“Beginning of Freedom”
Lesson Text:Exodus 14:13, 14, 21-30
Background Scripture: Exodus 13:17-22; 14
Devotional Reading: Galatians 5:13-21
Exodus 14:13, 14, 21-30 (KJV)
13And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
21And 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.
22And 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.
23And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24And 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,
25And 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.
26And 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.
27And 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.
28And 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.
29But 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.
30Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
To see and understand the hand of God in Israel’s escape from Pharaoh’s army by crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13; 14:22-27).
To rely upon God for strength to overcome opposition and discouragement. Sometimes the battle is not ours. (2 Chronicles 20:15; Exodus 14:13, 14).
To daily give thanks and praise to God for what He has already done is key in seeing you through your present circumstances. (Exodus 14:29-31; 15:1-12).
From Despair to Deliverance
We were supposed to fly directly across Lake Michigan and down the Wisconsin coast to Chicago's Midway Airport. However, the storm was so strong we had to hug the shoreline of Michigan, flying south, bumping hard every second. I knew we were in trouble when the businessmen who took this flight daily were visibly frightened. It seemed that the plane would break apart any second. Our seat belts hardly held us in place as we bounced around. There was no way to fly out of it.
After more than an hour with teeth chattering and hearts pounding, we emerged into smooth air just south of the airport. The evening sun was setting, and rays were filtering through the storm clouds. We landed safely, and everyone clapped for joy for the "great salvation" we had just experienced. We had moved quickly from despair to deliverance.
Perhaps our emotions were a bit like what the Israelites experienced at the Red Sea. Their exodus has become a figure of the Christian experience of salvation and freedom from sin.
Time: 1445 B.C.
Place: Pi-hahiroth(between Migdol and the Red Sea)
To understand the miraculous nature of the exodus events, one must look back to the very beginnings of the book of Exodus itself. In the first place, young Moses was saved from a death sentence by divine circumstances to be reared in Pharaoh's household (Exodus 2:1-10; Acts 7:20-22). But at age 40, Moses killed an Egyptian overseer and had to flee for his own life. He then spent 40 years as a shepherd before being confronted by God in the burning bush (Exodus 2:11-3:22; Acts 7:23-32). Moses thus became the man to lead God's people out of Egypt (Exodus 3-6).
The miracles of the plagues reached a climax with the death of the firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 7-11). When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them by a northern route, the most direct way to Canaan (13:17); rather, He led them toward the south “through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea" (13:18). By the time the Israelites "encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness" (13:20), the people had seen many miracles performed by God through Moses. Thus they should have been confident in the outcome of what was coming next.
When we read Exodus 14:2, we see that God had deliberately led the people into an impossible position (from a human point of view), with their backs to the sea. God placed Israel in this position—with no apparent way to escape the Egyptian army—in order that He might show His glory to the Israelites.
This tricked Pharaoh into thinking that the Israelites were confused in their attempt to escape into the wilderness (v. 3). God used this time to "harden Pharaoh's heart" so Pharaoh would chase after the Israelites with his army (vs. 4-6). This he did, with his 600 "chosen" chariots plus many other chariots and horsemen (vs. 7-9). The Israelites reacted with great fear and consternation (v. 10). With sarcasm, "they said unto Moses, “Because” there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?"(v. 11).Time for another miracle!
Terrifying Situation(Exodus 14:13, 14)
Watch Closely(v. 13).
1. How did Moses address the people's fears as Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troop pursued the Israelites? (Exodus 14:13, 14)
The Israelites were sure that they and their children would die in the wildernessas soon as Pharaoh's army caught up with them. The frightened people reminded Moses that they had told him to leave them alone (c.f. Exodus 5:20-23; 14:12), but he had persisted in challenging Pharaoh. Israel was now in a terrible predicament, and Moses was to blame.
These verses (14:10-12) introduce the disappointing pattern of Israel's behavior during their march from Egypt to Canaan. As long as everything was going well, they usually obeyed the Lord and Moses and made progress. But if there was any trial or discomfort in their circumstances, they immediately began to complain to Moses and to the Lord and asked to go back to Egypt. However, before we criticize the Jews, perhaps we'd better examine our own hearts. How much disappointment or discomfort does it take to make us unhappy with the Lord's will so that we stop believing and start complaining? "For we walk by faith, not by sight"(2 Corinthians 5:7).
And Moses spoke a word of confidence and said the people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.”
Moses was a man of faith who knew that Pharaoh's army was no threat to God. He gave several commands to the people, and the first was, "Fear not" (Ex. 14:13). Sometimes fear energizes us and we quickly try to avoid danger, but sometimes fear paralyzes us and we don't know what to do. Israel was tempted to flee, so Moses gave his second command: "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord"(v. 13). By faith the Jews had marched out of Egypt, and now by faith they would stand still and watch God destroy the Egyptian charioteers.
Moses not only told them to stand still, but also to “hold your peace” (v. 14). How easy it would have been to weep, complain, and keep criticizing Moses, but none of those things would have helped them out of their predicament. Unbelief complains, but faith obeys and brings glory to the Lord. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). What is there to complain about when we have the wonderful promise, “The Lord shall fight for you"?(Ex. 14:14).
A Pathway Opened(Exodus 14:21-25)
Israelites Escape(Exodus 14:21, 22)
2. What did God command Moses to do in order to escape the Egyptian army?
The next order came from God to Moses, "Go forward!"(14:15, not in today’s text). The fact that Israel was facing the sea was no problem to God, and He told Moses exactly what to do. When Moses lifted up his rod, the waters would part, and Israel would be able to walk across on dry land and escape the Egyptian army.
The Egyptians and the Israelites were apparently in close proximity. Throughout this episode, the “angel of God” (v. 19) had been going before “the camp of Israel.”Undoubtedly, to protect the chosen people, the Lord’s messenger relocated from the front to the rear of the Israelites. In short, the angel, who had been a guide, now became a guardian. Likewise, the pillar of cloud, which had guided the people by day, moved from the front to the rear of the Israelites. At night, it settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. Then, “throughout the night” (v. 20), the cloud made it dark for the Egyptians, but gave light to the Israelites. This prevented the two camps from approaching each other. No natural phenomenon fits the description given in Scripture. This was a divine manifestation in a form well-defined enough to be called a pillar. In accordance with God’s instructions, Moses held out his hand “over the sea” (v. 21). This indicated to the Israelites that what was about to happen was not a natural phenomenon. Throughout the night, the Lord drove apart the Red Sea. This caused great walls of water to bank up and turned the seabed into “dry land.”
The Lord’s dividing of the “waters” (Exod. 14:21) enabled the chosen people to walk through the middle of the “sea upon the dry ground”(v. 22). The water formed a wall for the Israelites “on their right hand, and on their left.”
The Panic of the Egyptians(Exodus 14:23-25)
3. What did the Egyptians do when they saw forward movement (Exodus 14:23-25)?
The Egyptians could see that the Israelites were getting away. This prompted the antagonists to chase God’s people into the middle of the sea. This included all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen (Exod. 14:23). But during the morning watch (about 2 A.M. to dawn), once all the chariots of Pharaoh’s army were between the walls of water, confusion struck. Verse 24 states in a vivid way that the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw their men into total confusion. According to verse 25, the wheels of the chariots came off making it very difficult for them to drive. This threw the whole army of Egypt into disarray. Perhaps the Egyptians now remembered how the Lord had fought for the Israelites by sending 10 plagues on the land. The would-be adversaries began shouting to each other things like “Let us flee from the face of Israel!” and “The LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.”
What Do You Think?
What battles has God fought for you? What made you realize that you needed to relinquish control and allow Him to fight that battle?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Psalms 37:7-9; 44:6, 7; 124:1-5; Romans 8:35-37; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 1 John 5:4, 5
Egyptians Perish(Exodus 14:26-28)
4a. What did the Lord tell Moses to do ensure the final victory over Pharaoh’s army (Exodus 14:26-28)?
As panic broke out among the Egyptians, the Israelites made it safely to the other side of the Red Sea. The Lord again told Moses to stretch his hand over the banks of the water (Exod. 14:26). Moses did as the Lord had instructed him, and as the sun was rising, the supernatural phenomenon came to an end. Walls of water crashed down on the Egyptians, who were trying by every means, possible to make it back to shore (v. 27). Despite the efforts of the antagonists, the “water returned”(v. 28) and inundated all the “chariots” and chariot drivers, along with all Pharaoh’s troops who tried to overtake God’s people. In fact, not a single soldier or chariot survived the devastating rush of water.
4b. Why do you think God performed this series of miracles for His people? Some may say they certainly didn't deserve it as they stood there cringing in fear and complaining to Moses.
To begin with, God was keeping His promise that He would deliver Israel and take them as His people (Exodus 3:7-8). But God had another purpose in mind: revealing once more His power and glory in the defeat of the Egyptian army. "And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord" (14:18).
What Do You Think?
How does your deliverance by God from past circumstances help you face the next battle?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
In how you view trying circumstances (2 Kings 6:13-17) | In how you pray (Luke 22:42)
In how you help others going through difficult times (1 Peter 4:12-19) | Other
Summary of Deliverance(Exodus 14:29, 30)
5. What did the Israelites witness as they looked back on the sea (Exodus 14:26-28)?
Exodus 14:29 reiterates the amazing miracle God had performed on behalf of the Israelites (14:22). He enabled them to cross the Red Sea on “dry land.” The Lord brought this about by creating a wall of water on both sides of the Israelites. When they reflected on the powerful deed that God had worked on their behalf-made even more vivid when the bodies of dead Egyptian soldiers began washing up on the “shore” (v. 30)-the Israelites gained a new respect for God and His love for them. Just as He had intended, their trust in the Lord reached a new height. They also learned that they could trust their faithful leader, Moses (v. 31).
POINTS TO PONDER
1.“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”(c.f. Exodus 14:13,14; Proverbs 3:5,6).
2.Many times when we face unexpected turns in our lives, we might wonder whether God is in control. We have the maps to our lives pretty much figured out, and then God says, “Take a different road. Go south.” The Red Sea crossing indicates that it is best for us to follow God’s lead. He makes no mistakes and will watch over us every step of way. Even when it looks as if we are trapped, He reminds us to trust Him and to go forward. (Exodus 14:21-30; Hebrews 3:1-19; Heb. 11).
Our Great Salvation
Hebrews 3compares and contrasts the faithfulness of Moses as a servant of God with the faithfulness of Jesus as the Son of God. While Israel's deliverance from slavery was great, the Christian's salvation from sin is far greater. The apostle Paul uses the exodus event to warn his readers in Corinth by comparing their status in Christ with Israel's baptism unto Moses (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2). Because of the Israelites' subsequent unfaithfulness, they were condemned to die in the wilderness (v. 5). In spite of our baptism into Christ, we may suffer the same condemnation if we prove to be unfaithful (vs. 6-12).
We must show gratitude for our great salvation in Jesus Christ. We do this by obedience to Christ's law of love. We must not be as the generation that left Egypt after witnessing the miracles of the plagues only to express doubt, fear, and sarcasm as the pursuing army approached (Exodus 14:10-12). "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come"(1 Corinthians 10:11).
Our Father, we praise You for the great salvation we have in Christ. May we never take Your grace for granted or cheapen it by shallow discipleship. Help us to keep our eyes on the promised eternal life till Jesus comes, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Expect God's deliverance!