Last Sunday’s story was intriguing. Joseph resisting Potiphar’s wife and winding up in prison certainly reminds us that life is not always fair. At the same time, we are assured that God is with us no matter our circumstances. This week, we move ahead in the story about 500 years. Yet the consistent promise of God’s presence and provision continues to be front and center.
After some time, the people of God transition to Egypt during a famine. They end up being enslaved in this strange land. In order to fulfill His promise, God rescues them from the grips of Pharaoh through his servant Moses. We will lightly touch on these dynamics. Miraculously, Pharaoh releases the Israelites and they are on their way out of the land. They barely get out of sight when Pharaoh changes his mind. Our story this week is about the reaction of God’s people as they are threatened by the Egyptian army. While God has moved and worked in tremendous ways, they have little faith in his ability to deliver them. Our story picks up in Exodus 14:5-7, 10-14, 21-29. Let me encourage you to read this week’s text as you prepare for worship.
(Exodus 14:5-7 NIV) When 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!” So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them.
(Exodus 14:10-14 NIV) As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They 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? Didn’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!” Moses 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. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
(Exodus 14:21-29 NIV) Then 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, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. During 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. He jammed the wheels of their chariots 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.” Then 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.” Moses 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. The 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. But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.