And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.  Exodus 12:51

 

AFTER 430 YEARS IN EGYPT, ISRAEL IS NOW AN ARMY, in size and organization by the twelve tribes.  God ordained a feast of memorial for all time to come for this.

 

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.  And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.  This day came ye out in the month Abib.  And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.

Exodus 13:1-5

 

As God spared the firstborn of Israel and took those of Egypt, they are called to offer their firstborn beasts and their firstborn children to the Lord.  The firstborn children will be consecrated to the Lord.  The animals are sacrificed, but the children are redeemed.

 

They gathered the remains of Joseph to deliver them to the Promised Land.  He would be buried in the land God had given to Israel.  But he would not arrive any time soon.

 

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:  Exodus 13:17

 

The army of the Lord was not ready for battle yet.  Fresh from bondage, they had no heart for a fight.  They were used to letting someone else tell them what to do, and living in the security of the armies of Egypt.  They were too soft for war.  They were still of the old life, not yet changed into a committed confident army.  They had to travel through the long wilderness route to get hardened for the bigger battles to come.

 

And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:  He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.  Exodus 13:20-22

 

As they approached the edge of the wilderness, God established evidence of his presence that they could see at all times.  They had a visible sign of his glory with them.  If they had any fears that night, they had this powerful miracle to give them peace.  They could sleep with assurance.  They would need that assurance the next day.

 

And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?  And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:  And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.  And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.  But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.  Exodus 14:5-9

 

This is not a sight the former slaves want to see.  An Egyptian army was equipped with the latest military technology, and experienced warriors.  They were the great killing machine of their day.  The Prince of this world was challenging the God of Israel even in the sight of the pillar of smoke and fire. 

 

And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.  And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. Exodus 14:10-12

 

They cried out to the Lord, but without much faith.  If they expected God to answer, they expected Moses to take the blame.  The words they say are of unbelief.  They do not trust God yet, nor his servant either.  He had to be their teacher and example of faith.

 

By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;  Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;  Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.  By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.  Hebrews 11:24-27

 

When I was inducted into the U.S. Army in 1966, we were treated to a fearful event.  Getting off the bus in Fort Knox Kentucky, we were greeted by a sweet, kindly, group of screaming demons known as Drill Sergeants.  They made us grab our heavy bags and “RUN, don’t walk, you MAGGOTS!” all the way to our assembly area.  God had to train an army, and he had his drill sergeant get up early to greet them.  The Lord provided his own source of stress though, with Pharaoh’s help.  This army will shape up just fine.  Moses had already made the wilderness journey, and found a life in this new land.  He knew the way, and the one who kept his walk safe.  He knew what heavy training could do for them.

 

And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.  Exodus 14:13-14

 

We need to know that we have help when we are beyond our ability.  When we can no longer lift the weight, when we can not gut out another repetition, we have help.  Rest in the knowledge that our trainer will bear the load on himself.  We understand the concept, but do we count on him when we really need him?  I get better results on the leg press machine when I let go of the handles, and raise my hands to the Lord for help, even without the trainer helping.

 

But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.  And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.  And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.  Exodus 14:16-18

 

God placed himself between the Egyptians and the children of Israel so they could not approach them.  Then he led them into the sea itself.

 

And 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 dry land, and the waters were divided.  And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.  And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.  Exodus 14:21-23

 

No, this was not a Hollywood special effect, but a fairly natural seeming event, a strong east wind.  Perhaps this had happened before, and the Egyptians felt confidence to go ahead.  Still there were all the previous warnings of Moses, and the waters were still in sight.  Does anger make men blind and mad at the same time?  There are a few men of God in this age still, and they can also go un-heeded.  If a man has predicted change faithfully in the past, it may be wise to consider the possibility that he is trying to help you avoid some great loss. 

 

And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,  And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.  Exodus 14:24-25

 

Perhaps the sea bed had the properties of Texas mud “gumbo”.  It sticks to everything and gathers huge clumps on wheels, feet, and horse’s hooves.  The weight may have contributed to failing wheel bearings.  Perhaps the army of Egypt still thought this was a natural event in progress.  If one is blinded by pride, it can become a supernatural event.  When good men try unsuccessfully to warn us, we can discover the nature of an angry God.

 

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.  And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.  And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.  Exodus 14:26-28

 

Israel has faced its greatest fear, and found its greatest hope.  That hope was not in their own strength, but in the power of their God.  This was a cornerstone of their courage for the future.

 

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.  And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. Exodus 14:30-31

 

Or did they?

 

FOOTNOTE:

 

Isn’t this really about the modern Christian?  This testament was prepared to show us how we behave as new Christians.  We are not ready to do spiritual warfare because we are too close to our old bad habits.  New believers sometimes start off complaining or challenging their leaders.  But these patriarchs show us good examples even before there were New Testament epistles to draw from.  Watch them demonstrate the spirit of the law before Jesus came to spell it out for us.  And don’t throw the Old Testament away; consider the relevance of every part of god’s word.

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