God directs the Israelites to Pihahiroth, Pharaoh pursues after them. (Verse 1-9.)
The Israelites murmur, Moses comforts them. (Verse 10-14.)
God instructs Moses, The cloud between the Israelites and the Egyptians. (Verse 15-20.)
The Israelites pass through the Red sea, which drowns the Egyptians. (Verse 21-31.)
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.
3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in.
Migdol means a high and steep mountain. What looked like a stupid place for a General to keep his troops was the perfect place for God to keep his people to show them how much he watches over them. They were between a rock and a hard place.
4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so.
God purposely leads the children of Israel into what appears to be a trap in order that he may execute his full judgment upon Egypt and show the full extent of his glorious power to his own people.
What was the purpose of hardening Pharaoh’s heart? That Egypt might know that Israel’s God is the LORD. He didn’t harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he could not be saved, it was hardened so that others in Egypt would be saved.
This is mentioned in the book of Romans chapter nine and is constantly used to teach that God chose Pharaoh to go to hell. hell is not in the picture here. He hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so he would chase after Israel
5 And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?
6 And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:
7 And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand.
“he pursued…” – after the sinner has been bought with the blood of the Lamb (ie. saved), Satan doesn’t retire – he sets out after the new Christian with fury and seeks to destroy him!
9 But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.
11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?
wherefore hast THOU…” – leadership is blamed in a crisis rather than people going to God to find their help
12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
Before we pass judgment on them, we should put ourselves in their sandals for a moment. We would have acted the same way and we know it.
We have the advantage of knowing the end from the beginning in this story, they did not. We cannot let our eyes bring fear to our lives which will keep us from accomplishing God’s will in our life.
13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
Remember that when we come to the end of trusting ourselves God is able to work miracles in our life. Tragically some people never learn that lesson and they run back to Egypt (the world) before God can show himself to them.
Salvation cannot be obtained by our own deeds, we need to stand still and let God do the saving.
15 And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
17 And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
Pharaoh was God to Egypt and they trusted in him. He trusted in his forces to give him victory against the Jews on that day.
He had no fear of losing because he did not honor God. All of this was done to deliver Israel and to make Egypt realize the foolishness of worshipping Pharaoh as god
19 And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them:
20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.
The angel of God is almost always a pre-incarnate appearance of the Messiah as is the case here. He was there with them all through their wilderness wanderings leading them.
The light we receive seems like darkness to the lost world. The light of God’s word should separate us from the works of darkness.
21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.
[Gen 8:1, Exod 15:10, Psa 104:7]
22 And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
[Isa 63:11, 1st Cor 10:2]
23 And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
passing down into, through, and up out of the Red Sea is called a “baptism” in I Cor. 10;1-2; thus immersion is the only biblical mode of baptism. Sprinkling or daubing water on one’s forehead simply will not match the passage.
24 And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians,
25 And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.
Before the waters were brought crashing down upon them God was knocking off the Egyptian’s chariot wheels. It was like a giant playing with ants and no matter what the ants did they could never defeat the giant.
Some have suggested that this proves that God had to have a sense of humor by knocking off their wheels, but I submit that God does not take pleasure in the deaths of the wicked.
26 And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.
27 And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
28 And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.
29 But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
31 And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses.
Israel as a nation was saved, spiritually speaking, at the first Passover, they were spiritually baptized into one body or nation at the Red sea according to the apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-9 – Pharaoh would think that all Israel was entangled in the wilderness, and so would become an easy prey. But God says, I will be honoured upon Pharaoh. All men being made for the honour of their Maker, those whom he is not honoured by, he will be honoured upon. What seems to tend to the church’s ruin, is often overruled to the ruin of the church’s enemies. While Pharaoh gratified his malice and revenge, he furthered the bringing to pass God’s counsels concerning him. Though with the greatest reason he had let Israel go, yet now he was angry with himself for it. God makes the envy and rage of men against his people, a torment to themselves. Those who set their faces heavenward, and will live godly in Christ Jesus, must expect to be set upon by Satan’s temptations and terrors. He will not tamely part with any out of his service.
Verse 10-14 – There was no way open to Israel but upward, and thence their deliverance came. We may be in the way of duty, following God, and hastening toward heaven, yet may be troubled on every side. Some cried out unto the Lord; their fear led them to pray, and that was well. God brings us into straits, that he may bring us to our knees. Others cried out against Moses; fear set them murmuring as if God were not still able to work miracles. They quarrel with Moses for bringing them out of Egypt; and so were angry with God for the greatest kindness ever done them; thus gross are the absurdities of unbelief. Moses says, Fear ye not. It is always our duty and interest, when we cannot get out of troubles, yet to get above our fears; let them quicken our prayers and endeavours, but not silence our faith and hope. “Stand still,” think not to save yourselves either by fighting or flying; wait God’s orders, and observe them. Compose yourselves, by confidence in God, into peaceful thoughts of the great salvation God is about to work for you. If God brings his people into straits, he will find a way to bring them out.
Verse 15-20 – Moses’ silent prayers of faith prevailed more with God than Israel’s loud outcries of fear. The pillar of cloud and fire came behind them, where they needed a guard, and it was a wall between them and their enemies. The word and providence of God have a black and dark side toward sin and sinners, but a bright and pleasant side toward the people of the Lord. He, who divided between light and darkness, Genesis 1:4,. allotted darkness to the Egyptians, and light to the Israelites. Such a difference there will be between the inheritance of the saints in light, and that utter darkness which will be the portion of hypocrites for ever.
Verse 21-31 – The dividing the Red sea was the terror of the Canaanites, Joshua 2:9. the praise and triumph of the Israelites,
Verse Psalms – 114:3. 106:9. 136:13. It was a type of baptism, 1st Corinthians 10:1,2. Israel’s passage through it was typical of the conversion of souls, Isaiah 11:15. and the Egyptians being drowned in it was typical of the final ruin of all unrepenting sinners. God showed his almighty power, by opening a passage through the waters, some miles over. God can bring his people through the greatest difficulties, and force a way where he does not find it. It was an instance of his wonderful favour to his Israel. They went through the sea, they walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea. This was done, in order to encourage God’s people in all ages to trust him in the greatest straits. What cannot he do who did this? What will not he do for those that fear and love him, who did this for these murmuring, unbelieving Israelites? Then followed the just and righteous wrath of God upon his and his people’s enemies. The ruin of sinners is brought on by their own rage and presumption. They might have let Israel alone, and would not; now they would flee from the face of Israel, and cannot. Men will not be convinced, till it is too late, that those who meddle with God’s people, meddle to their own hurt. Moses was ordered to stretch out his hand over the sea; the waters returned, and overwhelmed all the host of the Egyptians. Pharaoh and his servants, who had hardened one another in sin, now fell together, not one escaped. The Israelites saw the Egyptians dead upon the sands. The sight very much affected them. While men see God’s works, and feel the benefit, they fear him and trust in him. How well were it for us, if we were always in as good a frame as sometimes! Behold the end to which a Christian may look forward. His enemies rage, and are mighty; but while he holds fast by God, he shall pass the waves in safety guarded by that very power of his Saviour, which shall come down on every spiritual foe. The enemies of his soul whom he hath seen to-day, he shall see no more for ever.