Four hundred thirty years had passed since Israel had become enslaved to the nation of Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41), but now they had been released from bondage through God sending a series of ten judgments (Exodus 7:14-12:30) upon Pharaoh and Egypt. The final plague, death of the firstborn (Exodus 11:1-10), finally got Pharaoh’s attention and caused him to send the Israelites away into the wilderness (Exodus 13:29-51). With over two million people now comprising the nation of Israel, Moses and Aaron led them out of Egypt, but it was God who supernaturally led them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:20-22). After the children of Israel had traveled a few days outside of Egypt and encamped in Etham (Exodus 13:20), God commanded Moses to turn the people around and camp at Pi Hahiroth, which made Pharaoh think that they were lost in the wilderness (14:1-3). God then revealed to Moses that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh, who would attempt to enslave the Israelites once again; however, God revealed that this would allow Him another opportunity to “…gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord” (14:4).
As God had said, Pharaoh’s heart as well as the hearts of the Egyptians were hardened against the Israelites, so Pharaoh gathered his armies and they “…overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (14:5-9). When the Israelites saw that the Egyptians had pursued them into the wilderness, they were very afraid and cried out to God (14:10). In fear, the Israelites accused Moses of dragging them into the wilderness to be killed by the Egyptians (14:11); furthermore, they said to him, “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness” (14:12). Apparently, the Israelites had forgotten the severe bondage they had experienced over the last 430 years. Moses then stood before the people and said, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (14:13-14). The lack of faith in Moses’ early calling (Exodus 3-4) had been replaced with a great faith in God’s ability to deliver Israel through him. God then revealed to Moses that Israel was to move forward to the Red Sea and that he was to lift up his rod over the sea and it would divide allowing the Israelites to cross on dry land (14:15-16). Although the Egyptians would follow Israel into the divided sea, God promised that he would gain honor over Pharaoh and the Egyptians (14:17-18). When the right time had come, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and the waters divided, which permitted the Israelites to cross over on dry ground (14:19-22). As God had said, the Egyptians pursued the Israelites (14:23), but when all of Israel arrived on the other side God caused the sea walls to come crashing down on all of the Egyptians (14:24-29). Moses writes the following words concerning this miraculous event, “So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses” (14:30-31). Once again, God had proven Himself to be faithful.
Dear God, thank You for being faithful to Your people even when we doubt.