To the Glory of God
“Guide me, O thou great Jehovah…let the fiery, cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through…be thou still my strength and shield” (William Williams, 1717-91).
Read Exodus 13:17-14:18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever” (Westminster Shorter Catechism).
Today’s reading begins with the guiding “pillar of cloud” (13:21). God leads the people away from “war,” as “they might change their minds and return to Egypt” (13:17), (and then into confrontation with Pharaoh’s army) where the people actually do wish that they had never left (14:10-12)! Look at references to God’s “leading,” “guiding” (13:17,18,21) and the instructions to Moses (14:1). What is God doing?
The answer comes in the threefold “I will gain glory” (14:4,17,18). It is so that “The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (14:18). A recurring scriptural theme is that what God does for, in and through his people is so that the nations will know that he alone is God. To cite three diverse instances: David and Goliath (1 Sam. 17:46,47), return from Exile (Ezek. 36:22,23) and Paul’s affirmations (Eph. 3:21). Our salvation is not an end in itself but is to display to all peoples the glory of the God who saves.
Pharaoh has a short memory (5), as have the Israelites (11,12). Both focus on human power: Pharaoh marshals his military might (6-9) and the Israelites speak only of Egypt (“Egypt” or “Egyptians” occur five times in vs. 11 and 12 with no mention of God). God knows what he is doing: he turned the people back to beguile Pharaoh (2,3). Moses calls for trust in God (“Lord” occurs twice in the reply of vs. 13,14), but the command from God was to do what they would have thought crazy; “move on” to the sea where God will do what they could not have imagined (15-17). The Lord’s guidance is for his glory, and not their (or our) ease, although beyond the fearful insecurity there is deliverance, to be celebrated in hymns giving glory to God (e.g. 15:1-18; Psa. 78:12-14, 42-54; 106:7-12).
How can you give God glory this day and this week? Pray and think about that now.
In my life, Lord, be glorified today. I want to live in such a way that You are recognized as the great God You are.
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