Exodus 14

3 God had Moses change direction so that it would appear that the Israelites were wandering aimlessly. Pharaoh thought they had become trapped between an Egyptian stronghold, the Red Sea, the wilderness, and the land of Goshen from which they came.
4 God was not yet finished with Pharaoh. God knew that he would never be content with allowing the Israelites to leave, and furthermore that he would never recognize God as the one and only God. Thus, God was going to bring Pharaoh's punishment to completion by setting a trap for him.
5 Egypt was destroyed, and the people were so used to having slaves handy that they were unable or unwilling to rebuild Egypt through their own labor. They then regretted allowing their slave labor force to leave.
7 Pharaoh gathered his entire army and their most advanced weapons to fight against the Israelites. Since the Israelites were unarmed, untrained for battle, and would have to protect their many women, children, and animals to defend, Pharaoh figured they would be easily intimidated. He thought there would be a brief battle or an immediate surrender. If there were a battle, Pharaoh's army would be fueled by their bitter emotions while the Israelites would be fearful.
8 God can influence the hearts of men. The plagues that Pharaoh suffered would have broken most men into submission. Pharaoh, however, still refused to acknowledge God. God knew that Pharaoh would never change, and was ready for judgement. God again enhances Pharaoh's natural stubbornness to the "supernatural" level, and Pharaoh decides to attempt to recapture Israel.
10 Indeed, the Israelites were terrified. Their first response was the correct one -- they cried out to God. God's physical manifestation was still visible.
11 When God did not reply "immediately," the Israelites made an inappropriate response -- they complained about the leadership. How often in our moments of great anxiety to we simply give up on God? Some people feel "tricked" when they have prayed to God the way they were told to and God does not perform at their command. God, however, is not subject to us. He has His own perfect plans. All things are meant for our good and His glory. Even if the circumstances for our good include pain or death, we must remember that we are not tied to this sinful world forever. Even when we do not see things as good, God can see the big picture much better than we can.

The people should have been ashamed at suggesting that Moses deliberately put them in peril. Moses loved his people very much and did not want them injured or killed.

12 "I told you so," the Israelites complained, "We would rather be slaves than dare dream of freedom." They seemed to have already forgotten their groaning under oppressive slavery. They had already forgotten the great joy they had in their first few days of freedom. Freedom has risks and responsibilities, but it is better than living life as dictated by an oppressor.

The parallel with our lives is that sometimes we would rather live under the oppression and guilt of sin rather than dare believe that God would care about us and give us a way to escape it. Living God's way is a struggle, and the world will ridicule and attack us, but we must remain committed to God.

13 Moses is a good leader. He comforts them, gives them hope, and points their attention to where it should be -- to God.
14 Israel was told to do nothing but allow God to work. Sometimes we are required to work, and other times we are supposed to step aside and let God work. The trick is always knowing when to do what. Some Christians become lazy and expect God to do everything. Others become strictly legalistic and feel they have to do everything on their own. The truth lies somewhere in the middle: allowing God to work through us, or allowing God to do the work for us. Many times the difference can be found in scripture or through the word of a leader or Christian friend. Other times we have to pray and listen in our hearts to what God would say to us.
15 God had not told the people to stop and look behind them. They were to continue going forward. They were to march to the sea.
16 As they were marching, Moses would raise the staff, and on that signal (i.e., an act of faith and obedience), God would make a path through the sea for them to walk on. There was nothing "magical" about the staff or the motion. This deliberate sign would prove to the people that God had caused this to happen.
17 God desires to be honored with praise and worship. However, God is honored by others when He demonstrates His sovereignty by judging those who refuse to acknowledge Him.
19 Although the Israelites were in doubt, God still moves in to protect them. He moved between the Israelites and the Egyptians to give the former time to move across the sea.

As the Angel of God moves, the pillar of cloud and fire moves with Him. This shows that the pillar is a theophany, a physical manifestation of God's presence. God, of course, is larger than the universe, but He chooses from time to time to appear in a physical form that seems confined by time and space.

20 During the night, God gave the Israelites light so they could travel, but He made the night darker for the Egyptians so that they could not go any further. God may have used a smaller version of the plague of darkness to prevent the Egyptians from attempting to attack during the night. The darkness during that plague was so complete that even lamps would not shine (Exo 10:21-23).
21 God had commanded Moses to give the signal when the Israelites were ready. In the same way, God tells us to pray. God knows what we need already, but He will often not deliver until we are ready to receive it.

Of course, Moses' signal did not cause the sea to part. Moses, as an ordinary and doubtful man, had no power by himself. God caused this miracle to happen.

The miracle of the parting of the Red Sea used both supernatural and natural phenomena. The making of the corridor in the sea was obviously a supernatural event. The "east wind" was known to be hot and dry, and was used to dry up the seabed so that the Israelites would not have to contend with a muddy crossing. The combination of these events made the miracle both amazing and practical. It is not below God to use physical phenomena to assist Him in performing miracles.

22 As you would expect, a "land canal" through the sea would make a wall of water on each side. Some critics believe that the Israelites crossed a shallow, swampy area and that no miracle was involved. However, this simply does not follow the description: dry land and walls of water.
23 In the morning, God released the Egyptians from their darkness and they pursued the Israelites into the sea. Pharaoh had seen the pillar of cloud and fire and should certainly have known that the parting of the sea could only be done by great power. However, he still did not believe that God was powerful enough to stop his intentions.
24 The Israelites were probably just finishing crossing the sea, so God delayed the Egyptians further.
25 God hinders the Egyptians by disabling their advanced technology. When the Egyptians realized that God was fighting against them, they were very fearful because of their awkward position. They were unable to catch the Israelites and unable to flee from the middle of the sea which could collapse at any moment.
27 The Egyptians changed their minds and decided to flee, but it was too late. At the signal Moses gave by faith and obedience, God released the sea and allowed it to collapse on the Egyptians. This battle completely glorified God. He proved that He can and will pronounce judgement against those who refuse to obey Him. On Judgement Day there will be no escape.
28 Did anyone survive? The text indicates that only those who pursued the Israelites into the sea were drowned. It is possible that some of the army had been left behind on the shore where they witnessed the event.
30 God had promised Abraham that He would free Israel from slavery (Gen 15:13-14). He also promised to curse those who cursed Abraham (Gen 12:3).
31 The Israelites saw the miracle and believed -- at least for now.