Sunday school lesson for the week of Nov. 17
By Rev. John Brantley
Beginning of Freedom
Purpose: To see the possibility of God’s deliverance in all circumstances
Background: Exodus 13:17-22; 14
Bible Lesson: Exodus 14:21-30
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord pushed the sea back by a strong east wind all night, turning the sea into dry land. The waters were split into two. 22 The Israelites walked into the sea on dry ground. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians chased them and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and cavalry. 24 As morning approached, the Lord looked down on the Egyptian camp from the column of lightning and cloud and threw the Egyptian camp into a panic. 25 The Lord jammed their chariot wheels so that they wouldn’t turn easily. The Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites, because the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt!” 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the water comes back and covers the Egyptians, their chariots, and their cavalry.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. At daybreak, the sea returned to its normal depth. The Egyptians were driving toward it, and the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the cavalry, Pharaoh’s entire army that had followed them into the sea. Not one of them remained. 29 The Israelites, however, walked on dry ground through the sea. The waters formed a wall for them on their right hand and on their left. 30 The Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians that day. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
It might be difficult for us to see the Creator pouring down chaos, but this text shows us that God who loves us is also willing to confuse and tear down what would wipe out God's people. The people are saved to be a witness of God's work. Saved not because they were special, but special because they were saved by God.
Did God not weep for the Egyptian soldiers? Certainly He did. Every loving parent would weep to see their children killed in battle. Every loving parent would grieve to say no to an abusive or addictive behavior child. God made an example of Moses and the Israelites just as God made an example of the soldiers and Pharaoh. The bottom line is that God's will and work will prevail.
Looking back at scenes from the flooding in the Philippines is an unbelievable sight to behold. The loss, destruction and presence of death makes it difficult to view. From dry ground, Moses and the people look back at the flooding that consumes the chariots, horses and soldiers. The sea churned and rolled over the advancing army. It too was a gruesome sight. Yet in the aftermath of the chaos is the reality of salvation.
Often we assume that salvation means we are saved from trouble, hard work or difficult decisions. Salvation is not our easy way out. It is not a secret trap door. Salvation is God going through the trials, crisis and overwhelming realities of this world and remaining with us through them and on to God's dry land.
Faith in Action:
Easy: Pray for the people devastated by the flooding and consider making a donation through UMCOR as an individual and as a class.
Challenge: Listen to God's call and be willing to stand up in the middle of a chaotic and troubling time, raise your arms and ask God to speak, work and witness God's power and plan through you. Be the leader God calls you to be in out troubled times.
Prayer: Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Save us from the floods and give us strength to lead when others are on the run. Amen.
Rev. Dr. John Brantley is an elder serving the Jackson United Methodist Church in Jackson, Ga. in the North Georgia Conference. He shares his weekly sermon notes at www.mysundaysermons.com.