Even after the death of his firstborn child, Pharaoh had still not learned his lesson. Soon after his Hebrews slaves had departed from Egypt, never to return, he regretted letting them go free. He told himself that they were entangled in the wilderness, and he became convinced that they would become an easy prey for him if he would only pursue them. And so he resolved to pursue them and bring them back under his bondage again. The people of God often find themselves in the midst of trials and circumstances that seem certain to end in their ruin; but so often, the Lord overrules those circumstances so that His people are delivered, and their enemies are actually the ones who are ruined and destroyed. Those who set their faces heavenward must expect to be attacked by Satan’s terrors. He will not sit in calm idleness while the Lord Jesus rescues lost souls from his prison of sin, so that they may live a Godly lifestyle.
It must have been as the rays of the setting sun were glinting upon the swiftly approaching war chariots that the Hebrews first observed the approach of Pharaoh’s pursuing army closing in on them from behind. Naturally, there could be no escape in that direction. Ahead of them was the Red Sea; and on either side of them, mountains hemmed them in. Fleeing was impossible, and defense seemed to be madness! But the Lord was still faithful! What was now about to take place was to be the final act of sovereign deliverance by God’s arm alone, as well as an everlasting memorial by which the faith of the Hebrews might be upheld.
The Hebrews were surrounded on every side; but there was still one way open to them – upward! And it was from there that their deliverance came. Some of the people cried out to the Lord; their fear led them to pray, and that was a very good thing. God brings us into difficulties so that He may bring us to our knees. But there were others among the people who cried out against Moses; their fear set them murmuring, as if God was not still able to work miracles for their deliverance, as He had done ten times when they were in Egypt. They quarreled with Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, and so they were angry with God for the greatest kindness He had ever done them; this is a prime example of the absurdities of unbelief.
But hear how Moses tells the people, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day!” They must not think to save themselves either by fighting or fleeing; they must simply wait for God’s orders, and obey them. When we find ourselves in great troubles, we may take comfort and confidence in peaceful thoughts of the great salvation that our Savior is about to work for us. If God brings His people into difficulties, He will certainly find a way to bring them out as well.
Moses’ silent prayers of faith prevailed more with God than the people’s loud outcries of fear. The pillar of cloud and fire came behind them, where they needed a guard to protect them from the rapidly advancing enemies; and so it became a “wall” between them and the Egyptians. This impenetrable barrier gave light on the side that the Hebrews were on, but it was cloudy and dark on the Egyptians’ side. Similarly, the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus have a black and dark side towards sin and sinners, but a bright and pleasant side towards the people of the Lord.
That night, Jehovah showed His Almighty power by miraculously opening a passage through the deep waters of the Red Sea, so that His people could cross to the other side in safety! He can bring His people through the greatest difficulties, and force a way where He does not find one already open. The Creator is not tied to His own natural laws; when He pleases, He can easily override them. They walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea, with the waters heaped up on either side of them. Surely this a great encouragement to God’s people, in all ages, to trust Him in the greatest difficulties! What will He not do for those who fear and love Him, after doing this for these murmuring Hebrews?
After God’s people had safely crossed over the sea, His just and righteous wrath came down upon the enemies of Himself and His people. Alas! Such persons will not be convinced, until it is too late, that those who meddle with God’s people are doing so at the cost of their own safety. In the early hours of the morning, Moses was ordered to stretch out his hand over the sea; and the waters came crashing back down upon the host of the Egyptians, who had chased the Hebrews right into the path that had been opened in the waters. Not one man escaped, and the Hebrews saw their dead bodies washed upon the seashore.
Behold the happy ending which Christ’s people may look forward to! Our enemies may rage mightily; but while we cling to our God, we shall pass through the waves in safety – guarded and protected by that very same power of our Savior which shall come down hard upon every one of our spiritual foes, causing them to never again be seen!
Lord, when our sins and our troubles are surrounding us, and every door of escape by human power is shut; we beseech You to open that new and living way in Christ’s blood, so that we safely cross to the heavenly shore of eternity on the other side! Cause us to stand still so that we may see His salvation, which comes to us through none other name. Amen.
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illustration by Kevin Carden | Lightstock.com