Somehow, I remember the story of the parting of the Red Sea differently. When I recall this passage in Scripture, I picture Moses as a strong, bearded Charlton Heston, standing in front of the people of Israel and facing down Yul Brynner’s cool and determined Pharaoh, who is attempting to put down Israel once and for all.
Heston, full of confidence, tells Israel that God will do battle for them before stretching out his staff to part the impassable sea. As the water moves the people cry out in wonder and amazement at the miracle of Moses’ leadership. The Israelites cross the dry ground and then, standing on opposite shores, Moses and Pharaoh face off once more, as the sea returns to its place and drowns the entire Egyptian army. In the film, the hero of the story is Moses, and God is merely Moses’ tool used to carry out Israel’s salvation.
Yet, as I read Scripture’s account of the parting of the Red Sea, the hero of the story doesn’t seem to be Moses at all. The leader isn’t Moses. The means of salvation isn’t Moses. All Moses does is tell the people of Israel to watch God at work (Exodus 14:13). As today’s passage tells us, the hero of the story—the one who fights—isn’t a man. The Lord is the one who does battle for the salvation of His people, from first to last.
God directed the people. God brought them through sea and onto the shore. God hardened Pharaoh’s’ heart. God stood between Israel and Egypt. God brought the east wind to divide the sea. God confused the Egyptian forces. And God brought the waters down upon Pharaohs’ head. Unlike Hollywood’s depiction of the story in The Ten Commandments, the Bible shows us that God alone saves His people. He does the fighting for us; we need only to wait for Him (v. 14).
We need this constant reminder when it comes to our salvation as well. Much like the storytelling twists of Hollywood, we can be tempted to believe that our salvation is the result of our own works or effort. We try to fashion God into some sort of talisman that finally gets the job done if we just believe hard enough—but the rest depends on our own efforts and goodness.
The good news is that God has done all the work for our salvation. Like the story of God’s power and work to rescue Israel, we need to remember the reality that Christ has come for our salvation. He lived perfectly to win righteousness for all who trust in Him. His death was a sacrifice for our sins. His resurrection was the death-blow to our greatest enemies: Satan, sin, and death. Our hero is Jesus, not our best versions of ourselves.
Written by Jeremy Writebol