Monday, July 06, 2015

Hebrews 11:29 - Faith and Division

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.  Hebrews 11:29

In this verse, Paul reminds his readers of the day when the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea. The Children of Israel were fleeing the pursuing Egyptians. However, their route to freedom was barred by a natural obstacle. Some natural obstacles are easily overcome, or can be overcome by natural means. In this way, a natural way of fording the river would have been by ship. But the Israelites were many and time was of the essence.

Moses asked God to help him flee, but God rebuked Moses for asking. God reminded Moses that Moses held a staff in his hand and could command the sea if he so wished. Moses commanded the waves to retreat and the waves stood up high. The former slaves walked through on dry land while the Egyptians were swallowed up by the waves.

Paul writes here that by faith the people passed through the Red Sea. Moses had faith to command the miracle; the people had faith to believe Moses was being used by God; the Egyptians had no such faith and no such leader. Throughout the ten plagues, the Egyptians slowly learned about the futility of their gods. The two magicians and all the other workers of supernatural magic who had stood before Pharoah had seen how powerless their magic and gods were. In addition, Pharoah's status as a god on earth had been shown to be false. By the time the Egyptians were crossing the Red Sea, they had little faith in the supernatural powers of either their gods or their Pharoah. Their gods of war, water and rivers had also not given them any promise of victory. The Egyptians had battled Moses and "I AM" without hearing a word from their own gods. The only God doing any kind of speaking to his people was Yahweh, "I AM."    

Christians believe that there is a difference between those who are Yahweh's people and those who are not. Christians, like Jews, are also taught that Yahweh is a God of miracles.  These miracles often come about to people of faith. In this case, the dividing line between those who are not God's people and those who are god's people comes down to faith. In this particular instance, it is not personal or individual faith that brought deliverance but communal faith and the faith of a community's leader. 

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