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Early morning of Feb. 3, 2006 the ferry known as al-Salam 98 sank in the Red Sea with over 1400 passengers aboard, most of them Egyptians. About 800 of them drowned.
This disaster certainly deserves the sympathy of all, and our hearts and prayers go out to those who have suffered loss.
This is one of the "signs of the times." Salam means "peace." The sinking of the al-Salam is a sign of war that is soon to come.
Likewise, the death of Coretta Scott King on Jan. 31 can be viewed as a sign of war, since she and her husband were icons of non-violent, peaceful change in the area of civil rights.
But the sinking ferry cannot help but remind people of the Egyptians drowning at the Red Sea in the book of Exodus. No doubt many will use this to condemn Egypt for its icy relations with the Israelis. Pat Robertson will no doubt see God's judgment upon Egypt portrayed here. But I see it in a little different light.
First, when we relate this event to the feast days of Israel, Passover commemorates the day Israel left Egypt. The wave-sheaf offering ("counting the omer") commemorates the Red Sea crossing.
Fifty days after the wave-sheaf offering was Pentecost, which commemorates the giving of the law at Mount Sinai.
Jesus died at Passover, and was raised from the dead on the day of the wave-sheaf offering. This began a 50-day count of days (counting the omer of barley grains) leading to the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). The Hebrew word "Omer" is spelled AYIN-MEM-RESH. The AYIN means "eye" and signifies watching. The MEM means "water." The RESH means "head." Thus, the word "Omer" literally has to do with "watching for water on the head."
Prophetically speaking, the people were to "count the omer" for 50 days, signifying that they were watching for the outpouring of the Spirit ("water on the head"), in fulfillment of Joel 2:29. In Israel's experience, it began with their "baptism" under the cloud (1 Cor. 10:1), and it ended with the baptism of the Holy Spirit at Sinai, when God came down as fire and everyone heard the voice of God speaking in their own language. Thus, it begins and ends with "water."
Knowing this, we can look beyond the obvious personal tragedy of the recent ferry disaster to the event as a "sign of the times." It is a time marker that links with Israel's crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14. It is also a time marker that begins a 50-day time count toward a type of "Pentecost," although certainly it is not the actual day of Pentecost this year.
The fiftieth day from Feb. 3 is March 24.
Fifty days from Feb. 3 is March 25.
My last web log spoke of these dates as well. Thus, this ferry disaster is just another sign pointing to March 24-25, 2006. And it is not a good sign for the world. It is the sinking of the ferry named "Peace."
Furthermore, if we are to "watch for water on the head," in this 50-day cycle, it begins with the "baptism" of the Egyptians in the Red Sea. The question is, how will the cycle end? What are we watching for? Is it a positive sign, or a negative sign, or both?
My guess is that it will be both, but most of the world will see it as a negative sign. I believe that it will be positive for those of us who have a right relationship with Jesus Christ and who can see beyond the negatives and tragedies to the light and glory beyond.