Making Them Pay

Exodus 14:27-28
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

Pharaoh took six hundred of his best chariots as well as other chariots, horsemen, and troops, and he caught up with the Israelites as they camped by the Red Sea. The people looked to Moses for answers when they noticed the armies of Egypt coming at them. Moses told them to trust God and walk across the sea to the other side. Then God dried a path for them at the bottom of the Red Sea, and millions of people and livestock made it all the way across before Pharaoh and his men caught up. The Israelites had no trouble with their animals and wagons, but the Egyptians were thrown into confusion. The chariot wheels jammed and slowed the Egyptians' movement across the sea. When the Israelites were safe, God released the water back into its place so that Pharaoh’s army was drowned.

I can imagine that more than one of the Israelites thought the Egyptians had gotten what they deserved. They were paying for their crimes against the innocent. The Israelites probably remembered the harsh treatment they had endured as slaves as they listened to the water rushing back into place.

When we are wronged we sometimes want to see our enemies pay for what they did to us. Some of us remember part of the verse in Romans 12, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We might remember those words and pray for God to make an example of them like he did with the Egyptians who rode into the Red Sea after Moses.

But there is another story that we should also remember. In the book of Luke, there was a man who took his beatings and didn’t pray for God to make his enemies pay. He endured the pain and humiliation, knowing he hadn’t done anything to deserve it, but didn’t hate those who hated him. This innocent victim wasn’t really a victim, but a savior, Jesus. He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”

Sometimes trouble comes on the troublemakers because of their own foolishness, carelessness, and stupidity. We don’t have to make people pay for what they do to us. Many criminals wake up and realize they’re living in a hell they created for themselves.

When I look at God, I see someone who wants to show mercy. He is just, but he also loves the people he created. Every one of us makes mistakes, but God still holds out his hand to us. How can we elbow our way past God so we can make our enemies pay, but expect God to see us as innocent?

The Israelites didn’t take out their own revenge. They saw God’s vengeance. We also can follow God and watch him deal with our enemies for us. But it might not look like a drowning in the Red Sea. When God confronts criminals, he can change enemies into brothers.

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