The Israelites were rescued from their Egyptian oppressors by God’s mighty hand; but as the exodus narrative continues in chapter 14, we again witness the Lord’s judgment and salvation, as for one last time Pharaoh and Egypt come against Israel and her Lord. While chapter 14 is one story, we will look at in two parts – first, chapter 14:1-14 and next time, verses15-31.
The narrative begins with the Lord saying to Moses, ”turn back and encamp facing the sea.” The Israelites were heading northeast when they were instructed to turn around and go south to the sea, thus hemming them in. The Lord’s purpose for this instruction is expressed in verse 4: “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.”
Meanwhile back in Egypt we learn of Pharaoh’s remorse for letting the Israelites go, as he employs the best of his chariots and men to pursue the Israelites one last time (14:5-9). When the Israelites see the greatest fighting force of their age in pursuit, “they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.” While crying out to God is an appropriate response under such circumstances, we find that their cry is actually a complaint. “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (14:10-12). One might marvel over the fact that, after they had been miraculously delivered from their oppressors by the mighty hand of God with such great signs and wonders, their faith would so quickly fail. In reality though, most, if not all of us, would have acted in the very same manner. In fact, we act this way every time we fear life’s trials after having been delivered from the power of sin and death.
Finally Moses gives the Israelites and us what we need to hear: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (14:13-14). The Lord is a mighty warrior who will fight for you, brethren. So fear not! Stand firm! And see the salvation of the Lord for the Lord will fight for you! The Lord will be glorified in the defeat of the Egyptians and Satan, for salvation is of the Lord!