Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 16 2011 - E100.20b – Exodus 14:1-31, Crossing the Red Sea

No sooner have the Israelites left Egypt than Pharaoh and his officials decide that they must have them back; they need their slave-labour. Pharaoh sends out his great army of chariots, horsemen and troops to pursue them and drag them back to Egypt. Meanwhile, the Lord has led his people to make camp at a point where they have the sea in front of them and Egypt behind them. This is intended by God as a trap for the Egyptians but it is Israel who seems to be trapped.

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, neither will they have to fight for ther lives, the Lord will save them. They need only trust the Lord and watch what he will do for them.

The Lord tells Moses to get the people moving on towards the sea. As the people begin to move and night falls, the pillar of fire and of cloud moved from before them to be behind them. The Lord stands between his people and the Egyptians, giving light to the one and darkness to the other. By this means the two armies are kept 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. As the day dawns, the Israelites are all safely across but the Egyptians are struggling to make headway. 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. They need only to trust him and they shall see his saving power and have cause to sing his praises. He is with his people and places himself as a guard between them and those who threaten to destroy them.

Saviour God, I often feel threatened and trapped. 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 haved 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