Israel is TRAPPED by the Red Sea
After the death of their firstborn, the Egyptians begged the Israelites to leave. As Moses had prepared the people earlier, nearly 2 million Israelites left Rameses (modern Qantir) in Goshen (Ex. 12:37). Instead of going east into Philistine territory to encounter war, God led them southeast by a cloud by day and pillar of fire at night. They eventually stopped with the Red Sea (Heb. yam suph, ‘sea of reeds’) on one side and mountainous desert on the other (Ex. 13:18; 14:3). (3500 years ago the Gulf of Suez probably stretched north beyond the Bitter Lakes—all called ‘Sea of Reeds’) As Israel camped by the water (possibly by modern Adabiya), Pharaoh realized they were trapped and that no ‘god’ had rescued them, so he sends his war-chariots to recover them. God sets a trap for the blindly arrogant so they are caught in it! Seeing the Egyptians, the people start to panic. Despite all the miracles they had seen, at the first sign of trouble they give up—and attack their leader. The Israelites wished Moses hadn’t come and had rather left them in the slavery they complained about! Right at the beginning of their faith journey they encounter a problem and want to return to the ‘good old days’ of slavery instead! Immaturity chooses familiar over faith.
Israel is RESCUED by the Red Sea
As the Egyptians approach, God places a fiery cloud between them and Israel—producing darkness on Egypt’s side and light on Israel’s. God is the same to both believers and non-believers but one has light and the other remains in darkness. Before he knows what God will do, Moses tells them to have no fear, and they will never see this army again. Godly leaders trust God! God then instructs Moses to tell the people to go forward before he has even parted the water! As Moses waves his staff over the sea, billions of gallons of water pile up creating huge ‘walls’ to the left and right. During the night, Israel crossed over on dry ground and when the cloud lifted, the Egyptians pursued them. After Israel finished crossing and the army was near shore, God confused them, and as Moses waved his staff, tons of water crashed down killing the entire army. The same passageway that was salvation for God’s children was judgment for God’s enemies. Faith without testing is wishful thinking. God is trustworthy, even when believers are trustless (2 Tim. 2:13).