Like the Israelites, we are a kingdom of priests. God has made us his treasure, bringing us from slavery to royalty and setting us apart for his holy service. Since we are saved for God’s glory, our service is to worship God, to glorify him by declaring his praises. But we also have a mission to the world — not to rule it, but to serve it. The way we serve is by leading holy lives. What distinguishes us from the rest of the world is our personal godliness. Or at least it ought to, because the way we live is part of God’s plan for saving the world.
There is always a place for practical prudence in the spiritual life. God has given us a great deal of freedom for life and ministry. Many of the decisions we face involve practical considerations that are not explicitly addressed in the Bible. Sometimes God uses other people to help us know what to do. Sometimes we get good advice from new believers, or even from people who are not believers at all. The key is to test human wisdom against the perfect standard of God’s Word. Is the advice people are giving us in agreement with Biblical principles?
There are many reasons to share the gospel. It is the command of Christ, which is reason enough. It is also part of God’s plan of salvation, his way of rescuing sinners from the wrath to come. But the goal of all gospel ministry is the worship of God. We testify to the good news about Jesus Christ so that people will praise him. Our proclamation of the gospel is for the salvation of sinners, with a view to their celebration of God. Evangelism is for the glory of God.
What happens when we do not pray? It is very simple: We start losing the battle, even if we have put on the full armor of God. We may be wearing the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. However, if we do not ask God to save us, we will not be able to make our stand against the devil. Instead we will be led away from the truth into error. We will give in to temptation. We will be dragged down into doubt and discouragement… . God is the difference between victory and defeat, and it is by prayer that we depend on him to win the battle. The victory depends on prayer because ultimately the victory depends on God.
The Bible often refers to God as a Rock. He is ‘the Rock of Israel’, ‘the Rock whose works are perfect’, the Rock who is a ‘fortress’ and a ‘refuge’. He is ‘the Rock of our salvation’. In keeping with this imagery, the rock that Moses struck with his rod was a symbol of God and his salvation. In particular, it showed how God would submit to the blow of his own justice so that out of him would flow life for his people.
There is glory in the ordinary providence of God. Every time he takes care of our needs or spares us from danger, every time he enables us to repent of our sins or to believe in his promises, every time he works things out in a way that seemed impossible, we see a little bit more of his glory. Or at least we ought to. If we are not giving God the glory, after all he has done for us, what more is it going to take?
What is remarkable is not that God was able to perform a miracle at Marah, but that he was willing to do it for such a bunch of malcontents. God’s grace is so amazing that he even provides for whiners, provided that we really are his children. Why does God do this? He does it to show his mercy and grace. He also does it so that we learn to trust in him for the water of life. God wants us to have a deep dependence on his ability to provide. Often he teaches us this lesson by first leading us to taste bitter water.
Everyone who knows Jesus Christ will keep singing his praises until the end of the world. And then we will sing a new song. Whenever God does something great, he deserves to be praised. It will be a great day when Jesus comes again. God will bring every sin to judgment, and he will take his children home to live with him forever. It will be such a great day that it will require a song.
Israel’s passage through the sea is not primarily intended to teach us what to do when we are in spiritual trouble, any more than it serves as a how-to lesson on what to do when we come to a large body of water. Rather, it is meant to teach us about coming to God for salvation. What happened at the Red Sea ought to help us clarify our relationship to Christ. The only “Red Sea experience” that really matters is the one that Jesus had when he passed through the walls of death and came out victorious on the other side.
Satan is pursuing us, but instead of running away, all we need to do is stand and see the salvation of our God. Christianity is not about something that we can do to become better people; it is about what Christ has done through the cross and the empty tomb. Jesus Christ has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. He is the one who has atoned for sin, who has turned aside God’s wrath, who offers perfect righteousness as the gift of faith, and who has gained entrance into resurrection life.