One supply teaching job found me acting as exam invigilator. It seemed a pretty soft option compared to the usual round of keeping order, but you couldn’t take your eyes off the game. And then boredom crept in. After all of about 5 minutes…What would keep me sane and awake? The old song ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one’ came to mind; so I decided to do just that. With so much time to spend on it, I could go into thankfulness with detail I had never before managed, and the time passed over nicely!
Exodus 15:1-10 reminds me of that detailed thankfulness. The song goes over every aspect of the miracle Moses and the people of Israel had just witnessed, when God parted the waters to enable them to escape from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.
Something bothers me though. It seems to be taking joy in the deaths of all those people – many of them just ordinary soldiers obeying orders. How do I reconcile that with Jesus’ teaching in Luke 6:27-28 “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who ill-treat you.” Here’s my thoughts.
1) Just because the Israelites saw it that way does not make it a model for us to follow.
2) Just because ordinary men got killed doesn’t make God a monster. Pharaoh made the choice to take pride in his army, and to pit himself and his country against Almighty God. He stubbornly ignored the many warnings. The fault was his and not God’s.
3) The Israelites were not ready to fight themselves, but God ensured their freedom. The defeat of the whole army was not just a war won, but a future secured with no fear of reprisals.
I love that phrase in v10, “but you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them.” It took just the tiniest effort on God’s part. His anger was restrained, and the damage limited, because of his love for creation and people.
So yes, God can and will deal with our enemies in his time, and in his loving, restrained, appropriate way. It is our job to love our enemies and seek blessing on them. Vengeance is not ours to worry about. And that is a real blessing to count.