Exodus 14 – Crossing the Red Sea – Written by Ruth Palmquist
The Exodus begins with the people of Israel walking in formation for war, through the wilderness on a desert road. It was not by way of the shorter road, but the longer desert road. (Ex. 13:17).
They camped near the desert’s edge and then back tracked and camped between the Red Sea and a town called Migdol. (Ex. 14:2).
Pharaoh had ordered the Israelites to leave after the 10th plague, but with a change of heart and realizing the ramifications of the people of Israel being gone, he set off to overtake them with his officers and 600 of the best chariots. (Ex. 14:5-9). Pharaoh had a change of heart; God once again hardened Pharaoh’s heart.
Terror and fear overtook the Israelites before the Egyptians even had a chance to overtake them. They saw the Egyptians approaching. They were done! “Would it not have been better to stay in Egypt,” was their cry. (Ex 14:10-12).
Where was God in all this? He is in all of this….
The longer road was God’s direction and protection for the people. The shorter easier route would have brought them by the land of the Philistines (remember Goliath). God did not want His people to be caught in war with the Philistines and thus give up and go back to Egypt. (Ex. 13:17)
God directed the back tracking to entice the Egyptians in their effort to overtake Israel. They would think that the Israelites were confused. God knows the bigger picture…this is for God to gain glory for Himself and for all of Egypt to know that He is God. It seems the Egyptians should recognize this after 10 plagues, but God again hardened Pharaoh’s heart for His ultimate glory. (Ex 14:1-4).
God’s presence and direction were visible and obvious all day and night. At night a pillar of fire led them and lighted the way. During the day, a pillar of cloud led them. They could travel day or night to leave Egypt behind in their past. (Ex 13:21-22).
That is, until the Egyptians were behind them…God’s presence and protection moved behind in the cloud and in front in the fire. The cloud blocked the Egyptians from seeing Israel. The fire led them toward the Red Sea. Yet again, the hopeless trapped feeling arose as they approached the Red Sea. Moses’ response: Do not be afraid. Stand firm. You will see God’s deliverance today. You will never see these Egyptians again. The Lord will fight for you. Be still. (Ex. 14:13,14,19,20).
Moses obeyed God’s direction to hold his staff over the Red Sea. The Lord sent the wind to blow all night and stack up the water so the Israelites could walk to the other side on dry land. (Ex. 14:21).
The Egyptian army followed along… BUT God threw them into confusion with their chariot wheels malfunctioning. They recognized the hand of God was fighting for Israel and made their best attempt to flee. BUT God directed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. He obeyed and all the water returned into the Red Sea and not one Egyptian lived to tell about it. (Ex. 14:30-31).
When the road we travel seems long and lonely, when fear and terror enter our hearts and minds, when there seems to be no hope. BUT God… But God still directs the happenings. But God can do more than we could ask or imagine. But God is our confidence and strength. Be still and know that he is God. (Ps 46:10).
Do not miss the conclusion to the Red Sea events and a possible example for you to follow today… Moses and the people of Israel feared the Lord, put their trust in the Lord and sang a song of praise to the Lord. (Ex. 14:29-15:1).