Reading For Monday Exodus 13:17-14:31
Instructions were given as God leads his people south toward the Red Sea rather than through the land of the Philistines and Moses saw to it that the bones of Joseph went with them. The first mention is made of the Lord visibly leading in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. This pillar is the proof of God’s presence and an expression of his love and care for Israel. God tells his people to change direction to lure Pharaoh into thinking that they were lost and confused, confined by the desert. God would harden Pharaoh’s heart.
When Pharaoh received word on the location of his former slaves, he and his officials reevaluated their options. They decided that they could not afford to lose this labor force, so an army set out to capture the runaway slaves. When the Israelites saw the enemy approaching in the distance, they panicked. To the east was the sea, to the south and west were mountains, and Pharaoh was pressing in from the north. First they cried to the Lord and then to Moses. In their despair, they believed their servitude to Egypt was better than slaughter by Pharaoh’s army in the desert. Moses urges the people to be calm and stand their ground. He promised them that they would see the deliverance of Yahweh, never see the Egyptians again, and see God fight for his people.
Moses privately cries out to God in desperation, and God gently rebukes him for it. He was told to raise his staff over the waters so that a path for God’s people could be provided through the sea. God would "get glory” over Pharaoh’s army, and the Egyptians would understand that even the greatest fighting force of that age was no match for the God of Israel. The Israelites were protected as they prepared to cross the sea. The angel of God who had been leading the host, and the pillar of cloud, moved to the rear of the encampment and stood between the Egyptians and the Israelites. The cloud brought darkness to the Egyptians that night while on the other side of the cloud light shone throughout the night.
When Moses stretched out his staff over the sea, the waters parted. The text tells us that the Lord used a strong east wind to drive the waters back all the night, that the path through the sea was dry land, and that a wall of water was on the left and right-hand side of that path. Not only does Israel cross on the dry ground, but the Egyptians, who drive their chariots along the dry path through the Red Sea, suddenly find themselves submerged beneath the waves of the sea as God brings the wall of water crashing back down into its course. Not one member of Pharaoh’s army which followed Israel into the sea survived. The dead Egyptians washing up on the shore reinforced faith in the power of God to save among the Israelites. The glory belongs to God, who fights on behalf of his people. In turn, they have become witnesses of his power, which has confirmed their faith in God and their trust in his spokesmen, Moses and Aaron.
Thing To Consider:
- Why is God's visible presence so important?
- How can we know that God is with us today?
- Have you ever felt trapped? When and what were the circumstances?
- Why do we sometimes think difficulty might be better (i.e. the Israelites thought slavery was better)?
- Has there been a time in your life that God rescued you from seemingly hopeless circumstances? What happened?