Scripture Reading: Exodus 13:17-22, Exodus 14:1-31, Exodus 15:1-21, Psalm 106:1-12, Romans 6:1-4
“If I ever find out you bothered my sister again, you’ll be dealing with me.”
Toya was on a mission. She hadn’t gotten on her sister’s crowded school bus for no reason. The previous afternoon, Jessica had gotten off her bus completely distraught; a classmate had told her she couldn’t sit near him because she was black.
Seeing her little sister’s tears, anger had swelled up from deep inside of Toya to the point where she almost couldn’t see straight. She wanted to give that little boy a piece of her mind. She didn’t care who heard her, nor did she care that she wasn’t even allowed to be on that bus. Her sister needed her to speak up for her, and that’s exactly what she did. Jessica didn’t need to say a word in her own defense because Toya had said it all. I’ll bet the memory of Toya’s unexpected, fiery presence on the school bus stayed with that young man long after that day, stopping him in his tracks if he even thought to be mean to Jessica again.
How similar today’s passage from Exodus is—the story of God bringing the Israelites through the Red Sea.
Egypt had oppressed Israel long enough; God heard their cries for deliverance and stepped in. He’d brought them safely out of Egypt (decked out in the finest Egyptian gold, silver, and clothing, no less!), and His presence went with them as they escaped (Psalm 139:7).
Exodus 13 describes God’s presence as a pillar of cloud or fire that led the people of God on their way to freedom. But God’s presence did more than lead the Israelites; it protected them. The very presence of God stood between Israel and her enemies, completely defeating them. Just like Toya’s unexpected presence on a school bus changed how her sister was treated by her peers, the presence of God redefined how the nations of the world understood Israel.
How much more so does the incarnate presence of God—Immanuel, “God with us”—Jesus Christ, stand between us and whatever enemy dares to accuse, attack, or ensnare us? If God’s presence in the form of a pillar of cloud and fire can rescue an entire nation and triumph over another, then surely the incomparable act of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross can change the entire world. And if a pillar of cloud and fire can cause the entire Egyptian army to drown in the Red Sea, then surely the resurrection of Jesus Christ tosses the power of death and sin into the abyss for eternity.
Just like Toya’s little sister on the bus and the Israelites caught between the Red Sea and a pursuing army, we, too, are silent observers, standing in awe of the God of the universe coming to our rescue. We didn’t have to convince God to save us. Long before we existed, He’d decided to rescue us with the mighty act of redemption that makes journeying across the Red Sea seem like a leap across a puddle. God sent Himself into this world to rescue us once and for all.
Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.