On my recent trip to Fargo ND, I was wondering if the driving portion of my trip would be interrupted with a blizzard. But nothing of interest happened while driving. However, the flight portion of my trip back was not as free from trouble. To begin with my 1:55 pm flight from Fargo was delayed two hours due to mechanical issues. We finally made it to Chicago but then that flight was delayed 2½ hours. Ugggh. This wasn’t in my plan and I was tired. My faithful wife was waiting for me at the airport in Columbus and we finally arrived home after 1 am the next morning.
Trips can be interesting and also frustrating. But for the Israelites, this journey was all sunshine and happiness to this point. The Egyptians had given them gold and valuables as they left. The former slaves were now rich and traveling away with God’s significant blessing on their lives.
But as you know, most journeys have a flat tire or something bad that happens. Otherwise, we wouldn’t remember much about those trips. The Israelites were about to experience a bump in their road that they would never forget.
- The plan (1-14)
The Lord had everything planned out. Along with his own part in what would happen, he planned for how Pharaoh would respond, how the Israelites would react, and how Moses would lead them.
a. God’s plan (1-4)
When a general plans an attack, he thinks through what his actions will cause the enemy to do. In this case, God knew what He was doing.
He told Moses to have the Israelites camp near Pi Hahiroth, Migdol and the sea. Where are these places?
The names of Migdol (tower) and Pi Hahiroth (house of mountains) are uncertain. Although their meanings may indicate they were in a mountainous region. (see Wikipedia).
The Lord knew that Pharaoh would see Israel’s helpless position and pursue them. Once Pharaoh did this, the Lord would gain honor by defeating Pharaoh and his army. The end result would be that the Egyptians would know that “I am the Lord.” There would be no further doubt who was in control.
b. Pharaoh’s plan (5-9)
Meanwhile, Pharaoh finds out that the Israelites had left. This seems strange to read as he had already let them go. Perhaps his servants informed him like an agenda driven news reporter.
The result was that Pharaoh and his servants changed their mind about letting them go. No doubt they suddenly realized that having no slaves would increase their own work and diminish their fortunes.
So, Pharaoh gathered his chariots and armies. Note that he took 600 choice chariots along with the rest of the soldiers, horsemen, and chariots of Egypt. What were these choice chariots?
Choice chariots – According to a Jewish source, “Chariots in those days attacked in squadrons of three and charged in the formation of a triangle, one on the point and two on the flanks. The chariots also had knives and sharp instruments on their sides. The result was that three charging chariots could break through any line of infantry. Chariots in the ancient world were the tanks of today” (Pharaoh’s Chariots).
All of this was a result of the Lord hardening stubborn Pharaoh’s heart. It made no sense otherwise. Why would Pharaoh respond in such a way when the Lord had already decimated the land of Egypt. Was he dense? Yes, he was.
c. Israel’s plan (10-12)
The happiness of being delivered from slavery in Egypt drained instantly from their faces when the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his army approaching.
The people cried out to the Lord and complained to Moses. Their fear revealed the thoughts of their hearts. Why did you bring us out into the wilderness? to die? We would have been better to stay as slaves in Egypt!
Psalm 106:7-8 – “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known.”
Note: Sometimes hard times and unexpected events can cause us to speak before thinking. Be sure to guard your tongue and be slow to respond.
James 1:19-20 – “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
Instead of blurting out your initial thoughts, wait a moment and take the time to pray and consider how you should respond. Are you trusting the Lord? Are you reacting like Jesus would react?
d. Moses’ plan (13-14)
Moses’ response to Israel’s complaining was based on his trust in the Lord … but was also based on what God had said to him earlier. See verse 4. The Lord had already told him that He would “gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army.”
What seemed like a terrifying situation was actually in God’s plan to judge stubborn, unbelieving Pharaoh and his people.
But think a little bit more about this. The Israelites were afraid of Pharaoh and his armies … after all that they had seen the Lord do in Egypt? Why were they not trusting the Lord to deliver them in this instance as well?
The Lord had turned the Nile River into blood, caused frogs, swarms, and locusts to infest Egypt. Their flocks has been killed. Their crops had been destroyed. Boils had blistered on the Egyptian bodies. And finally, the firstborn of every family had been killed by the death angel. Why were they still afraid?
They were afraid because they knew Pharaoh’s intentions.
If the news reports from Ukraine are correct, there is much reason for the Ukrainians to be afraid of the invading Russian army. The cruel treatment and executions described by the news sound terrible.
The same could be said of the Israelites. They knew what Pharaoh was capable of doing and were terrified that they would be tortured and even killed.
But Moses’ words to them were still correct: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” If they had learned anything during the plagues, it was that the Lord was on their side, working for their benefit. What seemed like a hopeless situation was just another chance for God to earn their trust.
Summary: God’s plan was to gain honor from this situation. No matter how fierce Pharaoh and his army seemed to be, He would be victorious. At this point, the Israelites just needed to wait and trust Him.
So, how did it turn out?
[Read Exodus 14:15-31.]
- The result (15-31)
Just as the Lord had planned, so it came to pass. He instructed Moses, protected His people, caused a great miracle, judged the Egyptians, and earned the respect of the Israelites.
a. God’s instruction (15-18)
It is interesting that the Lord asked Moses why he was crying to Him. Was he talking about Moses or the people?
In any event, the Lord told Moses to send the Israelites forward. In order to do this, Moses was to raise his rod over the sea and divide it. In a miraculous, unexplained way, the Lord would cause that portion of the sea to become dry land for them to walk across.
The Lord promised that Pharaoh and his army would follow them but that He would gain honor by what happened next. They would know that “I am the Lord” after what he was about to do.
Just what happened?
b. God’s protection (19-20)
Remember the heavenly cloud by day and fire by night that led the people? The Lord caused this cloud and fire to stand between Israel and the Egyptian army. Thus the army was unable to reach the Israelites all that night.
c. God’s miracle (21-23)
What happened next cannot be explained by science. It was a miracle of God. When Moses stretched out his rod over the sea, the Lord sent an east wind all night that divided the water and dried the ground. The water became a wall on either side of them.
Throughout the years, people have been skeptical of what God did. One website suggests that a normal occurrence in this area happened that dried the path that allowed Israel to cross the Red Sea. But if this was the case, how were walls of water raised up on either side of the pathway. This explanation doesn’t answer that.
An old farmer was in the hospital and shared a room with an atheist. The atheist thought that he could outsmart the simple-minded farmer with his explanation of the Red Sea Crossing. He said, “Mr. Farmer, do you think that the Red Sea Crossing was a miracle? Did you know that there are times in that area where the tide causes the water to recede and the wind holds back the water for a period of time so that there are mere inches of water left?” The farmer thought for a minute before replying. “Well, Mr. Atheist, if that is true, it is an even bigger miracle.” The atheist asked for an explanation. “Well, God must have done a miracle to drown all the Egyptian army in just a couple inches of water.”
We don’t need to explain how it happened other than that God did something miraculous.
Now where did they cross?
Several ideas have been suggested for the location of the Red Seas Crossing. The most probable location is Nuweiba Beach on the west coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.
“If you visit Nuweiba Beach you will see that both ends are bordered by steep cliffs with really nowhere to go. That is why Pharaoh would have said, ‘They are entangled in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ (Ex. 14:3) … Here there is a 10 mile long and a ¼ to ½ mile wide sand bridge which joins the two countries together. This sand bridge is fairly level and has a depth of only 1,000 feet. This would have given the Israelites a gentle slope to walk on and to bring their carts across, but at the same time been plenty deep enough to drown the Egyptian army. Any other area along the Red Sea would not be suitable for crossing given the many cliffs and drop-offs.” (“Where was the Red Sea Crossing?”).
It is interesting to see that the perfect place to cross still exists.
d. God’s judgment (24-29)
When the Egyptians saw what happened, they pursued the Israelites. Not fearing for their lives, they drove their horses and chariots into the same dry land in the middle of the water. But the Lord did not allow them to catch up to Israel. Instead, he troubled them by causing their chariot wheels to come off and have trouble driving.
When they saw God’s hand against them, they tried to go back. But the Lord did not allow them to escape. The Lord told Moses to stretch out his rod over the sea so that the waters returned to its full depth. The Egyptian army was covered by water and drowned.
Divers have also found what appear to be corral encrusted chariot wheels and axels on both sides of this area (“Chariot Wheels At Bottom of Read Sea”).
What happened to Pharaoh?
While Exodus 14 does not mention Pharaoh’s death, we know that he drowned because of what Psalm 136:15 says. There, the psalmist says that God “overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.” This was the final earthly judgment on Pharaoh for his stubborn, unbelief and unwillingness to obey the Lord.
As you can see, the stubborn Egyptian ruler finally received the judgment he had earned. This is a good place to think about your own relationship to the Lord. Have you turned from your sin and rebellion against Him, or are you still stubbornly refusing to submit to Him?
Remember, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). While you may escape God’s judgment during your lifetime, you will eventually have to stand before His throne after you die (Rev. 20:11-15)
Are you ready?
e. God’s respect (30-31)
The end result of this event was that the Lord saved Israel from the Egyptians. What they feared might happen did not in fact happen. Instead, the bodies of their enemies washed ashore showing a vivid picture of God’s deliverance and care for his people. This miraculous event created in the Israelites a deep respect for the Lord and His servant Moses.
Someone once said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” In this case, God’s plan came off just as He had planned it to be. The terrible slavery in Egypt was now ended and those who had treated them so cruelly were no longer able to do so.
If you were to ask the Israelites a year ago, if they would be free from slavery, they would have laughed at you. But now God’s loving plan to free them and take them to the Promised Land was finally coming to pass.
One of the lessons we can learn from this chapter is that God is in control and that we can trust Him to take care of us. No ruler, nation, or Satanic opposition can stand against the Lord God Almighty.
Are you trusting in Him today? I don’t mean to ask if you have been born again, but if you are trusting Him today. Solomon said is best in Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
What may seem like an impossible situation to you, is not an impossibility to the One who created you, sustains you, and maintains the universe. This ought to give each one of us greater confidence in doing what God has given us to do. He is with us. Let Him lead and trust Him to accomplish His plan today.
“Where was the Red Sea Crossing?” as viewed at https://thecalltojordan.com/2018/11/01/where-was-the-red-sea-crossing on 4/30/2022.
“Chariot Wheels At Bottom of Red Sea” as viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIQ-QAKTqZc on 4/30/2022.
John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, USA: SP Publication, 1989, 131-132.
George Bush, Notes on Exodus, Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1852, reprint 1976, 168-183.
“Pi-HaHiroth” as viewed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pi-HaHiroth on 4/30/2022.
“Migdol” as viewed at https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/migdol on 4/30/2022.
“Pharaoh’s Chariots” as viewed at https://www.jewishhistory.org/pharaoh%E2%80%99s-chariots on 4/30/2022.