I was reading the story of the parting of the Red Sea this week, and several elements stood out to me. The first is that God told Moses exactly what he was going to do. In v.2 he instructed Moses to lead the Israelites to camp alongside the sea in a place where they could be easily trapped, so that Pharaoh would pursue them, thinking them an easy target. In fact, God was hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that he and his armies would rush in to their own peril. With this revelation from God, Moses and the people approached the Red Sea.
Of course, God’s word came true. Pharaoh gathered his chariots to recapture his Israelite slaves, and as he approached them the people began to grow afraid. They cried out to the Lord and accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness only to die under Pharaoh’s wrath, not trusting that the God who had allowed them to spoil their Egyptian slave-masters would protect them from his armies. Yet Moses believed what God had said and stilled the people’s cries by encouraging them to wait on the Lord’s deliverance, saying, “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
Once again God spoke to Moses, revealing his plan to destroy the armies of Egypt in the waters of the Red Sea. With the Angel of God keeping the Egyptians shrouded in clouds and darkness behind them, and shining to light the way before them, the Israelites watched as God parted the waters of the Sea, piling them up on either side and drying the ground under their feet as they crossed to the other side. While my imagination may in some way be affected by the memory of Cecil B. Demille’s creative special effects in The Ten Commandments, I still marvel at the thought of seeing the Sea standing like a wall on either side and the excitement that must have accompanied the Israelites’ crossing. The sheer majesty of this incredible miracle would have made for some fascinating stories shared with their children and grandchildren for years to come. In fact, 40 years later the people of Canaan were still terrified of the Israelites because of this awesome display of God’s power. Unfortunately, the effects of this miracle did not last nearly that long for the children of Israel, who began to complain against Moses less than a week later, but I don’t really want to focus on their shortcomings today.
The same God who saved the Israelites by parting an entire sea and drying up the land underneath in one night, is the One who has promised to protect his people in the face of the trials and troubles of life. John Dagg offers a comforting reminder of this truth:
“To the soul, reconciled to God, the doctrine [of God’s omnipresence] is full of consolation. In every place, in every condition, to have with us an almighty Friend, a kind Father, is a source of unspeakable comfort and joy. We need not fear, that we pass through fire or flood, if God be with us. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, we may fear no evil.”