Introduction: We last saw Israel at the Red Sea in 2011’s Bible notes. We resume Exodus because we need reassurance at this time of uncertainty, facing a new year. Let us find it by focusing on the fact that God will be with us just as He was at the Red Sea. There is no greater boon that God could give us, uncertain of what the new year will hold, than His gracious favor as the “One who dwelt in the burning bush” (Deut. 33:16): the very One who saved at the Red Sea.

Monday: read Exodus 14:10-22; Isaiah 63:9-10. Our story at the Red Sea begins with how undeserving God’s people always are when it comes to salvation. It was not faith, courage or any other virtue on Israel’s part which prompted the Lord to intervene at the Red Sea. We see this clearly from Israel’s response to the fearful sight of Pharaoh’s army in Ex. 14:10-12 – accusing Moses of bringing them into the desert to die. Their hearts immediately return to unbelief as they declare bondage to the Egyptians to be favorable to death in the desert. For the next forty years this will be their frequent complaint against God. As Isaiah 63:9-10 point out, Israel often “rebelled and grieved God’s Holy Spirit” (Isa. 63:10). How then was God able to bear with them so patiently? Why did God repeat words of comfort to such an undeserving people: “Do not be afraid…” (Ex. 14:13)? The answer is that the mighty Angel of the Lord, whom we see in all His fiery power in Ex. 14:19, was always willing to condescend and be “distressed” in the place of His rebellious people, saving them again and again “with His glorious arm of power” (Isaiah 63:12). It was the grace of this Divine messenger – in the pillar of cloud and fire – which explains how this stubborn, hard-hearted nation of Israel was saved from Egypt and led safely through the Red Sea.

Meditate and Pray: Marvel anew at God’s grace to His sinful people. Sing about this grace (which we need every day just as much as Israel of old) with hymn # 82 in our Trinity Hymnals:

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are matchless, Godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace
More Godlike and unrivaled shine,
More Godlike and unrivaled shine
In wonder lost, with trembling joy,
We take the pardon of our God:
Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,
A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?
Or who has grace so rich and free?

Tuesday: read Exodus 14:23-29; 33:7-9; and Numbers 10:35-36. The same Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the burning bush in Exodus 3 appears in His fiery holiness to save Israel in Exodus 14:19-25. This Angel is none other than our Savior. May we rejoice to follow Him in His repeated victories over His foes “through the cloud and fiery pillar”:

  • “By the cloud” the Angel of the Lord Himself looks down on the Egyptian army and throws them into confusion by the blinding light of His face (Ex. 14:24).
  • “By the cloud” any one of God’s people could seek counsel and wisdom at the Tent of Meeting, taking his vexing problem through Moses directly to the Lord (Ex. 33:7-9). This was signaled by the “pillar of cloud” coming down and staying at the Tent entrance (Ex. 33:9). No wonder all Israel bowed with hope in verse 8 that Moses would bring back an answer directly from the mouth of God when they saw the cloud descend!
  • Whenever that same cloud began to rise up, all Israel would prepare to break camp and follow the Angel wherever He would lead them in the desert. At such times, Moses would break out into song (Num. 10:35) – praying that the Lord would again confront His foes and safely lead His people as He had done at the Red Sea.

Meditate and Pray: How privileged we are to be able to join Moses in the experience of God’s redeeming power! Should we not break into song as Moses did? As Pastor Steve Doe wrote about the praise which God’s saving work always produces:

The redemption which God accomplishes for His people puts a new song in their mouths, so it is not surprising that the description of God’s completed redemption speaks of songs of praise in Revelation 5:9; 14:3, 15:3.

Wed/Thurs: read Exodus 14:23-31, 40:34-38, Mark 9:2-8 and Acts 1:9-11. Continuing with our focus on the “cloud” at work among God’s people, we notice that this “cloud” filled the tent where sacrifices and prayers were offered on Israel’s behalf in Ex. 40:34-38. But Moses was not able to enter and serve God when that cloud came down in all its fullness – see Ex. 40:35! Why? Because that Angel who dwelt in that cloud – He alone was able to truly offer sinless sacrifices and prayers worthy of God’s glory! Moses must stay out when the glory of God’s cloud comes down and His Angel takes over in the worship of the one true God!

Does not this remind us of the time when Christ revealed Himself as God’s Son in the “cloud” of the Transfiguration in Mark 9? Moses was there too (Mark 9:4). But once again Moses was not allowed to stay and minister in that cloud of Divine glory! When the disciples come to their senses in Mark 9:7-8, they see Jesus alone. He alone is the One able to represent God’s people in worship in the midst of God’s glory.

Think also of the “cloud” in which Jesus ascended back to Heaven after His victorious death and resurrection. Having ascended where not even Moses could go, back up to Heaven “in the clouds” with the perfect sacrifice, He one day will return in exactly the same way. This is what Acts 1:9-11 promise. Behold Him coming back, riding on the very same cloud of God’s glory to save His own and judge His foes!

Meditate and Pray: Sing about the prospect of Christ’s Return with hymn # 299:

Look, ye saints! the sight is glorious:
See the Man of Sorrows now;
From the fight returned victorious,
Every knee to Him shall bow;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crowns become the Victor’s brow.
Crown the Savior! angels, crown Him;
Rich the trophies Jesus brings;
In the seat of power enthrone Him,
While the vault of heaven rings;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Crown the Savior King of kings.
Sinners in derision scorned Him,
Mocking thus the Savior’s claim;
Saints and angels crowd around Him,
Own His title, praise His name;
Crown Him, crown Him,
Spread abroad the Victor’s fame.
Hark, those bursts of acclamation!
Hark, those loud triumphant chords!
Jesus takes the highest station;
O what joy the sight affords!
Crown Him, crown Him,
King of kings and Lord of lords!

Friday: read Exodus 15:1-12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:8. If we would follow in Moses’ footsteps and sing with him at the edge of the Red Sea, then we must sing in praise of God’s judgments against the wicked as well His acts of mercy towards His own. By the “cloud” of His wrath, Jesus will slay His enemies on that great Day, just as His wrath blew on Pharaoh to destroy him and his army (see Ex. 15:8 & 10). His breath will flash like fire and lightning to destroy Anti-Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:8. “The splendor” of His coming on the clouds will mean the instant destruction of all who stand against Him! Hallelujah!

Meditate and Pray: Think about that great “Day of the Lord” when “every eye will see Him coming on the clouds.” Oh to meet Him as His redeemed, safe from sin, Satan and the bondage of this world! Sing with sober thanks of the coming judgment in hymn # 545:

When this passing world is done,
When has sunk yon glaring sun,
When we stand with Christ in glory,
Looking o’er life’s finished story,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I hear the wicked call,
On the rocks and hills to fall,
When I see them start and shrink
On the fiery deluge brink,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

Chosen not for good in me,
Wakened up from wrath to flee,
Hidden in the Savior’s side,
By the Spirit sanctified,
Teach me, Lord, on earth to show,
By my love, how much I owe.