Bible Readings for the 13th September

Exodus 14:19–31

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, ‘Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.’

Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.’ So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and are used by permission. All rights reserved

Matthew 18:21–35

Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

‘For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, “Pay what you owe.” Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?” And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.’

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and are used by permission. All rights reserved


  1. Sorry Rev, Graeme,
    Exodus 14, 19-31 is yet another horror story from the Old Testament. Should we really glorify God for all this destruction of life.
    I have read the probable story behind this devideing of the sea event. The Red Sea as it is known today used to be called the ‘Reed Sea’ so called because it was so shallow it grew reeds occross its width and when the wind blew from a certain direction the waters were pushed back leaving the land dry enough to walk across. When the wind dropped the water came back and covered the land. An act of God or not? Who knows

    1. Hiya Anthony, horror story indeed. I’ve never been one to shy away from the difficult bits of the Bible or try to explain them away. Before I preach on Sunday, I’ll let this text marinate alongside the experiences of this week. How does this text speak to me? I’ll think about why it was written, by whom and perhaps who edited it. How was it heard? Why was it important? I’ll try to take it at face value, but also examine it for metaphor. What style of writing is it? Literal? Historical? Allegorical? Was it supposed to be heard in the same way we read it thousands of years later? Above all, what can we learn from it?

      The nation of Israel repeat this as a story of how God saved them: Drew them through the waters into a new life.

      When Jesus arrived on the scene – was the Red Sea exodus the kind of salvation the people of Israel were looking for again? For Rome to be overthrown? Given the rest of the Old Testament stories, this approach doesn’t seem to have worked out so brilliantly. What was God’s approach in Jesus? Instead of sending pillars of fire and angels of death, Jesus was crucified and said, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

      These are the contexts that inform my reading of the stories of the Old Testament – because I can’t read in isolation from what we have revealed to us in Jesus. Without Jesus, we’d be the gentiles – we wouldn’t have a part in this story anyway. The Israel exodus wouldn’t be good news for us in the Colne Valley.

      Anyhue, I don’t want to go too deep at this point as I haven’t spent time reflecting on it yet. I like to get the Bible readings out so that when next Sunday comes we’ve all had a chance to think about the Bible readings and what they mean to us.

      Thank you very much for commenting, I hope I’m being helpful and not avoiding the difficulty. Bless you.

  2. Thank you for your comments Graeme. I guess that my problems with what I have read in the bible will continue for a while yet. I am constantly reminded of the Proverb no. 14 verse 15 …. Only the Nieve believe all they are told, the shrewd ponder every word!

    1. That’s good! Follow those who are seeking truth, not those who believe they’ve found it! Bless you. G.

  3. Have to say I’m with Anthony on this one, Graeme. As an adult I’ve come to see the Old Testament as a mix of interesting history of the Jewish nation and numerous morality tales instructing people how to live a good life, both of which are important and give us the background into which Jesus came. But not a lot else that I find of relevance to the Christian of today. And I am missing the public reading of the Acts of the Apostles and the numerous letters they wrote to the burgeoning church.

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