Salvation story (Exodus 14:15-25, 30)
God’s deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt provides the pattern for the Bible’s presentation of salvation. This act, described in Exodus 14, rescued God’s covenant people from threatened annihilation in Egypt and established them as the people through whom God will bless all the families of the Earth.
The rest of the Old Testament continually looks back at this event as the core memory of God’s faithfulness. And the exodus story provides the model for how the New Testament presents Jesus’ (the name means “savior”) bringing about healing and liberation (that is, “salvation”).
The exodus from Egypt
When we get to Exodus 14, we have seen how the situation gets more and more perilous for the Hebrews as Pharaoh’s heart grows ever harder and his whip grows ever more devastating. Finally, even amidst the powerful doubts of many Hebrews, God acts. God opens the sea, the Hebrews pass through to their deliverance, and God crashes the waters down on the Egyptian warriors, horses and chariots.
As Millard Lind points out in his classic study of this story, Yahweh is a Warrior, God makes a statement here. The key to faithfulness is trust in God — a type of trust directly contrasted with trust in weapons of war and human kings. This contrast characterizes the biblical story from now on, culminating in Jesus’ definitive expression of the kind of life trust in God leads to: compassion for the vulnerable, love of neighbors (including even enemies), and a politics of servanthood and not domination.
What does it mean for us today?
How relevant is this story in our present world which, to say the least, does not seem to be filled with miraculous Red Sea crossings?
One danger is to say it has no relevance since it happened in such a different world. Another danger is to think of the relevance just on the personal, spiritual level. And another danger is to see this story’s main relevance as a means of undercutting Jesus’ call to love enemies.