We saw last time that the Israelites literally had their backs up against the wall. Their escape had been halted when God led them to the bank of the Red Sea. They were greatly afraid and began to react with grumbling and complaining to God and Moses.
Exodus 14:13–14 (ESV)
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
God has been saying that He is going to make known who He is. He is going to make it known that He is the Lord both to the Egyptians and to the children of Israel and to the ends of the earth. He is going to make it known in what He does in the Exodus that He is the Lord. He’s been making it clear that the heart of Pharaoh is in His hand, that He is the one that hardens Pharaoh’s heart. He is the one who controls the destiny of Pharaoh, though Pharaoh may be considered a God in Egypt, he is no match for God the Lord, the God of Israel indeed, the God of all the Heavens and all the Earth. All of these things are going to coalesce in one compact passage. It is as if 430 years of frustration break free in this period of verses at the end of Exodus chapter 14 and God brings forth just a little bit of a glimpse into the display of His power and the display of His judgment and the display of His salvation. We have been told that God had raised Pharoah up for this very purpose…so that God could display His wonders in rescue and in judgement.
Exodus 3:19–20 (ESV)
19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go.
1. Salvation Requires Faith and Action
15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
I wonder if there has ever been a time in your life when God had answered your prayer but the answer was so unsuspected that you missed it initially? This was the case for the Israelites and even for Moses.
We must be people of prayer. We must cry out to God in prayer on a regular basis. Then we must also be people of action.
For the Israelites, the time for prayer was over. Now they had to take action. God tells them to move forward.
Tell the people of Israel to go forward. I would still be wondering which way is forward? Is forward toward the Egyptian Army or is forward toward the Red Sea?
Then God told Moses all He was about to do. Use your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea. God tells him I will divide the sea and make the sea floor dry ground and I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they will follow you into the sea. Then the sea will collapse on them and they all will drown.
When God tells Moses beforehand all that He is about to do it’s main purpose is not to reassure Moses but it’s main purpose is to give God glory. When God predicts events like these and then brings them about, He’s not showing us that He is a good guesser, no He’s showing us that He is sovereign over these events. The stranger they are to us the more Glory God receives because they could not be explained by natural means.
There have been multiple theories as to how this event could be accomplished by natural means. The reality is, none can satisfactorily explain all the details provided.
Everything in this escape is supernatural.
They didn’t cross on salt marshes at a low spot during low tide while the wind was blowing. This is the typical response by those who would like to explain this miracle away. These people have not read the Bible. We have already seen ten plagues that can only be explained by supernatural God ordained means. This is the same.
I remember listening to an old preacher one time when confronted by a liberal scholar, treating him like he was ignorant and explaining to the preacher how this occurred by natural means and how the Israelites actually wadded across the Red Sea in ankle deep water.
The preacher slapped his leg and said sarcastically, this is a greater miracle than I thought. The liberal said how so? God drowned the entire Egyptian Army in ankle deep water!!
After we read the account, we are only left with God did this exactly as reported.
Salvation required the Israelites to believe and then act. It was not enough for God to divide the sea, they had to take the step into what used to be the sea.
The same is true for us. It’s not enough that Christ was sacrificed. By faith we must apply His death, we must not only believe but take action. We must realize that Jesus died for me and to embrace this act by faith.
2. God is the Mediator
19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
God moved between the Israelites and the Egyptians to protect His people.
The very point of the story is that there is no way to explain what happens here unless God, the sovereign God of Heaven and Earth, who is the Creator and the providential sustainer and the ruler and the Redeemer is the one who has intervened here in an extraordinary way. There is nothing like the Exodus in all of the Old Testament. Over and over again this is the point to which the psalmist, the prophets point back to as the quintessential Old Testament representation of God coming to the rescue of His people. And it is precisely the extremity of His people and their inability to help themselves in any natural way that serves to do what? To exalt His grace.
God protects His people here. There is no other satisfactory explanation. None of this is natural. He is the Go-between. Just like Jesus is our mediator He is our Go-between. As Mediator Jesus has set Himself between God and His people. He is the shield to protect us from God’s wrath. In much the same way here, God has set Himself up as Mediator to protect His people from Pharoah’s wrath.
One thing here that is worded very awkwardly in verse 20, because the exact translation is unsure. The best translators struggle at it, but what’s clear is that in the manifestation of the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud the children of Israel saw the fire and had light whereas the Egyptians were in darkness. Joshua 24:7 recalls the very fact that the Egyptians were kept in darkness.
Now, there are a couple of things going on there. Notice first of all God once again making a distinction between His people and those who were not His people. His people were in the light; those who were not His people were in the darkness. Secondly, remember that Egypt worshiped Ra the god of the sun, and yet Israel has light and Egypt is in darkness. God is displaying His sovereignty over the gods of Egypt yet again.
3. God Divides the Red Sea
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
This is nothing for God. Here He shows on a very small scale what He did in creation…
Genesis 1:9–10 (ESV)
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
Just as in the creation account God does all this by His power. He separates the Red Sea and causes the wind to blow and by morning the ground or the tunnel through the sea is dry. Really the emphasis is the walls of water on both sides and the dry ground under their feet. This was salvation for His people…but not for those who were pursuing them. What would prove safe for the Israelites would be death for Egypt.
Don’t overlook the fact that the Israelites by means of God’s pilar of fire could see all that was taking place. This was an event they watched all night the Bible tells us. They saw the sea being parted they heard the supernatural wind begin to dry out the sea floor. They watched all God did throughout the night. Then it was time. Salvation had come…step into the sea and experience God’s salvation. Their faith was exercised as they took that first step into the sea.
4. Not One of Them Will Remain: God Receives Glory
23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.
Exodus 14:13 (ESV)
13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.
Here is another Genesis illusion. God releases the water of judgement. This is somewhat like Noah and the great flood. God again uses a flood to destroy His enemy.
The picture we see is that once God’s people made it across, He looks down on the Egyptians from the pilar of fire and begins to slow them down as they try to pursue His people. They realize God is fighting for Israel and they begin their retreat. God would not allow their retreat. What was salvation for Israel was death for the Egyptians.
Moses stretches out his staff and the walls of water collapse on the Egyptians and they all die in the sea.
5. Israel Saw and Feared God
29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
They witnessed all these events firsthand. They watched as the army got closer. They turned and saw the Red Sea blocking their escape. They watched as God protected them and lit up the sea so they could watch God divide it while the Egyptians were in the dark. They stepped onto the sea floor and saw that it was completely dry. They traveled through the Red Sea and saw Egypt begin their pursuit. They watched as Moses lifted up his staff and saw the waters collapse upon the Egyptian army. They saw the army floating in the water and on the shore.
The result was they feared God and believed.
We have never been part of anything like this. Should God ever place us in a seemingly hopeless situation, the Red Sea is a wonderful account to remember. God is working to bring us to a place He wants us to be. Sometimes He takes us down so that we will look up and see His deliverance.
Sermon by Ligon Duncan
Exodus by Rykin
Exodus by Stuart
Exodus by Alexander