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Exodus 14

Crossing the Sea (14:1–31)

19–20 The angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud moved to a position between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and all night long the pillar of cloud kept the Egyptians from attacking the Israelites.

21–22 Then, as He had done before, the Lord used “natural” means (an east wind) to produce a supernatural effect. The wind drove back the water of the sea, so that a channel was created with the water “piled up” on either side. And the Israelites passed through on dry ground (verse 22). There can be no purely naturalistic explanation for what happened; it was a tremendous miracle of God.39

23–25 The Egyptians followed the Israelites into the sea. But the Lord threw them into confusion; they realized that they were fighting not with men but with Almighty God (see verse 14). And then, to a deeper extent than ever before, the Egyptians knew who the Lord was. But their knowledge came too late.

26–31 As the Egyptians were fleeing back through the channel in the sea, the Lord caused the water to sweep over them so that all were drowned. Not one survived (verse 28). The Israelites could see their bodies floating up onto the shore. Then the Israelites feared the LORD,40 and took their first step of real faith: they put their trust in Him (verse 31). They also put their trust in Moses, the Lord’s servant. Being a humble servant of God is a far higher position than being king of Egypt!

A wondrous change occurred in the Israelites: a short time earlier they had been fearing the Egyptians; now they were fearing God. They had changed from an attitude of unbelief to an attitude of trust.

And yet their new-found faith was very shallow; it had come about only as a result of God’s mighty miracle of deliverance. Faith that is based solely on God’s works of power and mercy is usually a weak faith (John 2:23–25). Too often we have faith in God only as long as He keeps “doing things” for us. But mature faith continues even when God seems to withdraw His blessings from us. We must learn to love God Himself and not merely His blessings.

The Apostle Paul described the Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea as a baptism41 (1 Corinthians 10:1–2). Just as the Israelites passed through the water under the leadership and authority of Moses, so we Christians “pass through” the baptismal water under the leadership and authority of Christ. The Christian life is more than just “deliverance from spiritual bondage” (Egypt); it is also a passage into a new life, into a new spiritual inheritance (Canaan). People need deliverance not only from the penalty of sin but also from the power of sin. The Israelites’ passage through the Red Sea exemplifies not only their deliverance from the kingdom of this world but also their translation into the kingdom of God and into a new identity as His people.

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