URC Daily Devotion 6th November 2022

Sunday 6th November 2022
Psalm 114  

When Israel fled from Egypt land,
from foreign tongue and cruel hand,
the LORD took Judah for his home
and Israel for his very own.

2 The sea rolled back to form dry land,
the Jordan fled at God’s command.
The mountains skipped like joyful rams,
the little hills like playful lambs.

3 What made you part, O mighty sea?
Why, Jordan, did you turn to flee?
Why, mountains, skip like joyful rams?
And, little hills, like playful lambs?

4 Now tremble, earth, the Lord is near;
bow down and see your God appear.
His might makes springs to gush and flow;
from flint the cooling waters flow.

Henrietta Ten Harmsel
1987 CRC Publications / Faith Alive Christian Resources
you can hear v1 sung here: https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/152399


In his entertaining book* Miracles of Exodus, Colin Humphreys, partially through close readings of the text of Exodus and partially by intrepid examination of evidence on the ground, attempts to provide scientific explanations of some of the unusual events described in the Biblical text as the Jews fled Egypt and wandered through the wilderness.  Some of these events are presented as miracles and a major miracle is the parting of the waters of the Red Sea which allows the whole course of events to happen.  It appears, according to Humphreys, that an unusually strong wind in a particular direction could have pushed the waters back sufficiently for a large crowd to cross dry-shod.

But is pushing the waters back the miracle? How unusual is unusual? We are certainly getting used to unusual meteorological events these days without describing them as miracles. Rather the opposite, since by and large they are destructive. The outcome of Biblical miracles tends to be benevolent even if frightening at the time for those present. There can often be a downside – in this case, one has to ignore the outcome for the Egyptian cavalry.

From the point of view of the Children of Israel, the event was joyful  (“The mountains skipped like joyful rams”) and the outcome benevolent. For them it was a miracle. It was indeed a miracle that they were in the right place at the right time when the unusual wind blew. They had listened to God and Moses, and God had brought them there.

Physical miracles may be regarded as being not outside the realm of the laws of science, but as unusual, even singular, expressions of these laws.

*The Miracles of Exodus: A Scientist’s Discovery of the Extraordinary Natural Causes of the Biblical Stories, C J Humphreys, Bloomsbury, 2003


God of all, you are an unusual, even singular, God.
You set the Universe on its course and set the laws of science in place.
Yet you set the conditions so that unusual, even singular, events are possible.
Thus you are the God of miracles in whom we stand in awe, trembling and bowing down.


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC. 


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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