“A Lesson in God’s Name” (Series: Five on Five)
Scripture: Exodus 14:5-31
The story of Israel’s crossing the Red Sea depicts God’s awesome power over his creation but it also displays the gospel’s power to make us a new creation. The Red Sea crossing is the Old Testament paradigm and pattern of redemption that is fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ. From Exodus 14 we learn that salvation involves freedom from old slave masters and formation into a new creation.
By the time Pharaoh regrets letting Israel go, they’ve already left the land. But when the Israelites see the Egyptians, they are struck with fear. They feel powerless and helpless around their old slave masters. It is far easier for them to give in and give up than to resist and run. This is because their slavery was familiar to them and the only thing they knew for so long. It was their new freedom which was new and scary to them. Christians can relate to this. Jesus has set us free from our slavery to sin and yet when old idolatries appear and temptations come our way, we find it much easier to give in than to resist because we’re so familiar with our old ways. Old sin patterns promise us a comfort or escape that we are familiar with. But salvation means the shackles of sin are removed and the chains are broken! We have been set fully free from the power and influence of old slave masters.
We must also keep in mind that our salvation is not just deliverance from old masters but formation into a new identity. Israel was made a new creation as they passed through the waters. Moses uses imagery and themes in Exodus 14 that he also used in Genesis 1 when God first created the world. The parallels here reinforce the point that Israel is being formed into a new creation. This truth is expounded in the gospel promise that in Christ we are a new creation because the old has passed away (2 Cor. 5:17). Christians are not merely fixed and refurbished but we are made new through the power of Jesus. The power of God at work in suspending the waters of the Red Sea is the same power at work in a Christian’s life so that we can resist sin and temptation as a new creation.
How was this pattern and power of salvation experienced? Israel is saved from the judgment waters of the Red Sea because an angel of God intervened. He stood between Israel and Egypt, himself in the sea, so that Israel could escape but Egypt would not. Then like the flood waters at the time of Noah, these sea waters of judgment fell upon Egypt. This angel of God, also referred to as the angel of the Lord, was mysterious to Israel but is revealed to us. He is the Son of God who spared Israel by standing in their place. This foreshadowed the work Jesus would do for us by sparing us from our sins and dying on the cross, standing in the place of judgment for us. Through his sacrifice, old enslaving masters are defeated and we are made a new creation now with the power to put of the old self and put on the new self (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Suggested Group Discussion Questions
- The Bible describes people’s relationship to sin, apart from Christ, as slavery to sin. What does this image/description illuminate in your understanding of the way sin operates in a person’s life? In what ways does it capture your own experience living in and with sin? (You may want to define sin first).
- Does your actual day to day self-conception and Christian identity include being a new creation in Christ or do you tend to think you’re really the same person but now just loved and forgiven? What informs/influences you to think one way or another?
- What do you lose when being made “new in Christ” isn’t upfront and central to your everyday Christian life? What do you gain when it is? Try to give concrete examples. Envision how living in this gospel reality makes all the difference.
- Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate, and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon?
- Response: Formulate a one-sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.