk. They rightly lament and cry to Moses that they are likely to die.

・The Israelites are often depicted as someone who has great mood-swings. They are happy about their freedom, but immediately becomes grumpy when their freedom costs them their comfort. Whether we like it or not, this is a representation of humanity. Humanity tends to see death as the ultimate enemy, while God sees a lack of progress in reclaiming humanity as the big problem.

“The result is not simply historical redemption but a new creation... This creative act prompts a two-fold human response. On the one hand, under cover of darkness, the people of Israel walk through the sea on dry land. The people of Israel are thus not passive; it is an act of faith to walk through such a sea canyon. But faith is not thereby made into a work; it is the appropriation of a gift created quite apart from their own doing. On the other hand, the Egyptians follow Israel’s lead into the newly created possibilities, with chariots and all. God’s creative activity, however, makes for possibilities of judgment as well as redemption... The anti-creational purposes of the Egyptians, set on the subversion of the just order of God’s world and the termination of life and blessing, place them in diametric opposition to what God has newly brought into being.” – Terence Fretheim

Read “Beautiful Collision pt. 4 [Exodus 12]” next

Kats Omine

Kats Omine