Wednesday, December 04, 2013

How God Deals With Our Enemies and How He Deals With His -- Exodus 15:4-8

--> Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea.  The deeps cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone.  They right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Thy right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.  And in the greatness of Thine excellence Thou dost overthrow those who rise up against Thee; Thou dost send forth Thy burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.  And at the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.”
 
Continuing in song, the Children of Israel give us glimpse of God’s capability in dealing with our enemies.  Not only were Pharaoh’s chariots and his army cast into the sea, but the text also says, “the choicest of his officers” were drowned.  Our enemies can put forth their very best – in personnel or efforts or technology – God can still defeat them all and always. (This theme resurfaces many years later in the account of David and Goliath – the very best the Philistines had to offer in their challenge to Israel.)  The Bible goes on to say here in Exodus that the choicest of warriors went “down like a stone” that would never again come to the surface.  When God is the One who truly destroys our enemies, they never resurface.

And then the song turns to pointing out some attributes of God Himself as the warrior.  He has a ‘right’ hand that is majestically powerful.  Perhaps the adjective was selected to impress upon us the fact that no one or no thing has more power, as “majesty” implies the highest in the land.  And with this power, God not only destroys the enemy, but He ‘shatters’ him.  In our English language, we have the range of marring something, or ruining it (from its original state), or destroying it (making it very difficult to repair as when after an accident, a vehicle is rendered to be ‘totaled’ or ‘a complete write off’), and then there’s “shattering” something or making it totally impossible to ever put back together again.  That is what God does with our enemies.

Now knowing how God deals with the enemies of His children is enough to make any sane person not want to go against them.  Something perhaps those who today have no use for the Jewish nation of Israel or for Christians, and who want to eliminate all of us, should well keep in mind.  But even worse than that is how God deals with those who actually are arrogant enough to rise up directly against Him, and to scorn Him personally.  Towards them, the text says, God applies the full force of the “greatness of His excellence” – the ultimate knockout-punch if you like.  The song tells us God emits His “burning anger” towards them and they are “consumed like chaff”.  I looked ‘chaff’ up in the dictionary to get a better idea of its meaning as a noun.  Chaff can mean the husks of corn or other seed separated by winnowing or threshing; or chopped hay and straw used as fodder; or worthless things; or trash.  What came to mind is that they all burn well.  The tie-in of this image of how God deals with His own enemies may well be a prelude of what the rest of Scripture depicts as the fate of all who ultimately reject Him as Lord and Savior.

Finally, God uses His power to suspend at His will the very laws of nature He ordained and controla in order to defeat our enemies.  In the case of the children of Israel, God breathes a blast and causes the waters that are normally subject to gravity, to pile up like a heap on either side of the passageway He opened for His children to cross the Red Sea on.  The “deeps” that otherwise were there due to the depth of the water were no longer visible, for they were “congealed” or solidified (transformed if you like) into a solid upon which Moses led his congregation over.

That is our God.  That is how He deals with your enemies and mine.  And that is how He deals with His own personal enemies.  But you say, “Fine, but God is not dealing with my enemies, He’s letting them make mincemeat out of me right now.”  I am glad you added the “right now” at the end.  And I am sure that the children of Israel felt exactly that way for 400 years (that’s longer than your whole lifetime and mine) while they served as slaves to the Egyptians.  You see God’s timing is not our timing.  You and I wear watches and follow clocks and calendars to give time some sort of order and make it easier for us to communicate.  But God who actually created ‘time’ is not at all ‘bound’ by it.  If we can somehow accept that, then we’ll be better able to realize that what matters is not “biding our time” but rather learning to “bide His time”.
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