Crossing The Read Sea

Crossing the Red Sea

Exodus 14

"At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well! Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead! Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. "Leave us!" he cried. "Go away, all of you! Go and serve the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, and be gone!"

The people of Egypt were urgent that the Israelites should be sent away in haste. "If they are not, we are all dead men," they said. The Egyptians were disposed to be kind also to the Israelites, and responded generously to their requests for gifts, jewels of silver and gold and clothing. The children of Israel took their journey, gathering together, perhaps two million people in all, and began their march. It was four hundred and thirty years since the little company had come down to Egypt. God's covenant with Abraham had been fulfilled. "Know for certain," God had said to him, "that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions."

When Pharaoh had thrust the people out of his land, God took charge of them. He chose the route they were to take. The shortest way would have been through the country of the Philistines—but that route was avoided, because they would have had to fight their way, and they were not trained soldiers and might be afraid and turn back again to Egypt. God never leads His people by any way that is too hard for them. He has compassion on our inexperience and weakness.

It is mentioned in the narrative, that the bones of Joseph were taken by Moses when the people moved. They had been kept unburied, because they were to be laid to rest in the land of promise. The people had Divine guidance—the Lord Himself led them, even directing their movements so as to draw Pharaoh's pursuing army to destruction.

The narrative is full of instruction. It shows us that God is in all our life. We do not think enough of this—indeed, we sometimes forget it altogether. It will do us great benefit, to see the Divine part in all this story. Pharaoh was sorry that he had let Israel go, and soon was in hot pursuit. The Lord did not hinder him—but so directed the Hebrews that they were safe.

They were in great terror when they found that the Egyptian army was closing in behind them. Moses quieted them, bidding them not to be afraid—but to stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah. "Jehovah Himself will fight for you. You won't have to lift a finger in your defense!" We need not be afraid to believe this record. This is history written from the Divine side. We see only the human side, and write our history from what men do. Here we see God proposing, planning and active in all things. There always are these two sides in life. We think that we are directing our affairs—but One we cannot see—is the real Master and director. "God is on the field—when He is most invisible."

Some men may tell us that the world has now got quite beyond belief in such a narrative as this. But this is God's world as truly as ever it was, and God is on the field as actually as He was that night by the Red Sea! There is no conflict here with science.

There comes a time when prayer is not the duty. Moses was called to get up off his knees, and lead the people forward. They thought they were hopelessly shut in between the mountains and the sea, with Pharaoh's army behind them. But they did not see the way of escape before them, through the sea! They did not need to cry to God for deliverance—they needed only to go forward.

They had a heavenly escort—the angel of the Lord, first before them, and then behind them. It is always safe to follow the guidance of an angel of God. God never sends a heavenly messenger to lead us into unsafe ways. This angel was revealed in the form of cloud and fire. Sometimes God sends us angels that wear robes of sorrow. It was wonderful guidance which God gave to His people in their marches out of Egypt. By day the pillar of cloud sheltered them; and then by night the same cloud was fire, to fill their camp with brightness. By day it was shelter, by night it was light, and always it was guidance.

This was supernatural guidance—but we have God's presence just as really, though in no visible pillar, to lead us in life. God guides His people by His Word, by His Providence, by His Spirit. If we truly want to be led and are willing to follow unquestioningly, we shall never be left long in perplexity, as to the way we should take.

Our guidance is given to us—only as we will receive it and follow it. God does not compel us to go in the right way. Nor is the guidance given in maps and charts, showing us miles and miles of the road at one glance; it is given only step by step as we go on.

At a certain time, the angel changed his position and went behind the people. The pillar of cloud also moved and took its place behind them. Sometimes it is not guidance that we most need. Sometimes we must stand still, and then God goes behind us to shelter us, when there is danger behind us. He always suits Himself to our needs. When it is guidance we need—He leads us. But when we need protection—He puts Himself between us and the danger. There is something very striking in this picture—the Divine presence moving behind—and becoming a wall between Israel and their enemies.

There are some mother-birds that cover their young with their own bodies in time of peril—to shield them, receiving the dart themselves.

Human love often interposes itself as a shield to protect its own. On the cross Jesus bared His bosom to receive the storm, that on His people no blast of the awful tempest might strike! Not only does Christ put Himself between us and our sins; He puts Himself also between us and any danger! Many of our dangers come upon us—from behind. They are stealthy, insidious, treacherous, assaulting us when we are unaware of their nearness. The tempter is cunning, shrewd, watching for opportunities to destroy us. He does not meet us full-front. We need a guardian behind us—to shelter and defend us. It is a comfort to know that our Savior comes behind us—when it is there that we need the protection!

The pillar stood between the Egyptians and the Israelites. But it was not the same to the two camps. The same cloud was darkness to the Egyptians, gloom, hostility, confusing and hindering them; and to the Israelites light, friendly, favorable, showing the way. To His own people God is light, protection, shelter, blessing—but those who are not reconciled to Him, who are fighting against Him, do not find these favoring things in Him. To the unreconciled, the thought of God brings terror and alarm.

The truth that God perfectly sees into every heart—brings to the Christian a sense of security, and fills him with peace and confidence; but the same truth makes the unreconciled sinner tremble.

God's providence in like manner has this double aspect. The Christian sees God's love everywhere. He knows that all things are working together for good to him—because he is God's child. He sees his Father ordering and shaping all events with loving wisdom, and he is never afraid. Every flower breathes love. When he cannot understand what God is doing—he trusts the heart of God, and waits. But to him who does not have God as his friend—this same Providence is a dark mystery. He has no sense of safety, no assurance of protection, no consciousness of God's love anywhere in the universe for him.

Death also to the unbeliever is a dark cloud, filled with terrors—but to the Christian it is a glorious blaze of Divine love, a pathway of light through the valley—into the heavenly glory!

It will be the same also in judgment. To His own people Christ will then be all glorious, and His appearance will give unspeakable joy; but to the ungodly His presence will bring terror!

As the people went forward—they found an open way. God had cut the path for them through surging waters. Thus God always opens ways for His people, when they are following His guidance. He never asks us to take paths which do not lead at length, into blessedness. He never leads us into traps that we may be destroyed by enemies. Sometimes we think we are shut in, and that no way can be made for us out of our difficulties; but we have only to wait for God, and at the right time—He will open the door for us. We have only one thing to care for—that we are doing God's will and obeying His commandments. All else belongs to Him, and He will never fail us.

Thus God always changes dangers—into walls of safety for those who obey Him, and go firmly in the path of duty. So it is continually in life. Things we dread, when we go quietly forward in Christ's name to meet them—become helpers and protectors. We need never be afraid of anything into which our Master leads us—if we are faithfully following Him. "All things are yours," all things become your helpers. The storms only waft your barque towards home. The sickness that shuts you—in teaches you new songs. The sorrow that makes life dark for you—enriches you with heavenly comforts.

While the Lord was leading His own people in the light, helping them on—He was making it hard for their enemies. On one side of the cloud—an eye of love looked down upon the people of God; on the other side—it was the eye of an offended Judge which looked out on those who were fighting against God and trying to destroy His people. It makes a world of difference with us—on which side of God we are on! From the one side—love streams; from the other side—wrath bursts!

A great fort in war times, is a protection to those who are inside its walls! Amid the roar and crash they can lie down and sleep in peace. But those outside the fortification find no such protection from it. The walls that shelter those within—frown upon those without, and from its guns the deadly fire belches. So God is the refuge of those who have fled to Him for safety—but it is a terrible thing to have God against us, to be on the wrong side, among His enemies!

The Egyptians at last saw that it was a resistless power against which they were contending, and that they could only be destroyed if they followed further, and they sought to retreat. But it was too late. They had gone too far in fighting against the Almighty!

The destruction of the Egyptians was complete. They had seen the Israelites enter the parted sea, and supposed they could go in the same open way. But where the former found safety—the latter found death. The path which God opens for His own people—is not a safe path for His enemies. It was not made for them. The very Providence that protects the former, destroys the latter.

There are many promises to those who believe in Christ and follow Him; but not one of these is for those who believe not on Him. The angels who protect the one—destroy the other. The waters which are a defense for God's own children—become a flood to overwhelm His enemies! Let no unbelieving person venture into the way marked out for God's own children, hoping while unrepentant to find the same protection and blessing that they have found!

Life is full of illustrations of this truth—but its most striking application is to death. The believer finds the way open. "Why, there is no river here!" exclaimed a dying Christian. God opens a path through the waters for His own people. But not so for the unbeliever; death's waters roll over him and overwhelm him in their blackness!


Devotional Hours with the Bible

J. R. Miller, 1908

Volume 1.

From the Creation—to the Exodus
indigowitch indigowitch
22-25, F
1 Response Sep 26, 2012

amen great teaching