This is the situation the Children of Israel found themselves in as recorded in Exodus 14:1-15. They had just come out of Egypt and were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. How did the Children of Egypt get into this predicament?
The Children of Israel had entered Egypt during the time Joseph was second in command in Egypt. The Israelites had come to Egypt to be saved from the famine. Jacob, Joseph’s father, traveled to Egypt to escape the famine. (Genesis 46:3-4) On the way, God spoke to him in a vision and said, ‘Don’t worry about going to Egypt. I will make a great nation out of you there and bring you out of Egypt.’
Jacob told Joseph God would bring the Children of Israel out of Egypt. (Genesis 48:21) Jacob died in Egypt and was buried in Canaan. Joseph lived 110 years and died in Egypt. But believing the promise of God, before his death, Joseph told the Children of Israel to take his bones with them when they left Egypt. (Genesis 50:24,25) So 430 years after entering Egypt, the Children of Israel left.
God’s reason for bringing them out of Egypt was His covenant with Abraham. God told Abraham He had given the land of Canaan to him and his descendants. He also told him his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not theirs and that they would be afflicted in that land. However, He said He would judge the nation that afflicted them and in he fourth generation they would return to Canaan. So because of God’s covenant with Abraham, the Children of Israel had to come out of Egypt whether they wanted to or not.
When God made the promise to Abraham, He swore by Himself. (Hebrews 6:13-18) Therefore, He had to do it. God brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt as He had promised. Now they were at the Red Sea. God also said He would judge the nation that afflicted Israel. That meant Pharaoh and his army also had a date at the Red Sea.
After the death of Joseph and his brothers, the Children of Israel multiplied and grew exceedingly great. (Exodus 1:7) Then the Bible says there arose a new king who did not know Joseph. (Exodus 1:8) I believe that meant the new king did not know Joseph’s God. The Bible says the Pharaoh who was over Joseph said, ‘Can we find such one as this man in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38) Not only did this Pharaoh know Joseph, he recognized Joseph’s God – the One true God. (When people know God, they will treat you right. But when they don’t know God – look out.) But the new Pharaoh did not know God. Therefore, he treated the Children of Israel harshly (trashily) because he was afraid of them. (People do strange things when they are scared. Sometimes they treat you badly – not because they don’t like you, because they are afraid of you. You are a threat to them.)
The king died and another king arose and the Children of Israel were still in trouble because the new king persecuted them too. It was to this third king that God sent Moses. God told Moses, “Go tell Pharaoh ‘The Lord God of the Hebrews said…’” (Exodus 3:18) This king did not know God either…and he was obstinate. (God knows what to do with obstinate people.)
The Egyptians were idolatrous. God used the plagues to show them those idol gods were powerless and that He was the One true God. In spite of all God did, Pharaoh still did not turn to God. So God, through the Children of Israel, led Pharaoh down to the Red Sea.
Because of God’s promise to Abraham and His plan to judge Pharaoh and his army, the Children of Israel found themselves in a situation they did not understand. The first thing they said is, ‘We are going to die!’ God looked at the situation and said, ‘Go forward!’
As Christians, Holy Spirit leads us the same way God led the Children of Israel through Moses. Sometimes the direction the Holy Spirit leads us in seems strange or unusual. We even wonder, ‘Why Lord?’ But in those times, we should not worry. If Holy Spirit is leading us, we know in the end, everything will be alright.
God does things to suite His own purpose. This is what He did with Abraham and Israel. God needed a man to raise up a nation. God needed a nation to get Jesus in here. God does the same this with us. He directs us to perform His will in out lives. Our job is to trust Him and obey.
Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” What is the ‘Secret Place of the Most High’? It is following the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The psalm also says if we do it, no evil shall befall us, nor shall any plague come near our dwelling. (Psalm 91:10) The Secret Place of the Most High is the place of protection, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Looks change, but God never changes. For the Children of Israel, the situation looked like they were going to die. But they went forward. In the end, the situation looked like Pharaoh’s army drowned in the Red Sea and the Children of Israel were on the other side of the sea – praising God.
Hayford, Jack W., ed. Spirit-Filled Life Bible. New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991.
Zodhaites, Spiros, ed. The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible. King James Version. Red Letter Edition. World Bible Publishers.