People Who Say Such Things: Cultivate Holy Imagination

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April 6, 2020

Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV)

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

CONSIDER THIS

Maybe you’ve heard the story of the 7-year-old boy who learned the story of the Israelites and the Red Sea in Sunday School. Upon being asked by his mother what he learned in class, he said,

“Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They scrambled a squadron of F-16 Falcon Fighter Jets to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.” 

“Now, Billy, is that really what your teacher taught you?” his mother asked.

“Well, no Mom, but if I told you what the teacher said, you’d never believe it in a million years!” 

Today’s text gives us the incredible true story of what happened on that night at the Red Sea. Here it is again. It merits a second reading to take it all in. 

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Imagine trying to explain your iPhone or the internet to your great great grandmother. Where would you start? You would say things like, “Grandma, I can talk to a person in London, England, right now while seeing their face on the screen and sending them a photograph of my children via a text message at the same time. What is she going to do with that? Would she even remotely believe it, even if we demonstrated it before her very eyes. All we could do was give her the outlandish, incredible, unbelievable yet true facts. That is all Moses does here. He gives us the outlandish, incredible, unbelievable yet true facts. It is one thing to try to explain something from today to an earlier time. Moses was telling the story of something way back then to people thousands of years hence—believe it or not. 

Angels and armies, pillars of cloud and fire, as a group of millions of refugees walked toward an impenetrable wall of water (a.k.a. the Red Sea) while being pursued by the most formidable army on Earth. And then we get this:

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22)

Friends, I promise I didn’t plan this, but we now find ourselves living in a most hellish time while walking into the most Holy Week—and we are journeying through the most significant preparatory biblical texts imaginable for such a time as this. The mighty deliverance of the Exodus through the parting of the Red Sea and the Passover which preceded it are right on time—God’s time. 

Rather than say anything else here, I want to invite you to an exercise of holy imagination. I want you to behold this ancient scene. First, read the text Exodus 14:19-22 out loud. Your ears need to hear it. When we read, the information enters through our eyes and goes straight to our brain. Remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith does not come through sight but by hearing. Faith, through hearing, gives something beyond mere eyesight. Faith gives our heart and soul the vision of God. It’s why Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 for God to open the eyes of our hearts. After hearing the text read aloud I want you to ask the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of your heart to behold this vision—and open your heart to visualize it happening, in as much detail as your Spirit-empowered imagination can muster. 

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.

People who say such things . . .

THE PRAYER

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:17-21) Come Holy Spirit, and train me to be such a person of faith. I pray in Jesus name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Did you do it—the exercise of holy imagination? What did you see? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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