People, by and large, are captivated by stories of deliverance. Many of the movies we watch are centered on such. One of the more recents, I’ve seen is the story based off of the Navy Seal, Marcus Luttrell, entitled Lone Survivor.
I. God delivers His people through His guidance (Ex. 13:17-22)
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
God did not want his people to try to enter Canaan directly by the well-established coastal road from Egypt, the Via Maris, even though that was by far the shortest and easiest route from the point of view of travel time and theoretical convenience. The Via Maris led right through the heart of Philistine territory. Based on their behavior as recorded in Judges and 1 Samuel, the Philistines were looking to expand their territorial control and would hardly have been willing to let the Israelites enter Canaan, on which they themselves had designs, without an all-out fight. Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 322.
Behind the scenes, the Israelites were not yet considered a nation (think of their desire for a king in 1 Samuel), and the Philistines had done nothing, up unto this point, to deserve an outpouring of God’s wrath.
Of spiritual note, notice that God is doing the leading here by his pillar of fire and cloud.
QUES: What can we learn about God and His guidance in these verses?
- He is compassionate.
- He is a protector.
- He goes before us.
- His guidance through the use of the cloud/fire was clear.
- His guidance was continual.
QUES: Why would God choose to lead in this fashion and avoid immediate war with the Philistines? It may be speculation, but perhaps He is teaching His people to be a people of faith. A people that follow God. Not a people who war continually.
QUES: How does God guide us today? Two primary ways: Holy Spirit, the Bible
Consider John 16:1-15. Which is better? A cloud or the Holy Spirit?
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a “greater”. This is no doubt referring to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirt who lives in each believer.
QUES: When I was young, we had an outdoor TV antenna. My dad and I would work in tandem to watch Sunday football. The radio in my first vehicle had a dial, where you would tune in to the station you desired. How do we better “tune in” to the Holy Spirit’s guidance?
II. God delivers His people for His glory (Ex. 14:1-4)
Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
Pay close attention to verse 4. It is a key verse in this passage, and through out the Israelites release from Egypt, God emphasizes repeatedly that his actions are designed to bring about a fuller manifestation of His glory. He wants people to know and worship Him as the one true God.
In verse two, God instructs Israel to move in such a way as to “bait” Pharaoh into attacking and enslaving the Israelites again. Verse 4 tells us that God, at least in this instance is actively hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Paul speaks of something similar in Romans 1:21-24.
God was not just guiding His people as they left Egypt, He was also guiding Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God’s sovereign hand was at work to bring what He willed to pass, as He always does. Pharaoh would indeed march his forces out to a victory, but it would not be his victory. Neither would it be Israel’s victory. It would be the Lord’s.
THEO: God acts for His own glory and for the good of His people.
God worked through the helplessness of His peopled the pride and strength of their enemies that He would make His glory known to all.
QUES: How has God shown His love for us that we should seek His glory?
III. God delivers His people through His power (Ex. 14:13-14, 21-22, 26-28)
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. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
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).
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” The word stand firm literally means to stay put.).
(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. “God is often a God of the 11th hour.”
Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus, vol. 2, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2006), 336.
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. 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.
The text…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.
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.” 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.
Through Moses’ stretching of hands, both the deliverance and judgment of God are seen. Deliverance for Israel, judgment for Egypt.
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.
THEO: GOD IS OMNIPOTENT: God has power and authority over the universe He created. As Christians, we rest in the belief that the God who has all power is good, and we gain great comfort by knowing that an all-powerful God is working for our good and joy.
In contrast to some contemporary theologies, God does not always keep us from trial, but He will lead us through it.
QUES: When has God done this for you?
QUES: The Exodus of Israel provides us with a glimpse into the gospel. What are the parallels?
- deliverance from slavery
- display of grace and judgment
- the complete rescue of His people by His own hand