Sea Him

Myth: A watermelon vine will grow out of your belly button if you swallow a watermelon seed.
The Truth: God made watermelon seeds for spitting contests, not for swallowing.

Myth: Whirly winds can suck you out of your house, trap you in the land of a giant green wizard, and then dump you in some place called Kansas. That's why dogs run away from vacuum cleaners.
The Truth: God made Kansas a real place but no one gets there by the whirly wind of a vacuum cleaner.

Myth: A girl can have a baby if a guy sees her in a bikini.
The Truth: God made biology with a lot of important parts, but bikinis are not one of them. (Though mommy said she didn't wear a bikini until high school science class because of it. Aaaaaand, she also said that sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between bikinis and dental floss these days, but I don't give that much thought. I don't use either.)

When God led his people out of Egypt, he told them to circle back from where they came even as Egypt's army was chasing them. Then he told them to stop at the shoreline of the sea "in front of Baal-zephon" and "encamp facing it" [1].

Baal-zephon was a place on the west side of the sea with a mountainous peak that could be seen from the east side of the sea where the Israelites were, and setting their eyes toward it would have made the Israelites recall a few things:
• Its name alone would have reminded the Israelites that the land they had been in for 430 years worshiped the pagan god Baal.
• Their 430 years in Egyptian captivity would have equated, in the Israelites' minds, Baal with Seth, the Egyptian god of storm and war, who would be helping Egypt's pursuit of them [2].
• The recollection of that Egyptian god would also remind the Israelites that Pharaoh (the one chasing them) was considered by all of Egypt to be the divine child of the Egyptian sun god, Ra [3].
• And the waters at their feet where God told them to stand between Baal-zephon and Pharaoh's army would have terrorized the Israelites because Egypt believed these waters were the entryway into the underworld where people were taken into the afterlife by Egypt's gods.

Israel's God - the Living God - told the Israelites to encamp between the enemy chasing them and the representation of all that this enemy believed. Then the Living God of Israel told his people to face in the direction of the enemy's beliefs... not the direction of the enemy itself.

Well... I know that only five minutes of thunder can convince me that the sky is falling, but it isn't. Two hours of mommy and daddy being at work can convince me that I've been abandoned, but I haven't. So, 430 years as a captive in a land of myth and mysticism probably left God's people believing some of it.

In that tight, trapped spot between Baal-zephon to the west and Pharaoh with his army to the east, God set his people up to see Who is True and what is not.

He split into half the very waters of a mythical underworld of death and made it a walkway to life. He moved his people completely unharmed right under the nose of an imagined god of war. And when the sun rose behind its false son and Pharaoh charged toward the Israelites with no thought about the One True God standing guard in the pillar of fire and cloud, the One True God shut the seas on Pharaoh and his army and drowned them in their own myth while the sun did nothing but watch.

Watching the sea part and walking right through its dry banks weren't simply about God providing an escape from the enemy's charge. It was also about God breaking apart the enemy's myths so we could see him for all who God says he is.

The Truth: He is the One whose voice even the seas obey [4].

So when I'm walking with mommy and daddy on the sidewalk and a person goes to the other side of the street because my head might be too big for a "nice" dog, I pause. (Not the kind on the ends of my legs that help me stand but the kind that gives rest for a minute.)

When there's a ladder to be climbed for success or a measuring tape to be measured by or the lingering influences of a bunch of false gods, I stand on the shoreline and I remember that ladders and measuring tapes and false gods aren't the truth.

The truth is that I am God's and he is mine, and the waters will not sweep over me [5].
They can't, because God has made the waters stand right up like a wall to awe me.

... and then I cross my eyeballs and make a funny face at all the dumb things the enemy says because - the truth is - my eyeballs won't actually stick like that when I'm done.




[1] Exodus 14:2
[2] Levy, Eythan. “A Fresh Look at the Baal-zaphon Stele.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 100 (2014): 293–309.
[3] Ulmer, Rivka. “The Egyptian Gods in Midrashic Texts.” The Harvard Theological Review 103, no. 2 (2010): 181–204.
[4] Matt 8:23-27
[5] Isaiah 43:1-3


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