17 After Pharaoh sent the people out, God did not take them by the coastal road that runs through the land of the Philistines, even though that was the nearest and easiest route. Instead, God said, “For if they see battle with those contentious Philistines, they might regret their decision and then return to Egypt.” 18 So God chose a different, longer path that led the community of His people through the desert toward the Red Sea. The Israelites marched out of the land of Egypt like an army ready for battle.
19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath, “God will certainly come and rescue you. Carry my bones with you when you leave this place.”[a]
20 The people of Israel departed from Succoth and set up camp in Etham at the edge of the desert. 21 The Eternal went on ahead to guide them during the day in a cloud shaped like a pillar; at night He appeared to them in a fire shaped like a pillar to light their way. So they were able to travel by day and by night. 22 The Eternal did not remove the cloud pillar or the fire pillar; by day and by night it continued to go ahead of the people.
Often clouds and fire signify the presence of God in Scripture; that is especially true here in the Book of Exodus.
14 Eternal One (to Moses): 1-2 Speak to the Israelites and tell them to go back and set up camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal-zephon. Camp there next to the sea. 3 Pharaoh will talk about the Israelites, saying, “They are wandering around in circles. The desert has closed them in on all sides.” 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s stubborn heart even more, and he will pursue the Israelites. Honor will come to Me through the actions of Pharaoh and his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Eternal One.
And so they did exactly as the Eternal instructed.
5 When Egypt’s king received the news that the Israelites had run away, the attitude of Pharaoh and his servants changed. They began talking among themselves.
Pharaoh’s Servants: What have we done? We have released the Israelites from serving us and lost our labor force!
6 Pharaoh prepared his chariot and called out his army. 7 He took a select group of the 600 best chariots in the land plus all the other chariots in Egypt with drivers commanding all of them.
8 The Eternal hardened the stubborn heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he chased after the Israelites just as they were marching out of the land with victorious hands held high.
9 The Egyptians pursued the Israelites. All of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot-drivers and army caught up with the Israelites as they were camping by the sea not far from Pi-hahiroth, opposite Baal-zephon.
10 Pharaoh approached the Israelites’ camp, and the Israelites saw the Egyptian army closing in on them. The Israelites were trapped and feared for their lives, so they cried out to the Eternal.
Israelites (to Moses): 11 Were there not enough graves in Egypt? Is that why you brought us out here to die in the desert? Why have you done this to us? Why have you made us leave Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you in Egypt, “Stop pestering us so that we can get on with our lives and serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to live as slaves to the Egyptians than to die out here in the desert.
Moses (to the people): 13 Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground and witness how the Eternal will rescue you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians, for after today you will never see them again. 14 The Eternal will fight on your behalf while you watch in silence.
Eternal One (to Moses): 15 Why do you call for Me? Instruct the Israelites to break camp and keep moving. 16 Raise your staff and reach out over the sea to divide it. The Israelites will be able to walk straight through the sea on dry ground. 17-18 I am going to harden the stubborn hearts of the Egyptians, and in their arrogance they will continue to chase the Israelites. My honor will be on display when I defeat Pharaoh, his army, his chariots, and his chariot-drivers. The Egyptians will know that I am the Eternal when I display my glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot-drivers.
19 God’s messenger, who had been out front leading the people of Israel, moved to protect the rear of the company; the cloud pillar moved with him from the front to the back of them. 20 The cloud pillar took its position between Egypt’s and Israel’s camps. The cloud cast darkness by day yet it lit up the sky by night. As a result, the Egyptians never got close to the Israelites the entire night. 21 Moses then took his staff and reached out over the sea. The Eternal parted the sea with a strong east wind, which blew all night and turned the floor of the sea into dry ground between the divided waters. 22 The Israelites broke camp and traveled on dry ground through the parted waters, and the sea stood like a solid wall on their right and on their left.
23 The Egyptians were undaunted. They continued their pursuit; all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot-drivers followed the Israelites into the middle of the sea.
24 Before daybreak the Eternal peered down upon the Egyptian army through the fire pillar and the cloud pillar and threw them all into confusion. 25 He caused the wheels of their chariots to break down so that it was nearly impossible for the drivers to control them. The Egyptians knew something was wrong.
Egyptians: Let’s go and get away from these Israelites. Their God, the Eternal One, is fighting for them against us.
26 After all the Israelites had reached the other side of the sea, the Eternal spoke to Moses.
Eternal One (to Moses): Now take your staff and reach out over the sea. The waters which I parted will crash upon the Egyptians and cover their chariots and chariot-drivers.
27 So Moses raised his hand and reached out over the sea, and the walls of water collapsed. As dawn gave way to morning, the sea returned to normal and the Eternal swept the retreating Egyptian army into the sea. 28 The waters rushed and covered all the chariots and their drivers, swallowing up all of Pharaoh’s army that had pursued Israel into the sea. Not one Egyptian survived.
29 But the Israelites had walked safely through the parted waters on dry ground, and the sea stood like a solid wall on their right and on their left. 30 That day the Eternal rescued Israel from the powerful grip of the Egyptians, and Israel watched the corpses of the Egyptians wash up on the shore. 31 When Israel witnessed the incredible power that the Eternal used to defeat the Egyptians, the people were struck with fear of Him, and they trusted in Him and also in Moses, His servant.
Throughout this redemption story, it is clear that the Lord has protected Israel while He has judged and frustrated Egypt. After the many wonders before the Passover and the miraculous guidance by the cloud and the pillar of fire, God destroyed the Egyptian army in the midst of the sea. For centuries people have sought to explain this great miracle and make sense of it. Was it a volcanic eruption and a tsunami that parted the waters? Was it a shallow lake that drowned Pharaoh’s army? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Only God knows. But reason cannot grasp all that took place that day. When God’s covenant people were on the verge of extinction, God stepped in to fight for them. No one survived that day except by the miraculous grace of God.
15 Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Eternal One.
Moses and the Israelites: I will sing to the Eternal, for He has won a great victory;
He has thrown the chariot into the sea: horse and rider.
2 The Eternal is my strength and my song,
and He has come to save me;
He is my God, and I will praise Him.
He is the God of my father, and I will exalt Him.
3 The Eternal is a warrior;
the Eternal is His name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has thrown into the sea.
And his high-ranking officers are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The deep waters covered them;
they sank to the muddy depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, Eternal One, is magnificent in power.
Your right hand, Eternal, vanquishes the enemy.
7 In Your majestic greatness You conquer those who rise against You;
You unleash Your burning anger, and it consumes them like straw.
8 With a blast of Your anger the waters piled high,
the waves stood up like a wall;
in the heart of the sea, deep waters turned solid.
9 The enemy said, “I will go after them, chase them down, and divide the spoils;
my desire will be spent on them.
I will draw my sword; my powerful hand will take possession of them once again.”
10 But You blew Your breath-wind, and the sea covered them;
they sank like lead down into the mighty waters.
11 Who compares to You among the gods, O Eternal?
Who compares to You—great in holiness,
awesome in praises, performing marvels and wonders?
12 You raised Your right hand,
and the earth swallowed Your enemies.
13 With Your loyal love, You have led the people You have redeemed;
with Your great strength, You have guided them to Your sacred dwelling.
14 Already people have heard and they tremble;
those who inhabit Philistia are gripped by fear.
15 Even now the chiefs of Edom are deeply disturbed;
Moab’s leaders cannot stop trembling;
all who live in Canaan are deeply distressed and wasting away.
16 Horror and fear overwhelm them.
Faced with the greatness of Your power,
people are afraid to move; they fall as silent as stone,
Until Your people pass by, Eternal One,
until the people whom You purchased pass by.
17 You will bring them and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance—
the place, Eternal, that You have designated to be Your dwelling,
the sanctuary, Lord, that Your hands founded and made ready.
18 The Eternal will reign as King forever and always.
23 Jesus returned to the temple and began to teach. The chief priests and elders came to Him and wanted to know who had given Him permission to disturb the temple precincts and to teach His crazy notions in this most sacred of spots.
Chief Priests and Elders: Who gave You the authority to do these things?
Jesus: 24 I will answer your question if first you answer one of Mine: 25 You saw John ritually cleansing people through baptism[a] for the redemption of their sins. Did John’s cleansing come from heaven, or was he simply washing people of his own whim?
The elders knew that this question was tricky; there was no simple answer. If they acknowledged that John’s ritual cleansing was from heaven, Jesus would ask why they had not accepted John’s authority. 26 But if they said he had dipped people simply by his own accord, they would outrage the people who believed John was a prophet.
Chief Priests and Elders: 27 We don’t know.
Jesus: Then neither will I tell you about the authority under which I am working. 28 But I will tell you a story, and you can tell Me what you make of it: There was a man who had two sons. He said to his first son,
Father: Go and work in the vineyard today.
First Son: 29 No, I will not.
But later the first son changed his mind and went. 30 Then the father went to his second son.
Father: Go and work in the vineyard today.
Second Son: Of course, Father.
But then he did not go. 31 So which of the sons did what the father wanted?
Chief Priests and Elders (answering at once): The first.
Jesus: I tell you this: the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 John came to show you the straight path, the path to righteousness. You did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. Even as you saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors forgiven and washed clean, finding their footing on the straight path to righteousness, still you did not change your ways and believe.
33 Here is another story: A landowner planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, fitted it with a winepress, and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard and left town. 34 When harvesttime came, the landowner sent his servants to collect rent—in the form of grapes—from his tenants. 35 The tenants attacked these rent-collecting servants. They killed one, stoned another, and beat a third. 36 The dismayed landowner sent another band of servants to try to collect his due, a larger group of servants this time, but the tenants did the same thing—capturing, beating, killing. 37 Finally the landowner sent his son to the tenants, thinking, “They will at least respect my son.” 38 But the tenants knew the son was the best way to get to the landowner, so when they saw the son approaching they said,
Tenants: This is the landowner’s heir apparent! Let’s kill him and take his inheritance.
39 And so they did; they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 What do you think the landowner will do when he comes and sees those tenants?
Chief Priests and Elders: 41 He will eviscerate them, to be sure! Then he will rent the vineyard to other tenants who will pay him at harvesttime.
Jesus: 42 I wonder if any of you has ever opened your own psalter:
The stone that the builders rejected
has become the very stone that holds together the entire foundation.
This is the work of the Eternal One,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.[b]
43 Therefore, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to people who will tend its sweet fruit and who will give the Creator His due. [44 He who falls on the stone will be broken to pieces, and he on whom the stone falls will be crushed.][c]
Jesus has just confronted the spiritual leaders of the land with hard reality. They have two choices: they can believe Him and repent, or they can disbelieve Him and call His stories rabble-rousing and craziness. In their minds, the cost of believing is just too high. Everything they have—their positions and standings in the community, their worldviews, their own images of themselves—is at stake. But they can’t openly condemn this popular teacher of the people.
45 And so the chief priests and the Pharisees, the teachers and the elders, knew that when Jesus told these stories He was speaking about them. 46 Not believing, they looked for a way to arrest Him—a stealthy way, though. They were afraid to make too bold a move against Him because all the people believed He was a prophet.
A song of David.
1 Declare my innocence, O Eternal One!
I have walked blamelessly down this path.
I placed my trust in the Eternal and have yet to stumble.
2 Put me on trial and examine me, O Eternal One!
Search me through and through—from my deepest longings to every thought that crosses my mind.
3 Your unfailing love is always before me;
I have journeyed down Your path of truth.
A great theme throughout the psalms is the experience of coming before God. This Davidic psalm affirms the integrity of the worshiper before the Lord even while pleading for God’s mercy.
4 My life is not wasted among liars;
my days are not spent among cheaters.
5 I despise every crowd intent on evil;
I do not commune with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in the fountain of innocence
so that I might join the gathering that surrounds Your altar, O Eternal One.
7 From my soul, I will join the songs of thanksgiving;
I will sing and proclaim Your wonder and mystery.
8 Your house, home to Your glory, O Eternal One, radiates its light.
I am fixed on this place and long to be nowhere else.
9 When Your wrath pursues those who oppose You,
those swift to sin and thirsty for blood,
spare my soul and grant me life.
10 These men hold deceit in their left hands,
and in their right hands, bribery and lies.
11 But God, I have walked blamelessly down this path,
and this is my plea for redemption.
This is my cry for Your mercy.
12 Here I stand secure and confident
before all the people; I will praise the Eternal.
16 Take note, there are six things the Eternal hates;
no, make it seven He abhors:
17 Eyes that look down on others, a tongue that can’t be trusted,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that conceives evil plans,
feet that sprint toward evil,
19 A false witness who breathes out lies,
and anyone who stirs up trouble among the faithful.