|Charlton Heston as Moses, The Ten Commandments|
God parted the Red Sea, and Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt on dry ground. Even those who’ve never read the Bible know the scene from the movie—though it’s not exactly accurate. Who can forget Charlton Heston as Moses, standing there in front of the water piled up on both sides, rod in his hand?*
God parted water a second time! You can read about it in Joshua, chapter 3. God instructs Joshua to have the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant get their feet wet in the Jordan River, which was at flood stage. They obeyed, and the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan (Joshua 3:16-17). Again, God showed the people His power, and he made a way for them to cross a body of water.
There were several results from this second parting-of-the waters:
- The people didn’t get wet—except for the priests’ feet.
- The ground they walked on was dry, and the water was piled up. These are two miracles in one. Water doesn’t pile—unless it’s frozen or God does something special. The ground would have been soggy, but God made it both firm and dry.
- This event became a symbol of God’s power to the generations to come. God instructed them to make a pile of rocks from the middle of the riverbed to show their children and their children’s children. They would always have a monument to God’s power and intervention. (Joshua 4:6-7. You can read my post about the pile of stones, here.)
- Joshua’s leadership was confirmed. The people saw God’s relationship with him, and they respected him more. The Bible says they respected him all the days of his life, just as they had respected Moses (Joshua 4:14).
- The Ark of the Covenant, the earthly symbol of God’s presence and His blood sacrifice for sin, was first and last. Everyone passed by the Ark on his way across the Jordan between the piles of water, and the Ark followed everyone across. As soon as the priests carrying the Ark came up out of the riverbed, the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before (Joshua 4:18b).
- This parting of the river took place right before Joshua was to take Jericho in the most amazing way. God told them to march around the city once each day for six days. Then, on the seventh day, they were to march around Jericho seven times. When the priests blew the trumpets, the people shouted. The walls fell down! This God-given victory is every bit as miraculous as how they got across the Jordan to Jericho! (Joshua, chapter 6)
- Rahab and her family were saved. God promised Rahab salvation because of her faith and because she sheltered the Israelite spies. (Joshua 6:23-25; Hebrews 11:31)
When God parts the waters, He delivers and leads His people. He has a purpose in demonstrating His power in this way. God is demonstrating His power in a palpable, practical way. How do you get a million people from Point A to Point B? Part the waters and lead them over on dry land! How do you move a great army over into enemy territory and take a huge city without any challenge at all? Part the waters, let the people cross over on dry ground, and make the enemy’s walls fall down when the priests blow horns and the people shout!
That same God is our God!
He can do things with nature that are against natural laws. After all, the Creator has the right to do anything that he wants with His creation!
God can win battles in the weirdest ways, because He wants to showcase His sovereignty. Here are some examples:
- Aaron and Hur supporting Moses’ hands in order to win the battle (Exodus 17:10-13)
- The sun not going down—literally a long day—until Joshua’s battle against the Amorites was won (Joshua 10:12-14)
- Deborah goes into battle with Barak, but Jael kills Sisera in her own tent (Judges 4)
- Gideon’s small army with pitchers and torches (Judges 7)
So, why are these Old Testament partings of waters and winnings of battles so important to us today?
- They show that God can do anything He wants to do.
- They show us we have a God who cares about the affairs of men.
- They showcase a sovereign God whose purpose will be done on the earth. There are no obstacles for Him!
- They demonstrate God’s salvation and deliverance.
- They challenge us to obey and trust, like Moses and Joshua.
- They challenge us to do things God’s way.
- They’re a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people.
- God is interested in our own battles, and He will do whatever is necessary to see us through.
Be encouraged! The same God who parts seas and rivers and causes His people to walk on dry ground is leading you, too.
* The true account of the parting of the Red Sea is in Exodus 14:21-30.