Let’s carefully consider the means or cause that God used to deliver Israel from destruction and how that relates to our deliverance from sin. Ultimately, it says freedom is most important then as well as now and forever. Not only our physical freedom but our mental or spiritual freedom as well. In both cases it is God who brings us true freedom.
When Pharaoh pursued Israel with “six hundred first class chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt, with warriors on them all,” surely they had orders to kill. And certainly today there are many terrors: Isis for one, the scourge of drugs, disease, and threats to our souls by sin and death. When Israel was confronted with death at the hands of Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses said, “fear not! Stand your ground and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you today.”
So then the Lord told Moses to “tell the Israelites to go forward. And you, lift up your staff and, with hand outstretched over the sea, split the sea in two, that the Israelites may pass through.”
So we must do the same. Fear not! Stand your ground and go forward. Except it is Jesus Christ who splits the sea of obstacles.
The Israelites saw many wonders , you will see even greater wonders better than the ones which they saw while leaving Egypt. You did not see Egypt’s army drown, but you saw the devil overwhelmed by the saving waters of baptism. The Israelites went through the Red Sea, while you went from death to life. They were saved from Egypt; you have been saved from the powers of darkness. The Israelites found freedom from Egypt: you have been freed from the bonds of sin.
Yes God accomplishes miracles through Jesus. Just as the blood of the sacrificial lamb placed on the doorpost and lintels of the houses of the Israelites was a sign that redeemed Israel so too have we been “redeemed by the precious blood of Christ.”
However, we as daughters and sons of God, as co-heirs with Jesus must try to use the tools of discipline to help bring about God’s kingdom. “What are these tools, these techniques of suffering, these means of experiencing the pain of problems constructively that I call discipline? There are four: delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth and balancing. The tools are simple. The problem lies in the will to use them, which is love.”
Instead of talking further about the plot of this story, I would rather like to briefly turn to the psychology of Pharaoh and the Egyptian servants. Scripture says God made Pharaoh obstinate: stubbornly adhering to an attitude, an opinion or a course of action. So let’s uncover Pharaoh’s attitude. Pharaoh’s state of mind was more than likely a very proud one. It is likely that he had a very high opinion of himself. The Pharaohs thought of themselves as god and the Egyptian servants and people treated him that way. It was part of their culture.
Prior to Pharaoh’s releasing the Israelites, the Lord worked many wonders and signs in Egypt. The Lord made Pharaoh so obstinate that he would not listen to Moses. Earlier in the Exodus readings there were ten plagues: water turned into blood, the Frogs, the Gnats, the Flies, the Pestilence, the Boils, the Hail, the Locusts, the Darkness, and the death of the first-born.
God used Pharaoh to bring glory to God’s self. By making Pharaoh obstinate after each of the plagues, the Lord built up the esteem of Pharaoh so as to make him appear god-like or at least to appear to be a powerful adversary of God. Therefore God was able to bring greater glory to God’s self in the eyes of Israel when he defeated Pharaoh.
Is it possible that Pharaoh represented one of the earliest cases of malignant narcissism. Malignant narcissism is characterized by an un-submitted will. All adults who are mentally healthy submit themselves one way or another to something higher than themselves, be it God or truth or love or some other ideal. They believe in what is true rather than what they would like to be true. Pharaoh ignored the signs. And in the end it cost him.
Exodus 14:7 The New American Bible, Large Print, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1970
1 Peter 1:18, 19 (pg. 130) The Liturgy of the Hours, Lenten Season, Catholic Book Publishing Corp., New York , 1976
The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, MD., A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1978.
People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. M. Scott Peck, M.D. , A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, New York , 1983.
Image: Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea, pursued by Pharoah’s army, from the Dura Europos Synagogue, ca. 244CE, Syria.