The Red Sea episode is a striking display of God's power. On one hand, it was where God accomplished the redemption of His people, and at one and the same time, it was where He accomplished the destruction of Pharaoh and his army. These were both brought about as the consequences of the sprinkled blood on the Passover night.
It takes no imagination to see that the Red Sea redemption and the defeat of Pharaoh pointed forward to the sinnerís redemption and the defeat of Satan at the cross of Calvary through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
From this point on, the blood was the foundation of all God's actions on behalf of Israel.
Exodus 14:1-4. ďAnd the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2. Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baal-zephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. 3. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in 4. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them: and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so."
As we pick up the action here, the children of Israel, some 2 million strong, are fleeing from Pharaoh, traveling southeast toward the Red Sea. However, the Promised Land is to the north, but God has His plan and He directed Moses where to lead His people. It would lead to an apparent deadly trap except for the fact that God had planned this to perfection.
The Lord has shut up His people, as far as man was concerned, in a hopeless situation. They were camped by the sea, and surrounded by the wilderness. If Pharaoh followed them, as he was sure to do, there was positively no human way of escape.
God did this to show the children of Israel that dependence on Him was their only salvation. His plan would also entice Pharaoh to his destruction, and prove to the Egyptians He was the Lord.
Again, the Red Sea crossing is a shadow of the cross where Satan thought he would have the victory but where he was defeated for all time and God claimed the victory.
Verses 5-9. "And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6. And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: 7. and he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. 8. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. 9. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-zephon."
Pharaoh displayed just how hard the human heart can be toward God. The Lord had sent ten successive judgments on him and his people and there was anguish and suffering in every household in Egypt, but the king and his servants couldnít stand losing the gain they got from the servitude of the children of Israel. Pharaoh wanted them back under his control. Satan wants to controls all men but he only controls those who are still in their sins.
This would be the eleventh and final judgment of Jehovah God on Pharaoh and his army.
Verse 9. ďBut the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea."
This had been arranged by the Lord. By human standards, no commander in his right mind would occupy such a vulnerable position with defenseless women and children and no real army to defend them.
Pharaoh and his people reasoned they could march right in and claim an easy victory. The sea barred Israelís way forward and Pharaoh and his army were behind them. To the natural eye, escape was impossible, and slavery or death was certain. This is how it must have appeared to the children of Israel unless they took into account that they were sheltered by the blood and guided by God in the pillar of cloud. They could have said; "If God be for us, who can be against us ?" But their sight was stronger than their faith.
Verses 10-12. "And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. 11. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12. Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians ďFor it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness."
Such unbelief is hard to understand after God had sheltered Israel ten times while He had dealt judgment on Egypt in each case. Would He not deliver them once again?
The people were judging according to what they could see coming and unbelief marked their every word. They were afraid God would let them be killed right there in the wilderness. They said it would have been better to stay in Egypt as slaves and die there than to die in the wilderness.
Verses 13-14. "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you to-day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to-day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. 14. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
The mistake they made was in leaving the Lord out of their calculations. This is one of Satanís prime tools, to cast doubt on Godís leading and His power.
Their unbelief made it a question between themselves and the Egyptians. Mosesí faith didnít falter, he encouraged their hearts to believe God and rebuked their unbelief as well.
God promised to fight the battle for Israel, the people could have no part in it. There were two things they needed to be delivered from, Satan's power as represented by Pharaoh and his host, and death and judgment of which the Red Sea was a figure.
The children of Israel could have rested in perfect peace since they were already sheltered by the blood of the paschal lamb, but they didnít realize the value of that blood. They knew the blood had saved them from Godís judgment when God smote the firstborn of Egypt but they hadnít yet learned that this same blood would provide deliverance from their foes, guidance through the wilderness, and even the possession of the inheritance God promised.
Just as soon as Pharaoh appeared on the scene they "were sore afraid," and "cried out unto the Lord." The Lord reminded them through Moses that the work was His, both to save them from the hand of Egypt's king, and from the waters of the Red Sea.
They were told to cease from their fears, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. Furthermore, their enemies would disappear before their eyes and they should hold their peace because the Lord would fight the battle for them.
The most important truth in all the world is that salvation is of the Lord! Our first thoughts are to try to do something to rectify our standing before the Lord but God wonít accept that. God has already provided the sacrificed Lamb whose blood cleanses us from our sin. Salvation is His own perfect, finished work. To add to it in any way mars its beauty and denies itís completeness. What can man do when Satan and death are the question? Man is helpless in the presence, he canít escape. He has to stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. "The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace." (Verse 14)
Weíll see now how God verified the words He gave the people through Moses.
Verses 15-18. "And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: 16. but lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. 18. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen."
Earlier the command of Moses was "Stand still," and now itís "Go forward." They had to be reminded that they could do nothing on their own. They should have recognized that God had done the work for them. They would be able to go forward through the sea which had seemed to block any path of escape. Death, and the power of death, had been overcome, God had left them a path to go forward and their salvation had been assured.
Our Lord finished the work of salvation as the way for the sinner to escape from Satan's power.
The believer can go boldly forward with confidence in Him who, having been our Judge, has now become our Savior through faith in His shed blood.
The Lord showed the people His power over the sea right before their eyes to assure them of His protection and care. Moses lifted up his rod, and the children of Israel went forward and God divided the water so the children of Israel might pass over on dry ground.
The Egyptians would try to follow and would be destroyed. God would be glorified both in the salvation of His people and the destruction of their foes.
Verses 19-20. "And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20. and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night."
The Egyptians and Pharaoh must have had reservations when they saw that God had put a cloud between them and Israel. They had to wonder, ďwould this be a sign of another judgment on us?Ē
Verses 21-31. And 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 dry land, and the waters were divided. 22. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left. 23. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25. and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. 26. And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them: there remained not so much as one of them. 29. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 30. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea-shore. 31. And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses."
Only the believer in Jesus Christ can say it was a wonderful day when we ďfeared the Lord and believed the LordĒ for salvation from our sins through the blood of Jesus.
Here are some important things. First, the angel of God came "between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel." God had intervened for His people. Egypt would have to overcome God Himself before the children of Israel could be reached.
Safety lies not in what we are, but what God is. He is for the believer and against the enemy. What was a light for the children of Israel was darkness to Pharaoh and his army. The Egyptian camp was shut off from Israel, and "the one came not near the other all the night." (verse 20.) The unsaved, those who are not cleansed by the blood, are terrified in the presence of God.
The fact that God is for us is founded on the blood of Christ and because of that shed blood, God protects His people against the power of Satan.
Now we come to the greatest miracle of the Old Testament, the division of the waters and the crossing of the Red Sea. Moses lifted up his rod, and stretched his hand out over the sea, and the waters parted. (verse 16). The rod is a symbol of the authority and power of God. God is in command of all the elements and He used a strong east wind to dry the pathway. When Christ calmed the Sea of Galilee, they said; ďWhat manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!Ē Matthew 8:27.
It would take a pathway about five miles wide for the people and their livestock to cross the Red Sea in a day and a night.
Godís power is displayed here in the use of a lowly stick of almond wood. God opened a way through death for His people. On the one hand, He shielded them from Satan's power and on the other, He delivered them from death through the death of their enemy.
The Red Sea pictures the death and resurrection of Jesus and the redemption of His people beyond the possibility of being reached by our enemy which is Satan.
They "went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground." This speaks of Christ who went down into death, and overcame its power for us. He "death by dying slew," and in His death vanquished the whole power of Satan.
All the forces and power of death were placed on Christ on the cross, and as a consequence the believer passes through ďon dry ground.Ē
"the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left." (verse 22.) The sea, which speaks of death, had no power over them. The sea that appeared to put them in Pharaoh's hands became their salvation.
The believer has been sheltered from judgment through the blood, and the death and the resurrection of Christ. We have been brought out from Egypt, so to speak, and delivered both from the power of Satan and of death.
The Egyptians "pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen." (verse 23) That pillar of fire didnít even keep them back. "And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily." (verses 24-25) Godís judgment met them there. "there remained not so much as one of them."(verse 28)
Pharaoh and his forces were completely defeated, just as Christ completely defeated Satan and the power of death when He shed His blood on the cross.
Itís a solemn lesson, but only Godís blood-bought people can pass through safely. All others will meet death and judgment on their own merit and there is no escape apart from Christ.
There are only two classes, the lost, pre-figured here by the Egyptians, and the saved, portrayed by the Israelites. The Egyptians, who picture the unsaved, were swallowed up in death and judgment, while the Israelites, picturing the believer, went through in safety, protected by the blood of the Paschal Lamb.
Then all Israel "saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses." (Verse 31)
Godís display of His power to destroy on one hand and to redeem on the other, had caused reverent fear in the souls of His people. In Egypt they had feared the Lord, dreading Him as a holy Judge; but now it was reverent fear, caused by the manifestation of His power that led them to look on Him as their Savior.
Salvation is never entered into or enjoyed
until our heart responds to what He is,
and what He has done for us.
The foundation on which God
can save sinners
has long been completed but
until the sinner believes, he is not saved.
"Verily, verily, I say unto you,
He that heareth my word,
and believeth on Him that sent me,
hath everlasting life,
and shall not come into condemnation
but is passed from death unto life."
(John 5: 24.)