Week of Proper 11: Tuesday, Year 1   12 comments

Above:  The Sinai Peninsula

Image in the Public Domain

The Exodus, Part II:  Freedom

JULY 20, 2021


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Exodus 14:21-31 (An American Translation):

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD moved the sea away by means of a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land.  The waters were divided, so that the Israelites proceeded on dry ground into the sea, the waters forming a wall for them to right and left of them.  Pursuing them, the Egyptians followed them right into the sea, all of Pharaoh’s horses, his chariotry and cavalry.  At the morning watch the LORD lowered himself toward the Egyptian army in the column of fire and cloud, and threw the Egyptian army into a panic.  He clogged their chariot-wheels, and caused them to proceed with such difficulty that the Egyptians said,

Let us flee from the Israelites; for the LORD is fighting for them against the Egyptians.

Then the LORD said to Moses,

Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariotry and cavalry.

So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and as morning broke, the sea returned to its steady flow; and as the Egyptians fled before it, the LORD shook the Egyptians right into the sea.  The water returned, and covered the chariotry and cavalry belonging to the whole army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not so much as one being left.  But the Israelites had walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the water forming a wall for them to the right and left of them.

Thus did the LORD save Israel that day from the power of the Egyptians.  So Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore; and when Israel saw the mighty act which the LORD had performed against the Egyptians, the people stood in awe of the LORD and trusted the LORD and his servant Moses.

Canticle 8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18 plus the Trinitarian formula

I will sing to the LORD, for he is lofty and uplifted;

the horse and its rider has he hurled  into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and my refuge;

the Lord has become my Savior.

This is my God and I will praise him,

the God of my people and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a mighty warrior;

Yahweh is his Name.

The chariots of Pharaoh and his army has he hurled into the sea,

the finest of those who bear armor have been drowned in the Red Sea.

The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them;

they sank into the depths like a stone.

Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might;

your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.

Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods?

who is like you, glorious in holiness,

awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?

You stretched forth your right hand;

the earth swallowed them up.

With your constant love you led the people you redeemed;

with your might you brought them to in safety to your holy dwelling.

You will bring them in and plant them

on the mount of your possession,

The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord,

the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.

The Lord shall reign

for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.


Psalm 114 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

When Israel came out of Egypt,

the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,

2 Judah became God’s sanctuary

and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea beheld it and fled;

Jordan turned and went back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams,

and the little hills like young sheep.

5 What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?

O Jordan, that you turned back?

6 You mountains, that you skipped like rams?

you little hills like young sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8 Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water

and flint-stone into a flowing spring.

Matthew 12:46-50 (An American Translation):

While he was still speaking, his mother and his brothers came up and stood outside the crowd, wanting to speak to him.  But he said to the man who told him,

Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?

And he pointed to his disciples and said,

Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!


The Collect:

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Over the years I have discussed the Exodus and the events leading up to it with people.  Often, when I have discussed possible natural explanations, some individuals have become defensive, as if I were dismissing or minimizing God’s active role.  I have not done this, nor have I ever done anything similar to it.  These defensive people were listening to their proverbial inner tapes, not what I was saying.

Even the author of Exodus 14:21 tried to explain the parting of the waters at was probably a lake near the Red Sea.  He wrote that there was a strong wind blowing.

So discussions of how God engineered the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt does not change the truth that God engineered the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt.

The granting of freedom was the miracle of the Exodus.  Such an event is a great occasion for joy, but let us remember what followed for a generation.  People grumbled in the desert, hoarded manna, bickered frequently, and waxed nostalgic about Egyptian table scraps.  Freedom was for enjoying and following God, not bickering.

This is a lesson worth remembering.



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