When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “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. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
The Christian life is a war with many battles that need to be fought. Christians have been freed from sin’s enslaving power, but we are not completely freed from sin’s influence. Sin still seeks to recapture us and lead us away from God in an attempt to destroy us. Therefore, the Christian life is a battle for what controls and influences your heart. You are either being ruled and controlled by God, or you are being ruled and controlled by something else. And the question that Exodus 14 raises is: can God win the battle for your heart?
The book of Exodus gives us the pattern for redemption, and the first thing we need to see is Israel’s deliverance through the sea shows us that our salvation is solely secured by God. Salvation is something given by God, not something gained through human effort. Salvation is something we trust in, not something we try to get. Look at the actions of God and of Israel in verses 13-14 – Israel stands by, they see, and they are silent. God does all the fighting. God does all the defeating and delivering. Salvation is given to you when you stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in the power and strength of God to fight and accomplish it for you.
In verses 1-2 – God led Israel to a place where they are trapped on all sides! Mountains are on either side of them, the sea is in front of them, and Pharaoh and his chariots are pursuing them from behind. Israel is completely trapped with nowhere to go, and God led them to this point! Why? So that Israel would learn that only God’s power can save them. And when God fights for them and destroys Egypt in the sea, all Israel can do is stand by and watch in silence at the greatness of God’s power. Only God can successfully secure our salvation! But we need God to keep us secure in His salvation.
Israel has already been freed from Egypt’s slavery. God’s wrath has already passed over them. They have been delivered out of one kingdom and brought into another, but they are not completely out of danger yet. Pharaoh is still pursuing Israel in order to recapture and destroy Israel. When Israel sees that they are trapped, they complain to God and long to go back to Egypt (verses 11-12). Israel has already been freed from Egypt, but they are still influenced by Egypt!
Is this not true of Christians as well? We have already been rescued and redeemed by the work of Christ, but we are not home yet. We still have sin’s power and influence seeking to recapture and enslave us again. Israel’s experience in the wilderness is a mirror of our experience: Israel was freed from Egypt, but their hearts still desire Egypt. They still long to go back to the things that enslaved them, and so do we! This is why the Christian life is a fight for faith. Because of sin’s power and influence, we all still struggle to believe in the power of God. Like Israel, we need to learn how to STAND on ground already won! The real fight that we all struggle with is not to FORGET who God is and all that He has done to save us from sin’s power and penalty.
We need to fear not! See, stand, and be silent at the foot of the cross, over and over again. We constantly need to look at the place where all of our sin was placed on Jesus, the place where Jesus paid the ransom price for what our sins deserved, and the place where Jesus experienced God’s displeasure and frown so that we would always have God’s delight and smile. In His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus sets us free not just from sin’s penalty but sets us free from our fears: The fear that God is mad at you. The fear that God’s grace will run out. The fear that God doesn’t love you anymore. Fear not! Stand, see, and be silent as you hear Jesus cry out from the cross – “It is finished!”