[Lesson 33: The Passover Lamb] [Table of Contents] [Lesson 35: Food in the Desert]
A Path Through the Sea
Peace be with you, listening friends. We greet you in the name of God, the Lord of peace, who wants everyone to understand and submit to the way of righteousness that He has established, and have true peace with Him forever. We are happy to be able to return today to present your program The Way of Righteousness.
In our last lesson, we saw how God delivered the people of Israel from their slavery by slaying all the firstborn of the Egyptians. However, He delivered the firstborn of the Israelites from death, because of the blood of the lamb, which they put on the doors of their houses. For God Himself had said, "The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Exod. 12:13)
Thus, on that night, all the tribes of Israel made their exodus from Egypt. That night of the Passover was a night of great joy for them. Think about it! For hundreds of years the people of Egypt had mistreated them and oppressed them with hard work to the point where there was no happiness left in their lives. But now…now they were free! On that night of the Passover, the Lord God delivered them! Their chains of slavery were broken! And now God promised to guide them through the wilderness and take them back to the land of Canaan, the land which, as you know, God had sworn long beforehand to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Canaan was the land in which Jacob and his sons lived before they moved to Egypt to live with Joseph. Today this land is called Palestine or Israel.
Today we have before us the amazing story about how God delivered the Israelites from the armies of Pharaoh. Most of our reading is found in chapter fourteen of the book of Exodus. Listen to the story which the prophet Moses has recorded in the Torah:
(Exod. 12) 37The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 13:19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear an oath. He had said, "God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place."… 21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.
(Exod. 14) 1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2"Tell the Israelites to turn back…to camp by the [Red] sea… 3Pharaoh will think, 'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.' 4And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." So the Israelites did this.
5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, "What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!" 6So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.
9The Egyptians-all Pharaoh's horses and chariots, horsemen and troops-pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the [Red] Sea… 10As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
What were the people of Israel saying? Why were they not trusting God? Could not the God who had delivered them from the bondage of slavery again deliver them from Pharaoh's troops? Of course He could! However the Israelites did not think about this because they were so terrified. The sea was in front of them. Mountains were on their right and on their left. Behind them, Pharaoh's troops were advancing to recapture them or even kill them! What should they do? What could they do? How could they be saved? Let's listen to what Moses said and see what God did.
(Exod. 14) 13Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." 15Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord…" 19Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other; so neither went near the other all night long.
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 23The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh's horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, "Let's get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt." 26Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen." 27Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen-the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. 29But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.
Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: "I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted…The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation" (Exod. 15:1,2). Thus, they began to sing, and thank God for the great salvation which he had accomplished for them. Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her, beating tambourines and singing and dancing. Miriam struck up a song, saying, "Sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted! The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea!" (Exod. 15:21).
Friends, that is the true and wonderful story about how God made a path through the sea for the people of Israel. Now then, how can we conclude our lesson today? Perhaps we can conclude with a simple question. Here is the question: Who could save the Israelites from Pharaoh's troops? Could they save themselves? We saw how the sea was in front of them. The mountains were on their right and left. And Pharaoh's troops were behind them. Could the people of Israel save themselves? Could they cause the sea to dry up? Or level the mountains? Or perhaps battle the troops of Pharaoh? No, they could not! Who then could save them? God alone! Only the Lord God could deliver them. That is why Moses said to them, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today!" Only God could save them! And He did save them. That is why, after they had arrived on the other side of the sea, they sang, "The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation."
God Himself had become their salvation. There was nothing that the Israelites could do to save themselves from Pharaoh's troops--nothing, except to follow the path which God had opened for them in the midst of the sea, and then thank Him and worship Him for delivering them from certain death!
Dear friends, God wants everyone to know that all the children of Adam are like the children of Israel. Like them, we have no hope of escaping the disaster that will soon befall us unless God delivers us! Perhaps the sea is not before us, but death and hell await us. Perhaps the mountains are not at our sides, but the holiness of God fences us in and condemns us. Pharaoh and his troops are not behind us, but Satan and our sins are upon us and threaten to destroy us forever!
Who can save the children of Adam from God's righteous judgment? Who can save the sinner from the fire that never goes out? Who can save man from the power of Satan? Who can save us from all of this? Who can get us to the other side of the sea of sin and bring us into the holy place called Paradise? God alone! Only God can save us! Man has no possibility of saving himself nor of saving another person. This is what the Scriptures declare: "It is by [the grace of God that] you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." (Eph. 2:8,9)
God, who is great in mercy, has opened a way of salvation for all the children of Adam, to deliver us from the power of Satan and sin and hell. God wants us to escape the judgment of raging fire that awaits all who die in their sins, but we must come through the way of salvation which He has opened for us! Do you know the way of salvation, which God has opened for you so that you can escape the power of Satan, the horrible consequences of sin and the punishment of hell? Are you in the way of righteousness which God has established so that you can be blessed in His holy presence forever?
The way of salvation which God has opened for the children of Adam is not based upon good deeds which man can do, nor is it based upon following the requirements of a religion. God says, It is "not by works, so that no one can boast." What is the way of salvation that God has established for us? It is the way of the Redeemer, who came from heaven to die for our sins and rise again--to free all those who believe in Him--those of us who were like slaves because of the power of sin and the fear of death. The Holy Scriptures speak of this mighty Deliverer, saying: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)
Yes, God has opened for you a way in the "sea of sin" so that you can escape the punishment of sin and get to the other side--into the safe and holy presence of God. But you must cross over by the way that God has opened for you. Concerning this way of salvation, the Redeemer said,
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to [God] the Father except through me.…I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." (John 14:6; 5:24)
Dear friend, have you "crossed over from death to life"?
Thank you for listening. Next time, Lord willing, we will see how God fed the Israelites in the desert.…God bless you as you reflect on Moses' word to the Israelites,
"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today!" (Exod. 14:13)