Walking Through The Sea
Pharaoh had finally given his consent, saying to Moses, “Up, leave my people, you and the Israelites–go worship the Lord as you requested.’
Now it was that Moses’ early training in Pharaoh’s royal palace came in useful. Part of his education as a prince had been in the array, so he knew how to handle men and keep large numbers of people in order. Working through the leaders of Israel, he soon had the crowd forming into line and moving out along the route he planned to take them. Gradually a long procession took shape as the Hebrews started out for Canaan “five in a rank”.
It must have taken hours just to get everything ready, for there were “600,000 on foot that were men, beside children”, “and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle”.
At last they were free from that wicked Pharaoh, at last they were heading for the Promised Land. And the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day and at night in a pillar of fire “so that they could travel by day or night”.
Of course they all expected to go straight to Canaan, a journey that would have taken them only a few days at the most. But when they reached a little place called Etham, less than 150 miles from the border of Canaan, orders came from Moses that they were to turn south and “go through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea”.
Everybody was surprised, and no doubt many said, “This isn’t the way to Canaan”.
But God had a purpose in leading His people this way. Had they gone direct to Canaan, they would have had to pass through the land of the Philistines, who would have fought them. And God knew that if these poor people, just out of slavery, should see war too soon, they would lose heart and return to Egypt.
So on they went in what seemed like the wrong direction. You can imagine how the people watched the pillar of cloud all that day to see whether maybe it would turn back and go where they thought it should go. But it did not turn. Instead it moved slowly till it came to a place on the shores of the Red Sea. Here Moses told the people to make camp for the night and rest, just as the Lord had instructed him.
Suddenly a cry of alarm was heard. A man pointed back along the way they had just come. Far in the distance a cloud of dust had arisen. In the midst of it were men on horseback! Chariots! The Egyptians!
When Pharaoh was told that the Hebrews had fled, taking all their cattle with them, he had found it hard to believe. But as the truth dawned upon him he shouted angrily, “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 400 chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt… and he pursued after the children of Israel.”
Now when the Hebrews saw the chariots rushing toward them, they were terrified and cried to the Lord. And they bitterly complained unto Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? It would be better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
“Fear not!” Moses cried bravely to the people. “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today; For the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”
Just then as Moses spoke, something began to happen. Suddenly the pillar of cloud moved mysteriously toward the onrushing Egyptians, and became a barrier between them and the frightened Hebrews. As night fell, the cloud brought dense darkness to the Egyptians while shedding a warm, comforting glow upon the camp of Israel.
And then Moses, left alone, knelt in prayer to God, and the Lord said, “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward”!
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong East wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, with a wall of water on the right hand and on the left hand.”
“Forward!” cried Moses.
“Forward!” yelled the leaders of Israel, passing on the word of command. “Forward! Everybody forward!”
God hadn’t failed! The way of escape had come!
Somebody was first to step onto that strange, wind-swept avenue through the stormy sea. Then another summoned the courage to go, and another, and another, while the rest began to move.
Then there came thousands of people half walking, half running, along that pathway through the sea, with oxen, cows, donkeys, goats, sheep, and dogs, moving forward as quickly as their feet could carry them. It was a never-to-be-forgotten sight.
“And then the Egyptians made hot pursuit and all Pharaoh’s horsemen and chariots followed them into the sea. But in the morning watch, the Lord looked down through the Pillar of fire and cloud and put the Host of the Egyptians in confusion.” And He, the Lord Himself, “took off their chariot wheels, so that they were slowed down, insomuch that the Egyptians cried, ‘Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them’!”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen”.
And when Moses stretched his hand out over the sea at daybreak, the sea went back to its place and the waters swept over them covering Pharaoh and the entire army.
Not one of them survived! And that day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore, their horses and chariots, swords and spears.
And when Israel saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His Name… The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them’. But You blew with Your breath, and the sea covered them. In Your unfailing Love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.”
What a wonderful miracle had been done. The Lord Himself had intervened to fight for His Children. And a magnificent victory was won.
But imagine the disastrous consequences that could have been wrought if Moses, God’s anointed Leader, had despaired of hope when his people began to murmur against him and accuse him falsely.
What if instead of raising his rod over the sea in obedience to God’s command, he had chosen the way of defeat, because of his own people’s foolish desires of the moment, and also in fear of the oncoming enemy forces? It would have been a completely different story with tragic consequences for the people of God.
A true leader knows what he believes and acts upon it, no matter what others say! What he must do-not what people think, is all that concerns him.
He stands his ground when all else fails, and all others desert!
You cannot divert him! He’ll go on with you or without you. He’s faithful to the message; he’s faithful to the method; he’s faithful to the Word, the Truth, and to the Voice of God.
You cannot stop the man of faith!
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