Summary: Israel was trapped, and afraid. And yet God had one simple message was: "Be still and trust me." But how could that kind of reaction help solve their problem? And how can it solve our problems as well?
OPEN: (we showed the following video from the 10 Commandments with Heston and Yul Brenner) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jo0JMs-evQU. (Beginning at 2:43 running till 4:09)
The year was 1856.
Artist Auguste Bartholdi was vacationing in Egypt and he was overwhelmed by what he saw.
The grandeur of the pyramids, the stateliness of the Sphinx, and the beauty of the Nile all filled him with awe.
While he was there he met another visitor to Egypt, Ferdinand de Lesseps. De Lesseps was proposing a canal that would begin at the Red Sea and cut through the desert to ultimately join with the Mediterranean Sea saving merchant ships the long journey around the tip of the Africa.
Do you know the name of that Canal?
That’s right, the Suez Canal.
Bartholdi was inspired by De Lessep’s plan and he proposed designing a lighthouse for the entrance to this canal at the Red Sea. This was to be no ordinary lighthouse. This was going to be work of art. It would symbolize the light of Western civilization flowing to the East.
Auguste worked on his idea for over 10 years… drawing plans and molding clay models. He scrapped plan after plan – until he found the right one, the perfect design.
His lighthouse would have been a huge robed lady standing taller than the Sphinx. In one hand she would hold the book of justice and in the other, a torch.
Only one problem remained. Who would pay for it? He looked everywhere, but no one was interested. So, when the Suez Canal finally opened – there was NO lighthouse.
Discouraged and disheartened, Auguste returned to France. Ten years of toil wasted.
But back home, the French government sought him out. They wanted to give a gift to America. They chose his lighthouse, which now stands in New York harbor.
Do you know the name of that grand lighthouse?
The Statue of Liberty.
(Joseph M. Stowell III in "The Upside of Down")
Now, the Statue of Liberty was originally designed to stand on the shore of the Red Sea at the entrance of the Suez Canal. But now Bartholdi’s lighthouse stands in the harbor of New York City… and it has become the symbol of liberty for the world for over 100 years.
What we’re reading about here in Exodus 14 is a different symbol of liberty.
It’s not a statue.
It’s an EVENT.
An event that – down through the centuries - has represented the power of God to give Liberty to His people. And it wasn’t a statue standing on the shores of the Red Sea. It was the IMAGE of over a million people marching straight THRU the Red Sea.
Before the parting of the Red Sea, Moses spoke to the Israelites and said:
“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.” Exodus 14:13
I love that line!
You see those Egyptians… you will NEVER see them again!
It's a great story. A powerful telling of the mighty hand of God.
And I think how exciting it would have been to have been there that day and seen the walls of water separate to let the Israelites pass through on dry ground!
How many of you would like to have been there to see that? (ask for a show of hands).
But now the thing is this, none of the Israelites at the time were all that excited about being there. In fact they’d rather have been anywhere but there. They turn on Moses and say “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?” Exodus 14:11
They’re terrified, panicked, filled with fear.
They want to be ANYPLACE but where the were right then!
And, it’s not hard to understand why they’re so afraid.
(I put up on screen a screencap of the beach a man named Joseph Freidman believes is the site of the Red Sea crossing. I got it from this youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4RV8unY7GE)
This is the Google Map image of one of the possible sites of the Red Sea crossing. And if you’ll notice, in order to get to this particular beach, the Israelites would’ve to travel through a winding canyon. As you can also see, there’s only one way on to the beach… and one way off.
If this is the same place described in Exodus, the Israelites would have made their way down that winding canyon to camp on this beach by the Sea. But there’s only one way off that beach. And since the Egyptians would have followed through that canyon, the Israelites would be trapped. The Egyptians have swords, spears and chariots, and they are famous for their ability to kill. To the minds of the Israelites, it’s only a matter of hours before they swoop down on Israel and slaughter everyone in sight.