The miraculous parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14 is one of the most dramatic events in all the pages of scripture. It is also, for many people, a stumbling block: they read about the walls of water on either side of the Israelites as they pass through on dry ground and think, “This is why I’m not religious–how could anyone believe this stuff?” So, did it actually happen? What are modern, thinking people supposed to think?
I Can’t Prove the Red Sea Event Happened
I can’t prove to you that Moses stretched out his hand and that the Lord then drove the waters apart, turning the sea into dry land (14:21). But, even without “proof,” this miracle (and other Old Testament miracles) don’t worry me, and I’m able to accept them as spiritually formative and important indicators of the power and nature of God.
And Natural Explanations Don’t Work For Me
Any explanations that use the natural to explain the miraculous, along the lines of “maybe there was a strong wind that made the waters part in just that way?” don’t really work, because this is a miracle, and miracles are, by definition, supposed to be supernatural. Ancient people knew how the world worked, and they knew that large bodies of water don’t just part and allow people to walk between the walls of water. In fact, that’s the reason the Red Sea event is such a big deal: it was considered out of the ordinary course of events, a miracle. So, the Connecticut-Yankee-in-King-Arthur’s-Court sort of explanation just doesn’t work for me.
Instead, I Start with Jesus
I don’t start with Old Testament miracles. I start with Jesus. Jesus trusted the Old Testament (the only scriptures that existed in his lifetime) in his devotional and worship life. We know this because he quotes from the Old Testament extensively, even quoting from the Psalms when he’s on the cross: the Hebrew scriptures were central to his life. Jesus also references Moses several times. This means to me that Jesus received and accepted the Hebrew scriptures as formative and important. If he didn’t need to worry with historicity–i.e., did this actually happen?–then neither do I.
And I Believe That the Resurrection Is Plausible
If Jesus is risen from the dead, then I can accept his word about everything. If he accepts the Old Testament as formative and important, than so can I.
But If Jesus Stayed Dead, Then Who Cares?
If Easter morning didn’t happen, then who cares what Exodus says about the Red Sea? But if it did happen, then I can accept the Old Testament miracles as spiritually nourishing and important and not get caught up in some kind of modernist obsession with proving that they happened. Because, if Christ is risen, then there is nothing God can’t do.
What do you think?