Hi. Welcome to Redeem the Commute. I’m Ryan, your host of the daily challenges. Today is Tuesday, the day we study the Bible together. Last week we learned about how God provided for his people after rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. This week we’re going back in time a little, to study how God led them out of Egypt in the first place. This is a story we looked at in our EPIC series as well, if it sounds familiar, but we’ll look at it from a different angle today.
As we read this passage, we’ll look at how the Israelites showed fear and how they showed faith. Make two columns, one titled “Signs of Faith” and the other “Signs of Fear.” After each paragraph, consider what the Israelites did in that paragraph and list their actions in the appropriate column.
And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. – Exodus 14:8-29
Moses was led by God to take the Israelites via a non-standard, even dangerous route through the wilderness. This left them vulnerable in case Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, decided to recapture his lost slaves, which is exactly what he did.
They were in a cul-de-sac, essentially. With mountains on two sides, and water behind them, the only way out was through the Egyptians. Some certainly wanted to surrender and go back into slavery.
They had experienced ruthless violence at the hands of the Egyptians for years, and had just escaped with no weapons. The situation must’ve seemed hopeless.
But instead, Moses commands to simply fear not, stand firm, and be quiet. That’s hard to do, when you know you’re in danger! Our tendency is to react – do something – protect ourselves. But Moses wants them to sit back and watch the show. He wanted them to trust God could help them, even in a helpless situation.
It may seem odd that no record of this event has been found in Egyptian history. However, it’s likely that all records were wiped from the books because it would’ve been an embarrassment for the world to know that mighty Egypt had been devastated by its own lowly slaves.
Question: Look back at the lists you made earlier. Which column is longer? What does that tell you about the overall sense the Israelites had about God? What was God trying to demonstrate?