Mount of Temptation – Jericho

I was leading a group in Israel and Jordan and one of the sites we visited was Mount of Temptation – Jericho. We entered into Jericho in the evening of 7 Dec, a day after Trumph’s announcement of acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jericho is Palestine and not Israel. The streets in Jericho were quiet as there was an economic protest where all shops and restaurants were closed. I have been to Jericho many times and this silence was unusual.

Somehow the silence reminded me of the silent march of the Israelites around the ancient city of Jericho. We did not go to take over the city neither were we on the march. Yet the silence in the streets indicated that something was to come. In the Biblical story it was conquering the Promised Land. We were there to see the land. 😊 On 8 Dec after we left Jericho early morning, protest and demonstrations broke out in Palestine, including Jericho. Thank God for His divine protection and timing for everything.

“When Joshua had spoken to the people, the seven priests carrying the seven trumpets before the Lord went forward, blowing their trumpets, and the ark of the Lord’s covenant followed them. The armed guard marched ahead of the priests who blew the trumpets, and the rear guard followed the ark. All this time the trumpets were sounding. But Joshua had commanded the army, “Do not give a war cry, do not raise your voices, do not say a word until the day I tell you to shout. Then shout!” So he had the ark of the Lord carried around the city, circling it once. Then the army returned to camp and spent the night there. Joshua got up early the next morning and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding. So on the second day they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. They did this for six days. On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times. The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout! For the Lord has given you the city! The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent. But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury.” When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.” Joshua‬ ‭6:8-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬ (emphasis mine)

On 7 Dec, our Jericho guide waited for almost 2hrs as we were late. Our itinerary was to head straight to Elisha Spring, Seed of Hope and to the hotel. Instead, without asking for our consent, he brought us to the foot of Mount of Temptation. Yes, there is a big shop right at the foot of Mount of Temptation. I was not too concern since shops were supposed to be close. A quick stop to see the mount from the base should not be a problem even though we were tight for time. When approaching, I saw the shutters of the shop down so there shouldn’t be any distraction. Guess what? The shop assistants came out in the dimly lit road with samples of dates and half the group were more interested in the dates than the significance of the Mount of Temptation. A side note, Jericho does produce good dates!

Mount of Temptation - Jericho<

was reminded of Achan who were tempted by the spoils of Jericho and secretly kept some despite God’s command against it. I find it rather interesting that the temptation of Jericho is still at work now, even in small things like dates and shopping. 😅

“But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.” Joshua‬ ‭7:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I believe it is a personal warning God has for me this season even as I have come out of the wilderness and the first battle of “Jericho” comes with temptation in the most unexpected manner. Temptation is waiting in the dark corner to spring a surprise offer that I might not be prepared to resist. The spoils of the first battle, just like the first fruit, belongs to the Lord. Don’t even think about touching them as the consequences will be dire, just like the battle of Ai.

I pray that myself or anyone of us will not fall prey to such temptations. Let us fix our eyes on our Lord Jesus lest we be distracted.

Authority, Forgiveness and Discipline

Authority, Forgiveness and Discipline

As the title “Authority, Forgiveness and Discipline” suggests, this post touches on the role of leaders. I am referring to those with authority as people who are responsible for the growth and well-being of others. This includes parents, teachers, superiors in workplaces, pastors, youth leaders, and as you can see, almost anyone depending on how you define your roles.

Forgiveness

As humans, we are far from perfect but are being made perfect. Yes, we do silly things that can irritate, anger and hurt the people who are around us. This is the time when those in authority need to exercise forgiveness. Forgiveness is not released only after an apology is given. Forgiveness is not holding anger and bitterness towards the person despite what was done or said, or sometime not done or said. It is to still be able to look at the person with the love of God and giving the person the worth and value God have for him or her. Forgiveness is often taught and talked, where many are struggling to practice, including myself.

Discipline

Perhaps it is this struggle that is why we often end the process at forgiveness. As by the time we manage to forgive, we are done with the matter already. Yet Biblically, there is one more step.

Let us refer to Matthew 18:15-20 (NASB):

15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

19 “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

The heading for this section in the NASB version says “Discipline and Prayer”. We often quote verses 18 and 19 for prayer, but it is not often that we look at it in context of discipline. Verses 18 and 19 deal with spiritual authority and how this is connected to verses 15-17, which is the context of these truths. This is corporate spiritual authority that we see Jesus taught here. The source of the power is of course from God through the work of Jesus Christ. I believe verse 15-17 lies the key to unlock this authority and power given to the church.

Sin and Spiritual Authority

God hates sin. When sin is present, God does not bless and the flow of authority is stopped. In the Old Testament, God judges sin. Individuals like Achan and even King David had their sins judged. In New Testament, the most dramatic incident was Annanias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). These were sins that were hidden from the knowledge of the church. Yet for sins that are known to the church, God gives His body His authority to judge, release forgiveness and discipline. Discipline can only come when there is forgiveness, then the actions taken will be to correct and for growth. Without forgiveness, any action taken is revenge which is not to seek the good of the offender. If the offender is to remain in the community, as per normal, the gravity of sin from God’s perspective is never fully reflected, and thus it is not possible to learn that sin is an abonimation to God. It most probably is not to the offender. If it is, he or she would have not done it or would have repented quickly. Remember that excommunicating the offender is not a life-time sentence. Upon repentence, i.e. the person realized the gravity of the sin and is willing to change and forsake the old ways, the person is fully integrated back into the church community.

By dealing with sin through the heart of God, considering both God’s hate towards sin and love towards men, this is when the church can exercise the very spiritual authority given in verses 18-20. If these verses are set in full motion, what a great testimony of the glory of God we will be here on earth.

 

Spiritual Weight Issues

The reading of the Word is a very important discipline in our spiritual growth – often referred to as feeding. Let me first established why the Word, i.e. the Bible, is referred to as spiritual food. In John 6:48, Jesus declared the second time after v.35, “I am the bread of life.” This life refers to the spiritual life. If we examine the context of the book of John, in John 1:14 the relationship between Jesus and the Word was established, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. So in summary:

Word –> Flesh (Jesus) –> Bread of Life (spiritual food)

Measure of Maturity

The analogy of a new believer as an infant taking milk, a softer spiritual diet can be found in 1 Cor 3:2 and 1 Pet 2:2. I find Heb 5:13-14 an interesting verse on the type of diet signifying the growth stage of the person, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” What is the word of righteousness? Just like how we have length and height measurements for babies & children to chart their growth, the answer to this question is key to knowing how to gauge spiritual maturity. Righteousness is lived out in relation to others around us as it deals with how we treat others – our speech and actions. It is a practice, i.e. doing, with a constant choice of good and evil.  So the measure of maturity is the outworking of the Word. Just like a child, it is not the measure the quantity of milk and food it takes to gauge healthy growth but the processing & assimilation of the intake to the body.

Underweight

stick_figureAs the term underweight suggests, this condition means there is insufficient or no food intake. This describes the spiritual condition of a child of God who never or hardly feeds on the Word. I have friends who will take photos of mouth-watering food but never take a bite of it due to various reasons. The photo was for social media, i.e. to show others, and not for personal consumption. We can have food laid out before us, but if we do not put it into our mouths, chew and let it go into our body, the food has nothing to do with us. If I read the Bible out of obligation or sat through a church sermon glazed and dazed, without the Scriptures getting into my system, I am not feeding.  As you can imagine, in such a situation, my spiritual weight will be like a stick figure, frail and weak. Perhaps so malnutrition for some that the stick man cannot even stand.

Indigestion

stick-figure-pain-bad-43830486This is another extreme. It is not difficult to overeat in Singapore, both in the physical and perhaps in the spiritual too. There is no shortage of teachings, preachings, and testimonies, be it through churches, online resources, and/or seminar/conferences. Most of us have more books, CDs, MP3s then we can keep up. We keep stuffing ourselves thinking that this will help us grow. Yes, to a certain extent. Just like our physical bodies, any amount over and above what our body needs, overfeeding will first lead to indigestion. Bloatedness with gas with discomfort and the food that is supposed to be good for us becomes a burden to our system. I am reminded of Paul’s wisdom 1 Cor 8:1b “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.” I love NKJV’s translation “Knowledge puffs up”. It gives the image of gas and air, putting up a false image of being well-fed and perhaps to growth but the person is still as skinny as a stick figure.

Obesity

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Continual stuffing eventually leads to a build up of excessive nutrients and fats causing obesity. You need a big quantity of food for each meal and will starve if the intake does not match up. Yet this hunger is not healthy. In fact, this is killing the body. Spiritually this can be true too. You are still feeding and having a larger appetite for the Word than ever before. Without an active lifestyle and workout, the excess food becomes fats weighing us down that we cannot even walk or run properly, as good as a dead person without the intended use of the body. While feeding can be a very fulfilling process, sweat and burn it off so that you can take more to keep a healthy spiritual weight, light enough to sprint and run a marathon but enough fuel to keep the body in good shape for the long haul. May we all develop good and strong spiritual muscles by doing the teachings of the Word!

I leave you with the wisdom from James.

James 2:14-26

14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

 

Make Friends through Worldly Wealth

Make Friends Through Worldly Wealth

“And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the wealth of unrighteousness, so that when it fails, they will receive you into the eternal dwellings. ” – Luke‬ ‭16:9 ‭NASB‬‬

This verse has always been a challenge in understanding the heart of what Jesus was trying to get at as it looks contradictory to many of His teachings. The image of the command to “make friends by means of wealth of unrighteousness is what the prodigal son did. It is only the last week that the Holy Spirit helped me to finally understand what Jesus was driving at. I believe unrighteous wealth refers to worldly wealth rather than wealth that is gained by scrupulous means. Worldly wealth is unrighteous as they are not of God and they will not exist in the eternal kingdom of God.

It is interesting to note that Jesus just before this command states one attribute that His followers do not match up to the world – shrewdness. “…for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light.” – Luke‬ ‭16:8‬b NASB.‬‬ These were teachings based on the parable of the Unjust Steward who used his shrewdness to safeguard his own future after he was caught mismanaging his master’s wealth. He safeguarded himself by giving favors to make friends through his position as the steward at the expense of his master.

I see a parallel that Jesus is drawing, the earth bound servant versus the sons of light, i.e. believers. A servant who is concerned about his worldly future makes use of his limited time to ensure a life he wanted ahead. We as sons of light have an eternal future to look forward to and there are ways to lay up treasures in heaven while here on earth. Eternity definitely is a stronger cause of action than the less than 100 years of earthly life. If it is so, it does not make sense that the sons of light are not making full use of their worldly wealth that are given to them to lay up heavenly treasures.

Jesus implies in verse 9 that the heavenly treasures in this context are the friends gained through worldly wealth. I have read many commentaries on this verse for the second part “they will receive you into the eternal dwellings” and somehow the understanding did not sit within me completely although I can see where they are coming from. In some Bible translations, a footnote is used to explain “they” means “you”, referring to the believer who will enter into heaven.

Here’s my understanding of verse 9 after a whole lot of re-reading of the chapter, meditation and asking the Lord. “They” refers to the friends gained through worldly wealth. These friends are able to welcome the believer into heaven because they become believers themselves. The worldly wealth was a bait for a greater purpose – the Great Commission. The bait is used with genuine love for these friends and not selfish gains. The treasures in heaven is not worldly wealth but people whom we love in this world. This reminds me of Apostle Paul’s declaration that “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:22b‬ ‭NASB‬‬

A word of caution was given by Jesus after this statement ending with two distinct choices – God or mammon. World wealth is not our master but Lord Jesus Christ. Worldly wealth is a tool given by the Lord to further His kingdom through us. Jesus is not giving us a negative example or a model to learn shrewdness through the parable. Instead He wants us to see the poverty of our intentional living on earth as compared to one who has only earthly goals. A sobering thought to consider with a warning to have God as god and not the tool of worldly wealth.

“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you? And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” – Luke 16:1-13

I pray that all of us have a company of friends in heaven waiting for us and we in turn wait for many more to join us!

Defining The Tabernacle of David – Word Study

  
Born and bred in an urban city, tent is not a common sight for me. Since the topic is about the Tabernacle of David, I feel the need to understand tabernacle better. I am no Hebrew and Greek scholar but the lexicon is usually a good starting point.

I will start from the New Testament since there is only one verse with the mention of Tabernacle of David. The Greek word for Tabernacle in Acts 15:16 is Skene (σκηνη, Strong’s Number: 4633). Skene is defined as a “tent, tabernacle (made of green boughs, or skins or other materials)”, and also “the movable temple of God after the pattern of which the temple at Jerusalem was built”. In Acts 7:43-44, skene was the Tabernacle of Moses. In Rev 13:6; 15:5 and 21:3, skene is used in the context of after the judgments. There is no difference in words used for the Tabernacle of Moses and Tabernacle of David.

The Old Testament Hebrew has more vocabulary for tabernacle than Greek and English.

The word ‘ohel (אהל, Strong’s Number: 0168) is frequently used for the Tabernacle of Moses in Exodus. ‘ohel means a nomad’s tent, a dwelling, home and habitation. Even though it is nomadic and mobile, it functions as a long-term dwelling, a home. The Tabernacle of Moses withstood 40 years of wilderness wandering and entered the Promised Land! It was definitely highly durable and permanent.

A different Hebrew word is used for Tabernacle of David in Amos 9:11, which is the key Old Testament verse. The Hebrew word for tabernacle in Amos 9:11 is Cukkah (יככה Strong’s No: 05521). Cukkah is a booth, “a rude or temporary shelter”. The Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths (Lev 23:33-43) uses the same Hebrew word, Cukkah. The people of Israel are commended to build temporary booths or tabernacles and live under the Cukkah during the seven days of the feast. The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in Zec 14, which wrote about The Day of the Lord, which is commonly interpreted as the final Judgment Day. The passage of Zec 14:16-21 prophesied that the Feast of Tabernacles will be celebrated after the Day of the Lord. Even though Cukkah is temporary in its physical nature, God has a long-term purpose for Cukkah.

Here lies the paradox. The extremely durable Tabernacle of Moses was not required after Jesus established the New Covenant but the rude temporary Cukkah of David has a purpose beyond its durability. Interestingly, ‘ohel is used in Isa 16:5 for the Tabernacle of David in the context of final judgment by the One, referring to the Messiah.

Physically, the Cukkah being a temporary tent requires restoration over time, especially for the Day of the Lord. Yet, is the restoration just the physical tent? Since it is meant to be temporary, restoration of the physical tent will be challenging and replacing it might be a better solution. If the restoration work is not only referring to the physical tent, what does it then refer to? We can only restore what we know. The definition of the Tabernacle of David that is to be restored is not found in a word study. So a Biblical study is needed to understand this.

 

A side note: The Tabernacle built by Moses was not called the Tabernacle of Moses in the Bible but the Tabernacle of the Lord. I will use the Tabernacle of Moses as most of us understand this phrase but thought I will point out that only the Tabernacle of David was named after the builder in the Bible.

JESUS’ PASSION WEEK DEVOTION – DAY 6/6 – The Resurrection

This week’s devotion of the Passion Week from Jesus’ Perspective. The devotions are written as first person, from Jesus’ perspective, like His personal journal of his thoughts and words gathered through Scriptures as the scenes of the Passion Week unfolds.

There are a number of references to the Song of Songs to get a peep into Jesus’ love for His people. As there are many symbolism used in Song of Songs, the list below helps to explain some of them that are found in the verses quotation in this week’s devotions.

  • Shulamite symbolizes Israel and the Church
  • The Beloved symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom King
  • Spikenard symbolizes worship
  • Myrrh symbolizes death

This devotion emphasizes more on the heart and the spirit, rather than knowledge.

  • Take time to read the devotion slowly to allow the scriptures and events to go deep into you, beyond your mind.
  • It helps to read it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to bring you deeper.
  • Highlight the portions that jump out at you and write down your thoughts under “Personal Reflection” and also put into writing the response or even commitment that you want to make before God.

Day 6 – The Resurrection

Read Luke 24:1-53; John 20:1-25

The ladies come to my tomb early on Sunday morning. I have descended to the lowest and gained victory over death! This temple I have rebuilt in three days. Here is Mary Magdalene weeping, the least of the women that many looked down but the one who is forgiven much loves much (Luke 7:47). Mary! Now that you have recognised me, do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’ (John 20:17).

Who is she who looks forth as the morning,
Fair as the moon, clear as the sun,
Awesome as an army with banners?” – SOS 6:10

My disciples you have assembled behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. Your hearts are hardened and do not believe the testimonies of those who saw me at the tomb (Mark 16:14). I have to come to you this every night for I love you and you mistaken me as a spirit. Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts (Luke 24:38)? Peace be with you. You recognise my pierced hands and side. I eat a piece of broiled fish that you provide as a proof that I am not a spirit but body. You have seen the resurrection of Lazarus. I AM the way, the truth and the life. Blessed are they who do not see my resurrected body, and yet believe. Remember, PEACE be with you.

My breath is the Holy Spirit. Receive my breath of life. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained. Your mind is now opened to understand the Scriptures. All things written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. I am the Christ. I will suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and this repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in my name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are my witnesses of these things.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;
For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave;
Its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.
– Song of Songs 8:6

It is time for me to return to my Abba, to sit on His right hand and intercede for you. I bless you my beloved and I will return for you. Wait, wait in the city of Jerusalem for the outpouring of power from heaven. I know you are going to be empowered to do greater things than me on earth.

JESUS’ PASSION WEEK DEVOTION – DAY 5/6 – The Cross

This week’s devotion of the Passion Week from Jesus’ Perspective. The devotions are written as first person, from Jesus’ perspective, like His personal journal of his thoughts and words gathered through Scriptures as the scenes of the Passion Week unfolds.

There are a number of references to the Song of Songs to get a peep into Jesus’ love for His people. As there are many symbolism used in Song of Songs, the list below helps to explain some of them that are found in the verses quotation in this week’s devotions.

  • Shulamite symbolizes Israel and the Church
  • The Beloved symbolizes Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom King
  • Spikenard symbolizes worship
  • Myrrh symbolizes death

This devotion emphasizes more on the heart and the spirit, rather than knowledge.

  • Take time to read the devotion slowly to allow the scriptures and events to go deep into you, beyond your mind.
  • It helps to read it several times, asking the Holy Spirit to bring you deeper.
  • Highlight the portions that jump out at you and write down your thoughts under “Personal Reflection” and also put into writing the response or even commitment that you want to make before God.

Day 5 – The Cross

Read Luke 22:54-23:56; John 18:12-19:37

The high priest and council of elders of Israel cannot find any false witnesses against me. Even the two false witnesses speak correctly that I am going to tear down the temple of God and rebuild it within three days. You do not believe me when I confess that I am Christ, the Son of God, the King of the Jews and call it blasphemy. I feel your spat on my face and the pain of you hitting me with your hands. I know each one of you for I created you. The trial has found me guiltless and you want me to take the place of Barabbas. Yes, I will take the place of Barabbas on the cross. I will take the place of you. It is for this reason that I have come.

O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah,
Lovely as Jerusalem,
Awesome as an army with banners! – Song of Songs 6:4

The cross is heavy for my broken body. Bless you Simon of Cyrene for carrying the cross and walking with me. O daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children for greater evil will fall upon them (Luke 23:28-31).

I can feel the nails going through my hands and feet. The weight of the world is felt on my physical shoulders when the weight of my body is on the nails as they hoist my cross up. “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). All the reviling, the blasphemy and jeering I put aside for my mind is set on doing Abba’s will. Some women were crying and amongst them, Mary my mother. My beloved disciple John is with her. I know John will take good care of her. Each breath I take is filled with excruciating pain but I know the end of this. “If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). I have allowed this temple of my body to be destroyed in a day and I will rebuild it in three days. I will go down to the lowest place for the keys of hades and death so that they will have no hold over my people!

After three hours of darkness, the ninth hour has come. Darkness looms so heavily upon me. All that I need to do on earth is done. Now the weight of the world has come upon my spirit. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? (My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?) Abba, into Your hands I commit my spirit.

It is finished.

Faith Stretching Part-ing of the Red Sea

The story of Moses parting the Red Sea is a familiar story to many of us. As I read the Bible narrative again, the parting of the Red Sea may not be as dramatic and fast motion as I have always thought it to be. Below are the few verses that describe this magnificent miracle of God.

19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” – Exodus 14:19-22 (NASB)

First observation was that the pillar of cloud moved from leading the Israelites to the back as a seperation between the Israelites and Egytians. Without the buffer provided by God, it is hard to imagine the Israelites, young & old with all their belongings and animals, not overtaken by the well-trained and equipped Egytian army. The Israelites were sandwiched by the Red Sea and Egytian army the WHOLE NIGHT! This is enough reason to be in high panic mode. TRAPPED.

Second observation is on Moses. In this high-stressed situation, Moses obeyed God and stretched out his hand over the sea with his staff. Not for a second, not for a minute, not even for an hour. He held out his hand with his staff for the WHOLE NIGHT! My hands would give up within 10min, maybe 20min if I use one hand at a time. The Red Sea did not part immediately when Moses stuck out his hand! He WAITED a WHOLE NIGHT! I doubt I have the physical strength to hold out my hand throughout the night.

I did speculate that Moses was able to hold out his hand throughout the night because he saw the Red Sea parting in stages and thus the sight becomes an encouragement for him to hold up his hands.

The third observation is God provided a strong east wind. A strong wind is needed to push the waters to the sides to part the Red Sea. Is there any significance in such a specific description of the “east wind”? The east wind blows from the east. The Red Sea or the Gulf of Aqaba runs north-south. You can refer to the map below to help you visualize the location of events that were unfolding. The strong east wind came and first met the Red Sea at the eastern side. The Red Sea started parting from the east side. Moses & the Israelites were at the west side of the river. This means that when the Red Sea started parting in the east side, Moses had no clue that it started from where he was. All he could see was the sea, and no sign of dry land as the night gets darker. It was only in the last stage that he realized that the Red Sea has parted. Quite a number of books and videos depicted this scene with the Red Sea parting immediately in front of Moses when he lifted up his hand. From the information given, the Red Sea parted from east to west rather than from west to east, right before Moses.

The parting of the Red Sea requires a super-duper-supernatural amount of faith from Moses!

Here is a video excerpt of the old movie, Moses. I got really impatient watching the parting of the Red Sea for this version as it took so much longer than the usual movies. Yet this is possibly a more accurate depiction of the stretching of Moses’ faith before the great miracle happened. Perhaps you will have greater appreciation of Moses’ faith in this after watching it.