Explore the Bible sections off another smaller portion for the fourth week, “Persevering Faith (Exodus 13:17-15:21)”. Last week was the final plague and the exodus from Egypt. The LORD then made the Passover an annual event of remembrance and commanded the consecration of the first born of men and animals of the people to the LORD that the people would remember the law of the LORD (13:9) and His strong hand (13:16). This week the LORD shows Israel why and how to praise Him for His deliverance.
- God leads the people to get more glory for Himself (13:17-14-4)
- God parts the Red Sea to deliver His people and destroy His enemies (14:5-31)
- The people of Israel praise God for His salvation and His judgment(15:1-21)
- Moses leads the people in a song of worship
- Miriam leads the women in a song and dance of worship
The outline above is brief so I’ll try to talk about each of the parts. In the first God tells us His reasoning for not taking the more direct root – the people may change their minds because the see the war of the Philistines and return. Instead, God directs them to into a corner. Though He knows they will still cry out to God and complain to Moses (14:11-12), they won’t have anywhere to flee and God can continue to get glory out of His conquering of the Egyptians. God tells Moses where to lead the people and tells him that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart so Pharaoh will pursue and be the instrument of more of God’s glory over Egypt.
Everything happens as God told Moses it would. Pharaoh hears about the seemingly random route Israel is taking, reflects on how they have just told their country’s work force to leave, and decides to go after them. Pharaoh pursues with His military might, chariots (the best known war vehicles in their time and area). The people see Pharaoh’s army coming and cry out against God and complain to Moses (as if he was able to force a million plus people out of Egypt). But Moses tells them, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (14:13-14). The final work of salvation is purely from the LORD. The people need only to stand firm and be silent. God is doing all the work to save them. God uses the wind throughout the night to part the see while He holds off the Egyptians with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire. In the morning Israel safely crosses the Red Sea on dry ground. Once God hardens the Egyptians hearts, they decide to follow Israel through the Sea. The LORD first makes them realize what is happening by clogging the wheels of the chariots. Once the Egyptians realize that the LORD is fighting for Israel, the LORD destroys them by letting the waters return. God achieves the purpose He set out for – His glory through defeating the Egyptians, Pharaoh, chariots, and horsemen. Notice that the emphasis is on God’s glory through judgment in the story (14:4, 15-18). Notice also that the LORD uses instruments to accomplish these deeds – Moses by faith raises and lowers his staff to part and unpart the Sea (14:16, 26), the wind parts the Sea (14:21), the mud clogs the chariot wheels (14:25), the waters drowns the Egyptians (14:28). But the summary of it all is that, “Thus the LORD saved Israel.” The glory of the LORD was through judgment on the Egyptians and salvation for the Israelites. And the response of Israel is fear/reverence/respect of the LORD and belief in Him. And when they fear and believe then they praise. The song of Moses is a great example of worshiping the LORD for His deliverance from enemies (and for us, from sin, death, and hell). We should learn four things from this: that salvation is only by the LORD, not our work; that the LORD should be gloried when He provides salvation and when He judges; that we should fear the LORD because He is the Savior and the Judge; our understanding of God’s salvation should lead to worship, exalting His love for His people (15:13), His power (15:6), His majesty (15:7), and His holiness (15:11)! Encourage your students to focus on these during your worship service!