Moses parts the Red Sea
Exodus 4:1-5, 14:1-31
1 Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.'” 2 So the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” 3 And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail” (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 5 “that they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
14:1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 “For Pharaoh will say of children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ 4 “Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honour over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. 5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth , before Baal Zephon. 10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 “The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” 15 And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 “But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And indeed I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honour over Pharaoh and over his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 “Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honour for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come hear the other all that night. 21 The Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.
Throughout the bible, we see how God has helped people using something they had – whether it be something material, their experience, talent or even an aspect of their personality. Let’s briefly look at a few examples:
* Moses used the rod in his hand to part the Red Sea (Exodus 14)
* God miraculously multiplied the supply of the widow (1 Kings 17)
* David gained confidence from his experience as a shepherd and killed Goliath (1 Samuel 17)
* Joseph was a dreamer in his youth. God used this to bless and promote him (Genesis 37-41)
God is able to use the various facets of our lives to bless you also, especially in difficult times. Once you make yourself available to Him, He will use very basic things to help you.
The rod spoken above in Exodus 4:1-5 is the same one that Moses used to part the Red Sea. When it was cast down to the ground i.e. it was not being controlled by its owner, it changed. On the other hand when in the hand of the owner, it was a rod. I believe the rod can be compared to certain aspects of a person’s life. There are certain aspects of our personality (or life experience) which are unique to us. Similar to the rod, when God is in control of this attribute, He can use it to His glory. On the other hand, when this attribute is neglected by us, and not in God’s control, it leads to evil (similar to the serpent which often represents evil). Let me draw a couple of examples. A person who is zealous, assertive and driven in nature can be used by God to do great exploits for Him, especially when boldness and determination are needed. However, if this attribute comes under satan’s influence, that person’s righteous anger and become evil anger, and they become zealous to do evil. Paul in his early days was zealous to persecute the church, but God transformed that same zeal to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. A person who has a calm, quiet spirit can be used by the Lord to minister in situations where people are anxious or fearful, and need someone who stays in control and peaceful under pressure. However this attribute if not under God’s control can cause the same person to become ‘luke warm’, indifferent and too quiet (not speak/stand up for Jesus).
I encourage you therefore to look inside yourself and appreciate how God made you – personality, talents, resources. You are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him (Psalm 139:14). Do not compare yourself to others. In times of crisis, He will use that which you have – internal and external to rescue you.
Now let’s look into the Red Sea experience. Notice firstly that God deliberately led the children of Israel into a tough situation. He knew that they couldn’t escape by themselves. It’s the same for us. At times we feel as if we are ‘between a rock and a hard place’. Sometimes, that’s how God wants it, so that when He delivers you, you and those around you will give Him the glory and praise for His works in your life. Another point is that we shouldn’t murmur in our in difficulties, even when we do not understand what is happening. The children of Israel made this mistake and started to complain (verse 11). Yet God in His mercy offered them encouragement and comfort through Moses His servant (verses 13-15). We can learn something from what Moses said:
1) ‘Do not be afraid’ – God knows that we often fear in crises. However we must trust Him. Fear is not of Him (2 Timothy 1:7).
2)’Stand still’ – we must at times wait on God to move. Sometimes He uses our circumstances to strengthen and refine us (1 Peter 1:6,7). In anxiety we often make decisions that are not in line with His perfect will.
3) ‘See the salvation that the Lord will accomplish’ – it is important in tough times to recognise God’s help and provision. When a breakthrough comes it is His doing, not ours. It is He who will save and restore and bless you. Don’t trust in your own way, trust the Lord.
In this passage, I love the fact that God’s plan is so perfect. It shows that His care for us is detailed. At one stage (verse 19-20), He uses a cloud to hide the children of Israel from Pharaoh while at the same time giving them light to move forward. God often buffers from our crises in a similar manner.
God loves you, and as you trust and obey Him, He can lead you through even the most testing times in your life unharmed, just like the children of Israel. Your enemies will always be left defeated, once you are being led by God.