God Leads Israel Through The Red Sea


Exodus 14

A. The pursuit of Pharaoh’s armies.

1. God draws Pharaoh to come out against Israel, Exodus 14:1-4.

a. God is setting an ambush for Pharaoh, even with the horror of the death of the firstborn, the change in Pharaoh’s heart is only temporary, and he will strike at Israel if he thinks he has a chance.

b. Therefore, God instructed Moses to lead Israel in a way that looked confused, so Pharaoh would believe. They are bewildered by the land and come to strike Israel.

2. Pharaoh decides to bring the children of Israel back, Exodus 14:5-9.

a. Pharaoh asks a strange question. Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? It isn’t hard to think of at least ten good reasons, namely, ten powerful plagues, why Pharaoh let Israel go.

b. We are so quick to forget what God has done and what He has shown us. How often it is said that we can go from walking in the Spirit to walking in the flesh in an instant?

i. Maybe Pharaoh thought that the Lord had shot all His arrows, after all, no more died after the plague of the firstborn, but God isn’t short on resources!

c. Pharaoh set out after Israel with six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, chariots were the most sophisticated military technology available at that time. What did Israel have? Nothing, except the children of Israel, went out with boldness.

i. The idea behind the Hebrew words with boldness ‘ruwn yad’ include the idea of rebellion against authority, 1 Kings 11:26-27.

The rebellious nature of Israel was good when it was against Pharaoh and all it stood for, it was bad when it was against the Lord, Moses, and all they stood for. The trouble with rebels is they rebel against the wrong things!

ii. Psalm 106 describes this rebelliousness on the pan of Israel at the Red Sea, also mentioned in Exodus 14:10-12. See also Psalm 106:7-12.

3. The response of the children of Israel, Exodus 14:10-12.

a. They were very afraid, this made sense, according to all outward observation, Israel was in serious trouble with Pharaoh’s armies on one side and the Red Sea on the other, with no chance for escape.

i. God led Israel right into a cul-de-sac. There was no way of escape except the way they had come in, and the Egyptian army had that covered.

b. They cried out to the Lord. this was good, when we are in such a dangerous position, it is essential that we cry out to God, because God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, Psalm 46:1.

c. Then they said to Moses. this is where the children of Israel begin to lose it, can they really think Moses was motivated by a desire to see all of Israel die in the wilderness?

i. We are often wrong and always on dangerous ground when we claim we can read the intentions of other’s hearts, Moses had said nothing or did nothing that would support such a conspiracy theory, but the children of Israel can still say, ‘this is the real reason he brought us out here.’

d. Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians. they were not a week out of Egypt yet, and they were already distorting the past, thinking that it was better for them in Egypt than it really was.

e. We may have thought that Satan would let us go easily, or that once we had left his kingdom, we would forget about us. It doesn’t work like that! Satan will pursue you, to try and keep you at least on the fringes of his domain, and to destroy you if he could.

4. Moses responds with great courage, Exodus 14:13-14.

a. At this point, Moses can have no idea how God will come through in the situation, all he knows is that God will certainly come through, in a sense, Moses knows he is in such a bad situation that God has to come through.

i. When we see that our only help is God, we are more likely to trust Him. sometimes it is the little things, the things we think we can do in our own strength, that get us down, not the big things, that we know only God can do.

b. Stand still is the Lord’s direction to the believer in a dilemma. Despair will try and cast you down, keeping you from standing. Fear will tell you to retreat. Presumption will tell you to do something now. Presumption will tell you to jump into the Red Sea before it is parted. But God would have us to stand and to stand still.

c. Though Moses doesn’t know what God will do, he knows what the result will be. God will utterly defeat the Egyptian enemies of Israel because the Lord will fight for you.

d. The idea behind ‘you shall see them no more forever’ implies much more than at first look, Moses may be speaking in terms of eternity as well as the here and now.

B. God leads Israel across the Red Sea.

1. God’s instructions to Moses. stop praying and start doing! Exodus 14:15-18.

a. Why do you cry to Me? Before the people, Moses was full of faith, but before God, he was crying out in desperate prayer. This was good, Moses’ confidence before the nation was necessary for their faith.

b. Why do you cry to Me? There is a time to pray, and a time to act, and it can actually be against God’s will to stop everything and pray in a particular situation.

i. We can pray out of the wrong motives, praying to inform others who listen, praying to control a situation, praying to avoid action or buy time.

c. God gives Moses such simple instructions for such a mighty miracle, lift up your rod and stretch out your hand. Even so, the greatest miracle of salvation happens with a simple action on our part.

d. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord. God is not finished answering Pharaoh’s question from Exodus 5:2.

The purpose of the parting of the Red Sea had as much or more to do with what God wanted to show Egypt as with what God wanted to show Israel.

2. God neutralizes the Egyptian army with the fire, Exodus 14:19-20.

a. The pillar of fire mentioned in Exodus 13 is positioned as a barrier between the attacking Egyptians and the children of Israel, God will protect Israel from the Egyptian attack, Exodus 13:21-22.

b. We have little idea how much God does to protect us from attack, we believe ourselves to be overwhelmed in battle right now, but just don’t know what it would be like if the Lord pulled back His protection.

c. The Egyptians didn’t know it, but the same pillar of fire that prevented them from pursuing the children of Israel was also protecting their lives. If they would have submitted to the Lord who was blocking their way with His presence, they would have been spared.

d. The same pillar of cloud was a source of darkness to the Egyptians, but a source of light to the children of Israel. God’s presence, and even the Gospel, can work the same way.

3. The waters of the Red Sea are parted, and the children of Israel cross over safely on dry ground, Exodus 14:21-22.

a. The Hebrew phrase for Red sea is ‘yam suph’, which clearly means ‘Reed Sea.’ The term aptly describes the lake region north of the Gulf of Suez comprising the Bitter Lakes and Lake Timsah. It is possible that the Israelites went along the narrow neck of land on which Baal-zephon stood and that the Biblical Sea of Reeds was modern Lake Sabonis. We are certain that the crossing was in this area because the Israelites found themselves in the Wilderness of Shur after crossing the sea, Exodus 15:22.

i. We don’t know exactly where the place was, and what the exact geography was, an area like this will change geography every flood or drought season, but we do know there was enough water present to trap the Israelites, and then later to drown the Egyptians, perhaps 10 feet of water or so, and we know there had to be enough room for the Israelites to cross over in one night, perhaps a mile-wide stretch.

b. Could this really have happened? Isn’t this just another interesting legend? It is completely plausible, according to a Los Angeles Times article by Thomas H. Maugh titled ‘Research Supports Bible’s Account of Red Sea Parting’.

‘Sophisticated computer calculations indicate that the biblical parting of the Red Sea said to have allowed Moses and the Israelites to escape from bondage in Egypt, could have occurred precisely as the bible describes it. Because of the peculiar geography of the northern end of the Red Sea, researchers report Sunday in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, a moderate wind blowing constantly for about 10 hours could have caused the sea to recede about a mile and the water level to drop 10 feet, leaving dry land in the area where many biblical scholars believe the crossing occurred.’ 3/14/92

c. Psalm 77 gives more detail in the description of the course of events during the Red Sea crossing, Psalm 77:16-20.

4. God troubles the Egyptian army, and they are drowned, Exodus 14:23-28.

a. Could this have really happened? Isn’t this just another legend? Thomas H Maugh continues in his Los Angeles Times article.

‘An abrupt change in the wind would have allowed the waters to come crashing back into the area in a few moments, a phenomenon that the Bible says inundated the Israelites’ pursuers.’

b. Significantly, God tells Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea, so that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians. Why? Was it really the motion of Moses’ hand, holding the rod, that parted the sea and made it come back? Of course not, God could have performed this miracle just as easily without Moses’ cooperation.

i. In addition. this was God’s vindication of Moses, Israel had previously accused him of the lowest of motivations, and the most evil state of heart, through His blessing on Moses. God showed the whole nation that Moses was their chosen leader, Exodus 14:10-12.

c. The Red Sea was a turning point in Israel’s history, in this era, though they had many troubles ahead, Pharaoh in the Egyptians never troubled them again.

i. If you are on the other side of the Red Sea, if your course with the Lord is set, and you know there is never any turning back for you, can you comfort a saint who is still on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea?

5. Summary, another act of redemption on Israel’s behalf, Exodus 14:29-31.

a. Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. ‘Somehow the sight of those dead bodies was the concrete sign that salvation and a new life for Israel were now assured.’ Cole.

b. God came through for Israel! An old saint lay on her death bed and declared that Jesus would never forsake her because He had promised so. Someone asked, ‘just suppose that He did not keep His promise, and you were to be lost?’ She answered, ‘Then He would be the greater loser than I. It is true I would lose my soul, but God would lose all His honour and glory if He were not true’.

God’s motive for delivering us is not only His love for us. but also, a desire to guard His own glory and honour.

i. ‘Brethren, if we have trusted in God, and have come out of the Egypt of the world through his grace. and have left all its sins behind us, if we were left to die in the wilderness, the Lord Jesus Christ would lose his glory as a Saviour, the divine Father would lose his name for immutable faithfulness, and the Holy Ghost would lose his honour for perseverance in completing every work which he undertakes.’ Spurgeon.

c. The result was just as God had intended, the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses. Yet, we may gather this was more a case of feelings than true faith because they will leave this place of respect for the Lord and Moses quickly.

d. The deliverance of Passover and the miracle of the Red Sea go together, if not for the victory won at the Red Sea, the redemption at Passover would have meant nothing. But, they would have never made it to the Red Sea without the miracle of God’s redemption at Passover.

e. In the same way, the redemption of the cross would have meant nothing without the miracle of the resurrection, the two must go hand in hand.