A Word for Today | Hebrews 11:29
Hebrews 11: 29 concludes the account of Moses and his faith by speaking of Israel’s departure from the land of Egypt: “By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.” After the plague on the firstborn, Pharaoh and all the Egyptians had insisted on the Israelite’s departure, even supplying them with great riches for the journey. Yet, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he chased after them with his chariots. The terrified Israelites cried out against Moses that God was allowing their destruction. Then, in Exodus 14:13-14, Moses gave his great reply, one that resounds all through the Bible:
Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work 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 be silent.
Given the fact that the Egyptians were bearing down from the rear, and that ahead of them lay the impassable Red Sea, this was quite a statement of faith. But Moses had learned that God’s promise to deliver was certain of success. It was by faith that he exhorted the people, and God rewarded Moses by causing the Red Sea waters to part so that Israel could pass through (Ex. 14:16-18).
The passage of the Red Sea provides one of the great pictures of God’s salvation: a salvation by grace alone that nonetheless requires us to step forward in saving faith. This is the only way anyone ever is saved, that God makes a way amidst the raging fury of his wrath. Moses’ example points us to Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). Just as Moses’ staff parted the waves, so Christ Jesus was lifted up “that whoever who believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:14). John of Damascus, writing in the 8th c. A.D. used this example of God’s saving grace as an incentive to Christian praise: “Come, ye faithful, raise the strain of triumphant gladness / God hath brought his Israel into joy from sadness / Loosed from Pharaoh’s bitter yoke, Jacob’s sons and daughters / Led them with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters.”
What a difference faith makes! Now it means the difference between fear and courageous perseverance, the very thing Moses’ Israelites needed long ago. But it will mean even more on that great day to come when the heavens part as the Red Sea once did, and Jesus comes back to bring salvation to those who trusted in Him and judgment on the world that turned away. “Surely, I am coming soon,” He says at the end of Revelation. And all those who look to Him in faith, afflicted in this world but not destroyed, cry out in reply, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).
In Christ’s Love,