Peace in Storm

Mat 8:23-27; Mar 4:35-41
Jesus could sleep in the storm because He was certain of His authority over it. On the flip side, the storm obeyed Jesus because it was unable to ruffle His feathers. In a way, Jesus had to sleep to calm the storm, demonstrating His complete restedness in God. Perhaps this is not a show to the storm but a lesson to us about the restedness in God despite circumstances.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” – ‭‭John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NASB‬‬

This peace is power in the Kingdom of God. Nothing can shake His people if we grab hold of this peace, not even in the strongest and most devastating storms. It is not just silence or absence of conflict. But one that is completely rested in God’s sovereignty over creation and the devil.

Peace I need. Peace I receive.

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.

The Spiritual Gifts

This might be a little controversial to some but the discussion at the Biblical Studies class last Tuesday taught by Rev Dr John Tay triggered some interesting thoughts. I am only sharing parts of the discussion that I think are key points as this is quite an extensive topic.  The key passage is 1 Cor 13:8-12.

Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Cor 13:8-12

Some have believed that the Canon of the Scripture is the moment in time “when the perfect comes”. In Greek, “perfect” (τὸ τέλειον) is in neuter. The Word (ὁ λόγος) and Christ (ὁ χριστός) are masculine. It is not possible that the “perfect” refers to the Word of God or Christ when this passage is read in Greek. A possible clue as to what perfect means is from the term “face to face”. The phrase is only applicable in the context of 2 persons and therefore the interpretation of perfect as the Canon of the Scripture is eliminated. The only option left is to come “face to face” with Jesus Christ and this refers to the Second Coming of Christ. Since we are still waiting for the glorious return of Christ, this implies that the gifts mentioned in this verse should still be active in the community of believers as we are in the “partial” and not yet in the “perfect”.

There are 3 gifts mentioned in this passage, prophecy, tongues and knowledge. Nobody in this generation will dismiss knowledge as this whole modern society is driven by information and knowledge – perhaps an over-saturation. Weekly sermons, Bible studies, and other teachings that come forth from the church are ways in which knowledge is imparted to believers which I believe most churches have never cease doing. Yet prophecy and tongues are 2 gifts that have received much less attention and emphasis. It does not seem possible that one out of the three are actively present but the other two have ceased or become inactive. I will leave this as a thought so that those interested can search the Bible for deeper understanding in this.

Here is an account of my own personal experience that totally blew my mind away. This happened when I was in West Timor, Soe. You can read my testimony in how I ended up in Soe in another post. On a Sat evening I was in the car and my host was driving me to the prayer meeting where I was to preach and minister like every other evenings. Prayer meetings happen in many places every evening in Soe. Little did I know that I was going to the home of the highest ranked government official in Soe. I delivered the message and strangely I felt deeply convicted to break out in tongues over the microphone. It is not my practice to break out in tongues when I am preaching as I am fully aware that I need to speak in intelligible language, at least to my translator who then can translate it to Bahasa Indonesia, so as to edify the body of Christ. As I was speaking in tongues, I realized my translator was also speaking in Bahasa Indonesia at the same time. The Lord gave me understanding of the tongues and with my less-than-amateur Bahasa Indonesia, it sounded as though my translator was translating my tongues into Bahasa Indonesia through his microphone. I did not feel led to give the interpretation of my tongues using my own words as I was fully aware that an interpretation is needed. I do not always understand the tongues that I speak and it is definitely for a reason why such clear understanding was given to me then. I asked my translator to read Ezekiel 47 which was what the tongues were about. When my translator was reading the passage, I saw the bewildered and amazed faces of my translator and all those who were present. I was not fully certain of what happened at that point in time but only suspected. I closed the meeting in prayer in English with translated Bahasa Indonesia as I usually do.

After the meeting, I asked the translator if he was interpreting my tongues to Bahasa Indonesia. He affirmed it and shared that this had never happened to him before! It was the first time experience for him and that he supernaturally knew that he understood my blabbering tongues. The reading of Ezekiel 47 was a confirmation for him that he was indeed interpreting my tongues and it was a testimony to the listeners too. All present witnessed the demonstration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit at work, yes, even the official who was participating in the meeting from a hidden room.

“Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.” –  1 Corinthians 14:5

I have never witnessed the gift of interpretation of tongues in the corporate setting before this! I was speechless when I realized the magnitude of what God demonstrated in that evening. This translator continued to translate my tongues in other meetings. To God be the glory!