Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 25 2019 - Exodus 13:20-14:31 – Crossing the Red Sea

It is vital that the Children of Israel know who has brought them out of captivity in Egypt and who is leading them to the Promised Land. It is not Moses, it is the Lord himself. This is made clear to the Israelites through a visible symbol of the Lord's presence; a pillar of fire and smoke which never left its place at the head of the party of travellers. By this means the Lord led them in the way they were to go, taking them towards the Red Sea.

We are also called to be a pilgrim people; a people led by God towards the inheritance he has promised us. His presence with us may not be visible in a pillar of fire and smoke, but it is none-the-less real. He leads us by his word and by his Spirit. His word sheds light upon our path and directs our steps. His Spirit reminds us that Jesus is with us, shows us his glory and calls us to follow him.

But Pharaoh and his officials soon decided that they must have their slave labour back. Pharaoh sent out his great army of chariots, horsemen and troops to pursue them and drag them back to Egypt. Meanwhile, the Lord led his people to make camp at a point where they have the sea in front of them and Egypt behind them.

The Israelites are terrified as they see the army approaching. They have nowhere to go. They are convinced that they will now die in the desert; it would have been better to remain as slaves in Egypt. But Moses tells them, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still" (14:13-14). They need not panic, nor will they have to fight for their lives, the Lord will save them. They need only trust the Lord and watch what he will do.

The Lord tells Moses to get the people moving on towards the sea. The pillar of fire and of cloud then moved from before them to behind them. The Lord stands between his people and the Egyptians, giving light to the one and darkness to the other and keeping the two armies apart. At the Lord's command, Moses raised his staff and stretched it out over the sea. The waters of the sea are driven back by a strong wind so that the Israelites could cross on dry ground with a wall of water to their left and to their right.

As the Egyptians follow the Israelites through the sea, their chariot wheels get bogged down in the soft ground and the army is in confusion. Again, at the Lord's command, Moses stretches his staff over the sea. This time the waters roll back and the entire army of Pharaoh is drowned.

"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" (14:30-31) – well, at least for a while.

God not only breaks the powers that enslaved his people, he destroys them. His people need only to trust him and they/we shall see his saving power and have cause to sing his praises. He is with his people and he places himself as a guard between them and those who threaten to destroy them.

Lord God, I often wish that you would lead me visibly as you did the Israelites. Help me to trust the promises of your word and to know that you are with me by your Spirit. Make plain to me the path that I should tread and help me to follow faithfully in the footsteps of my Saviour. Help me to see that the very situations that seem to threaten me are opportunities for you to display your saving power. You have placed your Son between me and those forces which threaten me; you have worked for my protection and their destruction. There is nothing that can separate me from your love towards me in Christ Jesus. I rejoice in your salvation.

Peter Misselbrook