Exodus Chapter 14 shows us the final part of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. We all know the story…Israel has left Egypt… Pharaoh gets angry and then comes the Egyptian army chase Israel…
The Apostle Paul tells us that this episode is a type of baptism. (1 Cor 10:2,11) In other words it is a death and resurrection type experience and has meaning for us!
In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul stated ‘Know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death, in order that I may obtain to the [spiritual] resurrection of the dead.’
First, please believe that God will often take us into places and situations that confuse us. He may often lead us into trying times, but oh MY GOD, he is about to show up and show out!
Exodus 14:1-3 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’
Exodus 14:4-6 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So the Israelites did this. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him.
Why does God sometimes lead us into trying situations? God Himself spells it out in the passage above. He tells Moses the very reason why He will cause Pharaoh and his army to turn on the Israelites and chase them… it is so that God’s name may be exaltedabove all so-called ‘gods’ and that the glory may be returned to its rightful owner – the Lord God of Israel!
So we have a choice in each difficulty we meet. How are we going to face them? Are we going to see them as an opportunity for God to display His character? Or are we going to freak out thinking it’s all over? I guess the answer to that question depends on how well you have come to know the Lord God! But just possibly, you may be able to relate to Israel’s reaction in the next section!
Exodus 14:9-12The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea…. As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Wow look at this reaction…does it sound similar to your reaction? We all have been there, rather we care to admit it or not
You would have thought that Israel had seen enough miracles thus far to know that God was on their side. They had seen the mighty plagues and judgements which God had brought against the Egyptians. They had witnessed the death of the firstborn throughout the land of Egypt. They certainly knew enough to stand in faith once again and see this new challenge as another opportunity for God to display His grace… but they didn’t. They chose to focus on the seen and not the unseen. Bad choice! But we do it all the time as well. Let us learn from, and not repeat, Israel’s mistakes. For ‘these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction…’ (1 Cor 10:11).
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. “But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.“ And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. “Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
So you, like the Israelites here, are in a trial… If so what are the commands given to the people? Three things initially come to mind from the passage above us – firstly, do not be afraid. Secondly, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. And finally, hold your peace! These three commands are interrelated and your ability to be able to do the third (hold your peace) in a trying situation will be in direct proportion to how much you are obeying the first two commands.
In fact, for us everything hinges on the second command. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord is THE command. You can imagine Israel, freaking out with their hearts pounding, starting to run in different directions looking for an escape from the grip of Egyptians. They would have done in the outward what we do in the inward! But the command for them is as valid for us today. Stand still! Then it says ‘see the salvation of the Lord’. Now, how does ‘hold your peace’ and ‘do not be afraid’ actually work in reality? Only by looking first at the salvation of the Lord – and that is Jesus. The Lord will indeed save us out of many trials, but there must be a looking to Him in faith first. And that is where peace and a still heart come from.
The last command, to go forward down into the Red Sea, is only given once they have first stood still and looked in faith to the Lord. For us this act of going down into the sea symbolizes our death with Jesus, and in the midst of a trial it also symbolizes dying to our own ability to control our lives and the outcome of the circumstances. It is placed in God’s hands and we walk by faith…sometimes even crawling, but the need, and the command, is to go forward none the less!
Exodus 14:19-22 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
Wow! What amazing direction and protection the Angel of the Lord (Jesus) provided. Once they had decided to obey and walk forward, they not only had light in front to guide the way, but thick cloud behind them to keep the enemy at bay! Israel was perfectly safe and this passage speaks also of our lives who by faith have decided to go forward in the ways of the Lord.
Exodus 14:23-31 The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea… Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 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… That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
Finally we see the great victory that the Lord God brought about for His people Israel. They had worried and been afraid… yet it had come to nothing, for by faith they had walked step by step through the Red Sea on dry ground. And we see everything that gave them such great anguish (namely angry Egyptians) lying dead on the sea shore.
God still delivers today! It may not be exactly at the time when we first demand it, but if we, like Israel, place our small, mustard seed of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we too will see the action of God on our behalf. But we should never dictate to God of course how He should do this. He is the potter and we are but clay. Sometimes He will deal to the difficulties in our lives, sometimes He will give us the grace to cope with it. What He does is His prerogative. But be assured that He doesn’t fail His people!
This passage also of course speaks of what God has done to our ‘old man’ in Christ Jesus. He has died through our baptism into Christ. Just as Israel came up on the other side of the Red Sea and saw what had become of their enemies, so we are called to see what God has done through our death and resurrection with Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you too stand on the other side of the Red Sea today… resurrection ground.
You should be shouting today for what God has done and will continue to do…You need only to stand still!!