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22 January. Exodus chapters 13-15
The Exodus from Egypt, and more specifically the crossing of the Red (or Reed) Sea, is a pivotal moment in the history of salvation. This one day on which (if the numbers are taken literally) hundreds of thousands of people walked across the dried up salt marsh, to be followed by the Egyptian army whose chariots got bogged down and drowned by the returning waters, is the basis of much Jewish and Christian theology. Through the rest of the Bible it is frequently referred to as the ultimate proof that God saves those who call on him, as well as that the people of Israel were his chosen people. The passage of the Israelites through the water is also often seen as a symbol or foretaste of the sacrament of baptism as practised first by John at the Jordan, and later by the Christian church, and also a symbol of death and resurrection.
Moses is similarly held up by later writers as the model of a “man of faith”. First he had had to confront Pharaoh on the basis of God’s promise that eventually the ruler would let his people go. Now he faces an even greater challenge of faith – he is told that by the simple act of waving his staff at the waters in front of them, his people will be saved and the Egyptians destroyed. If nothing happened, they pursuers would overtake them and all would be lost. But he acts, and is vindicated. May God grant us enough faith to do what he has commanded us, however simple.