W.I.S.H. – Weekly Insights for Spiritual Health
Read: Exodus 14:21-15:21
The stories of the Bible were always told to teach spiritual truth and build faith; that’s how the Rabbis taught. There is a long tradition of rabbinic teaching that told the stories of the Old Testament, and added commentary on them (Midrash). Sometimes they would recast the story from another perspective, giving additional detail, to teach or emphasize a spiritual truth or provide insight into a story.
Remember the poem, “Footprints”? As a youth hearing it I thought, “Wow, that’s fantastic! That’s right on, and easier to understand than the Bible.” It is a beautiful, inspired poem, without a doubt. And it teaches important spiritual truths quite well.
I want to share with you a rabbinic tale told centuries after the people of God were led by Moses out of Egypt. The people fled Egypt, crossed the parted Red Sea, the Egyptian army pursued them, and the waters crashed down upon the Egyptian army drowning them. That’s when people (and angels in Heaven) began to celebrate. The story is from the Talmud:
“The Egyptians were drowning in the sea. At the same time, the angels wanted to sing before God, and the Lord, God, said to them: ‘My creations are drowning and you are singing before me?'” (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 10b).
The people of the Exodus were singing and celebrating – they’ve just been saved from certain death. In Heaven, the angels wanted to join in, singing God’s praise, but God stops them. God declares that this is not a great joy; that God has just had to destroy part of God’s beloved creation. It is an story that portrays well the love and compassion of God for all people, even those who have done evil.
Centuries later, when God’s people were the ones doing evil, God tells the prophet Ezekiel: “Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live” (Ezekiel 33:11). God’s way is, and has always been, that of love.
People who hate those whom they think that “God” hates, aren’t following the God of Jesus Christ. Sadly, they have created a false god, made in their own image.
Pastor Rob Nystrom