But then Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again. He regretted that he had let the people go, and he sent his army, with all his horses and chariots, after them. As the Israelites followed God through the wilderness by the Red Sea, they turned around to see Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, and fear filled their hearts. They cried out to the Lord (Hebrews 14:10) and turned upon Moses, blaming him for their plight. They wished to be back in Egypt rather than face the fury of Pharaoh’s armies.
Moses spoke calmly to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent." Then the Lord gave the command for the people to go forward (Exodus 14-15).
Ahead of them was the Red Sea, and behind them was the Egyptian army. The people were probably terrified. I’m sure I would have been. What about you? But they stood and watched as Moses lifted his staff and stretched out his hand over the sea. They watched as a strong wind came and swept back the sea, dividing the waters. All night long that wind blew, dividing the waters and providing a pathway of dry land. By faith, but surely with some fear in their hearts, the Israelites stepped forward and marched across the dry seabed between walls of water on both sides.
Then the Egyptians began to follow. But God caused their chariot wheels to swerve making driving difficult and throwing the horses and army into confusion. The Egyptians realized it was God fighting against them (Exodus 14:25) and they turned around to flee to safety. But as the last Israelite stepped out onto the far bank of the sea, Moses again raised his staff and the waters returned to their place, drowning the entire Egyptian army. The Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea (Exodus 14:27). The Lord saved Israel that day and all the people feared the Lord, and they believed (Exodus 14:30-31).
About fifteen hundred years later, an unknown person of faith wrote a letter to encourage Jewish Christians. In that letter, the writer held up Moses and the people of Israel as examples of faith: by faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned (Hebews 11:29). Today we read this letter in God’s Word and are encouraged by their example.
I wonder how many lives the example of Moses and the Israelites has touched through the years. How many people have read the story of the Israelites marching through the Red Sea and been encouraged in their faith? When I consider what they faced, I am encouraged to go forward and follow God even when I feel afraid. When the world is threatening me on the other side, I am encouraged to stand up straight and walk forward wherever the Lord leads me. Sometimes, like the Israelites, we don’t really seem to have a choice, and in those times we can lay down our fear and know that we follow the God who saves. And as we follow Him in faith, He will never let us down. And like the Israelites, when the enemy assails, doubts plague, and unbelievers attack us, we need not say a word. We need only to obey, knowing that the Lord is fighting for us.