Exodus is an exciting book – attempted genocide, desperate measures, rags to riches and riches to rags, fire in the desert, an unlikely and reluctant hero, devastating miracles, snakes, blood, darkness, death and that’s just the first half. I was reading about Moses – did you know that Moses parents hid him because he was handsome? Yeah that puzzled me so I went to look and the greek word really does say that. Not my point today but interesting. So Moses is included in Hebrews 11 list of heroes of the faith – as he should be. The exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is a defining moment in their history.
He had it tough, I always think that when I read these 4 books. Right from birth he was threatened and, apart from the time he was a royal baby/child/youth/man and then presumably happy with his wife and children tending sheep, he had to do epic deeds and lead an epically grumbling people.
Today I read about the parting of the Red Sea.
21 Moses then took his staff and reached out over the sea. The Eternal parted the sea with a strong east wind, which blew all night and turned the floor of the sea into dry ground between the divided waters.
If you watch the movies it’s a magnificent powerful gesture by a man in complete control. Up comes the hand, staff extended and out it sweeps to point at the waves. I wonder if it were it really like that? Put yourself in Moses’s sandals. Oh yes, he’d seen God’s hand in absolute authority smiting the Egyptians time after time while the Israelites were immune. He’d seen that staff turn into a snake. But right now he’s surrounded by Israelites who are terrified as they see an army pursuing them, they are grumbling so loud I suspect he must have worried they might grab him, tie him up and turn around to surrender to Pharoah. He asks God and God says- “why do you call for Me?”…
So after getting instruction maybe first he swung the staff casually in his hand until it pointed at the sea, maybe looking the other way and glancing back as if just looking around. This is the Moses, remember, who had tried all ways to get out of doing this in the first place. Faced with a burning but unconsumed bush, he’d made excuses about his speech trying to pass the job on to another. The same Moses who will strike a rock twice later in the account. Like all of us, he is imperfect.
God isn’t though. I wonder if that little movement of the staff stirred a wind and stirred Moses’ heart? If memories of what God had done came back as the Holy Spirit encouraged him and his hand rose a little higher, more obviously doing ‘something’. Then stirred some more, faith rising, he stuck his arm out straight over the water and saw God move in power to part the sea and the dry land God had promised appeared.
God is gracious. He knows us through and through: our weaknesses and our strengths. When He asks us to do something He knows we might not get it right the first time, or the twenty-first time but every time we step out and act faithfully – no matter how tiny a gesture He acts to encourage us, to excite our spirits. That’s the same whether we pray in faith for someone to be healed or speak a word of encouragement we feel from God or stand firmly against something we know to be wrong or try to raise the dead. The power is His, we are His conduits. We flick the switch by saying yes and He does the work.
It’s the little things that lead to big things, though, faith grows as we exercise it. When Moses reached the far side and God told him to stretch out his hand and I’d bet that it was the majestic confident gesture we expect.