As Passover quickly approaches, Jewish homes are filled with preparation – removing leaven, buying matzot and holiday food, girding up for the festive onslaught of guests. Visions of films like The Ten Commandments and Prince of Egypt dance through the heads of many Jewish boys and girls, while others dread the thought of having to gulp down more gefilte fish and horseradish.
The old spiritual “O Mary don’t you weep” (www.lyrics.net/lyric/18506566) recalls the nail biting moment when the cream of Pharaoh’s army got buried in the roiling waters of the Red Sea (In Exodus 15:4 the Hebrew word yam suf is used – the Reed Sea). This climactic moment made a deep impression on the prophet Isaiah. In his biblical scroll he describes waters at least twelve times – both to prophesy God’s future judgments on Israel’s enemies, as well as to declare how YHVH will use the splitting of the seas to accomplish mighty works of deliverance for His Jewish people.
Pressure on Israel continues to increase from the nations. This includes –
- attempts to shrink Israel’s borders, causing her to retreat before her enemies
- activist campaigns to boycott and sanction Israel (shades of Nazi days!)
- attempts to chill and confuse Christian affection for the restoration of the Jewish people to their Promised Land
It would be beneficial to chew on Isaiah’s words at this season in the Spirit.
Sky of blue and sea of green
In ancient days the sea was a symbol of anarchy, spiritual evil and rebellion against God’s created order, a place where potentially mortal danger lurked. Isaiah even connects the satanic dragon’s (Revelation 12:9) home base with the sea: “In that day YHVH will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent with His fierce and great and mighty sword – even Leviathan the twisted serpent. And He will kill the dragon who is in the sea” (Isaiah 27:1).
Those who are wicked and rebel against God and His ways are described as muck and slime on a raging sea, “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud. There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked” (Isaiah 57:19-20).
The raging of the nations against the God of Israel is prophetically contrasted to the waves of an uncontrolled sea storm, “Alas, the uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas, and the rumbling of nations who rush on like the rumbling of mighty waters! The nations rumble on like the rumbling of many waters, but He will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like chaff in the mountains before the wind, or like whirling dust before a gale” (Isaiah 17:12-13; also Psalm 65:7).
Stir it up
The God of Israel, YHVH, is the Creator of all, and all is subject to Him – including the seemingly uncontrollable sea (Revelation 10:6). When God established His divine order over this planet, He established divine boundaries and creative order. “Should you not fear me? declares YHVH. Should you not tremble in My presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail. They may roar, but they cannot cross it” (Jeremiah 5:22; also Job 38:8-11; Psalm 93:3-4; Proverbs 8:29).
Yet God not only absolutely controls the seas and the raging nations; He also stirs them up for His own strategic purposes at His own calibrated times. “For I am YHVH your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (YHVH of armies is His name). I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” (Isaiah 51:15).
Daniel’s prophetic dream says much the same thing: “I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another” (Daniel 7:2-3). God uses His angelic messengers to stir up the nations and to even raise up beastly superpowers to wreak havoc on the earth.
Out of the sea comes the anti-Messiah of the superpowers, commonly known as the beast. “And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority” (Revelation 13:1-2).
Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stills the waters
When evil powers (whether Assyrian, Babylonian or modern) rise up to destroy God’s chosen people and lay waste their land, the Sovereign Lord prophesies that He will dry up their rebellion and anarchy, even as He dried up the Red Sea in the days of Moses and Pharaoh (Isaiah 63:11-13):
“Therefore thus says YHVH of armies, O My people who dwell in Zion, do not fear the Assyrian who strikes you with the rod and lifts up his staff against you, the way Egypt did. For in a very little while My indignation against you will be spent and My anger will be directed to their destruction. YHVH of armies will arouse a scourge against him like the slaughter of Midian at the rock of Orev; and His staff will be over the sea and He will lift it up the way He did in Egypt” (Isaiah 10:24-26).
“I YHVH am the Maker of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth all alone, … confirming the word of His servant and performing the purpose of His messengers. It is I who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited!’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built.’ And I will raise up her ruins again. It is I who says to the depth of the sea, ‘Be dried up!’ and I will make your rivers dry… (ed. It is I who) declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the Temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’” (Isaiah 44:24-28; also Isaiah 50:2).
- This is the biblical background of Yeshua’s Messianic miracle of stilling the waves. For who indeed can do such a thing except YHVH the God of the Exodus? (Matthew 8:23-27)
The Second Exodus
The God of Jacob’s deliverance from Pharaoh was not only one of the most powerful events in history. It is also a prophetic paradigm of how YHVH will deliver the Jewish people from the hatred of Satan, the cruelty of the nations and the indifference of slumbering believers. A Second Exodus for Israel, one even greater than the first, is yet in store and is fast approaching. It will also involve mighty miracles and earth-shaking deliverances.
“Awake, awake! Put on strength, O Arm of YHVH! Awake as in the days of old, the generations of long ago. Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the dragon? Was it not You who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep – who made the depths of the sea a pathway for the redeemed to cross over? So the ransomed of YHVH will return and come with joyful shouting to Zion, and everlasting joy will be on their heads. They will obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (Isaiah 51:9-11).
“Then it will happen on that day that YHVH will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people, who will remain – from Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth … And YHVH will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt. And He will wave His hand over the River with His scorching wind. And He will strike it into seven streams and make men walk over dry-shod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant of His people who will be left, just as there was for Israel in the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt” (Isaiah 11:11-15).
Don’t look back
- Isaiah comforts his people by declaring that the same God who protected Israel in Moses’ day and led her out of Egypt with signs and wonders, will soon bring the Jewish people out of soporific Exile among the nations. He will fully restore Israel to the Land of Promise (see also Micah 7:15-17).
- The prophet assures us that this future reality can be depended on with absolute certainty. In fact, this Second Exodus and accompanying Restoration will one day even eclipse the Mosaic Exodus.
“Thus says YHVH who makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters, who brings forth the chariot and the horse, the army and the mighty man – they will lie down together and not rise again; they have been quenched and extinguished like a wick – Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new. Now it will spring forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will glorify Me, the jackals and the ostriches – because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert to give drink to My chosen people. The people whom I formed for Myself will declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:16-21).
Now you sea it, now you don’t
After the entire Jewish nation returns to its land (Ezekiel 39:28-29), Messiah Yeshua will rule over them and over all the nations for a thousand years, sitting on the Throne of David (Amos 9:11) in Jerusalem. At the conclusion of the Messianic age, mankind will then enter into the eternal order (the time of the New Jerusalem), where all rebellion ceases. Interestingly, the prophet tells us that in that day there will no longer be rebel nations and there will no longer exist a churning and thrashing sea. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea” (Revelation 21:1).
In light of all these amazing promises, let us pray:
- Pray for the Jewish people right now at this significant Passover season – that the God of Israel will reveal Yeshua (His mighty Arm – Isaiah 53:1) to His people as they sit around the Passover seder table next week
- Pray for the leaders of your nation who by pressuring Israel may be bringing a curse on your land – that YHVH would grant them revelation concerning His sovereign and mighty hand, and both clarity, commitment and courage to follow the God of Israel and His ways in the challenging days immediately ahead
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!
In Messiah Yeshua,
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