This is a weekly guest devotion written by my mother, Estelene. Each week she shares with us scripture and a short devotion to encourage us.
The Israelites are finally leaving Egypt and traveling to the land God had promised to Abraham that He would give to his descendants. Do you remember how many people traveled from the land of Canaan to Egypt during the famine? Seventy of Jacob’s family moved to Goshen. Since then, God had multiplied them greatly. So Moses led approximately six hundred thousand men along with women, children, others who also wanted to leave, and all their livestock. It is believed that there were close to two million people in the group.
Today we are going to pick up our study after the consecration of every firstborn male.
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
After leaving Succoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, “The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. the Egyptians–all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops–pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
The the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen–the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. Exodus 13:17-14:28
This is probably one of the most talked about miracles in the Bible. When I read this account, I want to shout! I heard an amusing story about a man who was praising God for parting the waters of the Red Sea and allowing the Israelites to walk across on dry land. Another man was not impressed by the event. He told the man that he heard that there were sections of the Red Sea that were only knee deep. When the first man continued to praise God for this miracle he had performed, the second man asked him why he was still glorifying God. He responded, “Just think, God drowned all those Egyptians in water that was only knee deep.”
I say, “Hallelujah!” It doesn’t matter if the water was miles deep or knee deep. God parted the waters, the Israelites walked across on dry land, and then the waters flowed back drowning Pharaoh’s entire army.
Now let’s take a step back and review for a moment. Do you remember who Joseph was? He was Jacob and Rachel’s son. He was sold into slavery by his half brothers. God blessed him and while spending time in prison he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, which eventually led him to become governor of Egypt. Before Joseph died, he made his family promise that when the time came for them to leave Egypt and enter the promised land, they would carry his bones with them. Joseph had much faith for he believed that someday God would deliver the Israelites.
You would think that with a cloud guiding the Israelites by day and a pillar of fire by night, the Israelites’ faith would be great. But when they saw the Egyptians approaching, they accused Moses of leading them into the desert so they could die. But Moses told them to stand still and watch the Lord fight their battle for them.
God hardened Pharaoh’s heart for the last time. But did you notice, that as soon as Pharaoh’s army was thrown into confusion they all had no doubt that it was God who was fighting the battle; not the Israelites.
Keep in mind that the crossing of the Red Sea did not take a few minutes. There were approximately two million people crossing. Scripture tells us that the Lord held the waters back all night. I must admit, seeing a hugh wall of water on each side of me as I walked across the bottom of a great sea would be quite frightening. But I would hope that my faith and trust in God’s guidance would be strengthened.
If our scripture would have continued, we would have read that the next day the Israelites witnessed the dead bodies of all Egypt’s army floating in the waters of the Red Sea.
One more important lesson we can learn from today’s story that I would like to bring to your attention is the fact that nothing happened until Moses obeyed God and stretched out his hand. Action was involved.
If God is telling you to do something, you need to do it. If he tells you to stand still, do it. He will fight your battles for you, and he will guide you each step of the way. But before he is willing to help you, you must be willing to accept his love for you and accept him as your Lord and Savior. Will you do that today?