Tuesday, January 31, 2012

VINN: Exodus 14

This year I've gotten back on a reading plan to work through the Bible in a year. Last year I tried the "Bible-In-A-Year Chronological Bible" but got bogged down in February (when I started my 60-minute-a-day commute to Richmond) and I never got back on track. This year I'm hoping to do better.

I know for a fact I've read the Bible through cover to cover, and I've read every passage multiple times. And yet every time I read, I find verses that I've apparently never read before. I'm sure nobody snuck in and added them, so it's just that they made no impression on me until now. This may be a one-time thing, or it may become a recurring segment: Verses I've Never Noticed.

'moses 1' photo (c) 2009, Ivy Nichols - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Last week I read Exodus 14, and this popped out at me:

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.

How wild is that? God's people are frightened and helpless, and Moses starts talking up what God will do for them. "Be still! Stand Firm! The LORD will fight for you, you need only be still!" There's a certain logic to this. God can do what His people cannot, and when compared to the power of God ours is insignificant. So it makes sense to passively let him handle the problem for us. And yet God's response to Moses is priceless: "Why are you crying out to me? Get moving!"

God indeed accomplishes what His people cannot: he opens up a way for them through the sea. No amount of work on their part would have gotten that done. But neither does God let them off the hook: if they want to break free from their captors, they need to do some of the movement themselves. To steal the relational wisdom of Hitch for a moment, God goes 90% of the way and waits for his people to go the other 10.

There's some obvious salvation implications here (Paul makes a baptism comparison in 1 Corinthians 10), but I'm more interested in the spiritual formation implications. How does this play out in demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit? In pursuing holiness? In breaking free of addictions?

Right now they're only questions, no answers. But it's fascinating what we miss when we only hit the bullet points of the Bible, instead of actually reading the text.

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