Exodus Day Twenty-Nine
August 10, 2020, 5:00 AM

The Interstate of Redemption
Exodus 14:22

And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground,
the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

I understand there are thirteen possible candidates for the mountain that Exodus calls “Sinai,” “the mountain of God,” and “Horeb.” The most prominent candidate is near the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, Jabal Musa (“mountain of Moses,” in Arabic). This is where the picturesque monastery of St. Catherine’s is located on the western slopes of the mount; and also where Codex Sinaiticus, “a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament. Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. The oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book.” (From the Sinaiticus Project webpage www.codexsinaiticus.org). This awesome place has to be the leading candidate for the real deal.

However, as I mentioned, there are other potential Sinai's. An alternate site that struck my fancy a few years ago, is a mountain in Saudi Arabia named Jabal al-Lawz. Mysterious, and in an area that the Saudi government forbids tourism. (The top of the moutain is even blackened from a possible scorching. Hmmm.) It's located just across the Gulf of Aqaba from the Sinai Peninsula. The notion that this might be the One came from a book, provocatively entitled, “In Search of the Mountain of God: The Discovery of the Real Mt. Sinai” by Robert Cornuke. Confession Time: Cornuke is not a serious scholar or even an archeologist. He seems to me a modern-day Indiana Jones wannabe. Certainly, an entertaining read. Although we cannot know for sure, just yet, where our mountain is located, or even the exact route that Moses took in the wilderness, Cornuke identifies a path-like, road-like shelf in the Gulf near Jabal al-Lawz. It’s a horizontal shelf extending across Aqaba, very near to the surface. That’s significant because the Gulf of Aqaba is very deep. But in this place, a smooth road leading across the vast Gulf. Might this have been the place where Israel crossed the Red Sea? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We don’t know. Yet. (BTW, I’m not recommending the book as gospel. Just a “Hmmm.”)

I bring up the Cornuke hypothesis because it reminds me of the way Isaiah utilizes Red Sea imagery to describe what God is going to do for us in Jesus. In Isaiah 40, the prophet describes the future return of Israel from exile in Babylon – a second Exodus, of sorts. He says, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.’” (Isa. 40:3-4). Of course, Israel did physically come back with Ezra and Nehemiah, but as those books make clear, the people never returned spiritually. Their hearts never came home to God. (Incidentally, the State of Israel's founding in 1948 wasn't a heart return either!) It would take yet another Exodus to accomplish the mission. This is why Matthew uses the very same words from Isaiah 40 to announce the coming of Jesus (with a little help from Malachi): “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” (Matt. 3:3). It would take the Lord Jesus to bring us back, truly, from exile, and restore our hearts. Jesus leads us across that shelf in the Gulf of Our Sin. He makes the way smooth. He levels the mountains and raises the valleys. It is an Interstate of Redemption!

And this beautiful, salvific picture comes from that day when God raised the waters of the mighty Red Sea to form a dry path between two massive walls of water. Only God could save like that. And this is what he has done for us, in his Son.

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