The Red Sea

The Bible has several notable periods of astonishing miracles that often coincide with periods of major prophetic fulfillment. After creation, these periods include the time of Moses, Joshua, Samson, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Jesus and Jesus’ apostles.

The Bible often refers to God’s miracle of saving more than 2 million Israelites from the pursuing Egyptian chariot army by parting the Red Sea.

After God directed 10 plagues at 10 Egyptian pagan gods—including turning their Nile-god to blood, blacking out their sun-god and killing their Pharaoh-god’s firstborn son—Pharaoh freed the Israelites. God led the Israelites out of Egypt with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

God’s protective presence with His people could not have been more obvious.

But hardhearted Pharaoh and his cavalry ignored God’s revelations and set out to massacre their escaping slaves. It often takes more faith to deny God’s revelation than to accept it, but sinners with darkened minds, who hate God and His truth and morals, persist in pursuing dead ends.

But not only did the Egyptians reject God’s revelation. As the Egyptian army approached, even the Israelites forgot the astonishing miracles they had experienced.

The terrifying, pressing, current, human threat impinged on their trust in God’s provision. Overwhelmed with fear, they accused Moses (and God) of condemning them to death. Sometimes threats, like a terminal diagnosis, disability or job loss, lead us to forget God’s overarching care and ultimate provision.

Only after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea and it began to collapse on the pursuing Egyptians did they finally grasp God’s revelations and say, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt” (Exodus 14:25). Well, duh!

Psalm 78:12-13 says, “He did miracles in the sight of their (Israelite) ancestors in the land of Egypt …. He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand up like a wall.” Walking below sea level might seem scary, but, “He guided them safely, so they were unafraid” (Psalm 78:53).

No longer blocked by water, the Israelites were glad to flee certain, instant death. Their pursuers had horses, and the Israelites were slowed by children, cargo and animals.

Some Israelites were surely quite fearful until they finally saw and experienced God’s rescue. After the Red Sea engulfed the Egyptian army, the Israelites saw their dead, beached enemies and “feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant” (Exodus 14:31). If they had more faith beforehand, this crisis would have been much easier.

Some also endured similar agony later in the wilderness. The Israelites tended to forget God’s presence and promises whenever death threats like hunger, thirst and the Promised Land’s giants arose. How much nicer their lives would have been if they had focused on God instead of their visible, pressing threats.

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can live above our current tough circumstances. Remember, Peter could walk on water toward Jesus until he focused on the surrounding storm. Still, Jesus rescued him from drowning (Matthew 14:22-33). As the Israelites walked into the seabed, not seeing exactly what would happen, so also “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 CSB).

Historically, most of God’s people have lived outside the few periods of many miracles. But even outside these periods, we can have great faith by reading, memorizing and meditating on Scripture, and hearing preaching and teaching on God’s Word. “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV).

What might be your Red Sea Crossing?

Someday, we will face crossing over death. As Christ followers, we always need to be ready to cross and be assured of our loving, omnipotent Good Shepherd’s presence: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4 ESV).

Jesus promises us: “‘If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am’” (John 14:3). “‘Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matthew 28:20).

Richard Penn was a missionary in the Philippines and joined Southeast in 2011.