Summary: God is with you through good and bad times. Let Him guide you and fight your battles.
Exodus 14:9 – 15 reads, “So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon. And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.
Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians that that we should die in the wilderness.”
And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Blessed be the reading of God’s Word this morning.
But now in chapter 14 we see a different Pharaoh. Pharaoh has changed his mind. He and his advisors have all second-guessed the release of the Israelite slaves. In verse 5 Pharaoh says, “Why have we done this, letting Israel go from serving us?” Pharaoh still wanted the Israelites as slaves. He wasn’t about to let them go on their merry way. He wanted the Israelites back doing whatever he commanded them to do.
So Pharaoh took 600 chariots and his army with him, hunting for Israelites. Pharaoh wasn’t only in the mood to recapture slaves. He was in the mood for revenge. Because of the plagues and his first-born son he was also in the mood for slaughter. And it didn’t take long for Pharaoh and his horse-drawn chariots to catch up with the Israelites who were traveling on foot.
Let’s try to put ourselves in the sandals of the Israelites. They were just released from slavery and now were looking for the Promised Land. The Egyptians were pretty happy to see you go. Even Pharaoh sent you off with a blessing. So now you and your 60,000 closest friends and family are camped near the Red Sea. It’s like one big Thanksgiving. Today you don’t have to work in the clay pits making bricks. Today you don’t have to be a servant girl for any Egyptian man. Today you don’t get whipped.
In fact you’re thinking that you’ll never get whipped like a slave again. You start thinking about the Promised Land. What did that Moses guy mean when he said, “a land of milk and honey?” It sounds pretty good. A smile creeps across your face as you think of the family you’ll be able to start without being afraid of your spouse being taken away, let alone your children. Yes sir, life is looking good. “The future so bright you’ve got to wear shades.”
Of course you were thinking that 5 seconds ago. You were thinking that before you saw a dust cloud full of chariots come over the hill. Terrified, you look around for a hiding place. To the left is Pi-Hahiroth a range of impassable rocks and cliffs. To the right is Baal Zephon, outpost of the Egyptian army. Behind you is you-know-who chasing you down and in front of you is the Red Sea. You don’t even have a chicken-wire canoe to start paddling.
You look back again. It’s like they’re almost on top of you. You feel the thundering hooves on of the chariot horses and you can hear a faint battle cry of Pharaoh’s army. Now your dreams of settling down and raising a family are gone. Your dreams are replaced by the nightmare of being crushed by one of Pharaoh’s iron chariots or being speared in the back as you run for cover.
So where do you run? Wait a minute, it was that Moses guy that got us here in the first place. And in the distance towards the beach you see a large crowd gathering. “Are they getting ready to defend the camp?” you ask yourself. But instead, you hear people yelling and cursing and shaking their fists towards Moses. It looks like people want to kill Moses before they fight the Egyptians.
You don’t blame them. It was him that got you in this mess in the first place. What was he thinking? Did he just want to lead you to your personal tombstone here in the desert? Didn’t your leaders tell him that he was asking way too much when he asked Pharaoh for freedom? The brick-making wasn’t that bad. Sure you got dirty all day long but at least you could live. You didn’t mind the whippings, it didn’t happen ever day. Pharaoh’s really not that bad. Maybe if you beg for mercy he’ll spare your life.