Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few. . .1 Samuel 14:6b (NIV)
It seems everyone loves a good suspenseful movie. You know type I’m talking about where the hero or heroine finds themselves in a life-threatening, precarious situation with no visible sign of escape. If you need a mental picture think of the popular Indiana Jones movie series. Even if you’ve never seen any of the Indiana Jones movies in their entirety, you’ve likely seen short clips from them showing Indiana Jones being chased by a giant boulder or attempting to outwit a cobra.
Taking a look at redemptive history, it appears that God too has an appetite for suspense. A pattern seems to emerge where God will make a promise to an individual or community and then either orchestrates or permit events to occur that would seem to undermine the promise. The Israelites had been in bondage for 430 years in Egypt when God emancipated them and promised to lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. However the escape route that God intentionally chose for the journey was an apparent dead end leading them to be trapped by the Red Sea. The Egyptians pursued the Israelites and had them boxed in. The Israelites had two means of escape, one would involve turning around, doing an about face and running headlong into the teeth of the advancing Egyptian army. The other means, which seemed even more improbable, would be to escape by swimming across the Red Sea, which was 221 miles across and 1,600 feet deep. This was playing out to be a true cliff hanger if there ever was one, clearly besting anything that Indiana Jones might face. Why would God place the people he swore to deliver in such peril? God reveals the answer to Moses, “I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 14:3b)(NIV). While God shared his plan with Moses, apparently that word had not yet spread throughout the entire Israelite camp, because the people reacted in fear. “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Exodus 14:1-12)(NIV).
God did not abandoned his plan to save is his people. Instead of utilizing either of the two apparent options of rescue; a.) the Israelites turn and face and Egyptian army head on or b.) the Israelites swim across the Red Sea, he created a third more miraculous option; c.) part the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to walk across on dry land and cause the Red Sea to revert back to its original form and drown the Egyptians when they attempted to follow.
We all like a suspenseful drama provided we’re in the audience and not acting it out. But God does not exempt us from his casting call. He will see to it that we are protagonists in our own spine tingling stories apparently hemmed us in on all sides with no visible means of escape. Sooner or later we will all find ourselves hanging on by God’s thread and that thread will appear to be fraying. But God’s salvation does not rely on appearances. He often does his best work when situations appear most dire. He can save by many or by few. Even if we are saved by what seems like a hair’s breadth the outcome is no less secure than if we had been saved by a mile. The more dramatic the rescue, the greater the faith lesson taught to us and the greater the witness to God’s glory.
The Israelites’ lament when they saw the Egyptian chariots approaching turned into a song of praise when they saw those same Egyptians washed up dead on shore of the Red Sea, “who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you–majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” (Exodus 15:11)(NIV).
Do you feel like you are in a tight spot with no visible means of escape? Remember that God is just helping you to compose your song.