Living By Faith
Two lessons ago we began to look at the first obstacle (Exodus 14). We said that we would divide our study into four phases. In the first phase, we observed the circumstances leading up to the Red Sea problem. Israel was deliberately led by God into a situation where the Egyptians would be pressing down with no apparent way of escape. They actually had to turn and change directions to get there, but God had a purpose. He wanted Israel to learn dependence upon Him and Pharaoh to think they were trapped, because God was seting a trap for Pharaoh.
Last time we saw the responses of Israel and Moses when they saw the Egyptians coming. Israel waltzed out of Egypt with their fingers pointed in the air, all proud and puffed up. They did not give any attention at all to God’s plan and purpose. Then when a crisis occurred, they collapsed in despair and began to complain. In contrast, Moses courageously said, “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Then he took his burden to God. That is the difference between those who live by faith and those who do not. Are we paying attention to God’s plan and purpose for our lives?
III.) The Deliverance:
The third phase of this Red Sea experience is God’s deliverance. God knows how to deliver the godly (II Peter 2:9a) and He knows how to reserve the ungodly for judgment (II Peter 2:9b). There are four observations to make.
A.) God Our Fortress:
Scripture: Exodus 14:17-20
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. 19 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.
First, we see God as our fortress (Psalm 18:2-3). Israel camped by the sea with Pharaoh in sight! What would they do? What could they do? Factually, there was nowhere to go. Moses had told them to do the only thing possible. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord (vs.13).”
The real question is “What would God do?” Failing to read our Bibles carefully, many Christians mistakenly believe that the waters were instantly parted and Israel immediately crossed. Actually, verse 21 says that it took all night long. During the night, Israel had to simply stand still and wait. God would teach them patience and would do the same for us.
Compare: Hebrews 10:36 and Romans 5:3-4
36For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
Do you see that God thinks we have need of patience and that bringing tribulation into our lives is the way to develop patience? Do you now understand why the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel is all wrong? If we have no troubles or problems, we are at best very shallow Christians. At worst, we may not even be a child of God (Hebrews 12:6,8).
Israel stood their ground, and God made provision. That is how it is with faith! In effect, God became a barrier separating Israel from their enemy. For the duration of the night the cloud rested between them.
To the Egyptians, it was dark and ominous—an impenetrable blackness that blotted out the stars and allowed no light to escape, not even so much as a the glow of a campfire. I am quite sure I could wait for morning to attack if I were them. Couldn’t you?
On the other hand, the cloud gave light to Israel. Black is the absence of light. Those who reject the glorious light of the gospel have only the storm cloud of God’s wrath hanging over them (John 3:36). But we have the light of His Word (Psalm 119:105) to comfort and strengthen us!
7 The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
God has decreed that anything touching His children will only work for their good and He encamps around us to assure that is true. He is our fortress!
B.) Waters Divided:
Scripture: Exodus 14:21-22
21 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.
Secondly, we see God dividing the waters. All kinds of explanations have been offered. One liberal Sunday school teacher told her class that it was really just a big mud puddle and not a big miracle. Little Johnny jumped up all excited and exclaimed, “What a great miracle! God drowned all those Egyptians in a big mud puddle!”
A number of years ago, a science magazine explained that the Island of Minoa dropped into the Mediterranean Sea about this time and the resulting tidal wave caused the parting. This so-called "science" is nothing more than the vain imagination of those conflicted by the truth of the Bible and their desire to come up with a rational explanation.
God says simply that He used “a strong east wind.” The Red Sea lays almost perfectly north and south. An east wind coming from the Promised Land cuts across the water in a perpendicular fashion. The wind blew hard, forcing the water to back up at either end of the camp and giving Israel sufficient highway for between 2 and 3 million to pass. The all night blowing dried out the seabed, making it a super-highway to freedom. Think of it! All it took was a little wind! We think it is impossible—but it is so easy for our God to deliver us.
C.) Egyptian Pursuit:
Scripture: Exodus 14:23
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.
Third, we see the Egyptian pursuit. You have to wonder why Egypt, in the face of this miraculous event, would follow Israel. But put yourself in Pharaoh’s shoes. He is filled with blind rage and fury. He wants only vengeance.
Then he sees before him the dream of every charioteer—a vast, dry, smooth “expressway” leading straight to a defenseless target! No doubt the Egyptians were thanking their gods as they raced between the waters.
D.) Egypt Troubled:
Scripture: Exodus 14:24-25
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.
Fourthly, we see Egypt troubled. The chariot drivers dashed into the channel, expecting to draw blood in the battle. At first they were gaining on the feeble figures ahead, and anticipating the lustful ravaging of a vanquished foe. Then something strange happened. A wheel fell off.
The first soldier to lose a wheel probably cursed his luck and the mechanic who worked on his machine. Then others fell off! About that time, turning from the battle, they notice the mountain of water on either side. I don’t think anyone even thought about procurement scandals and defective parts. They knew in their heart that God fought for Israel, just as He fights for us today.
In conclusion, some day in the not too distant future, God will set another ambush. He will stir the hearts of men to march on Israel. They will gather on the plain of Megiddo, where a great general once said, “all the armies of the earth could gather here.” Suddenly, the resurrected Christ in all his glory with His army mounted on white horses, will appear to take vengeance on the enemies of His people (Revelation 19:11-19).
Friend, will you be among those who come mounted with Christ, or will you be numbered in the valley below? Will your appetite for the world seal your fate, or will you be counted with those whose garments are washed in the blood of the Lamb? Today is the day of salvation. Tomorrow is judgment day. Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart. If you repent of your sin, turn to Christ, and ask Him to come into your heart and life, He will surely save you (Romans 10:13).
Next time: The First Obstacle Part IV (Exodus 14:26-15:19)