Exodus Part Two: Dive
Have you noticed God's holy protection over the Israelites throughout the Book of Exodus? And it begins before the Red Sea where He protects them from the Egyptian chariots. Throughout the plagues, there are these obscure sentences that are easily missed, so let me take you back and show you the thread of ‘holy protection’ over the Hebrews throughout the Book of Exodus.
It starts when the plagues have begun, in Exodus 8:22, ‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. I will make a distinction between my people and your people’. God stopped the flies from entering the land of Goshen, imagine that! Like an invisible wall, the flies stopped mid-air and did not enter the land where the Hebrews were! God's holy distinction from who is His and who is not, God’s holy protection.
Trashing tip: In the Bible, you will find a lot of repeated words. Highlight them as you go as they are important to understanding the overall theme the author is trying to portray. Here we find the repeated word ‘distinction’, meaning ‘something that sets someone apart from another’.
This continues in Exodus 9:4, ‘But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die’. And again, Exodus 9:26, ‘The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were’. This is incredible and it continues when darkness fell over Egypt in Exodus 10:23, ‘No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived’. As you know by now, I like to put myself into the Bible stories and imagine what it looks like. This one reminds me of when you have a blackout and your parents would tell you to look out the window to see if the neighbour’s houses are blacked out, to check if it is just our house or the whole street. Well imagine this: you are in total darkness and you live on the edge of Goshen (where the Israelites lived) your village is completely black but they are not, they are living in the light!
God’s holy protection doesn’t cease with the plagues, we come to a pinnacle of protection and the prophetic utterance of Jesus Christ’s death: The Passover. Exodus 12 shows us the greatest protection of God, the blood of the sacrificial lamb on the sides and tops of the door frames. The blood is a sign for God so that no destructive plague will touch them. This is an incredible sign pointing to Jesus as the Passover Lamb that covers our sins and redeems us from death.
Then His protection gets even greater – this section of scripture contains one of my favourite verses and it comes at the most climactic moment of the book. The Israelites have left Egypt but Pharaoh has changed his mind, he is now pursuing them and they are backed up against the Red Sea, terrified. Exodus 14:11 shows us that they start to panic, even after the provision of God throughout the plagues, even after God taking care of them and protecting them, they went back to their natural reaction and panicked. How many times have I done that when I get scared, overwhelmed or feel backed into a bad situation? I don’t care if Satan has you cornered, God can remove any obstacle and defeat the enemy, He will protect you!
So the Israelites start complaining; Exodus 14:11, ‘They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?’ It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”’ Oh my, I love how patient God is with these people, I would have said, “Alright you bunch of whingers, die in the desert!” But no, not God and not Moses. Moses answers the people with the most incredible faith filled statement in Exodus 14:13, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians will see you today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’. Oh I love this, the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still!
Sometimes we are put in situations where the enemy has surrounded us, we feel locked in, we can’t see how anything can go right, we can’t see a breakthrough and we feel discouraged and overwhelmed, just like the Israelites, but take heart, if you read verse 13-14 again, you’ll see that God is the One who does all the fighting, the Israelites only response in this situation was to ‘stand firm’ and to ‘be still’. In other words, don’t retreat, don’t run back to Egypt, stand firm and let God save you. We are going to read in Ephesians 6:10-14 that when the enemy comes against you, your only responsibility is to ‘stand’. Don’t run in fear, stand in the victory that Jesus has already won for you, you don’t need to win the war – that is done, just stand in victory!
We all know the end of this incredible story, Moses stretches his hand out over the sea and God drives the sea back and they walk through the walls of water. Before we finish this discussion on God’s protection, I want to highlight one more verse that we often miss in this story.
Ex 14:19 ‘Then the angel of God, who had been travelling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between them and the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long’.
Holy distinction Batman! God protected the people of Israel against their enemy with angels, pillars of cloud and light. When you are in trouble, God is for us so who can be against us? He will send angels between you and the enemy, He will put a pillar of cloud, His presence, between you and your enemy, He will make your enemy be in darkness and you in the light, you are His child, He will protect you and you will have a holy distinction from everything that is happening around you. He will protect you and open the path for your freedom. You need only to be still, trust in Him and stand strong!
Can you see throughout these incredible stories that God protected, provided, saved and delivered the Israelites with a holy distinction? As Christians, there is a holy distinction over your life too, so when we get in times of trouble, when situations look bad, we have a Saviour, a Redeemer, One who will protect us, rescue us, provide an exit for us, just like God did for the Israelites. Stand and be still – God is fighting for you!