The Parting Of The Red Sea — Exodus 14

The Egyptians Have A Change Of Heart

But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” (Exodus 14:9)

As the Hebrews begin their Exodus out of Egypt, we see that it was with great reluctance that Pharaoh acquiesced to their departure. Even the Egyptian people themselves, who had been so eager back in Exodus 12:33 to be rid of their Jewish servants, whose God was the undeniable source of their torment, were now having second thoughts (Exodus 14:5). “Why have we done this?”, they ask, “that we have let Israel go from serving us?

And so it is for the hard of heart, even after enduring such utter and complete judgment at the hand of God, that they should so quickly forget the great and terrible consequence of their rebellion and defiance of the Living God. “Why have we done this?”, what a ridiculous question to ask in light of all that has transpired! One had only to look about at the fields, now barren and brown, the life-sustaining crops depleted and destroyed; or to consider the myriad of newly dead, the firstborn sons of Egypt, taken in the strength of their youth. Would the overworked morticians of the land, still laboring frantically to embalm and preserve the endless flow of fresh corpses before they began to rot away, have asked such a completely foolish question? “Why have we let Israel go?”, indeed.

Nevertheless, this is prideful man’s reaction when the sting of judgment and the heat of God’s wrath begins to cool the slightest bit. Even after such unimaginable devastation, Pharaoh and his people again shake their fists in the face of God, supposing now that the plagues that had laid waste to their nation were no more than a fluke, an unrepeatable anomaly, and that the God Who sent these plagues was scarcely able to cause them any further harm.

The God Of Both Egypt And The Wilderness

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? (Exodus 14:11)

The error that both the Egyptians and the Hebrews made was that they limited the sovereignty of God. Both had witnessed the mighty power of God’s hand as He poured out judgment after judgment back in Egypt, yet now, in the remote wilderness, they all supposed that the extent of the Lord’s influence would not reach so far. Pharaoh somehow believed that the same God Who could breach the armed guards and locked gates of his palace would be powerless to oppose him in the open desert.

And what of the Israelites? Did they not also suppose that the God Who had intervened so miraculously on their behalf back in the land of their bondage was now unable to deliver them from this current predicament? Yet before we are too quick to shake our own heads at the faithlessness of these people of God, we do well to consider that  the same can be said, to one extent or another, of all people of God. Are we not all guilty from time to time of forgetting that the same God Who delivered us at first is also able to keep delivering us? Do we not all lose the confidence on occasion that He Who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the Day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6)?

The Children of Israel did “cry out unto the Lord” (v. 10), but it is what they said to Moses that betrayed the true thoughts of their hearts. This “cry” unto the Lord was not a heartfelt prayer of faith, but a panic-stricken cry of desperation, an emotional outburst born of fear. Even the godless atheist may cry out in times of anguish and terror, “Oh my God!”, yet the words are hollow and meaningless. We must never mistake the form and appearance of “prayer” for an actual, effectual petition made to the Lord in faith: whether it comes from our own mouth or the mouths of others.

And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?” (Exodus 14:11)

It is somewhat ironic that the Hebrews would comment on the abundance of “graves in Egypt”, for it is the “graves” of Egypt that serve even to this day as the lasting legacy of a now defunct empire. What could be known of that ancient kingdom at all were it not for what filled the towering pyramids strewn throughout the land, those imposing edifices that serve as perpetual monuments to the brevity of life and man’s desperate hope for immortality? There are graves enough in Egypt still, for whatever other wonders the Egyptians may have constructed, it is the “graves” that survive.

Backed Against The Sea

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” (Exodus 14:13)

And so it was there, caught between the mighty armies of Pharaoh and the Red Sea, that the Children of Israel were in the exact spot where God wanted them. It was here in the earliest days of the journey toward the Land of Promise that the Hebrews would learn that their deliverance was not contingent on their own ability to outrun, overpower, or resist the enemy, no, it would come from the power of God alone. “Fear not, STAND STILL, and see the salvation of the Lord…” When fear grips our hearts and we set about, running here and there, busying ourselves in order to attempt to fight the battle, the Lord reminds us that it is He Who fights for us, we are simply to “hold our peace” (v. 14).

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:” (Exodus 14:15)

How is it that God can say at once both “stand still” and “go forward?” How can Christ tell us simultaneously to “rest in Him”, yet “go ye into all the world?” It is because we rest upon the Rock of our Salvation that we are able to proceed, to go forward, not with the anxiety and aimlessness of self-purpose, seeking to secure the Salvation and deliverance of God through our own efforts, but under orders of the One Who commands us, marching forward under His banner, knowing that it is our Lord Who fights for us. Just as God directed the Hebrews to go forward toward the Sea, our commission is to go about the business of our own calling, to continue moving forward toward the goal that He has set before us. No matter what enemy pursues, our battles are not won by turning away from our destination and backtracking toward the adversary. “Go forward”, we are told, keep heading in the direction God is sending us. The Lord will stand between us and the pursuing enemy (v. 20).

The Red Sea Is Parted

But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.” (Exodus 14:29)

When all hope seemed lost, the Lord did something that nobody, Egyptian or Hebrew, expected: He caused the waters entrapping the Israelites to part, leaving a path of dry land for them to walk across. When only a miracle could save the Children of Israel, God sent a miracle.

Like the Egyptians and the Hebrews that night, we underestimate the power of God when we begin to limit what He is able to do. When we stand in a place where there appears no way out, when we become “entangled in the land” (v. 3), we must remember that God can deliver us out of every danger, whether we can see how it may be done or not. God is a miracle-working God and He is able to save us through means that we can scarcely imagine.

It is baffling to consider that, even after all of the wonders God had worked back in the land of Egypt, perhaps nobody present by the shores of the Red Sea, except Moses himself, expected Him to act on behalf of Israel. How is it that man can be so numb to the love of God that we doubt Him even when He has shown Himself to be faithful time and time again? How can our hearts be so stubborn that we have trouble believing that God is all-powerful even when He has repeatedly proven His omnipotence?

When commenting on the details of this account from Exodus 14, even many modern Bible scholars are hard pressed to accept the miraculous and would rather consign the parting of the Red Sea to some natural, otherwise explicable phenomenon. It seems that admitting that God holds the ultimate power over the lives of men and the laws of Nature is as difficult for many today as it was for those living in ancient Egypt. Nevertheless, God did move in a miraculous way to save His people from the hand of their enemies. He still does today.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,


The Magicians Of Egypt

"Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments." (Exodus 7:11)

The Ten Plagues which came upon Egypt have often been divided into three triplet sets with each triplet being related. The Tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, is such an overwhelming judgment and so dissimilar from the others that it is usually classified by itself. The other nine, however, are each set apart in groups of three. The first three plagues have been labeled loathsome plagues and are primarily emotionally disturbing in their nature rather than directly afflicting the people. The River Nile becoming blood, frogs infesting the land, and lice covering the people and animals were certainly disgusting (to say the least), but these plagues did not really afflict the Egyptians as severely as the later plagues.

Next came the painful plagues, or the physical plagues. The stinging insects, the murrain upon the livestock, and the boils upon the people were physical ailments that caused pain and suffering. Finally we have the appalling plagues, or psychological plagues. The hail, the locusts, and the blotting out of the Sun seemed to indicate that Nature itself had turned against the people of Egypt and their Pharaoh. If even the wind, weather, and sky were behaving so erratically, in what could the people find safety and sanctuary from the wrath of the Living God? Each triplet of plagues struck a little closer to the heart of the people, each new set of three affected them a little more intimately. Before each new triplet was carried out, a warning was given (Ex. 7:17, 8:20-21, 9:13-14). The final plague of each set came without any warning. Something else very interesting happens at the conclusion of the first triplet:
“Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 8:19)
Up to this point, the magicians had been replicating the miraculous signs that God was working in their midst. Yet the third plague (and every subsequent plague) they were unable to duplicate. Beginning with the changing of Aaron’s staff into a serpent, the priests of Egypt were able to imitate the miracles being worked. The changing of their own staffs into serpents, the changing of water into blood, the summoning of frogs. It is left to us to wonder whether or not the actions of the Egyptian magicians were supernatural, authentic sorceries or clever sleight-of-hand tricks. Whichever they were, they were convincing. The plague of lice marked the limit of what these men were able to counterfeit. They attempted to duplicate the lice (v. 18), but were unable (which leads me to believe that there was likely a Satanic supernatural force at work here that they themselves did not fully comprehend). They freely admitted their inability to Pharaoh at this point and recognized that this was the work of God.
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)
The actions of the Egyptian magicians is a reminder to us that signs of supernatural power, even seemingly authentic ones, are not necessarily the credentials indicating that God is involved. Demonic forces do possess a certain amount of ability to manifest signs of power, even the ability to work “miracles” and “wonders” at times. False prophets, false teachers, and bogus “Christian” ministries rely on deception in order to convince the unsuspecting. We are never told in the Bible to look at the power and abilities of individuals to determine if they are from God or not. Though they use persuasive speech, though they seem to work mighty healings and miracles, these are not the measuring sticks of their genuineness. In fact, we are warned that many will come as did these Egyptian priests, with great shows of seemingly supernatural abilities. So how is it possible to know whether or not these “wonder workers” are of God or not? Is it possible to know?
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:” (2 John 1:9-10)
The doctrine that a person is preaching is the indicator of whether or not they are from God. The Message is what is most important, not the presentation. Is what they are preaching in line with the Word of God? Is their teaching sound and Biblical? Or are they using signs and wonders to distract from the message they are advancing? Many heretical teachers and founders of the cults have historically relied on the supernatural to authenticate their claims. Their reasoning was that there was no possible way that they could do the “wonderful” works they were doing if God was not with them. But the Bible does not suggest in any way that these are proofs that He is involved.
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)
The Lord Jesus does not dispute that the people He is referring to did not do the “wonderful works” they are citing. He does not even argue that they did these works in His name. But He does clearly state that He “never knew them.” These are unrepentant sinners, not saved children of God who are using His name and His authority to spread their own message. This is why the Message, the doctrine, is so important in verifying the claims of anyone preaching in the name of God. Even the Apostle Paul, in a passage where he is referring to false teachers and comparing them with the Egyptian magicians (Jannes and Jambres), does not appeal to his own miracle-working to authenticate his credentials (though he certainly worked many signs and wonders himself!). He writes to Timothy:
“But thou hast fully known my DOCTRINE, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,” (2 Timothy 3:10, emphasis added)
His appeal is to the doctrine that he has preached as verified by the Holy Scriptures (as he goes on to explain in Verses 15 and 16). The Word of God is the standard to which all teachers and preachers must be held: does their teaching line up with it, or are they spreading something else? Are they preaching sound doctrine, or are they twisting the straightforward meaning of the Bible in order to support their own false agendas? There have always been false teachers “working wonders” and persuading many to follow after them. The forces of darkness are able to imitate, to a certain extent, the works of God. They are often able to present a convincing parody of what a servant of God looks like (or at least what people might believe the servant of God should look like), they can touch on some of the outward appearances of what might be mistaken as the hand of God at work. But, just as the magicians of Egypt could only go so far with their own enchantments, the time comes when they can do no more.

The Finger of God at work is not so much displayed in the flashy miracles and showy demonstrations of power as it is in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to change lives. This is something that the demonic forces of the enemy are not able to replicate. God’s greatest miracles are not the changing of rivers into blood, or the infestation of frogs, or the turning of rods into serpents. It is the miracle of bringing life into a heart that was dead in sin. It is the re-birth of the vilest sinner into a new person, a person who has never existed before. It is the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save sinners from the judgment that we all deserve; being pardoned of our sins that we might live forevermore in the presence of our Lord and God. Such miracles as these can never be imitated.

Declared The Son Of God

“And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” (Romans 1:4)

In Romans 1:3-4, Paul gives a miniature, encapsulated biography of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have in these two short verses a summary of Who Christ is and how we have come to know this. As the Apostle Peter states, we have not come to faith in Christ based on “cunningly devised fables“(2 Pet. 1:16), but on sound evidence. God has not asked us to believe on Jesus based on “blind faith” nor has He asked us to accept Him as Lord based solely on the thoughts and opinions of others. Three evidences are cited here in the opening verses of Romans that demonstrate the identity of Jesus Christ; they show us conclusively that He is the Son of God:

1.) Power

First of all, we notice two statements about Jesus that point to His Humanity and His Divinity. He was made of the seed of David according to the flesh, and He was declared the Son of God according to the Spirit of Holiness. The words to be do not appear in the original language and were added in an effort to make the text more readable in the English (this is why they appear italicized in the KJV). The idea that Jesus became the Son of God at some point in time is not present in the original sense that this verse reads. It was not at the Resurrection that Jesus became the Son of God, He has always been the Son of God (cp. John 1:1). Nor is the term declared to be understood that it was by Divine proclamation that Jesus was elevated to a position as “Son of God”, but the declaration was made defining Who He already was and had always been. The declaration spoken of here is a revelation of Christ’s Divinity to man, not a “proclamation of promotion” made to Him. Jesus’ humanity began at a definite point in time — at the manger in Bethlehem the “Word became flesh” (John 1:14) and the Eternal God of Heaven took on the body of mortal man — but Christ’s Divinity is from everlasting to everlasting. He has always been God.

The first validation to man of this declaration from God the Father of Christ’s identity was power. Jesus said Himself that the works that He did were credentials of His identity (John 5:36, 10:38). The sheer volume and grandeur of the miracles that Jesus performed are staggering. He was not doing a few easily replicated “tricks” here and there, but was moving in a way that even those who did not believe Who He was were astonished (Matt. 13:54, Mark 7:37). Even when compared with the miracles done through the Prophets, the power that Jesus displayed was in a whole different category (Matt. 9:33). In fact, the power demonstrated by Jesus was so incontrovertible that even His enemies never denied its reality. They disputed the meaning and origin of Christ’s power (Matt. 9:34), but they never denied that the power was real. There are “scholars” today who might doubt whether or not Jesus’ miracles were authentic, but it seems that nobody living in His day did!

2.) The Holy Spirit

The second evidence of Christ’s identity, and without a doubt the most convincing and pertinent for the Christian, is the witness and testimony of the Holy Spirit. It is not the words of man that confirm the reality of Jesus Christ being the Son of God to us, but the testimony of the Spirit of God Himself. It was not flesh and blood that confirmed Christ’s identity to Peter, but the confirmation of God Himself (Matt. 16:17). John writes in 1 John 5:6 that the Holy Spirit bears witness to those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the Holy Spirit and, when the Spirit came, He would glorify Jesus and speak of Him (John 16:12-15). It is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the spirit of the believer that reveals the reality of Christ’s identity and Divinity.

There has been disagreement over exactly what is meant in this verse when Paul says “according to the spirit of holiness.” “Spirit of Holiness” is an expression used nowhere else in Scripture, and is not the usual terminology used by Paul when he is referring to God the Holy Spirit. The only other two instances of the word translated “holiness” here appearing in the Bible (2 Cor. 7:1, 1 Thess. 3:13) seem to be referring to holy action and not a condition of holiness (as would be more accurate concerning the Holy Spirit). Consequently, some have interpreted this to mean that Verse 4 is simply referring as a whole to Christ’s “spirit” or “spiritual nature” as opposed to Verse 3 referring to His Human or “fleshly” nature. They read this to say Christ’s body is the Son of David and His Spirit is the Son of God. The expression “spirit of holiness”, therefore, is concluded to be referring to Christ’s holy actions.

I believe that this verse is referring to God the Holy Spirit here (notwithstanding the difference in terminology used), but I think there is definitely an interesting secondary meaning. We could accurately state that there are really four distinct evidences given which authenticate Christ’s identity; adding the Lord’s perfect sinlessness to the list. The fact that Jesus Christ was the only Man to ever live a perfect life without sin (2 Cor. 5:21, Heb. 4:15) certainly attests to His Divinity.

3.) Resurrection From the Dead

No one but the Lord Jesus Christ has ever had the power to lay down their life and the power to take it up again (John 10:18). Without a doubt, God is the only One with the power over life and death and Jesus’ power over the grave testifies to His Deity (Rev. 1:18). The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is, in fact, the capstone of material evidence for His Deity and the hinge upon which the Christian faith itself hangs (1 Cor. 15:12-19). The Resurrection was the sign that Jesus Himself presented to His enemies as prima facie evidence confirming His identity as the Christ, the Son of God (John 2:18-21, Matt. 12:38-40). It is little wonder that the enemies of God have attempted so vigorously to discredit this one historical event. Every other major religious figure throughout history has lived and died and remains dead still. Muhammed, Buddha, Zoroaster, and Lao-Tzu are all dead. But the Lord Jesus Christ is alive forevermore.