Lessons From The Red Sea
“By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.” — (Hebrews 11:29)
Israel was constantly reminded by the Lord to ever remember and learn from their experience at the Red Sea. The psalmist taught them to sing, "Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him" (Ps. 66:5-6). Let all the Israel of God learn the lessons of the Red Sea.
Here we are taught how we ought to behave in times of great trial (Ex. 14:13-15). Moses said to the people, “Fear not.” They were terrified by their foes because they did not trust their Father. How we need to learn to trust our God and cease from fear! Nothing so dishonors our God as our unbelief. Nothing causes us more trouble.
Then God’s prophet called for his people to “Stand still.” Stand still, with foes pursuing? Stand still, with no visible means of deliverance? Stand still, in utter helplessness? Yes, if ever there is a time to stand still, it is when there is absolutely nothing else you can do! It is only when we cease from all reliance upon ourselves that we will stand still. And it is only when we stand still that we will “see the salvation of the Lord.”
That is what faith does. It sees God’s salvation. It contributes nothing to it and does nothing to get it. Faith simply beholds what God has done and is doing. It matters not whether we apply the word “salvation” to the everlasting salvation of our souls, which is what the Red Sea experience typifies, or to deliverance from any temporal trouble, the instruction is the same. We will see God’s salvation only as we stand still before him in faith, trusting our heavenly Father with all the affairs of our lives. Be assured, my brother, be assured, my sister, “The Lord shall fight for you.” When we are confident of this, we shall hold our peace.
Then, the Lord commanded Moses to tell the people to “Go forward.” They were commanded to “go forward” before the sea was parted. Faith sees deliverance, faith apprehends the promise of God in his Word and acts upon it before it is actually performed. The believer is ready to go forward when by faith he has seen the deliverance of the Lord, before it is actually accomplished.
Who would ever have imagined that Israel’s way of escape and victory over her foes was to be the Red Sea? That was the very last thing any form of human reason would have expected. But God commanded them to go forward; and as soon as they stepped into the sea, obeying the revealed will of God, he turned the sea into dry ground, made its waters a wall of protection, and caused his people to go through the waters rejoicing (Ex. 14:22; Ps. 66:6).
There may have been some trembling Israelites who passed through the sea, as terrified by the walls of water as they were by the pursuing armies of Pharaoh. They walked through the sea by faith, but not in the “full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). They passed through the sea just as safely as the others, but with much less enjoyment. What a pity! Those who walked through the Red Sea “in full assurance of faith” walked through it in the joy of faith (Phil. 1:25).
They looked neither at the waters of the sea, nor at the might of their foes, nor at the reasonableness of their behavior, but at the Word of God. Believing God, they walked through the Red Sea confident that God would deliver them. God who made the sea for them could certainly guide them through it (Rom. 8:1). May the Lord be pleased to constantly teach us thus to trust him. He who makes our trials will also guide us through them and keep us safe and secure until he brings us home at last (Rom. 8:28-30; 11:36, 1 Cor. 10:13, John 10:28-30).
Without question, the decrees and purposes of God are eternal, absolute, and immutable. Pharaoh was raised up by God, according to his eternal purpose, as a vessel of wrath (Rom. 9:15-18; Pro. 16:4). But the judgment of God upon Pharaoh and his armies was not an arbitrary thing. He was judged of God upon the basis of his own, willful rebellion and sin (Ex. 14:17-25). I will leave it to others (who think they can do so) to work out the theological details, but these two facts are revealed in the Book of God: (1.) Reprobation, like election, is an eternal act of God. And (2.) divine judgment is always the result of man’s disobedience. God fought against Pharaoh because Pharaoh fought against God.
The Egyptians resolved to pursue Israel into the sea. But they entered the sea not in faith, but in rash presumption. What multitudes follow their example, rushing into eternity, presuming that all is well, when all is ill! There God will fight against them.
The Egyptians had drowned the firstborn of Israel, and now they are drowned. There is always an element of restitution in God’s judgment. In hell the damned shall but “eat of the fruit of their own way” (Pro. 1:31).
When the Lord was done with his wonders at the Red Sea, exactly as he had purposed, both Israel and the Egyptians knew and acknowledged that Jehovah is God alone and God indeed. And when the Lord our God has finished all his works all creation shall know and glorify him as God alone, either to the everlasting torment of their souls in hell or to the everlasting bliss and satisfaction of their souls in heaven (Ex. 15:1-6).