FROM BONDAGE TO FREEDOM
Victory at the Sea
SCC Exodus 14 9/9/12
The crossing of the Sea may be one of the most familiar stories of the book of Exodus, if not of the Old Testament as a whole. In the argument of the book it marks the division between the bondage in Egypt and the establishment of the people as a nation. Here is the deliverance from Egypt.
God announces his plan for defeating the oppressors (1-4)
God reveals His plan for final victory over the wicked (14:1-4).
The first part records God's instructions for the encampment of Israel by the sea, and the reasoning behind it. The point in the verses is that the Lord was giving the orders for the direction of the march and the encampment by the sea. It is the hardening of Pharaoh's heart one more time. God created the circumstances, which would then cause Pharaoh to respond v 3.
Thus, God would make Pharaoh’s will strong or firm. It was all to be a trap for the destruction of Pharaoh. In it the Lord would get honor for himself, and all Egypt would know that he is the Lord. The purpose of the hardening and chasing was that the Lord intended to gain glory for Himself by this final and great victory over the strength of Pharaoh. Once again the earlier themes of the plagues reappear here: judgment not only destroys the wicked, but reveals the Lord’s glory and sovereignty.
God announces his plan for delivering his people (5-14)
This is followed by the Lord’s announcement of deliverance when his people fear the wicked (14:5-14).
A word of promise was necessary in view of the dangerous situation for the people. As God predicted, he hardened Pharaoh's heart (v. 8) so that he pursued after them. At the same time, Israel went out with a high hand, i.e., confident and defiantly (usually used of pride in sinning, the raised fist). So the event builds tension between these two resolute forces.
When the Egyptians overtook them by the sea, the Israelites were terrified, and cried to the Lord v 10. It captures the surprise and the sudden realization of the people. Their defiant pride seemed to evaporate--perhaps again by God's plan to bring them to depend on Him. But their cry against Moses is rebuke and disloyalty v 11-12. They would rather have served the Egyptians than die in the wilderness (Egypt is a land of graves). Arrogance fails in the crisis, because it is confidence in the arm of flesh.
Moses has yet to learn their familiar murmuring. Here he takes it as a normal complaint, and gives them the needed instruction: “Fear not. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (or: you have only to be still) v 13.” They were to hold their position, not run, and watch the Lord destroy their enemies. The people need this reassurance of the coming victory when they fear the present opposition. They had cried out, and God would now deliver; now they were to be silent v 14.
Victory over the world comes from the LORD (15-31)
Finally, victory comes from the LORD (14:15-31).
The great deliverance of God's people is finally the result of great judgment on the wicked.
1. God reveals his plan to Moses (15-20) and then brings it about (21-30), causing the Israelites to fear the Lord and believe the Lord and Moses (31). The report clearly shows a miraculous work of God making a path through the sea--a path that had to be as wide as a half a mile in order for the many people and their animals to cross between about 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
2. The point that is so clear in this famous account is the sovereign power of the Lord. He keeps the forces apart by the Angel of God and the pillar, He separates the water so that the people can escape, He hardens the Egyptians' hearts so they pursue, and He drowned the Egyptians in the sea.
The conclusion is: Thus the Lord saved Israel in that day.
The passage is both a deliverance story and a judgment story. Like the earlier exodus from their dwelling, this story may be taken as the lesson of present deliverances from trouble, or (and possibly in addition to, since such stories are parallel) the final deliverance and judgment. The Israelites used this as a paradigm of the power of God:
The Lord is able to deliver his people from danger because he is the sovereign Lord God of creation.
So there are particular expectations of God’s people when in danger:
1. His people must learn to trust him, even in the most desperate situations; they must fear Him, and not the situation. God can end any threat or danger by bringing His power to bear in judgment on the wicked. But it calls for faith.
2. And ultimately this will happen at the end of the ages in a great display of His power. But only those who believe in him, who look for his glorious coming, will be delivered from the world.
3. But the passage has other levels of application too. It is a picture of the completion of redemption, begun with the blood. Now the redeemed will be formed into the people of God. The apostle reminds us that they who crossed the sea were baptized unto Moses (1 Cor 10:1-4) that is, identified with him in this new phase of the covenant program. So the deliverance is now complete.
Five advantages were enjoyed by Israel when they left their Egyptian bondage:
1. were all under the cloud—They had supernatural guidance Ex 13:21 and protection Ex 14:19-20.
2. all passed through the sea—They experienced miraculous deliverance from those who wanted to take their lives Ex 14:21-28.
3. all were baptized into Moses v 2—They were united (a spiritual identification) with Moses as the Lord’s appointed leader over them Ex 14:31.
4. all ate the same spiritual food v 3—The Israelites ate manna, the supernatural bread form heaven Ex 16:4, 15. God provided physical food through spiritual means. In this sense they were all spiritually sustained, given provisions from a divine source rather than a natural one.
5. all drank the same spiritual drink v 4—The Israelites drank water in the desert Ex 17:1-7, the same provision as the food.
for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ—this is not the word for large stone bur massive rock cliff. Jesus said that Peter was a large stone but it was upon the massive rock cliff that I will build my church. So the church is built on the bedrock of Jesus Christ!
PT: The point of the apostle in 1 Corinthians is that in spite of all of these advantages, v 5, with most of them the Lord was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness—The presence of supernatural privileges in the lives of OT Israelites did not produce automatic success. Just the opposite.
All but two members of one generation (Joshua and Caleb) experienced God’s discipline, were disqualified, and die din the desert (Num 14:29).
The apostle’s instruction for the need for discipline (1 Cor 9:27) was genuine since Moses and Aaron were disqualified for the prize (Num 20:8-12, 24).
Laid low means to ‘spread over’. The corpses of Israel were literally strewn all over the wilderness much the same as the Egyptian corpses had been strewn about on the seashore Ex 14:30. In this test of obedience and service, most of them were disqualified (1 Cor 9:24, 27).
Verse 6 tells us These things happened as examples for us—Learn from the examples of others!