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Saved By The Water

January 28, 2017

Verse: Exodus 14:30

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
January 29, 2017
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

4th Sunday after Epiphany
Saved By The Water

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. Exodus 14:30

Only God has power over water.

At creation he separated the water from the dry land. Without such a distinction the world would be nothing more than a large aquarium – but fish are not the Crown of Creation.

In Noah’s day he separated water from his people by means of an ark, a boat made out of wood, which should always remind us of the Cross on which the Messiah died to pay the penalty of our sins. By it He saved the last eight people on earth who worshiped him from the cleansing he was about to perform.

At the Red Sea God separated water from water. He made a path of dry ground through the Red Sea so that his people might escape the fierce Egyptian army which meant to do great harm to them and their little ones, but the LORD protected them! And he will protect you!

Jesus did water miracles too! He walked on water, and he slept through a storm that scared experienced sailors out of their skin. Why? Because a storm is nothing to Jesus. The disciples were afraid, he was not. But to teach us that there is never a reason to fear when Jesus is with you He spoke a divine word and all was well again. As Jesus was with them then, rest assured he is with you always … and so there is never need to be afraid.

Our Lord did another water miracle when He established Holy Baptism, and gave it to the church to convert the world. Baptismal water is different from all other. Not due to its substance but because it is combined with God’s Word and command; and as such the water is holy, and its power great! By it our sins are drowned and we emerge from the water a New Man, with new understanding, new vision, new abilities to counter sin, and a new future in which we will serve God in righteousness and purity forever: and there’s nothing better than that.

This is why St. Peter boldly states in his baptismal liturgy (1 Peter 3:18) that “baptism now saves us.” And why Moses says, “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.”

What do we learn from these inspired words? Two things. First that God delivers us from our enemies, and secondly that He takes revenge on them so that, like Israel of old, we too might learn to fear and believe.

Let us remember once again that it is God who saves us from all of our enemies both temporal and spiritual. But he never does it how we expect or when we expect. Instead, just when we think that all is lost, when there is no way out, when avenue of escape is exhausted, and our doom certain … that is when God “wakes up,” stills the storms of our lives and does greater things for us than we could ask or even imagine. (Eph 3:20)

Why does God work this way? Does he like to play cat and mouse with us; or drive us to the limits? Not at all dear Christians!

Our heavenly Father is never malicious but he does know what it takes to tame our raging pride, and soften our hard hearts. He knows what is needed to disabuse our sinful minds of the notion that we can save ourselves, and what it takes for us: to attain mature manhood and reach the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. (Eph. 4:13)

But though God’s ways may distress us rest assured that Christ will never let us perish, but will save us from all our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. (Luke 1:71)

But there is another facet to the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15), namely that God will settle all scores, and pay back in full all the forces of evil, all the people and all the things that have injured his dear ones, and this gives us hope.

It assures us that the evil which dogs us day and night, which makes us sick, which tempts us to sin, which degrades us, which robs us of peace, divides our families, makes our children go astray and causes poverty, robbery, assault, addiction and all manner of despair … this evil will not go on forever. It is not infinite! It is not eternal! It has its limits and it has an end! But the Word of the Lord, and the promise of His love endures forever!

And so however bad things might look at any given moment rest assured that we, like Israel of old, will see our enemies drowned in God’s wrath, and scattered on the shores of His vengeance, and this fills us with joy.

Indeed, there is no sweeter joy in life than when a long standing evil comes to a miserable end, and is soundly defeated. As Scripture says, “when the evil perish, the city rejoices.” When that happens the ensuing delight is not equal to the loss endured, but many times greater. This is why St. Paul says in today’s epistle: For I consider the present sufferings as not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Does this mean that we should avenge our enemies? Not at all. Jesus teaches us to pray for them, and St. Paul instructs us to feed them if they are hungry … but to leave the vengeance to God who knows how to repay in full.

Instead of revenge we should follow the example of Israel who, seeing God’s awesome power, feared the Lord and trusted in Him. And we should find comfort in the words of David in the 37th Psalm where he says,

“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.” Amen.