13 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.
Moses responds to the people of Israel. Verses 1-4 give the reader insight into what Israel did not have. God has placed Israel in a position of vulnerability in the eyes of Pharaoh. Through the hardness of his heart, Pharaoh has chosen to pursue Israel with great force (v. 6). Verse 4 reveals God’s purpose behind this trap for Pharaoh. “I will get glory over Pharaoh” and “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” Although God has purposed and planned for this event, Israel responds with great fear (v. 10) instead of faith. In fact, as we progress through this chapter we’ll see that the crossing of the Red Sea proves to be a great faith builder for the nation of Israel (v. 30).
“Fear not” -Moses addresses the obvious concern of the people from v. 11-12. In the minds of Israel, oppression was difficult to handle, but was better than death. Ironically, the evidence of God’s deliverance through the plagues has quickly been forgotten. They now faced a new worry. 6
Attributes of God Deduced from Moses’ Response in v. 13-14:
(1) God is a dispeller of fear, a comforter of those who are afraid. (2) God is a deliverer from distress.
(3) God invites and expects his people to trust in him (“Stand firm … you need only to be still”).
(4) God removes danger.
(5) God is a warrior against the forces of evil.
(6)The timing and application of these attributes are under God’s control, not man’s .
Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 336.
“stand firm” -Literally, “stay put”. In the NT, the phrase is often used to urge faith, and that may very well be Moses’ intention, but we shouldn’t assume that to be the case.
“For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again” -What Moses was saying was, in effect: “You should be glad you are seeing the Egyptian army coming at you. Because you have seen the Egyptians, it means that God’s prediction that he will trick them and trap them is about to be fulfilled. If you didn’t see them, now that would be cause for worry because then God’s prediction to us would not be coming true.” Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 336–337.
14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward.
“Why do you cry to me?” -This is most likely intended to be a rebuke to the nation of Israel, Moses serving as mediator between Israel and God.
“Tell the people of Israel to go forward” -God’s exact plan of deliverance had never occurred to the people. This fact eerily parallels the redemption found in the death of Christ.
“go forward” -In saying “Tell the Israelites to move on,” God was asking for a breaking of camp, rounding up of animals, packing of belongings, an orderly departure by ranks. All this would take many hours, and, indeed, the remainder of that day and almost the entire evening were used in the process of getting the Israelites out of their encampment and into and across the sea (vv. 19–22). Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 338.
16 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.
“your staff” -The staff of Moses was a sign of God’s power and presence. This has been the case for Moses personally (Ex. 4:1-5) and the nation as a whole.
17 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.
“the Egyptians” -Not only was Pharaoh’s heart hardened, the entire Egyptian army was hardened as well. No sensible chariot commander would order chariots to go into a wet area…Why, then, did the Egyptians follow the Israelites into the midst of the Red Sea, knowing full well that water and chariots don’t mix? The answer is, similarly, that God lured them into it—made them stubborn enough to do it. Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 339.
God’s hardening of individuals can be a source of great curiosity and bewilderment, but should never cause individuals to doubt the Creator’s goodness. We may not always understand God’s purposes in it, but in this text we see that it serves 1) an evangelistic purpose (Israel placed feared and believed the Lord) and 2) it also magnified God’s character (the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord).
Paul, in Romans 9, doesn’t even attempt to provide an answer to this dilemma, he simply argues that God is Creator and creation really doesn’t have authority to object to God’s plans and purposes.
18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Verses 17-18 parallel verse 4. See comment in verse 13.
19 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,
Verse 19 would better be translated: “Then the angel of God, who was traveling in front of Israel’s army, moved and went behind them, so the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them.” In other words, the angel of God and the pillar were the same thing: God’s manifestation of himself in the visible presence of the Israelites. Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 340.
In this sense, God himself serves as a barrier between impending death (Egyptian army) and allows for Israel to experience His deliverance. In much the same way, Jesus’ death is God himself standing between our judgment of sin and allows us to experience salvation by grace.
God is seen as leader and protector through the cloud.
20 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.
A complex verse for translating, It is somewhat vague as to whether the Israelites and Egyptians were in the light or the Israelites experienced light and the Egyptians were in darkness. What is clear is that the cloud provided time for Israel to pack up their belongings through the night and begin their move across the Red Sea.
21 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.
The text, however, says that the wind actually pushed one part of the sea away from the other part (“drove the sea back … the waters were divided,” v. 21) and created a “wall of water on their right and on their left.” The term used for “wall” here, ḥōmāh, connotes a very large wall—not a small stone wall or retaining wall but always a massively large (usually a city) wall, towering above the Israelites, who marched on dry land with walls of water on either side of them. Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 342.
22 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.
23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 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,
25 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.”
“clogging their chariot wheels” -Most probably a reference to bogging down.
“the Lord fights for them” -This truth should have become evident during the plagues, it only becomes evident to the Egyptians after it is too late.
26 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.”
“Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back” -Through Moses’ stretching of hands, both the deliverance and judgment of God are seen. Deliverance for Israel, judgment for Egypt.
27 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.
28 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.
The return of the water back to its usual place may have taken a few minutes or may have been virtually instantaneous; the text does not say. It was fast enough that no Egyptians could get back to shore, but all were killed. If they were typical of most ancients, virtually none of them could swim. If the distance of the corridor through the sea were several miles, even the best of swimmers caught miles from shore were without hope. The Israelites were through the corridor and on dry ground; the Egyptians were in the corridor, and when the sea flowed over them, they were lost. Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 345.
29 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.
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Notice the results of God’s magnificent saving act:
1. Israel witnessed the saving power of the Lord once again.
2. The fear of the Lord increased among his people.
3. Israel placed their faith in God and understood Moses to be the Lord’s servant (prophet).
The implication from crossing the Red Sea becomes obvious in this verse. If God could deliver Israel and destroy the mighty Egyptians in this fashion, He could certainly fulfill His other promises to Israel and bring them into the promised land.