Exodus 14 = Crossing the Sea
Bible Background: After an epic show of force between Yahweh and Pharaoh (the 10 plagues), Pharaoh finally does send the Israelites out of Egypt, only to change his mind and send his army to bring his slave laborers back. The crossing of the Red or Reed Sea happens because the LORD is determined to rescue the Israelites and stop the Egyptians in their tracks.
Digging Deeper: 1. This is such a key story for the Jewish people because it shows how God acts to move a people from fear to awe; from doubt to faith; and from cries of despair to songs of worship! This is their first experience with freedom!
2. Often in this story, the writers note that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”. That sounds odd! Think of this as heightening the drama, as in: Pharaoh thought he was god and dug in his heals; God needed to demonstrate that God was in charge. Note that Pharaoh freely makes the deadly decision to pursue the Israelites. The death of his soldiers and chariot drivers is on his hands.
3. When the Israelites see the army pursuing them, they despair: “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us out here to die in the wilderness?” Moses’ response is powerful, starting with “Do not be afraid!” Think of how fear is one of our most primal (and normal) responses, and how fear needs to be dealt with effectively!
4. The God who exercised control over the forces of chaos (in Gen. 1 story of creation), exercises control over the wind and the waters here. This was written to be just as powerful a story of God’s mighty deeds. Think of the story where Jesus “Calms the Storm” and saves his scared disciples. Remember their response? Who is this, who commands the wind and the sea and they obey him? We know the answer!
5. Often when we read a Bible story like this, our logical, western thinking makes us ask “How did this happen? Where? When?” Remember that most parts of the Bible were not written mainly to report historical fact, they were being written to make theological statements. What does this account reveal about God? About Moses and the people? Note how at v.31 the people have moved from fear and despair, to reverence and awe and worship. They finally believe in God and in Moses. How does this story invite us to believe in God too?