Is there something that Christians can learn from the Red Sea crossing? If so, what is it?
The Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds Crossing?
I have heard that some translations say that Israel crossed the Reed Sea instead of the Red Sea and that is why Israel was able to cross successfully and escape the Egyptian army. The Reed Sea or Sea of Reeds is very shallow in places and sometimes its depth is only a few inches deep. If this is true then the Israelites didn’t need a miracle but what I find amazing is that even if the Israelites crossed the Reed Sea or Sea of Reeds, there must have been an even greater miracle because the whole Egyptian army drowned in only a few inches of water. The real question is whether God intervened miraculously or not and the context of the crossing shows that indeed, God did miraculously intervene. While it is true that the Hebrew words used for what is translated the Red Sea “yam suph” can also be translated as the Sea of Reeds, the rendering of the account must be that the crossing took place at the Red Sea because how could a huge Egyptian army drown in a shallow, marshy sea? That would seem to be a greater miracle than Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. Besides, how could Solomon have launched an entire fleet on the Sea of Reeds (1 Kings 9:26) if it were only a few inches deep because the same Hebrew words used for the Red Sea in this verse are the same Hebrew words used in the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus (Ex 14).
Lessons from the Crossing
There are so many applications for the believer today about the crossing of the Red Sea that it would be difficult to not see them. For one thing, we all face situations where our backs are against the wall and we are placed in seemingly impossible situations. It is at times such as these that we must see with the eyes of faith and not simply look at circumstances. God allows us to be in these hard places to see whether we will believe Him or trust in Him or whether we will try to squire our way out by our own strength. To Israel, the sea is a picture of death and when they were looking death squarely in the face in the form of the Egyptian army and the sea behind them, all they could do was to turn to God but this is the point. God wants us to exercise our faith because a faith that is never tested can never be trusted. He desires that we turn to Him when we are faced with similar situations like Israel was facing. How many Christians can recount their own Red Sea crossing where, if not for God’s intervention, they would have been hopelessly lost because they were between their own Egyptian army and the sea? We must learn, sometimes from experience, that God is the God of the impossible. When Christians face their own Red Sea, and it can take many different forms, we must learn to look upward for the only true source of our help…God Almighty.
God is For Us
When the Egyptian army came to the trapped nation of Israel, the angel of the Lord and the pillar of fire stood between the army and the helpless Israelites. God knew in advance that the nation would be put in a position where their only hope would be God and even though the nation was in total despair, God was about to show Himself strong (Ex 14:10-12). This was to make them understand that they could trust God in whatever circumstances they were placed in and to know that if God is for them, who in the universe could ever stand against them (Rom 8:31)? Moses spoke to them about where their deliverance would come from saying “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Ex 14:13-14). Further evidence of God’s protection came in His presence with them as “the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night” (Ex 14:19-20).
God Vanquishes the Enemy
In Exodus 14:27b-29 “the Lord threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” which again, testifies to the fact that God fights our battles for us and vanquishes our enemies…even enemies that are too formidable for us. By this they learned that “the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses” (Ex 14:30-31). Two important points here are that by God’s deliverance, they “believed in the Lord” but they also believed “in his servant Moses” indicating that our trust in the leaders are displaying our trust in God Who has sovereignly placed them in our lives.
The Old Testament isn’t just a history of the nation of Israel. These accounts were written for our sake to help us understand that God will never leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5). As Paul wrote “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4) and “these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11). So we see that the experiences of the nation of Israel where written to give us hope that God will be with us in the times of impossible situations and that they were written “for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon