We read in Exodus 13:14 that the Lord God led the Israelites out of Egypt from the house of slavery by His mighty power. Pharaoh had finally relented after the land of Egypt had been destroyed by ten terrible plagues and the firstborn in every family was dead. The Hebrew slaves marched out of Egypt as a free people, the seed of the nation of Israel. The Lord was with them, leading them visibly with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21).
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.
God called Moses to lead the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt, and although Moses had felt inadequate and had protested, in the end his faith overcame fear and he obeyed God. With his brother, Aaron, Moses confronted Pharaoh nine times with God’s command to let the people go. Nine times Pharaoh had refused, mocked God, and hardened his heart. But Moses remained faithful.
After each of Pharaoh’s refusals, God had sent a plague upon Egypt, but Pharaoh never relented. The Egyptians and the Hebrew people saw God’s almighty power in turning the Nile River to blood and sending plagues upon the land of Egypt. Everyone in the land of Egypt had experienced the pollution of the Nile, and plagues of frogs, gnats, boils, and locusts. But God had set apart and spared the land of Goshen, where the Hebrew people lived, from the plagues of insect swarms, death of livestock, hail, and darkness. Through nine plagues, God had kept His people safe as they watched the destruction of Egypt and the misery of the Egyptian people.
Moses had been faithful in presenting God’s command to the increasingly furious and hardened Pharaoh. And finally God would send the tenth plague - the death of the firstborn son of every family in the land of Egypt. Moses gave fair warning to Pharaoh of what would was to come. According to God’s command, he warned the Hebrew people as well. To escape this tenth and final plague and their life of slavery in Egypt, they all had to obey God’s explicit commands concerning the Lord’s Passover (Exodus 12:11). Each family was called to demonstrate their faith with obedience by taking an unblemished lamb, a year old, and killing it at twilight on the fourteenth day of the month. Each family was to take some of the blood of the lamb and put it on the doorposts and lintel of their house. Then they were to roast the lamb over a fire and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. No one was to leave their home that night, but they were to be dressed and prepared to exodus Egypt. Exodus 12:13 records that when the people heard God’s commands, they bowed and worshiped, and they went home and obeyed.
At midnight on the fourteenth day of the month, the angel of death passed over the land of Egypt and the firstborn son of every family died, except in the houses with the blood on the doorposts and lintel. There was loud mourning in Pharaoh's palace and in every home, except in the homes of those who obeyed God by faith. By faith Moses [and the people] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them (Hebrews 11:28).
Moses and God’s people demonstrated their faith by believing God’s judgment would come, just as He said. They demonstrated their faith by doing just what God had told them to do. And they demonstrated their faith by trusting that through the Passover, God would save them from the angel of death and deliver them from Egypt.
This is a profound lesson in faith for God’s people today, and it is also a beautiful picture of redemption -- a picture in which we can place ourselves through faith. Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver and gold from your futile way of life…..but with precious blood, as of a lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). We who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb are redeemed by faith -- faith that believes God’s warnings of judgment given in His Word, faith that obeys what God commands in His Word, and faith that trusts in His promises of salvation and eternal life. The Hebrew people were saved by God's grace through faith and so are we.
If you are a believer, you are to live by faith, as Moses and those Hebrew slaves in Egypt did thousands of years ago. Sometimes life is hard and sometimes obedience is hard - especially when it makes us stand out from the crowd as strange and different. But faith in God will always see us through because his promises are real and true and unchanging. We can count on God. We can trust Him. We can cling to Him.
I have been involved in Disciplers since 1987, as a discussion leader, teacher, writer, and now as director. I am profoundly committed to the stewardship of this ministry which God has entrusted to me for a time. God’s word is the chief joy of my life. I cherish my personal time in the word, and I am filled with gratitude to be able to share His word with you, my fellow disciples in Christ.