Three Lessons From the Red Sea Crossing

The Red Sea crossing was a remarkable point in Israel's history.  Having spend four centuries in Egyptian slavery, God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand the release of His people.  What was Pharaoh's answer?  "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice?  I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go"  (Ex. 5.2).  

Pharaoh's stubbornness was met with ten plagues  (Ex. 5-11).  It was the tenth plague, the death of all the firstborn, that Pharaoh relented and let the Israelites go free.  His change of heart did not last.  As soon as the Israelites left Egypt, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army in pursuit to bring them back.  

Being chased by the Egyptians, God led the Israelites to the Red Sea.  Why would God lead His people into a trap?  God had a plan to show the Israelite that when they are struck with adversity, they could depend on God to help.

If we examine the Red Sea crossing when Moses parted the Red Sea, we would see three lessons that will help us understand how God involves Himself in our lives when we are struggling the adversity.

Lesson One from the Red Sea Crossing:
God Exposes His people to Adversity

The Historical Account of the Red Sea Crossing

The first lesson that we learn from Moses parting the Red Sea is that God exposed Israel to the enemy.  Watch what happened in the beginning of Exodus 14 just before the Red Sea crossing.

Exodus 14.1,2:  “Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘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.’” 

The word "turn" is translated from a Hebrew word that carries the idea of turning around and going back the way you came. 

Just before the Red Sea crossing, God is speaking to the children of Israel, and He tells them to turn around and go back.  The Israelites were escaping from centuries of hard slave labor.  They are finally on their way out of Egypt, and God tells them to turn around and go back the way they came.  Why?  The next verse has the answer.

Exodus 14.3:  “For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, 'They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.'”

The wilderness has trapped them.  They have nowhere else to go.  They have come to a point in the wilderness where the only way they can go is back. 

If you study the geography that is described in verse 2, you will learn that God has led the children of Israel into a natural cul-de-sac. 

  • To the North, there was a line of Egyptian fortresses.
  • To the south, there was the Egyptian desert.
  • To the west, there was the Egyptian city where they had just escaped.
  • To the east, there was the Red Sea.  

Prior to the Red Sea crossing, the Israelites were running from the Egyptians.  The Egyptians were in pursuit right behind them.  God had led the Israelites right into a trap.  God exposed the children of Israel to their enemies.  He did so for a reason.  That reason will be seen later.  For now, you need to keep in mind that in the Red Sea crossing, God exposed His people to their enemy.  

What does this Red Sea Crossing Mean to You?

When you turn to the New Testament, you learn that God actually exposes us to the enemy.  Who is our enemy?  Look at the following verses and you will learn the identity of our enemy.  

1 Peter 5.8:  "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."

2 Corinthians 2.11:  "lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices."

Our enemy is the devil.  It is Satan to seeks to destroy devour us.  It is Satan who tries to take advantage of us.  Sin is what separates man from God  (Isa. 59.2).  Satan wins the battle, and will win the war if we are separated from God because of the sin in our lives.  How does Satan tempt us to give into temptation and sin?  Read James 1.13-15, and you will learn about the process and progression of sin.

James 1.13-15:  "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."

Watch what these verses just said:

  • James 1.13:  Temptation never comes from God.  If you are being tempted, God is not the one doing it.  So where does it originate?
  • Jame 1.14,15:  Temptation comes from within.  The things that we want and the desires that we have are used to seduce us and draw us away from God.  It is the devil who works within the world to craft circumstances to seduce us by using our own desires against us.  The devil is our enemy.

God doesn’t tempt us.  But God allows us to be led into temptation  (1 Cor. 10.13).  God exposes us to the enemy.  He allows Satan to do what Satan does.  That’s why we are able to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver from the evil one"  (Matt. 6.13).  

We can pray that God not allow Satan to tempt us.  Did you know that another word for “tempt” is the word “test?”  God lets the devil test you to see how determined you are to remain faithful.  Will you give into temptation and say yes to your desires, or will you resist temptation and say no to your desires?  

Lesson Two from the Red Sea Crossing:
God Protects His People

The Historical Account of the Red Sea Crossing

A second lesson that can be learned from the Red Sea crossing as Moses parted the Red Sea is that God protects His people from the enemy.  Not only does God expose His people to the enemy to test them, but He also protects them from harm.  

Watch what happened when Pharaoh pursued the children of Israel into this trap.

Exodus 14.8:  “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.”  

It says that Pharaoh king of Egypt pursued the children of Israel.  Keep in mind that that Pharaoh is identified as the king of Egypt.  Egypt was a global superpower during this time.  Pharaoh was king of this superpower.

This is the most powerful man in the world, and he is going after the children of Israel.  The next verse refers to the resources that he used to pursue them.

Exodus 14:9:  "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."          

Verse 9 says that he used all of his available resources.  It references all his horses and chariots.  If you back up to verse 7, reference is made to "all the chariots."  Verse 9 says, "all the horses and chariots." 

This is a man who was the leader of the world.  He pursues the children of Israel.  In doing so, he spares no resource.  He spares no expense.  He uses every chariot, every horse, and every soldier that he had available. 

Verse 9 also says that Pharaoh "overtook them camping by the sea."  With all his men, chariots, and horses, he catches up to the children of Israel.  This happened because Israel is trapped in a natural col-de-sac being led there by God, and is now exposed to the enemy.

Pharaoh is about to get his vengeance.  He is about to reclaim those Israelites which he believes rightly belong to him  (v. 10).  Watch what happens when you skip down to verse 19.  

Exodus 14.19:  “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.”  

If you back up and read the previous chapter, God (represented by the Angel of God), appeared to the children of Israel as a pillar. 

  • During the day, God appeared as a pillar of cloud.  (Ex. 13.20-22)
  • During the night, God appeared as a pillar of fire.  (Ex. 13.20-22)

During the day, they would follow the pillar of cloud.  During the night, they would follow the pillar of fire.  This was how they knew where to go.  This was God leading them in the direction He wanted them to go.

In Exodus 14.19, the Angel of God who appeared as a pillar of cloud moved and positioned Himself between the children of Israel and the army of Pharaoh with all of the soldiers, all of the horses, and all of the chariots.

Exodus 14.20:  "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 near the other all that night."

To Egypt, this cloud was darkness, and to the Israelites, this cloud was light.  This prevented the Egyptians from coming after the children of Israel.  In the Red Sea crossing, God protected His people. 

What does this Red Sea Crossing Mean to You?

When we turn to the New Testament, we find that God protects us from the enemy.

1 Corinthians 10:13:  "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Don’t ever think when you are being tempted that what you are experiencing is unique.  What you are facing when you are tempted is what everyone else has experienced before you, and what everyone else will experience after you.

This tells us that you will be tempted.  God will allow you to be tempted, but He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can handle.  When you give into temptation, you have given into something that you could have resisted.  Isn’t that encouraging?  You can know that whatever temptations you feel, whatever desire Satan tries to exploit to draw you away from God, you have it within your ability to say no.

Have you ever felt that God thinks you are more capable that you think you are?  Have you ever felt that you have been pushed to the limit and you cannot take it anymore?  God believes in you.  He wouldn’t put you where you are and expose you to the enemy if He did not think you can handle it.  But it is up to you to handle it.   

Lesson Three from the Red Sea Crossing:
God Delivers His People

The Historical Account of the Red Sea Crossing

Here is a third lesson that we can find in this account of Moses parting the Red Sea.  God exposed His people to the enemy.  God protected His people from the enemy.  And God delivered His people from the enemy. 

Watch what God did.

Exodus 14.21:  "Then 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."

This is the same night that God stood between the Israelites and the Egyptians.  God positioned Himself between the Israelites and the Egyptians, and He stayed there all night.  It was during that time that God parted the Red Sea.

Exodus 14:24-28:  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.  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.”   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.”   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.  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.

Historians and archaeologists believe that the Pharaoh during this time was a man named Rameses II.  The mummified body of Rameses II was discovered in 1881 and is currently in the Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.  He is believed to have lived for 90 years before he died of natural causes.

If that’s true, that means that Ramesses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, was not among those who perished in the Red Sea.  That means that Pharaoh sat back and watched as his army pursued the Israelites.  He was back there watching as the wheels of all his chariots fell off.  He was back watching as his men tried to drive these chariots nonetheless.  He was back watching as the waters fell over the top of all his chariots, all his solders, and all his horses.

It says that not one of his men survived.  That means that Ramesses II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, was left alone to go back to Egypt by himself.  

Exodus 14.29-31:  "But the children of Israel had 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.  So the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  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."

God parted the Red Sea.  God took off the wheels of the Egyptian chariots as they pursued Israel.  God overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea as He caused the waters to return to their full depth.  And verse 30 says, “So the Lord saved Israel that day.”   In the Red Sea crossing, God delivered Israel from their enemies.

What does this Red Sea Crossing Mean for you?

We can turn to the New Testament and learn that God delivers us from our enemies.

1 John 3.8:  “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

If you put that back into the context, you are not reading about what Jesus  will do on the day of Judgment.  You are reading about what Jesus had already done.

Jesus has already defeated the devil, so that the devil no longer has any power over your life unless you choose to give it to him.  The devil has you enslaved by seducing you to invite sin into your life, and it is the blood of Jesus that takes that sin out of my life.

If you listen to Jesus, obey Jesus, and imitate Him in your life, you win.  You cannot defeat the devil by yourself.  It took the blood of Jesus to give you the victory. 

If you were to go to the Cairo Egyptian Museum and gaze upon the preserved face of Ramesses II, you see a man who once said to Moses, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go”  (Ex. 5.2). 

Exodus 14 is not a chapter about Pharaoh pursuing the children of Israel.  It is not a chapter Moses parting the Red Sea.  It is not a chapter about the Red Sea crossing.  It is a chapter about God who demands to be honored.

  • Exodus 14.4:  "I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord."
  • Exodus 14.7:  "So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
  • Exodus 14.18:  "Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”      

Moses told Pharaoh that God demands that he release His people.  Pharaoh questioned God asking, "Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice."  In other words, "Who does God think He is to make demands of me?"  In Exodus 14, Pharaoh learned that God is a God who demands honor.   

You are exposed to the devil.  You will be tempted.  But you are protected from the devil.  You will not be tempted beyond what I can handle.  And you are delivered from the devil.  You are saved from the sins of your past by the blood of Jesus.  And if you do that, you will give honor to God.

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